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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to fit an inverter which will have enough capacity to run a kettle and a microwave (though not simultaneously).

Are there any brands to avoid, or to look for?

Do they give off heat? need I worry about that when I mount it to the van?

any experience from those who have done it is appreciated
 

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Yes - they give off heat. Typical efficiency is ~85%, so at 2kW load the inverter itself will be having to lose around 300W of heat, continuously, so good airflow is essential.

In terms of location, closer to the battery is best, because they take very high current - at 2kW it will be trying to pull 160+ Amps out of the battery, so short thick cables are also essential.

Note also that a microwave is not a simple load - a reasonable quality 2kW inverter will probably handle an 800W microwave and no more. Maybe less if it's a cheap one.

The general consensus is that if at all possible you should try to use gas for heating water, because regular use of anything other than a small travel kettle will probably kill a normal lead/acid leisure battery quite quickly - but it's a different matter if you have Lithium ion batteries, or a large lead/acid setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes - they give off heat. Typical efficiency is ~85%, so at 2kW load the inverter itself will be having to lose around 300W of heat, continuously, so good airflow is essential.

In terms of location, closer to the battery is best, because they take very high current - at 2kW it will be trying to pull 160+ Amps out of the battery, so short thick cables are also essential.

Note also that a microwave is not a simple load - a reasonable quality 2kW inverter will probably handle an 800W microwave and no more. Maybe less if it's a cheap one.

The general consensus is that if at all possible you should try to use gas for heating water, because regular use of anything other than a small travel kettle will probably kill a normal lead/acid leisure battery quite quickly - but it's a different matter if you have Lithium ion batteries, or a large lead/acid setup.
Thanks Triffic,

I have a 160 AH AGM deep cycle battery, and as you suggest, my intention is to use a 0.5L travel kettle and a 800W microwave, but not at the same time.Yes, each draws a lot of amps, but only for about 5 minutes. I've been in 2 house fires started by real flames (not my own doing, and fortunately both were caught early, but I am paranoid about fires. I'm going to considerable expense and effort in order to install an electrical setup capable of flame free cooking. Though I'll carry a little gas stove for use outdoors as a backup.

Thanks for the info about airflow. I shall ensure it has air around it.

Does one need to be able to see or watch or monitor the inverter? Should it be "on view" or located behind a panel out of sight (but with airflow?)

And are there any brands to avoid, or famously good ones?
 

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I've been in 2 house fires started by real flames (not my own doing, and fortunately both were caught early, but I am paranoid about fires.
I don't have the time to look up the stats, but I suspect that you'll find that electrical fires are a big proportion of the total number of domestic fires these days.
 

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Make sure the one you buy is a “pure sine wave” inverter and always double the rating that an appliance requires as most quote peak figures and WONT CUT IT.

But once, buy right! Take it from someone who tried the eBay Chinese el-cheapo options first and threw em back.

There are some awesome German ones with remote control pure sine 3000W (genuine) and we’ve even run lawn mowers off them!! Damned if I can remember the make.... ‘epicor’ or something hmm...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I use inverters a fair bit (I am not a fan of spending loads of money on special 12V versions of 240V products - I'd rather just spend once on an Inverter and use the standard gear).
If the inverter is "mission critical", get a decent brand (so I ran my 240V Fridge on Victron kit), and it is is occasional limited and short-term use, get mid range (Edecoa is reasonable enough).
800W Microwave ... that is the output power. Look at the label on the back to see the input power - probably around 1500W. I have a 700W Microwave in my van and it draws around 130A when running including the inverter overhead. I would not suggest running a Microwave off a 160Ah Battery - it really is too small and with a 1500W load plus overhead you will be at a draw rate well above C1 (C1 means the current = Ah rating. With that current, the 160AH will be more like a 90AH battery and you will take it down to half full in around 15 minutes.
 

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I've been using a 1.5k Sterling inverter for a while. It's been pretty solid but it makes a bit of a noise when U push it. The largest draw was a 1300w coffee machine. It was fed by 3 x 120AH agm. And frankly they just about cut it. No way I would run the same system off 160AH.

In my recent experiments I've been using Cotek (aka Antares) 1k and 2k inverters - and incidentally, I have been running a microwave off the 2k one. They are absolutely rock solid and fail gracefully exactly when they should ie. at 10% over stated capacity, an alarm sounds briefly then they cut. I also use a small (500w) Victron for its energy saving/remote control functionality.
These are all being fed by LiFePO4 cells which are, frankly, bronze age versus AGM stone age.
Victron is expensive but great for bells and whistles. Cotek is cheaper though not particularly cheap (because people rate it), super-solid+reliable with minimal functionality.

Key points re battery usage/capacity:
  • Drop below 50% capacity and you're shortening the life of a lead acid battery which equals reducing its usable capacity. (160AH = 80AH usable)
  • By the time it's been in use for a few weeks, you're almost certainly down by 10% (72AH usable)
  • Lead Acid chemistry is most efficient at 0.1C i.e in this case 16A. Draw at 160A, and you'll probably be below 50% efficiency (36AH usable)
  • LiFePO4: Optimal efficiency at 1C: a 160AH LiFePO4 will give U 160AH drawing at 160A. Actually even a 100AH LiFePO4 will deliver way more than your 160AH agm.
 
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