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The mismatched wire sizes can cause an imbalance in heat distribution and if you're already pushing the wire rating it can be even more pronounced. The quality of manufacturer supplied wires can also be suspect as well as minimum suggested size.

A loose connection at either the crimp or the eyelet could cause intermittent surface spread and increased resistance. If there is still paint on the grounding point the resistance is also increased.

The size of the inverter is just a maximum. It sounds like the first one was defective. Inverter inefficiencies are the power loss during the voltage conversion and differ between makes/models. It can be best thought of as a percentage(generally about 10-20% is a fair assumption) increase on the total usage. While it's not necessarily higher at closer to limit loads, electronics in general become less efficient when hotter, so inadequate ventilation/cooling could reduce the efficiently. There is also a no load draw if the inverter is on but not powering anything. Heating appliances also generally advertise the output rather than input and require more power than what may be listed. They'll often have another sticker or something in the manual that lists the actual electrical specs.

It's quite possible it's a combination of things that might not have been disastrous on their own. Every increase in resistance causes more buildup of heat, causing more resistance, until something gives. The points where you saw flame would be weak links, but not necessarily the full problem. 1500-2000w is really only about the capacity of a single household circuit, so what is running at any given time needs to be regulated. I wouldn't trust the overcurrent devices to regulate this for you, although their purpose is to prevent fire.

Oversized wires can help in more constrained environments. Ambient temperature plays a role in wire ratings. All wires in a run should be the same size though.
 

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That hammer crimper is great -- I hadn't seen that before.
No hammer crimper is great.
Always use a good quality hydraulic crimper with (very important) proper sized dies.
It's the only way to ensure that the strands inside the lug are compressed into a solid mass.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
 

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Might want to look at the reviews on that inverter and similar inverters in that price range.

A 'very good" 2000 watt inverter will cost ~ $1200 - 1500. A $300 inverter is really a 300 -500 watt inverter with a 2000 watt label.

The fact that they provided 2 awg wire for a 2/0 requirement is an indication of their general approach to life.

Sorry to hear that you are learning lessons the hard way.
 

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We carry Kisae inverter/chargers which have worked well for our customers and are fairly affordable. But you need to improve your wiring at the same time you install a new inverter.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
 
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When I bought my van it was built out already by the previous owner to live in. This worked out great for me because that’s what I was going to do. He had a 1500w inverter already in it but I had him install a 3000w inverter because I was installing a Bosch on demand water heater that required 120 amps on start up. I went to use it one day and I saw smoke and flame. Put it out with the fire extinguisher (always have a fire extinguisher!). Upon examining the aftermath turns out the PO used the existing small gauge wires for the new inverter. The wires were simply too small, heated up and the insulation caught on fire! When I cleaned it all up I over-wired with 2/0 cables from the inverter to the batteries. Now when I turn the hot water heater on I feel no warmth whatsoever through the insulation.
 

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I have a cheap $150 modified sine wave 2000w inverter. It has really exceeded my expectations. The only high draw application I use it for is running a 1000w digital microwave and it does that just fine. Ive charged at least a half dozen different laptops with it, no issues, operate my Li battery charger, and more. The only issue Ive ever head with it was trying to run a 110 electric blanket with a digital control. Something about the inverter output did not work with the digital control on that heating blanket.

I used a hammer crimper for my lugs too. I dont think it did a great job but I didn't think of them as being so critical until now. Do any of the experts have an opinion on the harbor freight hydraulic lug tool?
 

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IMHO - it is impossible for a low end crimper of any type to consistently deal with the requirements of 200+ amps @ 12 volt / 2 kW class inverter.

Unless you are doing a very large number of specialized crimps, it doesn't make sense to crimp your own wires beyond 10 awg.

It is less obvious, but in addition to the needed equipment, calibration before the work is started is also part of the deal.

Watch a few youtube videos on what is really takes to make a good, cold welded crimp. TE has some good ones.

All that is needed is to either use a small wire or a rope to measure the needed wire and buy them from a professional shop. They are on Ebay and all over the place. Delivery is fast and usually they are far better than most people can produce on their own. I use a fair number of heavy wires and after studying it all and my cost to set up, I happily buy them.

It is worth reading about marine wire's low end temperature ratings vs other types and the outdoor temperature conditions that your van will encounter to ensure that it is the correct choice.
 

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Recommendations on inverters? Right now, $1200 is out of our budget.
IMHO, you have suffered more than enough from the results of a low end import inverter pretending to be a 2000 watt unit.

Consider instead to buy a 1000 or 1500 watt inverter that is made in the US. That will be a much better experience.

I am looking for something that is in your budget, but it might take some give and take.

Altestore, solar-electric and similar are places to look.

Outback and some of the magnums are very good.
 

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I have a cheap $150 modified sine wave 2000w inverter. It has really exceeded my expectations. The only high draw application I use it for is running a 1000w digital microwave and it does that just fine. Ive charged at least a half dozen different laptops with it, no issues, operate my Li battery charger, and more. The only issue Ive ever head with it was trying to run a 110 electric blanket with a digital control. Something about the inverter output did not work with the digital control on that heating blanket.

I used a hammer crimper for my lugs too. I dont think it did a great job but I didn't think of them as being so critical until now. Do any of the experts have an opinion on the harbor freight hydraulic lug tool?
This is like the one I bought on Ebay for about the same price($30). With my original batteries and #2 battery cable I made my own crimper tool. But going to 2/0 welding wire I bought the hydraulic one. It works, it's metric so you have to convert to US cable, size charts are online or guess. The main problem is the lugs that are used even though you bought 2/0 lugs they are not all the same. You can get squeeze out at the die seams on some lugs this can be corrected by watching the lug when crimping and then rotate the lug an 1/8 of a turn if you you notice squeeze out starting. Some lugs work just fine with no problem. Any crimper using out of spec lugs will have the same problem. Good for every now and then crimping.

 

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Glad things didn't turn out very badly.

RD is correct that larger (over 1000 watts) inverters can draw a lot of current on the DC side. What size fuse and cables were feeding the inverter? What was the load on the inverter when the fire started? Can you post some photos of the wiring before/after?

Thanks for posting as this is a valuable lesson for those with large inverters with insufficient fusing and cables. Another issue is the heat that is produced when running large loads. Adequate ventilation is important. Mounting electrical equipment on wood is also not good.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
Hein, instead of mounting electrical onto wood and given that beds are usually above the electrical... do you have any suggestions on how to fire proof, if possible, that area. Perhaps lining the area at risk with a sheet of something??
 

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Another issue is the heat that is produced when running large loads. Adequate ventilation is important. Mounting electrical equipment on wood is also not good.
Hein, I understand your comment is based upon an equation that includes an inverter over 1000w. As a learning moment for individuals like myself and others who do not have much experience. Does your comment about "Mounting electrical equipment on wood is also not good." apply to smaller systems as well, that would include KISAE DMT-1250, 1000w inverter and ABSO AC-1220 BATTERY CHARGERS with two 100a BattleBorn batteries? If so, do you have a recommendation as to what material to mount the electrical equipment to ?
 

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I’ve never had a problem mounting anything on wood.
 

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I have a cheap $150 modified sine wave 2000w inverter. It has really exceeded my expectations. The only high draw application I use it for is running a 1000w digital microwave and it does that just fine. Ive charged at least a half dozen different laptops with it, no issues, operate my Li battery charger, and more. The only issue Ive ever head with it was trying to run a 110 electric blanket with a digital control. Something about the inverter output did not work with the digital control on that heating blanket.

I used a hammer crimper for my lugs too. I dont think it did a great job but I didn't think of them as being so critical until now. Do any of the experts have an opinion on the harbor freight hydraulic lug tool?
I've been using the Harbor Freight crimper for several years for various size wires, and it works just fine for me.

I had a hammer crimper before this and was not satisfied with the quality of the crimps.

Soldering also works fine and some places like Del-City sell little kits to make the soldering easy just using a propane torch.

Gary
 

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Hein, I understand your comment is based upon an equation that includes an inverter over 1000w. As a learning moment for individuals like myself and others who do not have much experience. Does your comment about "Mounting electrical equipment on wood is also not good." apply to smaller systems as well, that would include KISAE DMT-1250, 1000w inverter and ABSO AC-1220 BATTERY CHARGERS with two 100a BattleBorn batteries? If so, do you have a recommendation as to what material to mount the electrical equipment to ?
This is exactly why we are moving all of our electrical from under the bed and accessible from the slider door including a 600ah lithium battery bank in the same tower. Also we are replacing every component to marine grade quality. Peace of mind when it stares at you right in the face.

We have two burn spots where ground bar connections worked loose and charred the wood above.
 

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Anyone have any experience with Renogy 2000w inverter. Have a brand new one that is just about ready for an install and based on this thread I am now rethinking the entire setup/placement/etc of my system. Holy Smokes folks !!!
 

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Anyone have any experience with Renogy 2000w inverter. Have a brand new one that is just about ready for an install and based on this thread I am now rethinking the entire setup/placement/etc of my system. Holy Smokes folks !!!
I haven't used the Renogy 2000W inverter but if it's like their other products I've got, it probably works well enough. They are a big enough company that they wouldn't knowingly sell crap. Too much risk to their reputation. I would have bought one but they were out of stock at the time.

As with many inverters, just keep things reasonable with your power consumption. Don't try to extract the full 2000W out of it.

I've said it earlier in the thread but proper installation is critical. Common sins are choosing too small a wire for the current that will go through it, improperly crimping, and making poor quality connections.

The last 2 can be subtle and could cause a fire just the same as the more obvious one of using too small a wire.

Something I would (heartily) recommend is stress-testing your electrical system. Don't immediately pat yourself on the back when your electrical system can power up your LED puck lights or charge your phone. If you're going to be using a 1000+ Watt microwave, test it with that--and more! I.e., both microwave and fridge and charging your laptop and running a vent fan on high and your diesel heater (etc.) Watch for hot cables and connections. It sounds overkill because you'll never run all those things at once. But could someone else in the van do it unknowingly? Or you, inadvertently?

Re: installing under the bed. If your equipment is properly installed and used appropriately, then there'll be no fire and you could put it anywhere. Improperly installed though and our vans are so small and wood everywhere that there'll hardly be any safe space to put it.

Re: installing on plywood. Similar to putting it under the bed. If you've done the install properly and are using the system conservatively, then there should be no problem.

One other suggestion for the above scenarios, separate electronics from easily flammable stuff. Maybe keep the paper towels away. :)
 

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Hein, I understand your comment is based upon an equation that includes an inverter over 1000w. As a learning moment for individuals like myself and others who do not have much experience. Does your comment about "Mounting electrical equipment on wood is also not good." apply to smaller systems as well, that would include KISAE DMT-1250, 1000w inverter and ABSO AC-1220 BATTERY CHARGERS with two 100a BattleBorn batteries? If so, do you have a recommendation as to what material to mount the electrical equipment to ?
It would take a rather small system to make the risk of fire moot. I'd wager that most people's diy van conversions have their electrical components mounted on wood, for what it's worth, that doesn't mean it's a good practice, just something many people do without experiencing catastrophic results.

If your system is designed and installed properly and inspected routinely for loose connections the risk of fire is greatly reduced.
 
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