I'm looking for a high-quality travel gadget, and in the past I've been burned.
Several years ago, I bought an inverter (a cigarette-lighter adaptor to allow ordinary 110v plug-in cords to draw a car's power) for a great price on a mail-order web-site. That inverter turned out to be very low-quality. I never got any real use out of it.
I'm looking around for a new inverter. This time, I want to find a quality product that I can get some use out of. I gave up and walked away after that crummy inverter I bought earlier.
Is there a good brand name to look for for an inverter?
I want to be able to use an inverter to top-off batteries for cameras and camcorders, and possibly other 110v devices such as recharging cordless power tools. I would use this inverter on road trips, and I would probably pack it in a backpack or other luggage, depending on the occasion; it would be nice if the inverter were compact and packable.
The most important features I'm looking for, though, are quality, reliability and durability.
What should I look for?
For the uses you mention here I am not sure I would really suggest an inverter per se?
Most low voltage devices are better charged and topped off with a 12volt power supply dedicated to charge them instead of a dual conversion from 12vdc to 110vac to the charging voltage.
For one thing the charging voltage may already be a dc voltage and inverting to ac and then converting back to dc makes little sense
That triple step conversion is not efficient an inverter is not really needed for this.
If you decide to charge from 12vdc I suggest the Lind as the best for almost anything but almost any charger designed to run on 12vdc should work fine.
If you also need an inverter I have had good luck with the Xantrex inverter line. They make some very portable models that I have had great experience with but look for their modified sine wave models at a minimum to deliver better quality power than most cheapo inverters. Xantrex makes an entire line of inversion and conversion products for everything from portable use to off the grid solar applications to power your whole house.
I also have 2 inverters in my RV but can not remember the brand. They are also modified sine wave and were inexpensive but seemed well built and quiet compared to most of the jumk out there.
I will try to dig one out and get the name for you.
A very interesting analysis. Thank you for the thoughts.
Here are some of the items I'm concerned with topping off while on the road:
- Canon Digital Rebel T3 SLR camera (recently received this as my 45th birthday present; it comes with a 110v AC wall-plug-in charger; I do not know of any DC accessories)
- Canon Vixia HV40 camcorder (HDV/DV tape-based device)
- MAHA MH-C800S eight-cell AA/AAA NiMH battery charger, with 110v power "brick" (recently purchased along with a big batch of Sanyo Eneloop batteries)
- possibly various cordless power tools
Granted, you can sometimes find DC ciggie adaptors for these various devices. It seems that when a DC accessory exists, it is proprietary to that particular device, meaning it won't charge anything else. I'm finding that they're not always very easy to purchase, if they exist at all. The cordless power tools are toughest to find such accessories for, especially if I'm on a volunteer trail maintenance work bee and another volunteer brings along his tools.
The simplest solution becomes a lowest-common-denomentator one: an inverter.
It's not the ideal situation, but it can be an effective multi-purpose one.
I'll keep all of your suggestions in mind, especially the Xantrex one.
I hear you loud and clear.
It is an interesting challenge for sure.
To me the biggest issue is carrying everything around just in case it is needed.
If you plan to use an inverter so you have a universal solution the you still need to carry each devices proprietary charger too.
I have yet to see a decent device that does not have a readily available 12vdc charger though and ebay can come in handy for these. The quality is an unknown but they are really cheap to try in general too.
I have Canon 12vdc chargers for my Camera gear and my Maha Eneloop charger came with a 120vac adapter too but it outputs 12vdc so only an adapter cable is needed to use it that way.
I know for any better Commercial or Industrial cordless tools there are 12vdc chargers available. I use Milwaukee mainly and they certainly offer them.
I have a lot of the same issues and considerations in the Amateur Radio work that I do balancing readiness and practicality can be tricky. Luckily a lot of those devices already operate on 12vdc but making 12vdc available in remote locations is also a huge roadblock in general.
I have nothing to contribute to this thread (other than learning new stuff), but I just wanted to mention that any advice about something like this coming from a person whose username is "AVService," I'm gonna trust!!!! lol