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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2011
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Jeff,

Here's what Chuck Husick has to say about inverters and small batteries:

Quote
Can an inverter provide the power you want? An inverter powering a microwave will consume between 840 and 920 watts from the battery while powering an 800-watt microwave. The typical size 27, 60-pound storage battery used on many boats can be used to power the microwave for about 25 minutes, long enough for popcorn and dinner. There are creative alternatives: Reduce the rate at which you draw energy from the battery and you can take more out before having to recharge. Do the popcorn in the microwave, cook dinner on the charcoal grill, and the inverter can power a TV and VCR consuming 150 watts for about three and a half hours. Want to cook longer or run other gadgets? Add more batteries. Unquote

The article is on the Boat U.S. website: Chuck Husick on BoatUScom

Bill
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Old 12-05-2011
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I agree, previously had installed a Xantrex Prowatt 1750 and while it was temp installed, I wired it up directly for a test and when I ran the microwave and a 1500 watt heater, not at the same time, the unit alarmed and cut off.

Thinking the inverter was not powerful enough, i bought the 3000 watt inverter. silly me.

But as I think back, I think the alarm was the low voltage alarm from the inverter due to the DC voltage from the battery going below 10.8 volts. (deep cycle batteries)

I think I will sell both inverters and by a Sailrite Stack pack kit for my boom/mainsail.
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Old 12-05-2011
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I've got a 1000 watt inverter onboard. I use it to run my laptop, sometimes a DVD player.
That's it. I haven't needed to use it for anything else.
We use our caveman-simple two burner alcohol stove for 90% of onboard cooking, including making tea, coffee, hot buttered rum, hot toddies, mulled cider, popcorn, etc.,
in other words all the stuff that can be done in a microwave... and have you ever tried to saute chicken or caramelize onions in a microwave?

And you definitely can't do a proper shrimp boil in a nuker.



I have a spare alcohol stove I'll sell you.
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Old 12-05-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefndeb View Post
...So I am standing there with my coffee thinking why am I installing this oversize inverter, xantrex 120vac transfer switch, xantrex remote on/off switch etc ( got em all for real cheap) when I could use some of the appliances I saw at this truck stop?

Do these 12 volt appliances work good?
All I guess I really wanted to use was my 950 micrwave to heat food and drinks up....
To the original question...

Don't forget wire thickness. You'll need some very big, expensive/heavy cables to move the microwave's 100 amps with little loss. (Your inverter needs close to 12v to operate.) That's the one reason to get an inverter, unless you're going to put that 12v coffee maker right next to the battery bank. Running an inverter means current goes down to 1/10th of what it was before, and the cables get much smaller. Put another way, Power Loss = Current X Current X Wire Resistance, so lowering current has a massive effect on the wire resistance you can use. It's why power is moved around the country at very high voltages on high tension wires.

The other reason is that there are a lot more appliances out there that work with 120v AC.

Seconding what others have said...

Compared to the other parts of your system, your inverter is too big and will have too much loss. (Full disclosure, we have a 2000W Xantrex on our 50' boat and I would consider trading/buying with you, but our 2000W with 5000W peak serves us excellently, so I'm not sure I'd trade/buy anyway. Money-- especially shipping costs -- could be better spent elsewhere.)

We do exactly what you are talking about -- we cook potatos and pop microwave popcorn and heat things in our microwave. But for heating in general, it's better to use fossil fuels, unless you are prepared to replace that energy. Our wind generator keeps the batteries topped up (with the fridge off) so that we have energy to spare. But still we only use the microwave sparingly.

I bought a common, 120v household toaster (because I love toast in the morning). And it pulls 160 AMPS!!! from the batteries. That's more than the mircowave uses. Toast takes maybe 5 minutes and I would watch the Victron battery monitor as the batteries drain down. (Your 40 amp alternator means running the engine at a good rpm for 20 minutes to replace the energy!) I went and bought a toaster frame that fits over the propane stove and gave the toaster away to a homeowner. Now I make toast faster and don't feel like I'm blowing the energy budget everytime I make toasted bread. Lesson learned is that heating with electricity doesn't make sense, except for re-heating in the microwave. We do jiffy-pop popcorn instead of microwave popcorn, and we haven't microwaved potatos since that first time - when we had the engine running. Instead, use electricity for non-heating appliances like stereos and TVs

(Useful note: low power microwaves suck at making microwave popcorn.)

But I understand the attraction of microwaves. I like melted cheese on chips, for instance. Just make sure you 1) can store enough energy to not hurt your batteries when you run it, 2) create enough energy to replace the power, 3) have thick enough cables between the batteries and the inverter, and therefore 4) generally have a spot for the inverter very close to the batteries.

Regards,
Brad

P.S. We had the 120v Christmas lights on last night, run off the inverter. Up the backstay and down a line tied to the bow pulpit. It was beautiful.

P.S.S. If you have ice, you can run a blender. All the naysayers will flock to your boat and change their tune -- just see 1 to 4 above.

P.S.S.S. Bravo on getting a full sine wave inverter(I think that's what you have anyway). The power to our microwave went from 60 amps to 120 amps with the full sine wave inverter. That makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of the appliance.
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Last edited by Bene505; 12-05-2011 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefndeb View Post
I agree, previously had installed a Xantrex Prowatt 1750 and while it was temp installed, I wired it up directly for a test and when I ran the microwave and a 1500 watt heater, not at the same time, the unit alarmed and cut off.

Thinking the inverter was not powerful enough, i bought the 3000 watt inverter. silly me.

But as I think back, I think the alarm was the low voltage alarm from the inverter due to the DC voltage from the battery going below 10.8 volts. (deep cycle batteries)

I think I will sell both inverters and by a Sailrite Stack pack kit for my boom/mainsail.
It alarmed and shut off on low voltage. Most cut off and shut down with a pre-set low voltage cut off. A group 27 battery may have the Ah's needed for a quick fix but won't likely be able to support it with the voltage needed under high loads.. It could also be high loads and undersized feed wire. Running the engine while using the inverter can help minimize low voltage shut downs...
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 12-05-2011 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011
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Bljones -- that looks delicious! Are you one of those Cajun Canadians? (Or are the Cajun's actually displaced Canadians? I forget.)

Regards,
Brad
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