12 V. Inverter dont work in very cold weather

Last year I connected several strings of LED Christmas lights to a 12V inverter in my car for Christmas. I quickly learned that the police do not appreciate having Christmas lights turned on inside a car when driving down the road.
Ok, I promised him I would not turn on the lights while I was driving on a public road. However, we have a local park that people drive thru from Thanksgiving until New Years Eve. This park has something like 3 millions lights as well as live entertainment and other holiday events. The roads in the park are not considered "public roadways" during the holiday season, so the police do not mind that I light up my car in the park (yes, I asked them).
Anyhow, here's the problem. When the weather is warmer, like from 20 degrees (F) or warmer, the inverter works fine. But when the outdoor temperature is below 20F especially when below zero, the inverter simply refused to work until the car warms up for quite awhile. I quickly learned to take the inverter in the house when I get home, and that helps a lot.
But, I don't understand why this inverter does not work in the cold weather. It's a relatively new unit, purchased in 2008. It's fully semiconductor made. It's rated at 250 Watts and my sets of LED lights are only rated at about 40W total, so I'm far from the limit.
I should mention that during other times of the year I use this same inverter to operate my laptop computer without problems. Of course this is generally in warmer weather, because I'm not going to sit in my car in severe cold weather to read my email when I can do that in my warm house.
Anyone know why this inverter wont work when it gets cold?
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Nov 26, 2:47 am, snipped-for-privacy@thenet.com wrote:

I think you might want to buy it a "blankie."
Andy
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<...snipped...>

The manufacturer?
--
Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar. org
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Nov 26, 3:47 am, snipped-for-privacy@thenet.com wrote:

Lubricant viscosity/dust/dirt...?
Moving the inverter to under the hood and connecting it directly to the battery may improve that area of performance. -----
- gpsman
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Nov 26, 2:30 pm, "Stormin Mormon"

Good point. I neglected to tell him not to run those Xmas lights in summer "when the outdoor temperature is below 20F especially when below zero." -----
- gpsman
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 26 Nov 2010 02:47:41 -0600, jw wrote:

The circuit responsible for starting the quasi-sine wave that produces the 110v out has a device that may be over-sensitive to cold. Capacitors usually work less efficiently cold because they are similar to a battery. I've often used freeze-spray to locate bad capacitors in electronic equipment that would work but only after warming up. A drop of freeze- spray on top of a faulty electrolytic capacitor will knock it out immediately. Warm it back up with a soldering iron restores it to operation.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 2:47 AM, snipped-for-privacy@thenet.com wrote:

i'm still kind of hung up on what the HELL the police think it's their business about what lights you have on the INSIDE of your car?? I've had a 12v wreath hanging from my mirror for a couple decades and have never been hassled about it.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Barker wrote:

Don't know about the police, but "I" don't want lights flashing in your eyes while you run over ME!
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 12:31 PM, mike wrote:

I don't have a problem with it. "I" see just fine.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 3:47 AM, snipped-for-privacy@thenet.com wrote:

Probably a capacitor. They are often sensitive to temperature changes.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 11:01 AM, Tony Miklos wrote:

I wonder if a wet type electrolytic will freeze? I'm sure the expansion when water changes to ice could alter the value of the cap when it moves the anode and cathode farther apart. It could also be something as simple as a cold solder joint.
TDD
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 1:42 PM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

I think if the electrolyte was freezing and expanding it would ruin the caps permanently. Just what it is that makes up the electrolyte I am not sure. As far as I know, water is the only thing that expands when it freezes.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 12:57 PM, Tony Miklos wrote:

The electrolyte is usually boric acid or sodium borate in aqueous solution, together with various sugars or ethylene glycol which are added to retard evaporation. As you may know, ethylene glycol is the major component of conventional automotive antifreeze. The electrolyte could still freeze if it gets cold enough but perhaps not in a normal temperate climate. Most of the problems I've come across in consumer grade electronics have been due to cold solder joints.
TDD
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 26 Nov 2010 14:27:30 -0600, The Daring Dufas wrote:

It's no secret that electrolytics can perform poorly in the cold and have a rather high minimum operating range unless they are mil-spec or otherwise designed with a lower minimum operating temp. An electrolytic on the brink of failure could indeed contribute to the hard start of an inverter oscillator, regulator or drive.
--
Live Fast, Die Young and Leave a Pretty Corpse

Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 2:46 PM, Meat Plow wrote:

Howdy Meat, how's the Plowing going? We have a kook posting here who is a like a combination of Mara and Hatter. It's hysterical and a complete moon bat. It will soon have its own page at ED if it keeps on. FLNF
TDD
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 26 Nov 2010 14:27:30 -0600, The Daring Dufas

Most problems I have run into with electronics not running when cold is the use of devices that are not rated tooperate under frigid conditions, or accumulation of condensation on sensitive timing components..
Covering the board with a silicone conformal coating, closely following the manufacturer's instructions, will solve the condensation or "dew" problems. Placing a low wattage incandescent lamp inside the case to warm up the "guts" solves the low temperature operation problem in a matter of a few minutes.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 3:29 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Remember the dew light on a VCR? I've used conformal circuit board coatings for years on boards that would be exposed to wide temperature swings or used outdoors. 25 years ago I was using a product called "Conform" and I think it was made by LPS but I can't find it. The one my suppliers carry is "Techspray Urethane Conformal Coating 2104 12oz". I've used the LPS products "LPS 3" On electrical connections including high voltage electrical power connections out in the Pacific islands and "LPS HARDCOAT Corrosion Inhibitor" on other electrical equipment. All of the circuit boards in HVAC equipment have a conformal coating because those boards experience wide swings in temperature and humidity. Some of the out door equipment I work on will have a big ceramic power resistor inside to act as a heater to drive out moisture. A friend of mine worked on telecommunications equipment for NATO when he was in The Army and he told me about the Siemens central office switches that were designed with the power supplies on the bottom so the heat would rise up through circuit cards to drive out moisture. This was around the time AT&T had the Dimension 2000 switches that would glitch if the room got a little too warm if the air conditioning went out.
TDD
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/26/2010 3:47 AM, snipped-for-privacy@thenet.com wrote:

Does it have a cooling fan? If it does, bearing lube oil maybe too thick when cold. The inverter might have a fan rotation sense circuit, that prevents it from running without cooling.
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In wrote:

Poor design; its components are not stable with temperature. Simple cause, PIA to remedy as you're finding out, esp with cheapies. Always check temp op specs before buying. Cars are very hostile environments to electronics ckts and the designer must know what he's doing.
HTH,
Twayne`
Add pictures here
✖
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.