What Will a 500-Watt Power Inverter Run? | Is it Sufficient for Your Needs?

Using a power inverter, you can run any appliance or gadget that requires AC power from a DC source, such as a battery or solar panels. Furthermore, you can find them in various sizes and combinations. For example, solar-optimized power inverters have specific features for the application. The question now is, what will a 500-watt power inverter run? Let’s find out in this guide. 

Key Takeaways

  • Modern inverters need a 20% buffer to account for the energy function of the linked device
  • A 500-watt inverter requires 50 amps, which is more than enough to power gadgets such as smartphones, cameras, laptops, and more
  • The inverter takes care of two crucial requirements: surge power and regular power
  • Inverter size depends on energy conversion, efficiency, and the total output

So, it is crucial to evaluate your power requirements before investing in and setting up a power inverter. In addition, it’s essential to avoid overloading your electrical system, which is a common problem with vehicle applications.

What Will a 500-Watt Power Inverter Run?

The 500-watt inverter can power various appliances, including smaller versions of standard home equipment like refrigerators. More powerful inverters are used for more power-demanding appliances.

This handy gadget lets you plug standard household AC appliances into your trailer, vehicle, or truck. Multiple outlets and USB connections are standard on 500-watt inverters. 

A low battery indicator and automatic shutoff function will be standard on high-end gadgets. You can use your inverter while camping or driving your semi truck by plugging it into the cigarette lighter outlet (up to 180 watts) – see also RV converters.

The best part? You can use up to 80% of the inverter’s capacity.

People sitting around a camp, eating

What are the Electric Items That Run on 500 Watts Power Inverters?

The devices you can run on 500 Watts inverters are mostly small appliances. Such a size inverter requires a low output load. It can sustain most of the minimal household appliances like:

  • Cell phones
  • Small refrigerators
  • Small TV
  • DVD players
  • Minimal air conditioners
  • Hair dryers
  • Small appliances you use in the kitchen, like coffee makers
  • Small-size electric fans
  • Laptops
  • LED bulbs

LED light bulbs

All these devices can run on 500 watts power inverters—they have a power requirement of fewer than 500 watts.

A device with 500 watts of power consumption or higher stops the inverter. An inverter must have a 20% extra wattage than the watts of all the intended devices.

This limit is relevant for modern inverters, requiring a 20% buffer energy. The inverter uses this energy to provide a sufficient power outage as a surge power to start the devices. For example, a fridge needs an extra power surge to start the compressor.

How Many Amps Does a 500W Inverter Use?

A 500 W inverter power outage is small scale. Thus, how much power in amps it draws fits the requirements of small appliances like a DVD player. A 500 Watts inverter draws 50 amps of AC power. 

Most inverters work with a battery. Such details on your fingertips help you establish how many devices the inverter will sustain and for how long. A 500 Watts power inverter has an 80 Ah battery with 1.72 watt-hours.

In conjunction with the amps limit, you can establish how to tweak your connections to sustain continuous power longer. The alternating current between the devices can help preserve the capacity and time.

Grey 500 watt inverter

How to Find the Correct Inverter to Run the Equipment

Finding the correct inverter size for a particular piece of equipment can take time and effort. You can pick up an inverter incompatible with your device without the know-how. Such a mistake can result in performance issues with the equipment.

The equipment’s processor might slow down, which can cause damage to the processors in the long run. Additionally, it is integral to ensure you keep the inverter and equipment manageable. 

For instance, an overwhelming electrical supply can cause electrical damage through a power surge or circuit failure.

Thus, only connecting your equipment after establishing the watts the inverter draws is sufficient. An inverter draws 80% of its capacity. Each device should draw at most 80% of the inverter capacity.

Battery Capacity

12v batteries vary in various types: lead-acid, glycerides, gel, and lithium battery types. Several types of batteries have respective maximum discharge limits.

You can measure battery capacity in Amps Hours (Ah). So, to simplify calculations, first, let’s convert battery capacity into Watt-hours or Watt-hours to calculate battery capacity in Watts. To calculate the battery capacity from Ah to Watts, use the form Wh = Watt.

A big 500 watt converter

How to Decide the Size of the Inverter I Need?

Determining the size of the inverter you need comes down to the devices you’ll use and how much power you need. You’ll need to decide the kind of devices and power tools you’ll connect.

Additionally, you’d note each device’s requirements and the total watts of all the requirements.

The right inverter size for your household varies depending on the energy conversion, the inverter’s efficiency, and the inverter’s total output per given time. However, the suitable inverter should cater to an equipment’s peak and standard power in all instances.

We highlight this in detail below:

Peak Power

The peak, or surge power, is a particular inverter’s maximum power. As stated earlier, when you connect an appliance, for instance, a refrigerator, power consumption hikes or surges to full capacity during the initial few seconds after connection. 

The short period can stop the inverter if the device can’t accommodate the extra surge.

This concern is common for higher devices like an electric motor and a water pump as the need is usually higher during connection. Once the device hits maximum capacity, the electrical charge will eventually stabilize.

Standard Power

Standard power refers to the normal power your device needs for optimal functioning. The standard power is usually lower than the surge power.

Once applied, there is a steady flow of power toward the equipment for seamless performance. The typical power kicks in after the ripples of the surge power settle down.

Grey silver converter

What are the Devices You Can Connect to the Inverter and Their Requirements

The maximum load you can connect to an inverter directly has to be on point. For continuous power, the inverter should sustain all the devices comfortably. The electronic devices you can connect to a 500-watt should have a lower watt requirement than the inverter.

Liaising with the manufacturer ensures you have the appropriate connection and the correct inverter. Usually, the watt requirements of devices are on the package.

You can calculate the total wattage of all the devices and estimate whether it’s sustainable or you should get a bigger inverter.

You form a baseline figure from the total wattage that you can build up to and establish the correct inverter. Ideally, an inverter in solar systems converts DC to AC, that’s conversant with most electric devices. 

Thus, analyze the AC unit after and before the connection to study its range during the surge and typical power.

All the equipment consumes more power when you connect them at the beginning. You will have to manage the power consumption, or the equipment will cease functioning.

Some inverters have specific requirements. You can buy an inverter that fits your device’s power requirement and does not work. 

The inverter in such a case isn’t ideal for your devices. Thus, it is essential to counter-check with the manufacturer to ensure the devices you listed are compatible with the inverter.

A black 500 watt converter

What To Keep In Mind Before Running a Load On The Inverter

Besides the surge, inverter efficiency rate and wire size are also integral concepts to consider when choosing the inverter. 

Inverter Efficiency Rate

An inverter efficiency rate determines the energy loss during the conversion. By converting power from DC to AC, you will lose some percentage of the power. A typical inverter efficiency rate ranges between 85-95%. However, the standard rate is 85%.

Based on the standard rate of 85%, a 500 watts inverter will have to pull 650 watts of battery power through the battery cables. 

It’s especially vital if you’re running it at full capacity. 15% of the inverter capacity minus the inverter’s capacity dictates the maximum battery voltage you’ll use.

A 500 watts inverter can sustain a car battery. Compared to lower units like a 300 watts inverter, most 500 W inverters have two plug points. 

The battery voltage runs to a pair of 120V output points and two USB devices, sufficient to run a few appliances. The ports can support a phone charger to recharge mobile phones.

For a 500 W inverter, you’ll consider 500-15%. 425 watts would be the appropriate maximum power to sustain your power outages. Running such an inverter on a 12V battery type is efficient enough as a battery bank for your electronics.

A silver converter

Wire size

The wire size between the battery and the inverter influences efficiency and performance. Using a thin battery cable risks your inverter. Running on a thin wire can damage your inverter or be unable to accommodate your load.

It’d be best to run high watts of load on a thick wire. The wire can sustain such a high voltage and wattage. A high wattage of 24 or 48 volts is ideal for building a solar system.

For instance, the 500-watt inverter requires a 2 AWG wire gauge with a diameter of up to 2 inches. 

This wire size will efficiently sustain the voltage while ensuring a sufficient power supply. Inverters consume up to 83 amps during transfer or conversion towards the inverter.

Seamless performance of the load necessitates the need for a thick wire.

A green 500 watt converter


Is It Okay to Leave the Inverter on All the Time?

Yes, it’s okay to leave the inverter on all the time. Otherwise, the time you have available as a backup power source would gradually decrease owing to the natural self-discharge of batteries. You must turn the size inverter on whenever the grid power goes off manually.

What Appliances Can Run off an Inverter?

Appliances that can run off an inverter include kitchen appliances, power tools, TVs, and computers, to name a few. If you have an inverter and a battery, you can use your standard household AC appliances anywhere you can access an AC outlet.

Can You Plug an Inverter Into a Wall Outlet?

No, you cannot plug an inverter into a wall outlet. Contrary to popular belief, inverters are not battery chargers. In addition, there is no ‘plug’ for use with a standard 120-volt AC outlet. You could use a charger for that purpose, but it would be a massive UPS/backup and a waste of power.

Can an Inverter Work Without a Battery?

Only a hybrid solar inverter can work without a battery. Such a setup connects to solar panels and the grid so that you can draw that energy from either source.

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