The Best RV Converters/Chargers in 2020

Comparisons, Guide, and Reviews

The best RV converters/chargers power your life on the road, charging the batteries you use to run the water pump and lights and other critical infrastructure in the RV. These batteries run many other appliances in your RV, as well. You can’t afford for them to go dead at the worst possible time, and that is where rv power converter replacement come in. The hard part for many knows which converter chargers to buy, since there are so many different options.

We’re going to give you the ultimate buying guide for the best RV converter charger. Then we’ll give you our recommendations of the 13 perfect converters for RV use. Using our advice, you’ll be able to find the right power converters for rvs based on your needs and preferences.

Top 3 Best RV Power Converters - Comparison

Here are The Top 13 Best RV Converter Full  Reviews

After spending countless hours, we made a list of the perfect RV converter chargers. We hope- Each of them will help you and your motorhome everywhere you travel. Here, you get step by step review and experts experiences about good and bad. We don't tell just "pros" but "cons" also describe as an honest professional. So start reading now...

01) Go Power! Converter/Battery Charger

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

These converter chargers have the benefit of being ultra-compact. They’ll fit almost anywhere, and they’re lightweight and easy to take along if they don’t fit in your electrical closet.

They have four stage battery charging like the Progressive Dynamics converter chargers, though some models are three stage. Be careful to verify the features of a particular model before you buy it. 

On sale, Go Powers are a Perfect Deal.

These batteries are middle-of-the-pack in terms of price. On sale, they are a good deal. These converter chargers are designed to handle battery banks – 

This is the one you want to buy if you will be running off of battery banks because it is one of the few on the market with an “equalize” mode. It ensures that all of your batteries will stay at the same charge level. 

Go Powers are designed for flooded and wet-cell batteries typically

These converter chargers are typically designed for flooded and wet-cell batteries. It can work with both an AC to DC converter and DC to DC converter, such as when you need to charge your RV house battery from a higher voltage DC source. The fans in this converter charger are very quiet.

You’ll probably need to make wiring changes and even change fuses if you’re trying to put it in an older RV. You should put a protective device between the converter charger and the battery. However, if you do this yourself, you’ll probably void the manufacturer’s warranty.

The manufacturer of Go Power Converters

The manufacturer of these converters suggests equalizing the batteries only when electrolyte specific gravity is too low, whereas most battery manufacturers say to do it once or twice a month. So if you follow their advice, there’s a good chance your batteries will lose capacity due to sulfation and stratification.

This unit isn’t AC compatible; don’t use it as a distribution panel, either. The float charge tends to be at a lower voltage than advertised. That can leave the battery recharged at a lower level than you expected.

02. Arterra Replacement Main Board Assembly

Editor Rating: 3.8/5

The Arterra items are affordable RV converter chargers. You can find a diverse array of Arterra converter chargers. You can find units that put out 35 amps to 75 amps. These units are robust. 

These units are easy to install, and you are unlikely to need to rewire the RV to use these converter chargers. 

These Arterra units have three modes: normal, trickle and bulk. You can use the same charger to maintain a battery as to quick charge it. 

The Arterra units tend to last a couple of months. Operating life is even shorter if it can’t vent heat away because the fan isn’t working. When it overheats, it will trip the breaker. The root cause for this issue is that the cooling assembly heat sink isn’t quite in line with the circuit board.

Customer service ranges

Customer service ranges from hard to reach to non-existent. They typically tell you that the warranty is good for a month, so if it dies after a couple of months, you’re stuck with it and the cost to replace it. This is disappointing given that the company says the converter chargers are supposed to last two years.

03. WFCO/ Arterra WF-8712-P RV Electrical 8700 Series 30AMP Power Converter

Editor Rating: 4.2/5

The WFCO Power Center converter chargers are middle of the pack in terms of price. They’re quite affordable when on sale. These are low-power best converter chargers.

You can find models that put out as little as 12 amps and others that put out 35 amps. It gives you a basic three stage battery charging system.  

While WFCO says their products are interchangeable with Elixir models, you will find that the dimensions and hole locations may not exactly line up.

The WFCO Converter has excellent protection built in

The WFCO WF-8735-P Black 30 Amp Power Center has reverse polarity protection. It offers over-temperature protection and comes with short-circuit protection. And they go well beyond UL safety standards. However, it doesn’t come with the blade fuses some of its higher-end rivals have.

It won’t supply AC power when it isn’t plugged into an alternating current source. Most models have a bypass switch so you can run appliances off the battery when you aren’t connected to the grid. 

Awesome internal electrical components

The internal electrical components, especially resistors, tend to break loose, especially if the RV is subject to vibration riding around on rough roads. When this thing malfunctions, it can be bad – it may even draw power from the battery you intend it to charge.

One plus is that this unit is easy to install, assuming it is the right size to fit. One downside is the tiny writing on the labels. Be careful with assuming you can install this in your electrical closet. The dimensions listed online are not always correct. 

The company has customer service

The downside is how slow it is. If the unit dies while under warranty, they require you to send it back. Expect it to take weeks before it gets fixed. And that’s assuming they do take it back to fix. If they fix it, depending on the circumstances, they may charge you for the repair. For example, if it is damaged due to their shoddy packaging, they may or may not fix it for free.

04. IOTA Engineering Converter and Charger

Editor Rating:4/5

The IOTA Engineering makes convert chargers that cover nearly any amperage you’d like to have supplied. One downside of this brand is the cost – you’ll pay more toward the upper end of the price range for these converter chargers.

IOTA Engineering has An Awesome Upside

An upside of these models is that many of them have an “IQ” smart charge controller. Those models will ensure safe charging of the RV battery and maximize battery life.

Some of them let the owner manually flip between normal charging voltage and stepped-up charging voltage.

Sometimes the fast charge mode doesn’t work when you flip that switch, while in some defective units, it will only charge the batteries if in the fast charge mode.

Depending on the model, it may let you have a float-charge to prevent discharge of the battery.

The IOTA has Reverse Polarity Protection

Some of the models have reverse polarity protection. These models protect your charger and your battery. They come with blade type fuses for easy replacement of fuses when they do blow out. Be careful with the types of NEMA plugs it comes with, because that may not be what plugs into your electrical closet. Note that these converter chargers rarely come with cables.

These units put out exceptionally clean power; they’ll let you run smart appliances on the power they pass through. Nor will the power itself interfere with radio and television equipment. This is ideal for amateur radio operators or someone who wants to use a smart TV drawing on this power source. 

High operating efficiency

These converter chargers have very high operating efficiency. While they are not explicitly designed for use with solar panels, they often can be used with solar panels. The units have quiet fans. The tight power system tolerances mean it has a minimal hum, too. It is heavier than average. We recommend it as the best rv power converter.

05. PowerMax Power Supply Converter Charger

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

One of the points in favor of this model is price. It is cheap, cheap, cheap. However, they tend to put out less amperage than they advertise.

For example, a 100 amp unit may only put out 70 amps. Yet they sometimes manage to blow out fuses both internally and the RV. Call in an electrician before you start rewiring your RV to support this unit.

Three Stages Converter Chargers

The PowerMax best power converters have three stages, but the main ones are the absorption mode and bulk mode.

There is no meter to see how it is doing when charging the batteries. You’ll have to use a multimeter to check the voltage. Some models have reverse battery protection, though not all do.

A few models have automatic shut downs to prevent over-charging of your batteries.

The PowerMax does not put out “clean” power

The power fluctuates too much to power sensitive electronics like a laptop. The fan is very quiet in most models. However, the fan isn’t variable. It is either on or off, and if it is a noisy fan, you will hear it everywhere in the RV. 

The instruction manual

Don’t expect to rely on the instruction manual; that’s indecipherable. If it breaks, don’t expect to replace it. If you think it is merely a loose connection or something you can fix, be careful not to strip the cheap screws that hold the housing together while taking it apart. 

The company has very poor customer service. They’ve sometimes shipped used units as new or “barely used”. When the unit doesn’t work when you receive it “new”, customer service is difficult to impossible to reach. If you can reach them, they almost never accept it under warranty. 

06. Parallax Power Supply Converter Charger

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

The Parallax Power Supply Converter Charger units are middle of the pack in terms of price. The manufacturer makes circuit breakers and related hardware easy to get. This unit is easy to install.

It is bigger and heavier than average

Make sure it will fit in your utility closet before you buy it. Don’t assume this model is a direct replacement for even its predecessors by the same company. 

Even when they’re the same size, you still may need to get replacement connectors to make it literally work.

Quieter than average fans

These RV converter chargers have quieter than average fans, average level of humming noise. While it isn’t a “smart” converter charger, most models shut down to prevent over-charging the batteries.

A downside of this brand is the poor customer service. It is difficult to get a hold of someone. You’ll have to fight to get your money back if the new unit turns out to be defective. If replacement parts are warranted, you’re at risk of being over-charged.

07) Progressive Dynamics Power Converter

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

The Progressive Dynamics Power Converter makes a wide array of RV converter chargers. The price of the unit goes up along with the amperage it can produce.

The premium models come with remote pendants so you can track RV battery voltage or alter charging modes, while Power Dynamics sells compatible remote pendants separately for its cheaper modes.

It's an expensive charger

The Progressive Dynamics’ more expensive converter chargers have desulfation mode. This is the mode that lets you dissolve the lead sulfate crystals on the battery plate, extending its life or making up for low electrolyte levels. Few rivals have this same capacity in converter chargers this cheap.

The progressive dynamic has several modes

The best converters sold by Progressive Dynamics have several modes. You can put it in “normal” mode to recharge or maintain charge of a battery. Or you can use “boost” mode to speed-charge a battery. This is crucial for those who don’t want to wait a couple of hours for their house batteries to recharge. Progressive Dynamics converter chargers sometimes fail just a month or two after you get it, lasting long enough to not be covered by the one month warranty.

Customer Service

Customer service in general is poor for this company. For example, they periodically ship converter chargers without the pendant even though you paid for the bundle. There are complaints they’ve shipped pre-used items to customers while saying it was new.

Four bar battery level indicators

Sometimes it acts like the four bar battery level indicators on an RV dashboard, telling you it is fully charged when it is really 80% charged. While it may extend the life of your battery, many of their chargers die after a few months of heavy use themselves.

Even it can power some devices in the RV while charging a battery, it isn’t going to let you run a microwave oven. They offer the pendant for monitoring performance, but it isn’t always as accurate as the company claims.

08) RV Electrical Power Center 65A by Stag, Model WF8955PEC 

Editor Rating: 4.0/5

This 65 amp power converter can generate 950 watts of continuous output at 55 amps. It has a standard 105 to 130 volts AC range.

The converter has one main circuit and five branch alternating current circuits. It comes with 9 20 amp and 2 30 amp DC circuits.

This Stag power converter doesn’t have a volt meter or watt meter.

However, it comes with basic safety features like short-circuit, reverse-polarity, over-temperature and over-voltage protection.

It will automatically shut down if it short-circuits or overloads. You won’t blow things up when you connect the battery the wrong way. It doesn’t come with battery cables or a built-in charger. 

The automatic 3-stage charging by this power converter ensures that the battery it charges won’t over-charge, either. Its float mode is 13.2 volts DC and The absorption mode is 13.6 volts DC. Also, it has a bulk charge mode of 14.4 volts. It does have a USB port. The cooling fan only kicks in when the unit is starting to overheat.

However, there isn’t thermal protection above and beyond that. Nor are there thermal fuses. One beneficial feature of this model is the LED lighting for each circuit. It will light up when there is an open circuit.

That is aside from the fact it is designed to minimize interference with other electronics; charging your phone with this unit won’t create static on your radio.

The entire thing weighs less than seven pounds. It won’t fold up, but it is rather compact on its own. It is roughly 14” wide by 12” tall by 9” deep.

  • Three step charging
  • Most of the built-in protective measures you’d find in more expensive models
  • Multiple connection points
  • No fuses, cables or other much-needed hardware unless you pay for it separately

09) ARTERRA DIST Wf-9865 65Amp Deckmount Power Converter for RV Trailer 9800 Series

Editor Rating: 4.3/5

The Arterra power converter can convert everything from 105 to 130 volts AC to house power for your RV. It will put out 13.2 to 14.4 volts of direct current. Its peak output is 65 amps of DC power.

The Arterra unit has better power quality. That is aside from the fact that it meets FCC Class B standards; running the power converter won’t put out static that interferes with radio or over-the-air TV signal reception.

This Artera RV converter weighs less than seven pounds. This model is a little smaller than the Stag unit. This one comes in at 10.5” wide, 6.5” deep and 4” tall. It is designed to be deck mounted. 

The three-stage charging will protect the batteries it is charging. The bulk charging mode puts out 14.4 volts of DC power. Float mode is a safe 13.2 volts. Absorption mode generates 13.6 volts of power.

You don’t get battery cables with this RV converter. There’s no fuse or thermal protection. It does have short-circuit and overload protection. Both of these will cause the unit to turn off.

There isn’t a volt or watt meter that some other companies provide with the unit or build into it. The cooling fan will kick in if the unit is starting to overheat. The fan itself is relatively quiet. 

  • Decent built-in protections
  • Good power quality
  • Made to be deck-mounted
  • No built-in battery charger

10) WFCO Model WF8955PECB 55 Amps Power Converter Charger

Editor Rating: 4.4/5

This RV power converter by WFCO is designed to fit in a variety of RV panels. Its cutout dimensions are 12 3/16”, 10 7/8” and 7 ¼”. It weighs around nine pounds.

It is plug and play for the Atwood model APS5530 converter, Elixir model ELX60 and Parallax model 7355 power converters.

This is the best RV converter for those who already own one of the converters we mentioned. Be careful of the dimensions because it isn’t easily fit into a larger niche.

The three stage charging system can recharge batteries and keep batteries topped off without burning them out. The float mode puts out 12.2 volts. 

Absorption mode is 13.6 volts. And the bult charge mode is 14.4 volts DC. It has a variety of built in protective measures such as over-temperature protection, overload protection, over-current protection and short circuit protection.

The fuses in it not only stop overloads, but the lights tell you when this has happened. It is designed for a 50 amp system but can handle up to 75 amps.

There is a fan that kicks in as it starts to overheat to help prevent thermal failure. An occasional issue is that the fan can’t keep the system cool when your RV is burning up. Now your power converter is shutting off if it isn’t less efficient.

One issue is that the lugs used to connect the cables are not well designed, so this adds a few minutes to the installation time. 

  • Excellent protective features 
  • Robust design 
  • Not easy to install 
  • Only fits in a few cases 

11) Parallax Power Supply Model 081-7155-000 Replacement Power Center 

Editor Rating: 4.5/5

This Parallax power converter is 9.5” long, 7” deep and 4” tall. It weighs roughly four pounds. It is a decent replacement for any power converter that fits those dimensions.

This power converter is designed as a replacement for WF-8955, WFCO WF-8945 and Parallax model 7155.

It will convert alternating current to 12 volt power, charging house batteries or running DC appliances. That’s why they call it a “power center”. 

The unit doesn’t come with a whole housing. Instead, it is intended to be a replacement for the electrical core of the RV converter. If you’re doing a replacement, keep the housing, the fan and switches.

Conversely, the basic electrical system means you don’t have to pay for components you don’t need.

The only issue is that it typically has only two wires where the old models had 3.The old models had wires for positive converter, positive converter and negative battery.

This one generally has only a negative battery and positive converter, so you may need to come up with a jumper wire to connect the positive battery point.

This complicates the installation, though you may solve this by keeping the leftover missing wire. Be careful when installing it so that you don’t blow out your fuses.

The downside is how often it doesn’t come with instructions. 

  • Basic, minimal unit suitable for a quick replacement of burned out converters 
  • Challenges installing it 

12) PowerMax Model PM4 55 Amp RV Converter

Editor Rating: 4.4/5

This is a universally usable 55 amp RV converter. It has 55 amp DC power output. However, it is intended as a replacement for the Alterra brand power converter.

This PowerMax PM4 will not replace an alternator, but it will replace RV power converter for turning AC power into 12 volt direct current power. It does not have an IQ4 plugin, but few RV power converters do. 

Also, It has reverse polarity protection, overload protection and thermal protection. It is advertised as having four stage charging, but you cannot use it to “equalize” or reverse chemical residue buildup on your batteries. 

Instead, it will adjust its voltage based on the battery’s state. Its voltage output ranges from 13 volts DC to 16.5 DC. However, it can trickle-charge the battery at just the level it needs. This will maximize your battery life, because it will trickle charge batteries and maintain them without burning them out like a best converter.

The downside is that it doesn’t work well with deep-cycle batteries. It has a fan to keep the charger cool, but it is noisy. 

  • Smart charging of batteries to maximize battery life 
  • Works in almost any system if it fits in the console 
  • Designed as a plug and play replacement for Alterra power converters 
  • Not a true four stage battery though advertised as such 
  • Loud fan 

13) Progressive Dynamics Model PD4655V Inteli-Power 4600 Series Converter/Charger 

Editor Rating: 4.3/5

This is the best choice on our list if you’re looking for a real 4-stage power converter. The “charge wizard” means it can maintain your battery and repair the damage caused by repeated charge and discharge cycles. 

This RV power converter is designed as a direct replacement for the Parallax model 6355 power converter, Magnatek model 6355 power converter, Parallax model 7355 power converter, Parallax model 8355, Parallax model 7155 power converter and WFCO model 8955 power converter. 

It's is the best RV power converter for nearly all Parallax 55 amp power converters. For example, it has color coordinated screws so that you can quickly and easily connect the wires. Note that this Power Dynamics power converter isn’t as easy to install in a WFCO chassis.

You may want to replace your old Parallax power converters with this one because of its upgraded direct current distribution board. 
The only issue is that there is no inverter.

This Progressive Dynamics charger only converts 120 volt AC power to 12 volt power. It will charge your house battery and run 12 volt systems in the RV. Also, It doesn’t store power in an inverter, acting as a de facto battery, nor does it deliver high quality power for charging smart phones and sensitive electronics. This unit sometimes overcharges house batteries in and of itself.

One minor complaint is that the fan is cheap. They work, but they are noisy and prone to failure. 

  • Literally made to replace nearly all Parallax RV power converters 
  • Easy to install (if dealing with a Parallax chassis) 
  • A true four stage battery charger that extends the life of house batteries 
  • Noisy fan 

What is the Best RV Converter Actually?

An RV converter charger converts 110 volt AC or electrical grid power into 12 volt DC power as used by RVs. An RV converter charger can be used to charge RV (house) batteries.

A converter charger is only needed to charge RV batteries when you’re plugged into the grid or running off a generator that doesn’t have a 12 volt charging port. 

Even if your RV has a basic charger built into it to charge the 12 volt house batteries, it may not be as efficient as a purchased RV converter charger. An RV power converter is not the same thing as a power inverter.

An inverter is simply something that turns DC power into AC power. An RV power converter turns AC into DC power at the voltage used by an RV.

best converter

Different Types of Chargers

When you say “charger converter”, know that it is referencing any piece of hardware that can convert power from a generator or the grid into something that can charge your 12 volt house batteries when in use.

There are actually different types of converters, and the best converter for you will be one that delivers the type of power you need while accepting power from whatever source you prefer to use. Below is a list of the most common types of converters and a detailed description of each.

01. Converter-Charger

While all power converters can charge a 12 volt battery as it is in use, not all converters can be used to charge a flat battery. A converter-charger is designed to charge even a flat battery.

Don’t use a mere power converter as a battery charger or you could shorten the life of both the power converter and the battery. 

what is a power converter

02. Inverter-Charger

Inverter-charger units have two different modes. In inverter mode, they convert DC power from batteries into alternating current for home appliances. During charging mode, they turn AC power coming in into direct current power and send it directly to the 12 volt battery.

Inverter-chargers are designed to ensure that you have a reliable battery backup, allowing you to go off the grid nearly any time.

03. Solar Power Converter Chargers

Solar power converter chargers are converters/chargers designed to work specifically with solar panels.

Not all converter chargers can be connected to solar panels, while solar power converter chargers are safe for this application.

Some solar power converters can be used with other types of power sources, as well, not just solar panels.

rv power converter reviews
When you're with a solar power converter charger?

If you’re using a solar power converter charger, you probably need a solar charge controller in addition to the converter charger. Then you can use an AC power source to charge the batteries if the sun isn’t sufficient. It can also balance power coming in from solar panels and converters to charge deep cycle battery banks.

04. Single and Multi-Stage Chargers

Single stage chargers simply deliver charge until the battery is full or continue to deliver power even if the battery is full. Multi-stage chargers alter how they deliver power based on the stage of charging. Bulk charging is when you’re regarding a mostly empty battery. 

At this point, single stage and multi stage chargers act the same way, delivering the highest voltage and amperage. And at this point, the battery can accept it. 

how to test rv converter
where is the converter in a travel trailer
Smart chargers

Smart chargers, the basis of multi-stage chargers, will detect the voltage and resistance of the battery. At 80%, they charge enters the absorption stage. The current will decline as the battery approaches full capacity.

Conversely, most chargers, single stage chargers, will maintain steady voltage and risk overheating the battery. 

The third stage of a multi-stage charger is the “float” charge.

Float charge may start at 85% of charge or 95% of charge. At this point, the charger will taper off the voltage until the battery reaches 13.2 to 13.4 volts.

It will then maintain said voltage via a “trickle charge”, preventing the battery from losing its charge through normal discharging.

Smart multi-stage chargers

Smart multi-stage chargers will not turn off at this point. Because they can sense the battery’s charge level, they are typically safe to leave in float mode for months at a time.

However, this can shorten battery life because it is constantly charging the battery instead of letting it discharge before recharging it.

Yet these chargers are popular because you prevent the battery from discharging to nothing and possibly resetting the chemical memory such that it can never be charged to 100% again. 

best power converter
Some smart multi-stage chargers are difference

Some smart multi-stage chargers have an “equalization” stage. This stage is intended to prevent lead acid batteries from aging. These batteries typically charge the battery to the highest possible level, boiling the electrolyte just enough to dissolve the lead sulfate crystals on the battery plate.

However, few chargers have this feature. This feature only matters if you have flooded lead acid batteries. This feature should never be used if you have AGM or gel batteries.

05. Generators

Inverter chargers may be separate from a power generator or built into the generator. When you buy a generator with a built in inverter, it can generate power for your devices and power anything plugged into a 12 volt plug outlet of the generator.

With an inverter charger, you could use a generator to charge the batteries and power everything in the RV via the inverter charger even if the generator lacks the inverter.

06. Wind Power Chargers

Wind power chargers are simply those designed to be connected to wind turbines. In some cases, you can buy the wind power charger along with a wind turbine kit. Recognize that these chargers won’t be able to generate power unless the wind speeds go above a certain point. Some wind power chargers are designed to connect with portable solar panels, as well.

what size power converter do i need for my rv
how to tell if rv converter is bad

However, you need to verify the specifications of each model you’re considering, since you shouldn’t assume a wind power charger will connect to solar panels or any other type of renewable power.

07. Echo Chargers

An echo charger is designed to charge starting batteries or auxiliary batteries. These are the only converter chargers that will charge starter batteries without over-charging them, and they can do so while charging your RV batteries. If the voltage is high enough, the echo-charger will automatically switch on.

While most echo chargers are designed to charge 12 volt batteries, many can charge 24 volt batteries as well.
Some echo chargers will only charge the starter batteries while the RV is connected to “shore” power or a generator.

08. Trickle Chargers

A trickle charger is one that produces a small “trickle” of current. They’re often called battery maintainers. Many trickle chargers are used as car battery chargers, slowly adding power to a battery so that it doesn’t die. 

Trickle chargers usually have a battery regulator to prevent overcharging and matching the charge rate to the battery’s discharge rate. The power delivered is at very low amperage.

Maintain full battery capacity

Trickle chargers are typically connected to the battery via two alligator clips while the charger is plugged into whatever power source you have at hand. The goal of these devices is to maintain full battery capacity.

The end result is that it prevents the battery from dying as long as it hasn’t lost too much electrolyte or been recharged so many times the electrolyte can’t absorb the full charge anymore.

what does a converter do
A trickle charger is not a battery tender

This is the best charger for those who need to know that their battery will work when they need it to. A trickle charger is not a battery tender. A battery tender monitors the battery and only charges it when voltage drops below a preset level.

The Benefits of using an RV Power Converter

01. Converters let you charge the batteries

Why should you use an RV converter charger? In general, converters let you charge the batteries on-board no matter what power source you’re using, though you may have to select the best power converter that can tap into whatever power source you have on hand.

02. will help ensure RV batteries are charged all time. 

An RV converter charger will help ensure that your house batteries are always charged and able to power your life after the grid. Depending on the type of converter charger you have, it may let you recharge your car battery or electronic devices while recharging your house batteries.

03. It's able to maximize the battery life

Depending on the specific model, you may be able to maximize the life of your battery or ensure that it is always fully charged. And they do this while letting you run your RV off the grid or another power source. 

Do RV converter chargers have a life-expectancy like batteries?

In some cases, the converter charger will ensure that the batteries never fully discharge, preventing its chemical memory from “resetting” to less than full.

This is a common issue with smart phone batteries; when the battery is run almost empty repeatedly, it may chemically reset such that the battery acts as if a partial charge is a full charge and you can no longer get a full day’s use out of it.

What to Consider for the Right RV Coverter Charger?

A. One of the first and foremost concerns is battery chemistry.

Most converter chargers are designed for only one type of battery chemistry. If you have lead acid batteries, you shouldn’t buy a converter charger designed for AGM or lithium ion batteries. 

Know what type of batteries you have or will own before you go shopping for the best rv power converter.

It is  not a simple question for beginners, especially when you're on the road as a new RVer.

how do you know if your rv converter is working

B. Understand what types of batteries you can realistically use.

Lithium ion batteries can’t be charged when it is below freezing even if the electrolyte itself isn’t frozen. If you’re going to be staying in places below freezing, you may have to upgrade your batteries to something that can handle the environmental conditions and then pick battery chargers that match.

C. Understand the type of charging you want.

For example, if you value speed of charging, a trickle charger doesn’t work for you. If you want a charger that will charge the house batteries while letting you access grid power, this affects your selection compared to those that are an either-or proposition.

High wattage chargers shorten the charging time, but fast charging stresses the battery and can cause it to explode if you don’t have safety measures in place. If you want a converter charger that will charge a deep cycle battery safely, you have to buy a charger that is designed to handle that task.

D. Consider the price

You’re buying and intended operating conditions. There’s no point in buying an expensive multi-stage charger that will maintain a full charge if you are going to let the battery sit on the shelf all winter.

If you’ll be connecting to the grid every day or two as you travel, you may not care about a converter charger that can charge batteries from solar panels and other off-the-grid power sources. 

how do i know if my rv converter is bad

E. Another issue is amperage.

An RV converter charger is rated for certain amperage. It will put out so much power, if it delivers power to the RV aside from charging batteries. Can you get by with the power it supplies to the RV? When the charger is charging batteries, consider how heavily you draw down the batteries.

Is it a disaster if the battery was really only at 80% charged instead of 100% charged?

F. How closely are you going to monitor the batteries?

If you want to set it and forget about it, smart multi-stage RV converters are a better choice than those that could overcharge a battery to the point that it could explode. If you’ve had more than one battery explode, invest in the smart charger converters.

We’ll ignore those who make the mistake of trying to charge frozen flooded batteries, since any attempt to charge that can cause it to explode.

G. How accurate are battery charge level indicators?

If the converter charger has battery charge level indicators, how accurate are they? Conversely, a converter charger that continually “tops off” the battery with power is likely to need water added more often than one that doesn’t.

Do you want the battery’s power levels topped off or the risk that you need to keep the electrolyte levels topped off? Then again, maintenance free batteries that let out the trace amounts of hydrogen when the pressure builds up cannot be refilled.

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Now you’re choosing between topped-off batteries (in terms of power) and shorter operating life.

H. Converter chargers may be built into an RV or you may buy it separately.

If you’re shopping for one because the RV doesn’t have one built in, research how you’d connect it to the RV. Will the converter charger you’re buying fit into the space that may be available in the electrical closet? Or will you have to jerry rig a way to mount it?

If you’re replacing an existing converter charger, will the one you’re buying fit in the same location, and will it be able to be wired into the RV’s electrical system? If the RV converter charger is a separate stand-alone unit, is it easy to connect to the grid and your batteries? Always find out what tools and accessories you need to make it all work.

I. Always find out what tools and accessories you need to make it all work.

Some RV converter chargers have noisy fans, though all of them should have fans to keep the electronics cool. One factor to consider is how noisy it is, though this matters less if the converter charger is located outside the RV instead of inside of it.

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J. Another issue is maintenance

If the fan malfunctions, how hard is it to replace the fan? And, If the thermostat in the converter charger malfunctions, how hard is it to replace that? Also, If you’re shopping for a converter charger built into a generator, now the generator’s performance, efficiency and weight are all factors to consider.

After all,

You don’t want to buy a generator that doesn’t fit into the cargo hold. And a generator that literally burns through fuel isn’t worth it compared to a gas miser. If you are buying an RV converter charger built into the generator, make sure it has enough plugs for everything you may plug into it.

Also, You don’t like a generator with a built in charger/inverter capable of recharging your smart phone but not the house batteries. And it doesn’t matter if the converter charger can charge your deep cycle battery with extra current if you’re going to draw so much power running heaters that there is no excess power left to do so.

Things and Fixes for RV Converter Troubleshooting

01) Always unplug the RV

RV converters are electronic devices in and of themselves, and they're connected to your RV's electrical system. This creates many opportunities for things to fail. It may stop working or it may simply fail to produce enough power to run your 12 volt electrical system.

Before you try to troubleshoot an RV converter charger, always unplug the RV from the power supply.

02) Check the fuses

Don't just assume that the converter charger is the problem every time it fails. Check the fuses for your electrical system, since one of these blowing will kill the electrical connection.

03) Check the power

Check the power where it comes into the converter when the RV power supply is connected. This should read between 108 and 130 volts.

Yes, though it is a 120 volt AC input, you can have that much variance in the input and still be fine. 

If you think you had a power surge in the power input, such as a lightning strike on nearby power lines, you can try tripping the breaker and see if it works.

In this case, you should check all of updates are there on your RV.

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04) Check the Voltage

Then check the voltage at the breaker box. This should read between 11 and 13 volts. If you get a lower value, then the problem is probably the power converter.

05) Check RV Converter Chargers temperature

If the RV converter charger has shut down unexpectedly, one of the easy solutions is to check its temperature. Don't touch it immediately but feel how hot the air is around it. 

In some cases, you can solve the problem by opening the electrical cabinet door to let it cool off.

In other cases, a loose wire to the cooling fan can be fixed. If the fan itself has failed, you'll have to replace it or If the unit has poor ventilation because the fan doesn't line up with exhaust points, you really need a different RV converter charger. 

Also, If the issue is due to mismatched wiring, you need to stop using it and have an electrician resolve the problem to avoid a fire due to either overheating or an electrical spark.

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06) Check the Voltage to the Cooling Fan

Check the voltage to the cooling fan. If that voltage is in the right range, then the issue is the fan itself. Now you're probably going to need to replace the power converter fan motor If the fan is fine, the issue may be the temperature sensor used to determine if the converter charger is overheating. If the sensor thinks the area is too hot even if it isn't, it will kill the best power converter. In this case, you need to replace the sensor.

07) Check the wiring 

However, you still want to check the wiring since a short could cause the space to become too hot even if for a brief instant. If the sensor isn't getting power due to a loose wire, the converter charger could shut down, too. If you need to replace the sensor,

make sure it has the same temperature rating as the one you're replacing. If the converter charger has a reverse battery protection fuse, check these fuses to see if they're blown.

These will typically blow out if the battery leads were reversed. If blown out, they need to be replaced.

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08) Check the the resistor

If your power converter relies on a resistor to control the voltage to the batteries, this should be checked. You want it to read between three volts and thirteen volts. The value will vary based on which lights and fans are being used If the resistor is the problem, this could be why your batteries aren't fully charged.

The solution is replacing this fuse if you can reach it Try to use an exact replacement for this resistor Once it is replaced, try to charge the batteries.

09) Check the batteries themselves.

You may simply need to add water so that they can accept the charge. Conversely, they may have lost their ability to fully charge due to sulfation (if you have lead acid batteries). Running the charger converter ma mode that reverses this condition would be the solution, though you may need to be connected to the grid for power to do this Suppose the issue isn't sulfation or lack of water. 

An issue with the plates or the electrolyte

You may still have an issue with the plates or the electrolyte; this can be diagnosed by checking the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each battery cell. If one of the battery cells is dead, it interferes with the entire battery's ability to charge fully while raising the risk it can overheat in the process (and shut down the converter charger in the process). 

But, If one battery cell is dead, go ahead and replace the entire battery. Also, If one battery in the battery bank is dead, you can replace just that battery.

how to replace an rv power converter
Remember that an RV power converter only works if you have "shore" or power from the grid or another source like a generator. If the electrical outlet you've plugged into isn't working, the problem is the power supply itself, not the converter charger. Nor should you blame the converter charger if the weather isn't good enough to generate solar or wind power

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)

01. Can you safely use a converter to switch a 120V outlet to 240V outlet?

Most residential electrical systems are designed for 100 volts. You can find 220 volt connections for heavy duty appliances like washing machines, dryers and ovens – especially the large appliances plugged in the corner of the garage where the RV is likely to be stored. 

Other 220 volt outlets are found where HVAC equipment like air conditioners are plugged in. Then there are times you can find 240 volt connections, such as in a workshop. You can find voltage converters that can convert 220/240 volts to 110/120 volts.

The key here is knowing what the converter is rated for. If it says it can only handle 220 volts, don’t plug it into a 240 volt plug.

If it is rated 220/240 volts, then yes, you can use the converter to plug in 120 volt devices. 

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02. Is converting car charger to ac charger possible?

Your car runs on direct current power from the battery, while most electronics and appliances run on alternative current. Before you start planning the conversion of your car’s console to AC power, look for DC power adapters you can plug into the car’s power port.

In some cases, this is the plug where a cigarette lighter could be found, and the DC converter plug has the same size and shape to go in to that same port. If your car has a port like this, you don’t need to modify the car at all; instead, simply buy a compatible DC to AC charger for your electronics instead.

03. How to Replace an RV Power Converter?

If you want to replace an RV power converter, the first step is making it safe to handle. Make sure it isn’t too hot to touch. Then disconnect the RV power converter from the grid, the battery and any other source of electricity. If you’re dealing with an RV power converter you plug into a car port or generator, this is simply a matter of throwing out the old one and installing a new one. 

The Built-in power converter

If the power converter is built into the RV, now you’re looking at electrical work best done by a professional. However, if you have the right tools and skills, you may be able to remove it and replace it as you could any other mechanical or electrical component.

Just know that you should check the console for burned out fuses and non-working fans before you replace the power converter itself, in case these are the reasons why it isn’t working.

04. How to Connect an RV Converter Charger

Disconnect the RV from the grid and any other power sources so that you don’t get yourself electrocuted. If you have a generator, make sure it is switched off.

Disconnect the ground cable from the RV, if appropriate. Put the RV converter charger in its proper location; this may be a set location in the RV’s power panel or somewhere that you can plug it in.

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Once it has been put into place, attach converter charger’s wires to your RV power system. Then you can connect the converter charger to the “shore” or “grid” power source. Use a voltage meter to verify that you’re getting a power supply at a little under 14 volts.

05. How long can I use an RV converter charger?

If you’re charging a battery via an RV converter charger, it may take hours to charge the battery. How long this takes depends on how much power the charger is sending to the battery and any power being drawn from the battery. If you don’t have any load on the battery, then your charging time will be as short as possible.

In theory, an RV converter charger could supply a constant stream of power to a battery that’s powering the lights and pumps in the RV, though preventing the battery from fully charging will hurt it long term. 

What's the better choice?

The better choice is disconnecting the batteries and running the RV electrical equipment off of the power delivered through the converter.

In short, bypass the house batteries and let the converter deliver 12 volt DC power to the RV. Chargers may or may not sense when a battery is full. 

Older chargers in particular will continue to send power even if the battery is fully charged; overcharging a battery can shorten its life or kill it.

Conversely, some battery chargers can detect the battery’s energy level and automatically wake up and charge the battery as required. 

06) Do RV converter chargers have a life-expectancy like batteries?

RV batteries may last months if not fully charged each time, while they may last years if properly maintained. However, converter chargers don’t lose their ability to deliver power over time. If they malfunction, they shut down. Also, If it is overheating, it will shut down, though it will work again if things cool off. But If damaged, they should no longer be used.

Final Words

An RV converter charger can make your life so much easier, since you’ll be able to run your RV off nearly any power source and charge your batteries much more easily. Understand your needs and the proper care of the electrical components to minimize problems.

John S.

Hello guys! I'm a 37-years-old author, traveler, writer, blogger, and a camper. I enjoy life as much as I can and love to visit beautiful places in my RV. That's why while traveling I have decided to dedicate some time to share my experiences with everyone that might be interested in traveling, camping, and RVs.