A power inverter can be a great piece of equipment for your boat. This device converts DC power from your marine batteries to AC power so you can supply the appliances you have on-board. Compared to a generator, inverters don’t require fuel or an exhaust system and in addition they are very economical, compact and quiet.
There is quite a choice when it comes to inverters, and depending on how much power you require there are different power outputs available. We selected some excellent products with different of specs to make your choice easier. To learn how to pick out the best boat inverter for your needs, go through our buying guide below where we’ll break down the details.
Let’s get started.
How To Choose The Best Marine Power Inverter – Buying Guide
Investing in a good power inverter allows you to have a steady 120V AC power source on board even if you lack space. These devices are maintenance free and easy to install. However, as we mentioned, you will need a different inverter depending on the number of appliances you want to supply.
A smaller one will be good enough for just the TV for example, but if you want to add a stove, fridge, microwave or other appliances you will need greater wattage. Keep in mind that a stronger inverter is going to drain the batteries quicker, so you will need a battery bank, and a good battery charger to restore the juice.
Your power inverter should be easy for you to use, and in addition to being a reliable source it should protect the devices you plug in. Best marine power inverters are designed in such a way to control power surges so there is no damage to sensitive electronics like your computer, cell phone or stereo.
This is the rating you’ll see on every inverter. The manufacturer will give the continuous wattage and peak wattage. Of course, products with higher wattage are going to cost more. The continuous wattage spec shows you how many appliances the inverter is capable of running at the same time.
You can see wattage on every device you want plugged in, and you sum up these numbers to determine how strong inverter you need. Some appliances show amps, but you can covert these into watts by multiplying them with volts, for example – 2 amps x 120 volts = 240 watts.
It’s always a good idea to buy a larger inverter than your power sum comes to. If you buy a product not powerful enough, you may overload it and experience overheating or the inverter breaking down completely. In addition, you may decide you want something else plugged in later on. Also, marine inverters have about 90% efficiency, because there is loss of voltage that happens along the way.
Inverters can have either modified or pure sine wave. This also affects the mentioned efficiency to some extent. Modified sine wave inverters are generally more budget-friendly, and they can be a solid power source for most things. On the other hand, pure sine wave inverters have better efficiency – they create more power and give a better quality. This is why this type is recommended for more sensitive electronics to work properly.
Some additional features can make the inverter both easier and safer to use. Some products have display panels which show lots of useful information – state of the battery, current power, voltage and so on. You can also get inverters with additional power outlets, and some have USB ports on them. Having an efficient cooling fan is also a good idea to prevent it from overheating and causing harm.
We already mentioned the safety features, and some offer different protection to devices which are plugged in. You can get an inverter which has a remote switch for greater convenience. Finally, even though expensive, there are inverters which have a charger integrated – this means they can power-up the batteries. It’s usually an automatic function when you plug it with a shore power or a generator.
Batteries and Wiring
This is a very important point which is tightly connected to your device. Inverter needs a steady supply from the batteries to work properly. It runs on a 12V battery, and larger inverters drain a lot of power from your battery bank. So choose a good marine battery to run it.
You need to monitor the battery charge, and handle it according to manufacturer’s instructions to get the best life. Draining it completely is often not very good for the battery. You can buy a battery charger and plug to a shore line or use a generator to power it up.
There are also engine alternators which can recharge the battery while the engine is running. Alternatives are solar panels or wind generators, or you invest in a inverter which has a charging function (like the one we reviewed above).
When it comes to wiring, you should follow the instructions on how to install everything. Keep in mind that the inverter converts the current to 120V AC, which can be vary dangerous and cause electric shock and serious injury.
Q: What Do Power Inverters Do and How?
A: These great devices use the 12V power from the battery to translate it to 120V AC which you can use for powering household appliances on-board, when you head out to sea. Because it uses batteries to do this, if you don’t have some sort of backup system it’s a good idea to have separate batteries for this and for starting the engine.
Inverters are a great alternative to power generators, but many people like to have both. Generators run on fuel and need an exhaust, but produce more power which can be used to charge ship batteries and run big appliances, like a refrigerator or air conditioning for example. For other purposes, an inverter is a better choice because it runs quietly and takes much less space than a generator.
Q: Why Choose Marine Power Inverters over Auto Power Inverters?
A: Marine power inverters generally represent a higher quality power source, and a better choice for sensitive electronics which can get damaged by the sudden change of electricity. This is especially true for pure sine wave inverters. On the other hand, auto power inverters are usually modified sine wave type. This is a more cost-effective solution, and they don’t have such high requirements as marine power inverters. They are used to power small devices through the car lighter jack.
Q: How Much Power Does an Inverter Need and How Much Does It Produce?
A: An inverter needs a 12V battery source. Larger inverters will drain the battery quicker, so it’s good to have more than one battery for this, or a charging solution, like we discussed. As for the power it produces, it can range from very small inverters with 100W output to large ones which give out over 3000 continuous watts.
Q: Where Should the Inverter be Installed?
A: General recommendation is to hardwire the inverter as near the battery bank as possible. The distance should be under 10ft, to avoid unnecessary power loss and voltage drops, as well as to reduce the chances of a hazard occurring. The place where you store it should be dry and ventilated (getting a waterproof power inverter can also help), and this goes for storing the battery too.
Globo Surf Overview
Power inverters present a very reliable AC source when you are not docked. Like you were able to see, they are often affordable compared to the commodity you get when having one on your boat. It comes down to your particular needs when choosing the best marine power inverter, but if you follow the guidelines given you won’t go wrong.
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Have you tried a marine power inverter that made it onto our list? Which one? Was it reliable and safe for your electronics? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.
Globo Surf Marine Power Inverters Reviews