We have long been looking for an inverter model to test in the MaCamp reviews section. However, the great difficulty was due to the lack of national models and great uncertainty due to the disparity in the price and quality of major international brands and the famous “ching ling”. Here comes one of the most famous national charger brands with a new model of inverter. The PLANT / SPARK made sure to send us two of its models of greater power capacity, with 110V and 220V with another. We took the opportunity to apply a new concept of use in the trailer. Did it work?
INVERTER: An inverter is basically a “reverse charger”. It transforms the direct current (dC) of the car battery into alternating current (aC) 110V or 220V for the use of equipment and appliances commonly used at home. In the caravaning and overlander modality they are extremely important to use when traveling, devices that are not able to work on the 12V battery.
12V UNIVERSE: In countries whose caravan market is vast, many devices are already available for use in the car or truck battery. There are TV’s, fountains, lighting, electronics and even appliances like refrigerators, coffee makers and even microwaves. In Brazil, not all of these items are found in the DC version, and when available they are very expensive, leading the camper to use the traditional 110V / 220V equipment with inverter.
ECONOMY: It is very common to see comments from campers who argue that an inverter is much more viable than 12V equipment. They justify that, in addition to the high price of the equipment, it will be even more difficult to obtain spare parts or technical assistance on the road. However, for those who are running, “consumption” is essential, since the energy of the batteries is limited and any savings in their consumption will be important. Inverters are energy transformers and lose a lot of it in the process, dissipating this majority in the form of heat. The savings in this case can be 40% to 60% in the case of equipment already at 12V, in addition to being more prepared for “on-board” use than some traditional residential ones.
INVERTER DOES NOT WORK MIRACLE:The biggest mistake made by the public in relation to the inverter is to think that it works miracles. That everything can be connected to it and that the car or trailer battery will “play” all the devices. Unfortunately not. The Inverter transforms a few 12V (or 24V) into many 110V (or 220V). This means that the current in Amperes that will be drawn from the battery will be huge, making the consumption of it also huge. Therefore, in your installation everything needs to be properly calculated. And even if it is technically possible with a lot of technology, number of batteries and nominally new, in practice forget the use of electric showers, toasters and other equipment that draw a lot of current. For the case of Air Conditioning, think about using it only with the car’s engine running, as it’s stopped, the battery doesn’t last long, will wear out quickly and shorten its life. Calm down that we will detail all of this.
WHY HAVE INVERTER: But if we have all the equipment on 12V and the inverter uses more energy, why have it? Firstly, it is always good to have the security of obtaining 110V or 220V in the middle of nowhere for any eventuality. Second, because we will never have all the equipment available in 12V. Thirdly, for the case of using devices on a non-continuous basis, the use of the traditional may be more viable. An example? If you make a point of using a blender for breakfast, consumption for a minute or two will not make much difference. Therefore, it will not be necessary for you to import a device in the 12V version. Unlike a TV for example. This is on for many hours and then it is worth opting for a 12V.
FRIDGE:The refrigerator is one of the most controversial pieces of equipment in this discussion, and is one of the greatest examples of savings. Residential refrigerators connected to the inverter have a much lower cost than those equipped with 12V compressors. However, in addition to not being prepared for the road bumps, the set uses much more energy when we are talking about equipment that is on 24 hours a day. 12V refrigerators have compressors designed for use on the move. They consume up to 50% less battery power and if they are manufactured for the modality they still have extra facilities for those who own a house on wheels, such as automatic door locking systems, defrost drains, shelves with front fencing and locking systems. door ventilation when turned off. In short, it is indisputable that it is cheaper to buy a home refrigerator and connect it to an inverter. However, trapped by the economy and rational use of energy, you will certainly choose 12V equipment.
THE PLANT INVERTER: There are twelve versions offered by the brand. The three powers, 500W, 1000W and 1500W can be offered in 12V or 24V and all can drop either 110V or 220V at the output. They offer stabilized output of pure sine wave controlled by microprocessor and all manufactured in Brazil.
PURE SENOIDAL WAVE:This is the most important feature in an inverter. The alternating current (aC) that exists in the home outlet has a frequency represented in a waveform (sine wave). It goes back and forth on the conductor (wire). It happens that inverters can produce currents at the output in some different ways. The most common are the “modified sine wave”, “square wave” or the semi-sine wave. These demand simpler and cheaper devices and make no difference in the operation of different types of equipment. It turns out that the wave does not equal the network, that is, “pure sine wave”, ends up harming some other types, and many other devices will not even work. The life of the inverter itself may be shorter because it offers a square wave and it is consumed by ordinary devices. THE PLANT INVERTER has the type of “pure sine wave”, which is identical to the perfect alternating current and will have more quality, long life of the inverter and the devices connected to it and also a perfect clock of the equipment that requires the frequency (60Hz) to work correctly. The characteristics of the inverter of this review are: Output: stabilized; Double stabilization: the electronic circuit works both the stabilization of the 12V input together with the variation of the output so that the final result is always the 120V or the 220V promised in the socket.
VA COEFFICIENTS (Volts X Ampere): All transformation equipment, works nominally in powers in Watts (w), but must always be applied in (VA) according to the type of equipment to be connected. This applies to transformers, stabilizers, chargers, converters and also inverters. Devices with resistive loads (heaters, dryers, toasters, sandwich makers, electric pans and the like) can be applied by rated power, that is, the same total 1,500W of the inverter in this review. If inductive or capacitive loads are applied, such as electronic equipment or using motors for example, the coefficient 0.8 must be applied. So to start the refrigerator, we must consider that the maximum consumption of this inverter will be (0.8 x 1.500W) = 1,200W. Pico’s power will be (0.8 x 2.250W) = 1.800W.
UNBOXING: The inverter comes in an illustrated box with all the visual treatment of the brand and information. The well-printed instruction manual contains a lot of information on its 14 pages, with the last 12 months warranty term.
COMMON USE ON THE TRAILER: We apply the Plant’s inverter in the common method in our trailer. We install the 12V model => 120Vbecause we have a 12V stationary battery and our internal system is all 110V. In this installation we leave out the air conditioning circuit (which we will see in a specific paragraph). We made the connection in a practical and easy way, since we have all the electrical components gathered in one compartment. We use 8mm² (4mm + 4mm) cables on each pole, as we will not use any powerful equipment there. We will only use notebook chargers, camera battery and some low power appliance as a mixer for example, which does not exceed 200w. Ideally, the inverter should be as close to the battery as possible and with the appropriate cable. Although technically permitted, in the modality we adopt a limit of 1 meter at most the distance from the inverter to the trailer battery, because the greater the cable distance, greater its resistance and power loss. At the inverter output, we connect the power supply to the trailer sockets. As we commonly use a full range stabilizer that distributes its 110V output to all outlets in the trailer except the air conditioner, we just connect this to the inverter for this use. Remember that our use of the inverter is completely casual. Otherwise it would not be wise to connect the stabilizer between the inverter and the device, in addition to this model being indicated for use with 35mm cable. This stabilization is not necessary, as the plant already controls the output voltage within the maximum rated power. we just connect this to the inverter for this use. Remember that our use of the inverter is completely casual. Otherwise it would not be wise to connect the stabilizer between the inverter and the device, in addition to this model being indicated for use with 35mm cable. This stabilization is not necessary, as the plant already controls the output voltage within the maximum rated power. we just connect this to the inverter for this use. Remember that our use of the inverter is completely casual. Otherwise it would not be wise to connect the stabilizer between the inverter and the device, in addition to this model being indicated for use with 35mm cable. This stabilization is not necessary, as the plant already controls the output voltage within the maximum rated power.
TRADITIONAL APPLICATION: Our intention in using the INVERTER would be to try a new modality in the CAR + TRAILER list that can also be applied in the list of motorhomes batteries. Commonly we have inverters equipping the trailer that is attached to the car and being served by the 12V energy of the alternator that at the same time that charges the battery of the trailer, feeds the inverter that keeps the refrigerator on.
PROBLEMS IN THIS CONFIGURATION: When we have the inverter many meters away from the alternator and the car battery, the tendency is to drop the voltage a lot at the end, thus increasing the current required. The problem is that for a 1,500W inverter, it would take more than 35mm of power cable, which is not feasible. Even worse, because it will be necessary in the middle of this path a PLUG for quick connection of this circuit where the car will be coupled with the trailer. In addition, this cable is commonly used to charge the trailer battery and there are two problems: 1- The voltage of the 14.4V that leaves the alternator will arrive much less at the trailer battery; 2- The voltage regulator of the car will never know the real situation of the batteries, ending up sending a charge to the one that is already charged. For those who use the inverter with the trailer stopped,
NEW CASE STUDY:Our intention in using the INVERTER would be to try a new modality in the CAR + TRAILER list that can also be applied in the list of motorhomes batteries. Commonly we have the inverters equipping the trailer that is attached to the car and being served by the 12V energy of the alternator that at the same time that charges the battery of the trailer, feeds the inverter that keeps the refrigerator on. Our goal will be to install the NO CAR CAR inverter instead of the trailer. In this way, the inverter may be closer to the alternator and vehicle battery. A pair of much thinner wires (1.5mm²) will come out of it to feed the trailer as if it were plugged into the camping outlet. Thus, in addition to the refrigerator being powered by a much more viable and malleable wiring, our stationary battery from the trailer will be properly charged by the SMART CHARGER. This way the battery is not at risk of being discharged by the refrigerator or the car, being 100% charged on arrival and the smart charger will play its role of keeping the charge afloat by protecting it.
For this, we just need to install a 220V cable in the hitch, which doesn’t even have to be the traditional one, but we chose it to use the inverter in the car even at times when we are not camping. Thus, we always have a 220V socket for tools wherever we are, simply by activating the inverter.
The inverter was installed in the trunk of our car. We could install it there in the engine safe, next to the battery, but we chose at first to leave it in a place totally isolated from dust and moisture. So, we run a positive 12V cable and fix the negative to the car’s chassis. From there comes a 2.5mm² cable plugged into the inverter until it engages with 220V on the 10A plug.
THE TESTS: So we went on a trip leaving the State of Rio de Janeiro, passing through SP and PR until staying overnight at a post in SC. From there we left the next day bound for RS, arriving at Serra Gaúcha at night. Throughout the journey, we arrived with the battery 100% charged and preserved without major concerns. In the itinerary entitled to overnight stay with bath and dinner, the alternator charge was sufficient to supply the few moments of stopping. In our case, only battery charge was necessary, since our refrigerator is quadrivolt. But while the inverter was feeding the trailer, it also directly powered the refrigerator at 220V.
In the second stage, we were able to test what we wanted. We spent 3 days camping at the edge of the canyons of São José dos Ausentes-RS, in a place without water or light. For the time being we don’t have solar panels in the trailer and our only 70A battery was our power source for the trailer in this period. But how to keep the battery charged in a rational way and without the stress that does not match the location? Simple. Our usual 40-meter extension allowed the car to stay this far. Without listening to the engine idling, he spent about 2 hours a day charging the trailer battery in a controlled manner with minimal fuel consumption. Certainly any gasoline generator would spend much more liters of fuel per hour than the idling car used. It would certainly also make a lot more noise. Not to mention the space that would occupy the device and the need to load fuel. Other than the chances of failing. Therefore, our application of the inverter in the car, was understood as the composition of a “generator” much more economical, quiet and practical.
AIR CONDITIONING:We leave the application of air conditioning to a separate case. From the beginning, our intention with the inverter was that, in addition to the intelligent load and the “pseudo” generator formed with the car’s engine, it would be possible to use the air conditioning in the trailer with the car’s engine running. Yeah, you don’t travel inside the trailer on the road. But it is common that when we stop at gas stations for lunch, instead of eating in the restaurant lounge, we buy the food for “travel” and eat in the trailer. That way, we have a moment of peace, rest, cleanliness and we can still have a quick rest before resuming driving. Sometimes the strong sun ends up making it very hot and instead of using a generator for these very few moments, we could just keep the engine running at idle to turn on the air conditioning in the trailer. This option is still valid, but unfortunately the inverter did not touch our air conditioner. It is a Split model with a rotary compressor (not inverter) of 7,500BTUs with a starting peak much greater than the “peak” of the inverter. Exactly. Although the PLANT INVERTER has 1,500W of power, it allows devices that “pull” more than that for a few milliseconds to be connected. The so-called “starting peak” is more frequent in devices that use an engine. From rest to normal rotation, this acceleration requires a much greater current until it is stabilized. In the case of the USINA, it has a “peak power” of 2,250W, which is quite sufficient for most devices. However, a common air conditioning compressor can pull at the “starting peak” from 6 to 10 times its rated power. Thus, our Air that pulls 750W nominally after starting, may require from 4,500W to 7,500W. In our tests, unfortunately the inverter went into safe mode to avoid burning it, leaving our plan for air conditioning in suspension.
CONCLUSION: We were extremely satisfied with the Spark Usina Inverter. Although we were not successful with our intention of air conditioning, we understand that the limitation is due to our device and not the choice or quality of the inverter. Our main need was met both in terms of charging the battery of the trailer and feeding it on the trip through a simple and safe 220V connection on the hitch, as well as “equipping” the car with a plug always on hand for the most varied needs everyday life even when not traveling. The reliability of the brand brings us security and the customer service of the technical area via whatsapp has always been present and effective. She even took many questions for this review.
PROTECTIONS: The inverter has several protections in its electronic system. This avoids burning a device that is usually very expensive, as well as protecting the battery and the equipment connected to it. Whenever it enters safe mode, it alerts such a state of suspension by an audible alarm and on its LEDs. LOW AND HIGH INPUT VOLTAGE: The inverter is programmed to shut down if the battery voltage drops below 10V or exceeds 16V; OUTPUT OVERLOAD PROTECTION: The device also switches off if there is a demand greater than 1,500W or 2,250W during a stipulated time. This was the protection that went into the case mentioned above the air conditioning; OVERHEATING PROTECTION: It switches off when its housing heats more than the limit temperature. The table below in the instruction manual indicates each representation of the protections:
PILOT LEDs: The inverter has 3 monitoring LEDs. On the entrance + ventilation side, just to the right of the on / off switch there are two of them. The first “on” indicates when the inverter is running and has a blue color. The second (prot) is the protection indicator. On the other side, to the right of the sockets is the green LED that indicates whether the 120V or 220V output is activated or not.
ALLOY SWITCH OFF AND REMOTE ACTIVATION: The inverter has a very practical switch to turn it on or off. However, if it is installed in a distant or difficult to access location, just use the remote control command. It is an input that just connects a wire with a 10 to 30V direct current signal that it understands as “on”. Just take the positive pole of the battery to it, placing a switch where you see fit. A signal output from other devices can also be used.
In our case, as the inverter is installed in the trunk, we put an on / off switch on the panel and take a very thin wire to the remote entrance. So we can connect it both in the cabin and also in the panel of the inverter via native key.
VENTILATION: The inverter has a cooler that pulls air from one side to get out of the other and ensure the cooling of its internal sinks. Dubbed “smart”, the fan’s speed is controlled exactly by the actual temperature of the inverter. When cold or low power is required, the fan can work at minimum speed or even stop, ensuring silence and energy savings. However, if the inverter is in a place without ventilation or a lot of power is being demanded, the fan will work at maximum, ensuring the preservation of the device. The internal cooler has a bearing system that prevents crashes, fire and guarantees the life of the inverter. Called a “wind tunnel”, the air intake is on one side through the entire appliance to exit the other side.
CONNECTORS: The connectors are ultra practical and easy to handle. They require the use of a halen wrench (not included) but have enough opening for a 33mm² cable (the one indicated for this application power). The screw has a great torque for a tight fit worthy of this 180A connection. Simply connect the positive pole of the battery to the “+” and the negative (or chassis ground) to the “-“. In the middle is the “remote” entry already discussed above, but optional.
OUTLETS: There are two three-pin outlets in Brazilian standard 10A. Sufficient for power, but it is always important to never connect devices that have or add more than 1200W (capacitive or inductive) or 1500W resistive. Otherwise the protection system of the inverter will enter by turning off its output. The ground pin, according to the manufacturer, is connected to the housing of the device and to the negative pole. USINA warns that this output should never be connected in parallel with the concessionaire’s network.
TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Steel plate cabinet with electrostatic painting; 2 NBR14.136 Standard sockets; Pilot led: Indicates whether the inverter output is energized; Input for remote activation: from 10 to 30Vdc to drive the inverter; On / off switch: directly on the inverter; Energy efficiency: greater than 85%; Warranty: 1 year; Dimensions: 33.8cm (length) X 18.2cm (width) X 7.5cm (height); Weight 2.6kg.
PRICE: At the time of this review, the price of the inverter (model of this review 1500W-12V) in the official USINA store was R $ 1,529.00 + FREIGHT. Through the internet, it could be found ranging from R $ 1,400.00 to R $ 1,446.76 (+ shipping).
WHERE TO BUY: in the thousands of websites and physical stores spread across Brazil or the official USINA store on the internet or in the official Mercado Livre store.