Written by 7:50 am Home Energy Devices, Inverters

What Size Inverter for RV?

Is a 2000 watt inverter enough for RV?

Figuring out what size inverter for RV you need isn’t challenging. With a bit of calculation, you’ll know exactly what size is ideal for your RV and how many appliances you can run smoothly using with it.

To determine the size of the inverter required, you must first calculate how many appliances will be running simultaneously. For most RVers, the amount is about 2000/3000 watts unless you have a larger-than-average amount of things running now.

Today, we will help you determine how you can choose the right size inverter for your RV and what size inverter for RV 12 Volt will work best for you. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the mix!

If you want to read in-depth about the performance of a 12V battery with an inverter, get started here!

RV inverter

What is an RV Inverter?

In understanding what an RV inverter is, it is essential to delve into the distinct power types present in your RV. Most electrical devices operate on AC power at either 120 or 230 volts, mirroring the power commonly utilized in residential settings.

This electricity is sourced from the conventional electrical grid, constituting the power your RV acquires when connected to shore power. Consequently, an inverter is unnecessary when linked to the grid.

However, the batteries operate on 12 12-volt inverter for a camper on DC power, supporting the functionality of lights and various appliances even when unplugged.

Nevertheless, this DC power is insufficient for higher-powered appliances. A conversion from DC power to AC power is imperative to operate devices like microwaves, coffee makers, laptops, and similar electronics.

How to Choose the Right Size Inverter for Your RV

Selecting the right size RV inverter involves a meticulous process centered around determining its power output, measured in watts.

To guide this decision-making, the initial step is to compile an inverter size chart of the wattage associated with your AC devices and appliances. This includes running and startup wattages, considering potential variations during different operation phases.

·       Listing Wattage of Appliances

For precision in listing wattages, consult the labels or user manuals of each appliance. In cases of uncertainty, it’s recommended to use the highest wattage rating available.

Additionally, online resources can provide common appliance wattage ranges. This step is crucial, especially if simultaneous operation of multiple devices is anticipated.

·       Battery Bank Capacity and Type

Ensuring compatibility between the inverter and the battery bank is paramount. Oversized inverters can rapidly deplete the battery, impacting its ability to sustain the power demand.

A general guideline, particularly applicable to specific battery types like Battle Born Lithium, suggests a minimum of 100Ah battery for each 1000 watts of inverter capacity.

·       Summing Up the Total Wattage

Summing up the total wattage involves calculating the cumulative wattage of all listed items, accounting for both running and surge wattage requirements.

If the wattage of an appliance is unknown, it can be calculated by multiplying the voltage by the amperage using the formula Power = Current (in amps) x Voltage (in volts).

·       Adding a Safety Margin

To fortify the system against unexpected power demands and future needs, adding a safety margin is advisable. A recommended safety margin of 20% ensures the inverter can adeptly handle unforeseen power surges, safeguarding the RV’s electrical system.

RV inverter charging

How to Estimate Your RV Power Needs

When deciding on the right RV inverter size, it’s crucial to consider a range from 1,000 to 5,000 watts. Striking the perfect balance between capacity and necessity is key, as many tend to overestimate the required inverter size.

An easy method for estimating the ideal inverter size is to calculate the highest wattage you anticipate needing for simultaneous usage and then adding a 20% safety margin.

For example, if you anticipate a combined power demand of 1,500 watts for running your computer and microwave simultaneously, incorporating a 20% safety margin involves adding 300 watts (20% of 1,500).

The total, 1,800 watts, suggests that a moderately sized inverter of at least 2,000 watts would be sufficient. Typically, 2000- or 3000-watt units are commonly used and well-suited for RV applications.

This process involves considering critical factors like the range of RV inverter sizes, finding the perfect RV electricity system setup and balance between capacity and necessity, and employing a straightforward method for estimating the needed wattage.

Incorporating a safety margin ensures that unexpected power demands can be met, making the RV inverter reliable for various appliances. The focus is on practicality and avoiding the mistake of choosing an oversized inverter, making this approach valuable for RV enthusiasts.

Read about: How to Reset Inverter Faults.

What Size Inverter for RV? RV and DIY Camper Inverter Size Calculation

To determine the appropriate inverter size for camper, it’s essential to sum up the wattage of individual appliances. Larger devices, like microwaves and refrigerators, have both standard and surge wattages.

It’s vital to understand the camper inverter power needs and standard wattage required for inverter continuous operation, while the surge wattage represents the energy needed to initiate the device. Typically, surge wattage is double the running wattage, ensuring proper device startup.

Contrary to the misconception of needing a massive 24 kWh inverter, the function of an inverter is to convert rather than generate or store power. The key lies in calculating inverter size and how many appliances will run simultaneously to ascertain the required inverter size.

For most 30 amp camper inverters, this typically falls in the range of 2000/3000 watts, unless there’s an above-average number of devices operating simultaneously.

After calculating the wattage, a standard practice involves adding an extra 20% to ensure additional capacity beyond the cutoff point. For instance, if you require 2000 running and 3600 surge watts, adding a 20% margin to surge watts (3600 watts x 1.20) equals 4320 watts.

In this case, a minimum of a 5000-watt inverter is needed to accommodate the startup and operation of appliances with such wattage requirements.

We hope you now know what size inverter for TV and fridge you need with the help of the RV inverter size calculator above. It’s time we look at other aspects of RV power inverters.

Can an Inverter Power a Whole RV?

If your RV has a suitable-sized inverter, and you’re getting enough power from solar panels or a generator, you can run all your appliances smoothly. The key is having an inverter with sufficient wattage to support your appliances.

When boondocking for extended periods without access to shore power, you must ensure ample solar panels or fuel for your generator to generate the necessary power.

RV inverter size

How Many Batteries Do You Need?

Before installing an inverter, it’s crucial to ensure you have enough battery power. Let’s break it down using an example. Suppose you plan to run a 5,000-watt inverter requiring 166 DC amps for 2 hours daily. This totals to 332 amps. However, considering inverter efficiency (usually 8 to 10% loss), you’ll draw more from the batteries than delivered.

If you have a 400-amp battery bank, the runtime would be approximately 1.2 hours (not recommending full depletion). Following the recommended 50% depth of discharge, you’d get 0.6 hours of run time.

It’s essential to assess both your inverter’s efficiency and battery capacity matching with inverters to ensure a reliable power supply without depleting the battery bank excessively.

What to Look for When Buying an Inverter for RVs

Once you’ve determined your RV’s power requirements and factored in a safety margin, the next step is choosing the right size inverter for your recreational vehicle or trailer. This involves comparing the types of inverters (pure sine wave, modified sine wave inverters) and considering additional features tailored to your specific needs.

·       Pure Sine Wave vs. Modified Sine Wave Inverters

Pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters are the two main types for RVs, each offering distinct advantages and drawbacks.

Pure sine wave inverters generate a smooth and consistent power output, making them ideal for sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones. While they tend to be pricier, they deliver superior performance and can run almost any electronic device.

On the flip side, modified sine wave inverters provide a less consistent output at a lower cost, suitable for basic AC electrical devices like lights and charging.

However, they may struggle with larger appliances, potentially causing issues with sensitive electronics or producing unwanted noise. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each type to determine the best fit for your RV’s power requirements and budget.

·       Considering Inverter Features

In addition to choosing between inverter types, consider additional features that can enhance your RV experience. Some inverters offer surge protection, safeguarding your electrical system from sudden power surges.

Automatic shutdown is another valuable feature, shutting off the inverter in case of an overload, protecting your RV’s electrical system.

USB ports add convenience, allowing direct device charging without extra adapters. Premium inverters may include ground fault alerts, preventing damage to batteries and devices.

By factoring in these additional features, you can select an inverter that not only meets your power needs but also provides added safety and convenience.

Difference Between RV Inverter and Converter

In RV electrical systems, inverters and converters perform similar functions but operate in distinct directions. An RV inverter is responsible for converting DC power, typically from batteries, into AC energy for various appliances.

On the flip side, a converter functions oppositely, transforming AC power into DC to charge the onboard batteries of the RV.

It’s essential to note that many RVs are already equipped with a standard converter, and these are generally sufficient for typical needs. So, adding an extra piece of equipment might not be necessary unless specific requirements dictate otherwise.

RV inverter small size

Does the Inverter Need to Power the Whole RV?

Fortunately, no. If that were the case, we’d all need super powerful inverters. When you’re frequently camping off-grid or boondocking, you might prefer having your entire RV powered by the inverter to run every outlet in the camper.

However, for shorter durations or if you only need a couple of outlets active, you can set up the inverter to handle specific draws. So, it’s crucial to figure out the inverter power for the whole RV vs specific outlets to manage the performance better.

You have the flexibility to connect your inverter to a subpanel in your RV. This setup means you might have only two or three outlets capable of powering devices, which is often sufficient for many of us. In this scenario, just make sure your inverter can handle the devices you’ll be plugging into that subpanel.

Can More Than One Inverter Be Used at the Same Time?

Even though the setups can be a bit intricate, inverters, such as the Victron MultiPlus, have the capability to be connected in parallel, boosting their overall capacity. Certain inverters can even join forces to provide elevated voltage outputs, like 240V.

In some cases, RVs might incorporate multiple inverters for specific purposes. For instance, if there’s a residential fridge in an RV, it’s more efficient to operate a smaller inverter solely for the fridge instead of using one large inverter. In such scenarios, the main larger inverter can be turned off to conserve power, while the smaller unit remains operational to run the fridge.

Can an Inverter Power a Whole RV?

Fortunately, certain inverters are up for the task. For this scenario, we suggest opting for a hybrid inverter charger. These versatile devices not only transform DC power from solar panels into AC power but also have the capability to convert DC power into AC power for recharging your batteries.

Hybrid inverters, exemplified by the Victron Multiplus series, are adept at blending power from both a shore or generator source and your batteries. This unique feature enables you to run on a smaller generator or shore power supply without risking overload to the generator or tripping the breaker.

Do You Need an Inverter for Your RV?

The necessity of an inverter for your RV hinges on your travel style. If your plan involves mostly staying at campgrounds or RV parks with full hookups, connecting to shore power all the time, you might not need an inverter. In such cases, your RV stays powered by AC power.

However, if you’re leaning towards off-grid adventures, seeking out remote and beautiful spots for boondocking, having an inverter becomes crucial. Even without solar system inverter compatibility, an inverter is essential to convert the DC power stored in your batteries into usable AC power.

The size of the inverter depends on your charging needs, and a modest 1,100-watt inverter might suffice. It’s advisable to have a way to convert DC to AC power, ensuring you can charge essential devices like your phone and laptop while on the road.

Installing an RV Inverter

Following the manufacturer’s instructions or consulting with a professional can simplify the process of installing an RV inverter. The specific wiring diagram will vary based on your electrical system, but a basic installation typically involves the following steps:

  1. Choose a suitable location for the inverter, ensuring it’s dry, secure, and easily accessible for maintenance. Opt for a well-ventilated space.
  2. Gather the necessary tools for wire cutting and crimping, and ensure you have the correct wire gauge to connect the inverter to your RV power supply.
  3. Connect the positive terminal of the inverter to the positive buss of your distribution center or buss bar, using a preferably red wire.
  4. Connect the negative terminal of the inverter to the negative buss of your distribution center or bus bar, using a preferably black wire.
  5. If the inverter has a ground wire, connect it to the ground in the distribution center or ground it to the vehicle chassis.
  6. Double-check all connections to ensure secure cables.

After completing the installation, test the inverter to verify it works correctly, providing power to your appliances and devices.

strong RV inverter charging

Some RV inverter models offer a remote-control option for easy on/off operation. This allows you to mount the remote-control switch conveniently, allowing the inverter to be installed in a less accessible location.

Read about how many batteries for 3000W inverter you need to ensure performance efficiency of your inverter.

Multiple Inverters for RV: Benefits and Drawbacks of Larger Inverters

In certain cases, larger RVs and trailers with expansive electrical systems might find the need for more than one inverter. Incorporating multiple inverters into your RV can bring about advantages such as:

1.      Increased Power Capacity

This allows for a more effective and efficient power supply to specific appliances and devices.

2.      Dedicated Inverter for Specific Items

Using a smaller inverter exclusively for a residential fridge can be more efficient than relying on a larger inverter for the entire RV.

3.      Linking for Capacity Boost

By connecting inverters, you can enhance overall capacity or achieve higher voltage outputs, such as 240V.

However, there are downsides to utilizing multiple inverters, including faster battery drainage and the need for a significantly larger battery bank.

Final Words

Understanding RV electrical systems is crucial for a smooth journey. Choosing the right inverter size for off-grid power, considering power needs, and knowing when to use multiple inverters can make a significant difference.  

You need to calculate how many appliances you’ll run simultaneously to determine inverter size you need. For most RVers, that figure generally comes out around 2000/3000 watts unless you’ve got a larger-than-average number of devices working simultaneously.

Whether you’re a frequent off-grid adventurer or prefer full hookups, the decision to include an inverter depends on your RVing style. Some even use the 4000 watt inverter for RV according to their specific needs. Installing an inverter properly ensures seamless operation, and the distinction between inverters and converters clarifies their roles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 2000 watt inverter enough for RV?

Yes, an RV inverter 2000 watt is generally enough, providing ample power for common appliances and devices. Ensure it meets or exceeds your total wattage needs for optimal performance.

What is the best size inverter for a campervan?

The best size inverter for a campervan depends on power requirements. A 2000-3000 watt inverter is common, providing sufficient power for various devices in most campervans.

How do I know what size converter I need for my RV?

To determine the size converter for your RV, calculate the total amp hours needed daily and choose a converter with matching or higher capacity. For example, if you need 400 amp hours, a 40-amp converter is suitable.

How do I calculate what size inverter I need?

Calculate the size inverter by adding up the wattage of all appliances, including surge wattage. Incorporate a safety margin (around 20%) to ensure the inverter handles unexpected demands.

(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)
Close