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Old 08-22-2016, 10:13 AM   #1
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Simple Inverter Question

New TT owner here looking for some advice. I'm hoping to boondock a lot & want to have some limited AC pwr available for periodic use of TV, laptop, etc. I have a 3400 watt inverter genset avail to recharge (runs fine from truck bed), but may not want to run it unnecessarily when loads are light or A/C not needed.

I see lots of posts regarding inverter installation, but many seem to be making it overcomplicated. My plan would be to mount a stand-alone 600-1000 watt TSW inverter in the front passthru near my dual 12-volt batt tray (or maybe just inside front of trailer so I can monitor digital LEDs showing batt voltage & output).

Usage plan would be to ONLY turn on inverter & use its outlets when not hooked up to external 110 source via the 30-amp twist plug (pwr pole or genset). Not planning to run anything thru the trailer CB panel or thru some fancy auto transfer switch, since the single inverter outlet would be either clearly marked or quite obvious if the unit itself is mounted inside trailer. If I need inverter power in the back of the trailer I can just run an extension cord & tag it clearly as well. Inverter remains powered OFF whenever regular 110 avail in trailer.

Am I missing something about this setup that makes it more complicated than this? When external AC power is on, trailer's converter will charge both batteries but not harm inverter because it will be off.

Two questions I do have are:
1) How noisy is a TSW inverter of this size if I do mount it inside the trailer somewhere. Understand the cooling fans in an inverter only come on if needed to prevent overheating, so I'm assuming they operate quietly?
2) Understand most inverters come with a grounding lug that should be mounted to chasis GND. Any grounding complications arise since trailer's 110 AC circuits are all presumably grounded the same way?

Thanks in advance for any advice or recommendations.
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Old 08-22-2016, 10:27 AM   #2
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You are not missing anything. You just are not trying to make it work like a stick & brick. ;-)

FWIW what I will say is that if you can get 12 VDC power supplies for what you run you will be better off. That said I have a 300 W unit that plugs into a cigar lighter and runs my laptop when I need it. ;-)

The answer to your #1 is it depends on the Inverter you pick.

The answer to your #2 is that it should not. Should is operative as in strange things happen so test it out at home when there is time for repairs.
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Old 08-22-2016, 10:42 AM   #3
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Do you even need to go that complicated if that's all you need it for?
I have a portable 300 watt inverter and it'll power my laptop and tv at the same time.
Most LED TVs are in the 70-150watt range unless it's huge. My camper even has a 12v cig type outlet by the tv I plug it into.
Even if you don't have a 12v outlet there they're easy to install and handy to have to plug in the phone charger also.
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Old 08-22-2016, 11:40 AM   #4
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Lots of times you can just get 12V power adapters easily enough.
My parents' tv is AC, but it's a wall wart that converts down to 12V.
12V to 120V to 12V is obviously inefficient.

If it's only a couple items, I think it's worth the effort and expense to just *make* it 12V.

Look at your power adapters and spend some time with digikey (or equivalent).
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Old 08-22-2016, 11:55 AM   #5
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Simple Inverter Question

What you mentioned is exactly what I've done on two different new TTs, if I understand you correctly. I mounted an 1100 watt inverter in the front storage area on the front wall, so it's pretty close to my two batteries. I fused it and I have a large fail-safe fuse directly on the batteries, too. Then I put in a totally separate standard double outlet, along with the remote inside the cabin and then just use an extension cord to run anything I want to use it for. It will power our microwave or our small toaster or my wife's hair dryer (on low) or whatever, except of course, the air conditioner.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:05 PM   #6
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Thanks ParkerBill, that's exactly what I have in mind too. Think the inverter option gives me more flexibility over individual 12v power converters and provides room for growth if other 110 power needs arise while boondocking.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:24 PM   #7
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You can do both, run certain items right off 12v with a smaller converter maybe, instead of the inefficiency of taking 12vdc to 120vac and back to, say for a laptop 18vdc. You can have the inverter for when there aren't adapters or converters so that you can have that flexibility.

It just seems wasteful to bring 12vdc up to 120vac then back to some smallish number dc for a laptop, TV, etc. Inverters can be pretty inefficient if you aren't careful when you buy them.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:29 PM   #8
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Are you using TSW to mean True Sine Wave ? Usually I see it abbreviated as PSW Pure Sine Wave.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:38 PM   #9
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Yes, I've seen TSW & PSW used interchangeably, but I mean to say an inverter that makes "cleaner" power than a Modified Sine Wave unit.

Agree about the inefficiency of multiple power conversions (12DC-120AC-18DC, etc) and would likely avoid that whenever possible. I have a built-in 400watt inverter in the truck already, so can use that to charge/run phones, laptops, etc while driving around.

Main use of the inverter will be to run the 32" LCD TV while boondocking, and perhaps other 110 devices that I may need on the spur of the moment. Really think a 600watt unit would be more than sufficient for anticipated needs, but I figure it's always better to have too MUCH power vice too LITTLE (just in case)...
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Old 08-22-2016, 02:04 PM   #10
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It's better to have no more than you really need available. If you need a max 600 watts, than get a max 600 watt inverter. A larger than needed inverter can be wasteful when used for light duty items, e.g. 1000 watts but you never use more than 400.

If you already have the items you plan on using, buy a Kill-A-Watt https://amzn.com/B00009MDBU and find out how much power they actually use. Then you can add that up, think about reasonable use (like not turning everything plugged into the inverter on all at once as startup inrush is usually a peak in power demands, and it settles down after that), and buy an inverter accordingly.

Only go larger if you really are planning to run more things off of the inverter later, like you know you are gonna want to upgrade to that professional 3Kw DJ sound system with disco ball, programmable and music reactive laser show, and planetarium that guy is selling on Craigslist.
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Old 08-22-2016, 02:34 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by parkerbill View Post
What you mentioned is exactly what I've done on two different new TTs, if I understand you correctly. I mounted an 1100 watt inverter in the front storage area on the front wall, so it's pretty close to my two batteries. I fused it and I have a large fail-safe fuse directly on the batteries, too. Then I put in a totally separate standard double outlet, along with the remote inside the cabin and then just use an extension cord to run anything I want to use it for. It will power our microwave or our small toaster or my wife's hair dryer (on low) or whatever, except of course, the air conditioner.
That's exactly what I did on my previous 5th wheel. The basement was immediately behind the battery compartment and underneath the drawers in the bedroom. It made pulling the wires and adding a 2x receptacle very easy. I mounted the receptacle on the side of the chest that faced the living room. Ran the TV, Dish, and a fan or two off of it.
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Old 08-22-2016, 02:38 PM   #12
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Yes, agree on trying to match inverter size to anticipated need, especially as I see the power consumption spec on my Vizio 32" TV is a lot less than I thought. Could a mere 30watts be correct? That's pretty amazing when you think about it...

Think I'll be restricting my search to something more mid-range like 500-600watts, vice the 1,000 which I may never really use.

But that crazy 3kw disco ball thing does peek my interest... Now where could I mount that in a 22' trailer? Maybe the shower??
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Old 08-22-2016, 02:44 PM   #13
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Old 08-22-2016, 02:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McMurdo-Man View Post
Yes, agree on trying to match inverter size to anticipated need, especially as I see the power consumption spec on my Vizio 32" TV is a lot less than I thought. Could a mere 30watts be correct? That's pretty amazing when you think about it...
Yes. I run a 32" TV and Blue Ray player in a 150w Tripplite inverter.

I like the Tripplite because it has no fan (and no fan noise) and zero power consumption when switched off.
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