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Old 07-08-2014, 09:04 AM   #1
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Chevy 3500HD & 5th wheel inverters

I can't seem to find anyone to give me a definitive answer on this. I called Chevy but they refer me to the dealer. The only consistent answer I get from dealers is "I don't know".

I have a 2014 Chevy 3500HD.

In one manual for a 5th wheel, it says not to run the inverter while the wiring harness is connected to the truck, because it might damage the electrical system in the truck. I figure, the reason you have an inverter in the first place is to keep the residential reefer cold while you're driving.

Someone explained to me that the manufacturer of the RV is just covering their butt. I was told a problem MIGHT occur if for some reason the charging of the inverter while connected to the truck can't keep up with the power demand on the inverter. I was told to check to see if there is something on the truck that would keep the electrical system from being damaged. It is this question, i.e. is there something in the truck's electrical system that keeps it from being damaged if there is some failure of the inverter that I can't seem to get answered.

An answer, or reference to someone or somewhere would be appreciated.

Jerry & Shirley Friedman
2014 Chevy Silverado 3500HD
2015 Mobile Suites 38RSSB3
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:26 AM   #2
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I am an electrically challenged type, but it has a fuse in the truck so I don't know what trouble they are talking about. Might put a pretty heavy load on the alternator with the inverter going full blast, but I have run older vehicles with a dead battery and the alternator survived that much load until the battery charged up or was replaced. I hope someone will definitely answer your question.

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Old 07-08-2014, 11:50 AM   #3
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From an electrical standpoint, i wouldn't run the refridgerator off of the trailer tow cable. Those wires are probably 12-14 gauge and not capable of carrying much amperage over long distances. Maybe 20 amps over 15 feet. A refridgerator probably runs about 300-500watts, so 300watts at 12volts is 25 amps. You're already over amperage. Unless you are talking about just enough to run the electronics to control the refridgerator but cool it with propane. Then you'd be ok because it's only a few watts, very negligible. But if you're trying to run it off the inverter, i wouldn't do it.

You have to keep in mind that the trailer plug runs the lights, as well as brakes. So the plug will be protected by a fuse, so no risk of physical damage to the truck or RV. But if the fuse goes out, well so does the functionality of the trailers lights and brakes. That is a safety issue.

Simply put, you just don't have the amperage capability to try to run much more than the lights and brakes, and probably trickle charge your 12v house batteries.
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:14 PM   #4
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My Teton has an inverter. It also has 4 batteries and a residential fridge. The inverter is there to keep fridge running while traveling. I have no issues whatsoever with this.
2003 Teton Grand Freedom. 2006 Freightliner Century 120 with Detroit 14L and Ultrashift.2015 Smartcar carry on deck. Full time going from job to job. Building and maintaining plants across the USA. Sold 2006 Mobile Suites 32TK3
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:11 PM   #5
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After glenn's statement, i did a little research and found that RV refridgerators range drastically in wattage. Absorption style refridges are about 250-400watts, very innefficient. Some compressor models are around 150watts. Some ultra high efficiency style which can also run off 12v directly are only 30-50watts.

If you have a good compressor model, 150watts will draw about 13 amps which is doable on the tow cable. But i personally would advise against that because it takes up much of your headroom over the lights and brakes.

If you have one of the high efficiency models, 30-50 watts, you are looking at only 3 amps, which is like nothing, and can run that off the house batteries for a while and not taking up much overhead from the tow cable. Most group 27 house batteries are about 90amp hours and most refridgerators that are high efficiency are quoting 20amp/hours per day. You could probably run those realistically for 2-3 days with 2 group 27 batteries and not even charge them.

However, most likely your RV manufacturer buys cheaper refridgerators, and you probably have closer to a 150watt unit. And at about 13amps give or take, and assuming your truck has a 20 amps fuse for the tow plug, you are pretty close to the limit. I can see why they would have to write that you're not allowed to do that, as to cover their own butts in liability lawsuits.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:28 PM   #6
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If you plan on doing some boondocking, or visiting national parks without electric shore power, these 12v cooler style refidgerators are the way to go. 2.75amps will run off your house batteries for a long time before needing to be replenished.
Whynter 85 Quart Portable Fridge / Freezer
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:29 PM   #7
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Mine is not efficient. It is original and my Teton is 2003. It works great and have no plans of replacing it. We run all day towing and batteries low but still good.
2003 Teton Grand Freedom. 2006 Freightliner Century 120 with Detroit 14L and Ultrashift.2015 Smartcar carry on deck. Full time going from job to job. Building and maintaining plants across the USA. Sold 2006 Mobile Suites 32TK3
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:31 AM   #8
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Since you have a new DRV, I believe the inverter will draw from the extra set of batteries supplied with the inverter--the truck will supply power to maintain the batteries--I don't think the truck will directly supply power to the inverter. There are several on the Suites forums already towing with GMs and no problem. Not sure how the "5th wheel manual" would suggest you tow down the road and also keep the fridge running without using the inverter and the truck being connected.
Have you visited the SOITC Suites forum for help?

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5th wheel, chevy, inverter

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