Power Inverter Installation - The Right Way
If you already know what size inverter you need and what type of inverter is right for your application, please skip this post and move on to the next one regarding installation.
There first thing you need to know when deciding to install a power inverter is how much power you are going to need and what type of power you want to supply. When determining how much power you will use, you should make a list of everything you think you will ever plug into your converter. Next, take that list and jot down which items you expect to run simultaneously off your inverter. Now, take each of the items you plan to have running simultaneously and read the pertinent power information from their respective power supplies. Total the aggregate wattage information and multiply that number by 1.5 to get a ballpark Wattage range. Let's say you plan to run a Rigid Dual 18v Battery Charger (240W), your Dell Laptop (90W) and a 100W lantern for camping. You would be running 430W of continuous power. You would want at least a 600W (430*1.5=645W). If however, you think you will be doubling your inverter as a home generator in the case of a power outage, or if you are in construction and use it with a lot of power tools, you may want to think seriously about stepping up to the highest wattage you can afford.
The next thing you want to consider is the type of inverter you need. There are 3 different forms of power that inverters output (at least the 3 most common). They are:
Square Wave Inverters: ($20 for a 300W on eBay) Cheapest Inverters on the market, limited capabilities, high interference and incompatible with some electronics. They also smell like electrical burn which I cannot stand. DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE IF YOU PLAN TO DO ANYTHING REQUIRING MORE THAN A 300W SOLUTION! YOU WILL REGRET IT. For small jobs and the occasional cigarette adapter plug in, these will work fine to charge your camera battery or plug in the occasional laptop (though I wouldn't plug anything of value into one of these).
Modified Square Wave Inverters: (Also called Modified Sine Wave Inverters though that's a bit dishonest): ($40 for 300W on eBay) Make no mistake of it, a modified sine wave inverter is NOT a Sine wave inverter - it's just a marketing ploy that shouldn't be allowed. They are still a square wave inverter with a couple extra breaks in the wave, they just cost twice as much and are a little bit better than their cheaper adversaries above. My advise to you is to NEVER PURCHASE ONE OF THESE INVERTERS. There really is no point. The performance gains you receive from these inverters is not worth the extra investment. If you want a step up, you need to go with the Pure Sine Wave inverters.
Pure/True Sine Wave Inverter: ($100 for 300W on eBay) These are the real thing. If you want to get the best performance and the cleanest electricity, these are the only way to go. Electricity produced in your home is supplied in the form of a true sine wave. These inverters are the least likely to damage your electrical equipment and are compatible with the majority of electronics. They also cause the least interference with your radio when in operation (a big must for me). They will still cause interference with AM Radio, but all inverters will do that. However, if you have a 400W Square Wave Inverter running and compare it's interference with that of a 400W Pure Sine Wave Inverter, you will see what I'm talking about. Also, if you take a 150W Square Wave Inverter and plug in a 100W light bulb, you will watch it flicker. If you plug that same light bulb into a 150W Pure Sine Inverter, it will shine as smooth as butter. Hands down, these inverters are the safest and best inverters out there. If you are going to be plugging anything of value into your inverter, a Pure/True Sine Wave Inverter is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Also, if you are going to be hard wiring your inverter for a permanent installation or if you are going to be running anything over a 300-400W system, a True Sine Inverter is a must.
Now that we know which inverter size we need and the inverter type, on to the important part: Installation...