Xantrex Prowatt Inverter

Use an inverter for 110-volt power onboard any boat.

A neighbor wanted to upgrade his pontoon boat but not break the bank. High on the wish list was setting it up to host floating tailgate parties while watching the big games. A permanent-mount 12-volt TV didn’t make sense — he’d instead bring a big-screen aboard for such occasions.

The power solution was an inverter. Not one of the big, fancy ones that pinch-hit for generators on big boats, but a compact unit that could supply a light or a continuous 110-volt power supply for a big screen, or run a microwave or power drill for a few minutes. He chose a Xantrex Prowatt SW with a 1,000-watt output capability and coupled it to a 90-amps-per-hour (ah) gel-cell battery. This combination spared the starter battery, weighed just 65 pounds and provided plenty of juice for an overtime game or an evening of movies afloat.

Installation took less than two hours. The system has so far performed flawlessly, mostly because we did our homework and selected the appropriate capacity inverter and battery to begin with, and wired it in accordance with the directions. Apparently the two most common installation problems are using undersize wires to carry the 12-volt load from the battery, and making that wiring run too long (six feet or less is optimum).

Know your power needs and wire it correctly, and you can have a low-cost, low-hassle 110-volt power source on almost any boat.