Whether you’re trying to add some portable power to your truck or you just want to make sure your electronics can keep running when you need them, an inverter is the ideal solution. It turns your vehicle’s 12-volt battery into a high-output AC source, allowing you to run things like laptops and TVs. But before you buy and install one, here are a few things to keep in mind:
How Much Power Does It Take?
Inverters can draw more than you might think. That’s because they convert the DC output of your car into high-output AC electricity to power all sorts of things that need a lot of power, such as TVs, refrigerators, sump pumps and many more.
But the downside is that a fully loaded inverter can drain a truck’s batteries or alternator by hundreds of amps in just a few minutes. That’s enough juice to start a small fire in your truck, so be careful when installing and using an inverter.
First, you need to make sure that the wires you’re installing are thick and sturdy. This will help to avoid short circuiting, which can cause significant damage to your battery or inverter.
You’ll need heavy-duty, stranded copper wire (AWG) that’s rated for the power you expect to use. You can get these wires in different lengths, so check the technical data on each wire you choose to determine which size is best for your application.
Next, you need to connect the cable wires to your inverter using copper lugs. These lugs are designed to hold the wires in place so they won’t come loose. You can attach the lugs with a crimping tool or by melting them with a soldering torch. The crimping tool will give you a firm grip, while the soldering torch will just coat the lugs to the wire.
Then, you’ll need to hook the inverter’s positive and negative cables to your battery. It’s important to hook the inverter’s positive cable first, because that’s what will send power to your devices. That’s the best way to prevent over-discharge of your battery and the resulting loss of power.
Depending on the size of your truck, you might need to run additional cables from the inverter to your cab or sleeper area. You’ll need to make sure that the cables are long enough so you don’t run into problems when your shock absorbers move your trailer around.
To ensure that you’re able to use the inverter, you’ll also need to connect a switch. This will allow you to turn the inverter on and off, as well as control its wattage. Some inverters even have digital indicators that show you how much power it’s drawing, so it’s easy to see when you’re using too much.
If you’re doing this project yourself, it’s a good idea to do some research online to find the right inverter for your truck. Look for one that has a built-in fuse breaker, which will protect your batteries and inverter from over-discharge and the possibility of a fire.