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Can A Power Inverter Run Continuously?

The power inverter is crucial in any truck or RV’s power supply system. It’s responsible for powering a wide range of appliances and devices onboard the vehicle. But with the inverter working so hard, is it safe to let it run continuously?

can a power inverter run continuously

Related: Best power inverter buyers guide

Can A Power Inverter Run Continuously?

Yes, you can run a power inverter continuously for as long as you’d like. These devices have fans and vents that keep them cool, so you’ll never have to worry about them overheating. Still, they draw power from onboard batteries. So, to power your appliances for longer, you must ensure the batteries are also being continuously recharged.

Any issue regarding your power inverter or the overall electrical system can be intimidating to many. But don’t worry! In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to understand your power inverter and manage it safely.

How Long Can You Run A Power Inverter?

You can run a power inverter for as long as you want. Manufacturers design inverters to run indefinitely, so you don’t have any reason to worry about the inverter itself. Your only limitation, however, is your incoming power supply.

You see, there will be no problems if you connect your RV to solar panels or keep its engine running. Doing so will keep the batteries charged and ensure that the inverter receives a continuous power supply. 

Under those conditions, your inverter can help power your onboard appliances for as long as you’d like.

However, your inverter’s ability to run is limited if it only receives power from a running engine or onboard battery.

Simply put, engines eventually run out of fuel, and batteries eventually run out of charge. 

So, you’ll have to be very mindful of how long you run your power inverter using those power sources.

Remember: most deep cycle batteries can only handle discharging as much as 50-80% of their capacity. Leaving your power inverter on indefinitely will drain your battery well past that amount. Frequently discharging too much of the battery will reduce its lifespan dramatically.

Does The Power Inverter Run All The Time?

Your power inverter will run for as long as you’ve switched it on. When the time comes that you don’t want to use it, you can simply shut it off using the same switch.

However, many inverters on the market will go into Standby Mode automatically. When the inverter senses that its incoming power is running low, that will happen. In doing so, it reduces the chances of killing onboard batteries completely.

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Will An Inverter Drain My Battery?

Yes, if you leave your inverter on, it will quickly drain your onboard battery. 

That’s why you must have something like a solar panel or a running engine to continuously recharge that battery. 

Not only will it ensure that your battery never runs out of power, but it’ll also maximize the battery’s lifespan.

Power Inverter Run Time Calculator

As you’ve seen above, an inverter can and will drain your batteries if they have no incoming power.

Still, it’ll take a bit of time for your batteries to drain out completely. That time will depend entirely on how much energy your appliances are draining from your battery.

To give you a better idea of how long it takes to drain your batteries under those conditions, here’s the estimated runtime of different onboard devices. These numbers represent how much time it will take for an appliance to drain a 12V battery down to 50%, typically the safest maximum depth of discharge.

ApplianceTypical Energy ConsumptionRuntime (Estimate)
Lamp40W22 hours
Coffee Machine1200W35 minutes
Vacuum1400W28 minutes
Freezer80W12 hours
Refrigerator120W8 hours

As you can see, your inverter can continue running onboard appliances. However, before your battery discharges 50% of its power, the remaining runtime will depend on how much energy each device uses.

Can An Inverter Overheat?

Under normal conditions, you don’t have to worry about your inverter overheating.

Sure, the inverter will run a little warm. That’s completely normal because the inversion process does create a little bit of heat.

Of course, the inverter will only continue functioning if its fan is still running and its vents aren’t caked in dust. When that happens, the inverter will fail to cool itself, causing it to overheat and malfunction.

Another thing to consider is the placement of the inverter. Typically, you can find power inverters on trucks, and RVs concealed behind a small cupboard door, along with all fuses, circuit breakers, and other electrical components.

Those compartments must also have plenty of ventilation to ensure that components like the inverter do not overheat.

Should I Leave My Inverter On All The Time?

So far, you’ve seen that it’s safe to leave your power inverter running continuously. Of course, the only limitation would be if the battery isn’t receiving any incoming power.

Still, there are several reasons why you’d want to leave your inverter on and why it’s likely better for you to shut it off.

Here are a few possible scenarios to consider:

Reasons To Leave Your Inverter On

  • Maintains settings: Keeping your inverter on means your appliances and devices will also receive power to stay on standby mode. That means those appliances will retain any important settings that you’ve input earlier (like clock or timer settings).
  • Keep fridge and freezer running: In many cases, keeping your inverter on is a must because you’ve got a fridge or freezer full of food. Given the heavy energy draw of such appliances, you’ll want to keep your engine running to prevent your batteries from going flat.
  • Charge devices: Suppose you’ve got a bunch of gadgets like phones and laptops that are essential for work. If that’s the case, you’ll want to let your inverter run to keep them charged.

Reasons To Turn Your Inverter Off

  • Battery drain: When there’s no immediate need for the power inverter, it’s best to switch it off. Or else, it’ll continue drawing power from your battery until it drains completely.
  • Maximize lifespan: Like all devices on your RV or truck, the power inverter has a limited lifespan. You can maximize it by shutting it off whenever you’re not actively using it.
  • Manufacturer recommendation: There are also cases where the inverter manufacturer recommends shutting the device off under certain conditions. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations!

Can A Power Inverter Run Continuously?…Final Thoughts

All things considered, it’s clear that the power inverter plays a crucial role in keeping your appliances and devices powered. It’s perfectly alright to leave the power inverter running continuously.

Still, you must never forget that the inverter gets power from the battery. So, if you’re going to keep it on, be sure to keep your onboard battery juiced up with a solar panel or a running engine as well!

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