Selection of a Power Inverter for your BOV
By Joseph Parish
The goal of this article is to assist the new survivalist in selecting an appropriate power inverter for use in their Bug out vehicle.
We as a society we have become used to our abundance of electrical appliances and gadgets. Life simply would be hard without these modern accessories. The key to a smooth transition from a life with a power grid to that of an operation from a vehicle battery lies in finding the proper devices to convert the DC power to a useable AC source. One generally may think of this task as a simple matter of selection, however upon investigation you will quickly realize there are many choices which will confront you. These selections vary in not only price but features as well.
Typical prices for inverters range from a low of $40 or less to well above a thousand according to your desires and how deep your pocketbook is. Although the machines apparent wattage may be your first consideration your final decision may actually be based upon the inverter's output wave form.
To explain in further detail you will find two general types of 12 volt power inverters in use today. These are the true-sine wave or the less expensive modified sine wave. The modified sine wave inverters are actually square wave generators of a sort. True-sine wave will produce outputs that are identical to the power that you would receive from the public utility company’s power grid setup. This wave if you were to view it in an oscilloscope would produce a perfectly smooth sine wave.
On the other hand, the modified sine wave or the square waves are frequently the most common variety of power inverters found on the market today. These are usually the least expensive to produce and naturally the cost is passed on to the consumer. These power sources produce a wave which is generally acceptable for just about all electrical devices. This output differs significantly from the true sine wave in that it appears choppy when viewed with the oscilloscope.
You may be wondering at this point what this means to you as the end user of this product? In reality I would have to reply, “Very little.” Most of your cherished electrical devices should function just fine whether it is used on this inverter or the more costly true sine wave version.
If your goal in selecting an inverter is to power your laptop, a cell phone charger, or any other small device then the modified sine wave inverter would be appropriate. Strictly speaking these small wattage units generally operate from the cigarette lighter socket of your BOV. Try to keep the units which you power from this socket below 300 watts as this will prevent blowing fuses in the vehicle.
When selecting your square wave inverter you will have to determine which group you will need. The four groups of these inverters are:
300 watts units – these are the least expensive inverters usually priced between $40 and $60 dollars. They are perfect for small appliances, television sets, desk top computers, VCR and other low wattage items. These units generally have a 12 Volt cigarette lighter plug attached.
The next group that we encounter is the 600 watts units. These are priced a bit higher and range from a low of $100 to as much as $120. You can power large screen TVs or power tools with these “bad boys”. These inverters frequently connect directly to your 12 volt battery source.
The third group contains those inverters rated at 1750 watts. Here we have price ranges of $200 to $400 dollars. You can expect good service for large power tools, toasters, microwave ovens, and hair dryers. These are also direct battery connected units.
Lastly we have the 3000 watt inverters. These are the top of the line units ranging in price from $400 to $750. These inverters are capable of powering virtually any household appliances you may have. Special wiring as well as a bank of batteries may be necessary for the safe operation of these units.
Keep in mind what equipment you ultimately employ for your inverter will determine the size and type you purchase. Be certain to check the wattage of the device that you are obtaining the inverter for and choose wisely.
Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish