How to Use an RV Inverter

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For many RVers, there might be times that you will choose to camp without any hookups for water, electric, and sewer. Also referred to as “boondocking”, this type of RVing is called dry camping and is legal as long as you are staying in a designated dispersed camping area.

If you prefer dry camping in your RV and have limited amenities or you don’t want to run a generator for whatever reason (noisy, expensive, etc.), an RV inverter is just what you need when you don’t want to start up your generator, but also don’t want to give up use of your TV, microwave, hair dryer, or other small appliances.

A 130-watt RV inverter is the ideal solution for your basic power requirements, offering a quiet alternative to gas generators with no fumes, fuel or noise. In this quick lesson, RV expert Dave Solberg teaches you about the simple setup and use of an RV inverter, explaining what you can expect from your inverter and filling you in on the things you need to know for safe and proper hookup.

Setting Up Your RV Inverter

As Dave will teach you, the type of RV inverter needed on your dry camping adventures depends on how many and which type of small appliances, computers, or devices you want to use in your RV. Most often you’ll only need to utilize an RV inverter for TV/VCR/DVD watching, so the best solution is a 130-watt inverter. This small box is a synch to install, requiring only a 12-volt battery and a wall outlet.

To ensure you get the most out of your new inverter, Dave demonstrates the correct method for installing and using a basic 130-watt unit. Each unit comes equipped with two feeds, which should be run directly into the 12-volt battery. Once you’ve hooked up the unit, all you have to do is plug the power cable into an outlet.

Or if you prefer not to use the battery simultaneously, you can charge up the inverter beforehand and then plug your TV or other small appliances directly into the back of the inverter. In no time you’ll be returning from your relaxing hike to watch your favorite shows or sporting events! It’s the easiest solution on the market!

What else do you need to know?

Before wrapping up the lesson, Dave explains other aspects of proper RV inverter use that you might need to know prior to starting it up. There’s not much that can go wrong with an inverter, but if you run into any issues, there are plenty of discussion boards and user guides on the Internet, as well as RV Repair Club videos perfectly tailored to helping you solve whatever problem you encounter!

For more information on the type of RV inverter you might need for your appliances, you might also want to look into using an RV inverter power consumption diagram, which lays out the power requirements (watts) of most basic devices that you’ll likely utilize on an RV trip. With Dave’s expert advice and a few minutes of your time, you’ll be living the leisure life!

Discussion
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8 Responses to “How to Use an RV Inverter”
    • Customer Service Techs

      Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site. An inverter simply changes or “inverts” 12-volt DC power into 120-volt AC power to run appliance like the TV, DVD player, and larger models will even provide enough power for refrigerators. The smaller version you posted a question on is a 130 watt inverter designed to just provide power to the TV and DVD player and is usually mounted up in the overhead entertainment center cabinet in older models close to the TV. Connect two leads to a 12-volt source which could be at the house batteries, or connect to the 12-volt power source most manufacturers pre-wired into the entertainment center which looks like the old cigarette lighter plug ins. Connect the 120-volt plug to a residential plug and turn the unit on. That’s about all you need to do as the unit senses when you are plugged into outside power and bypasses to the TV. When you are dry camping, it will “invert” power and run the TV via the house batteries. Hope this helps, happy camping.

      Reply
    • Customer Service Techs

      Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club. How long a TV and VCR/DVD player will last on 12-volt is a common question and also one that has many variables. First it depends on the amount of battery power you have, one group 24 battery will run a TV and VCR/DVD for about 6-8 hours, while larger batteries like the group 27 or AGM batteries will
      last for days. Second, it depends on the strength of your batteries, meaning how well you have maintained, properly charged, and stored them. Without proper maintenance, batteries will sulfate and not operate at full capacity which will mean less amp hours available. And finally, what else you are running in the coach that will draw battery power such as lights, vents, LP leak detector, and even appliances operating on propane that still draw battery power. All this will also diminish amp hours
      available for your use with the inverter. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  1. Raymond

    Four months ago, my wife and I bought a new RV. It has 2 inverters. The user group for our RV is urging us to buy “pure sign” inverters to replace the stock inverters. What is a “pure sign” inverter and is it really that much better?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Raymond. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your invertor question. The “low tech” explanation of Pure Sine Wave is it’s a 120-volt power source that is much cleaner without sharp spikes designed for today’s delicate electronics. Typically “raw” power is designed for the harsh motor start up of power tools, lights, and even some appliances. If you can provide the make, model, and year of your inverters, we can identify if they are providing True Sine Wave (TSW) commonly called Pure Sine, or Modified Sine Wave (MSW) power. You do not need TSW for everything in your rig, so it would also be good to know what each inverter powers such as outlets, refrigerator, TV and such. Typically if you have two, one is a larger 2000 W that is also charging the batteries, and the second is a smaller 110W for a TV/DVD player.

      Reply
  2. Johnny Kim

    Any suggestions on the brand and model of a TSW 2000 watt inverter that has both the 12v and 120v sources? Also, my rv came with a 1000watt inverter. Is it safe to switch out to a 2000watt inverter and use a 1800watt portable induction stove?

    Reply

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