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RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Can I run a Ninja Foodi on an 800-watt inverter?

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. Today I discuss running small appliances on an inverter.


 


Dear Mike,

I have an inverter question. I have a new van and want to use only an inverter to power things like my toothbrush or my phone, etc. Except I love my Ninja Foodi air fryer. I have an 800-watt and an 1800-watt inverter but the second takes up a lot more space than the first. Will the Ninja run on the lower watt power source but just not get as hot? Does it have any diodes that would not allow it to work at all? Will I ruin it if I try? -Louise

Dear Louise,
These air fryers are getting really popular…. they make tasty food rather quickly with little or no oil. And it’s a lot healthier than frying it in lard (even though I love my wife’s pan fried chicken in Crisco). So let’s explore just how much power one of these take to operate and see how much inverter and battery power you really need.

What is a Ninja® Foodi Air Fryer?

Here’s what a Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven looks like on a store shelf. And you can see from the question in the Thor ACE Motorhome group that you are not alone. In fact, I’m getting a similar question every week or so.

While this air fryer resembles a toaster oven at first blush (and yes, it can do that function, as well), it really shines when you crank up the high-temperature convection setting to “air-fry” mode. That’s when it draws the maximum of 1,460 watts for 10 to 15 minutes while it does its fry thing. To find out how much amperage that is at 120 volts, we simply divide 1,460 watts by 120 volts, which we find equals 12.16 amps of current.

That’s not a huge load on a 20-amp kitchen outlet in your sticks-and-bricks home. But how much amperage would it draw from your RV house battery while doing it? In that case we simply divide 1,460 watts by 12 volts which equals 121 amps of current. Better include another 10% for efficiency loss, so let’s call it 135 amps or so.


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Can an 800-watt inverter power it?

Definitely not. In fact, the inverter should trip off the inverter’s circuit breaker within seconds, if not sooner. While it probably won’t hurt the inverter or the Ninja, it’s definitly not going to work.

Can an 1,800-watt inverter power it?

Most likely, yes, but only if it’s a Pure Sine Wave Inverter, not a Modified Sine Wave (MSW) Inverter. As you can see from my diagram, an MSW inverter creates all sorts of harmonics up to 45% distortion, and that can easily wreck the control circuity in your Ninja Foodi, so don’t try it.

In fact, an MSW inverter can burn up your electric blanket controller, and cause your computer power supply to overheat. In short, never use a Modified Sine Wave Inverter to power anything with onboard electronics, which today is practically everything that plugs in.

What else can go wrong?

It’s not just about the instantaneous wattage required. That 135 amps from your battery is going to be drained rather quickly. If you have a 100-amp-hr lead acid or AGM battery, it really shouldn’t be discharged below 50% of capacity, which means 50 amp hours. So, to calculate how long a 135-amp load can be powered, we just divide 50 amps by 135 amps, which equals 0.37 hours. Multiply 0.37 times 60 minutes and you can see that 22 minutes under full air fry power will drain your battery to 50% state of charge (SoC).

If you have a 100-amp-hr lithium battery, the numbers are better, since you can discharge it down to 0% SoC without damage. So, you might get 45 minutes of air frying time before your RV’s 100-amp-hr lithium battery is completely dead.

What about the wires?

Also, be aware that you’re going to need to run a very heavy conductor between your battery and the 1,800-watt inverter so that it doesn’t overheat and melt down. So, I would run 1/0 copper with a 150-amp fuse to protect it from over-current.

If you don’t install this type of wiring correctly you can easily cause an overheated conductor and a fire. So, don’t do this yourself if you’re not already competent at running heavy gauge wiring. This is not a Learn on the Job kinda install…


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Is there any good news?

Sadly, no. If you want to run an air fryer for 15 minutes or more in an RV from battery power, it will require at least an 1,800-watt Pure Sine Wave inverter, plus a 100-amp-hr (or more) lithium battery, plus short runs of 1/0 copper conductor. There’s just no way around it. These are real energy hogs which are happy in your house or while plugged into shore power, as long as you’re not running a lot of others things (like the air conditioner) at the same time. TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch).

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

You don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign

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Walt Howard
1 month ago

Mike. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! OK, I confess, I sometimes order cheap stuff from cheap companies like Wish & Banggood. I have complained many times about their advertisements regarding inverters. $89 for a pure sine waver inverter. There’s no such thing! Their ads blaze across the top “Pure Sine Wave” First the price gives it away. Invariably the fine print in the specs give it away, but for the average consumer, that’s too late, the order has been placed. I have often wondered how many poor souls have had their sensitive equipment ruined because they bought one of these modified sine wave inverters, or worse, thinking it doesn’t make any difference.

Nigel
1 month ago

Why not plug the oven into the 120-volt outlet on the campground pedestal if you’re in a CG? The amps used on this outlet are not counted toward the 30 (or 50) amps one is using for shore power on the pedestal, is it? Thank you!

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel

Well, if you’re at a campground with a 50/30/20 pedestal than perhaps you can get away with it. However, the calculations the the NEC currently uses to calculate campground loads did not anticipate each campsite using both the 50 and the 20 amp outlets at the same time. This is just one of the reasons that campgrounds often have such low voltage.

Nigel
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Thank you, Mike, for the prompt answer! If I understand your answer correctly, this means that, yes, you could use the 20 amp outlet on the pedestal, BUT it would be fitting, proper and wise to cease using other things electric that are supplied by shore power in the RV at the same time (e.g. A/C, portable heaters, hairdryers, microwaves, etc.) to avoid contributing to low voltage at the campground. Thank you for the clarification.

Crowman
1 month ago

Buy a Honda 2000i generator and problem solved.

Dr4Film
1 month ago

I don’t understand why people choose to eventually destroy both their Inverter and house battery bank way sooner than needed by running devices that require so much power and wattage. If you need to power those devices and you are NOT hooked to shore power, start your generator as that’s why it’s there. I have never used our microwave, coffee maker or any other high wattage device using the Inverter. I just won’t do it! Many of my Monaco friends have had to replace their microwaves, inverters and house batteries way too soon. My 2002 Windsor is 21 years old and still has the original inverter. The microwave was replaced because the touchpad was getting flaky, but it still worked. Plus, I have always gotten 7-8 years of service from my set of house batteries.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr4Film

A lot of people think their RV is just like their sticks and bricks home. It is similar but that’s where it stops. They’re very different both in operation of systems and equipment. With two different electrical systems that are limited as to what you can use together, is where people run into trouble. At home they’re use to 200A service where they can operate the coffee pot, toaster, microwave, oven, and hair dryer all at the same time,Lol. In our camper with 30A you better not try to run the toaster oven and coffee pot at the same time.