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  #1  
Old 9 Nov 2007
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Which 12V Power Ivnverter?

Hi all,

We will be needing to charge our laptop, cameras etc on the road. Can anyone recommend an inverter for these applications?

Thanks,

Bruce
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  #2  
Old 10 Nov 2007
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Depending on how long your going for and what future plans you have, you should 100% look into getting a 12 volt adaptor for everything unless you have very large batteries and a large solar panel.

I have a 12 volt adaptor for my powerbook (easy to google for your brand of lappy) and places like Jessops sell 12 volt chargers for all manner of batteries for cameras etc

As I said, if you have decent plans get 12 volt adapters for everything as using an inverter really sucks the battery quickly.

I have a pure sine wave inverter from Maplins - it was about £30 on sale and it has worked fine the few times I have used it (for firewire external hard disks) but I'm lucky if I get an hour out of the batteries with it on.

So use 12 volt for everything and just buy a cheapo inverter for anything else etc

Thats my 2p anyway!
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  #3  
Old 10 Nov 2007
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I believe the 150w version is enough for your needs: Maplin > inverter

Tim
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Old 10 Nov 2007
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I've had very good service from Xantrex inverters ,I don't know if they are available in the UK , but they do make them for other companies who then brand them with their own name .[ In Canada they make them for Canadian Tire for instance ] .
But if you can , just try charging with 12 volt chargers , it's more efficient .
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  #5  
Old 10 Nov 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
just try charging with 12 volt chargers , it's more efficient .
Totally disagree. I have a battery charger that operates on 240v ac, 12 v DC and 5v DC (USB) and the fastest is 240v, the slowest is 5v. Battery inverter to 240v is the way to go if you can charge whilst driving.

Tim
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  #6  
Old 10 Nov 2007
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It's more efficient for your vehicle batteries - you can charge your stuff and not flatten your battery (as the inverter itself sucks power, hence it's not efficient - nor is using 240 volts to charge a 7 volt battery). Obviously chucking 240 volts at it rather than 12 will be quicker ;-)

You can do it whilst driving, but you won't drive every day and even with a solar panel you will discharge your vehicle batteries too quickly by using a inverter when parked up.

But it depends on how serious you need to be - for the price of a good inverter you can buy the 12 volt adapters you need and have the best of both worlds.
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  #7  
Old 11 Nov 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
Totally disagree. I have a battery charger that operates on 240v ac, 12 v DC and 5v DC (USB) and the fastest is 240v, the slowest is 5v. Battery inverter to 240v is the way to go if you can charge whilst driving.

Tim
Maybe I should have made myself clearer , charging from the VEHICLE'S alternator directly to the transformer charger on the appliance is more efficient than :
Alternator - 12v to 240v Inverter- 240 volt transformer - appliance .
And as a bonus you have the facility to charge with 12 volt solar panels when you are parked .
Batteries are DC devices and are charged accordingly , there is no point in converting DC to AC and then back to DC for charging batteries .
The rate of charge will be dictated by the power of the transformer charger that comes with the appliance .
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Last edited by Dodger; 11 Nov 2007 at 07:07.
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  #8  
Old 11 Nov 2007
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You need to consider efficiency, redundancy (and cost).

You need to consider efficiency, redundancy (and cost).

You can divide your electronic kit into two groups. Those items that you can get a 12 volt adaptor for and those you can not.

For example many digital cameras use batteries that can only be charged with the charger supplied with the camera. These chargers require mains. A 12 volt version is often not available. If you have a single important item that requires mains you will need to have an inverter.

For this application there are four important things to consider in selecting your inverter.

1) Power output. 150 watts will almost certainly be enough even for a high end notebook with an inefficient power supply.

2) Wave form. Although most small mains chargers will work from a modified square wave inverter, they often produce more noise and heat than they do when used with a sine wave input. There is anecdotal evidence that some chargers are damaged if run from modified square wave. So you probably want a pure sine wave inverter.

3) No load current. A good inverter will take only a few milliamps with no load. A poor one may take as much as half an amp!

4) Efficiency. A good inverter will convert 90% of the input power into output, a poor one may only convert 60%.

If you have a camera battery charger that takes two hours and must run from the mains then depending on the inverter used this can "cost" you anywhere up to 2AH (amp hours) at 12 volts per charge.

Where a 12 volt charger is available it is usually best to use it, particularly if the device itself requires less 12 volts (e.g. Mobile phones) Note that most notebook computers require between 13 and 22 volts. As a result a 12 volt charger actually consists of an "inverter" (running far above the 50Hz of a normal inverter). It is important to measure the current being used. I had an expensive "after market" 12 volt power supply for my very small notebook computer that used 2.4 amps at 12 volts even when the computer was unplugged! It is advisable only to connect your charger (and inverter) to the 12 volt supply when you actually need to charge something.

I also had two 12 volt mobile phone chargers, one that took 0.5 amps with or without the phone connected. The other only took a few milliamps without the phone connected.

The end result is that you will almost certainly need an inverter and for a long tip in interesting parts of the world I strongly recommend taking both a 12volt and a mains charger for each vital piece of kit. A notebook you can not charge is of little use.
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Old 11 Nov 2007
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I think you may be confused

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
Maybe I should have made myself clearer , charging from the VEHICLE'S alternator directly to the transformer charger on the appliance is more efficient than :
Alternator - 12v to 240v Inverter- 240 volt transformer - appliance .
And as a bonus you have the facility to charge with 12 volt solar panels when you are parked .
Batteries are DC devices and are charged accordingly , there is no point in converting DC to AC and then back to DC for charging batteries .
The rate of charge will be dictated by the power of the transformer charger that comes with the appliance .
The vehicle may well be equipped with an alternater, but you wont see any ac without performing some electronic surgery on it. The ac it generates is rectified and regulated to dc internally. Certainly it would be better to use the inverter with the motor running, as that will try to replace the power drain from the battery.
If you need more than 12v go with the inverter, below that there will almost always be an in car converter/reducer.
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  #10  
Old 11 Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by ZenSlo View Post
The end result is that you will almost certainly need an inverter and for a long tip in interesting parts of the world I strongly recommend taking both a 12volt and a mains charger for each vital piece of kit. A notebook you can not charge is of little use.
If you need to rely on gizmos that a) must be powered from 230V AC and b) are so vital you can't leave home without them, the choice of the interesting parts of the world you can visit is almost certainly limited to the length of the mains cable from the nearest socket :-)

Sorry, ZenSlo, the technical side of your argument may seem strong, but the reasoning behind it flawed. 99 percent of serious electronic/electric equipment that is truly portable can be powered and recharged form a low voltage DC source. The rest is not worth the bother. If voltage step-up is required, DC/DC voltage convertion can be easily achieved without the need for bulky, fan cooled and unreliable DC/AC inverters.
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  #11  
Old 11 Nov 2007
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I use a Maplins 150w invertor, which is connected to the leisure battery. Absolutley fine for charging phones/cameras etc - might not be 100% scientificaly efficient, but so what?
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Old 11 Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
The vehicle may well be equipped with an alternater, but you wont see any ac without performing some electronic surgery on it. The ac it generates is rectified and regulated to dc internally. Certainly it would be better to use the inverter with the motor running, as that will try to replace the power drain from the battery.
If you need more than 12v go with the inverter, below that there will almost always be an in car converter/reducer.
No I'm not confused ,I merely left out the rectifier for the sake of simplicity ,I assumed that everyone would realise that vehicle systems run on DC .It is the inverter that produces the 240volt AC from the 12volt [rectified] DC.

Zenslo has hit the nail on the head and expressed the fundamentals far better than I ,
WAVE FORM IS IMPORTANT ,I once wrecked my camera batteries because I charged them using a modified wave form inverter ,rather than a pure sine wave inverter .

So my advice is charge from your vehicle's 12 volt supply if you can but if you can't find a 12volt charger for your appliance then use a sine wave inverter supplying 240v [or 110v if you are in N America ].

I live off the electricity power grid and use inverters and batteries everyday and believe it or not have learned a thing or two by experience.

And yes I know that you don't really need serious or silly electronic gizmos to travel ,but then you don't really need a vehicle either do you ?
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  #13  
Old 12 Nov 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghenk View Post
Hi all,

We will be needing to charge our laptop, cameras etc on the road. Can anyone recommend an inverter for these applications?

Thanks,


Bruce
Products like these below have served my needs when on the road and in the bush.
Available from Camera and Electronic shops.
Regards.
Ted's Camera Stores Australia - Inca Smart Charger

Jaycar Electronics

Jaycar Electronics

Last edited by ivanll; 12 Nov 2007 at 04:30. Reason: One More Adapter
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  #14  
Old 12 Nov 2007
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Inverter

Get a 500w, decent make and u will have no problems, that is if you have a dual battery system. We were 4 up and all of us had laptops, all had cameras and all had cell phones and we charged all the time. We also never ever disconected the 70l fridge either. We only ran the battery dead once when we camped for 2 nights! We also tried to start off that battery!!! not very clever.

It will drain no doubt, but be efficient, clever with your timings and u will have loads of power.

Good luck
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  #15  
Old 12 Nov 2007
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Thanks All,

That has given me more than enough food for thought!! I like the idea of having everything 12v, however I will probably take a 150w inverter for charging the laptop while driving. I can see that using it when parked up, while running a fridge and light etc would be sucking too much juice.

Thanks again!

Bruce
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