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Power When Away From Home | Using a Power Inverter

A power inverter running off a battery changes DC power to traditional AC power. You can use an inverter to supply power to devices such as televisions, microwaves, computers or power tools. They provide power in areas where you normally would not have access to standard 115-120 Volts AC from the power grid (ex: your home wall outlet). You simply connect the inverter to a 12 volt battery and plug your device into the inverter. This is a great solution for having an easy to use, portable power supply.

Modified Sine Wave InverterThere are many kinds of inverters and many different sources from which they convert power. Some smaller 12 volt inverters convert power from your car battery through the cigarette lighter port on the dashboard. With other kinds of inverters it is important to match them with batteries of the proper type and size. It is important to be discriminating in the purchasing process. If you are using a small inverter with an automotive battery this will work sufficiently. Most car batteries will supply enough power for 30 to 60 minutes before they need to be recharged. You can recharge your battery by either turning on the engine, using a gas generator, or hooking it up to an AC charger. If using your car battery, be sure to run the engine for approximately 10 minutes every hour to keep the battery charged.

The length of runtime that the battery will provide largely depends on the kind of device you are running. If your appliance needs a steady supply of power for a long period of time, that can put a heavy load on the battery. Therefore it is not advised to use your car or truck battery in this situation. The battery can be easily drained to the point where it no longer hold the power necessary to start the engine. This will prevent you from recharging the battery using the vehicle's alternator. Draining a starter battery like this on a regular basis will harm it and significantly shorten the expected life span.

If you need to run a heavy load through a larger inverter from a car or truck battery, you should only do this while the vehicle is running. Otherwise we recommend you use a deep cycle battery, such as an RV and Marine battery. If you are using a 600 watt inverter or larger, Marine batteries are preferable because they have the capability to withstand being drained deeply and recharged many times. These deep cycle batteries should give you several hundred cycles of charging and discharging. A good rule thumb for batteries is they should not be drained beyond 50% capacity. If you so, it can significantly shorten the life of the battery. If you need more power or longer runtime, you can connect several batteries together in parallel. Creating battery banks is a good alternative to buying a larger battery. Remember, when configuring batteries in parallel, it should done with 12 volt batteries of the same type as one another. Using an inverter to generate power from a battery can be an invaluable resource for anyone who finds themselves away from traditional AC power sources. 

12 volt 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave InverterIf you can, try to use a Pure Sine Wave inverter. The pure sine wave is better for applications, especially those that have sensitive electronic components. The other option, the modified sine wave inverter is less expensive but good for simple applications such as radios. The difference is this: The pure sine wave is natural and the wave is curved. From peak to peak there is a full range of frequency in-between. Modified sine waves are rigid waves, only outputting the top peak and the lower peak alternatively, with no range in-between. Our high end inverters are pure sine wave. We believe that's the best way to get the AC power you need.

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  • I want to use an inverter to power a 500 watt cartridge heater, for the purpose of vaporizing gasoline. Will a modified sine wave do the trick, and will it give continuous voltage over a long period of time (with the engine running)?


    March 21, 2013 a 10:40 am
    • A modified sine wave inverter that is rated at 500+ watts will sustain the 500 watt load, provided the battery bank it is hooked to is capable of powering it. The real question is wether your specific load is capable of accepting a square wave, or if it needs a pure sine wave instead. That is a question for the manufacturer of the unit.

      Jeremy Fear
      March 21, 2013 a 3:54 pm
    • Where you describe the differences between pure sine wave and modified sine wave. You say, and I quote; ‘The difference is this: The modified sine wave is natural and the wave is curved.’ you mean pure sine wave there I think. Needs correcting guys. Thanks, Roy.

      March 25, 2013 a 2:47 pm
      • Good catch! Fixed. :)

        Jeremy Fear
        March 26, 2013 a 9:59 am
      • Can I run a house fan for 10 hours with an inveter

        Luis M.
        April 29, 2013 a 1:57 pm
        • I love this program my dear keep it up.

          June 27, 2013 a 12:58 am
          • I want to connect a home theater system in my car which is 1000watts total rms and it 120 volts … what inverter should i use for it?? please help

            December 10, 2013 a 5:56 am
            • i love this programme. i need more education on the use of inverters

              May 11, 2014 a 10:40 am
              • How can I use aninverter safely at a festival to power a hair dryer and hair straightners. I do not want to risk not being able to start the car when it comes to the end of the festival and time to come home.

                Toni Gibbons
                May 12, 2014 a 8:15 am
                • The only correct way to do so, is to run the inverter through a separate battery, which is charged using an isolator, to keep the starting and accessory battery separated.

                  May 12, 2014 a 11:52 am
                • I have a dodge ram and I think it’s 100 watt alternator. With 1000 watt inverter and with someone holding the gas peddle down a bit, I can run a body grinder or other small tools. At an idle I’ve operated my tv,stereo,Xbox and a small light all at once but another tip is to avoid extension light extension cords

                  April 21, 2016 a 7:34 am
                  • The preferred method would be to utilize a Battery Isolator, and create another battery back to draw off of. That way the isolator could determine if your battery was low and send the appropriate amperage to that battery pack if it was available.

                    April 21, 2016 a 11:52 am
                  • I will be buying a deep cycle battery to power my busking set up with. The output on the amp is 280watts. I want to power the amp for around 6 hours and would like a suitable inverter and charger to go with it. Can anybody please help? The science has boggled me

                    Pete Raven
                    May 10, 2016 a 5:17 pm
                    • Pete, we do have various calculators that can help you out on our website. As you mentioned an Inverter I’m going to assume this device runs off of AC Power, so I would suggest our Calculator | DC to AC amperage conversion run through an Inverter. Just because the device pulls that on the AC side the amperage pulled on the DC side is quite higher than expected due to the loss of inverting the power, and the change in voltage. Once you have the Amps from the calculator you can plug those results into our Calculator | Sizing a 12 Volt Battery to a Load. This will tell you what Amp/Hr your battery pack needs to be. In regards to the inverter you just want to get one that is rated higher than your device will pull. Also pay attention to the surge ratings, as even though your device may only take 280 watts to run, you may want to ask the manufacturer if it surges higher than that to get it started. If it does you inveter must have a surge rating greater than the devices rating to cover that load initially.

                      May 12, 2016 a 9:50 am
                    • When hooking up a DC to ac converter to two batteries in parallel, can the converter be hooked up to just one of the batteries or does it need to be connected to the positive on battery 1 and negative on battery 2?

                      C D
                      May 24, 2016 a 10:19 pm
                      • In order to keep the batteries balanced it is best to hook up to the batteries at the beginning and end of the battery pack. So the positive on one battery, and the negative on the other battery.

                        May 26, 2016 a 2:13 pm
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