Inverters are useful devices that accept a 12V DC input and output 110v or 220v AC in various nations.
In plainer words, they transform the energy that is accessible from the electrical outlets in a house into the kind of electricity that is available from the cigarette lighter or auxiliary plug in a vehicle or truck.
This broadens the range of portable gadgets you may use in a car, truck, or recreational vehicle.
A power inverter enables you to efficiently utilize a device that you would typically only be able to use at home when traveling since almost all domestic appliances and devices operate on alternating current.
Salespeople, truckers, and other people who spend a lot of time in their cars will find a decent power inverter to be quite useful.
On a lengthy drive, when camping, and in many other situations, a vehicle power inverter may save your life.
Although handy, inverters have several drawbacks.
The amount of power an inverter can produce is limited by both the inverter’s architecture and the way you connect it to the electrical system of your car.
It may be an issue if the inverter isn’t large enough to withstand the surge when certain equipment and appliances, such refrigerators, utilize a significant quantity of power when they initially start on or occasionally while in use.
How a Car Power Inverter Is Installed
Three important factors should be taken into account before you start installing an automobile power inverter:
- Power requirements for portable gadgets: The inverter must be able to power all of the devices you want to plug in simultaneously.
- Locations where inverters can be installed: Inverters can be installed almost anywhere, but you should consider accessibility for plugging in equipment, how you will connect it to electricity and ground, and if it can safely disperse the heat it creates while in operation.
- Problems with power inverter wiring: Small inverters may be plugged into a cigarette lighter or auxiliary outlet. Large in-line fuses must be used to connect larger inverters to the battery.
The size of the inverter, the installation process, and the installation position are all determined by the amount of power your device uses, which is the first and most crucial factor to take into account.
Here are some general power needs to get you started, but we’ll cover this further in the phases that follow:
- Portable heater: 1,500 watts
- Standard hair dryer: 1,500 watts
- Mini fridge: 100 watts (500 watts on startup)
- 17″ laptop: 90 watts (less for smaller models)
- Cast iron plate: 1,500 watts (1,100 for coiled burner models)
Energy Needs vs Alternator Output
To choose an appropriate inverter size, you must determine what your power needs are.
Consider output from an alternator and portable gadgets.
Power Needs for Portable Devices
A typical rule of thumb is to multiply the amps of your device by the volts, which will provide the required watts, in order to determine the appropriate inverter size:
V x A = W
Consider upgrading your old PS3 or Xbox 360 to a PS4 or Xbox One and being unsure about what to do with your old system.
Although they may not be portable or the simplest method to add in-car gaming to your vehicle, you can simply jury-rig one of these consoles to serve as the central component of a DIY automobile multimedia system.
If you wish to play Xbox 360 in your vehicle, insert these figures into the calculation above as the Xbox 360 power supply’s rating indicates that it consumes 4A at 110V:
110V x 4A = 440W
In this case, you need an inverter with at least 440W of power.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that you’ll need to choose one that can provide 440W continuously rather than 440W peak.
If you wish to plug anything in while playing the Xbox, you’ll also need a larger inverter.
Output from Alternators and Power Inverters
How much power the alternator can produce is the other side of the equation.
Though you would need to get in touch with your neighborhood dealer to acquire a concrete number, you can sometimes locate this number by glancing at the alternator.
If you’re having problems locating precise figures, you may test your vehicle’s actual power production and consumption at a car electrical shop (or any repair facility that has the required tools).
The majority of alternators are capable of producing more power than the original electronics need, and they often support extra electronics like amplifiers.
However, from one make and model to another, the precise output varies.
Installing a high-performance alternator can be necessary if you wish to use your inverter to power a large amount of power-demanding equipment.
It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the scenario if you drive a vehicle with room for an extra battery.
This is particularly true if you wish to use your inverter after turning off the engine, since installing an extra battery can assist prevent you from completely draining the primary battery to the point where the car won’t start.
Locations for Car Inverters
Choosing a location for a vehicle power inverter installation is the first step.
Some places to take into account are:
- There is a trunk
- Underneath a chair
- Located in the glove box
- Installed on the floorboards
- Situated under the dash
Think about the power source and how convenient it will be to plug in your gadgets when deciding where to place the installation.
A trunk installation may not be practical if you wish to operate electronics in your car’s main cabin.
On the other hand, under other conditions, that place may be ideal.
Heat dissipation should also be taken into consideration.
Most inverters have built-in fans, and many of them have large heat sinks as part of their construction.
Choose a site for installation that won’t obstruct the airflow if your inverter has a fan.
Installation of a Car Inverter Temporarily
Connecting an automobile power inverter to a 12V auxiliary socket is the simplest method to install one.
Traditionally, cigarette lighters have been plugged into these sockets, however many modern cars no longer have them.
In addition to the outlet in the center console, some cars additionally contain additional outlets or remote outlets.
There is a limit to how much power you can use from the cigarette lighter, or 12V outlet, since it is connected to a circuit that often also contains other equipment.
Because of this, a lot of cigarette lighter inverters artificially limit the power that may be used with this kind of connection.
If you wish to utilize power-hungry equipment, it is a significant drawback, but it is a price worth paying considering how simple it is to use an inverter by just plugging it into an accessory socket.
Laptops and other tiny electrical gadgets work well with these plug-in inverters.
Some even include built-in USB ports for charging gadgets like telephones, GPS systems, and other devices that employ the standard USB connection.
Wiring is required for greater power-demanding devices and long-term installations.
Installation of a Permanent Car Inverter: In-Line Fuse
One method of permanently wiring an automobile inverter is to connect it directly to the battery or to the power cable.
If you want to go directly to the battery, you will need to locate the location where the wiring harness enters the firewall and fish the power line through.
An in-line fuse will prevent anything from melting down or catching fire when you turn on the inverter after you tap into the battery.
The identical set of issues that arise when connecting into a cigarette lighter outlet may easily arise if you tap into an existing power cable.
Therefore, before you tap into a circuit, you must have a solid grasp of what is on it.
If you don’t want to fish a wire through the firewall, going directly to the fuse box is a smart choice since adding a significant power load to an existing power line and circuit might cause problems.
Installation of a Car Inverter Permanently: Fuse Box
Many fuse boxes are neatly positioned someplace under the dash, however others are found under the hood.
As a result, the fuse box is an excellent location to install an automobile power inverter if you don’t want to run cables through the firewall.
It’s typically a good idea to tap into any open slots in the fuse box.
Either insert a fresh fuse into the vacant slot and connect to the fuse box’s rear or connect to the front of the fuse box using a spade connection.
The installation of a spade connection is a bit simpler, but adding a new fuse has a cleaner appearance.
But if you go that way, you’ll have to install an in-line fuse.
Should anything go wrong, you risk having a fire inside your car if you don’t include a fuse anywhere in the circuit.
You should examine the connection’s ability to receive power from the fuse box to see whether it receives electricity continuously or just when the ignition is turned on.
Choosing a connection that is only hot while the ignition is on will prevent your battery from unintentionally going dead, but using one that is always hot will allow you to plug into your inverter at all times.
If you require a pure sine wave inverter, you should think about it after you’ve chosen how to connect the inverter to the car’s electrical system.
A modified sine wave inverter may harm certain devices even if the majority of applications don’t call for the additional expenditure.