What is the Difference Between an Inverter and a Converter


What is the difference between an INVERTER and a CONVERTER?

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A converter is basically a battery charger that is connected to the distribution center either as an “all in one” unit or a separate unit in newer rigs. 120-volt power comes into the rig from the shoreline cord either plugged into the campground source, or by generator. That power goes to the distribution center just like your home and powers 120-volt appliances such as the air conditioners, outlets, refrigerator on AC, and other appliances. These all have circuit breakers in the distribution center. One of the circuits sends 120-volt power to the converter which is a battery charger connected to the house batteries.

An inverter is a separate component that is usually placed in an underfloor location and will take 12-volt power from the house batteries and provide 120-volt power to appliances. Smaller inverters can be found in the entertainment center for the TV/DVD player. Larger ones will have 2000 + watts to power the refrigerator on 120-volt power and other appliances. These will also typically replace the converter as they have multi-stage chargers like the Freedom 2000, some from Xantrex, and others.

Hope this helps!

Related video: How To Use An RV Inverter

You might also be interested in:
RV Power Converter Troubleshooting
Essential Guide To 120-Volt Power Converters For RVs

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6 Responses to “What is the Difference Between an Inverter and a Converter”
  1. John Olsen

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Bounder, RV Year: 1999

    White water tank where are the shut off valves to keep the water in?

    • Customer Service

      Hey John,

      Great question! I would be happy to submit this to our team of experts for their input, but I do need some additional info from you.

      What is the year/make/model of your RV?
      What is the year/make/model of your water tank?

      If you have any questions or concerns, please chat, email or call us at 1-855-706-3536.

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  2. Milton Brehmer

    RV Make: Keystone , RV Model: 3950br, RV Year: 2018

    While watch tv last evening it started going on and off. Then it finally stayed off and the refrigerator, fan and my recliner. I don’t know what connects all these things.

    • Customer Service

      Hey Milton!

      That’s a great question. I would be happy to submit this to our team of experts, but I need more info first:

      What is the year/make/model of your RV?

      If you have any questions or concerns, please chat, email or call us at 1-855-706-3536.

      RV Repair Club Video Membership

  3. jerryj joyce

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: American tradition , RV Year: 2000, Brand: Fleetwood , Model Number: American tradition

    Tried to start my coach, waited for the dash lights to disappear. Turned on the ignition switch to start and nothing happened. I remembered the switch at the rear was off. I left the ignition on and went to the rear of the coach to turn that switch on. After I turned the switch on I heard something trying to start. Not knowing what was happening I turned the rear switch off. I then went back to the front and turned the ignition switch off. I went back to the rear & turned that switch on and then went to the front and tried to start the motorhome. All the dash lightrs came on & closed. The vehicle was in park with the brakes on. The diesel genererator started OK. When I turned the ignition switch to start there was nothing. It made no attempt to start.

    • Customer Service

      Hello Jerry,

      Here is the response for our expert:

      It is possible there might be a blown fuse but if the switches and everything are in the proper position it could be the starter as well. It is possible there is something wrong with the switch as well. Really the only way to know is to remove the switch and test for continuity between the terminals. You said the lights went out on the dash, could it be a low battery issue? You might have the battery selector switch in the wrong position or it is possible the starting battery doesn’t have the load capacity to start as well. Most likely the issue you have is an electrical one as opposed to a single component but tracing it could be difficult. The best thing to start with is double checking and making sure everything is in the proper position and setting and make sure the battery is fully charged with clean terminals. After that you want to check the fuses for the chassis and then test the switches. I hope this helps narrow it down!


      RV Repair Club Technical Expert