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Customer Review

104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Years of reliable use, and a response to the bad reviews., November 11, 2012
This review is from: Whistler Pro-400W 400 Watt Power Inverter (Older Model) (Lawn & Patio)
My personal experience is that my unit has functioned flawlessly over 2+ years of use. I have powered my laptop, chargers, mini-fridge, video camera, house lighting (in case of power outages) and even a water pump off of my 400w (800 surge) unit. I have used both the cigarette adapter and battery clips that came with it.

I'm writing this review mainly becasue I feel like the rating is skewed. One reviewer claimed he blew all the fuses in his 2012 Silverado because of this inverter, and gave it 1 star. He said none of the fuses were blown in the unit, so obviously the unit was at fault. However, the unit is rated for higher wattage than his cigarette adapter socket is. If you are using the cigarette adapter, you should not attempt to pull more than 150w off of ANY inverter. This has nothing to do with your inverter, and everything to do with the wiring in your car, which is not designed to handle the same load this inverter can. It is most likely that the reviewer was not aware of this limitation, and threw out a perfectly good inverter.

Another reviewer gave the unit 2 stars, after admitting that he had a bad alternator in an older vehicle (and it worked fine until his alternator went out).

Yet another gave 1 star because the minimum operating voltage is stated in the manual as 11v +/- 0.5 volts, which could mean the device might not run on 11.5 volts (or maybe 10.5). Well, your alternator should be putting out more than 14 volts when your car is running, and your battery, when charged, should be over 13. If your battery voltage drops below 11.5 volts at idle, you have bigger problems. I once went into a meeting and left my inverter plugged into my cigarette lighter (with the car off, of course) to power a laptop and a Sony FX1 HDV camera while capturing an hour or so of footage with no problems whatsoever.

I have had such success with the 400w unit, that I just bought a 1200w unit prior to hurricane Sandy (I'm on the east coast). I haven't been able to test that one yet (and thankfully didn't need to), but it just goes to show you I trust the product and the company. At this price, even if my 400 started on fire I'd buy another one, especially considering the years of use I've gotten out of it.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 29, 2013 3:38:43 PM PDT
Thanks. Appreciate the details. Just need to charge a laptop and a small barcode printer. Perfect!

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 12:01:25 PM PST
H. Mac says:
Jason, is the 400w power inverter enough to charge a game console (ps3, xbox) and cell phones while in car? you know, for long drives, so kids won't get bored? thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2013 1:27:39 PM PST

That's a tough one, but the short answer is "probably yes." Whistler actually posted a chart on the product page estimating 205w for an Xbox360, and 25w for a cell phone charger. Those are inflated numbers, but you're better safe than sorry. The biggest thing you're missing in your calculations is the TV.

There are so many sizes and styles of TV (CRT, Plasma, LCD, LED LCD) that you could certainly exceed the power of the inverter. But for the purposes of our calculations, I'm going to imagine you have a 14" LCD TV, which runs on 60w and should work along side your Xbox and chargers without trouble.

If your TV is much bigger, you'll be glad to know that the Xbox 360 may take a lot less power than Whistler's estimate. The 360s come in the original, the E, or the S model. According to the Xbox website, the original (depending on the production run), may have a 203w, 175w, or 150w power supply. Then the S is 135w, and the E is 120w. That's a very big range. We'll assume you have the 135w PSU (power supply unit), since that's what I have. You can find out yours by reading the details on the "brick" which runs from your power cord to your Xbox360.

The brick actually uses more power than it supplies, just like the inverter uses more power than it supplies to your devices. There is a loss called "inefficiency" as the power is converted. The inverter is only 85-90% efficient (based on how much power you're using) according to its specs, so I'll assume the same efficiency on the Xbox, and calculate its wattage 15% higher than the power supply unit's wattage. So even though it's a 135w PSU, we should allow at least 155w for it. I have seen people online test a 360 using a device called "kill-a-watt" at 140w max, but they didn't say which model they had! 140-155w is a lot lower than Whistler's 205w, but if you've got an old Xbox 360, then 205w may be what you need.

As a side note, inefficiency is what produces the heat that comes out of the inverter, and out of the brick. Make sure to keep them both in an "open air" environment where they can vent and cool, or they will overheat and fail!

According to Wikipedia, the PS3 can range from 58w to 209w depending on the model you have and what you're doing with it, just like the Xbox. You can search Wikipedia for "PlayStation 3 technical specifications" and then look at the chart under "Power consumption in standard environment" to make a better judgement about your power needs, since I can't leave links in reviews.

Your cell phone should draw around 5 watt if plugged into the USB port, so that's really negligible, and most cell chargers shouldn't need the 25w Whistler is estimating. But sometimes there are 2amp USB chargers (designed more for iPads and tablets) that will draw 25w or more.

So, if you don't have a really old Xbox 360 or PS3, your TV isn't huge, you're only charging a couple phones, and everything is well ventilated, the inverter will run everything just fine.

However, that doesn't mean your setup will work! As I have said before, you shouldn't attempt to pull more than 150w out of a cigarette lighter (unless your vehicle documentation specifies that it is okay to do so; it looks like 200w may be acceptable in most newer vehicles). If you are running an S model Xbox and a 14" LED LCD, maybe you can get away with it (assuming you're under 150-200w), but most likely, you will need to run a direct set of wires from your battery (or other appropriate 12v supply) to your inverter.

The size of those wires (measured in gauge) will be based on how far you need to go to get from the power source to the inverter. You can search "Wire Gauge Selection Table 12 Volt Circuit" to get to a Tessco website with a chart for you. Please assume 40amps (40a x 12v = 600w, and the inverter is briefly capable of up to an 800w surge, though only 400w continuous). If you use wire too small, it will heat up. If it stays hot for too long, it will fail and may damage the inverter, devices plugged into it, or the car's electrical system.

When I was a kid, my dad did this exact same thing you're suggesting with a 1000w inverter, but he did it with a heavy CRT TV and a Super Nintendo in an Oldsmobile station wagon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you can do this for your kids as well (although I hope they see some of the sites, too).

My final word of warning is that if you should never run this with the car engine off, since you may drain the battery to the point that it cannot start the car. It can be done for a certain period of time, but that's a whole different set of calculations, so be warned!

Good luck!

Posted on Feb 2, 2014 4:07:37 PM PST
GD says:
Thank you, I wish I could like this more than once.
Great summary.

Posted on Apr 11, 2014 8:39:00 PM PDT
Brandon says:
I have something that requires about 180 to 200 watts of power, will this be okay to use?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2014 8:54:19 PM PDT
In general, yes. There are other considerations at work here, but this unit will definitely provide 200 watts. With the information you've given me, that's the best answer I can give!

Posted on Sep 13, 2014 4:18:52 AM PDT
Will this inverter power this pump in the event of a power outage?


In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2014 10:25:49 AM PDT
Definitely not!

There are lots of problems here. First of all, the factory setting for that pump is to run on 230v, which this inverter cannot provide. However, the website for the pump indicates that it can be adjusted for use with 115v, but at 115v, it requires 11 amps of power. The way we relate volts, amps, and watts to each other is that "Volts x Amps = Watts," meaning that at 115v and 11amps, you need 1,265watts to run that pump. This inverter is rated at 400w (800 surge watts, which I'm guessing only lasts a few seconds, and you should never use the surge rating for these calculations).

Now, to be fair, the pump is rated at 11amps at full load, meaning that it may draw less during normal use, especially if you're not using it at a full 25' lift. Still, I wouldn't go any lower than the 1200w (2400w surge) inverter which you can find here: Whistler Pro-1200W 1200 Watt Power Inverter (Discontinued by Manufacturer) or better yet the 1600w (3200w surge) here: Whistler Pro-1600W 1,600 Watt Power Inverter (Older Model) . Of course the prices increase with these models, but there's really no way the 400w (800w surge) inverter will reliably power your pump.

For the record, I bought a 1200w Whistler inverter in October 2012 and it has never had any problems. I specifically use it during power outages, which happens 2-3 times per year. To run a high power inverter like this one, you need a good battery (like a deep cycle marine battery, which is better than a car battery though a car battery will work, just not as long and you may damage it) and heavy duty battery cables.

To go even further, the 1200w inverter draws a lot of power from the battery at 12v. Low voltage systems need much thicker wires for the same amount of power, so you need some hefty cables like these: Power Bright 4-AWG3 4 AWG Gauge 3-Foot Professional Series Inverter Cables 1000-1500 watt . The size of wires (and thus battery cables) is measured by gauge (often shown as AWG), and in the example above, they are 4 gauge. If your inverter and battery are further than 3' apart, you need an ever lower gauge (the lower the gauge the thicker the wire). And if you go for the 1600w inverter, you should consider thicker wires as well.

I have not used the cables from the link above, but they seem like they'd do the trick. Reviews indicate that the terminals (also called connectors) come loose too easily over time, so if you don't have the capability to crimp them down harder yourself, you might want to step up to the next size anyway (2 gauge) which doesn't seem to suffer from this problem. Again, since I have not used them, you'll need to confirm that the terminals on the wires are the right size for your battery and your inverter, but that's just a matter of the hole being big enough to slip over the stud (also called a bolt) on each. Or feel free to look at other brands of cable, this was just for demonstration purposes.

Best of luck, Hawaii is a lovely place, but I'm sure it's a lot less fun without power! I hope this helps!

Posted on Sep 27, 2014 1:15:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2014 7:41:31 AM PDT
Kaniki says:
unless i missed it, and I did only partly read the reviews, there is a few things that I did not see in there that you probably should have added. Like in cars, no matter what you say that the max you should use thought a cigarette lighter should be, you should always take into consideration the fuse that is in that circuit that powers those cigarette lighter plugs. for example, some cars may have a 10amp fuse in one, while others may have a 15 or 20 amp. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, and also depends on what else they have on that line. for example, your running lights and your heater fan may both be on the same line or fuse. So dont always take for granted that a certain amount of power will work through a cigarette lighter, because there is no standard for what fuse is in place to supply power to that stuff. even if all cars originally came with a 15amp fuse in them, that does not mean that it has not been replaced with a smaller, or larger fuse over time.

Also, when it comes to using these things in any vehicle, take into consideration your vehicle. No matter what vehicle you are in, power is not infinite. The larger the vehicle, the more power that it will usually produce. All vehicle have something in them called an alternator. That is what generates the electricity, then that power is stored in the battery. A battery in a small 4 cylinder car may only have a 500 cca (cold cranking amps, or how much power/amps it can put out when cold), while a SUV may have double that. Same can be said with alternators too. the amount of power generated off of a small car is going to be less then a full sized SUV. So it is possible to drain more power using an inverter then what the vehicle is producing. because dont forget, even if the car is running, and say it is putting out 700 watts of power, when that vehicle is running, the power to run the engine, all fans, the computer in the car, radio, lights, and everything else in that vehicle is being powered by that alternator too, so that leaves much less that what it can produce for you to use before you start pulling that power off of the battery. If your alternator did put out 700 watts, you run all of your lights, fans, and radio, you may be using 400 or more of those watts. Now if you plug in a inverter that is using 400 watts, that means that you are using 800 watts and your alternator is only generating 700 watts, so that extra comes from the battery. so it is possible to drain your battery, even when the car is running. Like I said, every vehicle is different, and in so, the amount of power that the alternator in it generates will very, just like how big, or how much power the battery can hold or give out will very too.

Also, when taking into account what it will power, always take into consideration the surge that devises use when first turning that device on. For example, I have a brother laser printer. The specs on it are that it uses 445 watts during copying, but the surge on it from when it first powers up and prepares for that first print is over 1000 watts. things like TV's, dvd players, laptops, inkjet printers, regular speakers, etc dont have a major surge like this, but a lot of stuff with AC motors in them do, like refrigerators, driers, a lot of pumps, and even other things like laser printers. So always take into consideration these things when using something like this too. That is also why you see that they give clamps with these type of things, so that you can connect it straight to a battery and not have to worry about shorting anything out.
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