What Does An Inverter Do in An RV

What Does An Inverter Do in An RV

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If you have an RV or are planning on purchasing one, you’ve probably heard of an inverter. You likely know that inverters have to do with power supply and power conversion, but what do they really do? What does an inverter do in an RV?

Now, you might have realized that the microwave or your RV’s TV only works when plugged into shore power or a generator. This would be because your RV does not come complete with in inverter. Let’s find out what inverters in RVs are, and what they do.

What is an RV Inverter?

The main purpose of an inverter is to convert DC power to AC power. In other words, an inverter in an RV provides you with the ability to power appliances which require 12v AC shore power, or in simplest terms, items that would normally need to be plugged into a power outlet or a generator.

If you have an RV that does not have an inverter built into it, you will need to be plugged into shore power, or into a power generator, to use various appliances, to charge phones, to watch TV, and other such things.

However, don’t worry, because if your RV does not come with an inverter to power your appliances, you can always purchase one on the side. The bottom line is that if you plan to be off the grid and camp in places without adequate power supplies, if you want to power various appliances and items that require AC power, you will need to have in inverter.

How Does an RV Inverter Work?

Although it may sound a bit difficult and complicated, the way in which RV inverters work is actually not all that complicated. A power inverter in an RV uses the 12v batteries from the RV and inverts that battery from 12VDC to 120VAC power to run the outlets. Therefore, if you have a large enough inverter, you can use the batteries from your RV to power more or less anything from fridges and AC units to phone chargers, TVs, and everything in between.

Keep in mind that to power large appliances, you will need large and powerful RV batteries, as well as a large inverter too because to get the power level from 12v DC to 120v AC, there is a 10x increase in power needed.

An appliance that uses a lot of watts, such as an AC, is going to put a lot of amps on the batteries. In other words, to power large appliances that require a lot of electricity, chances are that you may need a battery power bank in your RV, along with a high-quality inverter.

The other aspect that you need to keep in mind is that there is always some power lost when inverting. Generally, most high-quality inverters will feature an efficiency level of 90% to 95%. Inverters should only waste 10% of the power, but no more. You will want to look for an inverter that is as efficient as possible, as this will allow you to power a more versatile set of appliances, and it will also help cut down on energy costs.

What Can You Power With an Inverter? 

So, you might be wondering what you need your inverter for. What can you power with an RV inverter?

  • Television sets
  • Stereos
  • Phone chargers
  • Computers
  • Microwaves
  • Refrigeration units
  • Video game consoles

It is important to note that the more appliances you plan on powering, and the larger they are, the larger and more powerful your inverter needs to be. If you plan on buying an inverter separately, something you can do is to dedicate a few main plugs to that inverter.

It’s an easy and effective approach if you only need a few plugs to work. Another method is to use multiple inverters, to more or less power appliances individually.

What Does An Inverter Do in An RV

Some Things to Consider before Buying an Inverter for an RV

There are additional purchasing considerations you need to keep in mind before buying an inverter for your RV, so let’s go over these.


One thing you need to consider is what type of inverter to get. There are standalone inverters that are very simple to install and there are integrated models. Now, integrated types are a great way to go if you have an old converter/charger that you also want to upgrade. On the other hand, the standalone units are best if you want to add an inverter to a multi-stage charging system.


Another very important aspect to consider before making a purchase is the size of the inverter. Remember that you need to have enough battery power in your RV to support the inverter in question, so always do some research on that front.

For instance, a 1,000 watt inverter can supply up to 1,000 watts at a time. If you only have basic needs, something like a 1,000 watt model will do fine, for things like powering phones and laptops. However, if you want to power large appliances, you may want to go for an inverter that can muster over 3,000 watts.


The other purchasing aspect to keep in mind here is what kind of inverter you want. Generally speaking, the best way to go is with a pure sine inverter. These are best because they perfectly imitate the standard power coming from a shore connection or generator. Modified sine inverters work well too, but pure sine inverters are usually always the best choice.


When it comes to the question of “what an inverter does in an RV,” the answer is that it lets you convert electricity for use with appliances. If you plan on being on the road a lot, especially where there are no power supplies, getting an inverter is more or less mandatory.

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