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Thread: Where to put the power inverter...

  1. #1
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    Where to put the power inverter...

    So I just got a new vehicle; 2005 suburban. (2000 - 2005 body style tahoe/suburban/yukon/yukonxl)
    I am now trying to figure out where to wire my power inverter. hmmmm....
    In my previous vehicle (acura RL) I had it wired underneath the spare. Unfortunately the run made it difficult to run adequate wire and I could only get enough wire for a 300w inverter. I would like to run a 2000w inverter this time around so that I can run tools off of the inverter (that was part of the original goal with the acura, the 300w inverter fell short by a long shot.) Running a large enough cable to the back of the suburban (longer distance) would require a much larger cable and be much more difficult.
    Im interested in running it in the engine bay then running 120v back into the truck where I need.
    I have the immediate issue of where to put the power inverter in the engine bay (does anyone know of a good spot?).
    But once I get it there, am I going to run into issues with heat and such?
    Can anyone think of a better spot for the power inverter?

    The power inverter wont work under the seat (i know this is the first option =p). The front are power seats, mid are captain that would end up folding down onto the inverter, and the rear seats are removeable. Wherever the inverter goes, the suburban needs to be able to obtain its ability to be a suburban (fold seats down for storage, etc.)

  2. #2
    Raw Wave
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    Alas it's pretty much up to you.

    Ideally all electronics and batteries etc should be in the cabin because that's generally the cleanest, driest and coolest else most moderated environment.

    For an inverter, the engine bay (ie, near the alternator) is good because of the shorter heavy gauge requirement. But it means higher ambient temperatures (generally each 10C/15F else 15C increase doubles electronic failure rate) and a contaminating environment. It might require a longer AC run thru firewalls etc, tho unlike domestic AC it should not be a hazard for a single sided fault (ie - inverters should have isolated outputs that are floating aka independent of input DC +ve & -ve), but an RCD (Residual Current Device) can be used on the inverter output.

    The boot/trunk is usually the 2nd preference after the cabin depending on cable requirements, but they can be the hottest location on average in hot climates (solar heating; no ventilation).

  3. #3
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    I realize the heat failure rate issue. But I thought it was heat failure while the device was running.
    You said average temperatures (and italicized it, so I image you're making a point there, lol). Are you speaking of when the device is running or over the lifetime of the device.
    IE, if I put the inverter in the trunk (cargo area, bed, boot, w/e you call it) of the suburban it will have a higher lifetime average, but when its actually running the ambient should cool off relatively quickly. However, if I put in the engine bay, the reverse is true; lower lifetime (more air circulation when the truck isnt running) but its going to get a lot warmer when the engine is on.

  4. #4
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    My 1500w inverter is on the rear cab wall of my crew cab so long runs certainly are feasible. I ran the heavy guage down from the battery to the frame rail then along the frame rail and up through the floor right below the inverter. I have done this on 4 of my trucks from back in 99 all the way up to my current 07, all high mile applications in harsh winter weather and suffered no ill effects. Maybe you could find a spot on one of the side panels in the rear cargo area?
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

  5. #5
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    I was thinking about that, the passenger panel is taken up by the rear HVAC system (blower stuffs) but the drivers side is mostly clear. Unfortunately that leaves me running the length of the whole suburban (22ft) and across.... conservatively were calling that 25ft-30ft of run. For 2000w thats going to be a large cable.
    What cable did you end up using when you ran the 1500w inverter? and How long was the run?

  6. #6
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    I personally would not put in engine bay unless you put the inverter in an enclosure. Most inverters I have seen or used are not element tight. You risk having the unit get splashed with water/snow/salt/grease/oil/ect. Then there is the extra heat element produced by the engine in the enclosed space under the hood. I would run 2 or 4 gauge wire directly from the battery to where ever you put the unit. You should also be aware that 2000watt inverter will draw big time on your battery, if an older battery it will definately shorten it's lifespan. If you want to power tools from your vehicle depending on how many or what tools you will be using I think you best bet would be a portable generator, much more dependable and won't leave you stranded on site should you deplete your battery. Putting the inverter in an enclosure will require some thought as to size for ventalation, ease of access to plug in your tools ect. Good luck and only my personal opinion SNO

  7. #7
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    I figured out the issue with tools and battery drain.
    Realistically I won't be using the truck as an on-site generator (we have a generator for that) its more of the on-site "I need to plug this in for a short time" generator. Like when you're building something out of wood then realize "crap I need to cut this metal bracket and my only metal cutting blade is on the 110v saw". Instead of having to leave, go to the barn and get the generator, come back, start it up, figure out its out of gas, send someone to barn to get gas, realize they got diesel and send them back for "no not that gas can", etc. etc. etc. Then you can just turn the truck on, plug the saw in, make the cut and keep it rolling.
    In terms of the battery; the suburban has a secondary battery install location; going to utilize that with a deep cycle to run things. I also have a loose plan for an extra set of 12v lights on the rear and capability to hook the radio up to the secondary battery. But all that is small gauge compared to the inverter. The point being, the inverter will pull from a seperate battery than the truck's start up battery. So it should not leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. (The batteris will be seperated via isolator).
    I have a smalll roll of 2 gauge wire (like 25-30ft) but I'm not sure that will be enough. As you said 2000w its a chunk of power to be pulling through the cable for that distance.
    Its the reason I'm looking for opinions before I start chopping everything up ^_^.

    It sounds as if I'm going to end up running the wire to the back of the car =/

  8. #8
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    Do you have the center console in your truck? Your truck has the same chasis as my Avalanche and if you have a center console there is a lot of room inside the console. Assuming you have the console pull up the drink holder and you will see the console has a large open area under it. This might be an option. My truck has the bose sound system and I guess the console is part of that package since the sub is in the front of the console and the amplifier is under the storage compartment. But there is a "hidden" area under the drink holder.

    I am moving my BOSE amplifier to the area in front of the compartment so I can put my PC where the BOSE amplifier is. In my setup I am considering putting a fan in the rear of the console to get air moving through the console. It has HVAC piping as well so I am considering cutting a hole in this piping to allow for an air source to cool the PC off. Even if I have the heater on the air is cooler than the air off the PC so it would cool it. I would assume the same for an inverter.

    An issue of mounting the inverter in a sealed container is that it needs air movement and a sealed container will likely not provide that. There are weather proof inverters available that you could use. You can also pick up the 2nd battery tray from GM if you don't already have one. Might be a decent place to mount your inverter if you do it under the hood. This would put a tray on the rear of the passenger fender.

    One thing to be aware of. Inverters do a poor job with inductive loads such as power tools. Especially things like drills and saws when they are under load. We have a 1500W and 2000W inverter in work trucks. They were installed to power our ventilation systems for confined space entry but they tried to size them bigger than needed so they could use powered tools. What they have found is they just do not work well. They tripped out all of the time when under load so they now carry wireless tools and just power the chargers off the inverter.

  9. #9
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have it figuired out as to what you want out of it and for what purpose. Could you not get away with a smaller unit say a 1500watt (should be fine for a 7 1/4 saw) Anyhow you only need to run 1 run of that cable to the back and use a small length for negative frombattery to a good bare metal spot on the frame then at the back use the another small piece of that 2 guage from bare metal on frame to inverter. your 30ft roll might just do it. SNO

  10. #10
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    From my understanding the things underneath the center console should be the amp (directly under the storage container) and the subwoofer (forward of the cup holders). This was changed in 2003 from a rear subwoofer (in the driver rear cargo area) to its current position.
    Having a look; I dont see much usable room.... here are some pictures i snapped.
    there is a molex cable running through the pictures, I planned on running 120v to the center console, so the cable is already in place (i had to do some work with the dash off, so it was the right time to do it.)
    Heres a top down image
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    Gives you an idea of what im looking at. The wires in the center there could be re-routed without too much work, but that little area is about 4x4x10? not much room for an inverter

    Back of the console
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    the metal bracket that is shown supports the center storage area, underneath the bracket is the amp for the bose system.

    Front of console area
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    I think this is the subwoofer. That black "pipe" to the top left of the image is the blower for the feet warmer. I apologize for the picture on this one, not much room for the camera.

    Length picture
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    This convenient little channel runs down the length of the center console. Not much room to put larger things, but a great way to route wires.


    Int he first picture there is the black plastic molding (the one with the hole & chalk writing on it). After poking around I have no clue what is in there. It seems to be part of the larger frame of the center console so im iffy about chopping it up without an idea of what is underneath there. Guess you could say I'm just not as courageous as others around here.

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