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Author Topic: Inverters  (Read 1827 times)
Starliner58
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« on: September 02, 2006, 03:42:44 PM »

I need some help deciding which inverter to use. I have been advised to buy only true sine wave, but they are pretty expensive. Some input from expereinced users would be appreciated.

Wayne
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Ross
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 05:03:07 PM »

I'm running a computer, TV and DVD player on a Freedom Marine 3000 as we speak...I also run the microwave on it frequently.  It is a modified sine wave and I haven't had any problems at all.  I don;t run the AC's on the inverter.  If you want to do that, I'd go sine wave...and then you'll need a fairly large one.
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belfert
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2006, 05:24:36 PM »

Sun Electronics has had some refurbished Prosine 3000 watt inverters for under $1000.  They are true sine wave and come in 12 or 24 volt.

I recently heard that Xantrex had to replace a whole batch of transfer relays in these and that is why there are so many refurbished on the market.  I believe they were brand new when reworked.

Brian Elfert
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jjrbus
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2006, 09:58:07 AM »

I have a Trace DR3624, 3600 watts/24volts (under $1000) This is a modified sinewave. I run the AC with it when traveling. I run computer, inkjet printer, microwave, refrigerator, charge cell phone and tool batteries ect. The only problem I have had in 5 years of use is the clock in the microwave goes beserk on inverter (not timer). so it is still useable. The ceiling fan in the bedroom hums on inverter, not unbearable but noticeable.
 The important thing is a three stage battery charger, the single stage chargers can take many hours to charge batterys. Important if charging batts with genset.
  The most hi-tech or most expensive is not always the best way to go.
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Jeremy
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2006, 11:20:50 AM »

There is a lot of info on the web about inverters, so it is worth doing some googling and reading some articles. Basically, certain things have to have true sine wave (mains voltage flourescent lights, some electronic devices etc), whilst other things prefer true sine (TVs, anything with an electric motor etc). Sometimes you will know if your device is unhappy running on modified sine (TVs may have a distorted picture, stereo speakers may hum etc), but other times there will be nothing amiss. Be aware as well that 'modified sine' is a very imprecise term - some quality-made modified sine inverters have a wave shape with lots and lots of 'steps' so that is very close to pure sine, whereas other cheap imported inverters produce very crude waveforms that is little better than a square wave.

I think it is one area where you do 'get what you pay for', but then again there is no point paying for something you don't need, so think carefully about what you will actually be running from the inverter. Personally, having thought a lot about it I ended up buying an fairly expensive pure-sine generator, and a middle-of-the-range (but from a good manufacturer) modified-sine inverter.

The other aspect of buying an inverter is the quoted power rating (3000 watts or whatever). Basically this is another minefield bacause there is no standard way of measuring power outputs, and many of the 'value brands' choose to inflate their power ratings by quoting them at unfeasibly-low operating temperatures (ie. an inverter may theortically produce 3000w at zero degrees, but in a real life operating situation may produce only a quarter of that). Basically - if someone tells you that their inverter produces this much or that much power 'because it says so on the box', don't believe it - at least, not until you are fully au fait with how the figure has been calculated.

My own inverter is from Sterling Power Products, who are a well respected brand here. I'm not recommending them specifically, but they do have some useful background information pages about inverters (plus batteries, chargers etc) on their website, which you might want to look at:

http://www.sterling-power.com/

Jeremy
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2006, 01:14:35 PM »

Also look for one that has a low current consumption at idle otherwise you'll notice your batteries will drain even though you are are not running any 110V.  I'm happy with mine, but I think it's idle current draw is rather high.  Without running the inverter I can go days a charge.  On the inverter with the TV, satellite reciever, hughesnet modem and router, I can only get 12 hours or so, which means I have to run the genset twice a day for an hour or so to charge.  Right now I'm at a friends shop pugged in to a single 110 via an extension cord and adapter to my 50A service, which is enough to run everything but the AC's.

Ross
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2006, 02:02:03 PM »

Good point! Early on in my conversion I bought a low end inverter, just to run the refrigerator. A friend  checked the specs and said it would eaisely run the frige. No way no how would it start the motor. It was way overated.
 I have 2 flat panel LCD TV's in my conversion, a Sharp and a Polaroid both  work with the Trace inverter as did the tube type befor them. Also I have mostly flourescent lighting in the bus which works the same off inverter or shore power.
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Starliner58
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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2006, 08:13:51 AM »

Thanks all. Lots of help. I am leaning toward the prosine 3.0 at sunelectronics. Again many thanks.

Wayne
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TomC
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2006, 09:06:15 AM »

I have the Trace SW2512.  It has automatic switch over with up to 130amp batt charge with selectable 3 stage battery charging.  It is a modified sine wave-the microwave hums and takes longer and the stove hood runs slower.  But everything else works fine.  At the suggestion of the gal that sold me the inverter, I did not hook up my A/C to it (I was going to buy two and stack them, but she talked me out of it and another sale-a truly honest person).  It has been a zero problem inverter.  What I have running through the inverter is my front TV and VCR, Microwave and toaster oven, kitchen plugs, bathroom wall heater, rear stereo and various plugs.  My reefer and freezer are both Norcold 12v/120v compressor type that switch over automatically.  When I need a new one, I want to get a closer to true sine wave, have load sharing (where if the power pole isn't enough, it'll supplement the power with your batteries), and all other options now just repeated.  Get the best inverter you can and it'll last a long time with no problems (like mine for the past 12 years-it is plugged in all the time so the charger is working).  Any of the equipment you install in the bus should be the best quality and overly sized to last the longest.  Too many people on the board are concerned with initial pricing.  We buy these big beasts to have a reliable motorhome that will last many years.  Why scrimp on ANY of the equipment you put in it?  In my opinion it is better to wait for the best quality when you can afford it rather than buying a bunch of cheap stuff right away.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2006, 10:21:52 AM »

"We buy these big beasts to have a reliable motorhome that will last many years.  Why scrimp on ANY of the equipment you put in it?"

I suspect most of us actually buy old buses and coaches and do DIY conversions because it's a very cheap way of getting a big motorhome - so it's natural that we are also looking to get the most 'bang for our buck' out of the equipment we need to buy as part of the conversion.

My own philosphy is to find out what the best make / specification is for whatever piece of equipment you need, then keep an eye out for that item for sale second-hand. These projects take a long time, so you rarely need something NOW - just plan ahead, keep a list of what you need in the back of your mind, and eventually you will see it for sale at a bargain price.

By definition, the best quality equipment will usually be well-made and durable, so as long as you are careful, a second-hand item will be as good as new - in fact often better than new as new stuff is increasingly built down-to-a-price rather than up-to-a-quality. As an example, I drove for 6 hours yesterday to collect a 10 year old Mutoh vinyl cutter, that cost me 500 (about $850). When it was new it would have cost around 15,000, and is WAY better made and more accurate than 90% of the new vinyl cutters on the market now. Obviously there are times when 'new is best', such as when re-using something may not be safe, or when technology is advancing rapidly, but nothing I can immediately think of on our buses really falls into that category.

Jeremy
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« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2006, 05:06:26 PM »

Why scrimp on ANY of the equipment you put into it?

  I'm not scrimpting, I'm being selective, a penny saved is a penny earned!
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