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How to connect an inverter to a car battery

With a power inverter, there’s never a dull moment on the road.

From keeping your DVD player running, laptop, to charging your cellphones and iPads on the go, these devices keep your gadgets going all the time when out there.

Below I will teach you how to connect inverter to car battery to bring life to your road trips, outdoor activities, and more.

How to connect inverter to car battery

Before you even think about how to connect the inverter to the car battery, you have to pick a proper spot to place the device:

Probable options are the trunk, glove compartment, the cab, and more.

Whatever your choice, it’s important that you operate your power inverter from a location that meets the following conditions:

  • Ventilation- Because of the heat produced by power inverters, you should only keep your unit in a properly ventilated site. Check what your owner’s manual recommends on the clearance to leave around your equipment for maximum airflow.
  • Accessibility- For convenience reasons, you want the power inverter where you can easily reach it.
  • Battery’s location- Since you don’t want to use a lot of wire (it can look ugly anyway), it’s good that your ideal location is not that far from the battery’s compartment. You shouldn’t, however, not use the inverter from inside the car’s battery compartment because it can be a fire hazard (think of the flammable battery fumes).  

Locations to keep off

To be clear, here are some locations that you will do well to avoid as far as selecting a location for your power inverter is concerned:

  • On the floor over your car’s exhaust system and other zones that experience temperature extremes such as under the hood.
  • Enclosed areas where moisture may condense.
  • Spots where you’re likely to find combustible fuel vapors.

Excessive heat will shorten the lifespan of your investment as capacitors are extremely temperature-sensitive.

Likewise, power inverters are easily damaged by liquids and you’ll be risking its life by bringing it into contact with moisture or rain.

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How to connect inverter to car battery: Installation procedure

Having settled on the right spot to run our power inverter from, we now turn to the actual installation:

1.     Mount the power inverter

Bring your unit to the car and place it completely flat (or reasonably flat) on the designated location.

Inverters should always work on flat surfaces like the vehicle’s floor.

As mentioned earlier, be sure to allow some space all around your unit.

This helps warm air from the inverter to move out.

2.     Tackle the fuse

Before proceeding with the fuse holder installation, make sure that your inverter is shut down for safety reasons.

Remember that without a fuse, the inverter is prone to problems like a short circuit and it can easily go up in flames damaging, your car in the process.

There are two possibilities here:

  • You were lucky and ordered a unit that has the fuse kit already mounted.
  • Your inverter is not installed with a fuse and you must mount it before completing the rest of the wiring.

If you’re among the lucky group, congratulations! Skip to step 3.

Those belonging to the ‘unlucky’ lot should follow this procedure:

  1. Attach the fuse holder to a secure location close to the battery.
  2. Remove the fuse holder cover, the top nut, and the washers from the fuse posts.
  3. Place the fuse on top of the bottom washer on the two posts.
  4. Fix the connector on the shorter red wire on the fuse end on the post nearest your battery.
  5. Add a washer on top of the connector. Tighten the nut.
  6. Place the connector on the long red wire again on the fuse end of the remaining post.
  7. Again insert a washer on top of the connector. Tighten the nut.
  8. Lastly, replace the fuse holder cover and ensure that you secure the cover either using cable ties or electrical tape.

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Reminder: Your inverter could be different from mine and its best to keep referring to your owner’s manual for the specific steps in your case.

3.     Complete the remaining wiring

The final steps are pretty simple and involve connecting the rest of the cabling.

Correct steps:

  • Attach the positive (+) connector -marked with red- to the positive terminal on your power inverter.
  • Likewise, hook the negative (-) connector -marked with black- to the negative terminal on your power inverter.
  • Connect the ground wire connector to the inverter’s grounding (copper) terminal, if advised so.
  • Tighten the nuts on each terminal until they’re snug.
  • Route the red and black wires to the battery and attach the black to the negative battery terminal first. Note that you’ll connect the red (positive) cable to the battery a little later.
  • Route the ground cable to any bare metal on your vehicle body and attach the other end there. You may even drill a hole and screw it there.

4.     Recheck your connections

By now you’re almost through but you need to be sure that you have made the connections properly.

Go back and review the connections on the terminals, both on the inverter and the battery.

You want to be certain that they’re firm enough-a loose connection could cause the wires to experience heat buildup, potentially damaging your equipment.

The other part you should focus on is the wires/connectors- contact between them and any metal parts can be hazardous.

That’s it!

5.     Finish the installation

The concluding step is the most straightforward…

Connect the suspended end of the red wire to the positive terminal (+) on the battery.

All you have to do now is to turn your power inverter on to see if you have gotten the entire task right.

Hopefully, it works.

How to hook up an inverter to a car battery: Additional safety tips

  • Your car should be off as you perform the described steps.
  • You should never work on electrical systems while drinking, in the rain, or under medication.
  • Disconnect the battery’s positive terminal before you wire the inverter to the unit.
  • Use the recommended cables to protect your system and attain maximum operating efficiency from the inverter.
  • Remove metal jewelry and items like watches to dodge accidents.

These are just general guidelines and the instructions for your device might be slightly varied.

Luckily, most of the inverters have clear installation instructions in the manual and even come with essentials like the cables and fuse kits to simplify the procedure.

Follow what the manufacturer has written along with these tips as you mount the inverter to your car.

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