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Old 11-15-2021, 06:05 AM   #1
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Inverter use

Should I keep my camper pluged into the electric power outlet when not in use. So the question is: should I just plug it in occasionally to keep the battery charged?
I am not concerned about power usage. I just want to know if this may be problem for the inverter, to be on 24/7, like overheating and/or decreasing the life span of the inverter from over use?
I just moved to a home on property in which I can park my camper and I have a power source. No move storage FEES!
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:45 AM   #2
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Inverters create 120 volt household power from battery voltage.

You most likely have a converter/charger. They use 120 volt household current and convert it to battery voltage for charging and use in the RV.

If its a 3 or 4 stage smart converter/charger you can leave it plugged in. Check the brand and model of it to read up on it.
That Info should be right on the breaker/fuse door.

Most modern converter/chargers are smart and can be left powered up. Remember to check the water level in the batteries every month or 2.
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Old 11-15-2021, 05:06 PM   #3
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Sorry, not understanding the need to leave the trailer plugged in with inverter on.
Ultimately, if you’re not using an electrical component it won’t fail while it’s not being used. I would never leave my inverter/charger turned on and connected to SP. The inverter uses power itself when it’s on, plus there are other 12v phantom loads that are drawing on the battery if it’s not diSconnected. This will cause your battery to experience unnecessary charge/discharge cycling. To preserve your equipment, for FLA batteries, I would recommend disconnecting the terminal cables from the battery while in storage, and connecting a battery minder to the terminals. For LiFePo4 just discharge to 80% or less and disconnect terminal cables. No battery minder needed. If you need to use the trailer while it’s parked at your home, it’s easy enough to reconnect the battery cables, and plug back into SP.
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Old 11-15-2021, 05:17 PM   #4
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In my opinion, twinboat said it best. I have left our inverter/chargers on 24/7/365 for the past 21 years.
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Old 11-15-2021, 06:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Marine359 View Post
I would never leave my inverter/charger turned on and connected to SP.
Are you talking about in storage or any time?

The only time my inverter gets turned off is when it put it away for winter and the batteries are disconnected.
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Old 11-16-2021, 12:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nwcid View Post
Are you talking about in storage or any time?

The only time my inverter gets turned off is when it put it away for winter and the batteries are disconnected.
I installed a disconnect switch on my inverter/charger, and my battery has a built-in I/O switch. When I’m boondocking, I disconnect the inverter. When storing, I just switch off the battery. I guess I’m understanding that for MH owners, it’s fine to leave the rig plugged in to SP, which will keep both house and chassis batteries charged. But for trailers with LiFePo4, there really isn’t a good reason to leave it plugged into SP. Just trying to give another take on it for the OP, who I guessed has a TT, because this is a TT thread.
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Old 11-16-2021, 03:07 AM   #7
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There often seems to be a misunderstanding of terms concerning inverter/chargers. The OP asked about leaving the inverter on while parked at his home. I think what he is really asking is should he leave his inverter/charger on.

Most RVS that have an inverter really have an inverter/charger. While some older ones may have a converter or charger and someone added an inverter only, I don’t think that is what the question is about.

Sorry but I have to disagree with Marine359. The hardest thing on an electronic device is turning it on and off. I have had plenty of electronic devices left off on a shelf that worked fine when put away that failed the next time I went to use them. Electronic components deteriorate just sitting around. They stay in better working condition powered up, as long as they are not subjected to abuse.

If the OP has a good quality inverter/charger, and access to even 15 Amp 120, the charger portion will do a better job of maintaining a battery at a constant level than disconnecting the battery and put a tender on it that is constantly charging. The only possibility is if somehow the batteries get deeply discharged and go into a bulk charge mode, the fan may run until the batteries are charged and the charger cools. Disconnecting and putting a battery minder trickle charger is a waste. They will consume power just like the converter even when the batteries are full.

If the inverter/charger has the option to turn the inverter off, that is fine, and leave the charger portion

I just replaced an inverter/charger that had settings you could turn the inverter off or put in in standby. Either war the charger worked, and you could set the maximum charge level as low as 5 amps.
I just replaced it with one that is always in standby. If there is shore power the inverter is not on, and the charger is on. I recently checked the charging output after 2 days plugged in at the campground. The refrigerator was the only device using 12v and the charger was putting out 1.5 amps. The battery voltage stayed constant at 13.6 both house and chassis.

Leaving it on to do what it is made to do is still the best solution.
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Old 11-16-2021, 06:57 AM   #8
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OK, final comment.
All posters with MHs making valid remarks. However,
OP did not indicate what kind of battery he has. This makes a world of difference, as LiFePo4 likes being stored at 60-80% SOC. Keeping a constant 100% SOC on them while in storage will shorten their lives.
Also, some posters say inverter when they really mean converter/charger. OP used the term inverter not inverter/charger. If OP really has an inverter and converter/charger setup, why should the inverter be on? If plugged in to SP, a converter/charger will be charging the battery. OP didn’t indicate if he has an inverter/charger.
So, if OP has FLA battery, leaving it plugged to SP makes perfect sense. I’ve learned much from you all. Keep it coming. Maybe OP will come back and clarify his setup.
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Old 11-16-2021, 07:16 AM   #9
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They stay in better working condition powered up, as long as they are not subjected to abuse.
And therein lies the rub - the abuse come in via the mains. There are all manner of power line issues like transients, surges, dips and potential lightning that stress electrical equipment. One can argue that electronics degrade with non use but I've serviced way more mains damaged equipment than random failure. One can get lucky and never experience that but in my travels equipment not powered will last longer. If you disconnect the batteries and use a dedicated maintainer you get the best of all worlds isolated from the mains and no chance of dead batteries by low/phantom draws.

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Old 11-16-2021, 10:07 AM   #10
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Lots of good advice above. Lots of different situations. Each method has its benefits and draw backs.

The issue can be divided into plugging in for occasional occupancy, storing for short term, or storing for long term.

Lead acid batteries must be stored fully charged for long service life. A full clean recharge is required before battery terminal voltage drops below 12.4 volts.

Battery life can be measured in recharge cycles. Lead acid batteries do not “age” based on time. They age mostly based on recharge cycles. A typical deep draw lead acid battery can usually provide 300 recharge cycles before storage capacity drops below 80%. Recharging at 50% State of Charge (SoC) will get 600 recharge cycles. Recharging at 24% SoC will get 750 or so cycles.

Frequent recharge while unoccupied causes unnecessary decrease in battery capacity.

Storing with batteries Disconnected

I park my 20 ft travel trailer in my driveway. It is connected to a 20 amp outlet in my garage. My battery bank was fully charged for 20 hours and then disconnected. (I installed a disconnect switch next to the battery bank to make it easy.)

My AGM batteries hold that full charge for months, possibly 12 months. Flooded cell batteries will not last as long, possibly 6 months. Fully recharge before battery terminal voltage drops below 12.4 volts. A full clean charge takes 14 to 18 hours regardless if it is deeply discharged or not. (Sorry, that is the way lead acid chemistry works.)

This situation is good for long term storage with or without occasional occupancy. A/C, 120 volt electric outlets, and 12 volt appliances all work on demand. The system is limited by the 20 amp shore power supply.

Plugging into shore power is optional. Batteries are protected either way. Battery life is not depleted by frequent recharge. Storing disconnected where shore power is not available works just fine.

Storing Connected

The ideal battery terminal voltage for long term storage when storing connected to shore power is 13.2 volts. Use the converter/charger built into your travel trailer or use a battery maintainer. The important thing is the battery terminal voltage. Some maintainers are cheaply designed and do not do a good job of maintaining a proper constant voltage.

Check battery terminal voltage periodically until you are confident. My built in WFCO charger starts at 13.6 volts and drops to 13.2 volts after 4 days in storage. Any change in current draw such as turning a light “on” will trigger it to jump back up to 13.6 volts.

Storing at 13.6 volts is not particularly bad for flooded cell batteries. It is a bit high for many AGM type batteries. A slight increase in water consumption can occur.

Storing at 14.4 volts will consume a lot more water. Refill often. Storing AGM batteries at 14.4 volts will likely damage them. They will likely vent. Lost water cannot be replaced.

Storing connected has its risks. Sometimes shore power anomalies can cause damage to electronic equipment. Certainly nearby lightening strikes can cause damage. In South Central Wisconsin where I live, the biggest risk is a short power outage. Surges can occur when it goes out and when it returns. Other power grids may have other risks.

I have never lost equipment connected to the grid in the 60 years I have owned a home in Wisconsin. What is your tolerance for risk?

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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