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Thread: My power inverter caught on fire!!!

  1. #1
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    My power inverter caught on fire!!!

    I installed a 750 watt continuous/1500 watt peak power inverter several months ago underneath the driver's seat in my TJ. I wired it directly into the battery terminals with 8 gauge wire. It is mounted upside down hanging from the bottom of the seat and is protected from all the elements and sunlight and gets plenty of good ventilation. It has worked great until today. I use it regularly. I plugged in my drill to use it and it worked fine for the first hole. About 10 minutes later I went to use it again and the drill wouldn't turn. I opened the hood to make sure my cables were still connected to the battery--no problem. I closed the hood and came back around to the driver's seat to inspect the inverter, and POOF---smoke starts billowing out from under the seat. I look under the seat and see flames inside the inverter. The flame died out after about 20 seconds. I unhooked the battery cables from the back of the inverter and pulled the inverter out of the vehicle. I plan to call the manufacturer tomorrow. What could have caused this? I didn't put an inline fuse on the + cable, but I can't see that starting a FIRE in the inverter. If anything, it should have just allowed the internal fuses in the inverter to blow. Any ideas?

  2. #2
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    Did you use a fuse on the inverter?
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  3. #3
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    What Brand of Inverter. Some were just recalled a month or two back.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. It is a Vector MaxxSST, model VEC043. I didn't use a fuse in the cable that runs from the + battery terminal to the inverter. I didn't do this because they included in the original packaging a pair of cables with battery clamps, which meant to me that it was safe to wire directly to the battery without fusing the power supply. The manual describes how the inverter has all these built in protective features, one of which is internal fuses. It also has "overload" and overheat protection, so if it is being overloaded or gets too ghot, it automatically shuts itself down.

  5. #5
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    I have a brand new Vector too. Its 400 / 800 watt I think. I thing all Vectors above my model were recalled. I checked their website and round nothing. I remember something like if the inverters have white ac plugs they were affected by the recall. I have black plugs on mine. Their website is www.vectormfg.com . Hope this helps.
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  6. #6
    ***** ****** ppro's Avatar
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    I think there were two problems:

    A drill uses a lot of power and probably overloaded the power inverter. And

    There isn't any airflow under the seat (unless you installed a powerful fan?). Even with a good amount of space around it (and there isn't much of that under the seat) it needs air moving past it to effectively cool it.

    Those two things in combination with no fuse, and the possibility of internal defects (the recall?) certainly would give you a good fire.

    I want to put a power inverter in my Jeep but I haven't found a place that I feel comfortable mounting it...

    ppro


  7. #7

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    Anything wired directly to the battery MUST be fused.

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  8. #8
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    OK--here's the latest update.
    I took the inverter over to a friend who designs radio circuits for a living. He's pretty much an electronics freak. He took it apart and told me that I most likely caused a voltage spike from the drill that fed back into the inverter and overheated it. Of course he explained things in much more scientific terms, but that's about the extent of my understanding. His recommendation with a new inverter is to solder in a 140V transient voltage suppressor to prevent this from happening again.
    BTW, I installed an 80A inline fuse today for the new inverter. But after inspecting where the damage occurred in the inverter, he said there was no way this was caused by lack of an inline fuse from the battery...

  9. #9
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    It is probally just because there was no fuse in place.
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  10. #10
    Senior Moderator Virgil's Avatar
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    I second the advice about anything connected to the battery needing to be fused; the use of alligator clips is probably intended for short-term projects, knowing that the user can quickly disconnect them if the inverter catches fire .

    I have a 300-Watt (cheap) inverter that I take with me for running small AC stuff, but i run it from the accessory plug, and only for short periods. My next Jeep will have the rear accessory plug to power stuff like that.

    If I had a larger inverter, it would definitely be wired with fuses to the battery.

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