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  • Need help building an inverter system!

    O.k, so my van is shoreline power only right now...I would really REALLY like to get inverter power going in this thing. I've been reading posts and have an idea of what is involved (lots of really expensive, heavy batteries, the inverter itself, the wiring, and the charger) but I have no idea where to start in actually pricing out this system. I've seen some people say they run a full day of grooming (up to 8 dogs) with the HV and their AC as well as the rest of the equipment all on the inverter, with as few as four oversized deep-cell marine batteries. And then there are others that have a bank of 12 batteries.

    What I really need is some advice on the make/model of batteries I should be looking at, and where I should be looking for the best price. If anyone out there has an inverter-only system (not dependant on an the vehicles engine running, and not requiring a shore line or gene for the AC) I would love love love to see pictures and get the specs on what brand and type of batteries you use, what brand/type of inverter you use, and what kind of charger and cables you use.

    Obviously I would prefer to have fewer batteries, due to size constraints, but mainly I just want to do this right so I have reliable power. Hopefully I can get it done for under $1500...I figure I would have to spend that much on a generator anyway. If its going to cost more, I guess my credit card is going to get a workout...anyone who has an inverter, or knows someone who has an inverter, please help! Thanks!!! : ) -Amber

  • #2
    $1500 will not get the job done. You can buy 10 Optima deep cycle absorbed gas mat (no liquid acid) batteries for that. THEN you still have the inverter, wiring, controller, switches, and other stuff to buy. Figure at least $4Kto $5K for GOOD equipment and batteries. You can do it for slightly less, but you won't like the result. Consider that batteries are also HEAVY. Can your vehicle handle the extra weight and still have all of the grooming equipment, water, etc inside? Our van with full fuel and water and full equipment is nearly maxed out at 9150 pounds. Maximum gross weight is 9550. Batteries weigh from 40 to 60 pounds EACH.

    If you live in a hot area, you will not be able to run the HV and all of the other equipment AND the salon area air conditioner for a full day. If you live in a more moderate climate, MAYBE.

    Look for inverter manufacturers like Xantrex, IOTA, or Tripp-Lite. An example would be a Xantrex SW 3000. List price for that inverter is $1880.00, but you get only 3000 watts. No running the HV and the A/C with 3000 watts. You could run one or the other.

    Make sure your inverter is a pure sine wave inverter. Modified sine wave converters are not good for anything with electronic controls inside.

    If you want inverter power for things like lights and small items like clippers, consider an inverter/generator hybrid system. Your battery needs go from a minimum of ten down to two, plus the inverter you will need in any case. The generator will handle things like the HV dryer and an air conditioner. You can wire in an auto start for the generator that kicks in when the batteries can't handle the load, one of those units is about $300.

    There is an article by John Stockman of Wag'nTails that may be in the archives of this board, if not someone may have it and can point you to it.

    We considered an all inverter system (which is why I can tell you what I just told you) and abandoned the idea. We may go hybrid this summer, but that would require some major reworking and rearranging the back end of the van, as well as some wiring changes. Your starting from scratch means you don't have that problem.

    Good luck,

    Laura
    "With God's help, all things are possible!"
    Laura Lee Ray
    I am kats_melody on eGroomer. Follow my Twitter tweets - @ZOOMGROOM on Twitter.com

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    • #3
      I agree 4 to 5 k. As far as charging during the day you have a few options and you can check them out at camping world and on here. Since you have that big box truck weight is not an issue, but you have a nice flat roof that you could line with solar panels for charging through out the day. But you will probably need to tie your trucks alternator into your batteries to charge them while going from appt to appt. They make big ones that are 140+ amps. They use them in audio competitions.

      Honestly if all you can afford is 1.5K buy the biggest and best generator you can get for that money and save up for an inverter system.

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      • #4
        : ( I talked to wbeatty today and it sounds like $5000 is the magic number...I just don't think I can swing that right now...I just spent 5k on my van. Is there really no way to do this for any less? I was looking through some old posts...granted its more than $1500 but I think Pams bubble rig was set up for $2700, I pm'd her to ask, maybe it was just so long ago that the prices have gone up a lot? I guess I don't know enough yet about about batteries yet, and i know its always true that you get what you pay for but...what about something like the AIM 5000W/10000W modified sine wave inverter (on sale for $419), and batteries like the Sportsman Marine Deep Cycle 6v (RC 415, 225 amps) for $188 each, or the Sportsman Marine Deep Cycle 12v (240 rc, 140 amps) for $167 each? The product info says that they are made for continual deep discharge and recharge...

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        • #5
          To do it RIGHT, there is no other way. See my post above about modified sine wave converters. At the price you are stating for lead acid batteries, you can get Optima AGMs and not worry about battery acid.

          At $4K you are in the territory for a new good commercial generator. For $2K you can get a good RV generator with electric start, there are a number of places on the web to get them. You can find a good used one. Stay away from the less than $1000 generators, they are loud, and will not last.

          To run everything, including the A/C and the HV dryer, you will need at least 7000 watts continuous rating on the generator. Kohler, Generac, and Cummins/Onan make good units. Stay away from the cheap Chinese junk. They are hard to service and even harder to get parts for.

          Like my husband says, for any project, remember fast, cheap and good. You can only have two of them. If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good. If it's good and cheap, it won't be fast (you'll spend months putting it together) If it's good and fast, it will not be cheap.

          Laura
          "With God's help, all things are possible!"
          Laura Lee Ray
          I am kats_melody on eGroomer. Follow my Twitter tweets - @ZOOMGROOM on Twitter.com

          Comment


          • #6
            I'd contact Doug. (Man, he's going to be one busy guy with all the recomendations I give for people to talk to him LOL). But from what I've seen on the board, he's an inverter expert.
            What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.

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            • #7
              inverter setups

              5K is what I spent but thats top shelf stuff, A lot of people here use the AIMs inverter and for 400 bucks they are dirt cheap. Remember if you are going to go with a total inverter setup you have got to know your load before you plan your batteries. Also the AIM inverter dose not have a built in battery charger so you will have to add that to the list. It will need to be a big one. It will have to be able to replace the energy used, over night. Ours is a 160 amp charger and it can take up to 7 hours to recharge our bank if it gets to a DOD of 50%.

              As to the Genny in a sound proof box, I learned a expensive lesson. Sound proofing is also heat proofing... dont tell anyone but I melted a genny when I was sound proofing it.... I thought I had enough air flow..... well it least It died quietly
              They make gennys to be put in boxes, for RVs and commerical units.

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              • #8
                We did it slowly. Started with 4 batteries & ran just some of my stuff off it, the rest of my rig was plug in. Silly I know but it was nice to run the dryer & still be heating up the hotwater tank without any tripping issues. One thing I liked about my truck camper was that it had a breaker box so I was tripping my breaker rather then the client house.

                When I upgraded to a camper van I had it built so that it was all run on inverter & hardly ever plug in. Batteries take up alot of room. I still will plug in for my AC, just draws too much & drains the batteries quick. If I only have 1 or 2 dogs booked & need the AC I might just run it on the inverter.

                I bought marine batteries at Sam's Club (part of Walmart meant for small business owners, simular to Costco), they were about $80 each. I have 8 batteries. I got my inverter & charger at donrowe.com. I have a Wagon 5000 inverter, right now its on sale for the same as your AIMs. $419 & free shipping but wires don't come with. I have the Samlex 45amp charger, the blue one $368. My husband did my inverter. Wired & soldered it. Has it all wired to breaker boxes too. I have only tripped one once & that was because we had put in a 15amp for the AC & we needed a 20amp. So far in the van I have had no problems (knock on wood) In the truck camper we had alot of issues but that was mostly because we were learning, working with not enough batteries for what I wanted to do.

                The donrowe.com company will stand behind their stuff. If you have any issues make sure you keep all records from them & they will fix any & all problems with their equipment. I had an inverter go out on me just 2 months of using it, I shipped it back & they sent a new one. I just had to pay shipping of the old one. We didn't like being without an inverter so we ended up buying another inverter, so I have a back up should something go wrong So far we are going on 2yrs now with this inverter.

                Shannon
                The Soapy Puppy mobile
                Last edited by Starshan; 02-18-10, 08:48 PM.

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