A Comprehensive Guide for Choosing the Best RV Power Inverter
An RV inverter, also known as a power inverter for RV, is indispensable if you need to operate the standard domestic appliances in your RV, caravan, or motor home while you are living off the grid far from the mains. Such an electrical appliance converts the Direct Current (DC) of 24v or 12v from the RV’s battery into Alternating Current (AC) of 120v or 230v, which is essential for operating the mains powered lights, mobile gadgets, and power tools.
Buying Factors to Consider
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 differing 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.
Power Inverter Buying guide
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.
Top 5 RV Power Inverters
To simplify your task of selecting the best power inverter for your RV, we have shortlisted a few most reliable devices to consider.
Power Bright PW3500-12 3500 Watt Power Inverter
The is a heavy duty modified sine wave inverter offering up to 32 amps of alternating current. Just connect the inverter to a 12v DC battery and you are good to use it for powering heavy duty power tools, large appliances, and several other electronic appliances in your vehicle. This inverter runs hard to kick off the inductive motor appliances such as refrigerators, compressors, and air conditioners. However, it comes with the Soft Start Technology to start the tools and appliances smoothly.
The inverter generates enough power required by a 13 amp mitre saw and a 3/4 horsepower air compressor, individually. However, if you run both together, the inverter struggles a bit but yet manages to keep them running smooth. This is not bothersome if usually one person is working out the RV or a truck at a time. You can easily run a coffeemaker and microwave together or half inches electrical drills at once. It is also possible to power a 4.5 cu ft refrigerator and freezer, laptop, Christmas lights, coffee pot, and microwave without hitting the peak.
In terms of efficiency, you can expect around 90% rating. When it comes to battery drainage, the safety auto shut off at 10v prevents it completely. While 3500 watts is its continuous power rating, 7000 watts is its peak power rating.
The inverter is encased in a case of anodized aluminum and comes with the heat sink design that ensures optimum heat dissipation as well as more durability. There is also a thermally activated cooling fan for ensure proper circulation of heat.
Other features of this inverter include wireless on/off remote, digital display showing both input and output power, LED fault indicator, four 110v AC outlets (three prongs), dual heavy duty DC terminals, overload shutdown, low voltage alarm (10.5), low and high voltage shutdown (10 and 15), and thermal protection.
Pros: Highly safe, noiseless even on full load, highly efficient, easy installation, lightweight, easily movable to different trucks, no burps or hiccups, strong build, less storage space
Cons: Some interference, not working with latest tools with adjustable controls
Go Power! GP-3000HD 3000-Watt Heavy Duty Modified Sine Wave Inverter
This 3000 watt power inverter for truck or RV is another heavy duty modified sine wave device. However, it gives a lot of power by converting 12v DC into AC household power for running devices giving a load of up to 3000W of continuous power. With four AC outlets and capability of hooking up to the batteries, this inverter can easily power a mitre saw, air compressor, table saw, coffee maker, and other hand tools simultaneously.
This model is the largest inverter from Go Power and provides sufficient power to operate several devices at once. With an output of 3000W, this one is reliable for fulfilling all your big power requirements. You can choose to plug the devices directly into the two AC outlets of the unit or wire the unit into your electrical system via the brand’s optional transfer switch.
The unique aspect of this inverter is its wiring. Well, there is no wiring or cables for this unit. Rather, the brand provides an installation kit known as the GPDC-Kit5 that is actually a cable kit with an array of largest cables. As per the specifications, these are 10 foot 4/0 welding wires that have an exclusive slow blow fuse. While unsure of how essential it is to have such large cables, it is certain that 3000 watts is more than sufficient power.
Strikingly, with 4 batteries on a RV, you can even turn on the AC and then microwave and both run well at the same time. Well, the only drawback of doing so is significant battery drainage but it is commendable for its lot of power. This is from my personal experience, although the brand does not recommend running an AC through this inverter. Rest all inductive appliances run very well at once, through this device. And yes, you also get over voltage, overload, and under voltage safety features.
Consider this unit as a reliable backup source when power cuts are frequent.
Pros: Lighter in weight than the Power Bright PW-3500 one, heavy duty, well made, silent fan, safe
Cons: Separate installation kit although easy, a bit pricey, only for inductive electronics
Peak PKC0AW 3000-Watt Power Inverter
This inverter is just designed for off the grid solar systems with the help of several batteries. Unlike other modified sine wave inverters, this one efficiently runs a small window 500 BTU AC off a system of solar panel without any issues. This is perhaps the most commendable aspect of this inverter. Otherwise, modified sine wave units do not support so much of load at all.
In the 5th wheel, you can even power all 110 fixtures due to which it becomes possible to camp without the generator, especially at those primeval sites. With four 120v AC outlets, this inverter has enough of power in reserve and is usable with just 12v commercial truck battery. Because it draws a lot of amps, it is essential to keep a set of hooked batteries.
This Peak inverter delivers 3000 Watts continuously, while its peak power rating is 6000. While this is same as the Power Bright inverter discussed above, this unit differs from it in terms of a USB port. Yes! There is an USB charging port, which is just handy. And yes, this unit ships with battery connection cables and a remote control. Moreover, the unit has features to protect from short circuit, high/low voltage faults, low battery, and over temperature. The inverter shuts down on its own when the input voltage is 10v.
When you have the unit running the fan only kicks on when it warms up under a load and then will shut off when it cools.
This one can be the best 3000 watt inverter for situations when there is no electricity, while you are on a job site, and when you are camping. Once hooked up to a battery, the unit can power almost anything, right from sump pumps to power tools.
Pros: USB port, safety features, high efficiency, affordable, compact, simple to install
Cons: Not for air compressors, a bit noisy fan although not loud while kicking on getting warm,
KRIËGER® 3000W 12V Power Inverter
This is perhaps the best 3000 watt inverter for all those need to have everything to get started with buying any extra stuff and experiencing overheating. With all the cables, fuse, and external switch, this unit is truly handy. You can use it on an RV to power a 900w vacuum cleaner or a drip coffee maker of same watts, without actually using the generator.
This heavy duty modified sine wave unit connects directly to a 12v DC battery for running TVs, hand held power tools, home electronics, computers, gaming consoles, and small appliances in your RV or other vehicle. There is also an LCD display showing input voltage as well as output wattage along with the level of battery. Even the remote works fine, but the light on it could be a bit brighter. And yes, those dual USB ports are ideal for charging your Bluetooth speaker and phone batteries.
The peak rating is 4000W, which is reliable for starting almost anything in home. The look and feel is of high quality, and does not feel nasty in any way. Because of the modified sine wave output, the unit shall not work with some picky devices and may also reduce the lifespan of some electronic devices, if used all the time.
Talking about the safety features, you probably have them all, right from over voltage shutdown to overload shutdown, and from under voltage shutdown to low voltage alarm. There are also thermal shutdown and short circuit shutdown indicators.
Consider this unit as decent for a travel aid and occasional use. It is also an ideal buy for anyone looking for a 12v DC to 120v AC converter at the best price. The inverter is MET approved under CSA std C22.2 and UL std 458, which is a bonus.
Pros: 90% efficiency, maximum safety features, perhaps the lightest, ultra silent fan, USB charging, great design, not too hot, no weird noises, comes with everything to use with solar system, compact.
Cons: Inaccurate watt meter
AIMS Power PICOGLF30W12V120VR 3000 Watt 12V Pure Sine Inverter Charger
This one is 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter charger with low frequency transforms the batteries’ DC power into AC, which you can use to power different tools and appliances. It can power even devices with high startup ratings such as pumps and compressors, through its 9000 peak rating for not more than 20 seconds. The unit features a built in AC-to-DC battery charger that can easily recharge a battery via an AC source such as a home outlet and fuel-powered generator. The smart 100A charger comes with a seven settings and charging at 3 stages ability, which ensures effective and safe charging of the battery source.
This unit also features auto frequency detection for operating at 50 or 60 Hertz. There is also an auto gen start feature, which is really handy. Consider this inverter charger for off-grid, renewable solar, and emergency backup applications running 110 or 120v AC.
Pros: Lasting, for all types of devices, auto gen start, built-in charger for battery, inverter-cum-charger
The aforementioned power inverters are just some of our chosen ones, each meeting requirements with some different features or specifications. You can easily find out which one from these can best suit your needs as well as budget, by mapping the description to what you require. However, this is only top 5; you should consider some inverters and then choose the best one. For this, we will keep on putting reviews of power inverters so that you do not have to keep looking for it on other sites.
So, are you ready to dig more into our review portal? Be so, as you are likely to get your best inverter here, in no time!