Technological development makes us more dependent on electronic equipment every day. An ample example is a power inverter of a car. Did you know that you can plug almost any device in your house into your car with a power inverter? Ideal for working where there is no electricity!
In this guide, you will learn everything about power inverters for cars: what is a power inverter, how to install a power inverter in a car, how it works.Of course, we will recommend some tips and tricks to get the best out of it.
Table of Contents
What Is a Power Inverter?
A power inverter is an electronic device whose function is to change the input voltage. It converts energy from direct current to an output voltage of alternating current. It transforms the 12v or 24v of the current from a battery (direct current) to 220v (alternating current).
Power inverters are used in various applications, from small power supplies to large industrial applications. This post will focus on installing inverter in the car, camper vans, motorhomes, and vehicles in general.
How to Install Power Inverter?
Things you will need:
- 12v inverter
- Wire connectors
- Electric drill crimping
- Electrical tape
- Multi-meter or test lamp
The first thing to do when preparing to install a 12-volt inverter is to read the instruction manual.It comes with the investor. Get familiar with the particular model and pay attention to special installation tips.
Next, carefully inspect the inverter to ensure that all the necessary components are in the box. You don’t want to go halfway through work and know something is missing.
After you have read the instructions, check to make sure you have all the parts. It is now time to choose a location to mount the 12v inverter. It is a good idea to mount the inverter in a place where it will not get stepped on.
Make sure the place is safe from things spilled or dropped into it. You should also consider mounting it close to where you think you will need to use it. It is counterproductive to run extension cords all over the place.
It is a good idea to safely mount the inverter in front of just setting it up somewhere. In most applications, the inverter will be subject to movement from bumpy roads. The inverter generally comes with some self-taping screws.
Use the electric drill and the self-tapping screws to hold the inverter where it is to be installed securely. Make sure that after you have installed it, you can reach the electrical outlets. To be able to plug things in, the inverter has been put in reach.
Now is the time to run the electrical wiring. It may be tempting to simply tap into an existing wire that has power through it. But run a heavy gauge wire directly from the positive terminal of the battery to the 12v inverter. It is much better and safer.
If you try to use too small of wire, there will be too much resistance in the wire. It will cause heat build-up, and the full nominal amount of electricity will not be able to reach the inverter. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the gauge based on how far the inverter will be from the battery.
Lastly, you will need to check one more thing. Connect the black negative cable to either the negative battery terminal or a clean solid metal spot on the vehicle. Vehicles are connected to negative ground. This means that the negative terminal of the battery is connected to the solid metal in the vehicle.
Therefore, if you are working with the negative vehicle ground, it is not necessary to run the negative cable all the way to the battery. A good clean connection of the power inverter to a solid metal point on the vehicle body is sufficient.
How to Connect a Power Inverter to the Car?
As you already know, a power inverter has to be connected to a 12V source: either to our car’s own battery or to an auxiliary battery.
Although there are several ways to connect to the battery of our car, the 2 most common are:
- Through the car’s cigarette lighter
- Directly to the battery.
The simplest way to connect an inverter to the car is through the cigarette lighter.It is the one that we have more at hand, and it is unnecessary to leave the vehicle. However, this option has its limitations, as we will see below:
The cigarette lighter socket connects us to the 12V of our battery through a fuse. This means that the said fuse’s current value will condition the maximum current that we can extract from here.
In general, the fuse that connects the cigarette lighter to the battery is usually 20A.This would allow us to extract a maximum theoretical power of 240W from the lighter:
Maximum cigarette lighter power = 12V x 20A = 240W
For more power, we would need to resort to the second option. We need to connect the inverter directly to the terminals of the battery under the hood of the car.
In this case, the power will be limited only by the car battery or the inverter we connect.Also, it will be limited to the cables used for the connection between both as well.
What Power do I Need my Power Inverter to Have?
Very easy and obvious; it depends on what you want to connect.
Make a list of what you think you are going to connect with.Look at the appliance manufacturer’s label for the consumption power they have marked in watts “w.” Add all the watts, and the result that it gives you will be the inverter power current you need.
Here is a list of the consumptions in W of the most common devices that we will need, or not when we travel by van or motorhome:
- Mobile charger: 5 w
- TV 22″: 20 w
- RV refrigerator 120l: 180 w
- Blender: 300 w
- Toaster: 350-700w
- PS4: 137 w
- Electric stove: 250-2000w
- Capsule coffee maker: 1500 w
- AC: 1100 w
Once you have decided on how to install a power inverter in a car, you might also want to get the best product. While most applications available on the market are okay but you should take an expert opinion.Installing a 12v inverter in your car is not that difficult if you take your time and follow the instructions.