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Old 05-20-2019, 08:47 AM   #1
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What’s the cheapest and easiest to install inverter?

Hey guys. I know that a proper inverter is great to have and is costly for a reason. But I want something just as a back up to our generator. If our gen dies at night, I want a way to power our fans, run the fridge and also charge our phones.

Having this inverter would also be really nice so we wouldn’t have to run the generator as often.

Thanks guys!
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:33 AM   #2
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I want something just as a back up to our generator. If our gen dies at night, I want a way to power our fans, run the fridge and also charge our phones.

Having this inverter would also be really nice so we wouldn’t have to run the generator as often.

Thanks guys!
An inverter will never be a backup source of power. It will always be a consumer (just leaving it turned on with no loads will consume battery power) or at best a way to change your DC power source into an AC power source. Never forget that every watt of AC that you use through your inverter costs your batteries and will require you to find a source of replacement wattage that will exceed the used wattage.

Your genset will get more use with an inverter than without.

Alternative sources of power may be Solar, Wind generator or just staying where you can be plugged into shore power.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:44 AM   #3
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An inverter will never be a backup source of power. It will always be a consumer (just leaving it turned on with no loads will consume battery power) or at best a way to change your DC power source into an AC power source. Never forget that every watt of AC that you use through your inverter costs your batteries and will require you to find a source of replacement wattage that will exceed the used wattage.

Your genset will get more use with an inverter than without.

Alternative sources of power may be Solar, Wind generator or just staying where you can be plugged into shore power.
I’m sorry I didn’t word that correctly. What I want is something to get us through a night if the generator dies. We’d loose air conditioning but at least we’d have fans and the fridge will continue to work.

Starting engines the next morning will charge batteries back up. And if the generator was really dead, we’d just spend the next night at a marine and plug in.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:52 AM   #4
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I think what Koliver is saying is that unless you have enough house battery to run the equipment on inverter, then you won’t get far enough on inverter, and will damage your batteries in the process.
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:52 AM   #5
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Most fans are DC and also many fridges. But if the fridge is AC only it probably draws 2-3 amps, call it 360 watts peak and cell phone charging will require maybe another 100 watts. So a cheap 500 watt Chinese inverter will do the job. Here is a page of them for under $50.00:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=500+watt+...b_sb_ss_i_1_12

500 watts is too much to plug into a cigarette lighter socket so you will have to clip on to the battery somehow, and you will have to figure out how to unplug your fridge from shore power and plug it into the inverter.

Not so convenient but on boats, convenience costs money.

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Old 05-20-2019, 10:12 AM   #6
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Some kind of "portable" inverter that is made to clamp directly to a battery. A few extension cords may do it, but as mentioned, you'll have to figure that out.


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Old 05-20-2019, 10:15 AM   #7
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The better solution would be installing DC fans and a proper AC/DC marine fridge.
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:27 PM   #8
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In the PNW if someone is running a generator after 9-10 pm it’s considered offensive. Having cruised in the BVI, I understand the need, and the acceptance of running a generator all night.
On Glauben, for “house” use batteries I have two systems. There is the normal house system where I have 4 golf cart batteries that recharges off the alternator, generator or shore power. Then there is a completely independent inverter system that has a Freedom 2500 inverter and four golf cart batteries. The outlets, refrigerator and microwave are on that circuit. If the generator is running, those batteries are charging. The generator is an 8.5kw Onan.
I’m good for a full two days, maybe more, I haven’t done more than two days, running off the inverter. With the lights and fans connected to the house batteries and the tv, coffee maker, ac lighting, and everything the Admiral wants to plug in, did someone say hair dryer, we are good.
When you install the inverter, the neutral wires for the inverter load also needs to be on a separate buss from those not being used by the inverter. Same as the load wires. It has to do with the time it takes for the inverter to realize there is ac available. In the no ac available condition the inverter goes to a ground fault to operate.
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Old 05-20-2019, 02:16 PM   #9
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Most cheap, low wattage inverters aren't going to start the motor on a household fridge. The motor requires a surge of current to be available at startup. 1000W minimum is recommended, but with research and reading reviews of users who actually try them on fridges, you might get away with a 600W unit of good quality. I've used Aimspower inverters in applications where budget is driving and had good results. Their 1000W model should be sufficient to start a fridge and run a couple of fans.

https://www.aimscorp.net/1000_Watt_P...r_12_Volt.html

I'd call and ask them for their recommendation to run your fridge, they have good customer service in my experience, they cater to the RV industry. I'm not affiliated.

Keep in mind also that you need a 'transfer' function to have the inverter automatically take over if the genset is shutdown. Those units have an AC input as well as an output and patch power through when the generator is running, and automatically turn on when the genset is not running. Without that your options for how to get the fridge running on one or the other may be limited to moving the plug manually.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:12 PM   #10
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I have a mix of 12V and 120V fans. My TV, stereo, cameras and WIFI are all 12V. One fridge is 12V/120V and the other fridge, my 'beer & bait fridge", is 120V inverter powered when there's no shore power. No AC or diesel heat aboard.

I installed a cheap, POS Xantrex 1000W MSW inverter which only powers items on my aft countertop - a 120V 4cu ft fridge, microwave, fan and charge cords for phones, tablets, flashlights, etc. I can also power a coffee maker or electric skillet with it if I'm not using the microwave simultaneously. It is not wired into the boat 120V system but provides separate power to the countertop. Since it only cost me $100 and had been known to fail, I've got a spare onboard protected in shrinkwrap. The most recent replacement has been there for over 4 years and is still going strong. (knock on wood)

Generally, I prefer 12V power to 120V power when able and performance is satisfactory. If it's got to be 120V, then in my world, smaller is better.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:15 PM   #11
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I have Rigid 18 volt power tools, primarily because they have lifetime service on them. Rigid makes a hybrid fan that will work on either the 18V battery or 120V. Have not actually used it aboard the boat yet but with 1 or 2 batteries it should run all night. Since I have lots of batteries it should work ok.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:36 PM   #12
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The better solution would be installing DC fans and a proper AC/DC marine fridge.
Additional battery capacity and a decent inverter will most likely work out better value.
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:41 PM   #13
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While we are on the subject, sort of, I use a Xantrex/Heart system for charger and inverter attached to the stbd start and house but not the port engine start battery. The Stbd start battery is a D8 and is included in the house bank with two other D8s. There was an old charger that existed to keep the Port start batt up to snuff but it just died. So now it only charges off of the port alternator. Any suggestions for a replacement charger?
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Old 05-20-2019, 06:56 PM   #14
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While we are on the subject, sort of, I use a Xantrex/Heart system for charger and inverter attached to the stbd start and house but not the port engine start battery. The Stbd start battery is a D8 and is included in the house bank with two other D8s. There was an old charger that existed to keep the Port start batt up to snuff but it just died. So now it only charges off of the port alternator. Any suggestions for a replacement charger?

Unless there is some other load or draw on that port start battery, do you actually need anything besides the alternator?
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:48 PM   #15
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There was an old charger that existed to keep the Port start batt up to snuff but it just died. So now it only charges off of the port alternator. Any suggestions for a replacement charger?
You could probably get by with a selectable combiner. I have a single bank house charger and twin alternators dedicated to each bank. I use a combiner to share the house charge with the start batt when present but I can deselect it if the start batt is sufficiently charged...which is normally the case.

Blue Seas and Yandina are two good brands.
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Old 05-20-2019, 08:38 PM   #16
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When you say "fans" do you mean the blowers on the air conditioning units or just portable 120VAC household types? The blowers will need some type of switching relays; not used in the cheapo inverter types. Household portable fans would work fine.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:27 PM   #17
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When you say "fans" do you mean the blowers on the air conditioning units or just portable 120VAC household types? The blowers will need some type of switching relays; not used in the cheapo inverter types. Household portable fans would work fine.
I mean desktop style fans to keep hot humid air moving instead of stagnant.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:44 PM   #18
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Create boat power use spreadsheet in amp hours per hour for all loads. then multiply by 24 to give you one 24 hours at. Say that gives you 250 total amps. Expand house bank to 500 amps understanding you can draw down your lead acid battery bank by 50 percent max before recharging. Now if you want 2 days on batts house needs to be 1000 ahr.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:36 AM   #19
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I run my generators a lot less with an 48v inverter system. PO ran a generator 24/7. I have a dedicated alternator on one of the mains that keeps the banks up while cruising. I original ran a generator while running the mains. Now I run a generator about an hour a day, usually when making water or doing laundry. But I don't go where it's hot enough to run AC. Almost everything on my boat is 240/120 AC. Thinking of adding a wind turbine and solar, then I'd rarely run the generators.
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Old 05-21-2019, 05:26 AM   #20
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The 1500W units sold at most truck stops will handle everything you have listed.

Here is an example,

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Power-Br...-202539673-_-N

They will also work for blenders , microwave (reheat , not cook your batts are probably too small.Most will operate smaller power tools drill, sander and even charge power tool batts.

.Most will double their output for the time required to start a heavy load like an air compressor

Since the inverter will operate from the alt , with engine operation many AC items can be left to the next boat movement

On line they can be found for about $150 or so.

They are NOT sine wave units but those are mostly for heavy motors , water maker, scuba tank fill etc

I would oversize the cables to the battery so in the future you decide on a bigger fancy unit it will be a bolt in.
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