Tailgate Power Inverter Questions

Submitted by LSA91 on October 20th, 2017 at 12:24 PM

Q: My wife wants me to get a TV running at a tailgate, and I am too cheap to buy a generator, and worried about the noise from a rented generator. Can anyone give me advice on what to expect from a power inverter? Specifically:

- Is it a stupid idea to pull the batteries from cars we're not using and bring them for extra power? I see people talking about buying marine or deep cycle batteries to run an inverter, but nobody even discussing my idea, so I assume it's too dumb an idea to even come up.

- A bunch of people talk about running their truck for a few minutes an hour to top off their battery when running an inverter. Is the charger really that efficicent that a few minutes an hour in an idling truck (well, Honda Pilot) can power a TV and dish indefinitely?

Thanks - I know the answer probably is that I should rent a generator, but I really like the idea of a cheap, quiet solution.


Longballs Dong…

October 20th, 2017 at 12:27 PM ^

I've run a tv and home stereo setup using an inverter and just left the car running for several hours.  If you don't like that, just bring jumpers and make sure someone near by will jump you in case you run your battery too low.  


October 20th, 2017 at 12:31 PM ^

Like everything else in life, it depends on the size and age of the battery.

Obviously a brand new large truck battery will handle it better than a 10 year old subcompact.

Bring jumpers in case.


October 20th, 2017 at 12:50 PM ^

How much time have you spent looking at generators? Pretty sure you could find a portable one with a built-in inverter for < $500 if only powering a TV + dish.

Two Hearted Ale

October 20th, 2017 at 8:10 PM ^

Do not plug a TV or any other electronics you like into this generator. The voltage is unregulated so lulls and serges can occur which makes sensitive electronics susceptible to damage.

This generator is fine for power tools, a vacuum cleaner, etc. but not for more sensitive things.

Also, please consider others around you when you run a generator or vehicle at a tailgate. I had a bad experience several years involving someone who decided it was a good idea to run his truck continously while blasting Van Halen. The exhaust was bad enough, "Panama" at "eleven" was just torture.


October 20th, 2017 at 12:39 PM ^

Starting the car for five minutes every hour ought to do it. We had a big crew in town for MSU and didn't want to pay $250 a head for tickets and were going to buy a 60" and an HD antenna instead of spending three grand on tickets. A the end of the day, given the weater forecast, most of us tailgated all day at AAGO and cruised over to my house and watched the game. A half dozen or so ponied up $225ish a head to go to the game.  They got really, really wet.


October 20th, 2017 at 12:50 PM ^

Amazing coincidence. I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, but my uncle made me give the droids a bath instead.


October 20th, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

One thing to keep in mind is that automotive batteries are designed to provide a lot of charge (but not that much compared to their total capacity) for a very short amount of time, to start your car.  They are not designed to drain 75% and then recharge every time you have a tailgate, and doing so may actually shorten their life considerably.


If you really want to do this right, what you want is a deep cycle marine battery.  They ARE designed to be drained nearly empty and then recharged over and over again.  Also they come in a variety of capacities, so if you want to run a few electrical calculations you can figure out what size battery you need to run your setup for as long as you want.