Join Date: Jun 2006
Thanked 18 Times in 18 Posts
Rep Power: 12
Most inverters will work, but you have to be careful picking out a good one, not because of the waveform .. most electronics can use an ugly pattern, but because of stupid things you wouldn't expect. Problems I've had with them include not providing their rated output, having really dumb cigarette lighter connections that aren't standard and won't actually stay in a cigarette lighter socket, eating too much power when they don't have a load attached, not making a good electrical connection with the socket, having hard to find/replace fuses, etc. It's best to go with a good name and about 1.5 times the wattage you think you are going to need. And of course if you really need an inverter for "big stuff" then it's best to wire it into the electrical system and do it right.
I try to avoid inverters when I can, which is usually fairly easy if you shop around and are careful. I do a lot of camping so flexibility is very important for me when it comes to power and batteries because I like to take some of the more important electronics with me on treks. I have a folding solar panel and a very small A/C to DC converter that outputs 13.9 volts to charge my homemade NiMH battery pack when on a trek, that's the core of my "electrical system". From that system I can power everything I use and I can operate indefinitely in terms of power, or at least until something breaks or I eventually have to replace the NiMH batteries with new ones. I try to buy equipment that uses AA batteries because that's what my battery pack is made out of which gives me a built in charging capability. L-ion batteries are expensive, annoying to recharge, often only have really bulky chargers available, and more importantly take away a lot of flexibility because you can't swap batteries between devices. Pretty much everything that uses a L-ion battery has to have it's own individual charger and cable which makes them very undesirable for treks because of weight and general annoyance. I also carry a small modified DC power converter that can output 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, and 12 volts DC given a 13.9'ish volt DC power source, I have various tips for the cable so that I can charge/run a lot of personal electronics that have voltage requirements under 12 volts. That voltage converter also acts as a current limiter/diode on 12 volts so that I can charge my battery pack from another battery that has a higher voltage without worrying about overheating the NiMH pack when I am not paying attention. I also have cables I've adapted to charge AAA batteries, power my emergency radio, run the laptop, etc.
So basically as long as the sun is shining, or I'm near an electrical outlet, or I can find some voltage source that is greater than 12 volts and less than about 30 volts DC ... I can charge my battery pack. And the battery pack powers everything either directly or indirectly by recharging AA and AAA batteries. I have a backup solar panel in the ditch bag.