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5 factors for choosing RV power inverter

Finding an RV inverter may appear as a simple task but a myriad of choices tend to confuse you when you begin to look for it. You have types to look for, prices to compare, and several different features or specifications to analyze. You may choose a power inverter for car, truck, or a caravan. Similarly, you may look for 3000 watt inverter for recreational vehicles in general or look for inverters with advanced features such as heavy duty and built-in cooling fan. Moreover, with the varying price range, it can become tough to find out which features are essential and which one will best suit your needs.


Therefore, it is best to consider a few factors to find out which inverter can be the most suitable one as per the needs and budget. While features, wattage, and connections are common factors to consider, you should primarily consider the device’s wave form output.


Factor 1: Wave Form Output (Pure or Modified Sine)
Broadly, two types of power inverters exist as per the AC output’s waveform namely, pure sine wave and modified sine wave. This is actually according to the waveform generated from the DC source of the battery. While there is no need to focus on this ‘how’ part, we need to consider the end result that is either modified or pure sine wave. 

Well, an RV inverter with modified sine wave is more affordable than an inverter with pure sine wave. It can run a majority of but not all appliances. However, just keep in mind that this output can cause a bit of interference with a few audio gadgets, TVs, and computers. On the other hand, a pure sine wave device generates a cleaner output analogous essentially with your home’s mains supply due to which it can operate any appliance.

So, in short, you can consider the modified sine wave output for power tools, non-digital microwave ovens, lights, and remaining motor-driven appliances. 

Factor 2: Size of the RV Inverter
Well, size here does not refer to physical dimensions. Here, it refers to the output measured in Watts. While 3000 watt inverter for RV suffices, it does not mean that you too need to buy it. To decide the size that you need, it is essential to know the Watts or quantity of power the devices will need, which you need to run. Once you know that, add all the wattages and then also add almost 15% more to facilitate a bit of overhead. The total that you get should be the size of your promising inverter. For calculating watts from amps, simply multiply volts into amps. 

For example, if you know that a device is working at 1.8 Amps, it comes to 1.8 x 120 equalling to 216W, which means you need a 300W power inverter is sufficient for this device. Moreover, it is wise to consider an inverter with overload protection so that it shuts down on its own in case more than tolerable load comes on it. Usually, those electric appliances with induction motors like tools and those that begin with less load like pumps usually need at least twice the wattage when they start. Therefore, it is rational to arrange for extra overhead.

Today, power inverters for RV are available in a variety of sizes but going about 3000W will consume too much power, unless there is a huge bank of battery. Therefore, to know your size requirement, it is recommended to check the wattage needs of the devices that you need to run and then choose an inverter that is a bit larger. 

Each RV inverter has two ratings: peak and continuous. While you are required to focus on the continuous rating (in Watts), devices such as compressors, microwaves, and power tools demand a higher peak rating. So, it is beneficial to choose accordingly. Except for the air conditioner, everything else is reasonable in terms of watts required.

Factor 3: The Amount of Battery Power
t is essential to find out whether the available battery power is enough or not. That said; it makes no sense in having a 3000 watt power inverter for RV if the required power of 250 amps is supplied such that the batteries drain in just 30 minutes. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that enough capacity is there in the batteries for operating the inverter with those desired devices. 

To find out the anticipated power consumption (current in Amps) that your batteries should deliver, you only need to divide the overall power consumption in terms of watts by 10. Doing so facilitates some overhead for covering up the inherent voltage conversion inefficiency. For instance, if the overall wattage of all devices you wish to operate simultaneously is 600 Watts, the batter’s power should be able to render 60 amps (600/10).

Alternatively, you need to find the current in Amps of the devices, multiply each by the number of hours a day you wish to use, and add this figure of each device. Now, compare this figure with the amp-hour rating of the battery.

Factor 4: Efficiency
You need to also check the inverter’s efficiency so that you do not have to be inefficient later. Because the voltage conversion from DC to AC generates heat, more watts are consumed from the batteries by the inverter, than what it emits. A few models tend to have this gap more than standard, which results in energy loss. Therefore, before buying, do go through the specifications cautiously.

Moreover, it should be noted that when turned on, an RV inverter still consumes some battery power even if no device is connected to it. Therefore, consider turning it off when not in used. There are a few big models that come with a remote switch for on/off. This is handy if you do not wish to go out at late cold night to turn it off, especially when it is not that instant to reach the inverter. 

Factor 5: Operating Time
This pertains to how long the inverter will operate, which is actually dependent upon the battery’s capacity measured in Ah or Amp/Hour and condition along with the overall wattage of the appliances you wish to run. For roughly estimating the operating time, find out the battery’s Ah rating and divide it by the current measured in Amps that the inverter shall consume or need to run all the desired devices simultaneously. For example, we calculated above that the current consumed is 60 Amps and that the batter’s capacity is 180Ah. Thus, the operating time of the inverter is 180 divided by 60, which is 3 hours. Thus, a fully charged 180Ah battery in a reliable condition can run a 600W load for almost 3 hours.

Most inverters tend to prevent you from running your battery totally flat, after the input voltage falls below a predetermined level. These models do so by ringing an alarm to alert you about the falling battery power. In case you allow this to go on, the inverter shall finally turn off itself automatically to ensure that the battery does not get flat in terms of power.

Well, the above discussed factors are the main ones to consider for buying the most efficient and lasting power inverter for RV. 

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