Help with choosing a power inverter : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Got my generator a year ago but recently heard discussion about power invertors and battery chargers et al. I realize the time is short but I'd like to run out this week and get an invertor. I was thinking about a 1500 watt unit. What brand names are out there? What bells and whistles are necessary? Is a deep cycle marine battery the best type to run off the invertor? How many batteries should I have? Forgive me if this has been discussed recently but if some of you could help me avoid some bad decisions here I'd appreciate it.


-- JER (I_get_it@this.time), November 22, 1999


Trace makes the best inverters but they are pricey. There are lots of cheap ones that will work OK. Just be sure to get a SINE WAVE inverter. Ones with modified sine wave or square wave will not start a lot of motors.

As far as batteries go, spend the money and get L-16's. These are 6 volt deep cycle. Figure about $16-190 each. Wire them in series for 12 volt service. They are worth the price.

We have a 48 volt system using two 5548 Trace inverters (about 4 grand each) so we can have 220 volts. Our system will run everything we own including our electrict hot water heater...just not all at once. We got tired of our back-up generator last year and I put in a big alternative energy system (36-75 watt panels + a 1.5 kw wind generator).


-- Todd Detzel (, November 22, 1999.


Forgot to mention sources. Try Harbor Freight or Real Goods Trading Company. I think both have web sites. Real Goods has years of experience with alternative systems and you can talk or email with a technition (sp). Harbor Freight is a reliable company too. I've personally dealt with both.

Also the battery price is $160-190.


-- Todd Detzel (, November 22, 1999.


I haven't gone shopping for one yet so I just did a quick search. This place has several brands, though they say that the Cherokee are the best for the price. (modified sine wave?)


-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), November 22, 1999.

Deep cycle marine batteries are correct for this usage. Go to Sam's or WalMart--$45 to $55 bucks, get the biggest for the price.

-- HBB (HillBillyBear@homeinthe.hills), November 22, 1999.

Go to for information.

-- anonymous (, November 22, 1999.

agreed......there is some bad advice in the posts above. in addition to, try the following sites:

and, read:

as a basic primer.

-- no (, November 22, 1999.

I know the trace is the best, etc., but we got ours from Statpower. You can go However, Damark recently was having a sale. We got a second inverter, spike to 2000, short time 1000, and cruises at 800, for about $259. the identical item cost $400 at Fry's. This is not a sine wave. I know that those are supposed to be best, runs this new Compaq just fine, and the scanner and the printer, and the color tv and the satillite dish. all at the same time. We've had the inverter for about 5 years now. The ONE thing...ONE thing to know, is that even though it is OFF, if it is plugged in, and you switch from solar to say, generator, and power the house that will fry the inverter. Been there, done that. (Himself said it was was OFF. Plugged in, it was not OFF.) After I fried the very first inverter, he wired the second one to a whole dedicated circuit. I still unplug it.

-- Mary (, November 22, 1999.

Go with Trace. Get the L-16 batteries. Get started soon. It takes time to wire, install breakers, etc. Try or I have purchased from both and they are OK.

Giddy-up. Time is a wastin.

-- enough is (, November 22, 1999.

I think that Trace makes the best inverters, especially sine wave, as they are proving themselves to be most reliable. Their integral battery charger means you don't need to get a seperate one to charge your batteries from an engine generator. Check out Home Power magazine at Http:// and follow some of their links for more info and dealers. I would also recommend Backwoods Solar as a reputable dealer, in business for decades (I did business with them in the 1970's). For something as complex as an alternative energy system, it may be better to deal with a local dealer for convenience in getting parts and advice. Make sure it is someone who has been doing it for a few years at least, not a new fly-by-night outfit. There is a site on the web that lists dealers by state,but I don't have the info handy. E-mail me if you want it later.

(We have solar heat, both active and passive, solar electricity, and wind electric generator, and installed our first wind generator in 1977. We now also are using a Trace SW4024 sine wave inverter to run much of our electric loads.)


-- Jim (, November 22, 1999.

Here are a few URL's of good sources of information, prices and parts:

Jade Mountain:

Backwoods Solar:

The Juice Page:

Trace Inverters:

Whistler Inverters:

Trojan Battery Company:

-- snooze button (, November 22, 1999.

Get a GOOD inverter! I fried a 2.5 kW Statpower with reverse voltage trying to start my waterpump and then bought a Trace 3.6 kW, DR3624. There is a world of difference between the $900 Statpower and the $1200 Trace. Both have "modified" sinewave. There are four important differences between them: 1. The Trace has a built-in battery charger (for different types of lead acid batteries, the Statpower is just an inverter) 2. The Trace has a reverse voltage protection (untested, but it should keep it from getting fried.) 3. The Trace has a LOAD DEPENDENT (battery) under-voltage shutdown circuit. This last feature is extremely important for starting motors! 4. The Trace has a "sleep" circuit which shuts down the inverter to a very low power drain below (adjustable) minimum load levels. It will start when load is applied and even start MOTORS from such sleep mode. I am sorry that I didn't find the Trace first... Lots of DATA for Trace models is on the net. I personally do not believe that I needed a much more expensive sinewave inverter. My tests show that I can start and run the 1 hp pump (through 120/240 V transformer)and also PCs, TV, Satellite receiver, and a ham radio station. Reading the Manual clearly shows that the Trace, together with external batteries, can run as a UPS system, i.e., AC permanently hooked to the inverter AC input, batteries hooked to the DC input/output, and the load hooked to the AC output. When AC is present, the batteries are being charged, or maintained, by a rather sophisticated charger. Do not underestimate the stored energy in battery banks!!! The more time you want to get out of the setup, the more dangerous these combined batteries become. Wiring the DC side is not for beginners! The AC side may be easier, due to lower current. Be careful and good luck.

-- WFK (, November 22, 1999.

Although I have a Trace 5548, you may have different needs.
I would suggest taking a quick tour here:

Choosing a DC to AC Inverter

There is also a link to a very nice Battery FAQ there as well.

-- plonk! (, November 22, 1999.

Link for info: Search the DR section and find out which products have which features.

-- WFK (, November 22, 1999.

I did a lot of research before buying an inverter. The Trace was head and shoulders above the rest; one unit does everything, as posted above. I use a 4024 and am very happy with it. Worth the money!! There are 12v, 24, or 48v units depending upon the length of run from your DC input source(s). There are (relatively) inexpensive DC transformers ($100) to cut the DC voltage down to 12 or 6 volts to use directly with radios etc. rather than inverting to 110 then back down through wall warts if you want to do that. Just FUSE THE LINES!

-- Joe (, November 22, 1999.

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