Knowing about your RV power is incredibly important before you hit the road on your next adventure. For example, many people have heard of an RV inverter, but do not know if they should leave it on all the time or how it even works. Being knowledgeable and learning about your RV inverter before you hit the road will make your trip run even smoother.
More often than not, it is smart to leave an RV inverter on when you are continually using or driving your RV. By doing so, it allows your rig to continue to have power even when disconnected from shore power.
Having your RV inverter on all the time also allows you to be covered if a storm comes through and knocks out your shore power. The RV inverter will automatically switch to a 12V battery once the RV loses shore power, allowing time for you to find shore power or a generator to recharge your batteries.
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If you are storing your RV, it is wise to turn off your RV inverter to save your battery power for when you need to use it next. If you skip this step, the battery will continue to be used which will in turn drain your batteries quickly.
No matter where you travel next in your RV, it is wise to understand how your RV works including the RV inverter, power, as well as the best way to store your RV for use later.
What is an RV Inverter?
An RV inverter is an amazing tool that takes the power from your battery (12v) and converts that power into something that is usable by a 120v system. Most of the time, inverters are used for people who boondock or camp away from shore or generator power. Having an inverter allows those who camp off-grid to still use electricity-powered items within their RV.
An inverter takes direct current (DC) power and transforms it into alternating current (AC) that can be used to fuel power to plugs and small appliances within your RV.
If you do not have an inverter, items like your microwave would not be able to run solely on your 12v battery system. Typically the use of a microwave as well as plugs in your home only work when you are plugged into 120v power or into a generator. If you are without either of these, an inverter can allow your RV to be functional without being plugged into shore power.
Why is an RV Inverter Important?
An RV inverter is important because it allows you to run your appliances and electronics when you are away from shore power.
People who boondock depend on the RV inverter and solar panels to supply power to their rig by keeping their batteries charged when they have nowhere to plug into. Many inverters can also be used with solar panels and allow the solar panels to convert power to be used in plugs within the RV.
Should An Rv Inverter Be Left On When Plugged Into Shore Power?
An RV Inverter can be shut off when plugged into shore power because there is no need to convert from 12VDC when plugged into shore power. You are already getting 120VAC power from the power grid when plugged in so the RV inverter is unnecessary.
What is the Difference Between 12v and 120v Power?
As you venture into the world of RVing you will most likely begin to hear people talk about 12v and 120v power and how important both are to the function of your rig. Before you get overwhelmed; power within an RV is easy to understand (and make sense of) with some research.
12v power refers to your batteries at the front of your RV usually behind your propane. These batteries are important because without being plugged into shore power they can supply power to run lights as well as bring slides in and out.
Whenever you plug up your RV, if you have a large inverter/charger it will recharge your batteries so you can continue to use them throughout your journey.
When it comes to 120v, all that simply means is the power that supplies pretty much everything else within your rig (and your house). 120v power supplies electricity to your plugs, small appliances, and electronics. You receive 120v power when you are plugged up to shore power, or plug your rig into a generator.
Are There Different Sizes of Inverters?
Inverters come in size ratings all the way from 50 watts up to 50,000 watts, although units larger than 11,000 watts are very seldom used in household or other PV systems.
The small inverters allow you to use your TV and small appliances. Small inverters are not typically not capable of recharging your RV battery.
Large inverters can supply enough power to power many things within your rig. Many larger inverters also have a battery charging ability that will recharge your RV battery when connected to AC power.
For example, a small inverter 1500 watt with max 2000 watt means that it will run lights, and small motor appliances – like small blenders. The max 2000 watt means that is the max load the inverter can handle for a short time. Some appliances will need a higher start wattage. Appliances with a heating element tend to use more watts – like InstaPots.
It is a good idea to check the wattage usage of your appliances when deciding which size of inverter you will need. This can be found in the user manual and sometimes on the appliance sticker.
What is the Difference Between an RV Inverter and a Converter
Simply put an RV inverter transforms DC power to AC power so you can use items in your home like plugs and small appliances. Both transform voltage, but in opposite directions.
A RV converter takes the power from shore power or a generator and transforms it into 12v power. A RV converter allows your RV batteries to stay charged and ready to go when you are hooked up to power.
Many RVs nowadays have a combination of an inverter and converter within their RV which allows their batteries to stay charged as well as allows you the option to boondock away from power.
Are there Cons of Leaving your RV Inverter on
With most things, there are pros and cons to every situation and circumstance. When you use your RV inverter, you need to be prepared for the battery to drain quickly. If you are boondocking for long periods of time, you need to be prepared to have a way to charge your batteries so you can continually use them for power for your rig.
There are a few ways you can recharge your batteries so you have a carefree adventure.
- One way is to install solar panels on top of your rig which allows your batteries to have a steady supply of power and most times the inverter can use the power from the solar panels directly to power the RV.
- Another way you can recharge your battery is by carrying a generator with you on your adventures. Having a generator allows you to have power in a moment’s notice while charging your battery at the same time.
When do I Turn Off my Inverter
It is smart to power off your inverter when you are storing your RV for long periods of time, or simply parking and not using your RV for a while.
If you are storing your RV, it is also wise to disconnect your battery and store it inside or in a safe place until you need it again.
Allowing your battery to stay hooked up and your inverter to stay on will drain your battery very quickly resulting in a dead battery when you are ready for your next trip.
As more and more people venture into the world of RVing it is smart to understand how your RV power system works, as well as how your RV inverter works and if you can leave your RV inverter on at all times.
There are certain circumstances when it is wise to turn off your RV inverter, such as when you are storing your RV. If you are storing your RV or not using your RV for long periods of time, your batteries can quickly be drained if the inverter is still on. One thing to do if you are storing your RV is to turn the inverter off as well as disconnect the battery and move it to a safe place for storage.
When you are using your RV it is usually wise to leave your inverter on in case of a storm that blows out your shore power or if you are boondocking and depending on your RV inverter for power. Your RV inverter will allow you to have a steady supply of power without being hooked into shore power or running a generator.
If you are boondocking it’s also a great idea to have solar panels or a generator that is able to recharge your batteries so you can continue to use them for power. If you are ever plugged into shore power or a generator, with the help of a converter, your batteries will recharge allowing you to use them whenever you are away from shore power.