prius camping and inverter questions

Discussion in 'Living Life in a Prius' started by taxce, Sep 4, 2021.

  1. taxce

    taxce Junior Member

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    Hi everybody.

    I have always wanted to travel around to national parks, using my prius as a "hotel" along the way, as I travel. Haven't tried yet - because I am still a bit intimidated by the idea. I don't know anyone who has done it and don't have much knowledge about how to do it successfully. Traveling long distances in different parts of the country, how do you reliably locate safe places to park for the night and bathroom/shower access? I know wildcamping is allowed on national forest lands but how do you easily find wildcamping locations when traveling around in an unknown parts of the country? Also, national forest lands tend to be rather remote, and far from facilities like public bathrooms and showers - seems like that could become an inconvenience on a longer trip. If anyone could recommend any good resources for this type of information I would appreciate it.

    Nevertheless, though I haven't made plans for this national park trip yet, I would still like to hook up an inverter to my Prius battery. Seems like it would be convenient even for overnight or day trips in natural areas, and could come in handy when there is a power outage in our neighborhood. Has anyone here hooked up an inverter to their car? What is the best type to get and how difficult is it to do?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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  3. Priusjames

    Priusjames Member

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    Great timing…I came here this morning to post that I’m leaving this morning on a double cross-country trip that will be at least 5,000 miles by the time I get back in October sometime.

    I’ll be posting and streaming to my Twitter (@thepriusjames) and YouTube (priusjames) accounts as I go…both about the trip itself and about the work and modifications I’ve done to the car. Happy to answer questions, probably will be checking/posting to Twitter most often …but we’ll see how my time management skills balance with life enjoyment and take it from there.

    There are some apps to help find places to sleep. In no particular order, here are the ones I’m currently using:
    FreeRoam
    IOverlander
    Gaia
    Avenza
    InRoute
    PublicLands

    Each has strengths/weaknesses, internet searches and experience tells which are good for what. All have free options, for offline/multiple map use GaiaGPS is really considered one of the best to subscribe to. It’s $30/year, so using the free version is great until you’re stuck without cell coverage and realize you need it right then. That’s when I subscribed. Well, after I found my way back to civilization…

    Regarding inverters, easy to do with real basic electric-working skills. Mine is a 2200w (4400 peak) unit from Amazon.

    Feel free to ask questions/comment on the Twitter feed for fastest results (and to build followers to the account I set up for the trip!)

    James 2683CE39-098B-4E8F-8F06-E10C1887C867.jpeg
     
  4. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    one thing about inverters, do not use the included cables. the prius has too much electricity flowing through it. After many sets of wires, 0 gauge wire for my inverter is what solved all of my issues.
     
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  5. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    When he was teaching me to swim and I would fret about how deep the water was, my dad would remind me the idea was to swim on the top.

    The only electricity flowing that matters to your inverter cables is the electricity that flows in your inverter cables, not how much might be flowing anywhere else in the car.

    I'm not questioning the issues you experienced or whether they improved with your 0 gauge wire, but only suggesting a real explanation for them might take a bit more work.
     
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  6. AzusaPrius

    AzusaPrius Senior Member

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  7. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    well, when I realized I couldn't jump-start a Prius with a V8 it let me know these cars have a lot of energy in them, or at least my Pip does.

    on a 2kw inverter using included cables powering a 1700w air fryer, the wires would melt. I have two 85ah batteries with breakers and an isolater. It wasn't until 0 gauge wire could I use all of the power from the inverter without needing to flip a breaker. these days don't turn on the car until the batteries get to around 55% remaining power.

    normal car electronic logic says only worry about "the electricity that flows in your inverter cables, not how much might be flowing anywhere else in the car." but in my experience, normal logic goes out the door with the Prius. It is not just the electricity flowing to the inverter, it's as if the car is smart, don't get me going on what happens when I use the plugin charger and the car appears to control the isolator at its leisure.
     
  8. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    If you had drawn the same amount of power over the same gauge wires in any other car, they would have melted there too.

    Prius is a very innovative car, but did not reinvent physics.
     
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  9. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    I don't claim to know it all, just that in my Tahoe or CL55, sure it wasn't 1700 airfryer but I've used 1500w heat guns without issues like on the Prius.
     
  10. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    It's very hard to say what you were seeing without having been there, but it is definitely possible to say a few things:

    1. whatever you saw, there is an explanation for it, and
    2. the explanation isn't that "normal logic goes out the door with the Prius", and
    3. it isn't that there is "too much electricity flowing" elsewhere than the wires themselves.
     
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  11. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    so in fewer words, you could've just said you don't think I know what I am talking about. since you'd like to play on words let me adjust.

    "too much electricity flowing" = A Prius has high-voltage electrical systems
    "normal logic goes out the door with the Prius" = the Prius has surprised me in regards to the amount of sleuthing I've done on the electrical systems of this car. Specifically, the PiP and my goal of a 50+ mile range battery and CANbus control rear motor. If not normal logic goes out the door, ill say Im still learning the intricacies of this car which are night and day different from what I am used to. I actually miss how my previous BMW's could all be tuned by me with my laptop and obd cable.
     
  12. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Nothing wrong with that—it's what we're all here to encourage it.

    Very true. Your 12 volt inverter isn't exposed to them. But it does have them.

    If I had wanted to say something that broad and personal, I would have said that. That's not what's going on here.

    We've all had moments where something perplexes us, and then we settle on a first explanation that doesn't really hold water. In posts #4 and #7 it was your turn. That isn't any more personal than you want to make it. It happens.
     
  13. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    gonna disagree here, #4 and #7 hold water. I take it you haven't hooked an inverter to your Prius using included cables then powered a device that's just shy in watts of the continuous wattage number by 200-300watts? Nothing perplexes me here, higher wattages require thicker cables. How does that not hold water? :LOL:

    #7 it sounds like we will agree to disagree because your continued use of "Your 12-volt inverter isn't exposed" to point out the obvious just comes across as nitpicking, never once stated... ahh nevermind. your assumptions clearly have you thinking deeper than my words were intended.
     
  14. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Well no, I haven't, because that would melt the included cables, trip the inverter's undervoltage shutdown, or both, as you'll normally find explained in the inverter's own instructions, where it will also have tables of recommended wire gauge by your intended current draw and length of run. I've always followed those tables, which has kept me on the happy side of wire-melting and shutdown-tripping experiences.

    That's quite right, and we would have nothing to disagree about if you had stopped there.

    You started in #4 with:

    as if your cable-ampacity issue has to do with anything in the car besides the current flowing in your cables. It does not. You doubled down on that in #7:

    There is still nothing about the Prius that makes your inverter cable ampacity be about anything besides the current flowing in your inverter cables.

    In #11 you pretended I was playing on words, so you "adjusted" what you said in #4:

    Whichever way you want to say it, the problem isn't with the words, it's with the idea that any extraneous fact about the car has some bearing on the ampacity of your 12 volt inverter supply cables, which depends only on the current through those cables and their ability to dissipate heat. (If you route them through an enclosed space with lousy heat dissipation, they will overheat at lower currents than they would in open air).
     
    #14 ChapmanF, Jan 9, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022
  15. Randy B

    Randy B Member

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    1000w 12v inverters are the maximum recommended for any public use [120a fuse]. But know the car's 12v use also figures into that wattage. Going to a higher wattage 12v inverter puts the fuse, battery and dc-dc converter at risk of premature failure. This will not be pleasant or inexpensive if you are remotely located. Be careful.
    If you want more power, you'll need to connect to the high voltage hybrid battery. Only one company provides this, [my company, full disclosure] PlugOut Power. Its more expensive, but works well at higher power. If interested, look it up.
     
  16. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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  17. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    is there a cliff notes version of this? I'm not getting what you are saying other than you will not step outside of the box or think outside of itfor that matter...

    Either way, it goes, my point... I run dual 2000w inverters, on dual 85ah batteries... simultaneously.. often... no issues... so any ohms law or makers mark that says XZY... I went ABC and appear to have proven XYZ to be more of a guideline than anything. I mean, if you haven't tried it... how would you know something bad will happen? just from reading words? hmmm. I guess that makes sense.

    issa why I have 130a fuse between batt and inverter.
     
  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    That's kind of a new question here, as you quoted me from a post where I wasn't saying anything bad would happen. hmmm.

    One nice thing about the quote feature on PriusChat, there's a little arrow you can click to see what the person being quoted was really talking about.

    What was happening in this thread was that you made multiple posts that spread some woo-woo to the effect that a "prius has too much electricity flowing through it" or "normal logic goes out the door with the Prius" or a "Prius has high-voltage electrical systems", and you claimed therefore a person can't choose cable gauge using the same math that works for everything else in the world from the device you're using to read this thread to the distribution lines bringing the power to you. And that just isn't so.

    When you're choosing the cables to supply your inverter, you need to know the length of your run, the ohms per foot of different wire gauges, and the current you'll be drawing. That'll tell you how much voltage will drop along the wire and how much heat the wire will make, and you match to your requirements accordingly. You do not need to know the phase of the moon, the price of bananas, or whether other things in the car use "too much electricity" or "high-voltage electrical systems".

    You look at the wires you will use to feed your inverter, and the current you want them to carry, and size them accordingly. If you don't like the math, there's usually a table printed right in the instructions for whatever inverter you bought that does it for you, for common lengths and gauges.

    And no, since you asked, no one would use the puny cables that come in the inverter box for anything close to rated power, because those aren't sized for that; the instructions that also came in the box will flat-out say so. If you'll be drawing substantial power, yes, you need to bring your own cables. And if you size those the same way everybody else does, using the tables in the instructions, or the simple math, they'll do the job just fine.
     
    #18 ChapmanF, Oct 28, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2022
  19. black_jmyntrn

    black_jmyntrn Active Member

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    love this! and you hit nail on the head, I've been used to the FB crowd and they aren't aware of these specifics. So my usage of "prius has too much electricity flowing through it" when you try and use an air fryer on the included cables... or even the harbor freight ones someone asked me if they would work... or "normal logic goes out the door with the Prius" when the thought of simply hooking up an inverter to the cigarette lighter to use a cpap... my attempts to have them not think a cpap can run off the wires has me with video clips recorded showing the difference in wire sizes for different applications hoping they would get it... or a "Prius has high-voltage electrical systems", as they relate to the wires included with the inverter still hold weight. going back to analyze my words when the way i wrote them and intended for them to be understood versus the way you understand them while appearing to insinuate i might not be the brightest crayon in the box is funny.

    around these parts, you brilliant minds with experience in the length, thickness, and current values may not know this but there are many out there that just hook the included cables up and think they can run an air fryer as I do...

    maybe the depth at which you are reading my words isn't the direction I was pointing the train so now I've lost time in my life reviewing what the intended message was for my words you feel don't hold water in your thought process, I get it.
     
  20. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Ok, so you're trying to help your readers/viewers understand why they can't run an air fryer or CPAP using the wires that come in the box with a typical inverter.

    Might as well keep it simple for them: the reason is the wires that come in a typical inverter's box aren't adequate to carry the power for an air fryer or a CPAP. They aren't adequate in a Prius or in a Corolla or in grandad's old pickup. The fact of being in a Prius is not any part of the problem. The problem is the gauge of the wires that come in the box versus the amount of power you want them to carry. And your readers/viewers could probably grok that explanation just fine.

    The wires that come in the box are adequate for making a quick temporary connection to a battery and saying "yup, this inverter's not DOA." Also inside the box will be instructions telling you what gauge wire to use for higher power needs. They don't put that kind of wire in the box because copper's expensive and heavy and they don't know the lengths you'll need anyway, so they assume you'll make your own cables up and follow the sizing guidelines to do it.
     
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