Need advice about inverters

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by Prepper12, Aug 12, 2021.

  1. Prepper12

    Prepper12 Monkey+

    I was looking at getting an inexpensive inverter to use with my car in case I needed a source of power in a long term power outage. It would mainly be used to charge up Ni MH batteries, an electric shaver, phone, laptop, etc., so nothing too demanding. But I've never had one before and still have questions.

    I've been doing some reading, and getting confusing information. The less expensive ones are called modified sine wave as opposed to pure sine wave. The modified ones are said to be ok for anything that doesn't contain sensitive electronics such as medical equipment. At the same time, I've heard that they often don't work with battery chargers which is the main thing I wanted it for. I've even read that it can damage such devices.

    What is the experiences of people here who use inverters with their car?
    Also, from what I've read, a smartphone can be charged 20-30 times before the car battery got too low to start the engine. Does that sound right? Most sources I've read say to never use an inverter without the car running, but if a smartphone can be charged that many times (they have around a 3,000 Mah battery), then it sounds like I could do all my charging with the car turned off, although I'm open to being corrected.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Cheap inverter running a power supply such as a battery charger is a recipe for failure.
    Don't use a power inverter when you don't have to. If you have a cell phone to charge use a 12v to 4v car charger.

    Car batteries are not designed to run down and charge back up. Using more than 20% to 25% of the batteries capacity damages and degrades them.
    I found that typical car charging syatems only have about 10 to 12 amps available for charging. So charging them back up is very slow.
    So none of the stuff in the vehicle is designed to do any of this. You could charge a cell phone or a 12v to AA battery charger, that's about it.
    duane and sec_monkey like this.
  3. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    yep a cheap inverter is a bad idea cuz ya have to convert DC to AC then back to DC so there will be losses at each step

    best option is gud DC to DC power supplies fer yer gadgets

    a gud high quality inverter should be better than the cheap inverters. DC to DC is still a better option though.

    avoid cheap stuff from an asian country it is likely to burn up yer lektronics
  4. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+++

    Picture a pure sine wave as a nice rolling wave that is consistent and efficient. Then picture a Modified Sine wave as spray and pray machine gun fire. As a general rule anything that has a computer chip or is of a sensitive electronic nature should never be used with a modified sine wave. As stated you should be looking at DC-DC that is what regular vehicles with 1 alternator and 1 battery do best.
    sec_monkey likes this.
  5. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Inverting power from DC to AC so you can plug in a DC charger is kinda inefficient. Most cheap inverters won't be 75% efficient on conversion, and then the trip back loses more.

    If you goal is a cell phone, simply do as said above...use the DC directly.

    For AA/AAA/etc batteries, consider a small unit designed especially for that. Crane makes one I like, includes a strength meter so you can turn the panel to optimum charging position. $25 at Amazon. Others have USB charging ports. Shop around.

    sec_monkey likes this.
  6. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    When we bought our first computer I was concerned about black outs and brown outs so I bought a 12-volt deep cycle battery and a pure sign-wave inverter and a small battery charger.
    That computer out lived every other one in the mountains we lived,
    In later years I got solar panels to supplement the charging and my system grew from there.
    My house is on a battery bank I created over time, and most all of my lighting is DC LED.
    A battery float charger and a deep cycle battery will go a long way in an emergency, and over time you can create a charging system that will work when the grid is down for n extended time.
    I realize that you are trying to go it on the cheap, I did my stuff on a very low income and a family to support.
    If you buy quality stuff it will serve you well. What is the value of the electronics you are trying to support, not just what they cost,
    but their value to you in service.
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Make sure to read reviews on units like this. I bought one very much like this and it was garbage.
    duane and TnAndy like this.
  8. Homer Simpson

    Homer Simpson Monkey+++

    I used an inverter like the one linked below on my tool cart at work for a while. I used it to power a laptop and to power cordless tool battery chargers. I was using an approximately 225 amp hour or so battery that was charged with mains power each night. The laptop, Milwaukee charger and the Bauer charger all worked just fine.

    I know it was probably not the most efficient system, but it did work for quite some time. Really the only reason I stopped using it was I no longer need those abilities at work.
    duane likes this.
  9. Navyair

    Navyair Monkey++

    You would be better off with a dedicated solar battery charging system, plus a large battery/inverter set up that you keep fully charged (they typically need charging once a year)..Flashfish Portable Solar Power Station, foldable solar panel , Solar Generator with AC and DC output, Backup Battery Pack Power Supply for CPAP Outdoor Advanture Load Trip Camping Emergency I have one of Flashfish's smaller power has 2 usb ports, a 12v output, and 110v ac output. I use it to power a digital picture frame at college fairs and have run it for 3 hrs, with less than 15% degradation. That is using its stored battery power to power 110v photo frame with rolling photos. Mine weighs less than 4# and is the size of a large paperback book. Obviously, there are larger ones...I have a briefcase sized battery back up on my computer, Internet and Voice over IP phone that will last 2 days before I have to break out the solar charging system, should we have a prolonged power outage.

    One idea I've toyed with is to take a small hand truck and large wooden box. Put a couple of deep cycle batteries, an inverter and a couple of 60 watt solar panels. Instant portable solar generator set up. On my "to do someday" list.
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