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Three Things to Know About Using a Power Inverter
The first thing you need to know is what you plan to do during this emergency. Smaller components or smaller amperage, smaller or smaller inverter will be needed. I will provide a table of materials and their average power consumption below followed by a simple formula that will give you an idea of the size of inverter you will need.
Stackable Washer/Dryer: 2500 Watts
Chain Saw Power: 1700 Watts
Electric Circular Saw: 1600 Watts
Full Size Microwave Oven: 1400 Watts
Chest freezer: 1200 Watts
Small Microwaves: 1000 Watts
1/3 inch HP Low Pump: 920 Watts
Reciprocating Saw: 720 Watts
1/2 inch Retractable Wood: 620 Watts
Coffee Maker: 600 Watts
Portable vacuum: 525 Watts
Electric Garden Equipment: 475 Watts
10 Speed Blender: 450 Watts
Orbital Sander: 400 Watts
Home stereo: 350 Watts
3/8 inch Variable Speed Drill: 320 Watts
20 inch TV / VCR Combo: 300 Watts
12 Inch Three Speed Fan: 200 Watts
Computer/Printer/Fax: 150 Watts
Quartz Halogen Spotlight: 100 Watts
Mini Stereo/CD Player: 50 Watts
Laptop Computer/8 inch TV: 38-45 Watts
Cell Phone/Camcorder Charger: 10 Watts
14 Volt Cordless Drill Charger: 8 Watts
If the appliance you plan to use is listed in watts, go ahead and use that number. If they are listed in amps you just need to use this simple formula: volts (120) X amps (listed on the device) = watts. This will give you the amount of watts the device will use. So if you had a 3 amp device, and you wanted to get the watts, the formula would be: 120 (volts) X 3 (amps) = 360 watts.
You will then add up all the watts you will use and come up with a number. Let’s say your total wattage is 500 watts. If so it would be a good idea to get a 750 watt inverter. Always get a size larger than you think you’ll need, it can be useful.
Your next step will be to determine where your electricity will come from. If it’s for emergency purposes there’s a very good chance it’ll come from the battery connected to your vehicle, or you might be better off and have a bank of batteries connected the same way. Since most of the people reading this are probably not familiar with making a battery bank I will just cover using an inverter in a vehicle. The key is knowing which battery to use. It is recommended that you have a deep cycle battery or those used for riding cars or golf carts and get as many amp hours as your budget allows. A few years back I was able to go 11 days using a 750w inverter and a 120amp hour deep cycle battery attached to my car. I had to drive the car 10 minutes every 2 hours to carry everything I had which was a laptop, 13″ color tv, direct tv receiver, laptop modem, 40w light, and a small box fan. It sounds like a lot, but I thought I was living in the Ritz. Carlton compared to most of my neighbors.
The last thing you need to know is how long your battery (battery) will last before it needs to be recharged. First you need to know the voltage of all electrical appliances. Let’s say we have 480 watts of total power consumption, and we run our inverter from a 12 volt battery attached to the car. Next we need to convert this number to know how many amps are being used. We do this by taking the watts (480) and dividing it by 12 (battery volts) and comes up with 40 amps. The formula is: watts / volts = amps. If we have a 120 hour battery we will divide 120 (amp hours) by 40 (amps) and get 3 hours before the battery dies. It is recommended not to charge the battery below 50% of its capacity so you may want to divide the 3 hours in half giving you 1 1/2 hours before starting the car to recharge the battery.
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