Modern technology is just amazing, and this has never been more true than in the case of the mains voltage inverter. All you need is a car battery connected to an inverter and Hey Presto! You have mains voltage available without the need of any moving parts!
Before inverters were readily available to the public, it was necessary to use a bulky petrol generator to produce mains voltage. This was, and is, okay on a building site, but not good on a camping site, or on your boat except where there is no choice.
When inverters were first commercially available they were incredibly expensive and inefficient. Those days are long gone. Modern inverters are compact and far more efficient than they ever were before.
The system I have on my boat is simple and straight forward and can be easily duplicated on your boat, motor home or even your house!
The system, in my case, is like this.
1 – A decent battery set fitted to my required mains power usage. The batteries are, and must be, 'deep cycle' or traction type batteries. They are capable of deep discharge and recharge. Engine starter batteries are an absolute NO! They are not fit for this purpose.
2 – An inverter beefy enough for the power I intend to draw.
3 – Since we normally have shore power available I have a 'smart charger' to ensure that my precious batteries are kept at optimum charge and condition.
4 – My engine has a high output alternator output so that when we cruise we can recharge both the starter and domestic battery banks quickly.
5 – In our case, because we usually have a shore power connection when on our mooring, we also have a device, manufactured by the German company Siemans, that flips from mains power to inverter power in the event of a shore power failure. This happens so fast that neither of our computers, or the television, even notice the change.
The Siemans switch is important because mains power and inverter output, though at the same voltage. May be at slightly different frequencies and so should be isolated from each other to prevent damage.
Although my own main interest is in boats, the system itself will work anywhere. This also includes the use of solar panels both on the boat and especially at home.
I mentioned above, and must stress again, that an absolute key to the success of your experience with independent mains production using an inverter, will only produce long term acceptable results if you use the correct batteries. Starter batteries and 'so-called' starter / leisure batteries do not have the ability to cope with repeated deep discharge and recharge. The architecture of your car's starter battery, though similar to deep cycle batteries, is not the same as that of real deep cycle batteries. Both battery types are there to do a specific job. The starter battery provides a 'burst' of high energy for a short time. A deep cycle semi traction type of battery, is meant to supply energy far more slowly but over an extended period of time. Golf buggies and electric fork trucks are perfect examples of proper deep cycling. You charge it through the night and spend all the next day gradually discharging it. This happens repeatedly, day after day. A starter battery, used this way will be dead in a very short period of time.