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Power inverter for Prius

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by livein, Mar 19, 2010.

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  1. livein

    livein New Member

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    I'm looking an after market power inverter for my 2010 IV Prius. What is the largest capacity inverter can Prius use? I am thinking a 150W would be enough to keep the laptop plug-in.

    Thanks.
  2. liskipper

    liskipper Member

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    If all you want to do is power a laptop 150 watts is more than adequate. I believe the maximum current at the cigarette lighter would be 120 Watts (10 amps x 12 volts). Look at your transformer cube - it will probably have the requirement in amps. Multiply this by 120 to get the wattage. Belkin makes a good one that you can pick up in a computer store, or try a Best Buy, West Marine or Radio Shack. A true sine wave output is best, but the newer laptops can get away with a modified sine wave. Plan on spending under $50. It just plugs into the cigarette lighter and has a three prong socket for your laptop.
    Some laptops have a 12 volt DC to DC converter available which is more efficient and would be preferable.
  3. eglmainz

    eglmainz New Member

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    BEWARE: I bought a 150w Inverter, for the same purpose. but each and every time I've plugged in my laptop, I pop a fuse in the Prius. I have been through 4 fuses, and so I stopped using the inverter.

    Instead, if you are only planning on running a laptop, you would be better served by buying a DC power adapter, which will call less energy loss from inversion anyhow.

    On top of that, a DC power cord is usually cheaper to buy too, so you win on both ends.
  4. Retsyn

    Retsyn New Member

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    I ran a 400W inverter with two outlets to charge stuff during the power outages a couple weeks ago. It worked great. It was a cheap black and decker one that cost 40.00.
    It was however kind of loud (the fan). You might want to look into a quieter one if you're going to be using it on a semi-regular basis.
    To be clear: I had a laptop (90W) and and a Portable DVD player (?? W) charging most of the time, so at no point did I actually dry to draw 400W. The 400W inverter was $5.00 more expensive than the 150, so I figured what the hell maybe I'll feel a burning desire to make margaritas in the hatch one day ;)
  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    I haven't put one in my wife's ZVW30, yet. I'm running a 1/1.2 kW, modified sine wave connected to the 12 V battery and it works fine. But it looks like you want to use the cigarette style inverter.

    Your biggest challenge will be 'in-rush' load. Our Mac laptop power supply has an impressive in-rush that can overload the inverter and cause it to draw more current than the cigarette lighter fuse.

    You can solve this by either running a smaller rated inverter or adding a slow-start, termistor to 'soft-start' the laptop power supply. But the thermistor needs a housing because they run hot.

    There are other 'soft start' approaches but all of them require some modification of the power circuit. If you get an inverter that can be 'opened', the thermistor could be put on one of the output outlets.

    Post a photo and we can go over what it takes.

    Bob Wilson
  6. JasonPro

    JasonPro Junior Member

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    I use this 100 Watt from black and decker and it works great with my 85W MacBook Pro. It also has a USB port to charge a 5V device. It was pretty cheap at target.

    Black & Decker Power Tools
  7. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    If you're sure that the laptops are the only power goal, then the DC to DC converters are indeed the most efficient way to go. They also exclude potential concerns that your computer's AC-to-DC might not work well with modified sine wave (typical AC inverter) output waveform.
  8. mainerinexile

    mainerinexile No longer in exile!

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    Wouldn't be possible to tap into the Prius generator directly and have much more than 100W or so from the DC lighter port? Maybe even use your car's generator as a back-up generator for use in an emergency??
  9. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Yes Mainer, and there are some PriusChat threads about it.

    At 12 volts dc there is a maximum of about a kilowatt available on the 'main line' between Prius inverter and the 12 v battery. By taking appropriate precautions, several Prius have been successfully tapped in this way.

    At the traction battery, 5 kilowatts or more are available. This is a much more technically demanding task, and google PriUPS to read the pioneering work there.
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