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Thread: Wiring inverter to charge controller/battery?

  1. #1

    Angry Wiring inverter to charge controller/battery?

    Here is what I have right now:


    I have a 60w panel hooked up to my charge controller (http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI...ht_2492wt_1270) in the first two terminals. My battery (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001G8AJ92/...2T1_SC_3p_dp_1) hooked up to the second two terminals.

    I'm a little confused with what to do with my inverter (https://www.cobra.com/Manuals/CPI880_MANL.pdf). I thought I can just hook up the alligator clamps to the battery directly and it should work fine (ignoring the last two load terminals on the charge controller). When I tried doing that, the inverter will turn on, but it will give a burst alarm sound (alarm_pause_alarm_pause etc.) When I try plugging something in, it turns to a constant buzzing.

    Before turning it on the charge controller load light will usually flash green and the second battery red light will be lit. When I turn on the inverter both die and take a while to come back on.

    How am I supposed to be connecting it? This is a refurbished inverter, so that might be the issue. Also, as a side question, does the battery level mean how much charge the 12v battery has, with all 3 indicating fully charged? The manual is pretty bad

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by sultan316 View Post
    I'm a little confused with what to do with my inverter (https://www.cobra.com/Manuals/CPI880_MANL.pdf). I thought I can just hook up the alligator clamps to the battery directly and it should work fine (ignoring the last two load terminals on the charge controller). When I tried doing that, the inverter will turn on, but it will give a burst alarm sound (alarm_pause_alarm_pause etc.) When I try plugging something in, it turns to a constant buzzing.

    Before turning it on the charge controller load light will usually flash green and the second battery red light will be lit. When I turn on the inverter both die and take a while to come back on.

    How am I supposed to be connecting it? This is a refurbished inverter, so that might be the issue. Also, as a side question, does the battery level mean how much charge the 12v battery has, with all 3 indicating fully charged? The manual is pretty bad

    Thank you
    The inverter must be connected directly to the battery terminals. It will have to be able to draw high current from the battery. Typically the load terminals on a CC will deliver power to an optional non-battery load when there is more power available on the input terminals of the CC than is needed for battery charging. But to be sure, you have to depend on the bad manual of the CC.

    An inverter will often blink its fault light when first connected to the battery. And it may make what some would consider a loud humming (120 Hz) when delivering power to a load. But the fault light should not come on again under load, unless the inverter is defective, the battery or wiring are inadequate for the load power, or the load is greater than the inverter was designed for.
    A clicking buzz, with the fault light coming on or flickering is bad.

    The battery is described as a 35AH AGM (absorbed glass mat) unit, which should be able to provide 10 amps or more for a short term with low resistance. That would give you enough for about 80 watts out of the inverter. What are you using as your test load?
    If the battery indication (three LEDs on the CC) means what you suspect, the battery is nowhere near fully charged in the picture and should not be loaded down until you have charged it fully.

    If you are adventurous, connect the inverter to your car battery to test it.
    Last edited by inetdog; 07-15-2012 at 03:46 PM. Reason: added more....
    SunnyBoy 3000 US, 18 BP Solar 175B panels.

  3. #3
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    To pile on, there is no way you can run a 800 watt inverter on a 50 AH AGM battery. The AGM battery can only supply roughly 10 to 15 amps to a load for a very short period of time. A 800 watt inverter needs 70 amps at full power.
    MSEE, PE

  4. #4

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    thanks for your responses guys but wait let me get this straight. I purchased this inverter just on the off chance I want to build more panels, so I wouldn't have to get another inverter. I found this one for decently cheap since it was refurbished and figured why not. Are you telling me that it won't work with what I have right now (battery and CC)?

    Also I haven't brought the panel outside to charge, just because its heavy and I don't want the hassle of moving everything with it, but I've got it right under a fairly large window for the past 36 hours probably and the battery level hasn't really changed. When testing with my multimeter it might say about 13V. I expect outside it should get the desired 18-20 or whatever volts it needs.

    So if you guys are saying my wiring is correct, what do you suggest I do? get another inverter? I'd really rather not since this whole project is just a hobby, not a serious procedure. I'm not sure how fond I am about hooking up to my car battery haha

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sultan316 View Post
    I purchased this inverter just on the off chance I want to build more panels, so I wouldn't have to get another inverter. I found this one for decently cheap since it was refurbished and figured why not. Are you telling me that it won't work with what I have right now (battery and CC)?
    An inverter will have a certain minimum power consumption internally, which is higher for larger inverters. Its best efficiency will be somewhere from half its rated load on up.

    For the battery you have, that large inverter is wasting battery power and will allow you to plug in larger loads than the battery can handle.
    Once again, what are you using for a test load on the inverter?
    SunnyBoy 3000 US, 18 BP Solar 175B panels.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by inetdog View Post
    An inverter will have a certain minimum power consumption internally, which is higher for larger inverters. Its best efficiency will be somewhere from half its rated load on up.

    For the battery you have, that large inverter is wasting battery power and will allow you to plug in larger loads than the battery can handle.
    Once again, what are you using for a test load on the inverter?
    Ahh that makes perfect sense. Didn't think the bigger inverter would make too big of a difference. I was just using my 60w soldering iron as a test. I didn't want to try my phone charger just for the off chance something goes wrong (phone>>soldering iron)

    Should I have gotten something like a 400w inverter?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sultan316 View Post
    Should I have gotten something like a 400w inverter?
    With the battery and panel you have now can only support a 150 to 200 watt inverter.

    Panel wattage, charge controller, battery, and inverter all need to be matched up to work with each other. Think of a VW Bug engine in a 18 wheel tractor trailer. Not going to end well or work very good. You go about a mile and th eengine lets out the magic black smoke and never starts again.

    For a 12 volt AGM battery here is a general rule of thumb. For each 10 AH of battery can run 30 watts of inverter.
    For a 12 volt flooded battery for each 10 AH of battery can run 15 watts inverter.

    There is also another catch. Panel wattage and battery size. We won't go into that now, but let's just say based on your current panel wattage and battery, you are stuck with a 50 AH AGM for now until you get more panel wattage.

    Try this experiment. Connect a hair blow dryer to your inverter. One with a low, med, and high heat switch. Start on low for a minute. Then go to medium for a while. Bet you when you go to medium the inverter will shut off after a minute or less. You did not overload the inverter. The battery just cannot deliver that much power, and the inverter tripped off from under voltage from the battery.

    JUST KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE WIRE between the battery and inverter. The insulation may melt off and the wire may catch on fire.
    MSEE, PE

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunking View Post
    With the battery and panel you have now can only support a 150 to 200 watt inverter.

    Panel wattage, charge controller, battery, and inverter all need to be matched up to work with each other. Think of a VW Bug engine in a 18 wheel tractor trailer. Not going to end well or work very good. You go about a mile and th eengine lets out the magic black smoke and never starts again.

    For a 12 volt AGM battery here is a general rule of thumb. For each 10 AH of battery can run 30 watts of inverter.
    For a 12 volt flooded battery for each 10 AH of battery can run 15 watts inverter.

    There is also another catch. Panel wattage and battery size. We won't go into that now, but let's just say based on your current panel wattage and battery, you are stuck with a 50 AH AGM for now until you get more panel wattage.

    Try this experiment. Connect a hair blow dryer to your inverter. One with a low, med, and high heat switch. Start on low for a minute. Then go to medium for a while. Bet you when you go to medium the inverter will shut off after a minute or less. You did not overload the inverter. The battery just cannot deliver that much power, and the inverter tripped off from under voltage from the battery.

    JUST KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE WIRE between the battery and inverter. The insulation may melt off and the wire may catch on fire.
    Ahh it's hard to even find some good 200w inverters. I'll just keep looking I guess and try to sell my 800w. As for the experiment, I can't even run anything off of this. Like I said before, when I turn it on a rapid, pulsing alarm comes on (fault like off, but power light lit green), but if I try connecting anything to it then the fault light turns on and the alarm turns into a loud, continuous alarm. Regardless it doesn't work. The fan will start for literally about 1.5 sec and then turn off.

  9. #9

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    Does this seem like a good inverter with a good price?: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Whistler-PRO...ht_798wt_1037?


    There's no alligator clamps or anything like the Cobra one I have now though...



    ahh nvm just found a picture of the back on Amazon. All of the 200w inverters I'm finding are all meant to be plugged into the car cig lighter.

    Sorry I keep editing this same post, but I don't want to keep creating new posts. I found one that should work, but it only has one outlet: http://www.ebay.com/itm/CyberPower-C...#ht_1444wt_905.

    I found the same one as the first one, but this one actually shows the back and it shows the positive/negative terminals http://www.ebay.com/itm/Whistler-PRO...9babc7&vxp=mtr. Not sure if I want to take the risk of the other one being only a car inverter

  10. #10

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    Ok so I talked to the seller of my inverter and he said the only thing he can exchange my current inverter for is for a 400w one since he doesnt have anything less. That's not going to work at all huh?

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