Question about Black & Decker PI400AB Power Inverter

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400 watt inverter Alarm sounding

I have an inverter wired into a lighting curcuit in my motorhome it is running a 20 inch tv 80 watt the low battery alarm is going off constantly the tv works fine as soon as i start the MH the alarm goes off Please help

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  • Dan Hudson May 11, 2010

    How old is your battery? Have you ever drawn it down to Zero? Try reading the voltage on the battery while running the inverter, and check your voltage. There is only something like 1/2 volt difference between full charge and fully drained. So,



    12.8 = 100%

    12.5 = 75%

    12.2 = 50%



    The Average battery has about 400 discharge cycles to 75% charge, and less that 100 to 30% capacity. So, the more you use it, the less it will last. I ususally only get about 1 season per battery (maybe 40 cycles) since I draw them all the way down when dry camping.

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Check to see if your vehicles battery terminals are clean, and get your battery checked. I have found the people at Battery Warehouse to be great. They will check your battery for you, and if you need a new one, ask if they have seconds. Good batteries with some insignificant blemish. Great deal. And get one with high cold cranking amps.

Posted on Oct 27, 2012

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Test the battery if it is still OK

Posted on Feb 27, 2010

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COLEMAN INVERTER PMP1200 JUST BEEPS WHEN TURNED ON


It is most likely the low voltage alarm. Suggest connecting when the car is running with no load (110 volts not connected). If the alarm continues turn the unit off and on to reset.

Hope this helps?

Inverter Protection Features
• Short Circuit Protection. The inverter will automatically shut down until short is removed.
• Low Voltage Alarm. An alarm will sound when the voltage from the battery discharges to 10.5 +/- 0.5 volts DC. This is an indication that the battery needs to be recharged.
• Over Voltage Protection. The RED LED Indicator Light will illuminate and the inverter will automatically turn itself off when the input exceeds 16.5 +/- 1 volt DC.
• Under Voltage Protection. The RED LED Indicator Light will illuminate and the inverter will automatically turn itself off when the input is less than 10.0 +/- 0.5 volts DC.
• Overload Protection. The RED LED Indicator Light will illuminate and the inverter will automatically turn itself off when the continuous draw of the equipment being operated exceeds 1200 watts or the surge draw of the equipment exceeds 2400 watts.
• Thermal Protection. The RED LED Indicator Light will illuminate and the inverter will automatically turn itself off when the circuit temperature exceeds 150° F

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How many 5 watt outside lights can you power with a 20 amp breaker?


Volts x amps= watts.
20 amp breaker x 125 volts = 2500 watts.
However, electrician use the 80% rule, so multiply 2500 x 80% = 2000 watts.
So if you have 20 amp breaker, and 12 gauge wire, and 20 amp switch, and distance is less than 150 feet, then watt load is 2000 watts or 400 5-watt bulbs.
Keep in mind that most switches are 15 amp, and not 20 amp.
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My name is Gena. The VEC024B that is being used by our field technicians are having problems with the fuse blowing in their work vans. Their vans are equipped with laptops.


Hi Gena, the inverter is a 400 watt unit. This is not a rating for a continuous load. You do not mention which fuse is blowing. This could be the fuse in the inverter or the cigarette lighter (power source) fuse. In either case, a fuse blowing could be a short circuit, something in the inverter shorted, or too much load. I am going to look at the too much load side of things. Not knowing how many laptops are being used, with the inverter if you have a 20 amp fuse in the cig lighter, this will allow you 20 amps X 12 volts = 240 watts. I would not run the inverter over 240 watts because of overheating issues. So, 240 watts will run 3 laptops. Just the laptops. Most laptops draw around 70 watts. check your power supplies on them to find their rating. If you exceed the 240 watts by combining the ratings, then you can expect trouble with your inverter. It will give 400 watts, but this is a temporary condition only. Another inverter will be needed or a larger one installed and it being connected directly to the battery (with a fuse of sufficient size installed). You could also (let us say there are 6 computers) charge and run 3, and the other 3 are running on their batteries. After an hour, switch so that the 3 running on batteries now are charging as well as running. The other 3 are now charging.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions please provide additional information. Such as the size and location of the fuse blowing. The laptop power supply ratings.
thank you

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My powerline 200/400 watt Inverter is flashing the red light and sounding the alarm. This happens with nothing plugged in or just about anything.


Low input voltage or current.
Bad input voltage sensor.
Test by connecting directly to battery (with jumpers or make an adapter). The wiring or connection to your power port (cigar lighter) may be bad.

If it works at the battery, it is the car wiring. If not, it will cost more than the 25 dollar price tag to have it repaired. Just replace it (try http://search.harborfreight.com/cpisearch/web/search.do?keyword=inverter )

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Overloaded my inverter -now only works when hooked to car battery


It sounds like the fuse that protects you cigarette lighter is blown.

After you have replaced the fuse, check the voltage again. 0.015vdc would not have powered anything that in manufactured to operate on 12vdc.

When powering anything over about 250W, I would suggest connecting directly to the battery to avoid overloading the lighter circuit.

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Your inverter has a peak of 3000 watts rating and should power that hair dryer. Make sure your batteries are in good shape. The inverter can only put out what it takes in. 1800 watt demand on the inverter requires 1800 watts from the batteries.

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2nd season with 400 watt vehicle 1024 inverter. The


Restating the question - 400 watt inverter is turned on and running with the vehicle turned off.
After starting vehicle the red light of the inverter is on with no power output from the inverter.
If you turn the inverter off then on inverter operates normally.

Solution - this is normal operation - my inverter does the same thing. When you start the vehicle
it draws a lot of current from the vehicle battery which causes a drop in battery voltage. Most inverters have a low voltage input safety and will fault the device.'

If the problem is turn on inverter then the red light starts flashing... I am thinking you
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1 Answer

Conecting to 120 volts AC


If you want to get more precise, figure out everything in terms of power (watts).

Basic electrical rule 1, 2 and 3:

voltage x current = power

or re-arranged:

current = power divided by voltage

or re-arranged:

voltage = power divided by current


For example, 12V X 2 amps = 24 watts.

or another example, 400 watts divided by 120 Volts = 3.33 amps

A 55W headlight that uses 12V would draw 55 /12 = 4.6 amps @ 12V

A 55 watt light bulb in a lamp at home would draw 55 / 120 = 0.46 amps @ 120V


As the previous post mentioned, inverters are not perfect when convertering 12V into 120V. If the converter consumes 1000W from the 12V battery, then a 90% effecient converter would generate 900W of 120V AC power best case. The other 100W is lost primarily as heat.

The other thing that gets tricky is that these ratings and the formula above are used for resistive loads, like light bulbs or hair dryers. Anything with a motor or transformer is considered an inductive load and can get much more tricky to calculate.

Consequently you need to give your self a safety margin when figuring out how big an inverter you need.

How does work in a practical sense?

Lets say you want an inverter for TV, DVD and Sat. Receiver. Look at the back of TV or in the manual. It should say how many watts it consumes. Lets say it is 400W. The DVD might be 100W and the Sat. receiver 50W - just as an example.

400 + 100 + 50 = 550 Watts. (just as an example)

You might think, well no problem, I'll use a 600 Watt inverter and have 50 watts left over. Depending on your inverter, that 600W might really be 600 x 90% effecient = 540 Watts of AC, less a 20% margin of error for the inductive transformers in the electronic of the TV, DVD and Sat. receiver 540 - 20% = 432 Watts.

Now you can see your 600 Watt inverter isn't big enough to do the job.

If we really need 550 watts of AC, add 10% to make up the effiency loss, then add a safety margin for inductive loads.

550 + 10% = 605 + 20% = 726 Watts.

Sounds more like an 800W inverter fits the job.

What does that mean in terms of wiring the 12V batteries to the inverter?

from the formula above:

current = power divided by voltage

In our example, we have an 800W inverter that runs on 12V

The current would thererfore be:

current = power divided by voltage
current = 800 watts divided by 12V
current = 66 amps.

That is important info because you can not use light gauge wire to carry 66 amps worth of 12V to the inverter nor could you use a 20A fuse to protect your inverter.

Now that's a lot of science for a guy who just wants to run a toaster on an inverter right?

800W / 120V = 6.66 amps

Using garryp's ratio 11:1, 6.66 x 11 = 73 amps.

That is a good ratio with a good safety margin.

This is all just MHO and should not taken as solid technical advise. In other words, don't blame me if you blow yourself up.

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