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What Size Inverter Do I Need for My RV?

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You’ve maybe seen a lot of bloggers and vloggers sharing graphic information about the comfortable and free RV life, and it’s wonderful, right?

But they don’t show their audience the biggest challenge of motorhomes: electricity. So how does an RV’s electrical system work? In addition to the RV battery and RV solar panel generator, there is a seemingly insignificant but very crucial little thing – the RV inverter, whose main role is to convert power to direct current that can be used directly by our everyday appliances and electronic devices.

If you are not familiar with it, let’s learn more about RV inverters together with us! In this article, we’ll go into detail about the functions of the RV inverter, how it works, the inverter size for the RV you need, installation, and a host of other expertise.

RV inverter

What Does an Inverter Do for an RV?

At the start of the article, we said that inverters act as a converter of current, but what exactly does that look like?

There are two electrical concepts involved here, direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). The power from RV batteries and RV solar panels is usually DC, while the power that regular appliances and electronic devices, including refrigerators, computers, mobile phones, and microwave ovens, can be plugged in and used directly, is AC, and the RV inverter’s role is to convert DC to AC so that the power stored and generated by the batteries and panels can actually power RV so that the power stored and generated by the batteries and plates can actually power the appliances in the RV. If you still find it a little hard to understand, you can just think of it as a converter.

How Does an RV Inverter Work?

Once you understand the function of the inverter, the working principle should certainly not be left behind. RV inverters are specifically designed for use in RVs, taking into account the limited space and unique needs of mobile living. Their compact form factor makes them ideal for installation in RVs where space is precious, and they’re built to withstand the shocks and movements that come with life on the road.

So how do they work? Essentially, RV inverters convert the DC power from your RV’s battery or solar panels into AC power, which is what most of your electronic devices in the RV run on. This allows you to power things like TVs, laptops, fridges, and microwaves while you’re off-grid or on the move.

It’s important to note that the amount of AC power an RV inverter can provide depends on the capacity of your batteries or solar panels. This means you might need to manage the number and type of devices you’re using to stay within the power limits of your system. If you need more power, you can upgrade your battery bank or add more solar panels, but keep in mind this will take up additional space and add weight to your RV.

What Size Inverter Do I Need for My RV?

Ask yourself before you consider this question:

Do I Really Need an Inverter for My RV? 

Firstly, confirm that you don’t already have one fitted in your caravan, as many caravan manufacturers will have an inverter pre-installed. This is a good one to confirm though, when the generator stops running, the sockets will also be unusable, meaning that there is no other equipment capable of converting DC to AC, which would indicate that there is no inverter installed in the motorhome.

Then again, do you need to use AC AC? You only need an inverter if you plan to use or buy appliances or equipment that use AC power. Appliances that require AC.

TV and DVD PlayerMicrowaveWater Heater
Coffee MakerComputer and ChargerConverter and Charger
Air Conditioner and HeaterElectric KettleAir Purifier
Hair DryerSmall Electric Oven or ToasterLighting (Desk Lamps, Ceiling Lights, etc.)

If you’re on the road a lot and like to run adventure tours to places where there is no power off the grid, an inverter for RV is essential, and paired with RV solar panel kits, offshore power can bring more comfort and convenience to your life.

NOTE: If you use solar panels to power your RV, the power generated by the solar panels collecting solar energy needs to be passed through an inverter before it can be used. The exact size depends on the size of the caravan the number of power-consuming devices and how many electronic devices you will be running at the same time.

RV Inverters

Back to the topic, the right size inverter will meet your camper’s power needs and provide sufficient power for the caravan, but how do you choose the right size inverter? Smaller inverters are not powerful enough to meet the power needs and larger inverters can lead to wasted power. You need to calculate according to the electrical appliances in your caravan to know the size of the caravan inverter, don’t buy blindly.

To determine how powerful an inverter you need, first, you need to know the power of each appliance in your caravan or campervan. Each appliance has two power values: standard power and search power. The standard power is the power required for the appliance to run continuously, while the search power is the extra power needed to start the appliance. The search power is usually twice the standard power. If there is not enough search power, the appliance will not start.

As we emphasized earlier, an inverter is just a power converter, which means that it cannot store and does not generate power, which makes it necessary to choose the right inverter according to the number and power of the appliances you want to use at the same time. In the previous article, we calculated that the energy consumption of a caravan is around 3000W.

To ensure extra power capacity, you need to add another 20% margin to the calculation

3000*(1+20%) = 3600w

So you need a 4000w RV inverter.

You can use our RV Inverter Size Calculator:

How to Install An RV Inverter?

Alrighty, so you’ve got your RV inverter and you’re ready to roll up your sleeves for a little DIY action. Here’s the lowdown on how to get it installed:

Tools? Check. You’ll need:

  1. RV inverter
  2. Multimeter
  3. Red and black connecting cables
  4. Fuse
  5. Screwdriver
  6. Wrench
  7. Fire-resistant box or base
  8. Wire strippers
  9. Cable ties or clips
  10. Fasteners

Got ’em all? Great! Now, let’s dive into the installation process:

  • Step 1: Clear out your workspace and find a cozy spot for your inverter.
  • Step 2: Mount it securely, making sure there’s enough space for airflow.
  • Step 3: Time to play it safe—disconnect all power sources in your RV and double-check with your multimeter.
  • Step 4: Wire it up! Connect those red and black cables to your battery terminals as per the diagram.
  • Step 5: Tighten everything up nicely and snugly, then give it a test run by flipping the battery isolator switch.
  • Step 6: Moment of truth—power up your inverter and make sure everything’s humming along smoothly.

And there you have it! Your RV is now equipped with a shiny new inverter, ready to keep you powered up on your adventures. Safe travels!

What Generates Electricity: RV Solar Panels

400W Solar Panel

Yes, we mentioned it for the third time, inverters don’t generate electricity, it’s the RV solar panels that do. When used in conjunction with an inverter, solar panels charge your batteries and provide you with power while docked. An off-grid RV solar system allows you to be more reliant on a generator or traditional grid for your electricity.

The Sungold Solar RV solar panels come with four 100W solar panels to provide powerful electrical support. Its IP68-rated waterproof and dustproof design ensures the stability of the product in harsh environments. By obtaining the TÜV IEC63163 PV consumer certification, the product proves its high quality and reliability. Featuring a high power output and a small Anderson connecting cable, it is convenient to connect to most brands of portable power storage devices on the market, providing sufficient and reliable power support for RV life.

sungold logoWe are Sungold Solar, founded in 2008, a portable solar panel & RV solar panels manufacturer and off-grid solar system provider integrating R&D, production, sales and service.  Specialized in providing innovative off-grid solar system solutions for 16 years.

Let’s explore more about RV solar panels and add more convenience and green options to your journey! Contact us NOW for more details!


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