BURNABY, British Columbia, April 12, 2017 — For many, buying a used truck means the opportunity to customize and add new comforts to make the truck truly ‘yours.’
According to Mitul Chandrani, senior marketing manager for Xantrex business at Schneider Electric, aftermarket inverters are one of the top choices for an add-on. “It gives drivers AC-power to run all their electronics and cooking devices,” he said. “But the challenge is picking the right inverter for your operation. And, then figuring out the best way for installation.”
Chandrani said installing inverters isn’t a daunting task. “But, it does require a bit of research and some decision-making -- retrofitting a truck with an aftermarket inverter is a relatively straightforward task.”
First comes the decision about buying an inverter and what type and size. Inverters come in a vast array, including some inexpensive models you can buy at truck stops and plug into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter.
Chandrani doesn’t advise going that route. “Drivers get more frustrations that way, which may negate any savings you’ll realize from buying on price rather than quality,” he said. “The size and brand of inverter should be based on such considerations as what and how much is going to be plugged into it, surge capacity, if the inverter is UL-certified, if it has a low voltage disconnect, and has added features -- such as the ability to re-charge a completely dead battery if plugged into shorepower. Next comes the decision on where in the truck cabin to mount it. Chandrani recommends mounting it under the sleeper bed, behind a protection bracket to prevent tools, chains and other gear from beating it up.
That’s not the only option, but several considerations enter into play here. “You really want to make sure it’s not in a compartment that’s going to get a lot of moisture,” Chandrani said. “You don’t want it real close to an outside access door.”
While inverters do their work of converting DC battery power to appliance-friendly AC power largely unseen, they do need to breathe. “Even though top quality inverters, like Xantrex, have a very wide operating temperature range, you don’t want it in a place where it’s going to get a blanket or luggage thrown on top of it,” Chandrani said. “You want some air space so it can pull in some cool air to cool off circuits.”
One other no-no on location: never, Chandrani said, put an inverter/charger in an engine compartment, battery bay or any location containing fuel or flammable, or corrosive, vapors.
Inverter/chargers are an ignition source and are incompatible with combustible fumes. If the only close location is in the battery bay, he advises, get bigger cables and move the inverter further away.
How convenient it is to plug in appliances and other device into the inverter may also determine where and how the inverter is mounted. Ideally, Chandrani said, inverters should be installed within 10 feet of the battery bank; moving farther way may require larger DC cables to compensate for a drop in voltage over a longer distance. “In most cabs, it’s a matter of having a sealed-access path from the floor of the sleeper, and then the cables can go right to the batteries below,” Chandrani said.
The Xantrex brand, owned by Schneider Electric, is one of the most successful and popular brands of onboard AC power technology. Xantrex products are used in a variety of applications in the commercial truck, RV, marine, military, construction, EMS, bus, work service vehicle markets. Xantrex ensures its products are put through extensive reliability testing and certifies its products to comply with various regulatory standards to meet or exceed the applicable requirements for safety, quality, efficiency and environment. With more than three decades of design, engineering and manufacturing experience backed by Schneider Electric’s global infrastructure, Xantrex power solutions offer a mix of advanced technology and unmatched bankability.