Can you run a 300W power inverter in a Prius?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by Fin, Sep 1, 2020.

  1. Fin

    Fin New Member

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    I am looking for a power inverter to charge my MacBook on the road. Will a 300W Power Inverter do the job? I notice the 12v port says 120W max.

    Will a 120W power inverter be enough to charge my computer?
    Will It charge slower than a 300W?

    Thanks!!
     
  2. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Last I checked, laptop power adapters tended to be around 90 watts, maybe 120 tops. Have you checked the rating on the adapter supplied with your MacBook?

    You can plug an inverter of any size into the car's 12v port, but if you end up drawing more than 120 watts from it, eventually the fuse will blow (the sooner, the further over 120 watts you go). People put larger inverters in Prii all the time, but those are not being plugged in to the 120 watt ports.
     
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  3. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    #3 Salamander_King, Sep 1, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
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  4. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    Sure, you can plug in the inverter and use it. Just be careful not to go over 120 watts, including any possible start-up surge. Beyond 120 watts, you need to wire the inverter directly to the 12v battery with an in-line fuse.
     
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  5. Fin

    Fin New Member

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    Gotchaa, so if I bought a 120W max, then it shouldn't blow a fuse?
     
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  6. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Both will work fine and if you connect the inverter direct to 12v you can go up to 1000w...

    Alternatively, most laptops have an accessory on Ebay that allows you to plug your 12v cigarette lighter plug direct to laptop, which might be a better price.

    Laptops are powered by DC or direct current and so is your 12v system on your car.

    Your laptop charger however runs on 110 AC or Alternating current then converts that to DC for the laptop...

    So an inverter would convert 12v DC to 110 AC and then your laptop would convert 110 AC to your laptop voltage's DC again, so an inverter isn't as straightforward, unless of course you have other 110v AC stuff you want to power.
     
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  7. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Laptops are typically looking for an input around 19 or 20 volts DC though, which is not what your car has, so even the laptop-specific adapter for plugging in to the car's 12 VDC supply is still going to internally make AC out of that and then present it as the different DC voltage to the laptop. So it isn't that much simpler.

    At which point, getting a commodity inverter that produces a standard 120 VAC starts to look nice, because it isn't just locked to powering that laptop.
     
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  8. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    Correct.
     
  9. Ed Beaty

    Ed Beaty Active Member

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    I second Prius Camper (above). I'd also try to avoid an inverter altogether if at all possible. Since you can get very good 12V power supplies for your car for charging a MacBook (they are 85W), why not keep it simple and use one of those.

    If you do choose to use an inverter, be sure to do a search for 'Pure Sine Wave Inverter vs Modified Sine Wave Inverter' before obtaining one. Modified Sine Wave inverters (they are cheaper) might damage your MacBook.
     
  10. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    The thing is, since the MacBook needs a different voltage than 12, the 12V power supplies for a MacBook are internally not really simpler than an inverter ... but you can't use them for anything but the MacBook.
     
  11. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    As I commented on above, if the OP's Macbook is newer models with USB-C PD input, the simplest and cheapest and probably the safest method is to use a USB-C PD 12v car adaptor. It can power almost any newer mobile gadgets from iPhone to Nintendo Switch to Chromebook to some PC laptops.

    According to Apple, any post-2015 Macbooks are equipped with USB-C input port. (Newer than 2016, they are called Thunderbolt 3 but it is backward compatible with USB-C.)

    Identify the ports on your Mac - Apple Support
     
    #11 Salamander_King, Sep 6, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  12. jacktheripper

    jacktheripper Active Member

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    Just last week we have this power outage in my neighborhood for days, and thanks to my Prius I am the only one with lights and Netflix for days in this terrible fire + COVID19.

    This is my setup, home-made 12v Lithium battery hook up to 2000Watt inverter with 8AWG cable.
    I run it at 800~1000 watt constant for my 2 fridges and WiFi router for 2+ days. I should be able to go higher than 1000w for a short period of time, then the inverter won't be able to keep up and drained the 12v battery.

    upload_2020-9-11_17-54-26.png

    upload_2020-9-11_17-53-52.png
     
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  13. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    USB-C PD makes life so much easier. 1 plug to rule them all !!!

    It is so convenient, you can even run direct DC to DC. In other words, a powerbank can now output directly to your computer. That's much more efficient than using an inverter to convert DC to AC then AC back to DC again.

    btw, the portable monitors can run from USB-C PD too. In fact, I have one that's 4K which can draw power from a powerbank. It's quite nice having devices no longer directly dependent upon a plug anymore.
     
    #13 john1701a, Sep 11, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
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  14. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Very cool... Always impressed with the quality of your equipment. What's the digital readout on the inverter indicate? Does that mean it's producing 220v AC? OR is it saying something else?
     
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  15. jacktheripper

    jacktheripper Active Member

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    The display switching between voltage, Amp and some other information, we were in a power outage + 100 degree situation so didn't read the user manual fully :p

    The inverter is from Amazon, supposed to be "pure sine wave" but I can hear buzzing from my Samsung TV, it works but I don't think the power is pure, just good enough to get me through a mini disaster.

    stay safe everyone !!

     
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  16. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    The line between pure sine wave and modified sine wave has never been more blurry...
     
  17. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    PD is nifty technology - the device announces what voltage it needs and the supply produces it, up to 20 V at a maximum of 5 amps, or up to 100 watts of power.

    But again, because it has car twelve-or-thirteenish VDC coming in, and something-else VDC going out, it isn't really more efficient than converting DC to AC and back to DC again. Why? Because it's doing that.

    It can be a bit more simply built, as the AC it's using internally doesn't have to match any standardized frequency or waveform; it just has to be good enough to drive the DC output stage. But under the hood, all the pieces of "DC to AC and back to DC again" are still happening.

    A 'scope might unblur it pretty quick.
     
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