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Nothing beats hitting the road in your RV. Perfectly balancing the comforts of home and the rush of roughing it in the wild, an RV provides a beautiful escape — as long as it’s properly equipped. And one thing every RV needs is a high-quality RV converter charger. Designed to convert AC power into DC energy, these converters take 110-volt energy from a wall outlet and turn it into usable 12-volt DC power. Plus, they charge your RV battery in the process.
When you plug your RV in or use a generator, you need a converter to control the electrical flow. RV accessories only handle 12-volt DC, so a converter is important. From the fridge to the stove to your entertainment system, electricity makes travel much more enjoyable. Naturally, you want a reliable device that you can count on. We’ve compiled a list of the best RV converter chargers available to help you out.
WFCO Deck Mount Converter Charger
Featuring a compact design and virtually silent operations, this 55 amp converter mounts to the deck and creates a reliable 14.4 DC output.
- Reliably charges your RV battery when in use
- Includes a powerful cooling fan
- Doesn’t create much noise
- Built to work long term
- Somewhat high DC voltage output
- Insulated DC parts can add unnecessary resistance
- Open-top leaves it vulnerable to damage
Cantonape AC RV Converter
Designed to efficiently convert electrical signals, this multipurpose charger has two AC outlets and an accessible USB port.
- Comes at an affordable price
- Includes features to control load capacity
- Screen keeps you informed of converter status
- Safeguards against circuitry issues
- Technically designed for use in cars
- LCD screens use extra power and moderately reduces output
- Can be tricky to replace fuses
Arterra Power Converter/Charger
Durable and powerful, this charger efficiently handles 30 amps without issue. With three charging phases, it extends battery power when used within the 14.4-volt range.
- Incorporates automatic shutoff features to prevent damage
- Functions quietly with fans only working when needed
- Creates reliable power output
- Complies with Class B standards of FCC
- Fans running selectively causes added risk of overheating
- Lack of display to keep the driver informed
- Voltage produced oscillates moderately
Benefits of RV Converter Chargers
- Mitigates risk of drained batteries. The house battery is the RV's energetic motherboard, and draining it can cause pervasive issues in the RV. By converting 120-volt alternating current to (approximately) 12-volt direct current, it keeps the battery in fighting form.
- Uses proven electrical technology. An RV converter charger uses reliable and well-reputed mechanisms to control the circuitry. These are found on all types of sine wave inverters and other household appliances. This adds reassurance to the safety value.
- Keeps appliances working properly. The RV appliances rely on a steady power source. A converter is necessary to keep everything running to prevent issues to everything from a hot water tank to your stove's range.
- Charges the main RV battery. Your main RV battery is necessary not just for drivetrain performance but for the generator that operates the RV. A converter keeps it full, adding not only convenience but also security to your travels.
- Spreads power evenly. A huge benefit of a good RV converter charger is balancing the flow of electricity to your RV appliances. It helps the appliances perform optimally and mitigates risks associated with overheating and charging issues.
- Easy to install and maintain. It’s relatively straightforward to install an RV converter charger in your vehicle. The part is fairly easy to maintain, too, since it comes with safeguards to prevent electrical concerns.
Types of RV Converter Chargers
Those with many accessories and appliances in the vehicle can benefit from the high-output type of RV converter charger. It can supply as much as 90 amps, meaning you can more easily travel in large numbers without being concerned about the batteries' demand.
One considerable concern is that these systems tend to be more vulnerable to extreme heat and cold. Proper RV maintenance and parking make a big difference in the longevity of high-output converter chargers.
A popular type of converter, these parts incorporate equalization technology that makes it easier to charge multiple battery types. This way, whether your system uses a lead battery or another power source, you can hook up the converter.
Particularly for advanced RVs that require different voltage for equipment, the multistage type's versatility is important. It offers high-grade, reliable output and charges the main battery very efficiently, helping your RV's main battery last longer.
For extended travel, it’s hard to beat the distribution panel type. It is a popular replacement model for worn converter chargers, mainly due to its large size and easy installation. Typically, these come with fuses and circuit breaker tech to prevent damage. It charges all types of batteries, though it is better at working with at least partially charged RV batteries. The structure lets you install it in just about any RV.
Opening its doors in 1976, this company based in Elkhart, Ind., has grown into a leading manufacturer of RV supplies. With products ranging from inverters to distribution panels, this brand focuses on the ever-changing technology in modern RVs.
Proudly based in the United States, Progressive Dynamics manufactures all products domestically. The Michigan business has been around since 1964, with its initial offering being an RV gas regulator. Since that time, it has expanded its selection to popular offerings like inverters, converters, transfer switches, and more.
RV Converter Charger Pricing
- Under $100: Models in this price range tend to be lower-capacity. While working as a converter, they are usually not powerful enough to run a whole RV.
- Between $100 and $200: Many effective models (including high-output and multistage) fall in this price range. Though not as durable, these options are functional.
- $200 and up: High-quality converters often fall in this range, and almost all distribution panels are in this category. Durable and highly effective, this range is a safe way to go.
Referring to the part of the RV converter charger that connects most closely to the AC power component, this part takes in the electricity from the wall outlet. It is important that the wiring needs to handle a lot more power to transfer it through the resistors, which will control the flow. Check that the input mode is AC and, ideally, works for the 110/120 volt systems to ensure that it works with RVs.
The output feature is equally as essential as the input since it is the component that, after the current passed through the resistors, sends it through to the RV’s wiring. This uses the same technology as an rv inverter, though in a reverse direction. Critical to not have overheated, the output mechanism needs to handle a direct current consistently. Essential to charging the RV battery itself, you can find output systems in the range of 12 to 14.4 volts, both working in RV setups.
While not directly related to the electrical performance of the converter, the housing is still essential. It holds the wiring firmly in place and is there to prevent damage. A properly-designed case will incorporate openings for airflow. Look for metals that are less heat-sensitive and resist damage from corrosion. The housing will also play into the installation requirements, so be sure to look at the actual measurements.
Circuit breakers and fans are necessary to prevent issues with the flow of electricity. Instead of risking structural damage from overheating due to ongoing use, high-end models will incorporate fuse technology for an automatic shutdown. A fan is also standard since it uses natural heat conduction to keep the converter working without demanding too much power to function.
- Installation. While all RV converter chargers will require installation efforts, the design can go a long way to making the process easier. It is important to check the measurements of the potential converter charger against the RV specs. Some models are straightforward to set up, while others may require a professional hand.
- Compatibility. If you are worried about compatibility with your RV or are dealing with a newer (or much older) model, this is especially important. Distribution panels tend to be the most compatible, with multistage selections coming in a close second. If you are looking at high-output models, check the specifications thoroughly, and make sure that the case and the wiring are compatible.
- Durability. When you replace an RV component, it only makes sense to find something that will last long. The key is to look at two features: safeguards and housing. A tough exterior and advanced electrical protections are two essential parts of an RV converter charger that lasts.
- Extra Features. Once you've assessed the other considerations, look at the system's special features. Modern models often incorporate an LCD screen to apprise you of any issues, along with the charge status and other necessary metrics. New designs also use smart technology to detect small-scale electrical issues and initiate an automatic shutdown (before the problem snowballs).
- Noise. Finally, think about the amount of sound the model will generate. Larger converter chargers require more substantial ventilation. If the model uses fans, then noise can be a slight nuisance. Since these chargers are usually near the front of the vehicle, it can help to choose something with housing designed to dampen those vibrations and keep things quiet.
Best RV Converter Charger Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Don’t overdo it when using a converter charger. Even though it supplies a lot of power, the system still goes through wear and tear, so don’t run everything at once.
- Take your time during the installation process to prevent issues with functionality down the line. Follow the setup instructions to the letter.
- Perform maintenance to prevent issues. This includes keeping it clear of dust and debris and allowing proper cooldown time.
- Use an inverter to optimize electricity flow to smaller charging devices (like cell phones and tablets).
- Unplug when possible from the AC outlet to prevent excess stress and strain on the system. Once it’s full, let the system rest.
- Avoid a dead battery since most RV converter chargers are not meant to work as a battery booster; rather, they are meant to prevent a complete power drain.
- Steer clear of extreme temperatures since these parts are vulnerable to heat damage (both internal and external). Park indoors or in the shade when you can.
- Do the math: measure the amperage supplied and only connect the devices which will work with the current you get.
Q: What size power converter do I need for my RV?
The size of the converter you need depends on the amperage rating of the system. Standard models are often either 30 amps or 45 amps. This lets you calculate the number of appliances you can run on the converter charger. It is also essential to determining system compatibility.
Q: What happens when an RV converter goes bad?
If your RV converter charger goes bad, then the batteries onboard your RV will become the sole source of power for your system. It can result in your not being able to run the necessary accessories inside the RV. At worst, it can leave you with a completely drained battery for the RV itself.
Q: What does an RV converter charger do?
An RV converter charger is designed to take power from a wall outlet and convert the alternating current to a lower direct current. The DC flows to your RV appliances and accessories, spreading it evenly. It also recharges the RV battery itself, so you never have to risk a completely drained battery, similar to how a trickle charger works.
Now that you know the ins and outs of RV converter chargers, you can make your pick and hit the road. It could be the WFCO Deck Mount Converter Charger or the affordability of the Cantonape AC RV Converter.
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