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Thread: Studio Lights running of a car battery with an inverter...?

  1. #1
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    Default Studio Lights running of a car battery with an inverter...?

    Ok, so I had this wacky idea the other day...Is it possible to run studio lights off a car battery using an inverter?

    As in, location permitting, you rock up in your car, connect up the inverter, lights to the inverter and start shooting? i.e the car would still be running while shooting.

    I am not the most tech savvy person re: automobiles...And I am sure there is probably plenty of reasons why this would be a bad idea...

    Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?
    Bruce Lim Photography

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  2. #2

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    There are commercial battery packs for studio lights, I dont see why running one of a car battery and invertor would be a problem.

    Your going to want what a 1200-1500w invertor or so, not sure how long it would last but probably a decent time.
    Canon 5DmkII, 400L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 24mmf3.5 TS-E, Canon 70-200f2.8L, Tamron 90mm SP AF Di f2.8 Macro, Sigma 50mmf1.4 EX HSM, Nissin Di866 flash, Manfrotto 190xprob & Markins Q3t head, Lee filters, Lowepro Flipside 400AW, Yong Nuo rf 602 triggers.


  3. #3

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    Hey Bruce, that would be interesting to know, i bet people have tried it if you research it. I have run continuous lights in softboxes of an invertor (now that you can buy 5k rated bulbs at bunnings, but they are weak light sources) and portable batteries but they are way lower wattage and average current draw rather than a charge burst (W vs Ws). Love to know the answer. I have seen some prihada videos where he talks about cheap generators having a rough output and sine wave generators having a cleaner signal, prob true for invertors too. I bet the recycle time will be longer and teh invertor dips out during initial charge (100% drain, but still charging, funny wave form).

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjd View Post
    Your going to want what a 1200-1500w invertor or so, not sure how long it would last but probably a decent time.
    Eek !!
    That's a bucket load of power to get out of a 12V system for any length of time. If you need that much then a small petrol generator would be a better option and more portable. There are some really quiet ones about the size of a suitcase.

  5. #5

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    I'm guessing 2 or 3 400w lights ?
    Canon 5DmkII, 400L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 24mmf3.5 TS-E, Canon 70-200f2.8L, Tamron 90mm SP AF Di f2.8 Macro, Sigma 50mmf1.4 EX HSM, Nissin Di866 flash, Manfrotto 190xprob & Markins Q3t head, Lee filters, Lowepro Flipside 400AW, Yong Nuo rf 602 triggers.


  6. #6
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    I am thinking of trying to power a single 300w studio light...

    I have one that is playing up and I am going to replace anyway, so might look at getting an inverter and seeing how I go...
    Bruce Lim Photography

    Canon 1D MK III / Gripped Canon 5D MK I / 300mm f4 IS L / 50mm f1.8mm / 24mm - 105mm f4 L / 70mm - 200mm f2.8 L / 580 EXII / YN560 / 540EZ / Cactus V5's / RF-602's / Sandisk Extreme and Lexar Pro memory cards

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  7. #7

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    Possibly it is confusing to think of strobes in terms of Watts, like the rating on the inverter. They have a Watt second rating which is not he same I think. I understand they only draw power while charging and not in a linear way like continuous bulbs (W) would in running condition, more like a extreme startup with lots of reactive loading?. Current draw is the big issue in a system like this for strobes. The charge current can be provided by the 12V battery, although heating will happen if the period is short, but the inverter is unlikely to be able to source (convert DC/AC) it at the required rate, so you will get voltage sag till the current draw drops. But this is all speculating, should be easy to look up or try.

    This feels like a Desmond sort of thing, I wonder if he ever tried a strobe on his Van inverter system?

  8. #8
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    Good point. Bruce, are you talking about a 300W continuous light ?

    Tony, the Watt-second rating is a different thing again (it's a measure of the light output), but you are right in that a strobe doesn't require the full (eg. 300W) continuously.

  9. #9

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    Steve, aah, that makes more sense. In terms of power I understand the circuit but didnt get why they used that unit, makes sense that it is the output, more meaningful than the draw power since units may be more or less efficient.

    I want to give it a go now, it would be great to have portable strobes that dont run on a $2000 or so intergrated battery unit.

  10. #10
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    This should provide the required amount of overkill....

    http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView...r&form=KEYWORD
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  11. #11
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    Definitely thinking along the lines of a cheaper option than buying those Quadra's...

    Mono lights - Not continuous lights...
    Bruce Lim Photography

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Lim View Post
    Definitely thinking along the lines of a cheaper option than buying those Quadra's...

    Mono lights - Not continuous lights...
    There are lots of chinese kits around with 1 light + battery, some starting from $500. I am thinking of getting one to try some day.

    Seems a bit inefficient to convert power from DC (car battery) into AC (via inverter) and then back into DC to charge the capacitor in the monolights... but yeah, I think this is a topic for our buddy Desmond...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyphoto.co.nz View Post
    Seems a bit inefficient to convert power from DC (car battery) into AC (via inverter) and then back into DC to charge the capacitor in the monolights... but yeah, I think this is a topic for our buddy Desmond...
    That's right , it all depends on efficiency .
    Many inverters have around 90% efficiency so to get 90W of energy you have to put in 100W of energy from the car . The car revs would need to stay high-ish depending on the alternator . many car alternators these days are around 100 amps at 14.2 volts = 1400W of energy . These are all very rough figures BTW .
    An inverter that puts out 900W would draw about 1000W from the alternator .
    A 50 amp hour battery could supply about 600W for about an hour , or 1200W for half an hour without an alternator charging the system .
    Normal car batteries don't like being run flat but a deep cycle battery wouldn't mind but they are very expensive .
    As mentioned a strobe will draw very little power as it simply charges up and then discharges in 1/1000th sec so a battery would last a long time .
    I am not sure about how sensitive a strobe would be to an inverter . A cheap 1000 Watt square wave inverter is around $80 while a 1000 watt pure sinewave inverter is close to 5 times that price , but it should be guaranteed against messing with any electronic circuits . A cheap square wave inverter can confuse charging systems where they will either not charge properly or burn themselves out overcharging .
    There are some pretty powerful old flash units out there that could run off normal batteries and a wireless trigger .
    Shooting with Nikon D40 , D50 , 2 X D90 , 2X SB800 2 X SB24 1 X SB400 . Tarmon 17-50 F2.8 , Tamron 28-75 F2.8 Nikon 35mm F1.8 50mm F1.8 , 85mm F1.8 , 18-200VR , 18-105 VR , 70-200VR , Fuji F31fd .
    http://desmond-downs.blogspot.co.nz/...-depth-of.html

  14. #14
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    Default Portable generator

    On location shoots i tend to use a portable 2.5kw generator, bit large and bulky but I can run 4 600w flash heads with no issues. Recycle time is a bit slow, about 4 seconds, but whats a few seconds on still shoot!

    Apix can also supply invertor units for various lights but they may cost as much as the light kit itself!

  15. #15

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    I gave this a go and with the gear I had it didnt work (150W invertor, 200W/s strobe). At turn on the flash was continually firing, like at 10 shots a second sort of thing, and wouldnt go to an off state to properly charge up, I suspect too much noise and falsly triggering and not enough grunt to charge pulse caps, worth a shot though.

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