Inverters are nice to have at times when you are dry camping and/or when you don’t have access to 120-volts AC. Batteries produce power in Direct Current (DC) that run at low voltages. Power companies and AC generators produce sine wave Alternating Current (AC), which is used to operate 120-volt appliances and electronic equipment. An inverter takes 12-volt DC power from your RV batteries and electronically changes it to 120-volt AC. Some RVers use an inverter just to watch TV or for their personal computer.
Other RVers use an inverter to operate microwaves, coffee pots or other larger appliances. When you purchase an inverter the inverter’s output capacity must be capable of operating the loads that will be placed on it. Inverters have two different capacity ratings. Continuous output rating and surge capacity rating. Continuous output is the maximum wattage the inverter can output for a long time period. Surge capacity is the maximum wattage the inverter can output during initial start up. All appliances require more power when they start, compared to what they use when they are running.
They can use as much as two or three times the amount to start then what they use to run, so the starting power required for any appliance that you plan to use with the inverter must be within the surge capacity rating. There are modified sign wave inverters and true sine wave inverters. A true sine wave inverter is more expensive, but they are capable of producing power as good as the Power Company and all appliances and electronic equipment will run as they are intended to. Keep in mind you are drawing the power from your RV batteries and any power used has to be put back in through some type of effective charging system.
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk, owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America’s most highly regarded series of DVD’s, videos, books, and e-books. http://www.rveducation101.com/
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