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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to purchase a power inverter for my dad's 2007 sienna because he wants to use it sometimes since we live in the city and we don't have a garage. The main usage for this inverter would be for power tools expected to draw around 600W.

So I guess I have a couple of questions.
  • Is it safe to hook up a 1000W inverter directly to the battery? (aka won't damage the car)
  • Would an average power draw of 600W result in a net negative power draw if the vehicle is just idling?
  • If it won't result in a negative power draw, what is the threshold for a negative power draw?
  • Got any recs for inverters if any of you have used one before?
 

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I had a 1200W modified sine wave (cheap) inverter supplied by 300amp welder cable under the seat on a 90 Nissan for many years. Gotta have my coffee. Worked good. Sure, the alternator won't always keep up but that's what the battery is for. Fortunately large draw duration's were short. Rust killed the van. Plan to install the inverter in my Sienna. Can't recommend a brand, mine is 15 years old.
 

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I wish I could answer your questions as I too would like to know. I have seen van life folks ( on youtube) cook rice with a rice cooker via and inverter that pulls about 700 watts or so and what they do is start the van and run it while cooking. It is not wise to run on an inverter with a car battery alone as permanent damage could occur if the battery voltage falls below a certain value. Not using the vehicles cigarette sockets is a wise move. Make sure, and I am sure you are aware of this , is that the wires from the battery is of sufficient thickness ( gauge) to accommodate the high amperage draw from tools.Be sure the line is fused as well.
As far as recommendations go there is a youtuber by the name of Will Prowse and he is a wealth of knowledge on solar , batteries, inverters and so on. Check him out.
 

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I almost installed a small compressor fridge in my car a while back and had this 1000W pure sine wave inverter picked out (it was under $100 at the time): https://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Max-Battery-Inverter-Outlets/dp/B01MQGXPFW

I didn't end up doing it (got a Coleman 40qt thermoelectric cooler instead), so I can't review it.

I would echo Paul's advice to be sure to use correct gauge wire and fuse it. I had this circuit breaker picked out for mine: https://www.amazon.com/ANJOSHI-Protection-Holders-Circuit-Inverter/dp/B01LW1C0DX
 

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IIRC, the standard alternator on the Gen-II Sienna was rated at 145 amps. So at around 2000-3000 RPM, it is capable of delivering 1500 watts assuming some losses. Exactly now long it can be expected to output at max isn't readily available data. Nor can I tell you what it's capable of delivering at idle. Or what the curve looks like.

One trick is to resize the alternator pulley. Going smaller in diameter will make it spin faster, delivering substantially more power at lower engine speeds.

Power tools (motors) are a tricky business. Starting power draw can be 2-3x running power, so plan accordingly.

I would look into the largest capacity battery (amp hour rating) that will fit. If you will be drawing a lot out of the battery with tools that run the system negative and doing this often, a different technology battery (deep cycle or AGM) might be a better choice than a standard starting battery.
 

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I almost installed a small compressor fridge in my car a while back and had this 1000W pure sine wave inverter picked out (it was under $100 at the time): https://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Max-Battery-Inverter-Outlets/dp/B01MQGXPFW

I didn't end up doing it (got a Coleman 40qt thermoelectric cooler instead), so I can't review it.

I would echo Paul's advice to be sure to use correct gauge wire and fuse it. I had this circuit breaker picked out for mine: https://www.amazon.com/ANJOSHI-Protection-Holders-Circuit-Inverter/dp/B01LW1C0DX
I got me a Jackery 500 , and an Alpicool 20 liter compressor fridge. The battery pack can be charged 3 ways , by car (12v) , solar panels and house electricity via an adapter. The most efficient is by house ac and so for that reason I obtained a 300 watt pure sine wave inverter and charge the Jackery with that while driving. Upon start up the fridge pulls about 45 watts and settles down to about 35 watts continuous while the compressor is on. Now for some stats. With my fridge in the eco mode at 37 degrees that Jackery lasted up till 37 hours with 25% battery remaining. I opened the fridge a few times during the test and the swing temperature range is about 4 degrees. Ambient temp in my garage was about 78 degrees.
Ben thanks for the amazon link for that fuse.
 

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easiest is just get a small generator....if you can afford it, get the honda eu2200i, lowest noise and lightweight, good gas usage and bulletproof reliability. There are some cheaper aftermarket ones but quality maybe off.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Power tools (motors) are a tricky business. Starting power draw can be 2-3x running power, so plan accordingly.
oh wow TIL.

This option is definitely looking less and less attractive. Perhaps I'll look into a dedicated generator or something else entirely. I think my dad initally thought it would be fairly straight forward and not too risky for the car.

Thanks for all the advice and knowledge though!
 

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I run a 1,500w pure sine inverter, the main purpose of which is to use the power tool while traveling. I used 4 gauge cables. They all worked fine.
 

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I run a 1,500w pure sine inverter, the main purpose of which is to use the power tool while traveling. I used 4 gauge cables. They all worked fine.
Good to hear! But for completeness, please fill the audience in on:
a) Brand / model of your inverter
b) Details on the power tools you are powering successfully with your setup.
 

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Your van will handle a 1500 watt inverter with no problem at all.

About 12 years ago I worked for a well known tech company on a then-new wireless technology. We ran around testing all day with 4-6 laptops in the back of a Honda Odyssey. We had a 4500 watt inverter in one van, and a 3500 in the other. We were mostly moving, with occasional stops of maybe half an hour. Never any problems.

At least, we had no problems after we went big on the inverters. We had been running 1500 watt inverters, and the math said they were big enough. But they would only last about 6 months before they quit. These were expensive, name brand inverters, too, and properly installed.

Inverters don't last when they are run at the max all the time. Go for at least twice what you think you need.

Go big or go home!

Better yet, follow honda coaster's advice and get the small generator if you are going to be idling. That's taking life out of your engine.
 

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Better yet, follow honda coaster's advice and get the small generator if you are going to be idling. That's taking life out of your engine.
Problem is the amount of use was never defined by the OP. Would hate to run a gasoline engine for six hours just to charge a cordless drill battery, watch TV for run a jigsaw 5 minutes per hour.
 

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Generally, when I answer a question on a forum I assume the person asking the question is:an adult equipped with a modicum of basic intelligence and common sense, unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Thus, I don't see a need to spell out every possible caveat in excruciating detail. If he can't fiture out that running a generator for 5 minutes per hour is not a cost effective solution, that's on him.
 

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I've seen job-site generators which are installed in the engine bay of a vehicle. I've never really looked into them, but I assume they are belt driven with an add-on pulley. There are always the options for an inverter hooked to a deep-cycle house battery which can be charged off the vehicle. I've also seen power packs for a couple hundred dollars, which would eliminate the need for an inverter. Lastly, the guys down on the water jigging for squid have tossed aside the old-school Coleman propane lanterns in favor of the small Honda generators. These things are not much bigger than a car battery but people use them to power racks of halogen flood lights to bring in a bait ball. One of those could easily be used to power most power tools.
 

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You don't say how long you plan to be running said power tools. A Kiil-O-Watt meter is good to determine the actual draw of your tools.

I think you'll find most contractors use a generator to run their power tools if there isn't power available. Don't know any who use an inverter and batteries. Probably a reason for this?

I have a 1000 watt pure sine wave Samlex inverter, peak output 2000 watts for 30 seconds or so. It is powered by 2 -100ah Lion Battleborn batteries. Batteries are charged by the alternator, mostly. (~ 12' of #1 wire from alternator to batteries.) Recently added in solar. The standard alternator in a 2004 Sienna is 130amps. I bought my set-up as a PG&E back-up for power outages to run the fridges in the house. (Otherwise a much smaller inverter would have been fine.) It's also a camper van conversion that runs a small fridge and other devices. Our fridge draws in the 700 watt range then kicks down to 100-200 watts. I run the fridges for a few hours at a time. In this way my batteries will last a couple of days, and the food doesn't spoil. Powering 700 watts AC, the batteries draw down at a pretty good clip.

A lead acid /AGM battery should not be drawn below 50% of charge to prevent damage.

Costco sells Suzuki 2000 watt generators. Cheaper than a good quality inverter, batteries, charging systems, wiring, fuses....
 

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You don't say how long you plan to be running said power tools. A Kiil-O-Watt meter is good to determine the actual draw of your tools.

I think you'll find most contractors use a generator to run their power tools if there isn't power available. Don't know any who use an inverter and batteries. Probably a reason for this?

I have a 1000 watt pure sine wave Samlex inverter, peak output 2000 watts for 30 seconds or so. It is powered by 2 -100ah Lion Battleborn batteries. Batteries are charged by the alternator, mostly. (~ 12' of #1 wire from alternator to batteries.) Recently added in solar. The standard alternator in a 2004 Sienna is 130amps. I bought my set-up as a PG&E back-up for power outages to run the fridges in the house. (Otherwise a much smaller inverter would have been fine.) It's also a camper van conversion that runs a small fridge and other devices. Our fridge draws in the 700 watt range then kicks down to 100-200 watts. I run the fridges for a few hours at a time. In this way my batteries will last a couple of days, and the food doesn't spoil. Powering 700 watts AC, the batteries draw down at a pretty good clip.

A lead acid /AGM battery should not be drawn below 50% of charge to prevent damage.

Costco sells Suzuki 2000 watt generators. Cheaper than a good quality inverter, batteries, charging systems, wiring, fuses....
Ronji,
Do you use Dc to DC charger between the alternator and the Lithium batteries to charge the battery?
thanks
 

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I have an "Li-BIM 225" unit that is for charging the lithium batteries. It charges for 15 minutes then pauses for 20 and continues like this. Lithium will draw full amperage when charging so one has to be careful not to overload the alternator and cause it to over heat. This was the cheapest solution for my situation. It also has a jump start set up where it allows the coach battery to jump start the car. I wired it to the alternator rather than the battery as location made that a better choice.
You have to be careful that the charger/battery isolator is designed for Lithium. Sterling makes a B to B charger but they are much more costly.
 

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I believe a typical Sienna alternator provides around half it's rated 140 Amps at idle, 70 Amps.
70 Amps x 13.5 Volts DC = 945 Watts which is a lot less than your inverter's 1000 Watts, and remember the van needs to use some of that power to run it's systems, charge the battery, run the AC fans and the Radio and the lights, etc.
Powerbastards dot com however makes drop in Alternator replacements for the Sienna (and other cars) that provide 125A/1687 Watts at idle, and 250A around 3375 Watts when you are driving. This would be enough to make the van's electric system and your inverter happy at the same time, when you aren't moving.
250A High Output Alternator for Toyota Sienna, 2007 - 2016 3.5L V6 - 11326-250-HD1-5 | PowerBastards.com | PowerBastards.com

- Billy
 
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