Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 26 Old 07-04-2014 Thread Starter
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Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

It turns out the plug I have on my boat only works when I am connected to shore power, so I got a small 400 watt inverter with two battery clamps.

I have been using it to charge things and removing it from the battery when not in use. I attach the red clamp to the battery post and them the black clamp to the negative battery post. The black clamp produced sparks. It doesn't feel safe.

Is this ok? It does have an on off switch, should I just attach it permanently near my batteries or attach the black clamp to something else or...just not worry about it? I'm doubting we are going to go for the just not worry about it plan.

Thanks for your help.


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post #2 of 26 Old 07-04-2014
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

It makes little sparks? Meaning it's always on like a TV set?

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post #3 of 26 Old 07-04-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

No. It has an on off switch. It only sparks when I connect the black clamp to the battery post.


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post #4 of 26 Old 07-04-2014
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

Sparks even when off? Should be connected with switch off at the least.


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post #5 of 26 Old 07-04-2014
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

does it have an led pilot light in/on the switch?

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post #6 of 26 Old 07-04-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

Sparks even when inverter switch off. Yes has led light.


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post #7 of 26 Old 07-04-2014
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

Sparks even when the switch is off (obviously) show current passing even when the switch is off. Do you have a multimeter? You could check the resistance between the red and black battery clamps with the switch off.

The only dumb question is the one that you didn't ask because you thought it would make you look dumb.
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

Inverters do pass current when the final DC wire is put in place - it is normal. It is also mentioned in the install manuals of many inverters to expect this.

A proper install of a larger inverter includes a switch in the DC positive wire - as well as adequate fusing. This can certainly be done in the cast of a small inverter as well. If the switch is off when the wires are connected there is no spark.
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post #9 of 26 Old 07-05-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

So I can just leave it attached all the time right? It only sparks when I connect it? It won't be a fire hazard? It's 400w by the way.


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post #10 of 26 Old 07-05-2014
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Re: Stupid question? Sparks when I connect inverter

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Is this ok?
No.

Remember that when charging batteries vent hydrogen and water. Add sparks and you have a fuel, an oxidizer, and a source of ignition. THAT is why ABYC and others have so many recommendations for battery boxes, switches, and connections.

In addition to the sparking be aware that battery spring clamps do not make terribly good connections so there will be a voltage drop and heat.

I suggest you permanently connect fused and switched cables to the inverter. If you want to make the inverter portable use good quality connectors like Anderson Powerpoles or Powerlet connectors. For a 400W inverter I'd size wires and connectors for 40A and fuse for 30A or 35A. Make sure the inverter is well-ventilated wherever you put it.

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