I'm planning to add a true sine inverter to my trailer, along with extended battery capacity, so I can run my tv/dvd, charge a laptop, use a printer, maybe briefly run the microwave, and run my Traeger pellet grill without firing up a generator. I prefer and don't mind paying for a true sine inverter. I'm an electrical engineer and I'm well aware of what kind of battery bank and wiring I need to do this and be happy. I don't ever plan to run my AC system or refrigerator off the battery bank- I'm happy with the adsorption system run off propane and I usually camp in a climate that requires heat but not AC. I camp about 20 nights a year.
What I'm asking is, are you happy with the capacity of your present inverter? I'm thinking I want to do a 1000W continuous Xantrex Prowatt, maybe a 2000W of the same model but not sure I'm ever going to really use 2000W continuous much, especially since I'll probably do a 400 Ah battery bank to start with. I'd rather spend that extra $250 on batteries or toward a solar panel than on an extra 1000W if I never really use it.
That is a good idea. How long can the inverter surge to 2,000 watts? It will take that much to run the microwave. If it is 20 minutes or more, you should be OK. I use my microwave to cook dinners at rest areas and in transit boondocking.
I have a Trace modified sine wave inverter, back in 1997 the cost was $750 for a 1500 watt model, a sine wave 2512 would have been $2,500. I could not afford that, and planned on being able to run the microwave via the inverter. Yet the microwave did not like the MSW power, and I had to replace the microwave due to it not cooking quickly anymore.
I also did not like the 150 amp draw on the battery while running the microwave or toaster. With only 440 AH, it would draw down he battery voltage fairly quickly, so running the generator would make sence for such a large load.
Do you figure you will be using the microwave more than 10 minutes at a time? My suggestion is get a 500 watt inverter, and plan on runnig the generator anytime you desire to microwave something. I find I hardly ever use the microwave while dry camping. Yet it is good to exercise the generator, and also recharge the battery about 10 - 20 minutes daily, even if you don't run the microwave that long.
I have a built in inverter with automatic change over from inverting to generator or shore power back to inverter so quickly that the computers do not see the power voltage drop. The TV set will stay on, ect.
Yet I also find that the larger inverter is less energy efficient, and use my 150 watt inverter instead to watch TV. I have a E-Meter, and it carefully measures the amperage leaving my batteries via a 50mv 500 amp shunt. At 5mv, the amperage is 50 amps. The meter is accurate at 0.1 amps, and counts the amps leaving the battery bank, and amps going back in get the counter moving backwards at a "Discounted Rate." So 15 AH going back in would move the meter from say -25 AH to -15 AH. This accounts for the losses in the chemical processes.
So I know that I can make up about 120 AH in one day with my 400 watt solar system. IF I am say -150 AH, then I might run the generator for a hour, putting in about 45 AH in that time (built in 70 amp charger). Then I can shut off the generator, use as much power as desired, and normally I am within 25 AH of full during the day.
You might also enjoy this very helpful magazine. Home Power.com Magazine.
12 volt solar panels are about 19 - 21 volts open circuit. You can use the low cost PWM solar controller with that voltage, higher voltage such as 24 VDC nominal, (36 to 43 volts) you can use a MPPT controller to recharge 12 volt battey bank. MPPT controllers can also recharge a 24 volt battery bank.
PWM Pules Width Modulation
MPPT Maximum power point tracking. IT can take a 17 volts from the panels, at say 10 amps (170 watts) and change it to 13.2 volts X 12 amps. (159 watts) So it does not break any laws of physics, it just transforms the output voltage to try and get more output amperage.
They "Claim" about 20 % boost in amperage under ideal conditions, such as using your heater a lot on a cold night at a higher elevation, with snow helping reflect more light into the solar panel.
I have a 2000 watt inverter/charger and 750 amp hours of batteries. If I need the micro for more than a minute, I crank the generator. Running any high amp item on your inverter is not worth it as you'll only have to run the generator longer to charge the batteries back up at some point. OP, I would only go with a 1000 watts or less for your uses and 20 nights/year.
This post is my opinion (free advice). It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.
not sure I'm ever going to really use 2000W continuous much,
The thing about inverters is, eventually you're going to grow into a bigger one.
It's real nice to get up and brew a pot of coffee without having to go outside in your jammies and start a generator. Yes, I know there are stovetop perks. You can go out later when you wake up and run the generator to recharge.
I would suggest that you look at a 'hard wire' model instead of one with outlets on it. That way you get more watts from one connection instead of having it split among two..and you can 'whole house' your installation. I have a Xantrex Prosine 2.0. Great charger too. Except for blowing panels about every 3 years, it's a great unit.
I'm happy with my Cobra MSW 2500 watt. My Dometic microwave draws 1591 watts--so I'd have to have the prowatt 2000 watt unit. My feeling is that the 2000 watt inverter will handle almost all loads with ease, whereas a 1000 watt unit will be working a lot harder most of the time.
So I'd vote prowatt 2000 watt unit. (I sure wish they were stackable to get to 4000 watts)
I camp alot off the power grid and my DUTY INVERTER is a 600WATT PSW unit. This works very well with my limited 255AH battery bank. We will run all of our selected 120VAC appliances from the Inverter, and run the selected 12VDC items directly from the battery. This will draw around 20AMPs of current from our battery bank between 8PM and 11PM and then drop back to 1-2AMPS for the rest of the night. Then at 8AM the next morning when allowed to run my 2KW generator I will re-charge my battery bank back up to its 90% charge state in around three hours of generator run time using smart mode charging technology. This makes me good to do this all over again for the next day/night run from the batteries.
I do a limited use of a small 600WATT white faced manual controlled 120VAC microwave when camping off the power grid. Using the air conditioner and the high wattage microwave is not done on my camping off the power grid trips. This also include limited operations of the propane furnace with its 6-8AMPS draw fan.
Adding more AH capacity up to around 450AHs or somewhat more will greatly increase this operation but you have to keep all of this under what the 2KW Generator will operate the trailer on-board smart mode technology converter/charger to re-charge the batteries. Does require a full system planning to match things up...
The larger INVERTERs will draw some serious current from the battery banks... My 600WATT Inverter has a 130AMP in-line fuse and my 1500WATT Inverter which is an absolute back-up has a 175AMP in-line fuse. I suspect the 2000Watt inverters will be fused over 200AMPS... You are talking some serious current being drawn from the batteries now...
You also have to consider the time the generator can run at those places you want to camp at. Most forest places will allow the use of generator from 8AM to 8PM during daylight hours. I have not found a public camp ground where I could run a generator after dark or all night... There are such places I guess maybe a NASCAR place... All other places are usually from 8AM to 10AM in the morning and then again from 4:30PM to 7:30PM. This doesn't give you much time to run your air conditioners from your generator...
I am basing all of this on my camping experiences on the east side of US and I know I hear alot of guys do different at the western US sites where more non-populated areas are located. The main reason I have the 2KW generator is too only operate the trailer on-board smart mode converter/charger unit to re-charge my batteries in a short three hour generator run time. I will use the same time to run a few other high wattage items but re-charging the batteries when allowed to run the generator is the high priority...
It is all not as easy as one would think to become successful at doing this...
I have been doing this for around five years and I guess we can say we are pretty successful at it now... My 255AH Battery bank using three OEM 85AH Interstate batteries in parallel are just now starting to drop in performance and I really should replace this camping season. I am over five years now using them. My plans are to replace them with around 300AH battery bank on the trailer tongue and an identical 300AH battery bank in the back of my truck to support my off road operations of radio comms from the truck by itself. Then when camping i can connect the two systems together in parallel which will give me around 600AH battery bank capacity. This will help big time camping off the power grid for us... I suspect however I will be right at maximum for using my 2KW generator to re-charge both battery banks each day in the short three hour generator run time. Might be a good time to install some solar panels to help out re-charging the batteries during the daylight hours...