Are you about to head out on your first camping trip of the season? It’s important to get everything ready before you leave, and that includes figuring out what size inverter you need for your camper.
An inverter is necessary when powering appliances like televisions, microwaves, coffee makers, hairdryers, and more. The thing is – there are so many different sizes available!
What is an Inverter?
An inverter is an electronic device that changes DC (direct current) electricity to AC (alternating current). An example of a DC appliance you need an inverter for: a handheld vacuum. An example of an AC appliance you need an inverter for: a television or computer monitor.
A ‘pure sine wave’ inverter provides the most power, and runs appliances more efficiently than other types of inverters. The way this type of inverter works is by taking stepped voltage from RV batteries and outputting it in a smooth line; no drop offs in power quality there may be with other kinds of inverters.
How Much Power Do You Need?
The amount of power (measured in watts and amps) you’ll need depends on the number and type of appliances you want to run at the same time. For example, you can run a microwave and television, but not for very long; if you want to run a TV , refrigerator, coffee pot, and computer all at once (without any trouble), get an inverter with more wattage!
Do I Have to Install My Own Inverter?
If your vehicle will be powered by batteries while traveling, then yes – it’s a good idea to install your own inverter. If you want to always plug into a power source (like an outlet at home), then no – installing an inverter is not necessary.
If you are wondering which is the best RV inverter check out this article.
There are three different types of power source options listed on these inverters too; 12V DC, 110V AC, and both 12V DC and 110V AC. It’s important to note that if you want to run an appliance with your inverter that needs 110 VAC, it will work better with a pure sine wave inverter than a modified sine wave inverter, and your appliances will run more efficiently if you use a higher capacity than what is needed.
Write down all of your equipment that will be plugged into your inverter (this includes lamps, fans, televisions, etc. that you might want to use while camping). Remember – TVs and microwaves are normally listed at 115V/60 Hz AC; however, if the TV is also a computer monitor it may be listed as 120 VAC or 240 VAC.
Now that you know how much power all of your equipment uses, select an appropriate inverter for your camper or RV. If one of your appliances has a higher wattage you will have to pick an inverter with more capacity than what is needed for all of your appliances together.
For: if I have a television and a fan, both which use 100 watts: simply add the wattage together and see that it adds up to 200. Since I picked an inverter that is capable of 1,500 watts (the amount we recommend for this sizing), then this would be perfect for my equipment because I’ve found the right size inverter for my camper.
Understanding Your Power Needs
You will need a pure sine wave inverter if you have any of the following: medical equipment, microwave ovens, laser printers, sewing machines, power tools or anything else that has a motorized component.
A modified sine wave inverter works fine for everything else except mentioned above. Simply check out the chart below to determine if your appliances require a pure sine wave or not.
If you want to run an appliance with your inverter that needs 110 VAC, it will work better with a pure sine wave inverter than a modified sine wave inverter, and your appliances will run more efficiently if you use a higher capacity than what is needed.
An example of this would be running my fan on an inverter. I mentioned that my fan uses 100 watts to run, which means it will work just fine with the 1,500 watt pure sine wave inverter.
Types of Inverter
There are Three types of inverter that are available in the market. These are Modified sine wave, Pure sine wave and Inverting DC to AC. What is a pure sine wave? A pure sine wave inverter has a high quality AC power supply which produces cleaner currents with its internal components.
Which provides you with a safe and reliable power supply when AC power is required in your car or in your home. When you use a modified sine wave inverter then it can produce current with less smooth waves in an affordable price range which makes it cheaper than both the other types mentioned above.
What Size Inverter Do I Need for My Camper?
The common misconception is that one unit deals with all power demands of the camper.
First, determine what your primary power needs are, then estimate your secondary needs.
For example, if you will be running a microwave an average of 1 hour per day when on battery, getting a 2200 watt inverter with 12V capability is enough.
If you only use the microwave for 30 minutes or less per day on average, get a 1000 to 1400 watt inverter instead since it’s cheaper and has more than enough capacity to run the microwave in short bursts.
Once you know how much power your appliances use (by checking out how much power they use at home), decide what size inverter you need in order to meet that demand in your camper or RV.
An inverter with an in-line battery is recommended so you can connect it to your 12V power source when the grid is not available.
Once you have sized your inverter, find one that has enough power for all of your appliances together.
To make the best decision about which size inverter to buy for your camper, you’ll need to consider how many amps and watts you will be using.
Asen is the owner and main contributor of Camper Life. He is a full-time RV traveler since 2018. He loves camping in nature, fishing, and spending time with his family.
Striving to provide the most valuable information about campers and RVs, he shares everything he learned over the years.
That’s why Camper Life is one of the best sources to find information about RV traveling and living.