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Old 10-07-2015, 07:47 PM   #1
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What does the inverter do?

When we did our walk-thru/demo, the technician scoffed at the inverter and said we didn't need to know about it because it didn't really do anything and it was just something that they put in the rig so they can charge an additional $3000. At the time our heads were spinning with all of the information we were trying to remember and he just moved on to the next item but now we would really like to know what it is and why we have it. Can anyone enlighten us?

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Old 10-07-2015, 07:55 PM   #2
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Your documentation should give a clear explanation of how your unit works. In simple terms, the inverter will produce 120 volts AC for running various electrical loads in your RV. It is powered by your batteries, so you can have power when you are not connected to campsite power or running your generator. Great for powering your TV.

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Old 10-07-2015, 08:01 PM   #3
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What? Please go back and "B" slap that tech. The inverter changes the 12 volts from the house batteries to 110 volt for TVs and other appliances. In addition you may have an inverter/converter combo. The converter is often called a battery charger . It converts the 110 volt shore or generator power to 12 volt for keeping the batteries charged when not running the engine.
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:04 PM   #4
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Your inverter changes 12 volt to 110.
It helps keep your batteries fully charged.

Depends on the model you have.......you can program it to auto start your

Salesmen are mostly in the dark re RVs.
They get so many makes, models, etc, and they cannot keep up to everything.
Basically you can believe a salesman as to number of wheels, color, whether it
has an engine and many mundane things like that.
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:04 PM   #5
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It was the tech not the salesman. When should it be on and when should it be off?
George & Peggy
2016 Jayco Precept 31UL
Indian Rocks Beach FL
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:09 PM   #6
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This could be why our coach batteries went dead.
George & Peggy
2016 Jayco Precept 31UL
Indian Rocks Beach FL
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by AgentTaylor View Post
When should it be on and when should it be off?

Do you have a residential refrigerator ? If so the inverter must be on to power the fridge while driving or parked without shore power. If you want 110 volt power for charging your phone, watching TV, cooking in the microwave, etc while driving or parked without power, turn it on. If the batteries run low, you must start the generator to recharge them.

If you connect to shore power or run the generator, the inverter will just pass the current through and not use battery power.
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Old 10-07-2015, 09:13 PM   #8
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Light bulb on! This is why our batteries ran completely down! We had to jump start them from our car. Thank you! We have never even camped before and every week is a learning experience for us. The dealership knew that we knew nothing as we kept telling them yet they brushed over everything. Oh well, I guess you learn things better the hard way! I am so glad I found this wonderful forum of experienced RVers.
George & Peggy
2016 Jayco Precept 31UL
Indian Rocks Beach FL
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:08 PM   #9
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Your RV most likely has two separate battery systems. One, the Chassis batteries, start the engine, and power the driving functions like headlights, wipers, dash heater/Air conditioner, etc. The second system is the House batteries. These power the 12 v lights, furnace, water pump, thermostat (which controls the furnace and the rooftop air conditioners) even though those also need 120 v from the shore power cord or the generator. These two battery systems are separate from each other although they are possibly both charged when either the shore cord is plugged in, the generator or engine is running. (Check your manual)

In addition, on your dashboard there is likely a switch with either an outline of a car battery or the word 'Boost' on it. If the Chassis battery is run down and not enough to start the engine, press and hold the 'Boost' button and it 'jumps' the battery groups together, sort of like using jumper cables from your car. Very handy to have. Likewise, according to which battery group your generator is powered from, the 'Boost' switch will add the Chassis batteries to the House batteries when starting the generator if needed.

Some RVs have Converter/Chargers, which take 120 v AC from shore power or generator and converts it to 12 v DC to power the 12 v house systems. It also charges the batteries and is designed not to overcharge them. An Inverter/Charger does the functions mentioned above, but also when you're not plugged in to shore power or running the generator can take 12 v DC from the House batteries and Invert it to 120 v AC. Inverters are usually only about 80% efficient and can deplete your batteries quickly if you try to use it for a toaster, hair dryer, or other large watt loads. Usually they will automatically shut down when voltage drops to a low level, check the manual for the lower limit it's set for.

If you don't have an Inverter/Charger, you might have a stand alone Inverter for powering the TV, refrigerator, or a few outlets in your RV. You'll have to explore and find out what it powers and how many watts it can produce continuously. Inverters generally are rated by continuous watt output and peak watt output. Many electrical devices momentarily need more than their normal watts to start up, most inverters are designed to handle this temporary extra demand, but trying to use it for any period of time at the above continuous watt rating will burn it out.

One final detail about inverters, if your head's not spinning yet. Alternating Current, (AC) switches plus for minus 60 times a second. (That's why it's called alternating) Electricity from the generator or shore power has a pure sine wave form, it gradually builds from 0 v to 120 v and back to 0 v again, 60 times a second. An inverter that makes 12 v DC into 120 v AC with this wave form is called Pure Sine Wave. (PSW) These are the most expensive type of inverter. Many inverters electronically make a Modifies Sine Wave (MSW) form that looks like stair steps going up and down. The cheapest inverters make Square Wave shaped cycles. These can create issues for some 120 v items plugged in to them. The 'jerkiness' of the wave and voltage changes can create heat and burn out some things. Even MSW inverters can cause issues with some 120 v items, most notably electric blankets and some phone chargers or power transformers to power computers and other electronic devices. It's a good idea to learn what your inverter output is and make sure that anything you power by them is able to handle that type of wave form.

That's what the tech should have told you.

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:10 PM   #10
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Even if you don't have a residential refrigerator, you might have or want an inverter to run your living room TV and DVD player when you just want to watch TV and not or can't run the generator ( i.e. quiet hours ) . Sat TV boxes use a lot of AC compared to LED TVs and DVD players so are not so good on inverter power unless you size your coach batteries to handle the load.

Another common use of inverter power is the bedroom outlets for those that have CPAP machines and need to use them even when the RV does not have shore power AC.

I also have a small air compressor plugged into the inverter, so I can top up tires if need be without running the generator.

Note that new inverters for RVs plug into a AC outlet so that when you are on shore power the shore power is "cut thru" and the outlets fed by the inverter are hot. They also have a display panel that shows power use and battery voltage and they shut down before they totally drain the batteries.
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:35 PM   #11
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Wow, this is very technical. Yes, my head is spinning but we will get the manual out tomorrow and look at the inverter and perhaps it will make some sense. Thanks!
George & Peggy
2016 Jayco Precept 31UL
Indian Rocks Beach FL
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:56 PM   #12
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Good Technician there..
Current RV: 2001 Jayco Eagle Class C 28 ft Ford V10 Triton
Previous RV: 1989 Winnebago Warrior Class C 27 ft Ford V8
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Old 10-08-2015, 06:29 AM   #13
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In my opinion if the tech told you that about the inverter than he is an imbecile and most likely has little knowledge of other systems in your coach. You should take the coach back to the dealer and demand a slower complete walk through with a competent tech! There are a lot of things that you can screw up, as you have already found, by not having the correct knowledge. That level of incompetence is hard to fathom.
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Old 10-08-2015, 08:17 AM   #14
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If this was a tech telling you this, I wouldn't take my RV to their shop for maintenance or repairs.

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