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Thread: How should I be wiring up my inverter?

  1. #1
    Newbie Wilco's Avatar
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    How should I be wiring up my inverter?

    I decided to set up something a bit more permanent than just plugging my inverter into the cigarette lighter, but I'm running into some problems.

    I basically cut the connection to the cigarette lighter socket, and spliced in a longer cable. I cut the plug off my inverter and spliced it onto the other end. At this point, there should be a net change of 0, since all I've done is removed the plugs from the equation and added about 3' of length.

    This is where the problems start. Now, when I turn on my inverter (with the engine running, and a full 14v of power coming from the alternator), my inverter beeps and my dome light pulses (it briefly dims every second or so). Does anyone have any idea why this is happening? There's an indicator on the inverter that flashes whenever there isn't enough power, or when there's too much power - but I can't tell which.

    Should I just avoid the cigarette ligher alltogether, and wire it directly to the car battery somehow? I'm open to any advice/suggestions!

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate billmee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilco View Post
    I decided to set up something a bit more permanent than just plugging my inverter into the cigarette lighter, but I'm running into some problems.

    I basically cut the connection to the cigarette lighter socket, and spliced in a longer cable. I cut the plug off my inverter and spliced it onto the other end. At this point, there should be a net change of 0, since all I've done is removed the plugs from the equation and added about 3' of length.

    This is where the problems start. Now, when I turn on my inverter (with the engine running, and a full 14v of power coming from the alternator), my inverter beeps and my dome light pulses (it briefly dims every second or so). Does anyone have any idea why this is happening? There's an indicator on the inverter that flashes whenever there isn't enough power, or when there's too much power - but I can't tell which.

    Should I just avoid the cigarette ligher alltogether, and wire it directly to the car battery somehow? I'm open to any advice/suggestions!
    Did this inverter/power source work in the past?

    Did the inverter beep before?

    Can you verify the thing is not wired backasswards?

    Can you reverse the operation ( unlike a labotomey ) ?

  3. #3
    Newbie Wilco's Avatar
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    Question

    -- Did this inverter/power source work in the past?
    Yes, before I started I tested it just in case something like this ended up happening. Everything checked out fine before.

    -- Did the inverter beep before?
    Only when I plugged in my laptop with an uncharged battery (charging the battery and running the laptop was just too much - either/or would work fine). Right now I have nothing plugged into the inverter.

    -- Can you verify the thing is not wired backasswards?
    I tried reversing things and it wouldn't power on at all, so I'm fairly certain it's wired correctly now.

    -- Can you reverse the operation ( unlike a labotomey ) ?
    Yes and no, I cut off the plug for the inverter (that plugged into a cigarette lighter socket), so I could splice that back on. But the cigarette lighter socket already had a short in it and was blowing fuses, and I also cut that out (so splicing it back in would only create a short).

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate billmee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilco View Post
    -- Did this inverter/power source work in the past?
    Yes, before I started I tested it just in case something like this ended up happening. Everything checked out fine before.

    -- Did the inverter beep before?
    Only when I plugged in my laptop with an uncharged battery (charging the battery and running the laptop was just too much - either/or would work fine). Right now I have nothing plugged into the inverter.

    -- Can you verify the thing is not wired backasswards?
    I tried reversing things and it wouldn't power on at all, so I'm fairly certain it's wired correctly now.

    -- Can you reverse the operation ( unlike a labotomey ) ?
    Yes and no, I cut off the plug for the inverter (that plugged into a cigarette lighter socket), so I could splice that back on. But the cigarette lighter socket already had a short in it and was blowing fuses, and I also cut that out (so splicing it back in would only create a short).
    I think you have some voltage drops at the splices and maybe on the additional legnth of wire(s).

    What is the gauge of the added wire?
    How did you splice it in?
    Can the inverter power (without beeps) some really puny ac device like a night light?

    Only thing ...this does not explain the dome light you got me stumped there.

  5. #5
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    My first instinct is to ask how you made your connections. Did you solder them properly? did you use butt connectors? did you just twist and tape? did you use home style end caps?

    and fyi - I don't suggest just trying things electrical in reverse, it's not a very good idea.
    Jan Bennett
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  6. #6
    One Sharp Cheddar ThunderStick's Avatar
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    Ok you tried reversing your connections. (gasp) Is it possible you are using to small of a circuit? Also just to make sure. Check your fuses, make sure they are not loose. Also if you found a short in the wire to the cigarrete lighter it is possible that wire has been burnt and the integrity of the wire has been severly degraded. I would use a different power source all together and nix the cigarrete lighter wire. In fact I would pull the fuse on it to ensure no power to the shorted wire. Just to be safe.
    Connect your inverter directly to the battery (of course fused and using an adequate cable cable gage, probably 10 or 8 gague will be fine). Computers can suck a lot of power and inverters them selves are pretty taxing on your power system. Adequate cabling is probably your problem. If you hooked up your inverter to the laptop and you got alarms from the inverter it was probably trying to pull too much power through the little wire on your cigarrete lighter. Or possibly you fried your inverter by pulling to much juice.
    (1) Connect directly to a fully charged battery
    if that doesnt work
    (2) Replace inverter
    If it did work
    (3) Bigger cable directly from battery
    Most cars power systems were not designed to handle heavy power loads on the cigarrete lighter adapter. I guess I just can't say it enough, correct wiring is essential.
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