How to Install a Power Inverter in A Camper, RV or Trailer?

Power inverters convert direct current (DC) power from batteries and solar panels to alternating current (AC) or household power. This makes inverters an essential electrical component if you want to use standard household appliances in your RV or connect electronics to your camper’s power system. Let’s review how to install a power inverter in a camper, RV or trailer.

Here are Our 6 Things to Install a Power Inverter


01. Learn about Industry Terminology

Learn a little about the terms used in relation to inverters before you start shopping for one. For example, UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories. This organization rates the safety and suitability of various products.

UL listed items are tested against UL’s nationally recognized safety standards. Extra characters like C or US refer to national cross-certifications. UL recognized is applied to components that have been tested to meet the same rigorous standards.

Power supplies and DC to DC converters are UL recognized if they are approved by the organization, while a switching adapter would be UL listed. However, nothing is UL approved. 

A good inverter or cell phone charger will have a UL458 rating. This proves it meets strict thermal, vibration and environmental standards the average inverter doesn’t.

Inverters that aren’t UL458 listed don’t have neutral and ground bonded together. That lowers the cost of the inverter, but it increases the risk of electrical problems with the unit. And it is less likely to protect against power surges.

The wiring installation itself may meet standards by the National Fire and Protection Association (NFPA), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), or National Electrical Code (NEC).

02. Consider the Features You’d Like

There are inverters that will let you plug in electrical devices into the inverter and safely run them. Know what features you’d like before you go shopping. For example, some inverters can serve as an emergency backup power source, allowing you to shut down a computer in a controlled manner or finish your phone call before the power goes out. 

Do you want an inverter that can serve as an emergency light source? Do you want to be able to plug in rechargeable batteries to the inverter while you’re running the appliances connected to the inverter?

03. Determine the Size of Inverter You Need

Before you install power inverter tech in your vehicle, know what size of inverter you need. Inverters range from 300 watt units that plug into a cigarette lighter to 5,000 watt units.

Determine what wattage you’ll want to run through the inverter. Add up the watts consumed by everything you would plug into it. For example, TVs may use 250 watts, while a laptop computer uses around 100 watts.

After you’ve totaled up the likely power draw, multiply that value by 1.2 to give yourself 20 percent margin. That can cover the extra load caused by turning on items or power surges. Suppose you come up with an estimated 1500 watts. 

Find an inverter that can handle at least that much power. If you get an odd number, round up to the nearest hundred and find an inverter with a greater capacity than that.

After all, a 2000 watt inverter can handle a surge from a 1600 watt load but a 1600 watt inverter will shut down.

04. Determine What Type of Power You Want

We already know you want alternating current, However, the wave form produced by the inverter can vary. A sine wave inverter has a blocky square type wave. It will power your air conditioner and vacuum cleaner, though a high speed motor will suffer extra wear from the vibration the power wave causes. 

A modified sine wave is smoother, and this reduces wear and tear on compressors. More importantly, it is the only type of power that’s safe to use with sensitive electronics like smart phones and laptop computers. If you’re going to be charging smart phones or running sensitive electronics through the inverter, look for inverters that have less than 3 percent total harmonic distortion or THD.

These criteria will narrow down your potential pool of inverters, and that allows you to choose the right one for installation in your RV. And it can save you up to 20 percent on the purchase, if you don’t have to buy the more expensive modified sine wave inverter.

Note that base load and surge load aren’t the only factors to consider. High draw devices like power tools may require a special inverter if you want to be able to run that power saw. That’s why you want to check the current as well as the wattage you want to be able to supply through the inverter. 

If you’ll mostly be powering or recharging smart devices through the inverter, choose a unit that has ports they can connect to. For example, choose an inverter with two or more USB plugs if you’re mostly going to connect it to smart phones and laptop computers.

05. Install the Inverter

Installation of the inverter depends on its wattage. A low wattage inverter’s installation could be as simple as plugging it into the vehicle dashboard and plugging your power plug into the inverter. These inverters may sit on the floor, though you’d want to put it under the table or locate it somewhere where you can’t trip on it.

An inverter that has more than 300 watts should probably be hardwired into the electrical panel. This probably needs to be done by a professional, since you want to have it properly connected and protected by additional fuses. However, the right location will depend on the distance between the inverter and its battery and the items you plug into it.

Minimizing the length of wire reduces power loss, and if the wires aren’t run through cabinets or tied to the roof of the RV, they can become a trip hazard. That’s another reason why many people mount inverters in utility closets or cabinets next to the electrical panel.

If you’re buying a new RV, you can ask for the inverter to be installed in the factory. A side benefit of this is that the inverter will have the greatest possible warranty. On the flipside, you might break your vehicle’s warranty if you connect an inverter on your own unless it plugs directly into the vehicle console.

06. Learn About Maintenance

Learn how you would maintain the inverter before you start using it. How do you replace fuses if they burn out? Where can you get new ones? Know whether the inverter will die if it burns out the fuses two or three times, and understand how to reset the unit if the fuses get replaced or some other safety feature gets tripped.

Summary

Inverters are essential to running creature comforts and advanced devices in your RV. Follow our advice to find and then install the right inverter for your needs. Then you can run your tablet computer, CPAP machine and hair dryer without problems. To keep up yourself updated, Continue your visit https://rvside.com/.

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.