A good quality inverter can power appliances for many years without any issues. But even a good quality inverter should be installed in a cool, dry environment to last its intended lifespan.
One of the more common reasons why an inverter can fail prematurely is if it is operated in a hotter than recommended environment.
Therefore to keep the inverter working as long as possible, it helps to keep it running cool.
Read on for how hot an inverter should get, signs that it’s overheating, and how to keep the inverter running cool.
How Hot Should a Power Inverter Get?
An inverter should feel cool to mildly warm to the touch when running.
The recommended operating temperature tends to be in the range of 32°F to 104°F but can vary from one manufacturer/ model to another.
Is it Normal for it to Get Hot?
No, it is not. While inverters can get warm – unfortunately, they are not 100% efficient. Some of the electrical power from the batteries is lost as heat and not all the electrical energy from the battery is converted to the AC power needed to run your connected appliances.
Assuming a 1,000-watt inverter with an efficiency of 92% operating at full power, out of 1,000 watts of power supplied, only 920 watts of the power is available to power the connected appliances.
About 80 watts (8%) or so of the power feed into the inverter is lost as heat!
Should an inverter feel extremely hot to the touch or shut down because of excessive temperatures, switch it off.
Investigate the cause as this can damage the inverter.
Signs an Inverter is Dangerously Hot
1. The inverter case or housing will be extremely hot. The Inverter body should be cool to mildly warm at most during normal operation.
If you can’t keep your hand for a few seconds then it’s definitely extremely hot!
2. The Inverter will shut down. Modern inverters will usually have inbuilt overtemperature protection to shut them down when their temperature gets extremely high!
An over-temperature alarm or LED is activated when this happens.
When activated, the inverter will shut down and stop the supply of power to any connected appliances and only resume operation when its temperature is low enough for it to run safely.
You may also be interested in this post: How to fix an inverter overload fault
Tips to Keep an Inverter Running Cool
Keeping the inverter running cool is beneficial for its lifespan long term. To keep the inverter running cool, do the following:
1. Improve the airflow of the inverter. Has your inverter been running flawlessly and only recently started shutting down because it is extremely hot?
Moving the inverter (if possible and practical) to a cooler location can help.
Is there a window or door that you can open to improve the flow of air over the inverter? Check if this is an option.
2. Is the inverter fan running smoothly? An inverter fan can fail too. If it is running noisily or is clogged with dust then arrange to replace it or service the inverter respectively.
Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended safety precautions when servicing an inverter to avoid the risk of electric shock, injury, or death.
Do not hesitate to contact a qualified inverter technician.
Check if the inverter is installed in a place with good ventilation. I’m aware of several inverters that have shut down because they were running too hot.
3. Keep the inverter away from direct sunshine or any source of heat to keep its temperature low. If you’re using a car inverter park the car in a cool shaded place.
Also, keep the windows down (to the extent that it is practicable) so that the inverter does not get extremely hot!
4. Do not run the inverter at its maximum capacity for an extended period. Is the inverter running at its maximum capacity?
Some inverters should only run at their maximum capacity for a limited period only.
Check the inverter owner manual if this is the case. Even when it is not, when it is supplying maximum power, make sure there is good airflow around the inverter to keep it running cool.
5. Service the inverter regularly. Dust can build up in the inverter over a period. This slows down how well it can cool and can trigger an inverter temperature overload condition because the fan is not running freely.
Therefore, Inspect the inverter vents for any build-up of dust.
Use a blower to remove any dust, or cobwebs that may be restricting the inverter fan or blocking the vents.
An inverter powering appliances should run cool to mildly warm. When the inverter gets extremely hot, it will shut down. An inverter can fail too when it overheats!