Inverters and Power Draw - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-14-2011, 09:28 AM   #1
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Inverters and Power Draw

Rainy day in NH.

Thought I'd make some measurements of Inverter current drawer. As most know an Inverter takes 12 volts, typically from your battery, and converts it into 110 Volts AC. 110 Volts AC is what you find at most home outlets.

My goal is to measure how much the Inverters devices draw from the battery under no load conditions, with nothing plugged into their AC outlets.

We have five Inverters; 2 of them are 100 watt Inverters

Interestingly the 400 watt Inverter, the biggest of the three I tested, drew the least when attached to the battery and nothing plugged into it's AC outlets. (It is not presently easy to test the 1200 watt Inverter but I will when I get my watt meter.

100 watt Inverter draws 0.3 amps
200 watt Inverter draws 0.35 amps
400 watt Inverter draws 0.1 amps
1200 watt Inverter draws ???

After looking at their current draw with nothing plugged into their AC outlets I loaded each Inverter with our LCD TV, electric blanket and Dish satellite receiver to see what the Inverter draws from the battery to run these devices.

Our Sylvania TV drew about 3 amps from the battery, indicating it uses 36 watts.

Our Sylvania twin electric blanket drew about 5 amps when fully on, indicating it draws 60 watts when fully on.

Our Dish Satellite Receiver draws about 1.2 amps when fully on, indicating it draws 15 watts.

15 inch Sylvania TV draws 2.9 amps from the battery.
Twin Electric Blanket draws 5.5 amps from the battery.
Satellite Receiver draws 1.2 amps from the battery.

For comparison an individual LED lamp draws about 0.2 amps from the battery.

All 7 LEDS 1.4 amps from the battery.
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Old 10-14-2011, 10:53 AM   #2
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So it appears you can turn on the satellite and the tv as well as all the lights for the same amount as keeping your buns warm, tough choice!!
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Old 10-14-2011, 11:18 AM   #3
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Was the 400W consistent in being the best when loaded? Compared to the other 2.
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Old 10-14-2011, 12:08 PM   #4
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My main goal was to see what the TV, Receiver and electric blanket drew from the battery.

I actually didn't make comparative measurements when the Inverters were loaded. I did run the each of the three loads on all of them and the numbers were similar. When I get my precision watt meter I'll more accurately compare them.

What I concluded is that running the TV and Electric blanket will have little negative effect on the battery.
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Old 10-14-2011, 12:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
My main goal was to see what the TV, Receiver and electric blanket drew from the battery.

I actually didn't make comparative measurements when the Inverters were loaded. I did run the each of the three loads on all of them and the numbers were similar. When I get my precision watt meter I'll more accurately compare them.

What I concluded is that running the TV and Electric blanket will have little negative effect on the battery.
Isn't 5.5 a/h a lot of draw for the electric blanket off your battery? Certainly more than your furnace, who do you consider that negligible draw? That would kill a 100 a/h battery over night.
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:30 PM   #6
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Power Usage

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Isn't 5.5 a/h a lot of draw for the electric blanket off your battery? Certainly more than your furnace, who do you consider that negligible draw? That would kill a 100 a/h battery over night.

The high current for the electric blanket is it's maximum draw, when it's fully on. We typically only turn it to Preheat (fully on) before we get in bed for maybe 10 minutes and turn it down to a much lower setting when sleeping.

Though I haven't done the test I would be surprised if the duty cycle is more than 25% after completing the preheat cycle. I expect it will average no more than 1.5 amps per hour, a guess for sure but it definitely would be less than 5 amps. When I get my watt meter I'll run it for 8 hours and get a 'watts used number'.

As well it is not uncommon for us to shut it off totally during the night, I guess I like getting into a warm bed.

We never run the Propane furnace when sleeping we find it too loud. If we feel we're going to really need heat during the night we camp with services and sometimes turn on the electric heat, but rarely. Our secondary rule is not to be places that are truly cold, below freezing.

Another interesting point is a typical human body produces a 100 watts of heat output just lying there, like 3 electric blankets. I suspect body heat is why those penguins stand in those big circlular groupings.

Part of the reason we RV is to avoid NH like winters though we've been to Labrador in the Spring where snow could be found taller than my 6'1" height.

More data to come but it's a reasonable starting point...
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by honda03842 View Post
Rainy day in NH.

Thought I'd make some measurements of Inverter current drawer. As most know an Inverter takes 12 volts, typically from your battery, and converts it into 110 Volts AC. 110 Volts AC is what you find at most home outlets.

My goal is to measure how much the Inverters devices draw from the battery under no load conditions, with nothing plugged into their AC outlets.

We have five Inverters; 2 of them are 100 watt Inverters

Interestingly the 400 watt Inverter, the biggest of the three I tested, drew the least when attached to the battery and nothing plugged into it's AC outlets. (It is not presently easy to test the 1200 watt Inverter but I will when I get my watt meter.

100 watt Inverter draws 0.3 amps
200 watt Inverter draws 0.35 amps
400 watt Inverter draws 0.1 amps
1200 watt Inverter draws ???

After looking at their current draw with nothing plugged into their AC outlets I loaded each Inverter with our LCD TV, electric blanket and Dish satellite receiver to see what the Inverter draws from the battery to run these devices.

Our Sylvania TV drew about 3 amps from the battery, indicating it uses 36 watts.

Our Sylvania twin electric blanket drew about 5 amps when fully on, indicating it draws 60 watts when fully on.

Our Dish Satellite Receiver draws about 1.2 amps when fully on, indicating it draws 15 watts.

15 inch Sylvania TV draws 2.9 amps from the battery.
Twin Electric Blanket draws 5.5 amps from the battery.
Satellite Receiver draws 1.2 amps from the battery.

For comparison an individual LED lamp draws about 0.2 amps from the battery.

All 7 LEDS 1.4 amps from the battery.
I hope you don't mind this question. But how do you measure the energy draw from your inverter and the individual appliances. If you use a voltage meter, where do you get one, and how do you use it?

I have a radio, which will be in use for a couple of hours each morning; and from the time I get back to the trailer in the late afternoon till lights out. I also may have to recharge some of my dog training equipment all night long.

Thanks for another helpful thread.

JMP
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Old 10-16-2011, 06:46 AM   #8
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Energy Requirements

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Originally Posted by Jane P. View Post
I hope you don't mind this question. But how do you measure the energy draw from your inverter and the individual appliances. If you use a voltage meter, where do you get one, and how do you use it?

I have a radio, which will be in use for a couple of hours each morning; and from the time I get back to the trailer in the late afternoon till lights out. I also may have to recharge some of my dog training equipment all night long.

Thanks for another helpful thread.

JMP
Jane,

Virtually all devices have a wattage rating on them. If you send me a list of items and their wattage I can give you a pretty good idea of what you'll need and your batteries ability to recharge them. Just PM me with the items.
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:46 AM   #9
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True, max wattage must not exceed the inverter capacity, but keep in mind that once it is connected, the inverter is drawing power even idle !!! it can drain your battery doing just nothing. If you can eliminate AC accessories and use only DC versions (such as power transformers and AAA / AA battery chargers, etc) you will greatly extend the power of your 12V RV battery.

The other problem is that a powerfull AC draw (electric blanket) will result into a very amp draw: You will likely have to increase the 12V wiring gauge and fuses that feed our 12V inverter, preferably on a dedicated circuit.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:39 PM   #10
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Nice work Norm and much appreciated. I'll be looking forward to some more measurements when you get the watt meter.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:56 PM   #11
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Interesting thread. I wondered about energy usage of an inverter.

I also have wondered how much amperage is wasted by the inverter during actual use of 12v appliances.... whether the amp usage of the inverter itself increases as it works harder (although if it gives off waste heat, that heat is not truly wasted during a cold night). I suppose one would have to be able to measure the appliance's draw directly from, say, the car's cigarette lighter plug, and then compare that to the draw of the inverter-appliance combo?
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:16 PM   #12
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Interesting thread. I wondered about energy usage of an inverter. (...)
At least on my inverter, there is a ON/Off switch
I've experienced very quick battery drain simply with 110V AA/AAA battery charger. Based on the fact the inverter casing gets warm even idle, I think it may depend on the internal circuitry. Any 110V appliances connected to it also use power when idle: it is called Standby power...Standby power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It can vampirize your RV battery faster than you may imagine.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:22 PM   #13
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Martin

We have a large Inverter for the big items and it is located as close as possible to the battery. It is under the front couch. The Inverter Power cords to the battery are thick and as short as possible and go directly to the battery. (The Converter is located beside the Inverter and has it's own wires that run to the battery as well.)

The Large Inverter is right next to an AC outlet. We unplug the Converter from that outlet and plug the AC output of the Inverter into that outlet so the AC from the Inverter feeds back thru the Breaker Box to all other outlets in the trailer. The biggest thing we ever run off the Inverter is our four cup 600 watt coffee pot. It only runs for probably 5-10 minutes for morning coffee.

The small inverters we use are for running the TV and/or Sat dish in the evening and together they draw about 50 watts and that's maybe 4 hours a night. That load represents only about 4 amps from the battery, a rather light current draw for any wire in our trailer. The small cigarette lighter Inverters (100 watt) plug into cigarette lighter outputs. We own two, one for the car and one for the trailer ($20 at Walmart by Black and Decker.)

As to Inverter efficiency, the small ones seem to be relatively efficient. In the small Inverters it seems to be the order of 4 watts or less to run the Inverter. I'm not sure what it is for the large one but I'll know and post it.

Thank you for your thoughts, power usage is important to think about.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:33 PM   #14
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I'm amazed at all the effort one takes to make a pot of coffee using a battery. Why not use the stove and a coffee maker. I envisioned with dual batteries,LEDs and a solar setup that everything in the trailer would operate off 12v or propane, with no 120v needs. You can just about buy any appliance now that operates off 12v albeit some are inefficient, but that is why you have propane, for your refer, heat, and for cooking. Why not eliminate any 120v use unless you have hookups?
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:24 PM   #15
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I'm amazed at all the effort one takes to make a pot of coffee using a battery. Why not use the stove and a coffee maker. I envisioned with dual batteries,LEDs and a solar setup that everything in the trailer would operate off 12v or propane, with no 120v needs. You can just about buy any appliance now that operates off 12v albeit some are inefficient, but that is why you have propane, for your refer, heat, and for cooking. Why not eliminate any 120v use unless you have hookups?
Jim, it's good that you ask because solutions often evolve without much thought. As a result my response will be a wandering....

I must admit to being careful with money (cheap). If I own something I usually don't throw it out until it fails. We had the coffee pot and TV. (You know there's been no Social Security inflation increase for three years, everyone knows prices have soared plus with the national state of things I tend to be a little conservative in my spending.)

We first bought an 1200 watt Inverter because we had an AC only fridge. The reason for the coffee pot being AC is that we are often at sites that have AC plus we have the coffee pot. A 600 watt coffee pot running on 12 volts would require wiring capable of 50 amps. I also admit it's somewhat of a convenince item.

Our stove is normally busy and busier when boondocking. We eat the same thing for breakfast every day, one egg and bacon or sausage, toast (english on the stove if no AC for the toaster) and coffee. Your basic 200 calorie breakfast. Yes I am blessed with low cholestrol (sp), life on the road has been good for our health.

Our TV was a gift and is AC only as is the Sat dish receiver. Both computers require 19 volts at the input so the battery doesn't cut it. Our Kaito radio has an AC/DC charger to recharge its batteries. Our blanket is AC because when we bought it we didn't know there were 12 volt blankets.

The things we can run on propane we do. If there's something we can run on 12 volts we do. We have three 12 volt outlets in our trailer and 10 AC outlets (more for convience than need).

As well with the big Inverter if Ginny wants to run the hair dryer for 10 mnutes on 800 watts she can.

By the way we only have a single battery but may go to two batteries next year. I will also say we haven't run the AC Converter since we installed our first solar panel, now 2 panels, they seems to handle our battery's charging needs.

If we have a choice we run our water heater on AC, because it's quieter and 'free'. The same for the electric heater versus the furnace.

If I were creating the ideal trailer I'm sure I could survive without an Inverter, however the inverter is relatively efficient, the wiring is practical in size. AC is sort of a universal solution, practically everything comes with some sort of AC/DC charger and there's little consistency in voltage from product to product. We have 3 volt, 6 volt, 12 volt and 19 volt AC/DC chargers for various products.

I think there's no common DC voltage theme today and continue to see the need for AC and of course there's my inherent cheapness (though I suspect Ginny would tell you, with a smile on her face, that I spend money in some ways without care...dare I say carelessly.

Thanks for encouraging me to think about it...

P.S. it seems many new trailer manufacturers are trying to move to AC only...go figure.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:38 PM   #16
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Thanks for your thoughtful response, I understand you are making the best use of things you have. If starting over you may have done things differently.
I'm still thinking about another trailer, have my eye on a fiberglass trailer, non molded, but 100% fiberglass. Think the forum members will "shun" me? There is one reason this type is appealing, it has 1.5 thick, insulated walls and thermopane windows and I love winter camping but hate being cold.
Are you excited about your upcoming trip and do you have a route plan, I'm sure some of the members here would enjoy your company for a short visit, I have electric available for your morning coffee!
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:40 PM   #17
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..................
100 watt Inverter draws 0.3 amps
200 watt Inverter draws 0.35 amps
400 watt Inverter draws 0.1 amps
1200 watt Inverter draws ???
....................................
I have AIMS 1500 pure sine wave (digital) inverter which drains 1.3A at idle. With 3 batteries at 105 AH each it is not an issue. Primary use for me is small LCD TV, PCs, camera batteries charger, and occasionally Microwave. I used to have a simple (either square or modified wave Ė I donít remember), inverter and fried expensive Nikon battery charger. Since then I use pure sine wave only.
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:45 PM   #18
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Jim, it's good that you ask because solutions often evolve without much thought. As a result my response will be a wandering....(...)
Thanks for encouraging me to think about it...
P.S. it seems many new trailer manufacturers are trying to move to AC only...go figure.
As you probably know, new trailer manufacturers made standard 110/220V 50A connectors RV Electric, so you can have 12,000 Watts available for 110 or 220V appliances ! Multiple A/C units, hot water tank, microwave oven, name it ! RV are getting bigger and bigger. I would not call that camping, this is more the idea of a mobile home you can park near a lakefront for extended periods on a campground instead of buying or renting a lodge. Some rent or buy powerful diesel trucks to travel with them, sometimes with a motorboat behind the already impressive RV !

This is getting the opposite direction than most lighweight Fiberglass RV owners in my humble opinion. My Trillium is equipped to be self sufficient for about a week for 2-3 adults, even without water or electric hookup. I don't need a special truck or driver's licence to carry it. It can be used as long as the average temperature is not freezing. Freedom to travel and contact with nature is preserved with minimalist, but comfortable camping.

The idea of "camping" definitely changed over the years.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:12 AM   #19
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Minimalist direction

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As you probably know, new trailer manufacturers made standard 110/220V 50A connectors
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RV Electric, so you can have 12,000 Watts available for 110 or 220V appliances ! Multiple A/C units, hot water tank, microwave oven, name it ! RV are getting bigger and bigger. I would not call that camping, this is more the idea of a mobile home you can park near a lakefront for extended periods on a campground instead of buying or renting a lodge. Some rent or buy powerful diesel trucks to travel with them, sometimes with a motorboat behind the already impressive RV !

This is getting the opposite direction than most lighweight Fiberglass RV owners in my humble opinion. My Trillium is equipped to be self sufficient for about a week for 2-3 adults, even without water or electric hookup. I don't need a special truck or driver's licence to carry it. It can be used as long as the average temperature is not freezing. Freedom to travel and contact with nature is preserved with minimalist, but comfortable camping.

The idea of "camping" definitely changed over the years.


We just sold our Motorhome; it only had a 30 amp power cord, and one air conditioner. We did have a 3300 watt generator.

It was difficult for us to sell the motorhome after 10 years (though it sold in one day). We absolutely loved it, our first RV. It was a pleasure to travel in and took us to every state but one and every province of Canada. With the motorhome we were as self sufficient as one could be, 100 gallons of water, small solar panel, 3300 watt generator, 80 gallons of gas and the ability to take freezing temperatures in comfort. As well no special licence required. We have taken the motorhome to places that are truely isolated and been surrounded by wild life. It's certainly not camping in the sense of our tent days but as we approach 70, the true minimalist, on the ground camping, is beyond us or at least difficult.

On the electrical side, we push for a little more than might be considered minimalist. We're gone for so long that we need to be able to keep in touch with our bank, relatives and the world in general. We need power for our computers, Internet and TV. 11 months is a long time, and we need to be alert to our 'family' and to measure the events in the world even when we're down some dirt road, on a way out Indian reservation for a couple of weeks. It's good for us and the people we love back home. I think the power of electronics to keep you in touch is a great comfort, particularly to my wife.

We bought our first trailer for a 2 month cross Labrador trip figuring it was too much for our Motorhome and loved the trailer, using it 10 months that year. Now we're small trailer people. We hardly ever use an air conditioner but added one to our Scamp because we'll be gone 11 months this year and be crossing the middle of the country in August/September.

This year we have sought to be as self sufficient as possible, hence the solar panels, because we're going to have a period deep in the Ruby Mts of Neveda on this trip. The only modification to the Scamp I didn't do was installing a larger water tank, next year I guess.

I love our small trailer, we show it off all the time to friends and strangers as most Fiberglass owners do. Most people are shocked by the openess of our rig, how much there is inside that bathroom sized space. It's enough for us.

Safe travels,
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:01 PM   #20
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We just sold our Motorhome; it only had a 30 amp power cord, and one air conditioner. We did have a 3300 watt generator.

It was difficult for us to sell the motorhome after 10 years (though it sold in one day). We absolutely loved it, our first RV. It was a pleasure to travel in and took us to every state but one and every province of Canada. With the motorhome we were as self sufficient as one could be, 100 gallons of water, small solar panel, 3300 watt generator, 80 gallons of gas and the ability to take freezing temperatures in comfort. As well no special licence required. We have taken the motorhome to places that are truely isolated and been surrounded by wild life. It's certainly not camping in the sense of our tent days but as we approach 70, the true minimalist, on the ground camping, is beyond us or at least difficult.

On the electrical side, we push for a little more than might be considered minimalist. We're gone for so long that we need to be able to keep in touch with our bank, relatives and the world in general. We need power for our computers, Internet and TV. 11 months is a long time, and we need to be alert to our 'family' and to measure the events in the world even when we're down some dirt road, on a way out Indian reservation for a couple of weeks. It's good for us and the people we love back home. I think the power of electronics to keep you in touch is a great comfort, particularly to my wife.

We bought our first trailer for a 2 month cross Labrador trip figuring it was too much for our Motorhome and loved the trailer, using it 10 months that year. Now we're small trailer people. We hardly ever use an air conditioner but added one to our Scamp because we'll be gone 11 months this year and be crossing the middle of the country in August/September.

This year we have sought to be as self sufficient as possible, hence the solar panels, because we're going to have a period deep in the Ruby Mts of Neveda on this trip. The only modification to the Scamp I didn't do was installing a larger water tank, next year I guess.

I love our small trailer, we show it off all the time to friends and strangers as most Fiberglass owners do. Most people are shocked by the openess of our rig, how much there is inside that bathroom sized space. It's enough for us.

Safe travels,

Earlier this year we traveled the south west part of the US with our 13' trailer. We spent almost 100 days, electric hookups were not used in most cases. A 65 Watt solar panel and the tow vehicle keep the house battery and an extra battery charged. On the rare occasion when we stayed in a place with electric hookups the only thing 120AC ran was the refrigerator. No Air conditioner, No television. Computers are net-books. that can be charged when traveling and not used a lot. Kindles require the most recharging.
Most of lighting was done with CCFL (Cold Cathode Florescent Lights). Before the next trip I replace the incandescent lights with LEDs. Now I can turn all the lights on and draw about the same amount as one incandescent.
Electric appliances are NOT part of mix. I can cook almost anything on the stove top or in a dutch oven as I can at home.
I'm convinced that we could stay out indefinitely with our set up.
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