Portable generators are a great way to take power with you wherever you go. If you’re looking for an even more portable solution, and you have a vehicle, you might want to consider a power inverter. Power inverters convert your vehicle’s DC power to AC power, just like the utility power that supplies your home. They’re ideal for powering tools and appliances while you’re on the road.
Generac has recently introduced a new line of power inverters that range from 100-750 watts. Like other power inverters, many Generac power inverters offer two connection options: they can plug into your vehicle’s 12V accessory outlet (the cigarette lighter), or connect directly to your vehicle’s 12V battery. When they connect to the 12V accessory outlet, you can use them to power electronics such as DVD players and laptops in the vehicle, even while the vehicle is running.
Generac power inverters are among the first to offer the advanced technology of a USB 2.1A port, the latest standard in USB power, to quickly and conveniently charge personal electronics such as the iPad and mp3 players.
When using a power inverter, there are some things to keep in mind. If you connect it to the vehicle’s accessory outlet, you will typically only be able to draw 100 watts, regardless of the power inverter’s rated output. To get full output from a power inverter rated for more than 100 watts, you have to connect it directly to the vehicle’s battery.
It’s also important to avoid draining your battery while using a power inverter. If you won’t be running the vehicle’s engine continuously while using the power inverter, it’s good practice to run the engine periodically to recharge the battery when you’re using a power inverter. Generac power inverters have an audible alarm that will sound when the battery voltage drops to a dangerous level, at which time you should start the vehicle’s engine to recharge the battery. Generac power inverters will also shut off automatically before the battery voltage drops too low. Remember that if you consistently run the vehicle’s battery down while using a power inverter, you could reduce the life of your battery.
You also don’t want to overload the power inverter. As with a portable generator, add up the running watts of all the tools or appliances you will be using with the power inverter to make sure it can power all of them. Remember that appliances with motors require 2-3 times the running watts to start their motors, so account for that as well.