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Inverter help for Boat parade decorations.

Old 11-25-2020, 09:54 PM
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Default Inverter help for Boat parade decorations.

Electrical calculations are out of my realm. We registered our boat in the annual night boat parade and i dont have a genset. So Im thinking of using an inverter with LED lights to decorate the boat. These are going to be 110v style string Christmas lights. What size inverter do I need? 45 foot boat....so lots of lights?

Would this work?
https://www.harborfreight.com/2000-W...BoCHPYQAvD_BwE
Old 11-25-2020, 11:24 PM
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To properly answer, we'd need to know what the power draw is of the christmas lights. They can vary between LED and incandescent, etc.

2000w is likely overkill but where are you going to place it?

Its really simple math...

Last edited by mystery; 11-26-2020 at 08:01 AM.
Old 11-25-2020, 11:49 PM
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If they are all LED'S that should be plenty of inverter. Bigger issue will be getting the install right, batteries, and alternators. Depending on what you have it might all be good already, or you may need to do a few things. Givevsome more details if you want more precise help.
Old 11-26-2020, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Aliboy View Post
If they are all LED'S that should be plenty of inverter. Bigger issue will be getting the install right, batteries, and alternators. Depending on what you have it might all be good already, or you may need to do a few things. Givevsome more details if you want more precise help.

One dedicated house battery charged by two 502 Mag Mpi motors with their own start batteries. Im thinking of wiring up an inverter inside the engine room to the house battery and running a heavy gauge extension cord up to the deck. From there, make the recipe for every Firemans nightmare with a bunch of extension cords powering LED string Christmas lights. Im only half way kidding, but LED's are low draw and they will only need to be powered for about 3 hours. Im figuring the alternators can handle the load because Ive ran the boat with a large fridge, interior/exterior lights and a decent stereo system running full blast for hours and hours without depleting the house battery. All of those 'normal run' items will be shut off at the breaker panel for this boat parade cruise. My biggest question is how much of a drain an inverter is on a charged battery. I guess that depends on what I plug into it correct?

Would wiring the inverter to a Start battery be a better idea? Or scrap the whole idea and go with battery powered LED lights since thats a thing now?
Old 11-26-2020, 03:36 AM
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You can NOT mount an inverter (especially some sketchy harbor freight model) in an engine room. Almost all inverters are non ignition protected. So please scrap that idea of mounting location.

I would actually scrap the whole inverter idea and go the 12v LED Christmas light route. For one 3 hour boat parade, it makes little to no sense (time and money) to properly install an inverter.

Use these suckers:
https://www.christmas-light-source.c...ite-green-wire

plugs into 12v cigarette/accessory socket. Each 10ft strand draws 0.01 amps. they say you can run 30 10ft strands in series due to having male/female ends. 300 ft of Christmas goodness should be good on a 45fter.... right?
Old 11-26-2020, 06:42 AM
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This should be plenty.


https://www.harborfreight.com/750-wa...ter-66817.html
Old 11-26-2020, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Onebadlarry View Post
You can NOT mount an inverter (especially some sketchy harbor freight model) in an engine room. Almost all inverters are non ignition protected. So please scrap that idea of mounting location.

I would actually scrap the whole inverter idea and go the 12v LED Christmas light route. For one 3 hour boat parade, it makes little to no sense (time and money) to properly install an inverter.

Use these suckers:
https://www.christmas-light-source.c...ite-green-wire

plugs into 12v cigarette/accessory socket. Each 10ft strand draws 0.01 amps. they say you can run 30 10ft strands in series due to having male/female ends. 300 ft of Christmas goodness should be good on a 45fter.... right?
Originally Posted by captbone View Post
Ahhh.....'Not ignition protected', thats the kind of info I am looking for. I do have a compartment outside of the engine room that is about 3 feet away from the batteries AND well ventilated that I could temp mount an inverter. So as long as I run proper gauge wiring to an inverter, that could work. And yes, Im also looking into battery (AA batteries etc) operated light strands. String everything up via zip ties and test them out a couple nights before, then replace the batteries the night of the parade.


Below is a rough concept. Run blue lights on the bow rail in the shape of waves, make various fishe outlines out of rigid wire and attach led rope lights to the fish frame, then dangle them off the bow rail. Put an unlit mast in the cockpit table leg and run fishing line from the top of the mast to various spots on the bow rail. String yellow/white twinkle lights so simulate a canopy of stars. Maybe a couple of blow up palm trees in the cockpit. Make it a floating island. Use led lights with battery packs for the fishies, plug in led rope lights for the waves and stars.

Wife wants some sort of theme........lord help me.

Old 11-26-2020, 07:58 AM
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If you are handy, you can make up some 10ft leads for the inverter and put it on deck.
Old 11-26-2020, 08:08 AM
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You're making this way too complicated. LED Christmas light use very little power. The "bulbs" are less than a watt a piece. If you run 500 feet of lights with a light every 6 inches that's less than 250 watts. Most any tiny little inverter that plugs into a 12 volt "cigarette lighter" should power that. 250 watts is only about 25 amps of draw on 12 volts. If your parade is only 3 hours that's 75 AH. That won't deplete most house battery banks even with the engine off.
Old 11-26-2020, 08:09 AM
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Buy or borrow a little Honda generator.

Put it up on the bow but for the love of God strap it down - don't ask how I learned that what should be an obvious lesson.
Old 11-26-2020, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by KD4UPL View Post
You're making this way too complicated. LED Christmas light use very little power. The "bulbs" are less than a watt a piece. If you run 500 feet of lights with a light every 6 inches that's less than 250 watts. Most any tiny little inverter that plugs into a 12 volt "cigarette lighter" should power that. 250 watts is only about 25 amps of draw on 12 volts. If your parade is only 3 hours that's 75 AH. That won't deplete most house battery banks even with the engine off.
Thank you for the math. Im not good with the numbers.

Originally Posted by Tawn View Post
Buy or borrow a little Honda generator.

Put it up on the bow but for the love of God strap it down - don't ask how I learned that what should be an obvious lesson.
No generator due to noise and proximity to the crowd. Plus we will be playing Christmas music so we dont want competing noise levels.
Old 11-26-2020, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by KD4UPL View Post
You're making this way too complicated. LED Christmas light use very little power. The "bulbs" are less than a watt a piece. If you run 500 feet of lights with a light every 6 inches that's less than 250 watts. Most any tiny little inverter that plugs into a 12 volt "cigarette lighter" should power that. 250 watts is only about 25 amps of draw on 12 volts. If your parade is only 3 hours that's 75 AH. That won't deplete most house battery banks even with the engine off.
The above is certainly workable--but I would caution that many "cigarette lighter" type plugs are fused for 10 amps. @ 12 volts. Also the wire may not be of suitable AWG size to safely sustain a draw of 25 amps.

The OP seems to be fixated on 110 V lighting, and it is certainly possible. But you are converting the 12 V DC to 110 V AC, and then the "ballast" in the LED's convert it back to 12 volts or some other DC voltage. There can be a problem with modified sine wave inverters (MSW)--and you won't know it until you try out the rig. If you have light which change color or flash, there is more likely to be issues with the MSW inverter The cheap HF inverter is a modified sine wave. There are several ways of "smoothing out" a MSW inverter in low wattage, one is an isolation transformer, another is to use a universal power supply. This gets a bit more complicated and "messy". Or you can use a pure sine wave inverter...

1000 LED lights will consume about 70 watts. Count up the number of LED lights, and multiple x 2 to give yourself a safety factor. There is a very handy device called "Kill -A Watt" Meter, which you plug into the 110 V AC socket and it will read: amps, watts, cumulative watts over a period of time, and Frequency of the power in Hz. Costs about $30, and very useful in a boat. There are also various digital volt meters which do have clamp around transducers for DC power draw.

Be sure that you use adequate size wiring (Remember to calculate the size based on current draws and "round trip": double the distance because of both positive and negative wiring). Tables for wiring size are atBlue Seas Web site, explanation and table for wiring and fuse. Be sure a properly fuse any wiring and beware of safety issues. Tape the wiring down with "Gaffer's tape". Use Zip ties when along railings--use wires to support the LED strings, not just the LED strings themselves.

Amazon has colored stings of 300 Lights in 16 feet 12 volt DC strings for $10 to $12 per string. (These are tapes, and useful later in the boat for aisle and under cabinet lighting down the line--just more than Xmas parade..)

Also forget using you VHF radio with all of those LED lights--you probably will only get static. (AC or DC)
KD4UPL, 73's de KA6PKB.
Old 11-26-2020, 09:24 AM
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I use a 175 watt inverter specifically because it can be safely plugged into the 12 volt accessory socket. This simplifies your setup if the wattage of your various strings stays within this limit.
Old 11-26-2020, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by captainbaker View Post
No generator due to noise and proximity to the crowd. Plus we will be playing Christmas music so we dont want competing noise levels.
Have you heard a newer Honda? I have done several Christmas light parades with a little Honda generator. Won money in a couple. With it up on the bow, you can't even hear it from cockpit. A regular, below deck, permanently installed generator makes more noise.

Last edited by Tawn; 11-26-2020 at 10:01 AM.
Old 11-26-2020, 10:01 AM
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I agree with above the little Honda generator you can barely hear run. They are really quiet. Go to a tool rental store and ask to hear it run before renting.
Old 11-26-2020, 10:22 AM
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I have one of these that I take on the boat to run a blender for pina coladas, I hook it to my trolling motor battery:

https://www.amazon.com/BESTEK-Inverter-Converter-Electronics-Devices/dp/B0797Q6TM8/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=1000w+inverter&;qid=1606411074&sr=8-8 https://www.amazon.com/BESTEK-Inverter-Converter-Electronics-Devices/dp/B0797Q6TM8/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=1000w+inverter&;qid=1606411074&sr=8-8


One of those or something similar hooked to a fully charged deep cycle battery sitting on the deck (strap it down) would last a lot longer than three hours just running LED's I'm certain. I'd hook it to a separate battery, I don't like hooking things like that to my boat's charging system.

I also have one of the small Honda generators and while they're quiet, they can still be heard. The battery/inverter setup is silent.
Old 11-26-2020, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by tad117 View Post
I agree with above the little Honda generator you can barely hear run. They are really quiet. Go to a tool rental store and ask to hear it run before renting.

Thats a perfect solution and Ill head to my local HD and check it out.
Old 11-26-2020, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by captainbaker View Post
One dedicated house battery charged by two 502 Mag Mpi motors with their own start batteries. Im thinking of wiring up an inverter inside the engine room to the house battery and running a heavy gauge extension cord up to the deck. From there, make the recipe for every Firemans nightmare with a bunch of extension cords powering LED string Christmas lights. Im only half way kidding, but LED's are low draw and they will only need to be powered for about 3 hours. Im figuring the alternators can handle the load because Ive ran the boat with a large fridge, interior/exterior lights and a decent stereo system running full blast for hours and hours without depleting the house battery. All of those 'normal run' items will be shut off at the breaker panel for this boat parade cruise. My biggest question is how much of a drain an inverter is on a charged battery. I guess that depends on what I plug into it correct?

Would wiring the inverter to a Start battery be a better idea? Or scrap the whole idea and go with battery powered LED lights since thats a thing now?
For a one off setup a full inverter installation is an expensive way to go. What you propose sounds like it will work other than maybe the mounting location, but have you checked out using a series of cheap cigarette plug type inverters. Depends on the current draw of your light strings but you could likely easily and cheaply bring 12v up to some cheap low wattage inverters sitting above deck. Of course 12v light strings would be easier again.
Old 11-27-2020, 07:05 AM
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If it's worth it to have ac on the boat, go with installing a marine inverter properly, but that will not be cheap or quick. Use of the cheaper "add on/temporary" inverters can end up with something in the system failing because all the considerations were not considered. (like what size leads and connectors should be used for a 2000/4000 watt inverter; what is their actually efficiency...cheaper typically is less efficient.

I would use this as an excuse to pick up the honda generator, cuz I like them. You could even rent one from HD now.

Another alternative is a "power generator/solar generator/portable power" which is basically a charger, battery, and inverter combined into one unit. They go anywhere from around 200 watts into the thousands. The wide use of cpac's and people wanting to generate their own power have made them popular. (some allow themselves to be recharged by optional solar panels.) Also good for running small laptops (if you select the right one) and recharging any devices that charge via usb.

Here is just one of hundreds that are available, randomly selected.
Amazon Amazon
Old 11-27-2020, 07:10 AM
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Silly me, I should have used this one as an example, since it has Yeti on it
Amazon Amazon

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