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Old 07-09-2015, 04:16 PM   #1
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Adding a full coach inverter

I am in the process of selecting an inverter for our coach. I am mainly looking to power a tv dvd for the children and a dorm size refrigerator we replace the washer dryer with. I could easily do this and add just those appliance however now I am considering putting a inverter / charger / transfer switch unit inline to power every thing except the AC. I am looking for any tips or suggestions from anyone with experience in this.

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Old 07-09-2015, 10:43 PM   #2
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I would look at a pure sine wave inverter. 2000w will handle everything but the AC. Get one with a remote display so you can see what is going on. I have xantrex and happy with it.
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:56 PM   #3
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Our '02 Dutch Star we traded in had a 2000 watt MSW inverter and we never really had a problem with not being able to run what ever we wanted.
The Magna has a 3000 watt sine wave unit, no problems there either. We have a Jenn Aire 22 ft home refer/freezer that runs off it.
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:58 AM   #4
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I would also recommend the pure sine inverter, I have a modified, and Xantrex says they don't repair those anymore, don't know if Magna stands behind there older units, no, you didn't say you were looking at used, just my thoughts
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:24 AM   #5
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The best thing I did was add a sub panel. I moved all of my wires that I wanted to power from my inverter into this new panel. Now I don,t have to worry about powering something that will draw too much.

Read this

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Old 07-10-2015, 09:35 AM   #6
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3000 watt

Mine has a 3000 watt xantrex pure sine wave inverter and 4ea 6 volt deep cycle batteries.
Works great and powers everything except Air conditioner.
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Old 07-10-2015, 06:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsbees View Post
now I am considering putting a inverter / charger / transfer switch unit inline to power every thing except the AC.
Besides the air conditioner, you definitely don't want to power the converter/charger circuit (assuming you keep the old converter/charger.) There may be other loads you don't want to power with the inverter: things like an electric water heater, engine block heater, etc. Personally, I wouldn't power everything with the plan of turning off those special loads while on the inverter - mistakes will invariably be made and eventually those loads will not be turned off when the should be, and won't be turned back on when they should.

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The best thing I did was add a sub panel. I moved all of my wires that I wanted to power from my inverter into this new panel.
This is a very good solution. If the inverter doesn't have it's own built in transfer switch, an automatic transfer switch can be used to power this sub panel from either the inverter, or from a breaker in the main panel.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:42 PM   #8
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If skilled at electrical things, the posts above are great.

If not skilled at these things, or like me, you prefer the "keep it simple" method for RV mods...this is an option:

1. Install a 2000W-3000W inverter as near to your house batteries as possible.
1a. PSW or MSW is up to you and your wallet...we use a MSW and it works great.
2. Acquire or build an extension cord that will match the distance from the inverter to the shore power cord.
2a. We use a 10gauge from Harbor Freight.
3. Run the extension cord from the integral outlet on the inverter to the shore power cable end.
3a. Use the right adapter(s) to connect the 50amp or 30amp shore power cord to the 20amp end of the new extension cord.
4. Plug the extension cord into the inverter and viola' whole-house inverter power.
4a. Turn off the converter/charger and AirCon breakers at the breakers to prevent accidental activation.

The RV "thinks" it is on shore power, there's no secondary transfer switch that could fail, there is no sub panel and less parts to install, and the failure of any piece is an easy swap or repair.

We leave the cords installed all the time and only unplug the shore power cord for campground power, because the OEM transfer switch favors the gennie. When on shore power or when running the generator, we just throw the breakers to activate the converter/charger and aircon and ensure the inverter is off...one easy check.

Best luck

P.S. We have a gas powered coach and tow with a dolly too
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
If skilled at electrical things, the posts above are great.

If not skilled at these things, or like me, you prefer the "keep it simple" method for RV mods...this is an option:

1. Install a 2000W-3000W inverter as near to your house batteries as possible.
1a. PSW or MSW is up to you and your wallet...we use a MSW and it works great.
2. Acquire or build an extension cord that will run match the run from the inverter to the shore power cord.
2a. We use a 10gauge from Harbor Freight.
3. Run the extension cord from the oulet on the inverter to the shore power cable end.
3a. Use the right adapter(s) for 50amp or 30amp to the 20amp end of the inverter.
4. Plug the shore power cord into the inverter and viola' whole house inverter power.
4a. Turn off the converter/charger and AirCon breaker at the breakers to prevent accidental activation.

The RV "thinks" it is on shore power, there's no secondary transfer switch that could fail, there is no sub panel and less parts to install, and the failure of any piece is an easy swap or repair.

Best luck

This is basically the setup have. The inverter is in a compartment next to the power bay. The shore power cord plugs into the inverter.

As commented, you need to turn off the converter / battery charger so as not to have a charging loop. I do it via a $15 wireless switch inline of the power cord to my converter.

One must manage your own power draws. Set water heater and refrigerator to propane, etc. and don't turn on the air conditioning.

I have a 2300w MSW inverter for whole coach. Used primarily for coffee pot and microwave. Additionally I have small (150w and 375w) point of use MSW inverters for computers, TV/DVD, sewing machine, etc. these plug into DC jacks in the bedroom, dining, and passenger seat areas.
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Old 07-11-2015, 06:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
If skilled at electrical things, the posts above are great.

If not skilled at these things, or like me, you prefer the "keep it simple" method for RV mods...this is an option:
A good option for those not skilled at the things is to seek professional help (from an electrician, not necessarily a psychiatrist! )

Remember that you are dealing with dangerous voltages - it's important to have a proper installation. If you are not skilled at electrical work, you should be getting proper advice and help - not necessarily reading up on it on the Internet, and lot looking for a quick and simple solution.

I've not seen the details of your installation so I cannot make any judgement good and bad. But for the others out there, there is a big difference between wiring something together so that it works, and wiring it do that it's safe under all conditions. Just because it doesn't immediately trip breakers, shock you, or start a fire, doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. Again, this is not addressed at any particular installation or method, just a general statement about ANY wiring installation or modifications.

Quote:
4. Plug the extension cord into the inverter and viola' whole-house inverter power.
4a. Turn off the converter/charger and AirCon breakers at the breakers to prevent accidental activation.
I don't understand why it's desirable to have a "whole-house" inverter. I can understand wanting all of the wall sockets and the microwave on the inverter (if the inverter is big enough) but with the possible exception of a residential style fridge, I just don't see the benefit of powering the other possible loads:
  • RV absorption fridge - much more efficient to run it on propane
  • Water heater - much more efficient to run it on propane
  • Washer/dryer - too much power to run dryer portion on an inverter
  • Dishwasher - too much power to run heaters on an inverter
  • Electric fireplace - too much power to run heater portion on an inverter
  • Air conditioner(s) - too much power to run on an inverter
  • Converter/charger - waste of power to try and charge the batteries by drawing power from the same batteries
Not every coach is going to have all of these, and there could be other loads that are not on the list. It's a quick and easy installation, but then it causes inconvenience when you have to remember to turn off each and every one of these loads every time you use the inverter. You're saving installation time, and creating extra work for each time you use it, and opening up the window for mistakes that will draw down your batteries in very short time (or simply overload the inverter.)

You're already talking about a non-trivial installation, why not put just a little more work into it and do it in a manner that results in a safe and convenient installation. It can be done such that you won't even notice plugging/unplugging shore power, or starting/stopping the generator, all of the things plugged into the convenience wall outlets will still keep running without a beat.

Quote:
P.S. We have a gas powered coach and tow with a dolly too
I'm not sure how gas power enters into the discussion, but using a dolly just reinforces the difference in our philosophies - You seem to be the type that wants to minimize installation and modifications, and doesn't mind doing more work later. On the other hand, I'm firmly in the camp of trying to do as much work up front to make it easier down the road -- I flat-tow. I took it so far that a brake-in-the-box that you have to put in and take out every time wasn't even being considered: I spent the extra day to put in a permanently installed brake so I don't have to worry about it in the future.

Nothing wrong with either philosophy (or tow method) they're just different. To each their own, as long as they are happy with it.

BTW, I'm not trying to sway the OP into one inverter method or another. Just trying to point out the pros and cons of each method so the OP can think it through and pick the best method. All I'm saying is that please do it safely and properly - both methods can be done properly and safely, and both can be jury rigged and unsafe.
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Old 07-11-2015, 01:31 PM   #11
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Thank you illustrating my point for me. No, adding an inverter does not need to be a major project. And there is no need to pay an electrician to do these simple things.

I would expect that an RV owner would be smart enough to know that they must conserve power while running their inverter...but, "Why desire a whole house inverter?" A much easier question to answer is "Why not add a whole house inverter?"

I submit the options are wonderful...like making a CrockPot meal on the road or like running a load in a RV dishwasher while driving down the road (engine alternator feeding power to the house batteries).

If there was some thought that this simple mod could cause additional risk to the RV for fire hazard or equipment failure - or cause more work later? - A second 110AC panel and secondary transfer switch and all the wiring that requires is MUCH more of a risk as you bounce down the road...even if done as safely as possible
And our simple system doesn't require an electrician to troubleshoot

Finally, in the case that a RV'er overloads the inverter or drains the batteries, NO PROBLEM, the inverter pops a breaker or the low voltage alarm goes off on the inverter.

Yes, very different philosophies. Nanny engineering has no place in our lives...but I can see why it exists. About the dolly and gas RV, I can and have swapped toads with any of the vast majority of cars on the road with no concern about grenading the transmission, and we can do all our own RV driveline maint, just like any car made in the last 75 years...no problem and rather inexpensively too. Even more simplicity.

I wish only safe travels to those who prefer the Rube Goldberg way of life...but I will live mine, keeping it simple
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Old 07-11-2015, 02:02 PM   #12
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Thank you illustrating my point for me.
You're welcome. There's room for all sorts of methods, and lots of valid reasons for choosing one or the other.

But perhaps calling a carefully considered solution "nanny engineering" and "Rube Goldberg" is going a bit far? As an engineering consultant, I'm often called in to try and fix a "quick and simple" project after the fact, when it would've been faster and cheaper to spend more time on thinking through the requirements and engineering it properly in the first place, rather than doing it over again. I've seen lots of Rube Goldberg systems, and had to deal with many nanny engineering requirements, and setting up an inverter to only drive the required loads is neither.
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Old 07-11-2015, 03:40 PM   #13
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You're welcome. There's room for all sorts of methods, and lots of valid reasons for choosing one or the other.

But...as an engineering consultant, I'm often called in to try and fix a "quick and simple" project ... I've seen lots of Rube Goldberg systems, and had to deal with many nanny engineering requirements, and setting up an inverter to only drive the required loads is neither.
As we've sometimes heard..."and now the rest of the story..."

And to be clear, agree that an intregal inverter is preferred (even the all-in-one inverter/converter/chargers) and these are becoming more standard as residential fridges replace the 2 way units in RV's from mfgt's, but a retrofit does not need to be a complicated or costly modification.

Safe travels
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:49 PM   #14
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The best thing I did was add a sub panel. I moved all of my wires that I wanted to power from my inverter into this new panel. Now I don,t have to worry about powering something that will draw too much.

Read this

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mgscott4 - Could you enlighten me with were and what type of sub panel you installed? I am wanting to do the same as you but I cannot find a panel..

Thanks Much,
Tim
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