RV Converter Charger Vs. Power Inverter: Which Devices Do I Need for My RV?
If you’re a new RVer or have simply never replaced an RV converter charger (or inverter) before, we’re going to be delving into what all this terminology means. We’ll explain why you definitely need an RV converter and why you most likely need an inverter, too. But let’s begin with the basics.
Why Convert or Invert Power?
If you own an RV, you know that it requires an electric power source through the use of a 12-volt battery system. The need for conversion and inversion stems from the fact that your RV battery and most built-in electrical components of your RV run on direct current (DC) power, while shore power is alternating current (AC). Most household appliances run on AC power.
To convert power means to transform it from AC to DC form in order to charge your RV battery system or run common appliances in your RV. To invert power means to transform existing DC voltage into AC voltage, distributing it to either a single dedicated outlet or through a breaker panel to multiple outlets. In short, an inverter allows you to run AC voltage appliances as long as the DC voltage lasts.
Battery Inverter VS. Battery Converter:
- Battery Inverter: Allows you to use your RV battery power (DC power) to run AC RV appliances.
- Battery Converter: Allows you to use shore power (AC power) to charge your RV battery system and run DC appliances
Why You Definitely Need an RV Converter Charger
An RV battery converter charger, like the name implies, converts household 120-volt AC power into the 12-volt DC power needed to recharge the RV battery. You’ll always need a converter charger because it’s the only way to charge your RV battery system with shore power or generator power.
On top of acting as an RV battery charger, the converter also distributes converted DC power to other RV components.
Finally, it distributes unconverted incoming AC power to a breaker panel, so that electricity can power AC appliances. It’s simply a necessary part of owning an RV.
While a battery converter charger tends to come standard with most RVs, the quality and reliability are often very low. These lesser quality devices can force you to run your generator more often or stay plugged into shore power because your RV battery or batteries never get a quality charge. This can lessen the lifespan of your RV battery system. To maximize your RV battery lifespan, you should consider upgrading to a multi-stage PowerMax battery charger.
Why You May Also Need an RV Inverter
An RV inverter converts 12 volts DC from the battery into 120 volts AC. This AC power is used as standard household-type electricity. Many RVs now come equipped with an inverter, but they don’t always come as standard equipment. The inverter size you’ll need will be based on what you want to run and how far you want or need to wire it.
An inverter is the only way to run AC appliances in your RV without being connected to shore power. Keep in mind that the inverter still only allows you to use as much power as is stored in your battery. But if you use full hook-ups every night or you have adequate 12 VDC equipment, an RV inverter might not be necessary for you.
However, if you like being self-sufficient or find yourself visiting places where electrical hookups aren’t provided, an inverter might be a smart investment. It would allow you to run microwaves, TVs, DVD players, computers and other small appliances or devices without needing to be plugged in or relying on a generator. But keep in mind, for powering larger appliances you’ll need a larger inverter.
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