GM Volt Forum banner
1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few days ago we had a 9 hour electricity interruption at my house (along with several other million Southern CA residents) and I used the Volt's 12 volt battery with an inverter to keep my Discus fish happy in their tank during the 9 hour event. I remember reading somewhere that the 12 volt battery gets charged from the lithium pack but I don't know how often it does the charging. So I powered the car on every hour for about 10 minutes just in case the car had to be turned in to recharge the 12 volt battery. Does anyone know when the Volt charges the 12 volt battery?

I had an almost fully charged battery pack when I started using the inverter and when the power was restored, the Volt had lost about 3 miles of range parked in my garage. I was very happy with the Volts ability to do this. The wattage draw of the tank pump and heaters is as much as 250 watts, however because the room temp was already warm the tank heaters didn't need to turn on very often to maintain the 84 degree water temp.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
I'm also curious about this. I have a 180 gallon saltwater tank and would like to use the Volt when I get it as a backup source. I tested a regular car with an a 400watt inverter and it failed. It failed to even run one of my pumps. However the inverter I had was really cheap and I suspect that was the issue because one pump is less than 60 watts.

What brand inverter would you recommend. I'm thinking I should get at least 1000watts. Thanks,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,632 Posts
Does anyone know when the Volt charges the 12 volt battery?
pauldon's pointer is a good one, but the short answer is "when the car's turned on." For what you were doing you should have just turned the car on, turning off the A/C, radio, headlights, and if you wish (I did, I was in the same blackout) the center display. Then just lock it and walk away with the fob in your pocket.

It'll probably draw a bit more total energy from the HV battery that way, compared to your "turn it on every so often" method. But the cost of a dead 12V battery is a car you can't start any more without a jump.

The wattage draw of the tank pump and heaters is as much as 250 watts, however because the room temp was already warm [ed: ya think? :- )] the tank heaters didn't need to turn on very often to maintain the 84 degree water temp.
That I'd be a bit worried about. What size inverter were you using? The power outlets in the Volt have 20 amp fuses. If you were to try to draw 250 watts for very much time at all (especially with the DC-DC converter turned off because the car is off) I'd think you'd be really risking blowing a fuse. If you can split the load into two inverters, the dash PO has one fuse, the other two POs share a fuse...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,791 Posts
You have to add up the wattage of everything you plan to run, but the important thing is that you use a true sine wave inverter.. the AC motors in the pumps need it, the heater probably does not care. Double the wattage on motors to account for starting surge, hopefully.

http://www.energyigloo.com/ac_power_inverters_energy_info.html

BTW, computers and laptops run fine on "dirty" inverters, but old style electronics with transformers or AC motors need a sine wave inverter. Any wallwart (older types, heavy with a transformer) need a sine wave, some of the newer ones, very lightweight, without a transformer are fine with the cheaper inverters. For your aquarium pump application it is critical not to burn up a motor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,791 Posts
That I'd be a bit worried about. What size inverter were you using? The power outlets in the Volt have 20 amp fuses. If you were to try to draw 250 watts for very much time at all (especially with the DC-DC converter turned off because the car is off) I'd think you'd be really risking blowing a fuse. If you can split the load into two inverters, the dash PO has one fuse, the other two POs share a fuse...
A better bet is to hook up directly to the battery with clamps, any inverter 300 watts and up will come with large alligator clamps. At a 1000 watts you should be using large #00 cable with welding lugs, and attach directly to the battery posts. How many amps can the DC-DC inverter in the Volt supply to keep the battery charged?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,957 Posts
I'm also curious about this. I have a 180 gallon saltwater tank and would like to use the Volt when I get it as a backup source. I tested a regular car with an a 400watt inverter and it failed. It failed to even run one of my pumps. However the inverter I had was really cheap and I suspect that was the issue because one pump is less than 60 watts.

What brand inverter would you recommend. I'm thinking I should get at least 1000watts. Thanks,
Many motors require a true sine wave inverter. Excel tech make excellent line of inverters. You can see them here
http://www.solar-electric.com/exsiwain.html
A 600 watt inverter with 1100 watt surge support can be wired into the extra 100 amp fused box location. This is a project I am considering for this winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,632 Posts
A better bet is to hook up directly to the battery with clamps
And

A 600 watt inverter with 1100 watt surge support can be wired into the extra 100 amp fused box location.
I agree with solar_dave. A better bet would be to hook into the extra 100 amp fuse spot provided by the Volt.

How many amps can the DC-DC inverter in the Volt supply to keep the battery charged?
WOT said the output of the DC-DC converter (*not* inverter) is 175 amps. I don't know if that's 12V or 13.5-15V or what. And this is also why I say if you want to use the Volt as an emergency supply you should leave the car on when you do it. Running straight off the AGM battery is just a lose situation all around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,957 Posts
Hooking directly to the battery requires a very solid connection, not like jumper cable. Also you need to fuse the connection to the inverter, otherwise any short is a huge fire risk at those levels of draw. 600 watts at 12v is 50 amps.

Safer to use the 100 amp fused connection in the fuse box, and a 600 watt with 1100 watt surge is as big as I would go. In any case make sure you used heavy enough cable or that will be a fire risk as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,165 Posts
I've not popped open the hatch for the fuses.. but how does one "use" that? Is there a place to connect it to an inverter? My big inverters have a 12v plug and terminal clamps, neither of which I can see to use use in the fuse area.
Can one of the accessory plugs be rewired/rerouted to use it? Do I get a raw accessory plug and wire it in somewhere?

I may use it for running some experiments where I'll have cameras and a few big computers (servers) in the field for a few hours..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
How about a relatively small generator? I have seen Harbor Freight* carrying a coupon for a $279 generator rated at 3450Watts. A good sine wave inverter for 12V to 1000/2000Watts is about $100. Both serve a good utility but the generator is "gas and go". They also have a small 800/900W model (2-cycle motor) that could run the tanks and heaters (same unit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m18Q-dzJcHg). My wife hates the small generators because they "make too much noise". Well, we just trashed more than a refrigerator full of food after Irene with no generator here.

* Harbor Freight carrys mainly products made exclusively in China and if you want to consider US-made stuff, it's out there but typically more costly.

Motors and tools using DC motors need the Sine Wave inverters as solar_dave mentioned. Most generators product sine-wave output since a lot of construction sites use generators for their tools.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,632 Posts
I have seen Harbor Freight* carrying a coupon for a $279 generator rated at 3450Watts. A good sine wave inverter for 12V to 1000/2000Watts is about $100.
Looking at their web site, the Harbor Freight 1kW $99 inverter is modified sine, not pure sine. Looking at the generator owner's manual, as much as I see in it is a caution that some devices require a pure sine output (and thus need something else).

On my quick looks today I'm seeing 200W pure sine inverters for $100, 700W PSIs for $300, and 1kW PSIs for $400. Putting a .7kW inverter in on the 100 amp fuse *should* be mostly OK if you're careful with high surge devices. I think the 1kW would require some thinking on device start up control.

I haven't checked to see if the bigger inverters will fit in the "trunk" yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thanks for all of the great responses and information regarding my post about this. The inverter I have is 750 watts with a peak wattage of 1500 watts. It only has battery clamps so I connected it directly to the Volt's battery. I will leave the Volt on continuously the next time I need to do this so the 12V battery will stay charged. I would like to get a small gas powered generator but I figured that I would need too much gas to keep it running for a long period of time like the 9 hour blackout we experienced. Where do you get gasoline when most gas stations are closed because of the power outage?

BTW, I just checked my inverter and it does not appear to be a pure sine wave inverter. I don't know if I damaged the pump motor. It seemed to work fine on the inverter and afterward. How do I know if I damaged it? There are actually two pumps. One is an air pump that supplies air to an air stone and the other is a circulating pump for the filtration system.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
We had a 45 gallon freshwater tank a few years ago and had power outages of 1-2 days at times, without backup power. Fish made it through well. Some fish will be more prone to trouble than other and why not help them out with a good backup power supply. The smaller 4 cycle generators don't use too much gasoline but depending on situation, if you have a house/shed you can keep a 5 gallon (or more) reserve gasoline out there for many uses (mowers, generator, snow blower, etc.) If you have an apartment or other situation where no gas can is needed, the inverter/Volt idea seems good.

I found a chart with Litres used per hour based on Wattage (general estimates, of course it varies).
2500W 1.13L/hr 3500W 1.9L/hr 5500W 2.7 L/hr

Smaller is better for gasoline usage for such a generator if it is for small applications.

I mentioned some prices for inverters above that were from eBay, not Harbor Freight. The prices I gave were mainly for the generators from Harbor Freight. Blackouts are never expected so most people are not entirely prepared. Most automobiles can use their 12v battery for some inverter solutions so the Volt isn't too unique in this area. I carry a 140W inverter in the car for charing laptops and phones. You can't go much higher than that off the 15A fuse from the lighter socket. Anything above 200W should be clipped or bolted to the battery.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
4,885 Posts
Here's what I just bought last week:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WGNNUQ - Pure Sine Inverter, 1000W/2000W surge
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001550DVU - 4AWG Cable Set
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002YE2S0 - Negative Battery Terminal
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CIK9SS - Crimp Terminals

I will wire the inverter using the 100amp fuse or more in the back hatch by the battery + terminal, as described here: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread...ystem-to-audiophile-quality&p=66551#post66551

The negative end will go directly to the battery using its terminal with the above negative battery terminal. I will use the inverter only with the car on, when I need it as a backup source of power.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,957 Posts
I would watch how much you load up the 1000 watt inverter on the 100 amp fuse location. You are at about 85 amps at 1000 watts at 12v, with the surge you are way over. That is why I suggested a 600 watt with 1100 watt surge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,632 Posts
Is there a reason you went with the Sunforce inverter, over something like the Xantrex PROwatt SW 1000? I haven't researched the innards any, but the Xantrex is a little smaller and has a better chance of being stored/stowed someplace in the car. They're close to the same price.

As solar_dave says, you're going to have to be really careful switching in loads since you're so close to the fuse limit. To help there I've been also looking at the Xantrex 600 watt unit, or the Sinergex PureSine 2 700 watt unit. The Sinergex 200 watt unit looks like it may be a nice fit for the power outlets, if you're careful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
When wiring the inverter through the unused #4 100 amp fuse on the Volt fuse block, is this meant to be a permanent inverter installation? If so, where do you put the inverter in the Volt when not being used? Is there a safe way to wire the inverter through the #4 fuse so it can be removed from the car when it isn't being used?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
317 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here's what I just bought
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001550DVU - 4AWG Cable Set

The negative end will go directly to the battery using its terminal with the above negative battery terminal. I will use the inverter only with the car on, when I need it as a backup source of power.
The cable set you ordered has two black cables and one red cable. The Amazon description says that the second black cable is for a chassis ground. Does the inverter need to be grounded to chassis and connected to the negative battery terminal?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,632 Posts
where do you put the inverter in the Volt when not being used? Is there a safe way to wire the inverter through the #4 fuse so it can be removed from the car when it isn't being used?
*That* is the next big question on the list! My thought was it goes under the rear deck, but obviously the tray that's in there won't fit any of the inverters talked about so far. Under the tray? Remove the tray and install the inverter? In any case, by guess is if it goes under the deck, the deck'll have to be raised for operation (air flow).

If the inverter install is relatively permanent, there's also the question of the quiescent power draw...
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top