We tested the 1512 at our site located about 12 miles from any commercial utilities. This place has been totally powered by alternative energy since 1976. Photovoltaics and motorized generators (both 12 VDC and 120 VAC) are the power sources. We hooked the 1512 inverter to 2 Trojan L-16W batteries (350 ampere-hours at 12 volts) for the test period. The 1512 was wired to the batteries with 0 gauge copper cables with a combined length of less than 6 feet. The inverter is used to power a variety of test equipment, computers, printers, power tools, kitchen appliances, and some lighting. The 1512 was constantly monitored by a DC powered oscilloscope (fully isolated from the 1512's output by its own internal battery power supply), a DVM, and an analog expanded scale AC voltmeter during the entire testing period of three weeks. Testing was conducted by Richard Perez.
Packing, Installation Instructions, and Owner's Manual
The unit was packed very well and survived UPS shipping. The shipping container is first class. We first turned our attention to the installation instructions, and operator's manual. It is well written, very thorough, and has a folksy flavor that is refreshing. The short form for immediate hookup is a very good idea for impatient customers. All the instructions are clear and concise. No one should have any trouble installing or operating the model 1512. All that is necessary is to read the manual.
The manual is very detailed in comparison with those of other inverter manufacturers. It may be a little too technical for some, but it is good to see this information available to the users. The discussion of the various types of loads and how they function on this inverter is very good, and will help non-technical users understand such things.
The 1512 powers inductive loads better than any inverter we have ever used. Regardless of size or type of load (we tried all kinds), the inverter was very consistent in its output waveform. We saw on the oscilloscope that we could not get the inverter's waveform to go out of the modified sine wave mode. This is amazing and almost unique. The Trace is very different from some inverters, which put out a wide variety of glitchy waveforms on inductive loads (especially small ones). The Trace 1512 inverter powered inductive loads such as fluorescent lights, stereos, TVs, satellite TV systems, sewing machines, computers, and motors better and quieter than many other modified sine wave inverters.
Our inductive AC equipment happily consumed the power made by the 1512. One very dramatic case was our computer equipment. This computer equipment has had problems with overheating when powered by other inverters. It ran much cooler on the 1512.
The Trace inverter is among the most efficient types we have tested. The 1512 met Trace's specs for efficiency. The 1512 inverter produced noticeably less heat when powering large inductive loads. For example, we used a large 720 watt vacuum on the inverter. When powered by another inverter this vacuum began serious overheating after only 20 minutes of continuous usage. The inverter itself was also very warm. When the vacuum was run on the Trace 1512, neither it or the 1512 showed any appreciable heating after over 2 hours of continuous operation.
The 1512 has excellent voltage regulation and is within Trace's specs. Regardless of load size, load type, temperature, and battery voltage, the 1512 did not vary over 2 volts (measured by us) in its AC output voltage. We tested the inverter on input voltages from 11 to 15.3 VDC. Temperature ranged from 10° C. to 40° C. Loads ranged from 25 watts resistive to 1.2 kW. inductive. Trace has really accomplished a great deal in the area of voltage regulation. Trace's digital approach to inverter design has produced an incredibly stable inverter. We were not able to measure any deviation from 60 cycles in all our testing. This is a big plus for anyone powering TV, video equipment, or audio equipment from an inverter.
The 1512 met Trace's specs. for power output. We repeatedly tried to overload the Trace inverter, but we couldn't kill it. The 1512 protected itself from any damage due to overloading. We tried resistive and inductive loads up to 3kW, with starting surges over 10kW. In the past, inverters would not survive being so grossly overloaded.
The battery charger was a very pleasant surprise. Not only is it easily user programmable, but its range of operation is much greater than anything else available. The 70+ Ampere current output of the 1512's charger is nearly twice as powerful as any comparable unit. The battery charger's voltage output can be set high enough to fully recharge deep cycle batteries. The Trace 1512 is the only inverter/charger we've seen that can effectively cycle the batteries; it is unique.
The Trace is the best for operation with a motorized generator. The 1512 will recharge the batteries faster than any other type of inverter/charger we've ever seen. This results in less generator operating time, and greater fuel economy. The programmable nature of the charger makes overcharging or too rapid charging of the batteries impossible. The 1512's current output was very constant over the entire recharging voltage range of our test batteries. Inverter to generator automatic changeover is smooth and positive. The Trace 1512 has the best built-in battery charger in the industry.
It was very difficult to find anything to complain about with the Trace 1512. The only feature we didn't like was the inverter's audio buzz. This audio noise is loud enough that the inverter should be located where no one will have to listen to it. A little noise is a very small matter in comparison with the inverter's many fine points.
The Trace 1512 is one of the finest modified sine wave inverter available. We found that it meets all of Trace's specifications. It is as far ahead of most other inverters as a Corvette is from a Model T. The 1512 is the first inverter to combine digital technology with ease of use, efficiency, and sheer toughness. The list price of $1,310. (with optional charger) is in line with the 1512's superb performance. We are recommending the Trace 1512 as an excellent buy. You can get more info on the 1512 from Trace Engineering Inc., 5917 195th NE, Arlington, WA 98223, or phone 206-435-8826.
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