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Power Inverters FAQ Power Inverters FAQ

See our full range of power inverters here.

Can I plug my inverter into my cigarette lighter socket?
Our 400W inverters come with a cigarette lighter plug as well as battery clips. The cigarette lighter plug is only suitable for operating the inverter at power outputs up to 150 Watts as most vehicle cigarette lighter circuits are only rated at 15 to 20 Amps. If you try to draw more than this the fuse for the cars cigarette lighter socket will blow.
To operate at full power, either use the battery cable supplied or directly wire to the power source with user supplied wire and fuse.


Will it run my equipment?
Most electrical tools, appliances and audio/video equipment have labels that indicate the power consumption in amps or watts. Be sure that the power consumption of the item you wish to operate is rated at the specified watts or less (if the power consumption is rated in amps AC, simply multiply by the AC volts to determine the wattage). All our inverters have overload protection, so it is safe to operate equipment rated at the specified watts or less. The inverter will shut down if it is overloaded and the overload must be removed before the inverter will restart; resistive loads are the easiest for the inverter to run. However, larger resistive loads, such as electric stoves or heaters, usually require more wattage than the inverter can deliver on a continuous basis.

Inductive loads, such as TVs and stereos, require more current to operate than do resistive loads of the same wattage rating. Induction motors, as well as some televisions may require 2 to 6 times their wattage rating to start up. The most demanding in this category are those that start under load, such as compressors and pumps. Testing is the only way to determine whether a specific load can be started and how long it can run. The unit will simply shut down if it is overloaded. To restart the unit after a shutdown due to overloading, remove the overload and if necessary turn the power switch Off then On.


Do I need a modified sine wave inverter or a pure sine wave inverter?

Inverters produce an AC voltage by switching in a series of small steps, the most common and cheaper type is the modified sine wave inverter which produces a stepped output which approximates an AC wave and will work with most electronic devices, except for some sensitive or specialised equipment, for example certain laser printers, photocopiers, fluorescent lighting, power tools with variable speed control and some audio equipment will require a pure sine wave inverter. Most devices with AC motors will run off a modified sine wave inverter albeit at a reduction in efficiency of approximately 20%

A pure sine wave inverter uses a greater frequency of switching along with additional filtering to produce a nearly perfect sine wave output with very low distortion that is essentially the same as your mains power at home making it compatible with all mains powered devices.

If you mainly want to run lights, televisions, microwave ovens, mobile phone chargers, tools, etc. then a modified sine wave inverter will be fine.

A pure sine wave inverter also has some other advantages:
Inductive loads like microwave ovens and motors will run faster, quieter and cooler.
Battery chargers for portable tools will charge faster.
Devices with AC motors will run at full speed.
Audible and electrical noise in audio amplifiers, televisions and game consoles will be reduced.
Generally most appliances will run better and cooler on Pure Sinewave output.

See our range of modified and pure sine wave inverters here.

How big a battery do I need?
The power source must provide between 11 and 15 volts DC and must be able to supply the necessary current to operate the load. The power source may be a battery or well regulated DC power supply. To obtain a rough estimate of the current (in Amps) the power source must deliver, simply divide the power consumption of the load (in watts AC) by 10.

Example: if a load is rated at 250 Watts AC, the power source must be able to deliver:
     250 divided by 10 = 25 Amps

Caution: The inverter must be connected only to batteries with a nominal output voltage of 12 volts. The unit will not operate from a 6 volt battery and will sustain permanent damage if connected to a 24 volt battery.


How long will it run for?
Operating time is dependent on the capacity and condition of the vehicles battery and the load being run. Battery capacity is measured in Amp/hours or Ah, eg 100Ah.

To give a rough estimate of the running time divide the Ah rating of the battery by the current (in Amps) that the inverter will draw for your specific load (see "Power source requirements" above).

Example: if a load requires the battery to deliver 25 Amps and the battery is rated at 100Ah:
     100 divided by 25 = 4 hours

Therefore a 100Ah battery in good condition should be able to run a 250W load for approx 4 hours.

Note: The inverter may be used whether or not the vehicles engine is running. However the inverter may not operate while the engine is starting since the battery voltage can drop substantially during cranking.

 

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