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Turn Your Vehicle Into A Generator – A Pick Up & An Inverter

My Pick Up L200 Mitsubishi Double Cap

In this blog I detail the installation and benefits of an inverter into my pick up truck vehicle. In fact I actually install a low and a high power inverter for maximum versatility.

My Pick Up L200 Mitsubishi Double Cap
My Pick Up L200 Mitsubishi Double Cap

I love my pick up truck. The massive versatility I have in it never fails to impress me. That said I also like expanding on that versatility with some cleverly thought out additions. I have had need for such an addition over the last couple of weeks and as such have decided that having mains AC power available inside my truck would be incredibly useful if not essential.

The first time I could have done with mains power was shortly after the pick up’s purchase. Chucked in the back of the Honda CVR I had used to travel to buy the pick up is an old laptop with a new version of Chrome OS installed. This has breathed new life into an otherwise defunct piece of hardware. The only downside is the age of the laptop means the battery doesn’t really hold a charge. The laptop comes in handy when visiting the girlfriend, being called out on quick IT jobs or just needing to kill some time in a coffee shop. However all of these places have mains electricity to power the laptop charger.

After collecting the pick up I wanted to add it to my insurance, something I can do via a website. I fired up the laptop, put my phone in hotspot mode and shortly thereafter, and before I had uploaded the pick up’s details to the insurance database, the laptop died. If only I had a way of supplying mains power to it – I mean after all I have an engine up front of far greater size and power rating than most generators you can buy commercially – and far quieter too!

Along with undertaking IT work I am also an engineer and mechanic and get called out on all sorts of different jobs and having mains power for charging, running and supplying different appliances would be particularly useful and important. I also enjoy taking the girlfriend and her daughter away in the caravan and if we ever end up on a rough camp or hook up free site being able to recharge the caravan batteries and run the electrical appliances, even for short periods of time, would go a long way to swinging the two of them to try remote rough camping! Hair won’t straighten itself don’t you know (apparently).

My mind made up, and not wanting to lug my petrol generator everywhere, I decided on installing an inverter. I have actually decided on installing two. Now you might think this is a tad excessive but actually I have my reasons. I want a 2-300 watt inverter inside the cab which can run on the existing wiring and is the perfect size for running laptops and other similarly sized usage appliances. In the rear tub supplied by permanent and thick gauge copper cable I want a high output inverter for the heavier drain appliances. I don’t envisage a situation where I would need to run the two simultaneously. The larger “tub” mounted inverter will ideally have a 2-3000 watt capacity – 10 times as much as the small cab located one.

With a capacity of 2-3000 watts I can run a lot of appliances that you can run from a standard wall socket in the home with only some particularly high consumption appliances being out of reach like heaters, welders and instant kettles. The ability to run work lights, power a home in an emergency (a typical fridge consumes 70 watts), supply the caravan and run most of my AC tools on the job site gives me all the function of a petrol generator without the weight, noise and excessive heavy lifting required.

A word of caution here is that some inverters are better than others and some produce cleaner waveforms of AC power. If you have certain appliances sensitive to the Sine wave of AC then you need to make sure your inverter is capable of reproducing the AC waveform accurately.

The inverter in the cab needs no further installation than simply plugging into the cigarette lighter inside the cab. My cigarette lighter is only on when the engine is running so they removes any concern over draining the battery when the engine is off – that said most inverters have some form of battery monitoring built into them to prevent such an accidental battery drain.

Having checked my cigarette lighter socket supplies a 10 amp supply at 12 volts I can go ahead and run around a 200 watt inverter without problem. To use, and with the engine idling I simply plug in the inverter to the cigarette socket, plug my laptop into the AC socket on the inverter and switch the inverter on. The laptop should begin to charge and I can switch it on and use it as I see fit.

The larger inverter in the pick up bed requires it’s own cable direct from the battery. This cable needs to be thick enough to carry the capacity required from the vehicle battery and charging system to the inverter. A suitable heavy fused link should be placed close to the battery to protect the inverter and cable from damage in the event of something untoward happening.

The inverter needs to be fixed in place with bolts, screws or some other method of fixing. It also requires good ventilation because the internal fans of the inverter need to remove the excess heat created by the process of the step up transformer contained within.

Once switched on, and again with the vehicle engine running, I can plug in electrical appliances that use up to 2000 watts of power. This is a decent old amount of electricity and would run drills, saws, pumps, lighting and many other useful appliances.

The two inverters I have selected for this installation are below and can be purchased from our shop if you wish to follow suit, but we also stock a full range of inverters in many different sizes and capacities.

My Chosen Inverters

 

Halo Automotive 200 Watt Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Inverter with USB Car Adapter

SNAN 3000W Power Inverter Dual AC Outlets 12V DC to 110V AC