Whether you're trying to live off the grid or just power an RV when you have to boondock because there are no powered campsites nearby, you need a sturdy, efficient solar-powered inverter to keep your electronics and appliances humming. One of the features that many inverter brands tout is the no-load draw, and this is a feature you need to pay attention to. The no-load draw can have an astounding effect on how much power you have available to work the rest of your gadgets.
The Basic Power Draw
A no-load draw is the amount of power the inverter needs to keep running itself, even if there are no other devices trying to draw power. So once you turn the inverter on, even if it's not sending power to anything else, it's going to draw some power itself. This is similar to how your body still uses calories even when you're lying down and not doing anything but breathing.
Different inverters have different no-load draws, and these draws don't go away once you connect a device. The power draw from the device is added on top of the no-load draw, meaning that if the inverter isn't getting much energy -- say, it's a cloudy day, so the solar panels are drawing some energy, but not a lot -- the inverter may not be able to provide as much power as you want it to.
Of course, the way to avoid that conflict is to get an inverter with a low no-load draw, as well as getting a good solar energy storage system. A low no-load draw means that there is less competition for available power. You really want to find one that's at or below a half an amp for a no-load draw (sometimes also called standby current).
Another tactic to consider, if you are using the inverter in a residential setting and have times when you just don't need power at all, is to turn the inverter off. This will save you a lot of power if you have an inverter that's drawing a lot. Even if you have a very efficient inverter, turning it off can save that much more energy, leaving you with larger reserves in your storage system.
Inverters are definitely helpful if you have to live disconnected from a city power grid, but they work for you and your needs, not in spite of you and your needs. If you know you're going off-grid, look for an inverter that has the lowest possible no-load draw for the best power conservation. Contact a company like Everyone's Solar for more information and assistance.