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View Full Version : Best Inverter in town


rover67
03-21-2009, 11:21 PM
Looking for opinions here.

Been through a few walmart ones and am sick of replacing them.

I want to go ahead and permanently mount one this time so I want to make sure it is a good one.... where should I go look for one?

I've checked Costco but they don't have one right now.

Wattage just depends on what's available.. I'll go with the biggest I can fit under my center console.

Uncle Ben
03-21-2009, 11:29 PM
Looking for opinions here.

Been through a few walmart ones and am sick of replacing them.

I want to go ahead and permanently mount one this time so I want to make sure it is a good one.... where should I go look for one?

I've checked Costco but they don't have one right now.

Wattage just depends on what's available.. I'll go with the biggest I can fit under my center console.

You are going to find the same one at all the discount stores....just differant color and packaging straight from Korea. Look at camper and boat vendors if you want a real one!

DaveInDenver
03-21-2009, 11:38 PM
To Kevin's point, I'd be looking for the Magnum Energy, Exeltech, maybe some others, USA designed and made, man! Cheap Chinese crap is always going to be cheap Chinese made crap, no matter what name is on it. That's not to say you can't find well made imported stuff, but a Xantrex isn't all that cheap either.

http://www.magnumenergy.com/
http://www.exeltech.com/

treerootCO
03-22-2009, 07:20 AM
Why would an inverter list a, "Max operating altitude 15,000’ (4570 m)"?

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/299181/377%20710%201651/0/Inverters/Primary%20Search/mode%20matchallpartial/0/0?N=377%20710%201651&Ne=0&Ntt=Inverters&Ntx=mode%20matchallpartial&page=CategoryDisplayLevel1&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=5002&subdeptNum=9&classNum=678

cbmontgo
03-22-2009, 07:39 AM
I've used Tripp Lite before; they seem good. I bought a bigger one recently that I keep meaning to install.

rover67
03-22-2009, 08:08 AM
You are going to find the same one at all the discount stores....just differant color and packaging straight from Korea. Look at camper and boat vendors if you want a real one!

I pretty much figured all the cheap ones were the same. I'll poke around some boat and RV stores today.

Thanks for the brand suggestions Dave.

60wag
03-22-2009, 08:24 AM
I know the cheap inverters put out a chunky waveform rather than a smooth sine but what 120V devices are sensitive to the shape of the inverter output?

I've got a 1500W Xantrex mounted in the back of the 80. The biggest installation hassle was the size of the wire needed to supply the inverter with adequate current. I also put a circuit breaker on it so I could easily disconnect the high current wires going to the back of the truck.

rover67
03-22-2009, 08:14 PM
Man, the Magnum energy ones look really nice.... and expensive. I gues they are "real" peices of equipment though.

Have you been happy with your Xantrex Bruce? I found one of those on the web for muuuch cheaper than the Magnum Energy ones. http://www.fadfusion.com/selection.php?product_item_number=20026600246

The Tripp-Lite ones look nice too.

I gave up trying to find something in town today and finished getting the CB and HAM installed. Probably better to actually do some research before buying one of these inverters anyways.

DaveInDenver
03-22-2009, 08:47 PM
Man, the Magnum energy ones look really nice.... and expensive. I gues they are "real" peices of equipment though.

Have you been happy with your Xantrex Bruce? I found one of those on the web for muuuch cheaper than the Magnum Energy ones. http://www.fadfusion.com/selection.php?product_item_number=20026600246

The Tripp-Lite ones look nice too.

I gave up trying to find something in town today and finished getting the CB and HAM installed. Probably better to actually do some research before buying one of these inverters anyways.
Yeah, there's a few levels of quality here. The point is to avoid the really cheap pseudo-sine stuff (some are barely better than a slightly filtered square wave).

But the Magnum for example is a very high quality piece of gear and a true sine, 1000W inverter that's designed for constant use in an RVs, boats, emergency vehicles or the like. Applications where a $100 inverter might last a couple of weeks or simply be unsuitable (like running medical equipment). For intermittent use it is overkill for mortals with mortgages. But it will be the last inverter you ever buy... FWIW, Magnum's competition from Xantrex would be a ProSine and they are pretty much the exact same price (about $850 to $950 for a 1kW inverter). Xantrex products are sometimes used in ambulances I know, so they are just fine.

I personally think the happy medium is probably about $300~$400 for about 500 to 1kW. I'd realistically be looking for something like a Samlex SF series or Xantrex XS400. Heck even a Cotek (which is Taiwanese AFAIK) would be alright. The truth is that anything made in the USA is going to be HD use and be at least $600 and typically $1000. But such is the reality when you can pay a good Chinese assembler $1 or $2 per hr and a good assembler here will get 15 or 20 times that. The $100 inverters have a different design target and duty cycle and reliability are not high on the list. They have cheap BOMs and are fast to make.

I would not bother with anything that did not do a clean sine output (less than 0.1% frequency stability and in the 3~4% or less THD range), you never know what you might want to run off it. Usually if it's a reasonably clean inverter you'll be fine, but some things are bound to be sensitive. I had a Dewalt cordless battery charger that did not like a cheap inverter I tried it with. But OTOH the chargers for my Niterider bike lights tolerate very crappy inverters. Shrug.

Chris
03-22-2009, 10:38 PM
1000W Xantrex were on sale at Costco for $30 a while ago. Pretty good deal but suspect it was a model closeout.

60wag
03-23-2009, 05:27 AM
I'm happy with the Xantrex so far but I haven't really loaded it up yet. I think the most power I've pulled through it has been about 300 watts.

Tch2fly
03-23-2009, 01:19 PM
You can check out these guys, they carry a full range:
www.invertersrus.com (http://www.invertersrus.com/index.html)

I understand not buying crap but even Dave admitted that the high-end full sine wave stuff is overkill for intermittant use. For me there is no way I can justify the extra expense.

I know what I plan to run and accept the limitations so I bought a 1200 watt modified-sine Vector. I won't need more than 7-800 watts and hope running below max means longer life.
I realize it is likely built overseas but they are owned by Black and Decker (as is Dewalt) so I feel reasonably confident about the quality (as a much as I can on a "low-end" unit) or at least know the 2 yr warranty has a large company behind it.

Rzeppa
03-23-2009, 05:10 PM
Why would an inverter list a, "Max operating altitude 15,000 (4570 m)"?

Air is an insulator. Thin air isn't as good an insulator as sea-level air. No air allow electrons to travel about freely. Avionic and space qualified electronic hardware needs to be coated with conformal insulation to prevent excessive leakage current, or in worst cases, arcing.

DaveInDenver
03-23-2009, 08:21 PM
Air is an insulator. Thin air isn't as good an insulator as sea-level air. No air allow electrons to travel about freely. Avionic and space qualified electronic hardware needs to be coated with conformal insulation to prevent excessive leakage current, or in worst cases, arcing.
In this case it's a cooling issue rather than requirement for conformal coating. Thin air is less efficient for cooling than sea level because lower density air provides less convective cooling. The military has experimented with compressed air at high altitude to cool electronics to alleviate overheating. We conformal coat space electronics more to prevent tin and zinc whisker and lead dendrite growth, not so much direct ionization. The whisker growth does lead to shorting, arcing and plasma creation, which can definitely cause headaches and failures.

Rzeppa
03-23-2009, 09:38 PM
In this case it's a cooling issue rather than requirement for conformal coating. Thin air is less efficient for cooling than sea level because lower density air provides less convective cooling. The military has experimented with compressed air at high altitude to cool electronics to alleviate overheating. We conformal coat space electronics more to prevent tin and zinc whisker and lead dendrite growth, not so much direct ionization. The whisker growth does lead to shorting, arcing and plasma creation, which can definitely cause headaches and failures.

That's an excellent point, especially considering most inverters operate with forced air cooling. When I designed power supplies we were more concerned with leakage current on the control side messing up the feedback and with arcing on the output side. Thermal considerations are always a concern in higher power applications though - among the designs I used to do were multi kW units to run high power lasers, and of course audio amps for my own use. But the really high voltage units (ion generators, cow prods, mass spectrometers, etc.) were the most fun - 10kV and higher. Then you really get into cool arcing. In a mass spectrometer, when you pump out the air and get into high vacuum situations the electrons pretty much run free and you have to control everything with magnetic fields and insulation.

frontrange
03-27-2009, 07:50 AM
Why would an inverter list a, "Max operating altitude 15,000 (4570 m)"?

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/299181/377%20710%201651/0/Inverters/Primary%20Search/mode%20matchallpartial/0/0?N=377%20710%201651&Ne=0&Ntt=Inverters&Ntx=mode%20matchallpartial&page=CategoryDisplayLevel1&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=5002&subdeptNum=9&classNum=678


Heat dissipation

rover67
05-06-2010, 11:25 AM
just bought one of these:

http://www.tripplite.com/en/products/model.cfm?txtModelID=2905

from here:

http://www.shopblt.com/cgi-bin/shop/shop.cgi?action=thispage&thispage=0110035000088_B073088P.shtml&order_id=!ORDERID!

We'll see how it works!

nakman
04-03-2011, 09:13 PM
I picked up a Tripp Lite on ebay a couple weeks ago, got it hooked up to the 80 today. I like it so far, the fan doesn't run continuous which is a nice upgrade. So far so good...

here's a similar one if anyone else needs one http://cgi.ebay.com/Tripp-Lite-1800-Watt-Power-Inverter-4-Outlets-Very-Nice-/290550948730?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a62fa37a

rover67
04-03-2011, 09:24 PM
Sweet Tim!

FWIW, I ended up cancelling the order I placed with the store that I posted and got mine from Ebay too.

I like mine, and so far it has worked fine...

Blender at camp with Farnham - Check
Sawzall - Check
Crock pot - Check
Allison's Hair Drier - Check

nakman
04-03-2011, 11:26 PM
Hey did you connect anything to the ground that's below that plug on the right? Should I jumper a wire from there over to the big ground on the back side? :confused:

rover67
04-04-2011, 08:23 AM
I didn't because it looked like it was just gounding the case, and in my installation the screws that hold it down go to the body...

But, if on yours it just screws to the wooden box it might be a good idea now that you mention it. I bet some regular copper wire that you have left over from the basement might work fine since the main ground is what carries the power. It's probably a safety thing and maybe it doesn't affect the normal operation of the thing that much? I bet Dave knows :)

nakman
04-04-2011, 08:26 AM
Alright I may as well, and yes I've got some 12ga copper that would be great for this, I'll loop it under to the back and attach to the 4ga that runs under the truck to the frame.

Jacket
04-04-2011, 10:35 AM
That's funny - I forgot to ground my case too. Mine is mounted to wood, so I probably should at some point....