About to nix inverter, am I crazy? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 01-20-2018, 12:16 AM   #1
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About to nix inverter, am I crazy?

I see three opinions on the inverter option. 1. one of our favorite options 2. you can run the microwave briefly if needed, which can be a blessing (the lackadaisical battery users) 3. running anything 120v off of battery power for any reasonable amount of time will drain the battery so quickly it's not worth doing at all (the electrical wizards).

I've waffled alot on this. We hope to do as much boondocking as possible, and as such, we hope to be as energy independent as possible. We do have a toddler, so we can only sacrifice so much comfort. We want to make the camping experience as cushy as possible bc we want to head out often without hookups, and we will often be travelling for business, so we have to have it somewhat "together," whatever that means.

We are not big tech people. We have our phones, and computers (which we plan on getting 12v chargers for), and we'll probably get a 12v fan and radio. Maybe even a 12v vacuum if we want to get fancy (we have a boy and 2 dogs). A AA charger for rechargeable batteries might be neat for travel, I don't know if you can get that in 12v. We can buy alot of 12v appliances for $950 canadian and guarantee less power draw on our battery.

I would love a microwave for the hard days of travelling or unexpected things where a quick heat-up would be a nice comfort with a child, but let's face it, it's not a necessity. I would like the option to curl my hair for 5 min with a curling iron, or heat up some curlers maybe once a week, but again, I can live without it.

Is the battery draw really so great with 120v use on the battery that it's not worth doing? I feel like if it was such a strain to use it, it wouldn't be an option, and no-one would consider it a favorite option. Could I not run my lights, the microwave once or twice a day, and a few 12v appliances on an average charge without depleting?

On the other hand, what do you really need the inverter for? Doesn't it make more sense to buy 12v appliances to get more time out of your batteries? What am I not thinking of that I'm just going to want 120v power for?

(disclaimer, my brain doesn't do electrical easily. I've once updated every light switch in a house and none of them worked, but i got the outlets installed right! )

EDIT: I have read some on "12volt Side of Life," which is super helpful, and I can estimate that we can safely get 70+ amp hours/day on our 160w solar panel. I just wonder, am I considering the inverter just so i can use the microwave, or is there something else?
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:01 AM   #2
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We use one of those cheap 150w inverters that plug into the cigarette lighter plug and we can charge one Macbook pro at a time with that. I'm not sure what laptops you are charging, but a Macbook uses 18.5vdc for charging, so a rectifier would be needed to up the voltage for charging from a 12v battery. I should look into that because it will certainly be more efficient than our inverter.

BTW, don't make the mistake of using an inverter to get 120vac and then plugging one of those USB chargers that you use at home into it. That converts 12vdc to 120vac and then back to 5vdc which is a double conversion loss. Just get a 12v USB charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter (or hardwire it) to charge your phones if you need more than the standard USB charger that's already included.

You can watch your battery voltage with the solar controller, so running it down shouldn't happen. Remove the load and let it rest for a minute to get a true voltage reading.
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:16 AM   #3
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The charger that I use for my MacBook is dedicated to the MacBook. Plugs into the 12V outlet and into my computer. It was not cheap.
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:30 AM   #4
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Fortunately we both have PCs, and DC chargers seem fairly easy to come by at first glance, although it may be tougher for my ancient laptop.

Alot of the 12v appliances I come across seem sub-par when compared to 120v. I've read happy reports here with 12v fans, what about radios?
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:42 AM   #5
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My Sirius satellite radio has 12V or 120V capability. For AM/FM I have a Sony that runs forever on two AA batteries. I have a Sangean personal radio that I listen to with an earbud that runs on AAA batteries. I have a Bluetooth speaker that I can connect to any of those devices with an aux. cord if they don't have Bluetooth. I charge it through a cheap inverter.
There are a multitude of ways.
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
My Sirius satellite radio has 12V or 120V capability. For AM/FM I have a Sony that runs forever on two AA batteries. I have a Sangean personal radio that I listen to with an earbud that runs on AAA batteries. I have a Bluetooth speaker that I can connect to any of those devices with an aux. cord if they don't have Bluetooth. I charge it through a cheap inverter.
There are a multitude of ways.
I hadn't thought of Bluetooth. Is it possible to use Bluetooth speakers with the ETI stereo option? I hadn't considered getting it as we don't need a DVD player, but if it's a good installed DC unit that can use Bluetooth speakers outside I may reconsider. If the option you have is good, I may just go without for now and put an AM/FM battery powered radio on my Christmas list
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Old 01-20-2018, 02:58 AM   #7
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If you read my signature, you will see that I'm not a fan of stuff that requires holes. When it comes to audio and video, technology advances month to month. I don't want to create a hole for something that I no longer need or use.
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Old 01-20-2018, 04:50 AM   #8
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Take a look at your lifestyle and how you want to live in your camper. At home, we discovered that we used a microwave at almost every meal. It just made sense to include one in our camper. My wife enjoys serving up a hot lunch when we are just stopping at a rest area.
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Old 01-20-2018, 04:54 AM   #9
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Take a look at your lifestyle and how you want to live in your camper. At home, we discovered that we used a microwave at almost every meal. It just made sense to include one in our camper. My wife enjoys serving up a hot lunch when we are just stopping at a rest area.
Peter
I'm the same. I'm a big cooker, which also means I reheat alot. I grew up without one so I know it can be done. With a toddler though, everything takes forever and a microwave helps speed things up!

Can you guys microwave on inverter and still do well otherwise on battery power?
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Old 01-20-2018, 05:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernCamper View Post
I see three opinions on the inverter option. 1. one of our favorite options 2. you can run the microwave briefly if needed, which can be a blessing (the lackadaisical battery users) 3. running anything 120v off of battery power for any reasonable amount of time will drain the battery so quickly it's not worth doing at all (the electrical wizards).

I've waffled alot on this. We hope to do as much boondocking as possible, and as such, we hope to be as energy independent as possible. We do have a toddler, so we can only sacrifice so much comfort. We want to make the camping experience as cushy as possible bc we want to head out often without hookups, and we will often be travelling for business, so we have to have it somewhat "together," whatever that means.

We are not big tech people. We have our phones, and computers (which we plan on getting 12v chargers for), and we'll probably get a 12v fan and radio. Maybe even a 12v vacuum if we want to get fancy (we have a boy and 2 dogs). A AA charger for rechargeable batteries might be neat for travel, I don't know if you can get that in 12v. We can buy alot of 12v appliances for $950 canadian and guarantee less power draw on our battery.

I would love a microwave for the hard days of travelling or unexpected things where a quick heat-up would be a nice comfort with a child, but let's face it, it's not a necessity. I would like the option to curl my hair for 5 min with a curling iron, or heat up some curlers maybe once a week, but again, I can live without it.

Is the battery draw really so great with 120v use on the battery that it's not worth doing? I feel like if it was such a strain to use it, it wouldn't be an option, and no-one would consider it a favorite option. Could I not run my lights, the microwave once or twice a day, and a few 12v appliances on an average charge without depleting?

On the other hand, what do you really need the inverter for? Doesn't it make more sense to buy 12v appliances to get more time out of your batteries? What am I not thinking of that I'm just going to want 120v power for?

(disclaimer, my brain doesn't do electrical easily. I've once updated every light switch in a house and none of them worked, but i got the outlets installed right! )

EDIT: I have read some on "12volt Side of Life," which is super helpful, and I can estimate that we can safely get 70+ amp hours/day on our 160w solar panel. I just wonder, am I considering the inverter just so i can use the microwave, or is there something else?
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernCamper View Post
I hadn't thought of Bluetooth. Is it possible to use Bluetooth speakers with the ETI stereo option? I hadn't considered getting it as we don't need a DVD player, but if it's a good installed DC unit that can use Bluetooth speakers outside I may reconsider. If the option you have is good, I may just go without for now and put an AM/FM battery powered radio on my Christmas list
First off, you indicated you plan to boondock frequently. To me, that implies some remote area. Second, your home is listed as Lafayette, LA. Although I love Cajun food and music, Lafayette and any place around it can get as hot as......., well, you know where. There are times when you will find having A/C is far more desirable than using a microwave. So will you go to campgrounds when it is hot so that you have hook-ups.?

You do not need a 12v vacuum. While “nice” to have, any fiberglass trailer is small and can be cleaned using a dustpan/brush.
I’m not sure about the stereo ETI is now using, but Amazon sells small Bluetooth adapters (@ $30) that can be used to make a 12v automotive stereo do whatever you wish. But you can use a smart phone or an iPod (or its equivalent) to stream music to a Bluetooth speaker.

If you really want to run the microwave and stay cool on those warm southern nights AND will be boondocking, I would suggest you get a small generator (Honda/Yamaha) and take battery cycling out of the picture. You can buy a standalone inverter for much less than the built-in system, but if you do so, you will need to talk to Reace about beefed up wiring. The wiring ETI uses on its 12v outlets will NOT handle an inverter much larger than 100-200 watts. To me, the real question is “do you want to use the microwave as well as sleep comfortably out there in the boondocks?”
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