If you are a professional truck driver, you’ve likely used or at least heard of power inverters. They certainly have been around for a long time. And much like everything else, when it comes to using them you get what you pay for.
First, you need to know everything there is to know about power inverters before making your decision. There’s a lot to consider, from the type of inverter itself to the waveform, surge capacity and whether or not it meets compliance requirements. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Power inverters have not been without their fair share of controversy. While many a fleet manager knows how much their operators love inverters (for creature comfort, alone) they are also wary that the inverters could potentially damage their truck’s electrical system.
But could it be that this way of thinking is being relegated to the past? The fact is, if you purchase the right inverter for the job and install it properly, there shouldn’t be much to worry about. You just need to make sure you do your due diligence before going out and making a big purchase. Always remember that there isn’t one inverter for the job. In this case, one size does not fit all.
That being said, size does matter. Do you need the biggest inverter out there? Consider that power inverters range in size from 300 to 5,000 watts. You need to know that the inverter is right for your truck size and the amount of power that truck uses.
Furthermore, what will you be using the inverter to power? Here is an example. You have an operator running a television and laptop at the same time. If you take a look at both devices, you will see a wattage level listed on the label. You’ll want to combine those wattages and add 20 percent to get to a final wattage number. You’ll also want to round up a little in your selection. It won’t hurt to be left with a little extra power.
Another thing to keep in mind is our power inverter’s surge rating. When you are running continuous power, you need to make sure that your equipment can handle the initial load. You’ll want to double up on whatever the power requirement is. So if you are using a 1,600-watt inverter, you’ll want to make sure it can handle a surge up to 3,200-watts.
Also figure out how long the inverter can bear the burden of an ongoing surge. You’ll want an inverter that can handle a surge for as long as possible. In some cases, an inverter may shut down almost instantly. Other converters might give you up to five seconds or more before a shut down.
Finding the Right Inverter
When using a power inverter, you want to make sure you have one that is good and reliable. The last thing you need is it breaking down on the job when you need it most. First, you want to look for an inverter that has a “Regulatory Listed” approval. Call signs to look for include UL or TL. A good rating might be 458 or higher.
Try to avoid an inverter that does not have a listed regulatory number. You don’t want a cheap inverter shocking your driver or doing other kinds of damage to your vehicle’s electrical system.
Not all manufacturers test their products as rigorously as they should. You want to make sure the company you are getting your power inverter from tests it thoroughly. As long as you make sure to educate yourself on what type of inverter you need and where it’s coming from, both your truck drivers and your fleet technicians will be happy.