800-362-5397 M-F 6am-5pm PST.
MENU Menu Icon

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 DC to AC power 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 battery 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.

Choose Your Power Inverter

Was this information helpful? Sign up to Get Updates and Offers.

Please enter a valid email address like
We respect your rights to privacy and will not share your email information with anyone ever.
34 people commented,
This article is rated out of 5
For Questions and Tech Support, please submit your question with our Support Page.

Should contain only letters, numbers, and (' - .)!

   1   2   3   4   5

  • John Hi. I am thinking about keeping a heat tape going on a water pump should the power go out, as it often does in these parts. How could I best do this with a heat tape connected to a power inverter connected to a car battery (not in car, just by the side of the pump). Would this work? Would I need some kind of thermostat? Thanks

    Reply  •  October 15, 2021 at 7:33 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech John, while it can be done items like heating blankets or pads do tend to draw a bit of energy. While an amp or two may not seem like much for the AC side on the DC side that equates to approximately 11 amps DC per 1 amp AC. Depending how much energy the heat tape pulls it could require a very large battery. Inverters are great for short term pulls of energy, but for constant draws they can deplete a battery very quickly. I would take a look and see if you can find some 12v powered tape as they might be more efficient. Otherwise your more than welcome to use our two calculators to try to estimate your battery size. You will first need to use the Conversion Calculator from AC to DC, and then you can use the Sizing a 12v Battery to a Load Calculator.

      Reply  •  November 2, 2021 at 10:26 am
  • Luigi Can I power a battery charger from an inverter to charge the batteries that are powering the inverter?

    Reply  •  December 16, 2016 at 6:19 pm
    • BatteryStuff Tech No, as the charger pulls more energy than it puts out. So you will continually go into the negative, and eventually deplete you battery.

      Reply  •  January 17, 2017 at 8:30 am
  • James I’ve heard of 12 volt light bulbs. Can they be connected directly to a marine battery? How would this be done?

    Reply  •  October 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm
    • BatteryStuff Tech Yes, there are 12 volt light bulbs meant to run off a 12 volt system, such as a battery. As far as how to connect them… We don’t sell those type of accessories, but there are units meant to be wired into a 12v system, and there are units that simply come with alligator clamps directly to a battery. I would select a unit that meets your needs.

      Reply  •  January 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm
  • Nick My car battery completed died when I was installing a system I have a 2000 watt converter and a battery charger if I use the charger and converter will the charger charge it more then the power it’s draining?

    Reply  •  October 24, 2016 at 12:43 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech Unfortunately, no. A charger will pull more energy than it can put out as part of conversion process. So you will always be in the negative.

      Reply  •  January 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm
  • Nick C I need to power an appliance that is 120V 840W 60hz (and i believe 7 amps based on A=W/V). I have a deep cycle battery and a DC to AC inverter. I am pretty unknowledgable about electricity and this stuff. The inverter I have says 1000w power inverter, input DC 12v, output AC 110V-120V 60hz… When i plug my appliance into my battery/inverter set up, it works for about a minute and then turns off even though i can continue to use other smaller stuff (guitar amps) in my set up. What can I do to fix this. Any help is appreciated.

    Reply  •  October 19, 2016 at 7:47 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech The 7 Amps you are figuring is off the AC side, but remember you are drawing off a 12v battery:

      840 Watts / 12.5 = 67.2 Amps

      Add your inefficiencies for the inverter… We assume 15% unless told otherwise: 77.28 Amp an hour!

      Is your battery capable of handling that load?

      Check using our Calculator | Determine Run Time for Specific Load

      Reply  •  January 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm
  • Scottie I want to power a 120v 60hz 2.7amp fan using a battery and inverter. Need some guidance on what size battery and inverter to get. I need it to power the fan for weekends at the ballfields. Trying to not have to purchase a generator. Thanks

    Reply  •  October 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm
  • Steve Is it at all possible to run a power tool (drill or grinder) off an inverter with engine running?
    I have a ford ranger with a 12v outlet in the boot I’d love to be able to use the truck as a mobile generator??

    Reply  •  August 28, 2016 at 8:54 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech Most 12v outlets on vehicles can run no more than 300 watts. Any load greater than than would blow the fuse in the vehicle to the 12v outlet. You would have to check the voltage on your drill, but most would exceed that rating.

      Reply  •  January 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm
  • Michael Long I have 4 deep cycle batteries wired in parallel with a 1000 watt inverter. Can I charge the battery bank while using the inverter? How do I prevent the inverter from just pulling power from the charger?
    Thank You.

    Reply  •  August 24, 2016 at 8:10 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech If your using a charger converter power-supply, then yes they can charge while using the inverter assuming the load you are pulling is not in excess to the amp rating of the charger. However if the charger is on it will act like a power-supply and supply amperage when requested, as that is what they are designed to do.

      Reply  •  January 16, 2017 at 10:18 am
  • C D 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?

    Reply  •  May 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm
    • BatteryStuff Tech 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.

      Reply  •  May 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm
  • Pete Raven 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

    Reply  •  May 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm
    • TECH 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.

      Reply  •  May 12, 2016 at 9:50 am
  • Ken 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

    Reply  •  April 21, 2016 at 7:34 am
    • BatteryStuff Tech 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.

      Reply  •  April 21, 2016 at 11:52 am
  • Toni Gibbons 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.

    Reply  •  May 12, 2014 at 8:15 am
    • DEB Hi, my hubby tried my ghd hair straightener with his inverter and now ghd wont work. Is there anything I can do? (apart from kill him!!!)

      Reply  •  November 14, 2016 at 4:10 am
      • BatteryStuff Tech That shouldn’t happen… Even if the inverter was a modified, and your hair straighter wanted a cleaner power such as pure sine, it should not of damaged the hair straighter. It is really hard to say what happened. Possibly (???) the straighter possibly saw some brown out condition through the inverter, and which damaged the unit.

        Reply  •  January 17, 2017 at 8:21 am
    • Jeremy 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.

      Reply  •  May 12, 2014 at 11:52 am
  • Prince i love this programme. i need more education on the use of inverters

    Reply  •  May 11, 2014 at 10:40 am
  • Ray 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

    Reply  •  December 10, 2013 at 5:56 am
  • Hilton I love this program my dear keep it up.

    Reply  •  June 27, 2013 at 12:58 am
  • Luis M. Can I run a house fan for 10 hours with an inveter

    Reply  •  April 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm
  • Roy 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.

    Reply  •  March 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm
    • Jeremy Fear Good catch! Fixed. :)

      Reply  •  March 26, 2013 at 9:59 am
  • Jack 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)?


    Reply  •  March 21, 2013 at 10:40 am
    • Jeremy Fear 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.

      Reply  •  March 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm
Read blog in RSS news reader with RSS. Read blog using Feedly

Blog Search

Tags / Categories
12 volts ae light agm amps atv automotive batteries battery battery memory battery tender cell charge chargers charity christmas contest coupon customer service diesel dirt bike dirtwise emergency engine oil event faq flashlight flooded fuel fuel treatment funky chicken gasoline gel history holidays husaberg image gallery installation inverters jet ski ktm lead acid leak lifepo4 lithium iron phosphate made in usa maintenance marinco guest marine memory effect motorcycle myth nicd nickel cadmium nickel metal hydride nimh noco genius odyssey off-road optima parallel parasitic drain photo power tool powersports pri product review products promotions pulse tech race race report rechargeable restoration review robins corner rv sale scooter scorpion series shane watts shipping shorai solar storage sulfation summer sun test tips tutorial ups usps versus video volts warranty wet winter youtube