Installing a Semi Truck Power Inverter – Easy How-to Guide

    12v appliances go a long way towards making it habitable and providing some approximation of the comforts of a home, while you’re hauling around a tractor trailer.  A semi truck gives off enough juice to power a whole range of portable appliances, but it requires a power inverter before you can plug in to the current.  Some drivers get by with a 1200W or 1500W inverter, which puts a low limit on the amount of appliances that can be plugged in, and also runs the risk of starting a fire if it becomes overloaded. A 3000W power inverter can run a wide variety of tools, as discussed by a member on the forums:

    I have powered (at one time) a commercial floor sander when I refinished my trailer floor a few years ago.
    Now, I just have a coffee pot, TV sat receiver, assorted 120v accessories. I was thinking about getting a small fridge and microwave as well.

    On our forum, a member took the time to explain how he installed a power inverter in his semi truck.

    If you have any doubts about your ability to install a power inverter, please let a professional do it.  An improper installation is a serious fire safety risk.

    **************

    Battery cable (or Welding cable) soldered into copper lugs.
    Be sure to use solder flux and plenty of solder.
    I always “fill” the lug with molten solder and then push cable into it while HOT.
    It might be necessary to keep heat applied for a few seconds to make sure the solder impregnates the cable.

    BE SURE to keep from moving the cable or lug for several minutes until the solder has cooled.
    DO NOT cool the lug with water.

    *************

    I always have used this type of “Quick Connect” and installed it under the bunk; between the battery and inverter.
    You can buy these at NAPA Auto Parts stores. This one is larger than needed, because when I went to purchase one, the NAPA store didn’t have a smaller one in stock.

    These “disassemble” by inserting a flat screw driver between the “catch” and the contact. Then remove the contact from the unit.

    AFTER your solder has cooled, you can re-install them by pushing them into the unit.

    MAKE SURE you follow “polarization”.
    Once you have the “Quick Connect” installed, it will only snap together ONE WAY, so if you have your polarity correct when you first put it together, it will ALWAYS be correct.

    *************

    In the absence of RED shrink tubing, I have always used RED zip ties to mark polarity.

    The reason the inverter end is RED wire and the battery end is BLACK wire is when I originally constructed this, all I could buy was RED battery cable.
    I have had to replace the battery end twice and have discovered that WELDING CABLE is about 40% cheaper than battery cable, and is by far a superior product; more flexible than battery cable.

    **********

    If there isn’t already a hole in the floor under the bunk, you need to drill at least a 1″ hole. A “throw-away” 1″ wood bit works good on aluminum flooring.

    IMPORTANT: Be sure to add a rubber grommet or liquid silicone (even better: use both!) between the wire and the hole, or else vibrations will quickly cause the wire to be damaged, possibly starting a fire.

    **********

    FIRST: Hook the POS cable to the POS terminal CLOSEST to the truck. NOTE: the RED zip-ties marking polarity.

    **********

    NEXT: hook the NEG cable to the battery post FURTHEST from the truck.

    ALWAYS hook the NEG cable LAST, or unhook the NEG cable FIRST. The same applies for the INVERTER end of the cables.

    Credit to the original thread and author here.

    { 7 comments… read them below or add one }

    ml48603 September 2, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Good installation article. Was this a 12 or 24 volt battery configuration?

    Reply

    avpopov November 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Only thing this article is missing, at least 100 amp circuit breaker… . Very easy to install… .

    Reply

    Jack August 12, 2013 at 9:52 am

    “Quick Connect – You can buy these at NAPA Auto Parts stores.”

    VERY useful. That was my missing link. I didn’t know where I could go to see one that could handle 300 amps. (My 1500/3000 will draw up to 294 amps for up to ~1/2 a second) I’ll go with a 300 amp MANUAL reset breaker near the battery, since inverter fuses offer no protection if the positive cable shorts out. A breaker on the 120v/240v side is generally not useful because they already have protection to match their design. Example: Mine will hold for ~1/2 second at max surge, and kick out for sustained operation at anything over the max output rating while another will run up to 5 minutes at 120%, etc. With a 1500/3000 it means a 25 amp surge max through 12/2 for 1/2 second, and not more than 12.5 amps sustained before the inverter trips…which brings up something else. There needs to be a convenient way to turn the inverter on an off, and to be able to power cycle the inverter for it to resume supplying 120v again after it kicks out from an overload, or the more likely, DC under voltage.

    Reply

    Ronnie November 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

    This is great if your inverter only has 2 wires … the new power drive 2000 I bought has 4 where do they all go?…hook to 1 battery or 2 … nothing in the box saying what or how to hook these wires…. Thanks in advance for any help.

    Reply

    spikedaddy4 January 20, 2014 at 11:14 am

    you can run them to the same battery.

    Reply

    Tim March 12, 2014 at 1:49 am

    I have a Xantrex 458 that was formerly used on a motorhome. Since I have it, I was wanting to use it to power frig, microwave, auxiliary heat and small appliances in a Volvo 610. I can’t afford the cost of installation and am a RV tech for 2 years.

    My question is about placement of inverter, and batteries. I was thinking to use the curb side storage for both but read that they should not be together. I could sure use some help.

    Thanks

    Reply

    Sean Corcoran June 24, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    What if you run the inverter off a tri pac…can it handle the wattage? Amperage? Volts? Don’t know ?

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: