RV Inverter vs. Converter – The Difference

RV Converters and Inverters 

You probably aren’t familiar with RV inverter vs. converter. This is especially if you haven’t thought about how your RV gets power. 

This article will walk you through the distinctions between the inverter and converter, explain why they are necessary, and help you determine which one is necessary for your RV. If you keep reading, you will soon have a better idea of your RV’s power requirements and the operation of these many gadgets.

What are Converters?

A converter is a gadget that transforms AC power into DC power. What does a converter do in an RV? Because shore power is always in AC, you’ll need to convert it to DC power. 

Suppose you want to charge your RV battery with shore power. If you’re going to recharge the power in your RV using shore power or a generator, this is the only method. It will also distribute AC electricity to the breaker panel of your RV so you can run your appliances. A converter is a requirement in every RV.

Old AC Converter

What is an Inverter?

Inverters are an exceedingly typical component you can find in homes powered by solar energy. Inverters are devices that turn the direct current (DC) power produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is what most home appliances require. And naturally, it performs the same purpose in a recreational vehicle (RV). 

Suppose you want to use the electricity from your RV battery to run the appliances inside the RV. In that case, you will need an inverter converter for your RV to convert the DC power from your RV battery to AC power.

Suppose you install solar panels on your recreational vehicle (RV). In that case, the RV power inverter will perform the same function in a home that runs on solar energy. It will allow you to power electronics and appliances with your panels’ direct current (DC). 

Note that a Cotek pure sine wave inverter is always the preferable choice for modern appliances; modified sine wave inverters can interfere with the functioning of many different types of devices. It is vital to keep this in mind.

Isolated DC to AC power inverter

RV Inverter vs. Converter – The Difference

When you acquire something brand new, you almost always find yourself with a few questions to ask about it. Customers naturally flock to us with inquiries, considering we are an RV dealer. 

Take this question as an example: “What is the difference between inverter and converter?” This is a frequent question from new RV owners. It is essential to know the difference between a converter and an inverter.

To begin, let’s compare alternating current (AC) with direct current (DC) (not the rock group). Direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) are the two different ways that electricity can go across a circuit (DC). Electricity, sometimes known as “current,” is nothing more than the flow of electrons via a conducting medium, such as a wire. 

The direction in which electrons flow differentiates alternating current (AC) from direct current (DC). In a DC circuit, the flow of electrons is unidirectional, often known as “forward.” Electrons move in alternating current (AC) in a way that we sometimes describe as “ahead” and other times as “backward.”

It is ideal for transmitting power over long distances using alternating current since it is more efficient (for household use). Now that you know the difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), let’s talk about the components of your RV. Both AC and DC circuits are present in your RV. 

AC circuits feature outlets that are visually comparable to your home. The outlets in your car that look like a cigarette lighter are examples of DC circuits. Converting the voltage from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) is the converter function. 

Electrical inverters are devices that change the voltage from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and vice versa (AC). A 15-, 30-, or 50-amp power inlet supplies electricity to a converter, which then distributes that electricity to the various appliances that require it—this simplified explanation of how the converter works (air conditioning, AC televisions, AC outlets). 

This converter takes in power, then charges the 12V batteries in your “coach.” Inverters are electrical devices that take control of your batteries and “invert” it from 12 volts to 110 volts, which enables you to utilize 110-volt outlets powered by the electricity stored in your 12-volt batteries. 

You can use inverters in conjunction with battery chargers. This will allow you to use your household things such as phone chargers, computer chargers, and televisions even when you have not plugged in the RV into “shore power,” also known as a standard electrical outlet. Thanks to this, you will be able to watch television even if you are in the middle of the woods at night!

Always remember that a converter or an inverter will not be able to give an infinite amount of power. Be sensible and avoid drying your hair with a blow dryer while simultaneously operating your air conditioner, microwave, television, or coffee maker. You will most certainly cause a circuit breaker to trip. 

How much power do your appliances use? Suppose you have 30 amps of power, and your air conditioner consumes 18 amps. What else do you have? You got 12 amps. 

The difference between your converter and inverter should hopefully be clearer after reading this. Our RV parts and service department is here to assist you with any inquiries regarding your recreational vehicle.

Do I Need an Inverter or Converter in my RV?

Your RV’s power supply is a major factor in determining your required devices. An RV should always have a converter charger because it is nearly always required and usually comes standard. You will need an inverter in addition to the battery power if you plan on using the battery power to run your appliances. 

DC solar electricity can directly charge the battery, and an inverter will transform the current to AC so that devices can use it. If you power your RV with solar panels and don’t need shore power, you may get away with just using an inverter.

When traveling in an RV, you should always remember that keeping your options open is in your best interest. It is impossible to predict when you will run out of solar electricity. It is in your best interest to have both of these pieces of equipment with you whenever you travel in your RV. 

This makes it possible for you to convert and invert power as required, regardless of the type of electricity that you get from your source. If you are converting a van into a camper, this is a component you should include in your electrical design; however, most RVs come with installed converters. 

A battery charger is also known as a converter in some circles. To charge the 12v RV batteries, it first takes the electricity from an AC source and then converts it to DC. A converter is the most efficient way to maintain fully charged batteries when you spend a significant amount of time camping at locations that provide connection services. 

In addition, they help fill out the battery bank at home in preparation for weekend camping trips.

Even with a high-end MPPT charge controller, it’s not always possible to get enough sun hours on solar panels when you’re living in a van during the winter, so having a converter on hand is a good backup plan for when you need to recharge. 

We spend between 80 and 90 percent of our time living out of our van full-time and boondocking. Our batteries charge exclusively solar power, so the converter is only necessary when staying at campgrounds. Check out the in-depth post that we’ve published about RV converters and battery chargers if you want more information on the subject. 

Meanwhile, the following are some guidelines to assist you in selecting the ideal one for your camper: The power capacity must be sufficient to allow the batteries to charge in a “reasonable” amount of time. Ensure any ongoing power consumption is also a consideration when charging the battery. 

Look for units that have an uncomplicated installation process. Most converters are simple to set up, but a few require more effort. Make sure the converter is compatible with your battery, whether lithium-ion, Gel, or AGM.

Choose a converter with at least three charging stages if you want the AGM and Gel batteries, and you have to set it efficiently. Choose an intelligent converter if you’re going to use lithium batteries.

Electric wave

Final Verdict

You now have enough information on the RV inverter vs. converter. Your battery bank supplies the inverter with direct current (DC), and the device converts that to alternating current (AC). Your battery bank you can charge using DC power if you have a converter that can change the AC power that comes from an external power source into DC power. 

Most recreational vehicles have converters, although not all have inverters. It is possible to install these systems in your RV. On the other hand, if you don’t feel confident installing them on your own, an RV dealer should be able to do it for you. 

A skilled RV dealer can also recommend the electrical components that work best with your existing setup. Keep in mind that the possibilities for personalization are countless for recreational vehicles (RVs).

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