- Audio & Video
Power Your TV With Your Car Battery Using a Power Inverter
How To Power Common Household Appliances With Batteries
Have you ever wondered how to power your TV, computer, video game, cell phone charger, or other electrical items from a 12 volt battery? Maybe you've always wanted to be able to charge your laptop in your car. If so, you've come to the right place.
The standard voltage for electricity that comes into your home from the power company is 120 volts. How on earth are you going to be able to run appliances that require 120 volts on 12 volt batteries? The answer lies in a neat gadget called a power inverter!
Converting 12 Volts Into 120 Volts
Is it possible?
When I discovered power inverters, I was thrilled! For years I have wished that there were a way to plug standard household appliances into our vehicles while traveling or camping. The solution lied in a clever invention called a power inverter.
All of the items in your home require 120 volts of electricity but your car, rv, boat, camper, or solar batteries only provide 12 volts. If you tried to hook them up directly to a 12 volt battery, you would destroy them in seconds.
A power inverter is a complex device that is simple to operate. They range from very small units designed for your vehicle to huge units for use in solar homes. I don't understand the electrical circuitry but that's not necessary for them to work flawlessly. The basic principle is that as the 12 Volt power comes into the inverter from one or more 12 volt batteries, it is stored up briefly until it can be delivered out as 120 volts. Now I'm sure that's a huge understatement about how they actually perform the process but for our needs, that's all we need to know.
Which Inverter is Right For You
Aw, which inverter should you buy? This really depends on your needs. If you plan to power a video game charger in your SUV then you can get by with a very small one. The small inverters come in two types. The first simply plugs into you vehicles cigarette lighter outlet. What could be more simple than that? You plug one end into your car outlet and then you plug your standard electrical device into the inverter outlet.
The second type of inverter requires a bit of simple wiring. Some come with the wires and some don't. If they don't you can get the wires at your local home or car store. If you've never done any wiring, don't fret. The instructions are very easy to follow and it's pretty hard to get it wrong. The red positive wire goes to your the positive terminal on your battery and the other black wire is securely screwed to your vehicles ground. This is just some unpainted metal spot under the hood. There are many to choose from and it's easy to attach the ground. Basically, the negative terminal of your battery is connected to the metal body on your car so when you connect the negative wire from the inverter to metal on your car, you're really just connecting it to the negative side of the battery. Sound complicated? It's really not.
What if you have a need for a larger inverter? Maybe you want to be able to run your big screen TV in your motor home or you are planning to set up an off the grid cabin or house. Naturally, this will require a bigger inverter because larger devices consume more power.
Several companies make large inverters. Inverters are rated in the number of watts of electricity that they can supply to your electrical device. A charger for a video game might only require 20 or so watts while the big screen TV might require 1000 watts.
The trick is to make a list all the devices that you may want to power at once and then figure out how much power they each use. This number is usually on a sticker on the back of the device. Add up the watts required for each device and viola, you know how big the inverter needs to be.
Inverters usually come rated with two numbers. You might see an inverter that says 1000 Watts continuous / 1500 Watts surge. They are built that way because some devices require more power when you first turn them on. This is called the "startup load".
Whatever you electrical needs are, chances are, there is an inverter made that will do the trick. I suggest that you rush out and get one for all your vehicles. I can't tell you how handy they can be to have. The possibilities are endless!
Deep Cycle Batteries
It's important to note that if you use an inverter while you are running your vehicle, a standard automotive battery will be suitable. But, and this is an important but, if you plan on using the inverter to power items when the vehicle isn't running you should really have a deep cycle battery installed in addition to your starting battery. It sure would be awful if you ran your car battery out of power and then couldn't start your car.
These deep cycle batteries are designed to be run down to a very low charge level without damage. They can go through many charge / recharge cycles without damage. The battery in your car is designed to put out a large amount of power in short bursts for starting the vehicle. Once your car is running, the electrical needs of the vehicle are supplied by the alternator.
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