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Lifestyles & AppliancesElectronics & Entertainment

Most electronics equipment works well on solar power. Most modern electronics has noise filters that filter almost all Mod-sine Inverter buzz. Battery powered equipment like laptops and Radio/ CD players have become especially efficient and are very feasible to run on even modest power systems. The biggest issue when powering electronics is deciding whether or not to let the power system go to sleep, or whether to keep it on 24 hours a day to run the plethora of cell phone chargers, cordless phones,etc. Many devices like TV satellite receivers take full power even turned off! While a few watts here or there may seem insignificant at first, consider that the sun quits shining after 6 to 8 hours, but all those loads with the inverter included may be on 24 hours. Then consider that the sun may not shine for days, with very little power coming in, and possibly more electronics use since the weather is bad and people are indoors more. For many of our systems now, we recommend more panels and batteries to leave the inverter on full time (see inverter standby), with a good backup power source in case the weather is bad and/ or your usage goes up.

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?

Insomnia? No Lets consider the pros & cons of using the inverter's sleep mode (aka "standby" or "search").

 Sleep ModeInverter On 24 hours a day
Noise, if inverter is in houseQuiet & no EMF radiation when in sleep modeextra noise of inverter at night
Informal Power indicatorEasy to confirm everything is off, if inverter is in sleep mode.Easy to leave lots of extra stuff on, plugged in, etc.
Turning on Lights some delay, super high efficiency bulbs won't always wakeup inverter lights come on instantly
chargersonly charge when something else keeps the inverter on, may not fully charge.Work normally, but take power even after finished charging
radio, small electronicsoften not enough power draw to keep inverter completely on, annoyingly shuts off every few secondsWork normally
cordless phonesneed a corded phone during sleep mode cordless phones work 24/ 7
Need backup generatorOnly customers who use sleep mode can possibly try to get by without a backup generator.Need backup power more often.
Novice users Systems designed for sleep mode will perform poorly if accidentally allowed to stay on.More like grid power, less learning curve.
Energy Usagesave the equivalent of 240 watt-hrs to 500 watt-hrs, enough to run a laptop computer for over 10 hours. Cost roughly $1000 in extra solar panels and batteries to run this.

SolarRay recommends: Small systems use sleep mode: renegade+, and frontier systems. Defeat sleep mode for certain usage.

Family and above systems go to inverter "on" full time, but now how to sue sleep mode if back up power is unavailable. .


TV, satellite TV, DVD, VCR, etc. cameras

Computer:LCD monitors, satellite Internet, video games...

Radio, CD, etc. Offgrid Studios

Communication device
Power draw
Typical Hours a day
Total Energy
Cordless Phones
3 watts
24 hrs
75 watt/hours
on 24 hrs a day
Cell Phone Charger
3 watts
8 hrs
24 W/h
solar chargers available
Radio Phones
24 hrs
Satellite Phone
6 hrs
Internet satellite phone
6 hrs
Small combo Radio, CD, tape
6 hrs
some can be converted to 12 vdc
Stereo Separate Components with subwoofer
6 hrs
20 watts
4 hrs
80 W/h
desktop & 17 " LCD monitor
175 watts
4 hrs
700 W/h
desktop & 17" CRT monitor
225 watts
4 hrs
900 W/h
satellite Internet receiver
15 watts
4 hrs
60 W/h
ink jet printer
25 watts
1/4 hr
laser printer
1/4 hr
3 hrs
20" LCD TV
25 watts
3 hrs
19" regular TV
85 watts
3 hrs

32" regular TV

250 watts
3 hrs
Big Screen Plasma 42"
3 hrs
VCR or DVD player
20 watts
2 hrs
40 W/h


Inverters: Electronic Loads, Surge Protectors and Radio Interference
by Windy Dankoff

Sizing an inverter for electronic loads

Most electronic devices (especially stereo and music amplifiers, computers and TVs) are labeled with power ratings that are based on absolute maximum or surge conditions, for the purpose of sizing power circuits. Their actual power draw may be HALF of that, or less. The best way to measure the peak and average power consumption is to use a Brand Power Meter (available from Dankoff Solar, see SunPaper 1).

Surge protector warning

Do not use household or computer type surge protectors on circuits powered by a "modified sine wave" inverter. They may overheat. Inverters do not produce dangerous spikes or surges, so protectors are not necessary. EXCEPTIONS: Use a lightning arrestor on any long AC feed line to another building or to a well pump, for example. Long lines can pick up induced surges from lightning, and feed them back to the inverter and to the AC circuits. The Delta LA302-AC Lightning Arrestor is appropriate. Place it at the beginning of the line, close to a main ground connection.

AM radio interference

ALL inverters produce radio interference in the AM and short-wave bands. It may be necessary to use a radio that is powered by DC or internal batteries, and is not located near the inverter. To hear distant stations, it may be necessary for the inverter to be off.