Those of you following my Instagram stories recently will have seen my portable base camp, a Taxa TigerMoth adventure trailer. This rugged little trailer came pre-wired for 120v shore power for RV park usage, and solar power, but lacked an inverter to convert DC to AC. Normally you would simply buy one of those little cigarette lighter 12v adapters that gives you a regular 120v power outlet, like this one, but I found that when I used my laptop with this on the 12v DC circuit of the trailer, it drew too much power and continually blew the fuse in the main fusebox. The 15″ Macbook Pro does draw a lot of power!
Since I wanted to be able to run my laptop off the deep cycle marine battery that’s built into the Taxa TigerMoth, I needed to solve this problem! The simplest solution was to install much higher quality DC inverter, and wire it directly onto the battery, not through the 12v DC circuit breakers. These kinds of separate inverters can withstand a much larger wattage, and also have their own built-in breakers anyway.
Some quick research led me to two companies: Zamp and GoPower. I figured a 300W inverter would be fine for my needs since the Macbook Pro is only 85W, and this gave me plenty of overhead to use the second power socket for something else, such as my Dometic Fridge/Freezer. Once you decide how much power you need, you’ll have to choose between a pure sine wave inverter and a modified sine wave inverter. The latter option is much cheaper (about 1/3 the cost) but only a pure sine wave inverter mimics proper 120VAC and this is recommended for sensitive equipment such as laptops. Some tools and appliances simply won’t run properly on a modified sine wave, so to me it made sense to spend a little extra and do things right.
The 300W GoPower inverter is similarly priced to the Zamp one, but it had mounting tabs on it that allowed me to easily fix it into the trailer just above the fusebox and battery. With a few holes drilled, all that was left to do was connect it directly to the marine battery with the included cable.
All in all, it was a pretty simple install, and in the future I’m also going to wire up a remote on/off switch for it by the door of the trailer. Before closing all the panels up, I ran some 16 gage wire for that into the storage compartment, and I’ll fish that through to the other side of the trailer and put a toggle switch on it at some point in the future.
With my solar panels charging the battery, I can now run my laptop off it and edit photos wherever I can park the trailer! Awesome!
If you’ve ever wanted to run your laptop from a 12v battery, I can highly recommend this inverter. It’s built like a tank and doesn’t get too hot. Whilst I’ve got mine in the trailer, you could use this to run an AC appliance off any 12v DC battery, such as the one in your car. If you’re tired of messing around with the cheap cigarette lighter adapters for charging your camera batteries and laptop, an inverter like this can be installed with minimal effort. If you’ve got a decently sized vehicle like a pickup truck, it would be an awesome addition to keep your camera gear easily charged on long road trips.