RV Power Inverter Basics
Converter? Inverter? Confused?
A converter is standard equipment on most RVs. Connected to a campground power pedistal or your RV generator is running the converter it changes 120 Volt AC power to 12 Volt DC and supplies power to the RV's 12v circuits and charges the RV batteries. An inverter does the inverse.
Inverters take 12VDC from the batteries and change it to 120VAC. Depending on the wattage rating of the inverter most 120 Volt AC electric items may be operated without plugging in to shore power or running a generator. Although many RVs now come equipted with inverters they are not standard equipment so, if you want one, be sure you specifiy that if you are ordering an RV from the factory. Of course you can always have one installed.
Do you need an RV Power Inverter?
Now that you know what an RV power inverter is and what it does the basic question remains: Do you need one? Or, alternately, Can you make use of an inverter? Enough to justify the cost? More than anything else, the answer is a matter of your "RV lifestyle."
People who use full hook-ups every night might not need an inverter at all. People who don't mind the expense, noise and vibration of a running generator might not need a power inverter. People who have adequate 12VDC equipment (TV, radio, etc.,) and don't feel the need to run micro-wave ovens and similar AC items might not.
But there are many RVers who need, or can make use of an inverter. Mostly those who like being self contained.
For RVers who either occasionally or mostly find themselves visiting places which don't provide electrical hookups, a power inverter is definitely worth considering -- particularly in conjunction with one or more solar panels.
It's nice to be able to run Microwaves, DVD players, TVs, computers and other small appliances without the need to be 'plugged in' or running a generator. Inverters large enough to power large appliance are relativily expensive and need to be installed properly.
RVers with Computers Benifit from a RV Power Inverter
RVs are subject to easy power outages (pulled plugs, unreliable campground hookups, stalling generators) that can damage a computer. Some RVers buy uninterruptible power supply (UPS) without realizing they simply contain a small, rechargeable battery and, a miniature inverter. The much larger RV battery system is far superior and only requires adding an inverter.
There are smaller inverters... 100 to 350 watts... available that do not need to be installed. You plug them in to a 12 volt power port (cigarette lighter). These are perfect for powering small TVs and laptop computers etc.
Lastly, consider the RVers who must rely on a breathing machine or other medical device. Their travel is limited and they are locked into commercial campgrounds. So much so that they often stop RVing. An inverter can return their freedom.
You may also want to read:
How to Choose the Right RV Power Invertert for Your RV