I have been doing a lot of location shoots with limited power resources. I realize I can grab a genny, but I really dont like burning gallons of gas throughout the day near my gear just to keep batteries fresh, power a laptop, download cards, etc. Typically I will run a laptop off of a Versa battery, plug batteries into the moho, or come up with the typical methods for powering gear throughout the day, but I am considering a few electrical modifications to my 4Runner to make it a more well-rounded tool in my kit.
First, are there any power inverters that you would recommend for use in 12v power outlets in a vehicle? I have one (Vec024CA )and have been using it for years, and now it is blowing a fuse in my truck, so I am looking for recommendations based on our profession's/community's needs.
Second, I am thinking about installing a second battery into my vehicle, maybe a motorcycle battery, and running it on a constant setting so that the vehicle does not have to be on in order to use the power. Then running wire towards the back of the vehicle and installing a standard wall outlet for powering batteries, laptops, etc, unless a cigarette-outlet style is required. This way I can recharge the battery with a trickle charger overnight, as I do with motorcycles, or maybe there is a way of having the vehicle recharge it.
has anyone modified their vehicle to be more power efficient for the use of equipment? I have been reading a lot of posts on T4R.org as well as other 4Runner forums, but I am interested in what other operators have done.
I really think that for most things a putt-putt is the best option. Fuel speaking, it is far cheaper to run a Honda EU1000 than your car to power something. And you can always (or most of the time) get more fuel, not the case with batteries if you deplete them.
That being said, if you want to have someway to power things for a long time off of batteries, look to the sound department or DIT/Loaders. I have seen some very interesting rigs with deep-cell marine batteries on sound carts. Very heavy, but also very high amp-hours (not as good as say a VCLX, but also not 3 grand).
Charging batteries off of an inverter powered off of a battery is introducing a whole heap of inefficiencies though (inverting to AC, then the charger rectifying the current back to DC). It would work though....
I used an inverter on a passenger van to charge batteries while driving. It killed the cigarette lighter in the van. I thing it pulls more joined than what the car can provide. Now if you talk about something you plug in under the hood, you're better off with a tiny put put. It will save gas vs your V8 engine. If the noise or the fumes bother you, take a long stinger and place it around the corner. NEVER! use a generator inside a car/van/garage/house/indoor (I've seen it happen and that's why I mention it)
Victor, good point about not putting the genny in the truck. Not keen on that either...
Jarrett, I definitely would use a puttputt over my engine. And I see your point about the DC-AC-DC
Im still figuring out more about electricity, so I need to mull over this second battery idea a bit more.
I would love a regenerative source of electricity for powering just a few batteries or laptop etc. Obviously solar is a possibility, but the cost and ratio of light+time for the power payoff is too little.
Without any real knowledge how its done I'll chime in here.
My friend is an ENG reporter with a local news station, he drives one of those trucks decaled out with station logos that you see all around YOUR town (in this case, MY town) In the back he has all of his batteries sitting on charging docks - keeping charged for those 24-7 calls that come in. What system they are using I don't know but I do know that there is some inverter/converter setup in his truck that keeps his batteries ready to go, on the go.
AR inventor and former Steadicam Op Lynn Nicholson had a neat solution for all the remote shoots here in the desert. It was a set of deep cycle marine batteries (I think) which he had rigged and wired very professionally into something that looked like a big plastic rolling took chest. It had inverter, cooling fans and also all the connectors, meters and controls on the outside. Very professional in the special way Lynn does things. He was able to charge camera batteries for several days between charges to the main system.
What I have is a Honda EU2000 that has been converted to run on propane or gasoline. I only run it on propane because I don't like the smell of gas raw or burned. Plus it's a lot safe as well as easier since I can get over 24 hours out of a BBQ size tank of propane.
Iain-awesome idea, didnt even think of the ENG trucks. Ive got a few friends Ill start askin...
Robert-great idea on the conversion, wasnt aware of those. With how much propane do you fill the genny? Considering it is so efficient, do you fill it all the way and let it sit? How much is this usually, and where do you get it in gallon quantities? Camping stores?
I have a friend who put a solar panel atop his van and has I believe a 2000W inverter. I wonder if that enough to keep batteries on charge all day...should be out here where the sun is never not shining.
Brett, you simply use standard BBQ propane tanks though you can find smaller and larger ones but I find a standard BBQ tank to go more than 24 hours. There's no propane tank in the genny you hook it up with a hose just like a grill.
Another great thing about the propane is that it does not require draining the carbs when it sits and unlike gasoline that deteriorates rapidly in 3-9 months, the propane keeps forever. Old gas and fowling is why most gennies, lawnmowers and things that tend to sit unused won't start.
Robert, that is a great site -- I love the little Honda gennerators and the ability to run propane is really cool and will be much easier to deal with. I was thinking more about longer excursions in my truck/using it while camping or with the block heater in polar climates etc...
About using inverters to charge batts in your car...make sure the car is running or it'll be dead quicker than you think. Like Nick mentioned above, check out Expedition Portal for some great builds and a list of sites with the stuff you need to do it right (there are some cool trailer places who deal with inverters and solar chargers etc...).
There is lots of stuff out there designed for doing just this. You can add a deep cycle battery to your car with a little box inbetween that will allow it to charge from your cars alternator when running but will keep your accessories from draining your cars starter battery. Best bet for wiring this up may be a 4 wheeler accessory type shop. You can also install a trickle charger so that you can plug in your car to charge your batteries or get even fancier with it if you like.