When we traded in the Berkshire last year for a Cardinal 3550RL fifth wheel, I was a little disappointed that the new rig didn't come with an inverter. After almost a year, I realized that I had a brand new XPower 1200 Plus in the box that I had bought on a whim at a Camping World closeout. I dug it out of the garage and started planning.
This installation is pretty simple but it meets our needs. My goal was to have "emergency" AC power by the side of the road when I forgot to lower the satellite dish or just wanted to make a pot of coffee. I was not thinking of dry camping (although solar panels may be on the horizon), and I wanted it to be a self contained installation independent of the main AC power. After studying the manual for a bit I noticed that there was a remote on/off switch available as an accessory. I found one online at a marine dealer and ordered it. I also ordered some short #2 battery cables with connectors and a 150 amp DC fuse from Amazon.
I had previously scoped out the location of the equipment. I found the plywood bulkhead in battery area ideal as a mounting surface. I attached the cables to the inverter first as they would be hard to reach once the unit was mounted on the wall. Thick cables are necessary on the DC side, but mine were probably overkill for such a short run. I screwed the fuse holder to the wall, attached the positive battery lead on either side and inserted the fuse. The holder came with a nice snap-on plastic cover. The negative lead went to the grounding lug on the frame that was already in use by the negative lead from the battery. Finally I connected the remaining positive lead to the nearest positive battery post.
Since the dealer had installed a second battery I was all set in that department. With typical dealer frugality they had used 12-ga hookup wire to parallel it to the original battery. I replaced that with proper battery cables during the first week of ownership. I wonder how many new owners are aware of such shoddy and potentially dangerous practices.
I decided to run the AC output of the inverter to a simple outlet inside the trailer. I found the ideal location in a small lower cabinet. (see photo) This area is beside the converter/charger under the shower and affords easy access to that space for fishing the wires. For the outlet wiring, I cut off the female end of an old heavy duty extension cord. I drilled and cut the side cabinet wall with a drywall saw and utility knife. Then I fished the wire and the cord for the remote switch from the storage area. I ran the wires under the top hinge of the curbside door and secured them with zip ties. Then I drilled a 1/2” hole in the firewall into the front storage compartment and routed them to the inverter, securing them along the wall to existing cables.
So now anytime I need AC electricity I can just plug in an extension cord and run it anywhere inside the trailer. For long trips and intentional dry camping we have a 3K Yamaha generator that fits in the bed of the truck. It will run anything withing reason.
For those who have asked, “How hard is this to do? Can I install one of these myself, or should I have an expert do it?”, my response is that if you understand and are comfortable with working with electricity it should not be a problem. You will need some minor cabinet making skills. Neatness counts. Follow the instruction manual exactly when it comes to wire size and fuse amperage. Don’t cheap out on the parts. On the other hand, if you are afraid of electricity or don’t understand amps, voltage and wire sizes you should probably defer to a professional. I have been a ham radio operator for almost 40 years and my work background is in telephone system installation, working with high and low voltages. You can certainly get up to speed on what you need to know, but be prepared to back out if you get in over your head. Send me a PM if you have questions. Good luck.