Question

Adding an Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU, to your truck can make a world of difference. If you are a long-haul driver and are on the road for multiple days and nights a week then you need to look into an APU for your truck. How many of those nights have you spent idling your engine for a few hours just so you can get some heat or air conditioning? Or, perhaps you just wanted to watch some television and microwave yourself a meal.

Whatever the reason is adding an APU to your truck will allow you to do all of that without having to idle your engine. Not only does idling the engine end up costing you in fuel but in many states it is illegal to idle for long periods of time. The APU puts you in compliance with many state laws and gives you the peace of mind that at the end of the day you are going to have a cool, or hot, place to sleep and recharge yourself for the next day’s drive.

Over the past few weeks we have been writing numerous articles on these APUs in an effort to learn more about them and to also provide various questions and answers to our readers. In today’s topic we are going to take an in-depth look at exactly how much these APUs cost to purchase and install on your truck.

Auxiliary Power Unit Cost

First let me state that this is a hard question to answer. There are many brands and manufacturers of APUs out there today and each one comes in at a different price point. The price range of these various models can go from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars. Now that five-thousand dollar minimum price will get you an APU but it is not going to be the best quality.

An example of a lower dollar APU is the model from Rigmaster. Many of you may have heard of this brand name before. Recently they do not have the best reputation as their APUs require a significant amount of maintenance. The other day I was reading about this model and users stated that it requires an oil change every one-hundred hours of use. While one-hundred hours of use sounds like a lot it is really not. Think about it. If you are using the APU for ten hours every night for relaxation and sleep then you are going to need to change the oil after only ten days of continual use. This can be a pain. This is just the beginning of maintenance when it comes to these APUs and in many cases dealerships or truck stops may not carry the parts you need for these Rigmaster APUs.

So, while these are on the cheaper end of  the APU price range you are going to end up spending more of your time maintaining this APU. As we all know, time in trucking is everything. Time is all valuable and if you are having to sink your time into maintaining this APU then did you really end up saving any money when compared to a higher priced APU?

On the inverse if we look at a top of the line APU model which can cost anywhere between ten-thousand to twelve-thousand dollars we can see a significant difference. The TriPac APU model from Thermo King is widely considered the best of the best. The Rigmaster expects you to perform maintenance every one-hundred hours whereas the TriPac model only needs maintenance every two-thousand hours. Yes, you heard right… two-thousand hours. If we use that same logic above of ten hours a day of APU usage then you will need to perform maintenance on this APU every two-hundred days. That is just about two times a year if you are on the road constantly and using it every day. I think we can manage that maintenance routine.

Another brand name and model to look at that more or less rivals Thermo King’s TriPac model is the ComfortPro APU from the Carrier Corporation. This model may end up being just a bit cheaper then the Thermo King but it has many of the same benefits such as maintenance every two-thousand hours. It is also highly recommended from many drivers.

Now there are many models in between the Rigmaster and the Thermo King/Carrier as well and their price points are varied. If you cannot quite afford that top of the line Thermo King but you also do not want to purchase a Rigmaster then you can look at some other models that put you right in between. For example, the Dynasys APU EIS model requires maintenance every one-thousand hours. Yes, it costs more then Rigmaster but you end up getting more benefits overall. I consider this a middle of the road option when it comes to quality and price.

If you are looking for just one step up from the Rigmaster then you may look at the APU model from Kohler. These are nowhere near as expensive as those top of the line models but they can provide you with five-hundred hours between maintenance. That works out to be about needing maintenance every fifty days or so. While that is not ideal, it is much better then the Rigmaster option.

Refurbished APUs

Another point I need to mention to everyone is that if you are truly concerned about cost of these APUs there is another option here. There are companies out there that refurbish used auxiliary power units and sell them at a discount to drivers. Typically you can see a discounted price range from twenty to thirty percent off. Now each shop is different on their refurbishing guidelines as well as any warranty they offer. A few of these that I found online while looking are:

Redneck Approach

If cost is a real concern but you also need air conditioning or heating badly to get you through the nights then there is a third option here that can help you reduce your cost significantly. I have seen many videos of trucking doing the ‘Redneck’ approach when it comes to APUs. While I do not recommend going this route it can end up saving you a bundle… it is just not the most safe and reliable. I wrote an article on this approach which can be found by clicking here.

Conclusion

I spent most of this article talking about maintenance needs for your APU and while that is important it is also worth considering the power of these APUs. As you end up spending more the power output these APUs can produce goes up as well. If you have a large sleeper that you wish to cool off or heat up every night or if you have many electronics that you wish to power while the truck is off then it may also be worth looking at some of the higher priced models such as Thermo King or Carrier.

But, if you just need heating and air conditioning in a small are then you can probably get away with the Rigmaster or Kohler models. Hell, you could even go with the redneck approach if you are strapped for cash. Just remember that bottom price is not always best. When you spend that extra money you pay for quality and quality is something that you want while on the road.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Having an auxiliary power unit installed in your truck can be a game changer. This is especially true if you are a long-haul driver and are spending multiple days and nights on the road. How many times have you been at a truck stop, rest area, or parked on the shoulder of an off ramp all the while wishing you had heat or air conditioning? Sure, you could idle your engine but do you really want to idle the engine for the entire time you are trying to sleep? Or, do you want to idle it for an hour, shut it off, then wake up a few hours later and start the whole process over again?

It is a pain in the ass and not to mention inefficient. You’re burning through fuel and to top it all off you may even be illegally idling depending on what state or jurisdiction you are in. Adding an APU to your truck solves all of these problems. The APU will provide you with power. It will provide you with air conditioning. It will provide you with heat. But, before you decide to purchase an auxiliary power unit let us first look at their various pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision when it comes time to buy.

APU Pros & Cons

As can be expected, the biggest pro when it comes to APUs is being able to generate cold or hot air whenever you need without having to idle your engine. This puts you in compliance with various state laws and also allows you to be comfortable in your cab while sleeping or while just having some time off. This alone is worth it to many truckers. You get a good night’s sleep without risking any fines. Besides this obvious benefit there are a few others to look at though.

The APU is typically tied right into your truck’s diesel fuel tanks. However when the APU is running it will only use twenty to thirty percent of the fuel that your truck’s engine does while idling or running. That means an instant fuel savings when running your APU. If you are in a very cold environment then you can also prevent your diesel from gelling due to your APU engine running. This is just an added benefit that a lot of folks do not consider.

Along with the fuel savings you will also save your engine from additional wear and tear. Idling is never good for your engine and by reducing the hours that you idle you also reduce the maintenance and servicing that your engine needs. This holds especially true nowadays with trucks made from year 2010 and up. As most of you know these trucks all come with a diesel particulate filter, or a DPF. Idling your truck not only increases the wear and tear on your engine but also on your DPF… and maintenance or replacement on a DPF is NOT cheap… that I can assure you. I spent ten years working at  Kenworth dealership. I know just how expensive it is just to clean a DPF. We have specialized machines that do just this that cost us thousands of dollars just to purchase… and that is just to clean the DPF. Imagine now how much it costs to completely replace the DPF.

While running the APU will actively charge your truck’s batteries as well. So, if you wish to power other electronics or appliances in your truck then you could also run a power inverter. A power inverter converts your trucks stored battery direct current (DC) power over to alternating current (AC) power. AC electricity is what all of our standard home appliances use such as microwaves, refrigerators, etc. Now some APUs come with built in power inverters and some do not. But, if your batteries are being charged by the APU then you do not have to worry about draining your batteries while running your power inverter. So, you prevent your diesel from gelling and your batteries are fully charged when you want to start up and go in the morning. Not a bad thing if you ask me!

There really is only one major downside when it comes to APU folks and that is price. Adding an auxiliary power unit to your truck is NOT cheap. These can range from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars or more. This cost is assuming the purchase of the unit as well as the installation charge. It is because of this cost hurdle alone that many fleet owners do not put APUs in their trucks. This creates an overall bad experience for their company drivers and may cause them to end up leaving to another fleet that provides APUs for their drivers. In fact many drivers may reject a job offer if the truck they’ll be driving does not have a built-in APU.

There are ways to reduce the cost numbers that I stated above. Of course if you are an owner operator and you have the money you may spend twelve thousand and purchase the top of the line Thermo King TriPac APU. But, if you just want to purchase a middle of the road APU you can as well for a much cheaper price. If you really want an APU but just can’t swing the expense there are also refurbished APUs out there that you can purchase from various APU houses. One such example of this is https://www.dalesapusales.com/ . Lastly, if you still can’t swing the cost then you can always look into what’s known as a ‘Red Neck’ APU. I went into what this is in another article that can be found by clicking here. Now, these redneck APUs are not the safest approach and I typically do not recommend them… but if you are in a pinch it may be worth looking into.

Conclusion

To close this article out folks APUs come with a variety of benefits ranging from savings on fuel, savings on maintenance, as well as charging your batteries and helping to stop gelling of your diesel. Their only real con or downside is their expense to purchase and install. The price range can vary wildly depending on what brand and model you choose and you can save even more by going with a APU refurbishing house.

If you are on the road for multiple days a week then I am going to highly recommend you look at adding an APU to your vehicle. It is a large quality of life improvement and will help make your day to day more enjoyable.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Having an auxiliary power unit for your truck can be a life changer. They are definitely one of those things that once you have one you will never want to go back to not having one. In fact they are such a quality of life improvement many company drivers may actually turn down a job offer if the truck they will be driving does not come with an APU. The only real problem with APUs is that they are prohibitively expensive… so much so that many drivers just simply cannot afford them.

Depending on the brand and model you wish to purchase an APU’s price can range from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars for a top of the line model such as the Thermo King brand. For those of us that are price conscious there are remanufactured or refurbished APUs available from various small businesses. One such example is Dale’s APU Sales out of Springfield, MO (Their website can be found here). By purchasing a refurbished model you can save another twenty to thirty percent… but even more many folks that is still to expensive.

So the question now becomes what other options do you have? You want your truck to stay cool during the summer and hot during the winter, but how? There is another option folks that some truckers have done and while I may not necessarily agree with it I owe it to my readers to describe what is being done and how it works.

Redneck APUs

As we mentioned earlier the cost to purchase an APU is quite high ranging from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand or more. Many folks do not have this type of money lying around and just are not able to afford these APUs, but they also want to be able to sleep in comfort during cold and hot nights. So, what do they do?

Well, these innovators come up with their own APU system. Remember how I said earlier that the APU is typically just a portable generator? Well in these innovative setups truckers will purchase their own portable generator and typically insert in an enclosure behind the cab close to the fifth wheel. I’ve seen some folks build custom enclosures for the generator to sit in. Others will have the generator boxed away until they need it and then set it up outside their cab with no enclosure.

No matter how you do it, you now have a portable generator running that can provide you with power. The next thing to do here is to route the extension cords from the generator into your cab. Now, inside your cab is the next step. Let’s say you are up in the north part of the country during winter and you need some heat. All you need now is to purchase a space heater and setup a place in your cab for it to sit. Then plug in the heater to your generator’s extension cord and bam you now have heat!

Air conditioning is a bit trickier as you need a way to expel the heat out of your vehicle. There are a few options here. You can purchase a portable air conditioner and set it up inside your cab with the exhaust port going out your passenger window. Just be sure to get this air tight or else all of the heat is going to come right back into your vehicle. This will take some playing around with it to get it just right.

You could also look at purchasing a window air conditioner and trying to mount it to your truck’s passenger window, but I would not recommend this approach as the unit could fall and break and it could also end up causing damage to your door or window. Not to mention having to mount and unmount this thing each and every time you wish to have air conditioning. It could end up being a pain.

The last option for air conditioning is installing an actual mini-split system. Mini-splits are much more expensive then a portable or window unit but they also provide you with a good source of air conditioning. These systems have two sections to be installed: One on the outside and one on the inside. They are then connected by copper refrigerant tubing. As you can expect this takes quite a bit of work to install and will have to stay on you truck permanently or until the air conditioner fails. For the sake of those on a budget I would suggest you get the portable air conditioner and play around with the exhaust tube and your window.

Now depending on the generator you have running you may have room to run other things in your truck along with the air conditioner or heater. Perhaps you have a refrigerator or microwave that you wish to run. It can all be done by using that same generator. I have seen some people do these redneck generator builds for as low as eight-hundred dollars. While you can get a heck of a lot of savings by doing this I do need to state that it is not the RIGHT way to do it.

I also need to put a disclaimer to protect myself here. We here at ToughAssTools do not recommend this approach as there are risks involved. If you decide to do this approach we are not liable for any damages to you or your vehicle that occur. It is always best to go with a true APU system that comes from the various manufacturers out there.

Conclusion

So folks if you are in a pinch and cannot afford those luxury APU models out there then there is still hope for you. It may not be the prettiest approach, or even the safest, but it will get the job done for you and provide you with that needed cool or warm air to ensure that you are able to comfortably sleep. As I said earlier though, use this ‘redneck’ apu technique at your own risk as you are dealing with multiple machines such as generators, air conditioners, and heaters along with running extension cords through your cab. If proper caution is not taken then there is room for error. These redneck APUs should be a temporary solution until you are able to purchase a genuine APU model. Worst, case get yourself a refurbished model.

I hope this article was helpful and that I was able to answer any of your questions.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

An APU unit or an Auxiliary Power Unit is a game changer for the trucking industry. It is a small, efficient motor that is capable of producing the power needed to keep the air/heat running, interior appliance power, and anything else you require all without the need to idle your truck’s engine. In the past when long haul drivers had to stay overnight they had a couple of choices. They could either idle their engine to keep the cab warm or cool, they could find a hotel room, or they could try to sleep through the winter’s cold or the summer’s heat without any air conditioning or furnace.

As you can imagine most truckers opted for idling their engine to provide them with some form of comfort while they slept. I would have done the same as I cannot sleep in a hot environment. We have all become used to the creature comforts of air conditioning and heating. The problem with this is years ago different states began introducing anti-idling laws. The introduction of these laws brought the innovation of APUs into the trucking industry.

I am sure we are all familiar with anti-idling laws. These laws are designed to reduce air pollution. Unfortunately here in the United States each state can have a different anti-idling law then the next. You could be in compliance in Kansas City, Missouri and then cross the state line in a few miles and be fined in Kansas City, Kansas. As I write this article there are thirty states with varying anti-idling laws. It is difficult to keep up.

In short the laws are designed to prevent idling of engines on specific types of vehicles. In nearly every case heavy duty trucks fall into these categories. So, now the trucker is left with the choice of idling his engine during the night to stay warm/cool and risk being caught and fined OR he can look at investing into an APU. When I say invest into an APU I mean invest. APUs are not cheap, but they are also one of those things that once you have it you will never want to go back.

Auxiliary Power Units

There are various types of APUs brands and manufacturers out there today. Typically though an APU comes with four main components: The APU engine itself, the air conditioner, the furnace, and the interior control panel. You will also have various electrical harnesses, ductwork, and other tubing to connect everything. First, lets look at the engine. In essence an APU is just like a portable generator that you would bring with you if you were on a camping trip. The engine section of the APU is what generates the power through the alternator. The engine creates the energy which feeds into the alternator which rotates to provide power. This power is then distributed to your furnace, air conditioner, and other appliances that you wish to power. It is also worth mentioning that when the APU is running it will also charge your truck’s batteries as well to ensure they are ready to start back up.

The APU is typically mounted either just below your sleeper/cab next to the fuel tank or in some cases it is mounted right behind your cab wall next to the fifth wheel. The air conditioner’s condenser can be mounted in a variety of spaces but most often is found either on the side of the cab or on the ceiling of the cab. The furnace, evaporator, and control panel are mounted inside the cab. The control panel will function and look similar to a typical air conditioner/heater controls found in your cab.

APU Pros & Cons

The biggest pro when it comes to APUs is being able to generate cold or hot air whenever you need without having to idle your engine. This puts you in compliance with various state laws and also allows you to be comfortable in your cab while sleeping or while just having some time off. This alone is worth it to many truckers. Besides the obvious benefit there are a few others to look at though.

The APU is typically tied right into your truck’s diesel fuel tanks. However when the APU is running it will only use twenty to thirty percent of the fuel that your truck’s engine does while idling or running. That means an instant fuel savings when running your APU. Along with the fuel savings you will also save your engine from additional wear and tear. Idling is never good for your engine and by reducing the hours that you idle you also reduce the maintenance and servicing that your engine needs. This holds especially true nowadays with trucks made from year 2010 and up. As most of you know these trucks all come with a diesel particulate filter, or a DPF. Idling your truck not only increases the wear and tear on your engine but also on your DPF… and maintenance or replacement on a DPF is NOT cheap… that I can assure you.

I mentioned this earlier but the APU will actively charge your truck’s batteries as well. So, if you wish to power other electronics or appliances in your truck then you could also run a power inverter. A power inverter converts your trucks stored battery direct current (DC) power over to alternating current (AC) power. AC electricity is what all of our standard home appliances use such as microwaves, refrigerators, etc. Now some APUs come with built in power inverters and some do not. But, if your batteries are being charged by the APU then you do not have to worry about draining your batteries while running your power inverter.

There really is only one major downside when it comes to APU folks and that is price. Adding an auxiliary power unit to your truck is NOT cheap. These can range from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand dollars or more. This cost is assuming the purchase of the unit as well as the installation charge. It is because of this cost hurdle alone that many fleet owners do not put APUs in their trucks. This creates an overall bad experience for their company drivers and may cause them to end up leaving to another fleet that provides APUs for their drivers. In fact many drivers may reject a job offer if the truck they’ll be driving does not have a built-in APU.

There are ways to reduce the cost numbers that I stated above. Of course if you are an owner operator and you have the money you may spend twelve thousand and purchase the top of the line Thermo King TriPac APU. But, if you just want to purchase a middle of the road APU you can as well for a much cheaper price. If you really want an APU but just can’t swing the expense there are refurbished APUs out there that you can purchase from various APU houses. One such example of this is https://www.dalesapusales.com/ . Lastly, if you still can’t swing the cost then you can always look into what’s known as a ‘Red Neck’ APU. I will get into what those are in our next section.

Types of APUs

When APUs first started they were nearly all diesel or gasoline built engines. In fact they were very similar to portable generators that we use today for power emergencies or for camping. Over the years as technology has advanced different types of APUs have been introduced. In this section we are going to take a look at each type and which one would be best for your needs.

Diesel

Even today the most common APU you are going to run into is diesel or combustion based. These include some of the big brand names in the APU market such as Thermo King, Carrier, Rigmaster, Cummins, Centramatic, and many others. A diesel APU comes with a specific set of advantages and disadvantages. The first big selling point is that a diesel engine can run indefinitely or until your fuel tank is empty. They can also typically power much more equipment then a standard electric APU.

The downside of diesel is that they can be loud. Now, not as loud as an idling truck engine, but still loud. In most cases though this isn’t a problem as a truck stop isn’t the quietest of places in the first place. The other downside of diesel is that it will require more maintenance then their electric counterparts. This is an engine that you are running and depending on the brand you will require maintenance between five-hundred to two-thousand hours of use. This can include changing the oil, belts, and other moving parts.

It is recommended that diesel APUs be used by long haul truck drivers. Say you have hit your hours for the day and need a place to stop for the night. Your diesel APU will be able to provide you power for the entire night without issue. In some cases if you have a twenty-four hour layover until your next pick-up/drop-off your diesel APU can come to rescue as well. Remember, that this APU uses only about twenty to twenty-five percent fuel then your standard truck engine does.

Electric/Battery

The concept of the APU is to give the truck driver an alternative means to power their vehicle other then idling their engine. Remember, that all of this was needed due to environmental concerns. The States saw their anti-idling laws as cleaning up the environment. Going with an electric APU is by far the most environmentally friendly of the APUs. There is no noise and no fuel consumed when using these battery powered APUs.

The big downside of these APUs though is that because they are battery powered they have a limited run time and can also only power so much before being maxed out. When you do run out of juice you have to wait hours before the system can be recharged again. The average electric APU can provide you with around ten to twelve hours of air conditioning time and a bit longer for heating (This excludes extreme conditions like Minnesota in January or Phoenix in August). You will also impact your run time if you decide to power other appliances such as a microwave, coffee maker, or even a television.

When the APU is drained and needs to be recharged it will typically take anywhere between six to twelve hours before the system is fully charged and ready to go again. If you couple this recharge time along with the limited run time and limited power supply it is recommended that electric APUs are used by small cab drivers on shorter trips. A long haul driver with a full sleeper would not have the best experience with an electric APU.

For an example scenario where this would be needed, say you are on site waiting to drop-off or pick-up but there is a one to two hour wait before you can even get tot he dock. This is a great opportunity to use the electric APU as you will only be using it for a few hours at a time. Then, when you start your truck back up the batteries will begin to recharge. Just remember that for a few hours these work great but if you plan on spending the night and running the APU for twelve hours then you are most likely going to need a diesel system. Also consider what climate you will be driving in mostly. If it is going to be an extreme climate like say Arizona or Maine then you should probably go with a diesel APU.

Hybrid

These systems did not get as popular as many folks would have hoped. The concept behind them is that they function as an electric APU until the batteries get too low on their charge and then the APUs diesel engine kicks on. The engine charges the batteries back to one-hundred percent and then the engine shuts off again. This process continues. The idea behind this is to not be running the diesel APU engine constantly and instead on an as needed basis.

This allows for fuel savings and a more environmentally friendly system. The downside here is that I could not find much literature or articles on the topic of hybrid APUs. The most recent article I found on this was back in 2006 and as you can imagine it was quite dated. If you know anymore about these types of models please reach out to me and I can update this article with more information.

Redneck

Alright folks so we have covered the various ‘normal’ auxiliary power units out there. But now we can get into the fun stuff. As we mentioned earlier the cost to purchase an APU is quite high ranging from five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand or more. Many folks do not have this type of money lying around and just are not able to afford these APUs, but they also want to be able to sleep in comfort during cold and hot nights. So, what do they do?

Well, these innovators come up with their own APU system. Remember how I said earlier that the APU is typically just a portable generator? Well in these innovative setups truckers will purchase their own portable generator and typically insert in an enclosure behind the cab close to the fifth wheel. I’ve seen some folks build custom enclosures for the generator to sit in. Others will have the generator boxed away until they need it and then set it up outside their cab with no enclosure.

No matter how you do it, you now have a portable generator running that can provide you with power. The next thing to do here is to route the extension cords from the generator into your cab. Now, inside your cab is the next step. Let’s say you are up in the north part of the country during winter and you need some heat. All you need now is to purchase a space heater and setup a place in your cab for it to sit. Then plug in the heater to your generator’s extension cord and bam you now have heat!

Air conditioning is a bit trickier as you need a way to expel the heat out of your vehicle. There are a few options here. You can purchase a portable air conditioner and set it up inside your cab with the exhaust port going out your passenger window. Just be sure to get this air tight or else all of the heat is going to come right back into your vehicle. This will take some playing around with it to get it just right.

You could also look at purchasing a window air conditioner and trying to mount it to your truck’s passenger window, but I would not recommend this approach as the unit could fall and break and it could also end up causing damage to your door or window. Not to mention having to mount and unmount this thing each and every time you wish to have air conditioning. It could end up being a pain.

The last option for air conditioning is installing an actual mini-split system. Mini-splits are much more expensive then a portable or window unit but they also provide you with a good source of air conditioning. These systems have two sections to be installed: One on the outside and one on the inside. They are then connected by copper refrigerant tubing. As you can expect this takes quite a bit of work to install and will have to stay on you truck permanently or until the air conditioner fails. For the sake of those on a budget I would suggest you get the portable air conditioner and play around with the exhaust tube and your window.

Now depending on the generator you have running you may have room to run other things in your truck along with the air conditioner or heater. Perhaps you have a refrigerator or microwave that you wish to run. It can all be done by using that same generator. I have seen some people do these redneck generator builds for as low as eight-hundred dollars. While you can get a heck of a lot of savings by doing this I do need to state that it is not the RIGHT way to do it.

I also need to put a disclaimer to protect myself here. We here at ToughAssTools do not recommend this approach as there are risks involved. If you decide to do this approach we are not liable for any damages to you or your vehicle that occur. It is always best to go with a true APU system that comes from the various manufacturers out there.

Conclusion

As you can tell by the length of this article I can go on and on about auxiliary power units until I am red in the face… and I will but I will save that for other articles. To close out this article though folks an APU is basically a built-in generator for your truck that provides you with an air conditioner, a furnace/heater, and power to anything else you wish to run. These APUs are meant to run while your truck is parked either while waiting to unload or while at an overnight stop. They can range in price from four or five-thousand dollars all the way up to twelve-thousand or more.

Having an APU is a comfort item for your drivers or for your vehicle if you are an owner operator. They are not necessary but man they can make a hell of a difference. I’m out of rural Kansas and I can tell you the summers get cruel here. I cannot imagine trying to sleep in my bed without my air conditioner keeping the house cool. I am sure without the AC I would eventually fall asleep but it would be a pain and it would not be comfortable sleep.

The same can be said about APUs. Sure, you can get by without them… but do you really want to? And, if you are in the boat where you truly just cannot afford it then maybe you look at that redneck approach we mentioned earlier? If you do decide to go that route be sure to be safe with it!

Thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Hello folks and welcome to ToughAssTools.com. Today we are going to do another article on the topic of power inverters. These inverters are a great tool to have installed on your vehicle or power back up system. There are many uses for inverters such as going on a long road trip with the family and wanting a television plugged in for the drive,  camping off grid and wanting to have a warm cup of coffee in the morning, or you are without power and want to run some electronics while you wait for the power to come back on.

Whatever your reason is for using a power inverter there are a lot of questions that surround these tools. How exactly do they work? What size of inverter should you buy? In this article we are going to provide you with a basic overview of how these inverters work and then look deeper into exactly what sized power inverter that you need. Let’s dive in.

How Many Watts do I Need?

Let us first understand the basic principle of a power inverter. They work by connecting directly to your vehicle’s battery. Once connected you are then able to plug-in appliances or electronics using the outlets on the inverter. The battery in your vehicle has stored direct current, or DC, energy. DC energy is what is used to start your vehicle, power the interior lights, your radio, and many other things. Appliances or electronics that you wish to run through your inverter use alternating current, or AC, energy. All of our homes and offices use AC energy for power. What the power inverter does is draw the DC energy from your battery and converts it over to usable AC energy. Once converted you are then able to use the AC energy to power your appliances.

Now that we understand the basics of these inverters let us know take a look at exactly how many watts you need in order to power your appliances or electronics. Watts are a measurement of how much power is required to run something. The higher the watts the more power it is going to take. Power inverters come in a variety of sizes ranging from a few hundred watts all the way up to four or five-thousand watts. Sizing your inverter is important as it is not always best to go big or go home and buy the largest inverter out there. If you undersize your inverter though then you will be unable to provide adequate power.

The first thing you need to do here is determine the total wattage of the appliances or electronics that you wish to power with your power inverter. This is actually a pretty easy exercise. All you need to do is review the label on the item you are wishing to power. In some cases they will have total wattage used right on the label. In other instances you will not be able to find the watts but instead only see the amperage draw. This is just as good. If you find the total amps used you can determine the total wattage. All you have to do is take the amp number and multiply it by the volts. The volts number is just a measurement of the type of plug-in the appliance uses. In our case we are going to be using the standard one-hundred and twenty volt plug-in that is found in all of our homes. So, the math becomes amps times volts equals watts. For an example let’s say we have a five amp coffee machine with a one-hundred and twenty volts. The math becomes 5 times 120 equals 600 watts.

One thing to look out for when determining total watts is what is known as starting watts and running watts. The more complex appliances will require an additional boost of power in order for it to power on. This initial boost typically only lasts a few seconds but it is needed to start the appliances. Once started the power demands settle back down to a lower constant number. This initial boost is known as ‘Starting Watts.’ When it settles back down to a lower constant wattage that is known as ‘Running Watts.’

It is vital that if your appliance has starting watts that you factor that into your total wattage calculation. If you do not then you may not be able to turn the appliance on. Some examples of a machine with starting watts are refrigerators and freezers. Each of these require a compressor to start the refrigeration cycle. This compressor requires a large boost of energy to start. Be sure to factor this in when totaling up your wattage.

Once you have determined the total watts you now need to look at the various sized power inverters. A rule of thumb here is to add an additional twenty or thirty percent to your total wattage needs. What this does is give you some wiggle room so that if you did miscalculate by mistake OR if you have another appliance that you wish to power then you have the wattage reserve to do so. With our six-hundred watt coffee machine example above I would suggest purchasing a nine-hundred or one-thousand watt inverter. This gives you plenty of room to power a phone, laptop, or other small device along with the coffee machine.

If you do end up needing a power inverter greater then one-thousand watts then it is recommended to purchase a high output alternator. The alternator is what provides your vehicle with power and is also how your battery gets recharged. If your inverter is pulling too many watts and your alternator cannot keep up then you could end up with a dead battery even while driving down the road. This is not a good situation to be in. A high output alternator will produce more watts and be able to keep up with the high demands of a larger power inverter.

The last thing to mention here is if you plan to run your power inverter while your vehicle’s engine is off then you will most likely need a secondary deep cycle battery installed. Your standard automotive battery is not meant for long term use. It is a cranking battery that provides short bursts of power to start your vehicle’s engine. If you use a power inverter off of this standard battery with the engine off then you could drain your battery after only thirty to sixty minutes. This is why it is recommended you either run the inverter while your engine is on so that the battery is constantly recharged OR you look at installing a secondary deep cycle battery. Deep cycle batteries can last for hours and sometimes even days off of one charge.

Installing a secondary battery can be a bit tricky. If you are an experienced tinkerer with vehicles the you should be able to handle it by following this guide that I found. However, if you are no as comfortable working on vehicles then I recommend taking your vehicle into the dealership or a local mechanic and tell them that you want a secondary deep cycle battery installed. If you also already have the power inverter purchased you can ask them to install it as well. Otherwise, you can install it after the fact.

Conclusion

As you can see from the content above there is a lot to consider when it comes to finding the right wattage for your power inverter. In short though just remember to add up the total wattage of whatever you wish to power and make sure that number is LOWER then the wattage of your power inverter. If you do that then you should be good.

Thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

 

Power inverters are a great tool to have with you no matter the situation. It could be that you are going for a long road trip with the family and you want to power a television to keep the kids entertained or perhaps you are camping off grid and want to a warm cup of coffee in the morning. Whatever the reason you need it for a power inverter will give you a supply of alternating current (AC) power so that you can run your standard electronics or appliances that you normally find in your home. This is done by hooking the power inverter directly up to your vehicle’s battery. The inverter then draws the stored direct current (DC) energy in your battery over to the AC energy that your appliances need.

While the overall concept of power inverters is widely understood there are still a lot of questions on the topic. What size do I need? How to install them? Over the past few weeks here at ToughAssTools.com we have been doing our best to answer all of these questions in various articles. The goal being to provide our readers with a one stop source for all things power inverters. Today’s topic is exactly how safe are these inverters? What should you be concerned with when running them?

Are Power Inverters Safe?

Let me first say that power inverters are very safe. There is a very low risk of fire or other calamity when running one of these tools in your vehicle. That being said, there are a few things that can happen when running a power inverter that can have lasting consequences. Let’s take a look:

Install

Installing your inverter correctly is key to getting optimal performance as well as being safe. The power inverter you purchased should come with an installation guide that will take you step through step on how to hook up the inverter. The good news is that the installation of these tools is actually quite basic and does not take much time. Before install ensure that the cables look to be in good quality and that there is no fraying or damage to them.

Exceeding Rated Wattage

A big gotcha when it comes to power inverters is purchasing the wrong sized power inverter for your needs. Inverters come in all different sizes ranging from a few hundred watts all the way up to four or five-thousand watts. The size that you need is determined by the total wattage of the appliances or electronics that you wish to plug-in into the inverter.

In some cases the total wattage on an appliance will be shown on the product label. In other cases though the wattage is not shown. No need to worry though as you should be able to find the total amperage or amps on the label. If you have the amperage number then all you have to do is take the amp number and multiply by the volts. Volts are just a measurement of what type of plug-in the appliance uses. When it comes to power inverters you will be using a one-hundred and twenty volt plug-in.

So, the math becomes  amps times volts equals watts. As an example, lets say you want a warm cup of coffee in the morning. The coffee machine is six amps. The math is now six amps times one-hundred and twenty volts equals seven-hundred and twenty watts. Once you have the total wattage of the appliances you wish to plug-in into the inverter it is also best to add an additional twenty or thirty percent. This gives you a buffer zone so if you miscalculated the total wattage or if you want to plug-in an additional appliance you have the extra wattage.

If the wattage of the appliance exceeds that of the power inverter rated wattage then you can overload your power inverter. The power inverter you are dealing with should have a built-in surge protector. If you overload the inverter the surge protector will shut the inverter off automatically. A few seconds later the inverter will turn on again to check to see if the wattage level has changed. If it has not then it will shut down again. This process repeats numerous times until at last the inverter shuts off entirely. It is vital that you purchase the correctly sized power inverter for your application.

Length of Time

The other thing to look at when it comes to power inverters is the length of time that you can use them. This depends on how you wish to run your power inverter. If you will have the inverter plugged in and running while your vehicle’s engine off then the power it needs is going to be pulled directly from your vehicle’s battery. The standard battery in your vehicle is a twelve volt cranking battery. It is meant for short bursts of power to start your engine. It is NOT meant for long term extended use such as with a power inverter.

If you use an inverter with the engine off then you can only really expect your battery to last between thirty to sixty minutes before the battery has been drained entirely. You are then left with a dead battery with no way to start your vehicle without a jump. Even if you do get a jump start and get your vehicle running again you have permanently damaged your starting battery. These cranking batteries are not meant to fall below ninety percent capacity. Letting the battery drain below that will cause damage and shorten the battery’s lifespan.

Now if you wish to use your inverter with your vehicle’s engine on then it is a whole different story. When the engine is on the alternator is running. The alternator provides continuous power to your battery. As the inverter draws power from the battery the alternator works to recharge the battery at the same time. In essence your inverter will run indefinitely until you turn the vehicle off or your engine runs out of gasoline. In my opinion this is the best and safest way to run a power inverter.

Earlier I stated that the standard battery is only good at ninety percent capacity or higher and that they do not last long under a power inverter load. What you can do though is look at installing a secondary battery for your vehicle. This secondary battery will be charged by your alternator just like the other but it will give you an alternative source of power for your power inverter. When going this route it is key that you purchase deep cycle battery as your secondary battery.

Deep cycle batteries are intended for long term usage. They can be used for hours, sometimes even days, at a time. They can fall as low as fifty percent capacity as well. One key thing to mention here is that you will need BOTH a standard cranking battery AND a deep cycle battery. The cranking battery is necessary to start your car and the deep cycle is used to power your power inverter. Another point to mention here is that deep cycles can take a significant amount of time to charge. Because of this some folks will opt for a higher output alternator as well. Remember that both batteries have to be charged by your alternator and if you have a higher output alternator then you will be able to charge both batteries faster.

Installing a secondary battery can be a bit tricky. If you are an experienced tinkerer with vehicles the you should be able to handle it by following this guide that I found. However, if you are no as comfortable working on vehicles then I recommend taking your vehicle into the dealership or a local mechanic and tell them that you want a secondary deep cycle battery installed. If you also already have the power inverter purchased you can ask them to install it as well. Otherwise, you can install it after the fact.

Conclusion

In conclusion folks power inverters are very safe. The only things you have to look out for when running them is that you installed them correctly, you have adequate wattage to handle your needs, that you run the inverter while your engine is running, or if you run the inverter with the engine off ensure that you have a secondary deep cycle battery installed to ensure that your inverter can run for hours at a time.

I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question Marks

Power inverters are a great tool to have around. They can be used in a variety of applications in your vehicles, motor homes, off grid camping, or even in your boat. They all serve one purpose: Providing you with alternating current electricity. This AC energy allows you to power various appliances or electronics that you could normally run at your home or office by converting your vehicle or battery’s stored direct current (DC) energy over to AC energy.

While the overall concept of power inverters is widely understood there are still quite a few questions on the details of using these power inverters. Over the past few weeks we have been writing article after article on the topic of power inverters in an effort to answer all of your questions and to provide a one stop resource for all questions on these great tools. Today’s topic is on how and why a power inverter trips.

How & Why?

Most of us are familiar with the concept of an appliance or electronic tripping an outlet. As an example our kitchens come with standard GFCI outlets. These are the outlets with the red and black button in the center. These outlets protect us from electrical shock by detecting faulty appliances or electronics plugged into the outlet. This also applies if the plugged in appliance is drawing too much power from the outlet. If there is a surge detection the outlet will trip, or shut-off, to prevent any shock to the user.

When it comes to power inverters a similar logic is applied. Power inverters all come with a rated wattage. This is a measurement of how much power or wattage the inverter can handle. Each of our appliances and electronics come with a rated wattage as well. If what you are attempting to plug-in into the inverter exceeds the rated wattage of your inverter then you are going to overload the power inverter. For an example, lets say you have a three-hundred watt power inverter installed on your vehicle. You want to make some hot coffee in the morning so you plug in your six-hundred watt coffee machine. In this example you are massively exceeding the rated wattage on your inverter and will be overloading the tool.

The results of exceeding your inverter’s wattage will be one of two things and it depends if your inverter has a surge protector. If it does NOT then your inverter will keep running in an attempt to provide the required power. If left unchecked this will damage and perhaps permanently destroy your power inverter. This could also result in electrical and possibly fire damage. Be sure to spend a bit more money and get an inverter with a surge protector. It is the smart choice here.

If the inverter DOES have surge protection then the inverter will simply not turn on due to the higher wattage demands. The inverter will try again after a few seconds to see if the load has changed. If it has not, it will shut off. This process will repeat a number of times until the inverter finally shuts off for good. If you wish to restart the inverter after this point you will need to do so manually using the control panel on the inverter.

Most inverters can actually handle a load LARGER then what they are rated for, but only for a small amount of time. As an example, you may be able to get thirty-five hundred watts out of your three-thousand watt inverter but it would only last for a half-hour or so until the inverter shuts down. Each inverter is different though and it is best to check your owner’s manual to see how much and how long of an overload your inverter can take.

This point brings me to the topic of starting watts versus running watts. Most of us are all familiar with the concept of running watts. This is a measurement of how much power your appliance or electronic uses while running. Sometimes the appliance is labeled with wattage use, but other times they are not. If not you can still determine the watts by finding the total amperage draw of the appliance. When you have the amperage number multiply it by the volts which is going to be your standard one-hundred and twenty volt plug-in. So, as an example say you have a five amp coffee maker that plugs into a one-hundred and twenty volt outlet. Five amps times one-hundred and twenty equals out to six-hundred watts. This is the running watt number of the coffee machine.

The concept of starting watts is where it can get a bit tricky. Depending on the appliance you wish to power some of them may require an extra boost of power for them to initially startup. An example of this would be a refrigerator. Refrigerators come with a compressor that starts the refrigeration process. This compressor needs an extra boost of power just to get turned on and started. After a short amount of time, say thirty seconds or so, the starting watts are no longer needed and the refrigerator transitions to a smaller running wattage number.

Because of starting watts many folks have to purchase a power inverter with a higher wattage then they anticipated. There is some good news though when it comes to starting watts. Depending on your inverter you may be able to get away with running an appliance that has a higher starting watt number then your power inverter. Starting watts are only required for a short amount of time and if your inverter can handle the overload for that thirty seconds or so then you should be fine to run said appliance. Be sure to check your inverter’s manual before purchasing so that you know for sure.

Conclusion

To close this article out folks your power inverter will trip or shut-off if the wattage that you have plugged in into the outlet side of your inverter exceeds the rated wattage of your power inverter. This is why it is so important to know your inverters wattage rating and to add up all of the wattage of the electronics or appliances that you wish to power. When shopping for a power inverter it is also recommended to add an additional thirty percent to the wattage number of your appliances. In other words if you need to power that six-hundred watt coffee machine then I would suggest purchasing a eight-hundred, nine-hundred, or one-thousand watt power inverter. This gives you enough buffer room in case you misread the coffee machine label OR if you wish to power something additional at the same time.

Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question Marks

Power inverters are a great tool to have installed on your vehicle rather it be for your car, truck, motorhome, or even your boat. These tools convert the direct current (DC) energy that is produced from your alternator and stored in your battery over to what’s known as alternating current (AC). AC electricity is what all of our homes, offices, and buildings use to power our electronics and appliances. By installing a power inverter you will be able to plugin any of these appliances or electronics right into your car. This allows you to hook up a crock pot, coffee maker, television, laptop, refrigerator, or even power tools. Whatever your need is power inverters can provide you with the electricity!

Over the past few months here at ToughAssTools.com we have been writing article after article on the topic of these power inverters. The goal here is to provide a comprehensive listing of any and all questions related to these tools. In today’s topic we are going to look at the role alternators play when using a power inverter. Let’s take a look:

Power Inverters & Alternators

Before I answer your question lets first go over how your alternators and batteries interact with each other. Most vehicles are outfitted with a standard twelve volt cranking battery. This battery is used to for short bursts of energy and it is what provides the initial power to start your vehicle. When the vehicle has started the alternator takes over for your cranking battery. All electrical needs are now powered directly from your alternator. At the same time your alternator is also charging your battery to ensure that you have plenty of charge for the next time that you start your vehicle.

Now most standard alternators range from sixty-five to one-hundred amps of power. This is a measurement of how much power the alternator can produce. They also typically have wiggle room between ten to fifteen percent. What I mean by this is that you can add additional power demands to your vehicle without impacting your alternator. An example of this would be using a power inverter with an appliance plugged in.

This is where it can get a bit tricky. If you use a large sized power inverter then you could up exceeding that ten to fifteen percent window. This will result in the overloading of your alternator. When this occurs the alternator will do its best to keep up with the demand. When no more power can be produced it will look for alternative sources, such as your battery. We now end up with the reverse of what should be happening. Instead of your battery being charged while the vehicle is running the battery is being drained in an effort to meet your high power demands. This can result in your battery dying on you even while you are driving down the road. This is NOT a good position to be in as you will end up stranded with no way to start your vehicle. Along with being stranded overloading your alternator can also result in shortening its lifespan as well as wasting energy and fuel.

The good news here is that there are alternative solutions. I mentioned earlier that alternators typically range from sixty-five to one-hundred amps of power. If you plan on using a significant amount of power then I would highly suggest that you look at purchasing a high output alternator. This is an aftermarket upgrade to your current alternator. These high output alternators can produce as high as two-hundred and fifty amps of power. In some cases that is two or three times more power then your standard alternator. You also do not need to worry about going TOO high in the alternator size. Alternators only produce the power that is NEEDED. So, if you get a two-hundred and fifty amp model and only need two-hundred amps you will not be waiting energy or fuel by having the two-hundred and fifty model.  These are also not that expensive to purchase. Just make sure to buy one that is compatible with your vehicle. If you are not much of a do-it-yourselfer then I would recommend taking your vehicle to the dealership or a local mechanic and telling them you need a high output alternator installed.

So, when should you consider purchasing a high output alternator? As you know, each vehicle and each application is different so I cannot give you a definite answer here but I can give you a guideline. In my opinion if you are going to be using a power inverter that is at one-thousand watts or over then it will make sense to purchase a high output alternator. If you are under that one-thousand marker then chances are you will fall within that ten to fifteen percent window and will be fine to run whatever it is that you are intending to power.

Power inverters range from just a few hundred watts all the way up to four or even five-thousand watts. The size of inverter is going to depend on exactly what you intend to power with it. Before plugging something into your inverter you should determine exactly how many watts it will use. In some cases the label of the appliance/electronic has a wattage label. In other cases they do not, BUT if you find the total amps or amperage number you can calculate the watts yourself. As an example say you have a coffee machine that takes five amps. All you have to do is take that five amps and multiply it by the total volts. Volts are HOW the appliance is plugged-in. If it uses a standard outlet like most everything does then it uses one-hundred and twenty volts. So, the math becomes five amps times one-hundred and twenty volts equals six-hundred watts. I also recommend exceeding the calculated wattage by twenty or thirty percent to ensure you have some wiggle room.

Another point here is that the more complex the machine the more power it will require. Anything that moves, produces heat, or produces cold will require a lot of wattage. That coffee machine we mentioned earlier uses six-hundred watts. That is quite a bit but that is because of the heater element within the machine. A fifty inch television would only use about two-hundred watts. That is a significant difference and it is because of that heating feature of the coffee machine. Keep this in mind when looking at power inverter sizes. What do you want to power?

Conclusion

To answer the initial question in this article a power inverter that outsizes your alternator can end up draining your battery even while your vehicle is running. If left unchecked you could end up damaging your alternator as well. If you are in these situations the best course of action is to purchase and install a high output alternator. This will take care of you power problems and allow you to continue using the power inverter and whatever appliances or electronics that you have plugged into it.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

Power inverters are used all over the world today as a source of alternating current power (AC). This AC power allows you to plugin and use practically any household appliance or electronic right from the comfort of your vehicle, motorhome, or boat. These power inverters draw their energy by connecting right to your battery and pulling the direct current (DC) energy and converting it over to AC.

One of the many questions we get on the topic of inverters is what size do I need to power X? With electricity, generators, inverters, and all other tools like this the sizing requirements can be a bit daunting. They come in all different sizes and it can be difficult to discover exactly what size you need. In this article we are going to focus our attention on particular electronic, the television.

First, let me start with the good news. TVs often use very little power when compared to other electronics or appliances. The typical rule of thumb is does the appliance make something hot, cold, or have moving parts? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then the amount of power required will be much higher.

A television will typically use between one-hundred to three-hundred watts. This range depends on the overall size of the unit as well as the type of TV it is. For example, plasma TVs will use more power then a standard LCD model. While the one-hundred to three-hundred watt is an estimate it is best for you to discover the exact wattage your specific TV uses. This way there are no open questions or concerns when it comes to purchasing the right power inverter.

In most cases the TV’s wattage can be found on the label somewhere on your TV or in the instruction manual. If you cannot find the total wattage you can also look for total amperage or amps. If you find the amperage number then all you have to do is multiply that by the total volts. Volts are easy as it is just a measurement of the type of plug-in that the appliance uses. So, for example let’s say you have a 1.5 amp television with a one-hundred and twenty volt plug-in. The math becomes 1.5 times 120 equaling out to 180 watts.

By doing this math you can determine exactly what size of power inverter that you need in order to power your television. Note that it is safest to go an additional twenty or thirty percent higher then what you calculated as well. This allows you to have some extra wiggle room and also allows for additional electronics to be plugged if needed. Using this logic we would recommend a three-hundred watt power inverter to power a television. We recommend this product from AIMS on Amazon to get the job done.

The last point I want to mention here is exactly how long you can power a television using a power inverter. This definitely needs to be considered as if done incorrectly it could leave you with a dead battery. I wrote an article on this topic just yesterday that can be found by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

 

Question

There are a ton of uses for power inverters. It could be that you are tailgating outside the stadium of your favorite team and you need power for your crockpot or your television to watch the pregame show. Or, perhaps you’ve been camping off grid but would like a nice cup of hot coffee in the morning. Or, my personal favorite, you are on a long road trip and hooked up a television for the kids to watch while you drive.

Whatever the reason you wish to use a power inverter there are a lot of questions that come with them. These questions range from exactly how they work, how to install them, what size to get, and how long something can run using a power inverter. Over the past few weeks we have been writing article after article on the topic of power inverters. Our goal here is to create a comprehensive source for all things power inverters.

Today’s topic is on televisions. There are many reasons to use a television with your power inverter but one of the most common questions on this topic is how long the inverter will power a television? How much time can you expect before your battery dies? Let’s dive in and take a look.

How Long Can You Run a Television?

Before I can answer your question here we first have to  understand how you plan to use your power inverter and your television. You see there is a big difference of using the power inverter with your vehicle’s engine on or with the vehicle’s engine off. If you are using the inverter with your vehicle’s engine on then that is good news. Let me backup for a moment. Power inverters hook right up to your vehicle’s battery. The power the inverter pulls comes directly from stored direct current (DC) power in your battery. This stored power is created from when your vehicle’s engine is on. When the engine is on the alternator is running and is constantly producing direct current electricity. This DC energy is then stored in your battery.

This is why this question is so critical. If you are going to be running the inverter and television while your engine is on then you will not have any problems. Let’s say you’re on a long road trip and you’ve got the television hooked up as you go down the highway. Every bit of energy that inverter/television pull from your battery is constantly being refilled by the energy produced from the alternator. With this method you can run the television indefinitely, or at least until you turn the engine off or you run out of gasoline/diesel. The alternator takes care of things for you ensuring that your direct current supply does not run out.

Now if we look at the opposite side of this it is quite a different story. If you are at a tailgating event and find yourself wanting to watch the pregame show on a television then you are looking at a different scenario. I imagine in this situation you do not want your car idling while you watch the show. This creates too much noise, carbon monoxide, and it is just overall not good for the environment.

So, what do you do then? If you run the television with your engine off then you run the risk of draining your vehicle’s battery until it is dead. The standard cranking twelve volt automotive battery is NOT meant to power appliances/electronics for long term use. This battery is meant to give you the initial boost of power to start your vehicle. If it falls below ninety percent capacity then you could risk damaging the battery. NOTE that if you do attempt to run a television off of your standard automotive battery then you can only expect it to last about thirty to sixty minutes before the battery dies.

As I said above, it is not recommended to run power inverters off of your standard battery. There is an alternative solution here though folks. A secondary battery can be installed on your vehicle. This second battery would be charged by your alternator just like your standard battery. The big difference here is that this second battery would be a ‘Deep Cycle’ battery. Deep cycle batteries are intended for long term usage. These are the types of batteries you find on motorhomes or boats. They can fall as low as fifty percent capacity without damage occurring. If you run a television off of a deep cycle battery then you can expect MUCH longer run times. Many folks state that their inverter can run a television for up to twenty hours off of a deep cycle battery.

Installing a secondary battery can be a bit tricky. If you are an experienced tinkerer with vehicles the you should be able to handle it by following this guide that I found. However, if you are no as comfortable working on vehicles then I recommend taking your vehicle into the dealership or a local mechanic and tell them that you want a secondary deep cycle battery installed. If you also already have the power inverter purchased you can ask them to install it as well. Otherwise, you can install it after the fact.

Conclusion

Ok folks to wrap this up let’s look at what we have discovered. The first is that if you are running the television while your vehicle’s engine is on then the television can be run indefinitely or at least until you shut the engine off again. If you run the television and power inverter while your engine is off using a standard cranking battery then you can only expect a run time between thirty to sixty minutes. Lastly, if you have a secondary deep cycle battery installed then you can expect a runtime of around twenty hours. All in all it really depends on exactly how you want to run it to determine how long your power inverter will last.

I hope this article was helpful, and thanks for reading.

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com