how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

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Jas
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how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:38 pm

Just got my pure sine inverter today and boy am I Jazzed to pump some juice through this bad boy.

How do you keep yours covered on the playa to minimize dustiness? Send pics?
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Captain Goddammit
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:50 pm

I have mine (aboard a mutant vehicle just below the floor) inside a plastic container with a sealed lid. The cables go through holes drilled in the appropriate places, and sealed with a bunch of silicone sealer.
This totally works, It’s completely dustproof.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:53 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:50 pm
The cables go through holes drilled in the appropriate places, and sealed with a bunch of silicone sealer.
This totally works, It’s completely dustproof.
Thanks Cap G. I envisioned something like that for the cables that stretch from inverter to power source. Silicon sealer is a nice touch.

But, I assume you keep the same electronics in your MV hooked up to your inverter's AC outlets? I may end up switching my electronics up occasionally throughout the week, or would at least just like the option to do so.

Maybe I'd just run those through the top of the sealed lid, cutting some semi-circular grooves on top lip of the container.

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Token » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:01 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:50 pm
This totally works, It’s completely dustproof.
But how do you turn it on?

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:34 pm

Token wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:01 pm
Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:50 pm
This totally works, It’s completely dustproof.
But how do you turn it on?
I'm guessing he's got something like I got. Remote switch:
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:58 am

Yes, remote switch. That’s exactly what I use.

On the playa, if you want your electronics (or anything) to not get playa-dusted you’ve gotta keep them sealed tight. Think similarly to making it waterproof. Otherwise the dust is gonna get in.

As for changing what’s connected, all you need is an extension cord run through the box and sealed to it. Or you can use a nice “power strip”.

Use a box as big as is practical, to help with cooling. A sealed box isn’t ideal for heat dissipation but I haven’t had any issues and keeping the dust completely out is paramount.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:54 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:58 am
Yes, remote switch. That’s exactly what I use.

On the playa, if you want your electronics (or anything) to not get playa-dusted you’ve gotta keep them sealed tight. Think similarly to making it waterproof. Otherwise the dust is gonna get in.

As for changing what’s connected, all you need is an extension cord run through the box and sealed to it. Or you can use a nice “power strip”.

Use a box as big as is practical, to help with cooling. A sealed box isn’t ideal for heat dissipation but I haven’t had any issues and keeping the dust completely out is paramount.
Ok, so this brings up another important topic. Let's say I link up a two-outlet power strip to one of my inverter's outlets (I have 3 on the inverter total-- 115V AC power). Am I an idiot for linking up two small electronics (namely, my tiny water pump+desk fan for swamp cooler) to that single dual-outlet power strip (i.e. will I overload that one outlet, or am I being crazy pre-cautious?)? Am I an even bigger idiot if I simultaneously use the other two inverter AC outlets while splitting the first?

The inverter will automatically shut down if it overloads, I believe, but I'd rather not take too many risks with this bad boy (and will of course plan on testing it out well before i hit the playa)

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:44 pm

Not a problem, those outlets aren’t separate circuits anyway. It doesn’t matter if you connect everything to just one of the outlets.
I do the same with an even higher-wattage unit.
You won’t be pulling enough power to worry about that.
Speaking of wattage, what you get out depends on what you put in.
To get even 1000 watts out you’ll need at least two big deep-cycle batteries and very short cables, 1 or 0 gauge. Or you can do what I did (because I already had the stuff) and use multiple 2-gauge battery cables. I stacked on three positives and three negatives.
It really takes crazy overkill to get enough current into an inverter to make it put out the power it’s rated for.
In my application my batteries are being charged by a pair of alternators.
To run a lot of power you’ll have to be doing something like that.

If your electric load is light enough for the batteries to sustain, you can get away with lighter duty hardware.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:49 pm

I got one of these bad boys. Think it'll get me to a 1000W?

Not like I need to get it there for this burn, but I will for next. My goal is mini fridge for next year, and I already realize I'll need at least 2 deep cycles plus the ability to charge mid-week (which I already have via fold-up solar).

What am I doing with my life...

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:24 pm

Probably not. 125 amp-hours means 125 amps for one hour. But the reality is you can’t use anywhere near the rated capacity of a battery because by the time it’s down to 60% or maybe 70% your voltage has dropped too far to run anything but a string of LEDs. Certainly not an inverter.
And I really doubt you’ll get to mid-week running a fridge on two of them either. More like overnight.
Getting 1000 watts of 120VAC out of a 12v battery means you’ll be drawing around 100 amps. Your voltage will drop quickly and your inverter will go into low-volt shutdown, usually accompanied by an annoying alarm noise.

Hook up all your stuff at home and try it out.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by BBadger » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:53 am

For your swamp cooler, why not just get a 12V pump and fan and connect directly to the battery, rather than using 120VAC created by the inverter that carries with it conversion inefficiencies? They're more common anyway, and probably cheaper too.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Token » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:38 am

Jas, you are bravely stepping into the world of high current engineering.

Welcome aboard, bring a notebook and gear down for some learning.

You spent some $$ on this already, got some good gear and need to guard against failure and disappointment.

First, tell us about this “folding solar panel” and what kind of charge controller you got. Hook that up to the battery right-quick so it charges from day one. Not mid-week.

Next, learn about battery concepts; C/8 and C/5 are important numbers that indicate recommended charge and discharge rates for the battery.

C is the capacity in Ah - 125 in your case.

C/8 = ~ 15A —- recommend max charging rate to prevent thermal degradation at room temperature. On playa, de-rate this due to high temperature to 12A

C/5 =~ 25A —- recommended max discharge rate for AGM batteries, again to be safe for higher temp on playa say derate to 23A

So for constant load draining your battery for an extended time you should not exceed 250W worth of gear on the 120V side:

23A x 12.6V x 0.85 =~ 250W

The 0.85 is the efficiency of your inverter per their spec. which I derated already 10%.

To really run that 1500W inverter to proper spec and with good design decisions, you need a bank of 6 of those batteries in parallel. You could push that down to 4 if your target sustained use is 1000W or less, like a fridge as you state.

Now, will your setup work as is? You bet! That battery will pump out 280 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) for a few seconds no problem, but any longer and you start boiling the innards of the poor thing.

So rather than worry too much about dust and the inverter, think a bit more on managing you load and perhaps adding another battery in parallel.

One of them instant power meter Killawatt gizmos might be also handy.

And heavens forbid a well meaning and enthusiastic camp mate plugs in a coffee maker for that AM surprise ...
and smell of burning plastics ;)

Edited for spelling and autocorrect

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:41 am

By the way, this usually comes up and I’ll throw it in...
by the time you spend all the money on batteries and controllers and solar panels you have a complicated and extremely heavy mess when you could have just grabbed a nice little reasonably quiet inverter-type generator of about 2000 watts. The Honda EU2200 is the gold standard, but there are some low cost knock offs that do work ok. Long term, the Honda is the most cost effective, for reliability, resale value, and parts/service availability.

They’re pretty quiet, they only weigh what one of the many batteries you’ll need weighs, and everyone else around you will be running one anyway.

Battery/solar is great but it really doesn’t win for temporary portable applications like this one if your power demand is more than a few hundred watts.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:43 pm

Token wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:38 am

Welcome aboard, bring a notebook and gear down for some learning.

You spent some $$ on this already, got some good gear and need to guard against failure and disappointment.

First, tell us about this “folding solar panel” and what kind of charge controller you got. Hook that up to the battery right-quick so it charges from day one. Not mid-week.

Next, learn about battery concepts; C/8 and C/5 are important numbers that indicate recommended charge and discharge rates for the battery.

C is the capacity in Ah - 125 in your case.

C/8 = ~ 15A —- recommend max charging rate to prevent thermal degradation at room temperature. On playa, de-rate this due to high temperature to 12A

C/5 =~ 25A —- recommended max discharge rate for AGM batteries, again to be safe for higher temp on playa say derate to 23A

So for constant load draining your battery for an extended time you should not exceed 250W worth of gear on the 120V side:

23A x 12.6V x 0.85 =~ 250W
Thanks, Token. I'm stoked.

Here are my panels. I was cautious of going 'fold-up' at first (especially for on-playa operations, considering wind), but the fact that they're 120W and seemingly ready for a 12V battery (plus the strong reviews) made me pull the trigger.

C capacity is a brand new concept to me. I'm assuming that me "10A LCD Charge Controller" is referring to the rate the panel will charge my battery, correct? Should be well under 12A if I'm reading that right.

How would I go about monitoring my discarge rate? My inverter's display meter will show "AC output power" (in Watts), but I'm not sure if this helps me get exactly the number I need. Thoughts? Maybe get an instant power meter to measure that?

(Cap G: appeciate Honda generator suggestion. I'm a big fan of 'heavy and inefficient' power, so, maybe next year when I actually get a fridge... or just dig through an old RV for a propane powered one..)

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Token » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:13 pm

The solar panel is 120W and is matched to the charge controller which is also 120W capacity.

Hook it up, secure it, point it the right direction, let it charge all day.

If your inverter has the power display, that’s all you need. Watts is Watts.

Continuous load - keep under 300W.

30 seconds, a minute running a 700W blender to make a margarita - also OK just let the battery shed the heat between pitchers.

You get the idea.

A second battery doubles all that jazz so you know the path forward. Up to 6 of em.

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Jas » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:38 pm

Token wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:13 pm
Hook it up, secure it, point it the right direction, let it charge all day.
Thanks again for all the help, dude. If you swing by the Roller Disco and ask for Jas (zz) - I've got a beer with your name on it (that goes for you as well Cap G) (we're on Esplanade & 5:00 this year)

Last question: I believe I can keep the battery linked up to the Panel+Charge Controller while simultaneously connected to the Inverter, correct?

If so, would I be correct in assuming that any time I'm not drawing from my battery, it would "automatically" resume charging (or theoretically, I think even both could happen simultaneously, as long as my charge rate exceeds my pull rate, but I won't keep my fingers crossed...)?

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:09 pm

Yep you can leave it connected while using the battery.
It’s no different than what happens in your car when you turn on the lights and heater, drawing power while the alternator is charging the battery.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Token » Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:42 pm

What the Cap’n said.

The panel and charge controller stay connected all the time.

The inverter on the other hand, turn off when not in use. Use the remote power switch.

Standby Current

<0.80A

And that adds up when using a single battery.

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:25 pm

I like this.

Wadda ya think?

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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:41 pm

Just curious Captain.

Exactly what brand and how many watts inverter do you have in the MV?
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Traveller in Time » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:53 pm

FIGJAM wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:25 pm
I like this.
Wadda ya think?
Youtube video of construction worker truck with inverter
They should at least fix those batteries to the truck.

Better still, if you know you gonna need lots of power for long times use a dedicated generator.
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Re: how do you protect your inverter on the playa?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:09 pm

FIGJAM wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:41 pm
Just curious Captain.

Exactly what brand and how many watts inverter do you have in the MV?
I use a Xantrex ProWatt SW2000 pure sine wave inverter.
I feed it with two deep cycle batteries and two alternators.
I’d have to put in more alternators to run any more power, 2000 is already more than I can sustain at idle speed. It’ll hold about 1000 watts idling without draining the batteries. I can run higher powered things for short times, like the coffeemaker and microwave, essential mutant vehicle items.
I find multiple alternators more strategic because you’re always idling, bigger alts don’t do much good at idle and you can’t put a smaller drive pulley on than they already have (to get more RPM) and get any belt traction on them.
I like it, it’s a really nice unit.
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