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Old 09-17-2014, 09:22 PM   #1
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12v / 120v Inverter Problem

I had installed a 1500w Canadian Tire Inverter at the time of build (I supplied) in order to run the Microwave. I have had numerous low voltage warnings and alarms when using it.
  • The wiring from the battery appears to be #4
  • The run length is the minimum possible - 4 - 5 ft approx
  • The batteries are twin 6 volt
  • The microwave is rated 1000W
  • The meter shows 12.3 V coming in
  • The trailer voltage meter shows a battery level drop (dramatic) to as low as 70% right after using the microwave. It once read 35% for a few moments

I bought another Inverter - 2500W, but before I swap it out I wondered if the twin 6 volt battery set up might be the real issue.

Any suggestions on how I solve this?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:51 PM   #2
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I think you are going to need #1 wire for a 1500 W inverter at that length. you would need even larger for a 2500 W inverter. With #4, you are likely getting too much voltage drop in the wire. Also, you will not get much run time on the batteries using the microwave.
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Old 09-17-2014, 10:36 PM   #3
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It could be a voltage drop problem. 4AWG wire, 5' long, 120A (gives 1500W), plug the numbers into an online voltage calculator and it shows a voltage drop of 0.2A or so. Is that enough to make your inverter complain? I wouldn't think so. The first thing I'd do is measure the voltage at both the battery and at the inverter while the microwave is running. If that's all the drop you see and your inverter still complains, then I guess you need a bigger wire. If you see a voltage drop much greater than that, then I'd start checking the various connections to see if any need tightening or improving. Also look for large nicks in the wire or anything else that might cause a significant increase in the resistance of the wire.

I wouldn't worry about the battery level monitor showing a significant drop in percentage while running the microwave and shortly thereafter -- it's really only accurate (and even then only somewhat accurate) if there's no load on the system.
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Old 09-17-2014, 11:10 PM   #4
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Since the inverter is not 100% efficient, it could be more like 150A on the input to the inverter. I assumed the 5 ft run was for both the positive and negative wire. If so, that would be a voltage drop over 10 ft of #4 (about .75 V). Add to that the voltage drop in the battery due to internal resistance and the resulting voltage could be low enough to trigger the low voltage alarm on the inverter.

I agree that measuring the voltage is a good idea. Maybe also check the owners manual to see what size wiring they call for. You can also check the temps of the wire and connectors. If there is a bad connection somewhere, it will get hot.
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Old 09-17-2014, 11:57 PM   #5
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Are others running their microwave with a 1500-watt inverter?
If so, what microwave, please.
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Joe View Post
I think you are going to need #1 wire for a 1500 W inverter at that length. you would need even larger for a 2500 W inverter. With #4, you are likely getting too much voltage drop in the wire. Also, you will not get much run time on the batteries using the microwave.
As long as her Latte is perfect, I am good for one more day.
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:03 AM   #7
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Check the size of the jumper between the 6V batteries - it was #8 and longer than necessary on mine. I replaced it with a shorter #4.

And I do get some voltage alarms running the microwave on a 1500W inverter. It does MUCH better during the day when the solar panels are generating. This is one case where 2 dual purpose 12V batteries in parallel *might* be better than the twin 6V deep cycle (designed for lower current draw) batteries.
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:07 AM   #8
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All really helpful comments. Thank you. Everyone!
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Old 09-18-2014, 12:50 AM   #9
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I've installed a CT 1500 watt inverter but haven't needed it yet. Same conditions as yours. I'll see how it does warming up something tomorrow.

I have not doubt it'll be fine. In my previous trailer I had a 3000 watt one and it worked fine. Definitely drops the voltage but it does mostly bounce back.

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Old 09-18-2014, 12:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post

I have not doubt it'll be fine.
Ron
OK, I took a bullet for the team and have to eat my words:

Actually I meant because I've had previous CT inverters and they worked fine I wasn't worried about testing my new one after it was installed. Not that I knew for sure that it'd be OK with a 1500 watt load.

I don't have a transfer switch installed yet so I substituted a 1500 watt heater. Instant alarm. Switched to the 900 watt setting and ran it for 2 minutes. Starting voltage was 12.5 and ending voltage was 12.5. Average draw seemed to be about 80 amps. So I'm reasonably confident that the microwave will be OK but I'll make up a jumper and test it sooner than later.

Did ETI install your inverter? If so, I would look at how they connected the negative lead.

One thing I don't like about ETI 12 volt wiring is that they run the negative cable from the battery to the frame. Then, about a foot away, they connect the ground from the converter to the frame. To me that's very poor. My view is the negative cable should be continuous. Each terminal connected to the frame is a possible source of corrosion and high resistance.

So my question is; is your inverter negative cable continuous from the battery to the inverter?

Ron
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