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Rat Gar

invertors

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I have a 600 watt 12v invertor which I bought from Maplins before it shut and it has served me well but I need a new one now and was wondering what to go for !!! I cant see why some are hundreds of pounds and some not. The 600 w was fine and I was wondering if I could put a 800w one on, or if that's a waste because my alternator wont be able to handle and more power, I have a canal line 38 engine.  I also reckon a modified sine wave would be fine from reading about it as I only want it for tv, laptop and charging phones tablets, etc. Any advise please

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26 minutes ago, Rat Gar said:

I cant see why some are hundreds of pounds and some not.

There is a huge difference in quality and reliability - if you look on youtube there are a number of videos showing the 'Cheap Chinese' (say up to £200) catching fire.

A decent marine brand is built to a quality level rather than a price level.

The two main brands are Victron and Mastervolt, with a medium price, medium quality brand is Sterling.

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Most modern chargers and other electrical bits use switch mode power circuits and won't like modified "sine" wave inverters. I wouldn't risk damaging all your gear by saving a few quid.

TD'

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I use and often recommend Sunshine Solar for inverters that are cheaper than the big names but better than the noname ebay ones.

 

For the difference in price, I'd go for a pure sine wave model.  If you ever get anything more sensitive you'll be able to plug it in and not worry about it.

 

https://www.sunshinesolar.co.uk/Category/PureSineWave12V

 

 

(No connection, just a happy customer)

 

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I've had problems with several Sterling inverters and would never buy another. And I've damaged too many things by using modified sinewaves, from a toothbrush charger to the clock/timer/ignition module on a gas cooker; definitely go for a sinewave, even though they cost more.

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Definitely worth paying the extra if you're going to be using it a lot, and you never know what else you might want to plug in in future. The Sterling modified sine wave inverter that came with the boat killed an electric fan, 2 toothbrush chargers, and anything with a motor didn't sound healthy running from it. 

This Victron pure sine wave runs everything nicely, and has an eco mode for standby which draws less than 0.2amps when nothing is taking any power. I think the old Sterling took at least a couple of amps whilst sitting there doing nothing. 

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This is a very difficult question to answer without having to use one's own experience. There's a lot of marketing around to keep the price higher than it migh otherwise be and a lot of good value  devices around that cut the waffle - but still do a good job.

I'm of the opinion that provided you don't want to power the Blackpool illuminations, or even run those things that folks deem necessary such as power showers, electric cookers et al, then there's a wide choice of good kit around and at reasonable prices.

 

I had (still have) an inxepesive  PSW 300W unit that ran my TV and caravan twin tub washing machine. It's xx years old ans still works - even though I once left the 1500X immersion heater on by mistake - big bang - replaced the fuse - it still worked and does to this day.

I have a MSW unit from Sterling that I used to run a vacuum cleaner. The cleaner wasn't / isn't, but it works and the imverter is happy as well..

Two years ago I borrowed an inexpensive HF (wtf?) inverter from Bimble - It ran the fridges (which was the objective) perfic' - didn't get hot and started both fridges (I wanted a small test load).

 

My experience and suggestions are:-

 

Regardless of the following bet pre sine wave inverter(s)

If you're going to want high power to power shore style kit -

    Start wit 24V DC supply

    Oversize the inverter

    Buy a reasonable brand - and I include models from Sterling and Bimble

 

Now I'll probably get **** from the establishment and becase The Management is about to serve a delcious concuction of grub and

I've dried up on what I wanted to say and

I've had two large whisky mac's

 

so I'm going off

 

 

There is no ONE simple answer to inverters - but a myriad of options - many of which might work....

 

 

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1 hour ago, Rat Gar said:

I have a 600 watt 12v invertor which I bought from Maplins before it shut and it has served me well but I need a new one now and was wondering what to go for !!! I cant see why some are hundreds of pounds and some not. The 600 w was fine and I was wondering if I could put a 800w one on, or if that's a waste because my alternator wont be able to handle and more power, I have a canal line 38 engine.  I also reckon a modified sine wave would be fine from reading about it as I only want it for tv, laptop and charging phones tablets, etc. Any advise please

 

The alternator has very little to do with the size of inverter apart from if you want to run a heavy electrical load and cover it by the alternator so it doesn't flatten the batteries.

 

The things you need to watch are:

 

Voltdrop across small battery banks while its operating at high power.

The battery bank capacity being enough to run it for as long as you need it

You charge for long enough to put what you took out of your batteries back in plus a bit.

 

The size of the alternator in respect of recharging will not make a massive difference to the recharge time - it will be many hours to fully charged.

 

Don't risk modified sine wave - it has caused some laptops to use far too much current and get very hot. Why don't you use a car adaptor for the laptops? Ditto the phones and tablets - doing so will consume a little less electricity.

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47 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Why don't you use a car adaptor for the laptops? Ditto the phones and tablets - doing so will consume a little less electricity.

 

While this is true, the cost of good 12v adaptors will be about the difference between a MSW and a PSW inverter at the size the OP is looking to buy.

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I've never had a problem running anything from my sterling 1800w modified sine wave inverter including several laptops.

 

Edit: tell a lie it once blew up an electric toothbrush!

Edited by blackrose

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6 minutes ago, blackrose said:

it once blew up an electric toothbrush

 

In the words of Charles Sterling : "Well yes, it would!"

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17 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

In the words of Charles Sterling : "Well yes, it would!"

Indeed. 
 

For the not excessive price of about £260 you can buy a brand new, reliable 800VA PSW inverter from Victron. There endeth my advice. 


It’s a very pretty blue too. 

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4 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Indeed. 
 

For the not excessive price of about £260 you can buy a brand new, reliable 800VA PSW inverter from Victron. There endeth my advice. 


It’s a very pretty blue too. 

 

Or a 1500W from Sunshine and get £61 change ...

 

... also a nice blue colour!

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3 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

Or a 1500W from Sunshine and get £61 change ...

 

... also a nice blue colour!

Or a 1000W from Sunshine and only get £20 change...

 

Doesn't make much sense really. 

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18 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Or a 1000W from Sunshine and only get £20 change...

 

Doesn't make much sense really. 

 

They always have a sale on some of their product range.  I advise people to wait for the one they want to come on sale ... which probably isn't great for them, but is true!

 

Helpful on the phone too if you need assistance.

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41 minutes ago, WotEver said:


 

For the not excessive price of about £260 you can buy a brand new, reliable 800VA PSW inverter from Victron. There endeth my advice. 


It’s a very pretty blue too. 

 

I probably would do if I needed a new inverter, but mine is 15 years old and still going strong and does everything I need without a problem - apart from charge the toothbrush!

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8 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

I probably would do if I needed a new inverter, but mine is 15 years old and still going strong and does everything I need without a problem - apart from charge the toothbrush!

 

Stick with it then.  It works for you, so why not? :) 

 

If you run motors off MSW (Fridge compressors etc) they get a lot hotter than they should so burn out earlier.  A lot of washing machines refuse to run at all on MSW for some reason - perhaps the electronics use the sinewave for timing? - some of the gurus will know why.

 

You can get electric tooth brushes that take AA batteries rather than the induction charging systems that get killed by MSW ...

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52 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Indeed. 
 

For the not excessive price of about £260 you can buy a brand new, reliable 800VA PSW inverter from Victron. There endeth my advice. 


It’s a very pretty blue too. 

 

No, Victron is a really horrible shade of blue, almost as bad as the lurid blue chinese stuff. Some careful masking and a tin of matt black aerosol paint would be a good investment.

 

Prices have fallen, there is now little advantage in MSW when PSW is available at good prices.

 

The better "cheap" stuff is probably ok but lacks a safety margin so if you need 800w then buy a 1600w device.

Sterling is better quality cheap stuff but at prices closer to the proper expensive stuff so probably better to get the cheaper better cheap stuff more cheaply 🙂.

 

................Dave

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1 minute ago, dmr said:

The better "cheap" stuff is probably ok but lacks a safety margin so if you need 800w then buy a 1600w device.

 

All the Sunshine stuff I have installed for peeps can spike to twice it's nominal rating (briefly - microseconds!) so a 1000W is big enough to run most fridges as it can spike to 2000W load on motor start.  A lot of the ebay/noname stuff quote their maximum surge capacity rather than their continuous rating.

 

There are still issues with people thinking they are on shorepower and running too much at once, but that's more a battery life issue than an inverter problem.

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2 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

All the Sunshine stuff I have installed for peeps can spike to twice it's nominal rating (briefly - microseconds!) so a 1000W is big enough to run most fridges as it can spike to 2000W load on motor start.  A lot of the ebay/noname stuff quote their maximum surge capacity rather than their continuous rating.

 

There are still issues with people thinking they are on shorepower and running too much at once, but that's more a battery life issue than an inverter problem.

But if you install a 1000w inverter and plan to use it continually at 1000w (hairdrier or big power tools) then getting a 2000w device would be better. The expensive stuff is designed and tested to run flat out in hot surroundings, the cheaper stuff is not, but even with a 100% safety margin the cheap stuff is still good value.

 

And here I am mostly just requoting wot a supplier of cheaper stuff told me. 🙂

Trouble with getting a big safety margin is the bugger still works if you accidentally leave the immersion heater on 🙂.

 

.................Dave

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1 minute ago, dmr said:

But if you install a 1000w inverter and plan to use it continually at 1000w (hairdrier or big power tools) then getting a 2000w device would be better. The expensive stuff is designed and tested to run flat out in hot surroundings, the cheaper stuff is not, but even with a 100% safety margin the cheap stuff is still good value.

 

And here I am mostly just requoting wot a supplier of cheaper stuff told me. 🙂

Trouble with getting a big safety margin is the bugger still works if you accidentally leave the immersion heater on 🙂.

 

.................Dave

 

I agree.  Sunshine do a 4KW 12V inverter which I think is crazy - at that level you really need to be 24V or (better) 48V.

 

I run a 3KW/12V inverter, but the washing machine (biggest power draw usually) is rated at 1300W max and I feed it hot water, so it takes 100s not 1000s of Watts.  I use a factor of 10V off the battery for loss margins, so 3000W is ~300A from the batteries and the alternator working together - and I don't run anything near that for a long time or the bad electric smoke would start coming out!  The flip side is that the inverter rarely runs at 50% of design load, and only occasionally has to actually work for a living.  It also only draws ~0.7A when not doing much so stays on all the time.  The previous noname chinese inverter drew 4A doing nothing!

 

The electric chainsaw pulls 2200W and never bats an eyelid, and the electric compound mitre saw pulls 2000W when working hard, so I can run everything I need quite hard for quite a while without any problems. 

 

The immersion can be run off the inverter, but I have only used it twice - both times in Liverpool on the free electricity to see if it still works.  It's on a plug that you have to move the dinette seats to connect into a socket, deliberately.  It's been plugged into the only socket it reaches three times in 5 years - twice to use on shoreline, and once to see if it would reach without being switched on when I wired it.

 

 

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Add a bit:

 

I did actually think of plugging it in on Friday, but the cat was melting on the floor by 9am so I fired up the engine and moved under a tree for shade, so the water was hot and the solar panel was shaded anyway.

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1 minute ago, TheBiscuits said:

 

I agree.  Sunshine do a 4KW 12V inverter which I think is crazy - at that level you really need to be 24V or (better) 48V.

 

I run a 3KW/12V inverter, but the washing machine (biggest power draw usually) is rated at 1300W max and I feed it hot water, so it takes 100s not 1000s of Watts.  I use a factor of 10V off the battery for loss margins, so 3000W is ~300A from the batteries and the alternator working together - and I don't run anything near that for a long time or the bad electric smoke would start coming out!  The flip side is that the inverter rarely runs at 50% of design load, and only occasionally has to actually work for a living.  It also only draws ~0.7A when not doing much so stays on all the time.  The previous noname chinese inverter drew 4A doing nothing!

 

The electric chainsaw pulls 2200W and never bats an eyelid, and the electric compound mitre saw pulls 2000W when working hard, so I can run everything I need quite hard for quite a while without any problems. 

 

The immersion can be run off the inverter, but I have only used it twice - both times in Liverpool on the free electricity to see if it still works.  It's on a plug that you have to move the dinette seats to connect into a socket, deliberately.  It's been plugged into the only socket it reaches three times in 5 years - twice to use on shoreline, and once to see if it would reach without being switched on when I wired it.

 

 

We have the lovely TravelPower so I use the immersion heater both to heat the calorifier but also to work the engine hard to get it warmed up. Trouble is the immersion heater is turned on most of the time so when we turn the inverter on (usually for the little food processor) it accidentally drives the immersion heater. I have thought about a relay interlock system but its not top of the todo list.

 

Why do you vave a 2kW compound mitre saw on the boat ?🙂

 

Giving Liverpool a miss this year, in fact giving long distance cruising a miss, the two really good Liverpool things (in addition to free leccy) are the Pubs, and getting the train to the beaches to run the dog, and I don't want to do either with a lot of virus still about.

 

................Dave

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1 minute ago, dmr said:

We have the lovely TravelPower so I use the immersion heater both to heat the calorifier but also to work the engine hard to get it warmed up. Trouble is the immersion heater is turned on most of the time so when we turn the inverter on (usually for the little food processor) it accidentally drives the immersion heater. I have thought about a relay interlock system but its not top of the todo list.

 

Why do you vave a 2kW compound mitre saw on the boat ?🙂

 

Giving Liverpool a miss this year, in fact giving long distance cruising a miss, the two really good Liverpool things (in addition to free leccy) are the Pubs, and getting the train to the beaches to run the dog, and I don't want to do either with a lot of virus still about.

 

................Dave

 

A travelpower is on the "pro" list for the next boat!

 

I have a 2KW slide compound mitre saw on the boat because a) I had the saw before I bought this boat and b) I have only had this boat 5 years so it's not quite finished yet! :D  You don't seem too concerned by the 2.2KW electric chainsaw though ...

 

Yeah, we were booked into Liverpool last week, but got cancelled in March when CRT were cancelling all bookings until July.  We are not that keen to go back for shut pubs and Scallies coughing and sneezing at us from the road above the dock ...

 

Apparently Crosby and Formby beaches were nearly as bad as Bournemouth beach on Thursday and Friday, but there were no press photographers there so they didn't make headline news.  We are giving them a miss too!

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, OldGoat said:

I borrowed an inexpensive HF (wtf?) inverter

 

A High Frequency (HF) inverter runs the 12V DC through an ~20 kHz oscillator and feeds it into a small transformer, and typically weighs ~5Kg for a 3KW inverter.  Clever electronics, but not ideal for very heavy loads. They also tend to draw < 1A when doing nothing, so can be left on 24/7.

 

A Low Frequency (LF) inverter runs the 12V DC through an ~50-60 Hz oscillator and feeds it into a large transformer, and typically weighs ~25Kg for a 3KW inverter.  Not clever electronics, but good at very heavy loads.  They also tend to draw > 4A when doing nothing, or they have a "pulse sense" setting that allows them to claim lower draw in the brochure but won't start inverting when you have only a mobile phone charger plugged in.

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