Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Barbara Staib, President of Safe Home Products, is an expert on child safety, emergency preparedness, pet training and even pest control. She has personally helped thousands of customers since SHP started in 1999. Here you can find Q&A with Barbara to foster safer, healthier and simpler living.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When to Change Filter on a CWR Sports Water Filter Bottle

Question about the product ES-CWR-SB Sports Water Filter Bottle for Safe Water .

Q:"I bought the bottle years ago & used it a lot but how do I know when the filter no longer filters out junk?? I wasn't using town water so if I buy another filter how do I tell when it's no longer working? I don't want to get sick just to find out it doesn't work anymore.I travel from country to country all the time is there another inexpensive safe portable water filter I should be using instead of this one? thanks." Danielle.

Answer: Danielle, it's time to change the water bottle filter. The filters currently cost about $25. The recommendation is to change them every 12 months or sooner if you use it often. Each filter life is about 160 fillings with municipal water. The bottle holds 22 ounces.

Here are some additional features:

* Removes lead and heavy metals, chlorine, industrial chemicals, dirt, other contaminates, and bad taste.
* Eliminates parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia, and bacteria like E.Coli by 99.99%.
* Laboratory tested by State and EPA accreditied laboratories to meet EPA & ANSI/NSF (snd 53) protocol and requirements.
* Not intended for use with salt water. Do not allow unit to freeze.
* Filter has a shelf life of 50 years.
* Six (6) month limited manufacturer's warranty.

If you want a better unit for any emergency situation anywhere, consider this unit, Travel Size Stainless Steel Gravity Feed Water Purifier This one uses a single Doulton Ceramic Filter Element: One 7" Ceramic Candle with Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). The ceramic filter lasts for approximately 2,000 gallons between filter changes.For intermittent filter use: Clean, dry thoroughly,then store. Filter may last several years. This is lightweight and compact as it nests to 7 .5 x 3. 25 inches. This unit has a 1 year warranty by CWR. Although currently selling for about $150, this Doulton ceramic filter unit is superior to the bottle unit.

Thank you for your question. Enjoy your travel.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Using Power Inverters Connected to a Lead Acid Battery to Run Appliances.

Question about the Cobra Cpi 2575 - DC to Ac power inverter - 2.5 kW or the Go Power 2500 watt inverter.

Q: "hi, i am interested on your Cobra Cpi 2575 - DC to Ac power inverter - 2.5 kW Item Code WTCPI2575 or a similar model by Go Power. i was wondering if it can run amicrowave, a tv and two fluorescent bulbs connecting it to a lead acid battery, and for how long it can provide light to my mountain house, since i have no electricity. i would also like you to recommend me if you know a product for my needs, thank u"

Answer: The power inverters we typically sell convert 12V DC to 120VAC. Your email address indicates that you live in the United Kingdom where power is typically 240VAC. The first unit you refer to has this description: This inverter provides household power on the go! It converts battery power to 120 V AC household power, allowing you to power up multiple loads such office equipment and major household appliances from your vehicle. This unit is ideal for microwave ovens, mini fridges, coffeemakers, laptops, TV sets, video games, CD players, DVD players, cellular phone chargers and much more!

What you missed is that you have to have a vehicle with the engine running in order to power the inverter. If you attach the inverter to a charged 12 volt battery, you will quickly drain the battery of its charge. Remember that watts equals volts times amps. I am not an expert on power inverters. What I do know is that most microwave ovens here in the USA are 1000 watts. This power inverter could power most smaller microwaves if it were connected to an operating vehicle but not to a battery.

A gasoline generator would power your appliances. Another option would be solar panels.

Thanks for your question.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Friday, May 1, 2009

UV Air Purifiers Help Reduce Risks of Swine Flu, Colds & Virus

Question about portable air purifier units such as the MiracleAir PM 600 and the Air Pura UV600 for waiting rooms, waiting areas in restaurants, etc. that can help reduce exposure to viruses and bacteria.

Q: "For those of us who work in offices, medical clinics, etc, exposure to viruses, colds, etc. is part of every day. What air purifier do you recommend to reduce the "air pollution" in waiting areas from coughing and sneezing? I don't want to wear a mask or stay home. Thanks. Dave."

Answer: HEPA air purifiers with UV germicidal lights are the best proactive option for those areas. Do continue to take those actions recommended such as the University of Connecticut website: cough and sneeze into an arm or elbow, not into hands; wash hands often with soap and water, especially after a sneeze or cough; sing the “ABC Song” while washing to make sure hands are thoroughly washed; use alcohol-based hand sanitizers; avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth; avoid contact with others who are ill; stay home from work or school and avoid contact with others if ill; get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

We recommend you consider either of these two quality portable air purifiers with UV germicidal lights:
  1. MiracleAir. Made in USA. The Black MiracleAir PM600 or the white MiracleAir PM600 both feature twin double UV lights plus three filters including a potassium permanganate filts
  2. AirPura. Made in Canada. The AirPura Black Air Pura UV600 features the UV light inside the HEPA cartridge. Colors: black, cream or white.
We recommend that one or more units be placed in patient waiting areas, employee lounges, restaurant waiting areas or other areas where groups congregate. This is one of the better proactive measures for maintaining good health.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Consumer Reports Highly Rates Topple Stops for Securing Furniture to Wall Studs

Question about Safety Straps and Topple Stops for earthquake safety.

Q: "The recent earthquakes have me worried because I live in California in a home built to the latest earthquake standards. (Actually, there are tremors in Alaska, Hawaii, etc., too.) It is time to protect against falling furniture and TVs since I believe my walls will remain standing. I also have small children who are climbers. Please explain what you sell that would help me. Thanks." Mary.

Answer: Topple Stops were recommended by Consumer Reports to stabilize furnishings to increase home safety. These fastener kits let you keep furnishings from toppling by securing them to wall studs. Then use Safety Straps to secure objects on the bookcases or furniture to the furnishings now protected from toppling over. Safety straps come in white or black.

First, determine how many fastener sets you need by number of appliances or furniture you want to secure to the wall studs, keeping in mind the weight. For example, use two sets for appliances and furniture up to 400 pounds. Keep in mind that a combination of Topple Stops and Safety Straps is needed to secure a TV set to a TV stand which then is secured to a wall stud.

Each Topple Stop Kit Contains 2 Topple Stops Each of Which Includes:

* Two (2) grey thumb lock fasteners, 2" long by one wide with 3/4" lock lever. Use with wood screws or 3M VHB adhesive attachment. (Bonding Times: Wait four hours before adding strap. Adhesive fully bonds after 72 hours.)
* Two (2) 12" long, 3/4" wide grey locking strap with grommet for wood screw attachment.
* Four (4) #8 x 1" wood screws for furniture attachment
* Two (2) #10 x 2" wood screws for wood wall stud attachment.

Thumb lock fastener attaches to locking strap. Fastener can be moved and locked in either direction on the strap. Lift locking lever to "open." Lock fastener on strap by pushing lever down firmly. Note: Thumb Lock adhesive is non-hardening. Fasteners can be removed without damaging surface if slowly and gently pried off with appropriate tool.

The Safety Straps come in a kit that contains 4 buckles and 2 locking straps. The choices are black or white. To use, peel and press adhesive square in place. You'll get four (4) white buckles (2" x 2") and two (2) 5" white locking straps(5/8" wide). Bonding time: Four hours to set adhesive for buckle before adding strap. Full bonding after 72 hours. Use 2 Safety Straps for "low profile" equipment up to 50 lb. Use 4 Safety Straps for heavier weight and top heavy items up to 100 lbs.

Do remember your family emergency kit as well with flashlights, food bars, water, etc.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sensaphone Web600 Remote Monitor Uses Internet

Question about Sensaphone remote temperature monitors that do not need hard wired telephone lines.

Q: "I've looked at your Temperature Guard Monitor for several years. I am now free to travel since I retired. I want to protect my home from furnace or air conditioner failures. But that monitor requires a land-based phone line and I don't have that anymore. (I discontinued my telephone land line and now use a VOIP,voice over internet phone.)Do you have a remote temperature monitor that does not need a land telephone line? I have high speed internet access." Thanks. Tom

Answer: Sensaphone just released a new product,the Sensaphone Web600. This is a compact web-based remote monitor that has an optional battery back-up for when power fails.

The Web600's compact case measures 4.5 inches by 3.25 inches by 1.5 inches. There are 6 available zone inputs. A battery back-up unit (not included) plugs into the left side of the unit. Also there is an ethernet connection and a input for the 5V DC power adapter. There are two lights, a power and an alarm light on the top of the unit.

Besides temperature monitoring, the Web600 can also read values from humidity sensors, air quality sensors, water leak detection sensors and much more. For example, if you are worried about your sump pump failing, install the Sensaphone Compatible Water Detection Sensor.

Thanks for your question. Enjoy your travels and let the Sensaphone contact you or a neighbor or friend if something goes amiss at home.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Battery Operated LED Night Lights for Power Outages

Question about availability of LED lights that work when power fails.

Q: "Can you recommend night lights or similar lights for when power fails? We've had several power outages recently from ice storms, snow and wind storms. At night, it's hard to find a flashlight to get to the bathroom or to check on a child. Motion activated LED lights would be my choice." Thanks. Diane.

Answer: I recomend you purchase the Lentek Koolatron LED Motion Sensor activated lights. These can also be used as tap lights. These motion sensor lights hang on the wall and operate on 2 D cell batteries. The light stays on for 15 seconds unless other motion is detected. You just push in the light to have it stay on longer.

Two lights come in a package. Each light case is 6 inches long by 3 to 4 inches wide. The LED light bulb sits in the center of a circular 3 inch frosted cover. The single 3V 800 mA adaptor lets you operate one light on electricity while the other is on guard with batteries. Hang on a nail using the hang hole in the top rear of each unit. For best motion activation, hang about 5 feet off the ground. You can set these to always on as well if you use AC power.

Hope you find these the right choice for lighting your indoor path at night.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Go Power RV Solar Kits: Do I Need a Digital Regulator?

Questions about RV solar panels by Go Power.

Q: "I see that you sell the Go Power brand solar panel kits for RV's. What is the advantage of a digital regulator on a solar panel kit? I own an RV, want to go to areas without electricity and am not sure which one to purchase. Also what is the difference, besides cost, between the 50 watt, 80 watt and 110 watt kits?" Thanks. Joe

Answer: We recommend the solar panel kits with the digital regulators unless you plan to monitor the battery or power pack very closely. A digital regulator keeps track of the battery charge and stops power to the battery once it is fully charged. Overcharging batteries can result in explosions or damage to the battery.

The higher the wattage, the faster the battery or powerpack will recharge. The other factor is, of course, the amount and intensity of sunlight that hits the solar panel. For example, a 1500 watt powerpack like the Xantrex XPower 1500 unit, would require about 72 hours of direct sunlight to recharge fully with the 110 watt solar kit, 144 hours with the 50 watt solar kit and about 108 hours with the 80 watt solar kit. Most portable powerpacks like the Xantrex 600HD are no more than 600 watts so figure about half that time for a complete recharge.

Before you make your choice, I recommend that you consider how many appliances you plan to use each day, what the watts are used per appliance and how long each day you plan to operate them. Also how many days do you plan to be off the electric grid? If your preference is a more primitive campground, the larger units are a better choice if you need to run blowers on furnaces, etc.

Thanks for your interesting question. Sincerely, Barbara

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Friday, August 22, 2008

I Need to Know When the Power Goes Out at Home

Question about home power monitors.

Q: "I winter in Arizona. My home in Oregon is in the country at the end of the power grid. I leave the furnace set at 55 degrees while I am gone those 4 months. My neighbor keeps an eye on the house. But a storm or fallen tree can knock out my power and leave his power still on. I don't want my pipes to freeze or my home damaged. What do you sell that can alert him and me that the power is out at my house?"

Answer: We currently sell two brands of remote monitors. Neither require paying a monthly monitoring service fee. These are the Sensaphone and the Microtechnologies brands.

The Sensaphone 400 , once known as the Sensaphone "cottage sitter", lets you program in 4 phone numbers, add additional sensors, control your thermostat remotely, and has a 24 hour battery backup using C cells. Two other units are less expensive choices that would to meet your needs are the Homeguard and the TemperatureGuard monitors. What you are looking for is a monitor that can dial out an alert that the power is off and give you the temperature in your house as well.

The standard Homeguard and TemperatureGuard units have a built-in 4 hour battery back-up that activates when the power goes out. We've learned over the years that getting the insurance of a Temperature Guard with 20 hour battery back up or one with a 30 hour battery back-up has its advantages, primarily that the units will have extended battery so that if you turn off your phone at night (or your neighbor does), there will be enough battery left to continue dialing out until you wake up or turn on your phone or phones.

The Homeguard can dial up to 4 phone numbers. It also comes with a 20 hour or 30 hour battery back-up . The Homeguard alert is set at below 45 degrees F or power off for 5 minutes or more. The TemperatureGuard can also send messages to pagers as well as dial up to 4 phone numbers. The TemperatureGuard lets you choose both an upper and a lower limit (for summer and for winter) as well. Of course you can call into either unit at any time to get the power status (on or off) and the temperature. Both units and their brothers and sisters need a land phone line and electricity to work. Programming is easily done with a telephone.

Please read the instruction manuals on our website for more information or contact us.

Thanks for your question.


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

How Long Will My BoomBox Run on this Power Supply?

Question about the Product: VEC1026BD Black and Decker Portable Power Supply 250W.

Q: "How much time will this unit give me in the 120VAC mode to use my small boom box which uses about 12 watts of power? Does the 250 watt on the power unit mean that when charged fully it holds 250 watts of power? Therefore my radio boom box should run approx. 20 hours?thanks-Bob."

Answer: This portable power supply has a 10 amp hour battery in it, so your boombox should run about 10 hours if the unit is fully charged. We do sell other units such as the Wagan Power Dome that are larger with more watts of power. The Wagan has 450 watts and, fully charged, would run a boombox that draws 23 amps about 8 hours. For a 12 watt draw, that would be closer to 16 hours.

Thank you for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Warning: Keep Smoke Hood Sealed Until Use!

Question about the product: TWO Safe Escape Fire and Smoke Hood ASE30A, Hard Case.

Q: "Is this unit still usable? I removed the smoke hood from the plastic bag because I was curious about what it looked like. I did not remove the plugs which were taped over. And I did not wear it. After I did this I wondered if the unit was all right to use. I put it into a heavy plastic storage bag and used a vacuum cleaner to remove all the air". - Thanks, Bernard.

Answer: I contacted the USA distributor. Here is his response: ""The SECURITY Label states quite clearly that once the SEAL is broken the unit is considered used. Also the Label on the actual Vacuum Sealed Bag indicates that once the sealed bag is opened that the unit is considered used and must be thrown away. These units are vacuum sealed (at the Factory under stringent monitored conditions) specifically to insure a 5 year shelf life to the unit and ALL of its contents. Once this is broken it has voided any and all expressed or implied warranty and must be immediately discarded as it is considered to be used.

We have training units which are designed specifically for training purposes available in both the ASE30A and PurifyAir 30M CE Hard Case units."

Sorry I had to give you the bad news that the warranty is voided on that unit.


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

How Cool Does A Cooler Cool?

Question about the product, Koolatron Krusader 12V Thermoelectric Cooler 52 Qt.

Question: Your information says these coolers keep items cool to 45-50 degrees below the ambient temperature. Does that mean if the inside temperature of my car is 80 degrees it will cool items in the cooler to 35-40 degrees? Thank you in advance for your response." Gary

Answer: We checked with Koolatron, the manufacturer of the Krusader and other thermoelectric cooler models. Here is their representative's response:

"Your customer is correct, the ambient temperature is the temperature within the environment where the cooler is placed. If the cooler is in his car, and it is 80 degrees, the Krusader or other Koolatron coolers will cool down to a low of 35 degrees inside the cooler. Please note that thermoelectric coolers do not reach freezing, so 35 degrees is the coldest the cooler will get inside. In other words, if the inside of the car is 65 degrees, the temperature inside the cooler will go down to around the 35 degree level, not down to 15 to 20 degrees F."

We recommend that you purchase an AC adapter and precool the unit before moving to your vehicle. During your trip, use AC to power the cooler at night if your camp site has AC available or use AC in your motel or hotel room.

Please contact us if you have additional questions. We sell several brands of thermoelectric coolers and warmers including Koolatron and Vector.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Is there a more powerful power dome for emergency power outages?

Question about the Product: Wagan 400W Power Dome Portable Power Source Generator Product Code: : WA-2354

Q: "Is there a more powerful unit other than this one here. I live in Northern Ontario, Canada and the winters up here can be very brutal. Last year I was taken to the hospital with hypo thermia. I got hypo thermia while I was inside the house that I was renting. Something to run the radio and lights a little while later would be nice."

Answer: A power inverter or portable power pack like the 400 watt one is not what you need. You need to purchase a generator that runs on either gasoline or propane. Our experience with the gasoline generators is that they run about 4 to 5 hours before running out of fuel when run at full power. Depending upon the size, you could at least operate an electric heater or an electric blanket or electric throw plus a few other appliances. A 5500 watt gasoline run generator would power your furnace motor so if you heat with natural gas, you'd stay warm. At 50% power, these units are supposed to run 10 to 12 hours.

Hope this helps. Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Using Power Inverter to Run a Sump Pump?

Question about the product: VECTOR 1200 Watt Power Inverter VEC053D.

Q: "My fix-it man wants a Vector Model 056D power inverter. He reports that we need 16 amps minimum to run 2 same model sump pumps (Wayne Submersible pumps 4200 GPH, 15 amp min, 120v, 60 hz, 1/2 HP, ) Can't find the VEC056D and most info on inverters do not include amps info. Will this one work for my 2 pumps?

Answer: We consulted with our Vector distributor about this answer. Here is what Devin responded:

"I would go with the VEC051D to be safe. This would put out 27.5 amp continuously and 55 amps for start up loads for a short period of time. The reason I suggest this one is because all of those pumps have a start up draw (surge) that is higher than the power they use when already running. It’s like riding a bike. It’s easier to peddle a bike once it is already moving than to have to get the bike to begin to move from a stopped position."

Thanks for your interesting question.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Can a Life Hammer Break Laminated Glass?

Question about the product Original Life Hammer Escape Hammer (Orange)
Product Code: : SM-IN-LH002

Q: "Does the original Life Hammer work on laminated side windows? Another similar product does not and I don't know if my windows are laminated ?"- Renee

Answer: I appreciate your bringing this question to us. It was my understanding that tinted safety glass was the material used in automotive side windows. The Life Hammer will break safety glass but not laminated glass like that in windshields. I contacted the manufacturer. This is what the company president suggests:
  • Contact your dealer to learn if you indeed have laminated side windows made from the same material as your windshield. He states that typically only luxury vehicles have this option unless you have opted this as an upgrade to your vehicle.
  • Tinted side windows are usually safety glass with a laminated film. A Life Hammer will break out this type of window.
Nothing will break out laminated glass. There are some interesting discussions about the pros and cons of laminated and safety glass for side windows that you can find on the internet. Go to and hunt for laminated-glass-in-car windows. One person said it took him 5 minutes with a special saw to saw through a laminated side window.

My summary of that discussion is that safety glass allows for escape from a car without undue force or time while laminated windshield type glass side windows means that getting out is nearly impossible. There was a 31 million dollar legal decision against Ford due to a roll over accident in 2003 where the occupants of a 2000 Ford Explorer were not wearing seat belts and were thrown from a vehicle with side windows of safety glass. At the time, 99.9% of the cars through the 2000 model year had side windows of safety glass.

I hope you found this as interesting and terrifying as I did! I don't know if you have electric windows but I do only on the front windows of my 2003 Windstar van (the dual rear doors slide but the windows don't open.). I plan to contact Ford and learn what material my windows are made from.


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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Using a PowerPack to Power a Heater?

Question about the XPower Powerpack 400 Plus Radio and Air Compressor.

Q: "Can this powerpack be used to operate a heater when camping and if so for how long?" Rickey

Answer: No, this powerpack cannot be used to operate a heater when camping. Electric heaters typically draw 1000 watts of power. This is a 400 watt power pack with a 600 watt surge. Plugging in a 1000 watt electric heater would cause either the circuit breaker to trip or a fire to cocur.

My suggestion: purchase one of the new generation of catalytic heaters that use propane. Catalytic heaters are a safe, portable option. I do recommend that you purchase and use a Costar 9RV, a recreational vehicle rated carbon monoxide alarm. We've sold these to the military to use in tents where catalytic heaters are used.

If you have other questions, we'd be happy to help.


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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Using a QuickEscape ladder from a deck overhang

Q: "Hi there, Would the QuickEscape Emergency Escape Ladder 12 feet or the 20 feet ladder work from a deck overhang? I am looking for a means of escape from my deck - something I can hook over the railing and climb down - I noticed the QuickEscape Emergency Escape Ladder has some sort of extensions (stand off's?) on each rung to rest on the house (probably for sturdiness) would this ladder work if there were nothing for those extensions to rest against? and would kids feel apprehensive climbing down it? Cindy "

Answer: This is a flexible chain ladder so these are some of the variables:
  • The deck railing/window sill must be thick enough so the hooks grip it. Otherwise there is nothing for the top to push against for stability.
  • To be safe, the stand-offs must brace against the house. Otherwise, the ladder dangles dangerously and is likely to swing in the air. Stand-offs both add stability as a person descends and allow for toe room between the ladder and the house.
  • Stand-offs can be removed or adjusted to allow for climbing over obstructions, etc.

If there was a wall against which the ladder could rest, your kids probably would use the ladder in an emergency. Otherwise, it would be scary and dangerous.

Are there windows nearby that have the necessary sill thickness against which the ladder hooks can brace?

Please contact us if you have additional questions.

Sincerely, Barbara

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Friday, July 4, 2003

Choosing a Power Inverter

Q: "Which car power inverter is best for operating a Canon pc 420 copier?"

Answer: To choose the correct power inverter, first learn the amps, the volts and the maximum watts surge that a copier, television set or other appliance will draw when first turned on. Look in the product manual or on the case for this information.

Then use this equation you (and I) probably learned and forgot from high school or college physics:

Watts = Amps Times Volts

Always buy an inverter that supplies a higher wattage or surge than the minimum you need. Remember that only low wattage power inverters plug directly into cigarette lighter type outlets. (Higher wattage units would burn out the outlets.) To operate appliances that draw 150 watts or more of continuous power, the power inverter must connect to a 12V battery using a positive and a negative battery cable. Most power inverters' low battery feature shuts off the inverter when input voltage drops below 10.5 volts.

Most appliances like copiers don't need a pure sine wave power inverter. (Some medical appliances do.) Safe Home Products sells pure sine wave power inverters and modified sine wave power inverters by Wagan as well as modified sine wave power inverters by Xantrex.

Feel free to email if you have more questions or concerns.

Sincerely, Barbara

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