inverter use question

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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:52 PM
  #1
bat
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inverter use question

Well, just when I thought that I had all of the equipment issues resolved.

It appears that we will have a vehicle in which the cig lighter is not operational so our plan to use an inverter that plugs right into that will not work. We have camp generators available during the day for most nights but not all.

So I have looked at inverters that give you the option of attaching directly to the battery with cables. They are available in a 400 watt version for around $60 so affordable.

Here are the questions to anyone who has used these or knows about them.

Exactly how does this work? You hook up the inverter to the battery and then is the inverter and your equipment sitting outside (i.e. exposed to the weather) when it is plugged into the inverter?

When do you hook it up? Do you have to run the engine so as not to drain the car battery? In that case what about engine noise at camp that might bother other guests--or even us!

Thanks
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:19 PM
  #2
bat
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Eben: What will this mean for my friend with the satellite phone? He had planned to use a cig lighter adapter to recharge. How did you recharge the phone?
[rocco, I remember that you took a phone. How did you recharge it?)
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:03 AM
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Hi there, my inverter is 600W and attaches via small crocodile clips directly onto the battery terminals. There is an in-line fuse in case of an overload and it also has a temperature controlled fan if it gets too hot.
We ran this unit for two weeks solid on the second battery of the vehicle to run our fridge freezer. The second battery was also charging from the vehicle during the day. The reason we did this was that the battery power supply circuit for the fridge failed and it would only run from 230VAC. We also used it to charge batteries as well.
With regard to the weather, you can run a set of "jumper" cables to the inside of the vehicle and connect it there, however care must be taken not to "short out" the cables, which would probably help to destroy the battery. Charging batteries only takes a small amount of power, so charging them overnight should not drain the vehicle battery very much. When connected to the second battery over night there was no noticable battery drain.
Hope this helps

Maurice
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #4
bat
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Thanks Maurice:
It does help but my ignorance means more questions, some really, really basic ones.

What second battery?

Could you explain a little more the jumper cable extension--what do you mean by "short out" the battery--how would you do that? Also, how do you connect the inverter to the jumper cables--the inverter I saw had small Croc tips on one end and plug in tips on the other. You are connecting the croc tips to the larger croc tips on the jumper cable I take it? Finally, when charging, you just need the ignition key turned on, you do not need to have the engine running, correct? [you could run the engine but do not have to. Running the engine means that you are not draining power from the vehicle's battery, correct?]

Thanks again.
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:43 AM
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On our Botswana trip we used 2 inverters. One plugged into the cig lighter and one wired direct to the battery. The wiring on the one wired direct to the battery was long enough to reach inside the cab of the truck and that is where we charged everything. We charged all day every day (during game drives as well as during downtime) but removed all devices at night.

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Jan 23rd, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Many expedition vehicles are equipped with a second battery to run accessories, like refrigerators. I don't know the details of the vehicles used for East Africa safaris, but if your vehicle doesn't even have a working cigarette lighter, then it's unlikely that it has a second battery.

Ideally, you would attach the crocodile clips directly to the battery. The crocodile tips I have for my inverter are rather small and would not fit over the cables the vehicle uses to attach to the battery.

You shouldn't even need the ignition turned on to use the battery. You'll be taking power directly from the battery, so you don't need the ignition turned on to get the power to flow. If you don't have the engine turned on, you'll be draining the battery. If the vehicle is running, then it'll be supplying power to the battery.

One strategy is to charge your devices for an hour or two, and then have them run the engine for 5-10 minutes. Repeat. This'll keep the battery with enough power to start up in the morning.
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 07:41 AM
  #7
bat
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lifelist and sundowner:
Thanks.

sundowner, you could shut the hood on the cables and have them running into the cab? Do you know what brand/model that inverter was?

lifelist: I did not realize you could get power from the battery merely by attaching the device, duh. Thinking of my own car, I thought you would have to turn the key slightly in the ignition but not actually start the motor.

Africa fodorville is like school where the teacher says-"there are no dumb questions here" right? (feeling a tad ignorant here--actually, more than a tad).

If we can get the inverter into the vehicle during the day, that should take care of my friend's sat phone needs I would think.

Rocco, eben, anyone else who has used a sat phone--any sat phone recharging comments?
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 09:23 AM
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Hi there, just for clarity I will tell you a little more about the Inverter.
The inverter is an electronic device which can covert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). DC is supplied from energy sources such as batteries,solar panels etc. AC is found in the plugs in your house. The inverter in this case takes low voltage DC (12V) and converts it to high voltage AC (230V). If you want to know a little bit more about them look at this link; http://www.invertersrus.com/inverterfaq.html

Most Safari vehicles have a dual battery system, both are charged by the vehicles alternator when the engine is running. As someone has already said they are used to run auxiliary equipment, fridges. lights, etc.

The inverter connects to the battery either by the cigarette lighter (for low power units) or directly to the battery terminals for higher powered units. The use of the jumper leads is to bring the battery power into a more convenient place. The jumper leads are a heavy duty cable set which is used to jump start one vehicle from another, when one of them has a flat battery.
Care has to be taken that you do not touch the ends of these leads together as this will cause a short circuit on the output of the battery, which is likely to damage it.

All you have to do is to connect the supply power for the inverter to the jumper leads (making sure the red cable goes to the red wire and terminal on the battery and the black cable is connected to the black cable) Once this is done then the 230VAC will be available at the output socket. You will have to turn the inverter on if it is fitted with an on/off switch

It is not necessary to have the ignition on when the inverter is running, we connected our inverter to the second battery and left it charging our camera batteries overnight. The next morning there was only a marginal battery drain. The next day after about an hour or so of driving the battery was fully charged again.

Hope this clears up your questions


Maurice
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 09:33 AM
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bat

My cell phone (Motorola) has two sizes of batteries. The bigger HiCap battery has more than 3 hours of talk time! Two of these should be plenty.

We use them on Kilimanjaro with a solar charger but frankly a fully charged battery last more than 10 days!

Eben
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 10:00 AM
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I meant "satellite" phone, not "cell"!
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 10:34 AM
  #11
bat
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Thanks Maurice and Eben.
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Hi Bat,

Have you made sure that your operator will let you attach the invertor to the battery? Not all operators allow this.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 02:18 PM
  #13
bat
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Julian--good idea--yes, perhaps in part because of my expressed dismay about the cig lighter.
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