When powering a recreational vehicle, choosing the right size inverter for an RV is critical. An inverter converts the DC power from a battery or solar panel into usable AC power for electronics and appliances in your RV.
The right size inverter ensures that you have enough power to meet your needs without overloading your electrical system and causing damage. Read on as we will explore what size inverter is for an RV and the factors that impact the size of the RV inverters. We also provide this guide to help you make an informed decision.
Understanding Power Needs and What Size Inverter for RV
Choosing the right size for your RV inverters involves understanding your power needs, which depend on the number and types of electrical devices and appliances you want to run in your RV. Here are some factors that will help you determine your RV’s power inverter needs.
Calculating the Total Wattage of Your RV’s Electrical Devices
The first step in determining your RV’s power needs is calculating the total wattage of all the electrical devices and appliances you want to run. You can do this by adding up the wattage of each device. The wattage is usually written on the device’s specification label or manual.
When calculating, it’s essential to consider both the running and starting wattage of each device. The running wattage is the amount of AC power the device uses when operating, while the starting wattage is the amount of shore power the device uses when it’s starting up. Some appliances, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and power tools, have a high starting wattage that can strain your inverter.
Understanding Power Surge Requirements
Power surge requirements refer to the temporary increase in power that occurs when certain appliances and devices start up. This temporary increase can strain your inverter, causing it to shut down or malfunction. To avoid this, you need to choose an inverter power surge capacity that’s equal to or greater than the power surge requirements of your RV’s appliances and devices.
Continuous Vs. Peak Power
Continuous power is the amount of inverter power that can be supplied continuously. In contrast, peak power is the maximum amount of power that an inverter can supply for a short time. When choosing an RV inverter, it’s essential to consider both the continuous and peak power requirements of your appliances and devices.
If your inverter’s continuous power rating is too low, it may need to be able to handle the power surge requirements of your appliances and devices, which can cause the inverter to shut down or malfunction.
On the other hand, if your inverter’s peak power rating is too low, it may not be able to handle the maximum power requirements of your appliances and devices. This can result in a reduction in performance or efficiency.
How to Choose the Right Size Inverter for Your RV
The size of the inverter that you choose will depend on several factors, including:
- The size of your RV
- Type of appliances and electronics you use
- Your power needs
Here are the different types of RVs and the size of inverters best suited for each.
Smaller RVs: 800-1200 Watts
Smaller RVs, such as pop-up and truck campers, have limited battery capacity and require less power than larger RVs. For these, an RV inverter with a power output of 800-1200 watts is usually sufficient. An inverter in this range will be able to power essential appliances and electronics, such as lights, fans, televisions, and laptops, without putting too much strain on your RV’s battery.
Mid-sized RVs: 1500-2000 Watts
Mid-sized RVs like travel trailers and Class B motorhomes and utility vehicles have slightly more battery capacity and a greater need for power. A minimum-size inverter with a power output of 1500-2000 watts is a good choice for these RVs. Using a 1500W – 2000W inverter, you’ll power appliances and electronics that consume more power, such as air conditioners, microwaves, refrigerators, and all of the essential items you would use in a smaller RV.
Larger RVs: 2000-3000 Watts
For larger RVs like Class A motorhomes, semi-trucks, fifth-wheel trailers, and toy haulers, you will need a higher battery capacity and lots of power. Therefore, you should invest in an inverter of 2000 – 3000 watts. That provides enough power to run multiple appliances and electronics simultaneously, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, and microwaves. With this type of inverter, you’ll enjoy all the comforts of your home while on the road.
Types of Inverters for RVs
There are two main types of inverters that are suitable for use in RVs—Pure Sine Wave Inverters and Modified Sine Wave Inverters. Here is a brief overview of both.
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Pure Sine Inverters are considered the most advanced type of RV inverter available. These inverters produce a clean and accurate sine wave power output, similar to the power you receive from your electrical grid at home. The pure sine wave output has a significant advantage over other types of inverters because it is less likely to cause damage to your sensitive electronic devices. This makes them ideal for RVs equipped with high-end electronic devices and appliances.
It also has a lower harmonic distortion rate than other inverters, making them more efficient and reliable. They are also less likely to cause problems with electronic devices or other electrical equipment, which can result in longer equipment life and fewer repairs.
Modified Sine Wave Inverters
These are a type of inverter typically less expensive than pure sine wave inverters. These inverters are less efficient and produce a less clean waveform than pure sine wave power. The waveform of modified sine inverters is less accurate than a pure sine wave and compatible with solar power.
They are still an excellent choice for RVs that do not require a lot of power, such as when charging smartphones or powering small appliances. However, they are not recommended for high-end electronic devices, such as laptops or televisions, as they can cause damage to these devices.
What Is an Inverter, and Why Do I Need One in My RV?
An inverter is an electrical component that converts DC power from your RV’s battery into AC (alternating current) power commonly used to power electronics and appliances. An inverter is necessary for an RV because most RVs have DC brick power supply available only, but many of the appliances and electronics you may want to use require AC power.
What Size Inverter Should I Get for My RV?
The size of the inverter you need for your RV depends on the amount of power you plan to use at any given time. To determine the size of the inverter, calculate the total wattage of all the electronics and appliances you plan to use simultaneously, and then choose an inverter that can handle that wattage.
What Happens if I Choose an Inverter That Is Too Small for My Needs?
If you choose an inverter that is too small for your needs, it may only be able to power some of your electronics and AC appliances simultaneously. This could result in power fluctuations or even damage your electronics and appliances.
Can I Use My Inverter for Extended Periods in My RV?
Yes, you can use your inverter for extended periods in your RV power system. However, it is essential to ensure you have a high-quality inverter capable of handling the power demands of your electronics and appliances. You also need a reliable power source (such as a deep-cycle battery). Additionally, it is crucial to monitor the power usage to prevent inverter overload and to ensure that your battery power does not run out.