Best RV Inverters: Power Up on Your Road Trip
Get connected while you're on the road with an RV power inverter.
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BY Bryan Long / LAST UPDATED ON March 11, 2021
RVs bring people closer to the great outdoors because of the level of luxury they provide. Instead of hunkering down in a small tent, you can end your day of hiking, swimming, and outdoor activities by relaxing in the RV and tuning in to your favorite streaming network. If you’re new to RVing, you might wonder how that’s possible. A piece of technology essential to powering those creature comforts is an RV power inverter. These devices invert the 12-volt DC power supply into the 120-volt AC power our household devices rely on. While it might seem complicated, picking out a suitable inverter is easy once you get a general understanding of its function. Don’t worry. Our guide includes some suggestions to make your search easier.
This modified sine wave inverter supplies your RV with 5,000 watts of power. It serves as a perfect example as to of why modified inverters are growing in popularity.
- 5,000-watt power supply
- Competitively priced
- LED performance monitoring
- Can power most devices with no issue
- Loud fan
- Remote issues are common
An affordable inverter that still performs as needed. This model features a 1,500-watt power supply making it ideal for those who spend little time on devices but still rely on essentials.
- Excellent price point
- Compact size
- Abundant features despite pricing
- Low power supply
With a 3,000-watt power supply, this is a fantastic option for those who need a middle-of-the-road option. The renowned quality and reliability offer peace of mind to all RVers.
- Respectable power supply
- Competitive price point
- Respectable performance and features
- Sizable model with less power than typical for its dimensions
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Benefits of RV Inverters
- Use electronics on the go. The obvious benefit of a power inverter is that they allow you to enjoy modern devices out in the wild. Inverters are designed to invert the 12-volt DC power coming from the battery to 120-volt AC power that televisions, microwaves, hairdryers, coffee makers, and so on rely on to operate.
- Connect to shore power. Shore power is the power that's already available from batteries. Power inverters allow you to tap into that source without the need to run a generator. Doing so will enable you to save the fuel generators need to run. It also allows you to enjoy the luxury of an RV with no annoying background noise.
- Keep your devices charged. Perhaps this piggybacks off the first benefit, but charging devices is extremely important. After all, you are out in the woods, and you never know when you'll need to make an emergency call or text. Also, your phone and laptop being charged up allow you to stay in touch with work or update your friends on how good life is via social media.
Types of Inverters
An older type of power inverter is called a square wave. Newer technologies have mostly replaced this method, but they are occasionally still available due to the low cost. These inverters can power small appliances or power tools, but overall they are limited in what items they can sufficiently run.
Pure Sine Wave
Pure sine wave inverters are the premier option. Even if they're usually the most costly option, they're exceedingly popular for a reason. That reason is that they provide the cleanest source of power to your devices and often can support more of them. In short, this is the option for those looking to have devices run as they would at home.
Modified Sine Wave
Modified sine wave inverters often get a bad rap. They consume more energy from the batteries, devices might not run quite as well on them, and the low price tag leads many to believe that they're just junk. The fact of the matter is that they are growing in popularity. That's because advancing technology allows them to be more efficient as time passes. Still, it's worth being aware of the common issues and reading into the model you purchase to ensure it will run as you need it to.
This privately held corporation is based in Bradenton, Fla. PowerMax has been supplying battery chargers, DC inverters, and generators for more than 15 years. The company has a great reputation for customer satisfaction. The owner attributes this success to their advanced Quality Control program that evaluates pieces throughout the manufacturing process—focusing on every aspect such as incoming parts, works in progress, and completed products.
AIMS Power is focused on developing off-grid and renewable energy. The company got its start in 2001 when its founder created his first power inverter in a garage located in Reno, Nev. The company has since grown and now offers 95 products, including the 8000 Watt DC to AC Power Inverter. AIMS is now a global company that provides products to organizations like NASA and is working to improve or sustainable energy resources.
WindyNation is a small company in Ventura, Calif. It is best known for manufacturing wind and solar generators with a focus on DIY builders. One of the most popular and helpful offerings from the company is its community forum, where customers offer each other tips and ideas on how to implement clean energy solutions. WindyNation produces a popular solar-powered RV inverter for renewable and off-grid living.
Xantrex is one of the most successful brands of onboard AC power. It produces technology for RV, marine, military, construction, EMS, and commercial vehicles. The brand is owned by Mission Critical Electronics, which is headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif. One of its most popular products is the PROWatt 2000 Inverter.
RV Inverter Pricing
- Under $150: Smaller RV inverters can cost around $100. While this investment is the best price-wise, they generally have less power output and fewer options compared to premium models.
- $150 to $300: Some of the best RV power inverters land in this middle price range. These are usually 3,000-watt RV inverters and 2,000-watt inverters for RV use, and typical features include larger batteries, higher power output, and multiple outlets for easy use.
- $300 and up: This premium price point is where you’ll find the best pure sine wave inverter for RVs. These inverters can run your entire motorhome and include helpful features like cooling protection, easy installation tools, or even solar panels.
Having a power inverter that can't handle the devices you want to use is a waste. The first thing you need to know is how much power you'll actually be using. For example, do you simply need to charge your devices or does the entire kitchen in your RV need electricity? It’s essential to look at the devices you are powering to find out how many watts each uses and then add it up to determine which inverter will support them. Your inverter needs to have a constant output that is above the amount of watts you expect to use but isn't producing so much extra power that it ends up being a waste of money.
There are several potential issues that your inverter can run into, so having a device with built-in protection is very helpful. The most significant worry is overheating. RV power inverters produce a lot of heat while running, so it's crucial to find a product with cooling fans. Other electrical safety features include overload protection, an over-voltage alarm, under-voltage alarm, high-quality power surge protection, and a short-circuit prevention system.
Make sure you get an RV inverter that you can hook up yourself. There are several different ways to hook them up, and some need to be hard-wired. Some of the easiest to set up models are inverters that can plug directly into a 12V port with battery cables. You should also keep in mind where the inverter will go and whether or not the device comes with brackets.
- Size. Some of the most expensive RV inverters are incredibly large and heavy. This is important to consider before you make a purchase because you'll want to plan out where the device will fit and if it is too bulky to be worth the price.
- Price. Most of the time, inverters will be priced based on power output. However, this isn't the only important factor, and spending more money for extra power may not always be worth it. Consider your expected usage and what features are most important to you.
- Remote Control. Some RV power inverters come with a remote switch, both wired and wireless. While it may not be necessary, think about where your device will be placed and whether or not it will be easy to reach the manual on and off switch.
Best RV Inverters Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Inverters draw power — even in standby mode. If you know you don't need it to invert power continually, you should turn it off. Otherwise, you should invest in a robust battery system to prevent draining the power supply entirely.
- Modified sine wave inverters produce enough power to run appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and air conditioners. However, modified sine inverters are less efficient and won’t power anything with an electric motor to its full extent, so depending on your appliances, a pure sine inverter may be required.
- Be aware of your RV battery’s amps per hour as this will determine how long your inverter can run on the battery without draining all the power.
- Inverters draw constant power, and one way around this is to run a generator to charge the batteries continuously. Another alternative is to invest in solar panels that achieve the same goal without burning fuel or creating noise.
- Power inverters and power converters are two different things. An inverter essentially changes DC power to AC power, while a converter does the exact opposite. It's essential to understand which devices need so that you can properly power them.
Q: What does an RV power inverter do?
A power inverter takes the DC (Direct Current) electricity from your RV's battery and converts it to AC (Alternating Current) power. This allows you to power your regular devices and household products with the RV battery.
Q: Is there a difference between an inverter and a converter?
Yes. While an inverter changes electricity style from DC to AC, a converter changes the form in the opposite direction (AC to DC).
Q: How do I use an RV power inverter?
A great thing about power inverters is that they're very straightforward to use. After the initial setup (as required by your specific product), all you have to do is turn the inverter on and plug in whatever needs power.
The best RV power inverter overall is the AIMS 5000 Watt 12 Volt DC Power Inverter. This device is the answer to the demand of most RVers on account of its useful power supply and affordable pricing.
If you don't need all that power and want a more affordable product, the KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V DC Power Inverter is your best choice. This model is great for smaller power needs and still has some high-quality features.