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Old 05-22-2017, 09:05 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question about which inverter to use

Hi to every body.
I finally made the arrangements to buy our bus. It would be an 2001 International td466e and while I wait (would be use by our school district until June 24) I'm doing all the research that I can.
I'm trying to have a good idea of what is needed and how much it will cost and if possible start buying the major parts
My goal is to dedicate 3 to 4 whole weeks to the conversion and try to have something usable for the month of August.

I know that a sinewave inverter is better, but I found this inverter that go all the way to 6000w and have good review and any sinewave around that price would only go to 2000w
Power Bright PW6000-12 Power Inverter 6000 Watt 12 Volt DC To 110 Volt AC

what do you favored a lower wattage sinewave or a higher wattage not sinewave?
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:22 PM   #2
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the pure sine wave inverters have an electrical pattern that more closely resembles the electrical pattern found in the wiring of a house. the modified sine wave inverters are cheaper and much more widely available, at any truck stop or large box hardware or electronics store. they have a different electrical pattern that some sensitive electronics cant handle. ive heard of people's laptops getting fried, for example.
search for pure sine wave vs modified sine wave to read all about it.
so i would suggest the largest wattage pure sine wave inverter that is in your budget. look at all the reviews. there are alot of badly made inverters being sold out there. try to buy from an american company. i ended up only getting a 500 watt refurbished one off ebay for about $110 but it was from a solid american solar company. with my simple living that runs everything i want to use; (tv, laptop, external harddrive, computer speakers, small room fan, phone charger, small battery charger, and led string lighting) it runs them all at the same time for hours quietly.

on a different subject, i suspect that u will find that 3 to 4 WHOLE weeks will be just about enough time to start to get your hands dirty in this conversion process. i think that 3 to 4 months minimum would be closer to what most people spend to get their conversions to a comfortable place. but hey, if u just want to rip out the seats, throw a cooler, campstove, and a sleeping bag in there u will be done in no time. good luck
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Old 05-22-2017, 03:45 PM   #3
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The "3 to 4 weeks" thing made me smile. So far I've been working on my bus for about eight years, and I've not even started the interior yet! For some of my projects it takes 3 to 4 weeks just to research and come up with a practical game plan, and that's before I even pick up the first tool. In 3 to 4 weeks you'll have a roof over your head, but how much else is up to you!

I assume the inverter's quoted 6000 watts is more marketing hype than reality, and at best would be a short-term surge rating only. I hope so, because my 2000W inverter has 4/0 cables to power it and has a 250A fuse. I can't imagine what size cables and fuse would be needed for something much larger. You'll need a hefty battery bank to power an inverter of that size, otherwise there will be fearsome voltage droop under load, possibly enough for its LVD to shut it off. How will you charge those batteries?

I suggest you first calculate all your intended AC loads before you buy an appropriate inverter (bigger isn't always better!), then you'll know how much battery bank it will need, then you'll know what size generator or PV array is needed to correctly charge them. A Kill A Watt meter will tell you exactly how much power everything uses. As a general rule, bargain-priced Chinese electronics have a tendency to let out the magic smoke fairly quickly, especially if under a heavy load. Sine-wave inverters don't fry sensitive electronics and they allow most things to run cooler than from square-wave inverters, so a smaller TSW is usually better than a bigger MSW. The only loads that don't care are purely resistive loads such as heaters, but why would one be doing that anyway?

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Old 05-23-2017, 08:44 AM   #4
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AE inverter

Thank you guys for the input.

About the three to four weeks, you are right in a sense. I know that for a full conversion, 1 to 2 years would be more like a real estimate. My goal for this August is to have something roughly capable of offers what I have in my popup camper, besides that I already have invested several weeks researching and developing an action plan.
Now about the inverter I found this one and I want your advise.
Note: solar energy is one of the few things that I dont know anything. Brand new to the subject.

The AE 3TL three-phase inverter contains everything needed to convert the DC
energy generated by the PV array(s) into AC energy for the utility grid.

• Maximum CEC efficiency:
◦ 97.5% for AE 3TL-12kW, AE 3TL-16kW, AE 3TL-20kW
◦ 98.0% for AE 3TL-23kW
• Peak efficiency is 98.2%
• Transformerless design
• Options for 600 V and 1000 V projects
• Wide DC voltage operating range:
◦ 600 series is 125 V to 450 V
• Connection box for wiring
• Integrated DC disconnect switch
• NEMA 4 electronics enclosure, NEMA 3R connection enclosure
• Finger-safe fuses
• Modbus communication
• Convection cooling with an internal temperature monitoring system to protect
the inverter from exceeding the permissible ambient temperature
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:07 AM   #5
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I suspect everyone would agree that pure sine wave would be ideal. Stepping outside of the ideal, what do you plan to run with this inverter? A Google search will reveal some of things with which a modified sine wave inverter is not good. I've lived with a modified sine wave inverter (first Xantrex (2k watt), now Wagan (5k watt)) for three years and have not had any issues. I have a residential refrigerator, laptops, computer monitors, LED TV, convection oven/microwave, etc. The microwave is definitely "different" (lower power) on inverter/battery but otherwise works ok. I even run a laser printer from time to time.

To determine size, you need to do an energy budget to know what your needs are. Just buying one will work, of course.

The other thing to consider is that some items may already be 12VDC and can be ran directly off the battery. We are in the habit of plugging in transformers without really thinking about what they are doing.
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Old 05-23-2017, 09:17 AM   #6
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The AE 3TL three-phase inverter contains everything needed to convert the DC
energy generated by the PV array(s) into AC energy for the utility grid
You definitely do not need that. I'm no expert but I've never heard of any power company allowing any non-permanent solar installation to be connected to the grid (sticks and bricks houses only).

Solar has a steep learning curve but isn't all that complicated. In very general terms, you need to know how much power you are going to use each day. Then design a solar system that provides that much power (or more) while the sun is out. Solar panels, solar charge controller, and battery bank. The type of charge controller (PWM, MPPT, etc.) may vary based on the panels you get (12V or higher voltage).
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:04 PM   #7
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Please keep in mind that a name brand modified sine will perform significantly better than an off brand modified sine of the same specs. Inverters are the type of product that you should really go with name brand. I run a Magnum MM1512AE that powers my fridge, televisions, computers, et cetera no problem. In fact, I'll be running a 12k btu a/c unit and the fridge at the same time on it. It's quality. 1500w with 2200 surge. What do you need 6kW for? Mine cost me $700. If you buy the cheap junk it's going to break or damage your stuff. I'd stick with Magum or Xantrex and forget the rest.

Also, that fancy AE 3TL three-phase inverter is way overkill. JDOnTheGo is right. You need to know what your power demands are going to be before you can:

A) find an inverter that is right for your needs. An inverter sized too large draws more power than necessary and will kick on any time it detects a load, draining your batteries.

B) size your solar array. The farther north you are, the more panels you're going to need to top your batteries off.

C) size your battery bank. Your batteries should be accurately sized with your solar array so that you are neither trickle charging or boiling them. At the same time, it needs to be large enough to sustain your energy usage through a few rainy days.

I'd suggest you do a little reading over at the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun forum to gain a basic understanding of how it all works. It's tough to build your own system without knowing your demands.
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:44 PM   #8
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First things first, you need to know your loads. Buy and use a kill-a-watt meter (or several) and measure the things you want to power. The power usage placards that come on the appliances are only worst-case. You can use that data, but you will seriously over-provision your system.

Plug the kill-a-watt between the socket and microwave, put a cup of water in it, and turn it on full-blast and see how much power it takes to boil.

Run your refrigerator / freezer through the kill-a-watt for a day in temperatures that approximate the temps you expect in your bus.

Plug your cell charger through the kill-a-watt and charge your phone or tablet from dead.

Doing these things will start to give you an idea of what these devices actually draw, not just whats on the data placard. It'll also open you eyes as to how much electricity you really use....

Then, once you know how much power these devices draw, then you have a starting point from which to calculate the size of your system and its limits - in real terms (and not "back-of-the-napkin" average power draws that many of the solar web sites use for sizing). You will be better able to decide for yourself what you can live with and without (i.e. having to turn off the air conditioner to use the microwave - "capacity"; can go two days without sun or a whole week - "storage" and "charge rate", etc.).

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Old 05-23-2017, 08:44 PM   #9
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Ah, warewolf, you beat me to it....

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Old 05-24-2017, 08:35 AM   #10
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Guys, you really are awesome and a well of knowledge. The AE inverter was offered to me for only $600, brand new. I know that I wouldn't be selling power back to the grid, but the price for that kind of device was tenting.

Now with a better idea I will keep looking for the right one. Most likely I would wait until I get the bus and order the AC unit and freezer to have a more accurate number.
I was trying to gain time an maybe a few bucks buying without a rush.
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Old 05-29-2017, 11:19 PM   #11
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Keep us updated. We're here to help. Marky's suggestion of an energy consumption meter like THIS really helped me understand my power demands. Just remember if you're converting amps at 120v to amps at 12v that you have to multiply by 10. I say that only because batteries are rated in terms of amp hours and not watt hours. So 120v at 2 amps = 12v at 20 amps, but wattage always remains the same. 100w on the meter is 100w at 12v is 100w at 120v. That whole concept threw me for a loop until I understood the basics.
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Old 06-06-2017, 01:22 PM   #12
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I have another question for you guys. the same seller that offered the inverter has this panels for sale at a really good price

https://www.acosolar.com/et-solar-31...y-silver-frame

would this panels be useful for the bus? The wattage is awesome, but what about the voltage?
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:41 PM   #13
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That's a good price.
An MPPT charge controller will efficiently bring the ~38 volts down to the battery voltage (12v or 24v, most likely).
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:00 PM   #14
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would this panels be useful for the bus? The wattage is awesome, but what about the voltage?
Yes! I have used the high(er) voltage residential panels for several years. They are fantastic but are physically large. As jazty said, an MPPT charge controller is required.
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I have another question for you guys. the same seller that offered the inverter has this panels for sale at a really good price

https://www.acosolar.com/et-solar-31...y-silver-frame

would this panels be useful for the bus? The wattage is awesome, but what about the voltage?
Did you notice the minimum purchase quantity? 52 panels.....
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:07 PM   #16
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Did you notice the minimum purchase quantity? 52 panels.....
16kW on a bus would be KILLER!!
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:21 AM   #17
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Did you notice the minimum purchase quantity? 52 panels.....
Yes,
the link that I included is just to show you the spec. I would be buying from a warehouse in Staten Island who are selling each panel for $140.

I'm planing to buy just 3.
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