2500 Watt power inverter connected to passenger vehicle?

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  #1  
Old 08-26-11, 01:57 PM
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2500 Watt power inverter connected to passenger vehicle?

I am want to hook up a 2500 Watt (continuous power) inverter to my pickup truck.

is it a bad idea to run the motor on the truck while using AC power from the inverter? Otherwise I think the battery will drain very quickly.

I need the inverter to run my 1/2 hp 9.4 amp sump pump this weekend if we get flooding and power failure from HU Irene.

Thanks,
Mike.
 
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Old 08-26-11, 04:14 PM
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No harm running the engine that I know of and it's probably a requirement. I'm thinking you may have to rest a brick on the gas pedal or bump up the idle speed to keep the alternator turning fast enough.

After posting this it hit me that 2'500 watts is a lot to run through a 12v system. While it's only about 20 amps at 120 volts that's like 200 amps on your 12 volt system! Unless you have a really big alternator you probably do not have enough generating capacity to pull the full 2'500 watts for long.

Make sure you have nice, clean and strong connections on the 12v side. After you've got it up and running it might not be a bad idea to check the temperature of the connections & cables. I think you'll be pushing it hard so don't forget to turn off any unused lights.
 
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Old 08-26-11, 04:17 PM
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I think you should consider just buying a separate gas generator for that kind of wattage requirement. You would need to run your pickup's engine continuously and even then it won't give you more than 700 watts probably. Only 120 watts is 10 amps of battery power which would likely last about 1.5 hours in a typical car battery. The only other option would be to configure deep cycle batteries into the system. IMO for all this trouble including getting the inverter, I would buy a portable gas generator that will run on alot less gas and provide the power you really need.
 
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Old 08-26-11, 06:45 PM
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I don't think there is a portable generator within 500 miles at the moment with this hurricane coming down on us. I live in Hartford Ct. I never would have expected that I needed to be prepared for a hurricane here.
does it matter that I'm only running the pump which is 9.4 amps which i think converts to just over 1000 amps. 110 volts x 9.4 amps = 1034 watts??

I assume that the draw on the battery would not be the full 2500 watts. even the instructions for the inverter says not to run 2500 for long periods of time, but to oversize for what you expect to need.

The pump will cycle on and off as well. (hopefully off more than on).

thanks for your help!!!
 
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Old 08-26-11, 07:19 PM
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You are correct. The load on the inverter will vary directly on what you hook to it. Basically the less you hook to it the better.

You didn't say what your truck is but keep in mind that your alternator will not develop it's full output with the vehicle idling. You may only get 20 or so amps with it idling. If it's a diesel you can get some carbon build-up if you idle for long periods of time.

But, it sounds like you know what's going on and know how to figure your wattage. When things turn bad sometimes you have to think creative. Just make sure you save enough juice to start the truck and have fuel to feed it.
 
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Old 08-26-11, 08:17 PM
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That inverter is going to have to be connected with starter cables and maybe a fusible link for safety.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 07:29 AM
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You could run into problems if the pump run time lowers the truck battery voltage to where the alternator begins to supply current to the inverter.
It would be helpful to know the make and model of the inverter you are working with to get its specs

I just installed a switching 1000 watt continuous Zantrax inverter for my 1/3 hp sump pump.
The specs for it say that at a 1000 watt full load, it will draw 100 amps from the battery.
Assuming similar efficiency yours would draw about 120 amps from the battery, plus more when the pump starts.

Because a vehicle starting battery has very poor deep cycle characteristics it will not run your pump for long.
There is a chance that you could overload your alternator at that output.

I am not sure how much time you have but a suggestion would be to temporarily replace your truck battery with a new marine/deep cycle battery.
These batteries in many cases have twice the reserve capacity that a regular starting battery has and would give you more run time before depleting, hopefully giving your alternator an easier time.

You would have to physically replace the truck battery so that the charging system would not be overloaded trying to charge two batteries.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 12:25 PM
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All this really shows how difficult a problem it is using batteries for power. You can spend a a lot on batteries, inverter and cables just to do for an hour what one normal electrical outlet can provide. It makes even a cheapie generator sound pretty good.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 06:34 PM
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While my earlier opinion was not based on the reality of Irene coming that way, another option in hind site would have be to try to rent or even purchase a gas powered water pump and run a hose down into the sump well and only start it when needed. Just assuming that while the axu generators would have flown off the shelves the pumps might not have.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 08:18 PM
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I'm curious if the stores up that way do what they do down here; right before a big blow comes through they generally post signs by the generators saying they are non-returnable.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by the_tow_guy View Post
I'm curious if the stores up that way do what they do down here; right before a big blow comes through they generally post signs by the generators saying they are non-returnable.
The best time to buy a genny is when you don't need one.
 
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Old 08-27-11, 09:22 PM
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why not one or more 12v bilge pumps?
 
  #13  
Old 08-27-11, 10:09 PM
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Thanks for the advice.
was in NH today and found a 2000W Honda Generator. $big bucks, but the only time you need it, is when you can't get one.
Also, probably cheaper than rebuilding the electrical system on my truck. its a 2010 Tundra. just rolled it over the 36K mile mark so out of warranty.

Hope I don't need it.
Thanks for your help.
 
  #14  
Old 08-28-11, 05:43 AM
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Glad you found a generator. If you need it you need it. Bad time to experiment with inverters.
Electrical motors draw a lot of amperage to start. Figures vary but lets say 6 times run current. Lets say 10 amp run current Thats 1200 watts times 6 is 7200 watts to start the pump.
You would need a lot of batteries in parallel to supply that.
My bro got an inverter for the construction site and it would not run anything because the single battery and the alternator did not supply the start current needed. If you get a 2500 watt inverter and look at the instructions, that is when they tell you you need 4 or 6 batteries to to run small appliences.

And to have the ignition system on and the truck running with that kind of draw would be very hard on the electical system. Very hard.

Glad you found a generator and good luck
 
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Old 08-29-11, 08:37 AM
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Thank you!

thanks again for all the input.
Just to give you guys some feedback on this one. We lost power at 9:30 am yesterday and the power didnt come back on until 8:30 pm. With the generator running my sump pump it kept churning away every 10 minutes.

I have a pretty nice woodworking shop in my basement and would have had huge damage/cleanup without the genie.
After it was running, I timed the sump pump and it was pretty consistently turning on every 10 minutes with a couple of minutes to spare before it would have overflowed. I ended up going around the neighborhood hooking up to their sump pumps to pump out their basement.

Thanks again for your advice. without it, I think I would have tried to go with the inverter approach, and it sounds like it wouldn't have worked, I might have fried the electrical system in my truck and have a flooded basement. Instead, I ponied up the cash for the generator and the storm came and went without incident for me and my family.

the generator I bought was a Honda EU2000i. which is rated for 13.3 amps and 2000 watts peak. I was not sure if it would run even the pump, but it ran both the pump and my refrigerator no problem.

Kudo's go to the power equipment dealer in Wolfeboro, NH for driving all day to pick up generators, bring them back and set them up. Staying well after their normal closing time the night before the storm for their customers. I looked up the price paid and it was equal to the cheapest price I could find on-line for the same generator anywhere in the country.
 
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Old 08-29-11, 09:35 AM
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Glad it worked out for you. Thanks for letting us know.
 
  #17  
Old 08-29-11, 10:48 AM
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Glad you got by OK. You were lucky on the time you were without power. We had some wicked straight line winds here in the hoosier state that ripped poles out of the ground. I was without power 51 hours over eight days. Glad I had an old gen from a motor home.
 
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Old 08-29-11, 11:12 AM
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I have two EU2000i and and a EU3000i and love them all. Quiet, fuel efficient and they make very nice clean power. I have a pto driven 13kw that I use a few hours a day for taking showers and doing laundry but use a EU2000 to provide long term power for a few lights, TV and satellite. It's amazing how long it can run on it's little fuel tank.

Now, just make sure you use the generator regularly or empty out the gas and run it until it dies. Mine will start on the first pull if it gets run at least once every two weeks. Go longer than that and it takes a couple pulls to get it started. But nothing will gunk up the carb. better than letting gas sit in it for a year.

Also if you ever get a really good storm keep a close eye on it and depending on your neighborhood put a chain on it even when it's running outside your home. After our last big ice storm people were getting absolutely crazy after a few days and generator theft became rampant with many taken from the owners home while they were using them.
 
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Old 08-29-11, 11:41 AM
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One solution to "gunkey gas" is to convert to propane. This also solves the problem of where to get fuel when the gas station doesn't have power for their pumps. If your area is like mine almost every convenience store, supermarket, and hardware store sells the 20# "barbeque" tanks. Bound to be some open even with no power.
 
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