Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-08-2018, 10:26 PM   #1
Site Team
 
wmtire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northeast Louisiana
Posts: 16,550
Converter or Inverter (they are different)

One of the more often confused RV terminology things encountered is 'converter' and 'inverter'. Hopefully this thread will be able to simply explain what both are and their functions in a RV without getting too technical.

Most RV's will have two distinct electrical systems. One will be a 120 volt AC (Alternating Current) system like you are acquainted with using in a regular house. The other will be a 12 volt DC (Direct Current) system that you are familiar with in a vehicle with a battery. Your RV will have a combination of the two, with some things that only work off of 120 volt AC while other things that only work off of 12 volt DC.

1. When you are connected to some form of shore power (like at the campground power pedestal) or a generator that provides 120 volt AC, then you can use the items in your RV that work off of 120 volts AC. Usually this will be your air conditioner, microwave, television, water heater if equipped and utilizing an electric heating element, refrigerator if the type that can use 120 volt AC as an option or mode, and any of the 120 volt AC normal outlets in the RV that you would plug something into. When you are camping/boondocking without a form of shore power/generator, then you normally will not be able to use any of the aforementioned items/modes. 120 volt AC items in your RV will be protected by circuit breakers like in a house. (see pic below)

2. Now the 12 volt DC electrical system of your RV normally allows you to use your lights, furnace, thermostat, fans, radio, CO detector, slides if equipped, power jacks/stabilizers, propane mode of a water heater, and propane mode of a refrigerator if equipped. This system will allow you to camp/boondock and use most of the necessity items in the RV except for those things listed in part 1. All you need is a charged battery (or batteries) to provide the 12 volt DC power. 12 volt DC items in your RV will be protected by fuses, like you see in a vehicle. (see pic below)

Click image for larger version

Name:	electric distribution (Small).jpg
Views:	143
Size:	107.3 KB
ID:	162036

Next we will discuss what a converter does and it's function in your RV.
__________________

__________________
2011 Flagstaff 831 RLBSS

Iíve lost my scapegoat.
I have nobody to blame but myself.
wmtire is online now  
Old 02-08-2018, 11:17 PM   #2
Site Team
 
wmtire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northeast Louisiana
Posts: 16,550
CONVERTERS:

A converter takes 120 volt AC power and converts it to 12 volt DC power.

So why would you need such in your RV? If you recall from the previous post, we stated that you have certain items in your RV that only work on 12 volt DC (lights, pumps, furnace, etc). When you use these items, then your battery (batteries) would provide the power for this. However after awhile, your battery would run down/deplete and you wouldn't be able to power these items any longer.

This is where the converter comes to the rescue. Your RV's converter will take 120 volt AC when you are plugged into shore power/generator... and convert it to 12 volt DC .....to power these 12 volt DC items instead of your battery. This converter keeps your battery from running down/depleting since the converter is now what is providing power to these items.....but only if you are connected to shore power/generator.

The converter also has one more very important function. It is also a battery recharger. Yes, when your are plugged into 120 volt AC, your converter will also recharge your 12 volt DC battery (ies).


Name:   converter.jpg
Views: 1583
Size:  15.8 KB

Just about every RV that has the 120 volt AC and 12 volt DC electrical systems will come equipped with a converter. That's converter with a "c".
__________________

__________________
2011 Flagstaff 831 RLBSS

Iíve lost my scapegoat.
I have nobody to blame but myself.
wmtire is online now  
Old 02-08-2018, 11:29 PM   #3
Site Team
 
wmtire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northeast Louisiana
Posts: 16,550
INVERTERS:

An inverter takes 12 volt DC and changes it to 120 volt AC

Ok, now that we know just about ALL RV's will have a converter, let's discuss it's electrical opposite, which is an inverter.

An inverter allows you to power 120 volt AC items from your 12 volt DC battery (batteries). So why would you need an inverter?

Since an inverter takes 12 volt DC battery power and changes it over to 120 volt AC power, inverters used to be mostly only found on motorhomes which had a large bank of batteries to provide this power. You would use the inverter to power up items when camping/boondocking that needed 120 volt AC in order to use when you are not connected to shore power/generator. These items were mentioned in the first post.

As stated above, you usually only found inverters on motorhomes or RV's with an onboard generator, whereas the generator could be fired up to recharge the battery/batteries as they were depleted by the use of the inverter.

However, times are changing. Many RV's including travel trailers/5th wheels are now coming with a residential type refrigerator. This type of refrigerator ONLY works off of 120 volt AC. So if you want to boondock/camp without shore power and use this refrigerator, then you must have some form of a limited inverter (which will come factory installed on these type RV's).

Only some RV's will come equipped with an inverter. That's inverter with an 'i'.
__________________
2011 Flagstaff 831 RLBSS

Iíve lost my scapegoat.
I have nobody to blame but myself.
wmtire is online now  
Old 02-09-2018, 12:13 AM   #4
Site Team
 
wmtire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northeast Louisiana
Posts: 16,550
SOLAR:

We are going to briefly touch on solar power as it is also becoming more popular and many Forest River RV's are coming factory equipped with solar connections (aka zamp connections).

If your RV has solar panels or you install them after the fact, they are a different form of power but which takes solar power/sunlight and converts it to 12 volt DC.... and will recharge your batteries, and may also have some form of limited small inverter.

Here is a link to Forest River's brochure on zamp solar systems, which is a lot more detailed than we need to get into with this post:

http://www.forestriverinc.com/brochu...psolarinfo.pdf

Click image for larger version

Name:	zamp (Small).jpg
Views:	129
Size:	85.5 KB
ID:	162035
__________________
2011 Flagstaff 831 RLBSS

Iíve lost my scapegoat.
I have nobody to blame but myself.
wmtire is online now  
 

Tags
converter, inverter

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




ForestRiverForums.com is not in any way associated with Forest River, Inc. or its associated RV manufacturing divisions.


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:57 AM.