Ghost Loads

Small loads that are not easily discernible but can consume considerable amounts of power each day are termed "ghost loads". Examples include "instant on" circuitry in a television, wall cube transformers for answering machines, and electronic typewriters. These types of loads can sneak far more than their fair share of power. If not anticipated, located and dealt with, ghost loads can waste a substantial quantity of power.

"Power cubes" or "wall cubes" that plug into outlets to convert AC to DC for electronic equipment contain small transformers which can waste incredible amounts of power. A unit for a boom box, for instance, might consume 17 watts of power 24 hours a day, even though the actual device uses only 7 watts.

These kinds of loads are difficult to detect with an AC amp meter. The best way to find them is to shut every load in the home "off", and then shut down all circuits at the breaker box. Using a DC amp meter on the main battery cable, monitor each circuit as they are turned on one by one. If there is a ghost, it will appear.

There are two ways to deal with these trouble­some loads.

The first, easiest, and most costly method is to accept them. Accept the fact that your inverter will never go into standby mode, add on to your array to compensate for this power consumption.

The second method minimizes power consumption. Place switches on the appliances that run unnecessarily, turning them truly off an one when required. For small, but necessary loads - consider operating these at 12 or 24 volts DC. If this is not possible, a second smaller, inverter can be installed to run select loads more efficiently. By doing this, the inverter can return to a no-load or idle mode, where is uses very little power.

  • Common Appliances with Ghost Loads
  • TV's and VCR's
  • Electric clocks
  • Clocks built in to appliances (microwaves, ranges, telephones)
  • Ni-Cad Battery chargers
  • Ground Fault Interrupting Receptacles and breakers (GFCI)
  • Cordless telephones
  • Answering machines
  • Low voltage appliances that can also utilize AC power

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