The world of 12V power inverters can be tricky to navigate. People know what they do, but now how, so when people look to buy a new 12V power inverter, they end up with more questions than answers.
How much power do I need?
This is where a lot of people get stuck. For normal use, we recommend that you calculate your power needs, and go for the next highest unit. The only condition to this is to not go too big. There’s no reason to get a 2,000 watt power inverter if you’re only running something that uses 100 or 200 watts of energy.
As a quick guide, if you are planning on regularly using appliances that use 1,000 watts, then you should use an inverter that is rated at 1,500 watts. If you need 2,000 watts, buy a 3,000 watt unit.
There’s a couple of reasons for this:
- Sometimes the power rating on your appliance is for the motors/elements/etc, but doesn’t take into account other areas of the product that draw more power.
- Appliances age and become less efficient. Some older appliances can have anywhere up to 20% extra power consumption due to age and wear.
- Inverters can work more efficiently on lower watts, so using 1,000 watts on a 1,000 watt inverter can be less efficient than using 1,000 watts on a 2,000 watt inverter.
Can my system handle the power inverter that I need?
This question is a lot more tricky. While some 12V electrical systems can easily power a 2,000W, 3,000W or higher power inverter, a lot won’t. There’s several parts that join to determine this. These include:
- Number and type of batteries available
- Wiring size
The biggest thing to remember is just how many amps your battery system will need to supply. Without taking into account the overhead of the power used by the inverter and focusing purely on the output a 600W power inverter will require 50 amps continuously at 12V, where a 3,000W power inverter will need a whopping 250 amps!
So what’s right for me?
This is probably the hardest question – because there’s no one right answer.
The 12V power inverter that you choose will depend on many factors including how many appliances you’re running, total power consumption, available space and battery configuration.
Our standard recommendations are to buy a unit that will fit into your available space, and won’t put too much strain on your electrical systems. Remember, you can always move up to the next higher unit if needed, but overpowering at the start can lead to extra installation costs.