Date: 17 April 2016. Inverters Make
AC Power (Part IV)
Part IV, entitled
Inverters Make AC Power.
In order to use the power gathered by the solar and sent to
the batteries by the solar regulator I needed an inverter.
Originally I opted for an AIMS1000 from
The Inverter Store. It worked right well until I upgraded to a
You will discover
that each new addition brings unexpected consequences.
The desire for ice cubes meant a larger refrigerator. Then the
silverware drawer and those lockers needed to be removed for the
refrigerator. Details on the refrigerator install can be found in
Securing a Refrigerator (fans too)
Since the reefer was now in
there was a lovely (perfect really) spot for a microwave.
Then I tried the microwave with
my old-style inverter. The microwave didn't work. So I needed a
new and better pure sine wave inverter. And it will have to be
wired as it has some automatic switches in it...
You get the picture. Each change
though perfectly logical and sensible meant more complication and
bother. In the end it's worth it. In the midst it is definitely
Not to mention swapping engines
during the whole improvement fiasco.
It's good that I have a sense of humor and a dog. Skipper helped me
though the rough patches when my world was helter-skelter. New
friends and old were a serious boon.
I truly am blessed.
|Old and Ugly:
spiffy with a microwave too!
The new larger
refrigerator is just perfect. With a separate door for the
freezer I can make ice cubes. I am totally enjoying this
Mini-Lesson on inverters: There
are two types of inverters. Square wave are the least expensive. I
have used a square wave AIMS1000 for years and it is a-okay. It
powered everything on the boat until I bought the digital microwave.
prices for inverters I have found is at
The Inverter Store.
The second type is a Pure Sine
Wave inverter. They are twice the price and if you need one, you
need one. Let me explain:
The pure sine wave units are the
best. They mimic exactly the power you get in houses. Pure sine
wave inverters will keep your electronics in tip-top shape. There
is virtually zero difference between the power they generate and
standard power found at a house.
will state unequivocally that the higher priced pure sine wave
inverters are best. They do not damage electronics and electric
items perform better with purse sine wave inverters.
The square wave work okay for
many things. Generally speaking, anything with a digital control
will not work with a square wave inverter. The type of AC power
cheap inverters produce is similar to but not exactly the same as
house power. Some stuff will work anyway.
Is it great? No, but the
square wave is Good Enough provided you have no sensitive items.
Mine did very well powering the computer, crock-pot,
refrigerator, and my Christmas tree lights.
Other items won't work. My
microwave makes a sound, the turntable spins and nothing heats up
when using the original square wave inverter. The square wave
inverter powers my a/c unit just fine. I suspect because the air
conditioner has a dial versus digital control, that is why the
inverter powers it without issue.
The microwave and my popcorn
Popcorn for One (and Stone-wave Update)
article] means I needed a Pure Sine Wave inverter.
My AIMS1000 I will pass along to another boater. It works, just
not for my particular application.
There are actually three types of inverters. Inverter/chargers are
also sold. I'm not fond of those. For me two separate units means
that when one part breaks I can simply replace the component. I have
a separate charger for the batteries when I'm tied to a dock.
Having real estate for solar is important. For those who have
limited space an expensive MPPT solar controller will increase the
power your solar panels put into the batteries. The less expensive
controllers work too. They are simply not as efficient as the MPPT
batteries through a solar controller. Batteries supply power to
inverter. Inverter changes battery power (12 volts) into AC (120
volt) power like you'd have in a house.
All three components have to work together.
Start small. Solar to batteries to 12 volt items.
THEN move up and start with your AC side of the boat.
The best visitors just want to sit
around and relax. They don't care what power system you have.
Note the Night Heron sitting on the rail of the boat
rafted next to me.
If you're like me you will find that buying a
cheap throw-away refrigerator for $150 is better economically than
spending $700 or more on a small 12-volt one. When mine quits I'll
go to Walmart and buy another.
Years ago (pulling on old-fogey slippers)
"everyone" switched over to 12-volt items. It was the "newest and
greatest" thing. We stopped using iceboxes (with blocks of ice) and
life was good. Then, well, things changed.
The DC refrigerators (reference Engel for
instance) are wonderful. They are also way beyond my budget. By
increasing gradually the amount of solar I have, I am now able to buy
and use any item off the shelf from regular stores such as Walmart.
I do not need to buy expensive "Marine" items.
BEFORE you spend the first dime however, make sure
you like life at anchor. If you're hopping from marina to marina
there is no need to expand your power creating beyond that of the
alternators on your engine. Solar is one answer for those of us who
prefer life off the grid.
I love the quiet, and I like my ice cubes too. You
really can have it all. It just takes work and determination.
This is the life:
P.S. - I am NOT a power expert. I'm relating the
experience I have had while out here for the past 8 years.
Note: This is a multi-part series about power for your boat's
goodies. It encompasses solar power, batteries and inverters.
The complete version with all the information contained in the four
articles is on this page:
Solar, Batteries and an Inverter,
the complete series.
What type of inverter do you have aboard?
And, what size is it? Manufacturer? Would you buy it again?
© 2016, 2021
Power Used Aboard Seaweed ~
Previous Post ...
... Next Post
Solar, Batteries and an Inverter
First Mate's Gallery
now open ~
Crew photos welcome via