What Size Inverter do I Need to Run a TV? Our EASY Guide
What size inverter do I need to run a TV, you ask? That depends on the size and efficiency of your television. A compact 20-inch television requires a far smaller inverter than a giant home theater screen.
The simplest explanation is that a good inverter is at least 20% larger than the devices you want to power.
How Much Power Do Televisions Draw?
As Battery Equivalents explains, TV watts range from about 15 (for a small LED) to 500 (for a massive Plasma screen) (1). Realistically, most televisions use less than 250 watts, with a significant majority of modern screens using less than 100.
While the size of modern TVs suggests otherwise, the truth is that LED and OLED screens are far more efficient power-wise than older televisions, so changing to a new screen can ultimately decrease the size of the power inverter you need.
Energy.gov, in an article about tips for buying a new TV put themselves in the shoes of a eco-conscious shopper. They stated:
I was drawn to LED televisions, which are typically thinner, generate less heat, and use about 20% less energy than an LCD TV. Within the ENERGY STAR rated LED options, power consumption varied by as much as 50-70 watts depending on the TV size and manufacturer.
However, these calculations only hold true for the TVs themselves. Additional devices like external hard drives, Blu-Ray players, or streaming sticks all increase energy consumption and therefore the size of the power inverter you’ll need.
Why Go 20% Larger?
There are several reasons to get a power inverter that’s larger than you need.
First, constantly running at the edge of what your power inverter can supply risks causing problems if devices suddenly have a surge in short-term need. If that happens, they could shut down or even break under an unexpected load.
Having some wiggle room gives you the space to work around surges and inefficiencies.
Second, you should ask yourself, “What size inverter do I need to run a TV and other devices?” Put simply, larger sine wave inverters make it easier to plug in additional devices that you may want to use at the same time.
With a sufficiently sizable inverter, you can run laptops or similar devices and your television, all within a comfortable margin of safety. In addition, PennState states:
High frequency inverters are usually more efficient than low-frequency.
That said, inverters have peak efficiency at around 30% output, but even at higher draws, they’re efficient enough to work well when you have a 20% margin (3).
Is Bigger Always Better?
You can reach a point where your power inverter is far larger than necessary, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution and go too big instead of too small.
You can’t power anything if your inverter isn’t big enough to do the job. If your power inverter is too large, the only problem is that you spent a little extra money and have room to spare.
To help solve this, you can choose from a handful of highly-rated pure sine inverters that are a good choice for most homes. The key is understanding your usage and needs.
Continuous vs. Peak Performance
This is one of the things that people forget more often. Most inverters have two ratings: peak and continuous. Peak loads are short-term spikes in power draws, while continuous ratings are for providing power over continuous, extended periods.
While you want to choose a solid continuous rating that works for your daily, average energy needs, peak loads are crucial, too. To better understand this process, you can check out this video from The Engineering Mindset that explains how inverters work:
Ultimately, peak load ratings should be at least 20 percent higher than your peak needs. If you ask, “What size inverter do I need to run a microwave?” the same holds true. This way, in a short-term draw on power that’s higher than normal, your devices should be able to function normally both during and after the spike.
Mistaking peak output for continuous output will result in buying an inverter that’s far larger than you need.
Many inverters have a peak performance that’s twice their continuous output. This means you can usually find the right number by looking for the smaller of two numbers placed next to each other. For example, if an inverter is labeled 600/300, then the 300 is the continuous rating.
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Yes, you can definitely run a TV off an inverter, but you will need to match the TV’s watts to the right capacity inverter. Fortunately, most TVs don’t require a ton of amperage to operate. With the right set up, like a solar system with plenty of batteries, you can run a TV no problem.
Generally speaking, a 300-watt inverter will run a TV with the right solar setup. The average 32″ LED or LCD TV requires between 55 and 70 watts to operate (4). If you’re looking to power something larger, consider a larger power inverter and more battery storage.
The type of inverter that you need to run your tv depends on the amount of energy efficiency that you’re looking for.
A pure sine wave inverter works essentially like your typical wall outlet, and has a smaller chance of damaging your equipment. A modified sine wave inverter simulates a pure AC sine wave, but can’t power more sensitive electronics and causes more wear-and-tear. For an in-depth comparison of pure sine wave inverters vs modified, check out this handy guide.
- Off-the-Grid: How Many Watts Does a TV Use?. Retrieved from: https://www.batteryequivalents.com/off-the-grid-how-many-watts-does-a-tv-use.html
- Watch the Watts: Tips for Buying a New Television. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/watch-watts-tips-buying-new-television
- Efficiency of Inverters. Retrieved from: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/eme812/node/738
- Electricity usage of an LCD/LED Display or TV Screen. Retrieved from: https://energyusecalculator.com/electricity_lcdleddisplay.htm
Hi, Im Dara. Born and raised in Farmingdale NY and I spend my time online covering alternative energy news and local developments,in the space. My mission is to help more people realise the benefits of using alternative energy. When i’m not blogging about energy you’ll find me walking my dog, working out, or practicing meditation!