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  12 volts to 110 volts--is it safe?

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Author Topic:   12 volts to 110 volts--is it safe?
Highwater posted 05-16-2002 03:45 PM ET (US)   Profile for Highwater  
I recently purchased a 300 watt PowerVerter from Tripp-Lite. When plugged it into a cigarette lighter, it provides 100 volts.

Initially, it blew the 5 amp fuse that is on one of the wires from my battery to the cigarette lighter. The PowerVerter has a 30 amp fuse so I replaced the cigarette lighter's 5 amp fuse with a 30 amp fuse.

Now it works great but I am worried that I might melt the wires going to the cigarette lighter if they were not designed for that much amperage. Does anyone know what gauge wire I should be using?

Also, is it safe to run 100-volt appliances on a Whaler? Should I be using a special circuit breaker like the ones that are found in most new homes' bathrooms?

Thanks for the advice.

Highwater posted 05-16-2002 03:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I mean 110 volts, not 100 volts.
triblet posted 05-16-2002 05:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
30 amps is going to need about 10 or 8 gauge wire,
all the way, both wires. The chart's in the
West Marine catalog, which is, of course, at
home. It's also a function of wire length.

30 amps may be more than the lighter plug and
socket can handle.

Be careful about what you run on it. SOME
electronics don't like the "modified sine wave"
output of most inverters. There are a few
true sine wave inverters.

It's called a GFCI (ground fault circuit
interrupter) and should be on ALL new home
bathrooms and outside outlets, maybe kitchens
too. And a real good idea in the garage.

where2 posted 05-17-2002 01:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Before you run anything for too long, find out what your sort of output your engine produces. I know my '85 70Hp OMC only has a 6A alternator. If I have the running lights on, then I have less than 6A to recharge the battery with. Afterall, the engine needs some of the 6A just to run itself, the gauges, the power trim, etc.
Highwater posted 05-17-2002 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Thanks for the suggestions. How do you recommend I measure the engine's electrical output?
triblet posted 05-17-2002 05:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Read the manufacturer's specs. It should be
in the owner's manual, or service manual.

What motor (Make, year, size)?


Highwater posted 05-18-2002 01:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
The engine is a 1987 40 hp Johnson. It is on a 1972 13' Sourpuss.
thebone12 posted 05-19-2002 05:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for thebone12  Send Email to thebone12     
just hard wire it and you will be fine, the cigarette plug can not handle it,
Highwater posted 05-19-2002 08:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
The device is designed to be used with a cigarette lighter so I am hesitant to cut off the male plug and hard wire it to the battery. Are you saying that while it would work fine in an automobile, marine cigarette lighters are inferior to automotive cigarette lighters?

Also, I am hestitant to hard wire it because I only want to use it occaisonally (like to use a blender for an afternoon drink on a sandbar) and I want to be able to connect it and disconnect it easily. And I still like to use it in the automobile when I make landfall. And then there is the safety issue--if it falls into the water or a big wave comes into the boat, I want to be able to yank the cord and disconnect it quickly. Does this make sense to those of you who are experienced with marine electronics and safety?

andygere posted 05-19-2002 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
A cordless blender may be a simpler way to make a few beachside margaritas. They work quite well, and you can make a lot of them on a single charge if you start with chipped or shaved ice. I would imagine that the inverter would drain your starting battery fairly quickly, and it's hard to make a decent drink while underway. Even if your boat was idling at anchor, the charge output is less than the 6 amps it puts out running at speed.
Landlocked posted 05-20-2002 10:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     
I have a similar inverter and have had no problems. I typically use it with my lap-top in the car but it works just fine making margaritas on the boat. If all you are going to do is run the blender for 10-20 seconds + a few bursts to finish it off, I wouldn't worry about it. Feel the wire with your hand. If it starts getting hot, shut it down. I think you would only encounter problems if you had an appliance running continuously.


where2 posted 05-21-2002 01:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
1987 40Hp can't be any more than the 1985 70Hp I have which is rated 6A. For blendering, you're just pulling off the battery anyway, because you mentioned you were on the sandbar mixing drinks. In reality, if you had a 1" socket welded to the bottom of the blender pitcher, you could just stick it on top of the outboard flywheel and mix'em that way. I've seen a gas powered "Tail Gate Party" blender. It looked like part of my weed-eater.
Chap posted 05-21-2002 04:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
I posted this elsewhere when necessary for clarification.


sorcerer posted 05-21-2002 04:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for sorcerer    
Inverter to 20 amp AC fuse to a standard, as Chuck mentioned 110v GFI duplex outlet with weather tight cover, a 12v lighter socket isn't rated for 110v AC you'll eventually smoke it especially if your using a 30 amp DC fuse for protection. At present you have a fire hazard might want to keep some hot dogs handy for a barbecue.... ;;)
Highwater posted 05-21-2002 04:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
That gas-powered blender looks neat but it is a bit large for my 13' and it costs $300. I hope to use a $10 model that I may find at a yard sale.

I actually do plan to always have something plugged into the cigarette lighter. For instance, I have a laptop that can get a charge from either 110 or 12 volts. I have Nobletec charts and the DeLorme road maps on the laptop, and I plan to use it with a GPS that will be connected via the USB port. I have purchased a Hoodman to keep the glare off of the screen, and have velcroed the laptop to the bench to use on my upcoming trip down the Intercoastal Waterway in Georgia and Florida. All of this will run on 12 volts. I was assuming that I could do this without getting a second battery. Is the worst case scenario that I am stranded with a dead battery or do I risk harming my engine by always drawing off power through the cigarette lighter? Thanks for the advice!

Highwater posted 05-22-2002 06:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I now see that Overton's has two models of 12-volt blenders for sale (one for $50 and one for $110), as well as a 12-volt coffee maker ($30). So there is no reason for me to use 110 volts on the boat. Thanks to everyone for your input.
ShrimpBurrito posted 05-31-2002 01:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
A gas-driven 2-stroke blender? Unbelievable. I would have thought for sure that by now, it would be 4-stroke. :)
Whalerdan posted 05-31-2002 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whalerdan  Send Email to Whalerdan     
I wouldn't use that laptop on a 13ft boat, especially around saltwater. I left my cell phone sitting on my console (montauk) on a windy day and the salt air ate it up. I think it would be cheaper in the long run to by a marine gps with charts.
Landlocked posted 06-03-2002 10:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Landlocked  Send Email to Landlocked     

I'd have to second Whalerdan's advice. I use Delorme's TOPO USA and TOPO Tennessee all the time for work hooked to my GPS. Works great. I've even carried the setup by back pack into remote areas when doing endangered species surveys. The weak link is the laptop. They just are not made for field or on the water use.

I heard on NPR that there was a water resistant laptop developed for the military coming available to the general public but the cost was something like 5G. I think you'd be better off with a chart plotter.

When on the water, I disconect my Magellan Map 410 from the laptop, load the map region of interest from either the marine or land CD and go to it. The Map 410 is out-dated but last weekend it put me right on the buoys leading into Pensacola Pass. Wasn't over 10' off.

Magellans newer unit the Meridian series starts at less than $300 and is even more accurate with WASS capability. The maridian also has up to 32mbyte of download storage and a lot more accessory program's/maps available. I've used a friends and love it.

If you go ahead with the laptop, let me know if you have trouble getting Delorme to work and I'll try and help. Most problems are usually related to the NMNA setting on your GPS.


DCPeters posted 06-03-2002 11:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for DCPeters  Send Email to DCPeters     
I'm glad you'll avoid the inverter and having the 110v circuit on the open sea. It's too easy to make a circuit with potentially hazardous voltages.

I'd wager that the wire to the socket is 14 or 16 and not sufficient for 30 amps. Also, in my experience, the socket gets corroded with unuse. (My last boat had a neat gizmo, a cup holder that secured into the socket..seemed a good idea since I didn't use it for much else.)

Also the warning about the laptop seems on the money for me. My Nokia phone bit the bucket last month with only a tiny splash.

It might have survived if I had shut it off immediately. Instead, I thought it was ok and a few minutes later it squealed out it's death rattle. A new phone is fairly painless, but a notebook cpu is pretty pricey.

LAst comment....have you seen the sportTrak Pro from Magellan. Perhaps they'll finally get back into the market...they were sold last year and are reinvigorating their product range. I've got a 410 also, but might try one of these...

Tom W Clark posted 06-04-2002 01:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
For the boater with a rope start motor and no battery who wants a blended drink onboard:
DCPeters posted 06-04-2002 08:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for DCPeters  Send Email to DCPeters     
I wonder what the gear ratio many crank rpms do you have to do to get 7000RPM of the blades!

Highwater posted 06-04-2002 11:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
Thanks for all of the suggestions. Laptop use on a 13' seems to be generating a lot of discussion, and as it only tangentially relates to the 110 volt thread, I will start a new thread to address that topic. Thanks.
ShrimpBurrito posted 06-04-2002 12:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
On the topic of electronics biting the dust on the open seas, my cell phone took one for the team last year after getting very slightly sprayed. After that, I've gotten several Pelican cases to keep such electronics, as well as my wallet. They're crushproof (you can stand on them) and waterproof, and they remove all worries of stuff getting damaged from the salt/water. They're also standard issue on Coast Guard patrol boats. There are a bunch of places online where you can buy them, but the best prices I've seen are at:
where2 posted 06-04-2002 12:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
I think to get 7,000 RPM out of the blades, it must look something like the winch on my trailer when I leave the cable attached and let the winch spin free as I unload the boat! Wizz-zzz-zzzzzzzzzz...

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