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Old 19-01-2012, 03:31   #1
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Best Inverter for the Buck

I'm in the process of installing a 400 Watt solar system with MPPT controller. This system, hopefully, justifies the installation of an inverter. It should be capable of running our microwave. I would very much appreciate recommendations. It should have high efficiency, high reliability, and very low drain when no loads are connected. As the title, indicates, price is definitely an important factor. I don't want a combo inverter/charger since I already have a nice charger installed.
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Old 19-01-2012, 04:05   #2
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

I recommend the Victron Phoenix either 1200W or 1600W. The 1200 can't run a heater but the 1600 can. Not cheap but very good and reliable. You gets what you pays for.
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Old 19-01-2012, 04:18   #3
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

Instead of recommending a brand or model, I would suggest you look at your needs first. Do you need a true sine wave inverter, or will a modified sine wave (really a modified square wave) do the job? The modified sine wave is common and cheap but can play havoc with some electronic power supplies. My old Apple powerbook kept burning out its brick until I realized what was happening. Most newer laptop power bricks can handle the modified sine wave, but not everything will. If it were me I would buy a true sine wave, to be certain that no damage would be caused. OTOH I have made do with the old model so far - with an eye to the dropping prices which will entice me soon to buy a true sine wave model.
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Old 19-01-2012, 04:32   #4
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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Instead of recommending a brand or model, I would suggest you look at your needs first. Do you need a true sine wave inverter, or will a modified sine wave (really a modified square wave) do the job? The modified sine wave is common and cheap but can play havoc with some electronic power supplies. My old Apple powerbook kept burning out its brick until I realized what was happening. Most newer laptop power bricks can handle the modified sine wave, but not everything will. If it were me I would buy a true sine wave, to be certain that no damage would be caused. OTOH I have made do with the old model so far - with an eye to the dropping prices which will entice me soon to buy a true sine wave model.
Thanks; that's a good point. I run my laptop off a DC-to-DC converter from house batteries. On the other hand, we have been charging iPhone via a cheap power adapter from the AC. We also have a 12VDC cigarette lighter iPhone adapter so this could be used if necessary. Really, the boat is designed to run everything including lights off 12 VDC so mostly it's kitchen appliances and power tools that would be using 110 VAC. I think the final decision will be based on the cost difference. If it's not too great, the true sine version would be nice otherwise it seems I can easily make do with the modified sine version.
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Old 19-01-2012, 04:35   #5
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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I recommend the Victron Phoenix either 1200W or 1600W. The 1200 can't run a heater but the 1600 can. Not cheap but very good and reliable. You gets what you pays for.
Thanks. I'll check them out.
Pete
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Old 19-01-2012, 04:44   #6
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

Don't just look at marine equipment. We bought our 'Ring' 2.1kw inverter from Amazon.co.uk at a fraction of the price of any in a marine store.
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Old 19-01-2012, 10:17   #7
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

I got this on Ebay and am very happy with it.
No load sensing start circuitry, you have to flip a switch but it works great.

OSP 1500W PURE SINE WAVE POWER INVERTER 1500 3000 WATT | eBay
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Old 19-01-2012, 18:45   #8
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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I got this on Ebay and am very happy with it.
No load sensing start circuitry, you have to flip a switch but it works great.

OSP 1500W PURE SINE WAVE POWER INVERTER 1500 3000 WATT | eBay
I see a ton of inverters on eBay and elsewhere that have the standard 115 VAC outlets on the end with an on/off switch such as the one you bought. Do boat owners generally connect these into their boat AC or use them standalone?
Pete
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Old 19-01-2012, 18:50   #9
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Instead of recommending a brand or model, I would suggest you look at your needs first. Do you need a true sine wave inverter, or will a modified sine wave (really a modified square wave) do the job? The modified sine wave is common and cheap but can play havoc with some electronic power supplies. My old Apple powerbook kept burning out its brick until I realized what was happening. Most newer laptop power bricks can handle the modified sine wave, but not everything will. If it were me I would buy a true sine wave, to be certain that no damage would be caused. OTOH I have made do with the old model so far - with an eye to the dropping prices which will entice me soon to buy a true sine wave model.
Don't know why anybody would even consider anything but a pure sine wave inverter thesedays ?? Other than being not aware of pure sine wave ones.
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Old 19-01-2012, 19:30   #10
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

For those low budget cruisers (or voyager maybe) like me, the modified sine wave inverters work fine. My 700 watt runs my 120V fridge at anchor and power drill, and other things. Plus has two USB ports for charging the cell phone, etc. No microwave, so no worries there for me...Its inexpensive ($44) and works fine for everything I own.

A pure sine wave inverter might be nice, but it falls outside my budget.
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Old 19-01-2012, 20:53   #11
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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I see a ton of inverters on eBay and elsewhere that have the standard 115 VAC outlets on the end with an on/off switch such as the one you bought. Do boat owners generally connect these into their boat AC or use them standalone?
Pete
I don't know about others, but I use it as a standalone.
I've got a couple of outlets for the inverter.
ON the hook our usual AC loads are only for the sewing machine and the coffee grinder, with an occasional use of a soldering iron.
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Old 20-01-2012, 03:30   #12
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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I don't know about others, but I use it as a standalone.
I've got a couple of outlets for the inverter.
ON the hook our usual AC loads are only for the sewing machine and the coffee grinder, with an occasional use of a soldering iron.
It would be very convenient to feed my existing AC outlets. This would include microwave, a few other galley appliances, a printer, and the occasional power tool. It would be very awkward to run extension cords from all of the above direct to the inverter. Obviously, I can connect one of the available 115 VAC inverter outlets directly to line feeding the boat's AC outlets, but then I need to guard against:
- conflict if shore power connected while inverter running
- back feeding into main AC panel and feeding water heater, etc

Has anyone dealt with these issues using one of the inexpensive (true sinewave) inverters?
Pete
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Old 20-01-2012, 05:39   #13
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Yes either install a switch to switch the AC source or use a couple of contactors to do it automatically. I've rigged up a few auto ones over the years.
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Old 20-01-2012, 05:51   #14
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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Yes either install a switch to switch the AC source or use a couple of contactors to do it automatically. I've rigged up a few auto ones over the years.
Thanks. Guess one just has to remember not to turn on things like the water heater and also remember to disconnect it before connecting to shore power.

This is the most interesting inexpensive true sine wave inverter I've found so far:
Ramsond SunRay Pure Sine Wave Inverters

The Sunray 1500 sells for $239.99 and the remote control costs $39.99. I think the remote is very valuable since the inverter would be mounted in the engine room close to batteries and the remote switch can be located in some other convenient location eg, next to AC panel. Anyone have experience with this company or have other similar ones to recommend?

If not for the budgetary restrictions, the Xantrex ProSine 1800 (806-1802 version) looks very nice:
Power Inverter, Pure Sine Wave Inverter, Marine Inverter, PROsine
It includes a transfer switch to automatically switch from inverter to shore power, but the best price I've seen is $949.
Pete
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Old 20-01-2012, 06:03   #15
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Re: Best inverter for the buck

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I recommend the Victron Phoenix either 1200W or 1600W. The 1200 can't run a heater but the 1600 can. Not cheap but very good and reliable. You gets what you pays for.
I did some checking. They don't seem to available here in the US near as I can determine. I would probably want the C12/2000 since the C12/1600 gets heavily de-rated with increasing temperature. BTW, we love our Victron BMV-600.
Pete
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