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bobblangley 06-28-2019 02:09 PM

Inverter - Yes or No?
 
I'd appreciate any info folks are willing to share about the value (or not) of having an inverter in a small (17') trailer. I currently have a 300 watt unit that I occasionally run off of the 12-v outlet in my tow vehicle.

Do you have one in your trailer? Why or why not?

If so, what kinds of things do you use it for?

What size seems optimal?

Is it worth having one without extra batteries or solar panels?

Thanks to all who respond.

Glenn Baglo 06-28-2019 02:18 PM

I have a couple cheap inverters. One is 75 watt and the other 200 watt ( I think ). I prefer not to use them. It's tidier to have DC appliances. I don't need any AC. Everything I need can be done with DC or propane.

floyd 06-28-2019 02:39 PM

We have a tru-sine 400watt inverter which we use quite a lot still.


Thing is , it was the best solution when our trailer was new, while today there are really good 12V alternatives for television or other small electronics so having an inverter is not as needed nowadays.


It might still be best for some medical devices or such for temporary use when 110V shorepower is not available

Jon Vermilye 06-28-2019 02:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bobblangley (Post 746902)
I'd appreciate any info folks are willing to share about the value (or not) of having an inverter in a small (17') trailer. I currently have a 300 watt unit that I occasionally run off of the 12-v outlet in my tow vehicle.

Do you have one in your trailer? Why or why not?

I installed a 1000 watt inverter in my Escape 17B. A pair of 6v 232 amp hour batteries & 200 watts of solar.

If so, what kinds of things do you use it for?

Making a pot of coffee with a 5 cup drip coffee maker (600 watt coffee pot that used about 6 amp hours to make a pot) sometime make toast with an 800 watt toaster (about 7 - 9 amp hours) and rare use of a 600 watt microwave do a frozen burrito or other 2-3 minute run.

What size seems optimal?

If you have the battery, a 1500 -2000 watt is more practical for microwaves, etc, but if all you are going to do is charge electronics, a smaller one will be more efficient. I have a 950 watt microwave in my current Escape 21, and up until this year, a pair of 220 amp hour deep cycle 6V batteries, and 320 watts of solar on the roof & a 160 watt portable panel that I add when necessary. I just switched to a pair of 100 amp hourt lithium batteries, providing twice the capacity of the wet cells.

Is it worth having one without extra batteries or solar panels?

Only a small one used for charges, a laptop, etc. The large inverters can overwhelm a single, small battery.

Thanks to all who respond.

Hope this is helpful...

RogerDat 06-28-2019 03:01 PM

1500 watt full sine wave inverter in a 13 ft. I also have a modified sine wave that is I think 300 watt. I wanted to be able to run some specific appliances for short periods when traveling.

Toaster and coffee pot in a rest area or Walmart parking lot. I do have a small 12 volt coffee pot now. For returning to civilization from boondocking a blow dryer for a few minutes helps keep my wife happy. If she is willing to hang out in the national forest I guess providing a means for her to spruce up before leaving is the least I can do.

Full sine wave allows more reliable charging of things such as camera batteries or rechargeable AA batteries. I would probably find it more efficient to have a smaller one for those uses since there is some overhead to running the inverter.

I went with a set up where I have an outlet that is part of the shore power system under a seat adjacent to an external outlet with a short plug in cord that normally goes to that shore power outlet That short plug in cord can be moved and plugged into the inverter which would then power the external outlet.

I can plug the trailer shore power cord into that external outlet and all my camper outlets and devices then get power from the inverter. As an alternative there is a single under seat outlet also with a short cord and plug that is normally plugged into the shore powered outlet under the bench seat but I can reach in and move that plug to the inverter and power just that outlet from the inverter. Typical use for that would be charging a camera battery or running a laptop.

When camping I don't take a TV so that isn't a factor, two lights are LED 12 volt with only a single fluorescent running off of 110.

I will say the cables to the battery are as thick as a finger and the inverter has an external on/off switch so it doesn't draw power unless turned on because it is needed. I should probably also mention that my tow vehicle charges the house battery when driving so rest area or Walmart camping for a bit of sleep followed by a brief period of heavy power draw for breakfast cooking gets recovered from by the driving I do after breakfast.


Solar panel is only 40 watt so maybe 10 -12 amp hours a day recharge. Won't really keep battery fully charged against heavy use but slows down the rate of discharge enough to extend my stay.

Raspy 06-28-2019 06:44 PM

There are two directions you can go with inverters. One is the small cigarette lighter style one that is used to charge phones, laptops, portable drills, or run a DVD player or small room fan. These are about 100 watt to about 300 watt, very handy and cheap. The second is the larger type that are used to run coffee makers, toasters and microwaves. These are hard wired into the trailer, either have their own dedicated outlets, or have transfer switches to allow the same plugs to be used as when connected to shore power. They are much more expensive, and need sufficient battery power to support them.

This method of using a large inverter that can be switched on and isolated from shore power, is OK, but a more modern system is to use an inverter/charger combination unit that allows shore power to flow through to the inside plugs, while it charges the batteries, but supplies inverter power to the house when shore power is disconnected. All automatically in one unit, and seamlessly. With these you might not know if you are plugged in or not, as everything works just the same either way. These are nice, but probably not practical to retrofit since they don't use the standard electrical panels we see in almost all trailers.

You can use the larger inverters to charge phones, but it is not an efficient way to do it because the standby losses are higher with the larger units.

If you want to be able to run appliances, then having a large, built in one, and a cigarette lighter style is probably best. If you only want to charge the computer, get the smaller type that requires no installation and is cheap to buy. I always have several of these with me, and my truck came with one built in.

I've used larger ones on boats and trailers for years and have never had a "true sine wave" style. The modified sine wave style will run every appliance I've tried it on with no problem. The only type of appliance I have not tried it on was a desktop style computer, as I only use laptops which run off of internal batteries.

Even the larger ones should not be used with air conditioners. So much power is required to start an AC and run it, that there would have to be a huge battery bank to make it practical. And the inverter must be very large. I have a 3000 watt continuous/6000 watt peak inverter that won't run my AC. It might with an Easy-Start, but I would never try to make it a practical experience as a Group 27 deep cycle battery would only run the AC for about 1/2 hour.

k corbin 06-28-2019 06:52 PM

If I am going to run a power hungry AC appliance then I start up my generator which has an inverter built into it. That way the battery is getting charged with any leftover electrical output from the generator.



I do have a small inverter for my tow vehicle as it functions as my mini camper when I go on trips where I don't need or want the trailer.

DougOlson 06-28-2019 07:03 PM

I installed a 1000W inverter in a Scamp 16, so my wife could run her Nutribullet blender. Blender draws about 700W and only runs 5 min so not much total energy used. Then I had the idea that I could run the 2way frig on inverter power while towing and leave the propane off, like safety conscious people recommend. I figured that with the 100W solar on the roof and power from the TV thru the 7-pin there would be close enough to the 170W the frig draws to be OK. We'll one ruined battery later I ran an extra 10gauge wire from the TV battery to the trailer to provide enough power. This is working fine.

Glenn Baglo 06-28-2019 08:01 PM

safety conscious people would leave their propane tanks at the campsite for the next person to use. :D

steve dunham 06-28-2019 09:41 PM

We have a 400 watt portable in our Casita and a 1500 watt built in inverter in our Escape . Both trailer have solar
In six years we have never used either inverter

CPW 06-29-2019 04:31 AM

I installed a 2,000 watt true sine wave inverter and a dedicated outlet in my trailer primarily to be able to use the coffee maker in the absence of shore power. I then added an automatic switch to the circuit which feeds the microwave oven. I also have dual 6 volt batteries and 160 watts of solar power. I have made coffee once on inverter power, and have heated up leftovers for lunch 3 times at highway rest areas in the year since I decided to add it. While that cannot be considered “heavy” use and it would be difficult to justify the expenditure, I am all about convenience and I personally am thankful that I had the inverter on those 4 occasions. That being said, for some people it might only be worth the cost if they do a lot of boondocking, which I do not. However, I know that I have the ability to use 120 vac anytime or anywhere I want to, and for me, that is convenient.

ARVZ 06-29-2019 10:58 AM

Permanent Wave
 
Whatever you do, spend a little more for a true sine wave inverter if you get one at all. True sine wave is much kinder to your AC equipment that was all designed for that beautiful rotating sinusoidal waveform.

Josh and Sonya W 06-29-2019 03:47 PM

True sine inverter
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ARVZ (Post 747008)
Whatever you do, spend a little more for a true sine wave inverter if you get one at all. True sine wave is much kinder to your AC equipment that was all designed for that beautiful rotating sinusoidal waveform.

We had also heard that true sine is better for ac equipment, especially for Apple laptops. So we had a 300W true sine inverter installed, but with a plug, so that we can use the same inverter in either the truck, which is wired with the same type of plug, or the trailer. That way, my wife can work with her computer in the truck while I drive, without worrying about her battery.

steve dunham 06-29-2019 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo (Post 746939)
safety conscious people would leave their propane tanks at the campsite for the next person to use. :D

Glenn , I hate to disagree but a truely safety conscious individual would dispose of their propane tanks at a hazardous waste facility so no one is endangered by an abandoned propane cylinder .
Now to be fair if you want to be completely safe , the trailer should be stripped of all electrical , propane and flammable equipment and stored in a secured area but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a travel trailer

Raspy 06-29-2019 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Josh and Sonya W (Post 747055)
We had also heard that true sine is better for ac equipment, especially for Apple laptops. So we had a 300W true sine inverter installed, but with a plug, so that we can use the same inverter in either the truck, which is wired with the same type of plug, or the trailer. That way, my wife can work with her computer in the truck while I drive, without worrying about her battery.

We have been charging four Apple laptops, four phones, various cameras, as well as re-chargeable drills, and running DVD players, fans, a compressor, microwave, coffee pot and any other equipment, for years, with several old fashioned inverters. They all work just fine. As mentioned, the only thing I haven't tried was a desktop computer that has no battery. My wife takes easily 100 pictures a day and spends hours editing them. All while charging, for hours every day. For many years, I've used conventional inverters of different sizes. None of which were sine wave. I really don't see the need for true sine wave.

Lloyd (aka Santa) Coltman 07-06-2019 10:51 AM

We just returned from a two-week trip to the North (YT) (5 set-ups and tear-downs each way, with shore power on only two) So, suffice it to say, my rechargeable drill got a workout, setting the 'Stabilizers' at each site. I was sure happy to have my portable (200 W) inverter to run the drill charger (on the road), when the battery died. We also have a 400 W permanently mounted inverter in the RV, for running such things as stick Vac, Mini-blender, when required.
Morning coffee - never a problem, as we have an old-fashioned stove-top 12-cup percolator.

peterh 07-06-2019 10:59 AM

Whether or not you need an inverter it's a lifestyle choice. If you need a microwave or a drip coffee maker or a hair dryer at all times, then you need an inverter. If you don't need those things you can do without. Today's laptops digital cameras cell phones, pretty much all personal electronics, can be charged from a USB plug, and you can get 12 volt USB plugs instead.

Both our trailers have microwaves but, when we don't have shorepower, we just don't use them. Our morning cup of coffee, on the other hand, is a must-have. So when we don't have shorepower we heat hot water on the stove top and pour it through our 120v coffee maker's cone filter. Problem solved.

wvorih 07-06-2019 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raspy (Post 747066)
We have been charging four Apple laptops, four phones, various cameras, as well as re-chargeable drills, and running DVD players, fans, a compressor, microwave, coffee pot and any other equipment, for years, with several old fashioned inverters. They all work just fine. As mentioned, the only thing I haven't tried was a desktop computer that has no battery. My wife takes easily 100 pictures a day and spends hours editing them. All while charging, for hours every day. For many years, I've used conventional inverters of different sizes. None of which were sine wave. I really don't see the need for true sine wave.

We like to take long drives with the trailer and keep the batteries charged on the way. The trailer battery just will not charge from the car battery, too much voltage drop in the long write from the car on back. Our solution is to run the 12 volts from the car straight back to an inverter in the trailer. That 120 v ac goes to my charger which keeps the trailer battery fully charged for the whole trip. Even while running the fridge.
I also use the invertor while stopped for the usual stuff running small chargers and accessories. And the charger keeps the battery topped up from shore power while camped. A few relays make sure neither the invertor nor charger get themselves into trouble.

computerspook 07-06-2019 12:08 PM

Inverters drain the battery pretty fast

Lisle 07-06-2019 12:29 PM

Brand new to all this trailer electrical stuff. I have an Apple laptop. What's the best way to charge it with a Highlander Hybrid as my TV and a Casita 16' as my trailer? Trailer is pretty new and doesn't seem to have any additional electrical stuff on it. I'm planning on charging my iPhone with the cigarette lighter on the car, of course.


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