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Old 07-09-2012, 09:04 AM   #1
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Hooking up an inverter, anyone ever do this?

After using our MH for 20 days straight at all the various camp sites, it is clear to me the need to hook up an inverter to run some of the basic electrical items in our MH. We camped in places where there were no hook-ups and generator use was limited to very specific times during day. We have also had issues with our generator shutting down while driving, kids are much happier if they can play Xbox while traveling.

NO I am not talking about running the AC, Refer, or Micro. Just trying to get some of the general purpose receptacle plugs to work, such as TV, XBox, Coffee maker, camera charger, laptop, etc. I do understand that this could drain my 2 batteries on my coach completely dry, however since my engine batter and coach batteries are separate, this does not seem like a huge problem.

Don't want to hook up an inverter, and then run a bunch of extension cords all over the palce, would like to hard wire in either 1-4000 watt inverter or 2-2000 watt inverter, directly into the electrical system of our MH. Was thinking the 2-2000 inverter setup would be best as I could hook one up to each specific 15amp breaker in my breaker panel.

Have to believe that someone has already figured out how to do this. Please advise.
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:51 AM   #2
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Lots of people have added an inverter, as have RV manufacturers as an option, and there are as many opinions on how it should be done as there are people.

You don't mention the age, brand or model of you RV so you might add that to get better opinions. Maybe add that info to your signature.

You mention you'd like 4000 Watt. Doesn't matter if it's two different 2KW units or one 4KW unit...that's potentially 300 Amps and more drawn from your battery bank. So you'd want to double the number of batteries you have. Then increase the size of the alternator and converter to charge them. And increase the size of the feed cables, solenoids, etc. Going to be expensive.

Maybe consider another way to go...like consider a converter less then 1,000 watt. Mount it on the firewall in the front compartment where it's easier to run those bulky feed wires to a battery + junction, both gas and diesel models have a junction block there. Output goes inside under the dash, from there it should be easy to wire into the closest AC outlet via a 120V DPDT relay wired as an AutoTransfer switch. Many rigs have floor level AC somewhere near the dash. In my diesel I'd have to go up into the cabinetry but it's doable.

I'd recommend a smaller inverter. With a 1,000 Watt inverter, for instance, you could run your TV and computers, etc, up to 8 Amp max, it wouldn't require more batteries, or larger charging system. You couldn't run your coffee maker but they make perk coffee makers for stove use. That's what I use when I'm boon docking.
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Old 07-09-2012, 11:22 PM   #3
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DegoRed......I just did one a few months ago. It was an Inverter/Charger which I think made it easier to hook up because we replaced the OEM charger/converter. Two batteries will not go far in your coach, but will work for about 2-3 hours of watching TV.

Here's how I did it on a neighbor's Fleetwood.

We used a 1500 Xantrex Inverter/Charger

You need to mount the unit as CLOSE to the batteries as possible. The 00 wire used to connect to the batteries needs to be as short as possible and is VERY expensive. There are two large lugs on the Inverter/Charger 12 volt (+) and 12 volt (-). You can hook the 12 volt (-) to the frame. The 12 volt (+) goes to the (+) side of one of your house batteries.

When buying an Inverter/Charger, you need to buy one with two circuits if you want it to operate two circuit breakers as you described. You need three lengths of Romex (12/2) to run from your Inverter/Charger to your circuit breakers. Two lengths should be one color such as yellow and one length should be another, such as orange. This is for ease of idnetification.

Connect two of the Romex length's (same color) to the 120 volt connections (output) on the inverter/charger. Connect the other length of Romex (other color) to the 120 volt input on the inverter/charger. This lead is what powers the unit when on shore power or generator.

Now, disconnect the hot lead (should be black) from the two circuit breakers you want to power. Use a wire nut to cover one wire that will not be used. Connect (wire nut) the other lead to the Romex (single color) that was connected to the inverter 120 volt input (you are using this lead to power the inverter). The inverter has it's own circuit breaker so it's protected. The other two leads left on this Romex line go white to white in the box and ground (unshielded) to unshielded.

The two matching lines of Romex are attached, black to one circuit breaker and the other black to the other circuit breaker. The white and unshielded get connected to the common connections in the box.

Your shore power will now run through the inverter and then back to the circuit breakers. This is the most common way it's handled in factory installs.
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:47 PM   #4
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I have a Xantrex PRO 1000W Inverter that came with our RV. It had plenty of power to run the TV, Dish and charge a cell phone. It only powered up some of the outlets. I wanted to use my Kuerig coffee maker so I purchased another Xantrex PRO 1800W Inverter and wired it to my kitchen outlets. I do have 4 batteries as I run alot of stuff in my RV. What I like about the Xantrex PRO Inverters is the remote display. You need to mount the inverter near the batteries and the remote display allows you to have the on/off switch and display in area that can be easily accessed, it also switches over automatically if you turn the gennerator on so you don't use anymore battery. Only downside to these inverters is that they are not true sine wave, but so far everything works fine.
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:07 PM   #5
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Lots of great ideas and guidance. Let me relate what I did and low cost and less wiring. I had just completed a solar install and two verry large 6 volt batts, (430 amp hours). I bought a Cobra 2500 W Inverter for 249.00 and mounted next to Batts. I then run my shore power cord and plug into the fromt of Inverter and presto, all outlets energized and I run everything in the Motorhome. Easy fix if you don't want to or cant get to all the wiring circuits.Good luck.
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DegoRed View Post
I am not talking about running the AC, Refer, or Micro. Just trying to get some of the general purpose receptacle plugs to work, such as TV, XBox, Coffee maker, camera charger, laptop, etc.
The coffee maker is the killer current draw, but you have a pretty long list.

At a minimum, that's a 2000W inverter w/4 batteries -- your 2 won't cut it -- and even w/4 batteries, you'll be amazed at how fast they'll drain.

I've installed a 2000W with its own sub panel, and it was a job!

I suggest you get a small 1000-1500W inverter, wire it directly to your 2 batteries, and go the running-extension-cord route until you have a feel for how much power you want . . . and how much $$$ and labor you are willing to do.
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Old 07-10-2012, 06:37 PM   #7
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Whatever you do, you have to make sure that you are not powering your converter/charger from the inverter. If you do, there will be an endless loop from the batteries to the inverter to the converter/charger and back to the batteries. Each step in the loop will have losses, and you will quickly deplete the batteries.

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Old 07-10-2012, 07:00 PM   #8
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Lots of great ideas and guidance. Let me relate what I did and low cost and less wiring. I had just completed a solar install and two verry large 6 volt batts, (430 amp hours). I bought a Cobra 2500 W Inverter for 249.00 and mounted next to Batts. I then run my shore power cord and plug into the fromt of Inverter and presto, all outlets energized and I run everything in the Motorhome. Easy fix if you don't want to or cant get to all the wiring circuits.Good luck.

You might seriously consider putting some distance between the inverter and your battery bank. Something like putting one or the other in a different cabinet or storage place. Maybe a battery box that can be vented.

Anything but putting explosive gasses in proxmity of an ignition source. Inverters have relays in them and relays create sparks when the contacts make or break. A spark near your gassing off batteries could make your investment go boom.
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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Small inverters are often put in to run the Television, Radio, Sat receivers, and related hardware.. Larger ones add the bathroom/kitchen/patio GFCI outlet chain.
2,000 watts and up the microwave

Now inverters come in 2x2 types. Some have power pass through, some do not, some are TRUE SINE WAVE Some are not.

Two ways to do it. First, choose a TSW, not an MSW, Works better.

Both methods: Put the Inverter as close to the battery as possible, Heavy cables (Starter cable is good for smaller ones) with the proper "T" Fuse. (That's a fuse type) The inverter shold NOT shair breathign space with the batteries though, IN the compartment next door is good.

Poor Man's Method

Run power lines from the inverter to the devices you wish to inverter power, put in additional outlets, transfer from "MAINS" to INVERTER as needed.. I recommend those inverter powered outlets be red or orange.

Better method. Transfer those loadds to a second breaker box this is a "Sub panel" type box (no main breaker) power from the inverter to a transfer switch (Less one is built in) This may be manual or automatic. From the box out to the loads.

If the inverter does not pass power a 12ga line can carry 20 amps to the sub panel "mains" side of the transfer switch, Or a 10ga 30 amps.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:25 AM   #10
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Thanks yall, some great answers with some great advice. Sorry I forgot to put more info in original post, my MH is a 2013 Thor ACE 29.2

I ran my TV on my last trip off one of those cheap ($15), plug into cig lighter deals, so I know my TV does not take much juice. Can't imagine XBox takes much either. Sounds like the big power draw is the Coffee maker. Might have to do some research on Coffee makers, see if I can find one that takes less power. Ours is just a cheap $18 one we picked up at Wal-Mart.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:10 PM   #11
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Might have to do some research on Coffee makers, see if I can find one that takes less power. Ours is just a cheap $18 one we picked up at Wal-Mart.
I bought into the Kuerig K-cup coffee maker. I am the only one that has a cup or two in the morning. It is not the cheapest way to make coffee but it brews a cup real fast and there is almost no mess to clean up which means I use less water boondocking. I run this on a MSW 1800W inverter with 4 batteries. IIRC it draws around 125 DC amps into the inverter, thats alot of amps but its only for a couple minutes. Would like a true sine wave converter but they are really expensive and my MSW works.

BTW, Donot buy into the 12V camping coffee makers, they are worthless.
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Old 07-11-2012, 02:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DegoRed
Thanks yall, some great answers with some great advice. Sorry I forgot to put more info in original post, my MH is a 2013 Thor ACE 29.2

I ran my TV on my last trip off one of those cheap ($15), plug into cig lighter deals, so I know my TV does not take much juice. Can't imagine XBox takes much either. Sounds like the big power draw is the Coffee maker. Might have to do some research on Coffee makers, see if I can find one that takes less power. Ours is just a cheap $18 one we picked up at Wal-Mart.
I run a 5 cup Mr coffee on 750 watt inverter. When I have company I make 2 pots and use a thermos to keep warm.
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:14 AM   #13
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You probably won't find a coffee maker that uses very much less power. It takes a certain amount of energy to boil an amount of water and even though they do it very efficiently, they do use a lot of battery power.

One solution is to get a propane coffee maker that does not use electricity. See Amazon.com: Coleman Camping Coffee Maker: Sports & Outdoors

You can also turn your automatic drip coffee maker into a manual drip coffee maker. Put the ground coffee into the filter as usual. Then heat some water on the stove and gradually pour it over the coffee.

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Old 07-12-2012, 07:55 AM   #14
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Once you get into the higher wattage inverters, you have to do a hardwire install as the wires are too small for a simple 12v plug in. I think the max you can get that I've seen is a 600 watt, however, you would have to confirm. This wouldn't be enough for a coffee maker. I used mine for the front LCD and DVD player on it's own.

You can get a pretty good deal on a pure sine inverter on eBay through their auctions. I won the bid on a 3000 watt Pure Sine inverter for $490 US. What cost was the professional install to integrate it into my RV system properly with sub panel, transfer switch and wiring. I also have 4 deep cycle Interstate batteries for storage so I can pretty much run anything I want now from any receptacle short term without plug in or generator assistance. Still cost around $2000. All in.
Obviously, the higher the draw, the less longevity of the battery bank.
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