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Old 02-24-2004, 06:33 AM   #1
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Location: New Jersey
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Power Inverters - which makes more sense?

Lulu is selling a 2000-watt inverter for $173.95

They also have a 800-watt inverter for $ 52.75

Both are Coleman units and can be seen at: ... y=inverter

For about the same money I can get 2400 watts of power vs. 2000 watts.

This is the real question:

Would I be better off having three units, and the back-up capability that gives me in case one goes bad OR am I asking for trouble because I am increasing THREEFOLD the chance that something WILL fail?

Opinions, please.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:34 AM   #2
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By and large inverters are pretty reliable beasts being solid state items. The answer to your question would really lie with how you intend to use them; like what's the highest amount of wattage you need to draw at any one time. I've seen a lot of these inverters rated (that is their advertised wattage is) at maximum available rather than what they'll continuously deliver. Make sure you get one that will handle the load you need to power.

The 'biggy' is you can really suck down a set of batteries with an inverter. It's not that the inverter is a bad thing, most are pretty efficient, it's that heavy loads (like a microwave or coffee maker) on 120-volts AC are HUGE loads on the 12-volt DC side. As an estimate you can mulitply times 10; this isn't exact but sure gets you in the neighborhood. An 800-watt micro that is pulling 6.6 amps at 120-volts is going to pull 66 amps on the DC side plus the efficiency loss (usually about 10-15%).

I've found with inverters that you need to develop self-control, or at least a good awareness of the loads you're using, otherwise you'll end up with depleted batteries alot. So part of the answer to inverter size is based on what you're trying to power and part also on your personality! If you're a detail oriented person and can track how much power you're using with an inverter connected to several outlets then a larger unit will serve you well and allow for more options. If you just tend to flip switches on and use what's there then I'd opt for the smaller units so that you've limited yourself to just what you need and no more.

Remember, you shouldn't discharge a deep cycle battery to less than 50% of its rated amp-hours or a starting type battery more than 20%. Below these levels you start to physically damage the plates. As a rule-of-thumb you want your battery capacity to be at least 20% (in amp-hours) of the inverters size (in watts); that is, a 1000-wattt inverter should have a minimum of 200 amp-hours of batteries supporting it and a 2000-watt inverter needs at least 400 amp-hours.
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Old 02-24-2004, 11:01 AM   #3
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I cant tell you how much i agree with les about the batteries being dischared less than 50 %!!

I originally bought the 2000 w inverter from lulu, and one 775 w inverter from wal-mart. I eventually broke the larger inverter. Now i have two 775w inverters i purchased at wal-mart. I miss not being able to run a vacum cleaner from my big inverter. I can however run the frige, a regular house furnace, 25" tv/ dvd/ house stereo and about a hundred feet of rope lighting all at the same time off of one 775 w inverter. I keep the second one as a backup. I had one of these 775 w inverters die on me, i just took it back to wal-mart for a new one. Lots of wal-mart stores all around the country.

Being able to utilize both inverters at the same time allowed me to see there were some differences. When the battery voltage began to drop, the larger inverter did a better job at keeping things running. The low battery alarm would sound on the small inverter trying to run the furnace fan. The larger inverter would run the fan just fine at the same voltage. Whereas when the batteries were fully charged, the small inverter would run the furnace fan and lots of other stuff just fine
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