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Old 01-20-2001
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Inverter Installation

What do I need to know about installing an interface for 110-volt power?

Tom Wood responds:

Lots of things go into a successful inverter installation. SailNet has some full-length articles on the topic, but here are some highlights:

  • Get the right size inverter to run the 110-volt appliances you have in mind. Too small an inverter is frustrating and dangerous. Many first-time inverter users want to run a small appliance, but once the thing is installed, they find lots of other uses for it. All of this is OK if the inverter chosen is big enough to handle all the new—found luxuries on board.
  • Make sure that your battery capacity and charging systems can handle the extra load. It’s great to run the TV, VCR, microwave, sewing machine, power tools, blender, and espresso machine out at anchor, but not if you have to run the diesel the whole time to keep the batteries alive. You must conceive the whole operation as a system (which it is) and you may need to add battery capacity, high-output alternator, solar panels, and/or a wind generator.
  • Insure that every part in the 12-volt wiring is up to the task including the battery switch, main cable gauge, all buss bars, and any other connections. Electrical systems are like a chain—only as strong as the weakest link.
  • You absolutely must have a fuse in the positive cable between the battery and the inverter. The inverter manufacturer will state this clearly and specify the amperage of the 12-volt fuse. Do not ignore this instruction.
  • Remote operation panels are very nice to have for most inverters and a number of extra options open up when you install one, such as the ability to equalize the batteries. Consider at least the basic remote panel option and go fancier if you want enhanced ability to monitor the condition of your electrical system.
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