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Old 01-04-2014, 07:56 PM   #1
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Newbie Question About Power Inverters and Electrical

Totally rookie questions here. ~hides face in shame~ Hoping you'll let me ask these questions here.

My wife and I use computers for work, we'll be going full time. So any help on these 3 questions is truly appreciated.

Question 1: Our generator (Onan 7500) says it puts out pure sine wave electricity. If we are running the generator to power the coach while boondocking does that mean the sensitive electronics are safe? Or is the Inverter somehow still involved.

Question 2: We have an inverter/charger with modified sine wave. So my understanding is if we run off coach batteries alone then sensitive electronics are not safe. Is this correct?

Question 3: If we are plugged into shore power (with a surge protector) and without a pure sine wave inverter are the sensitive electronics safe? Or is the Inverter still somehow in the mix? This doesn't make sense to me that it would be, but figured it's better to ask.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-04-2014, 08:31 PM   #2
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Following along to see the answer too!
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Old 01-04-2014, 08:38 PM   #3
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We have been full time for over 11 years. We run 2 laptops (sometimes 3) 24/7 plus one or two printers and so far so good.
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Old 01-04-2014, 08:40 PM   #4
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PS: I should have added, it is with MSW inverter. The only item we have had trouble with on MSW is the electric blanket. Works fine on shore or gen but just blinks on inverter.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:20 AM   #5
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If you ask the blue shirt guys @ Best Buys 'who are suppose to know', they will tell you to just charge your batteries but run disconnected. I found that out over five years ago. But judging from the 'deer in the headlight' look I got when I started talking about sine waves I chose to ignore them. Have run all my electronics since without problem.
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
We have an inverter/charger with modified sine wave. So my understanding is if we run off coach batteries alone then sensitive electronics are not safe. Is this correct?
My Desktop & Laptops have run for over 11 years on MSW when shore power goes out or dry docking without any problem. Also my Led TV's, DirecTV receivers have no problem.

Only thing I have that won't run on MSW is a 1.5 cu ft freezer with a 120V compressor. But even that was not damaged when plugged into a Inverter plug in.
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:35 AM   #7
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When your generator is running or you are hooked to shore power, your inverter is out of the loop. On shore power, a surge suppressor is something you might be ok without, but it is good insurance.

As for powering "sensitive electronics" with a modified sine wave inverter, DON'T. However, you should understand what is sensitive, and what is not.

Very simple electronic devices that plug directly into the 120V line most likely will be very sensitive, and might be destroyed by the MSW inverter. Electric blankets with digital controls and some programmable coffee makers are examples.

At the other extreme, devices with an external "power brick" such as lap top computers or the Soft Heat low voltage electric blanket work perfectly well from the MSW. They are really running on low voltage DC, and don't see the MSW at all.

In between, are devices with an internal DC power supply, such as a television, microwave, or desk top computer. The MSW inverter won't damage them, but there might be some degradation of performance.

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Old 01-05-2014, 08:56 AM   #8
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Exploring,

If you are on shore power or generator, the inverter is still in play, however only in a pass through mode. You are receiving a pure sine wave. I agree with Maverick BBD, charge the batteries on your lap tops, then unplug to use. You could check with laptop manufacturer to see if modified sine wave power is acceptable. If you are full timing and use your computers for work, the first thing I would up grade to is a pure sine wave inverter. Why take any chances. Good luck!
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:18 AM   #9
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Yes, MSW will work with most all of what you want to run, but close tests show that things run slower, and hotter on MSW.

Microwave ovens take longer to do the job, and I could tell the difference in the heat output of my larger TV with just holding my hand over it.

However, if I didn't know these things, I may not have noticed them anyway. I use PSW, but carry an MSW for backup, just in case.

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Old 01-05-2014, 11:19 AM   #10
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On shore power or the generator you should be fine with desktop or laptop computers as long as you have a good surge supressor protecting them. I run an AutoFormer to protect against low voltage which is a problem at most campgrounds.

The computers on a MSW converter may work for a while but could be prone to overheating and random lockups. It all depends on the power supply built into the computer and/or in the power brick of the laptop. I have seen some that after extended use on MSW will only run on shore or generator power but will not charge any longer if plugged into a MSW inverter.

On any device if the power adapter gets hot then don't use it with the MSW inverter. Electric Blankets are one item with some notoriety for starting fires on MSW inverters.

You would have to test each device you own and monitor it for a few hours checking its temperature and such to make an educated guess about fire safety however you still run the chance of a component failure even if it is not deemed a fire hazard. Also some MSW inverters are worse than others. An occiliscope will reveal this however my brother and I sold ours quite some time ago as it just sat collecting dust for years at a time.
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Birder View Post
When your generator is running or you are hooked to shore power, your inverter is out of the loop. On shore power, a surge suppressor is something you might be ok without, but it is good insurance.

As for powering "sensitive electronics" with a modified sine wave inverter, DON'T. However, you should understand what is sensitive, and what is not.

Very simple electronic devices that plug directly into the 120V line most likely will be very sensitive, and might be destroyed by the MSW inverter. Electric blankets with digital controls and some programmable coffee makers are examples.

At the other extreme, devices with an external "power brick" such as lap top computers or the Soft Heat low voltage electric blanket work perfectly well from the MSW. They are really running on low voltage DC, and don't see the MSW at all.

In between, are devices with an internal DC power supply, such as a television, microwave, or desk top computer. The MSW inverter won't damage them, but there might be some degradation of performance.

Joel
Good advice Joel!



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Old 01-05-2014, 04:18 PM   #12
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You will get answers all over the place on this one. People who have only experience with one of the cleaner MSW inverters and more tolerant laptops or who are not providing 24/7 support and must leave their equipment turned on all the time will have a different experience than someone with a less clean MSW inverter or who only plugs in for a few hours here and there and packs their laptop off to the rec center to get a connect.

We have a mobile work force and do send out numerous replacement laptops and powerbricks due to use with really poor MSW inverters. Some come back really crispy on the inside from the heat generated. It is only a few dozens of replacments in the course of each year with thousands of units out there but it does happen.

Some with built in large (expensive to replace) MSW inverters will spend a few hundred on a power line conditioner which cleans up the sign wave and makes it pure instead of putting thousands down on a new PSW inverter. An on-line UPS with full time filtering and correction may be a good choice too.

Are we talking Laptops or Desktops? PC or Apple/MAC?
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