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Old 12-26-2015, 10:14 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Leprechauner View Post
I would like to install an inverter and plug my shore power cord into the inverter. I know I will have to shut off the converter, so it will not charge the batteries in a continuous loop. I know this set up will power all my AC receptacles. I am wondering about the DC powered water pump, and lights? Will they still work as long as I leave the battery switch in the on position?

Back to the original question above.

Yes, your DC circuit loads will be running directly off of battery power, just as they do when you have no external 120 Volt power (shore or generator), Nothing at all complex here.

You are right that you want the converter/charger off in order not to create a loop.

Since you will be adding a new load to your battery bank, battery voltage monitoring becomes even more important.
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Old 12-27-2015, 01:37 PM   #22
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I'd spend a little extra money and time and wire the inverter properly. By running inverter AC to the 30 amp plug you put yourself at risk of a loop with the converter (charger) and running fridge on inverter AC which would kill your batteries in little time.....all it takes one time to forget and you end up with batteries severely discharged which can reduce their lifespan and ability to hold charge.

My RV system is wife and kid proof and doesn't require any manual switching or disconnecting when switching to inverter AC power.

I use an auto-transfer box so that shore/generator power takes precedence. The box also is wired so that the inverter AC power does not run to the fridge and 12v converter (charger). Some will also wire the air conditioning so it can't be turned on intentionally with inverter AC but that is not a concern of mine. It is very easy to forget to turn fridge off of AC and force it to run on propane when on inverter power. The AC powered heating element on the fridge will use up battery capacity fairly quickly....same goes for fridges that can run solely on 12V power.

While most will say all you need to do is just check and ensure that propane only switch is on the fridge to prevent unwanted inverter AC usage, my transfer switch makes this a non-issue and I leave my fridge switch on auto. This means that when generator is running, it will use AC instead of propane (my preference) and when I shut generator off and use inverter AC, the fridge switches back to propane. I typically run the generator at night just before bed to top off the batteries and on generator power put the fridge on coldest thermostat setting which I then change to save on propane when generator is turned off for night.

An Auto-transfer relay is affordable and your best bet.

I use a Samlex SSW 1500 watt inverter which works great except for the fans coming on at a low usage (30 watts). I fixed this problem by using thermostat switches on the heat sink that turn the fans on at 120 deg F and shut them off at 105 deg F.

The remote on the Samlex (get the remote) is great for turning the inverter on-off and shows battery voltage and relative load when in use.

I used 10 gauge (30amp) outdoor Romex style cable routed in waterproof conduit under my camper to run AC inverter power to the transfer switch which is located next to the AC cirucit breaker/panel. There are people who say using solid copper wire is BAD because vibration will cause it to break. I have never had this problem an I'm on my fifth camper. The conduit is secured to the underside of the camper every 18-24 inches and doesn't flap around. If you feel that is an issue you are welcome to use more expensive stranded 10/3 wire.

(a) Get rid of the factory converter-99.9% charge at 13.6 volts and will take forever to charge battery on generator power. A 100 watt solar panel probably isn't enough to top off your batteries. I use a triple rate charger that has a fast charge setting at 14.4 volts (14.8 is best if using certain wet cell batteries such as Trojan), has an absorption charge, and trickle and de-sulfation charge program too. I use a Progressive Dynamics converter (charger) with charge pendant so I know when my batteries are topped off by the generator.

(b) Location, location, location are EXTREMELY important! Solar charge controller, inverter, and battery charger/converter should be within 3 feet of each other! Guess what? Most converter/chargers are in the back of the camper and batteries are in the front and are connected by too thin gauge wire for the run. THIS IS VERY BAD because of voltage drop. I calculated a 1.0 volt voltage drop (assuming 50 amp load) over the 25 foot length of too thin factory wire from my Progressive Dynamics 70 amp converter/smart charger to my batteries. This caused it to take forever to recharge my batteries on generator power. Moving things closer together is not optional! A fully charged battery at 12.8 volts was reading 11.8 volts at the DC fuse box in back of the camper. This can cause problems and give false readings of battery charge status. If you keep your batteries very far from the charge/converter and power distribution panel you can minimize voltage loss by using very thick wire (2/0 or 4/0 welding cable). 2/0 wire will have a .19 (1.58%)volt drop for same distance and 4/0 wire will have .12v drop (1%) <2% voltage drop when using solar power is desired to maximize efficiency and same goes for using generator power to recharge your batteries.

(c) Wire length and wire gauge are very critical! Use a voltage drop website to determine losses in your system.

(d) Coffee maker: Most use anywhere from 600 watts to 1200 watts. Assuming a 5 minute cycle and 1000 watts A/C used by the coffee maker, you will be pulling about 105 amps DC from your batteries for that duration. If you use heat at night or have outside lighting on for safety, you may not have enough battery juice to power your coffee maker. A poorly designed/installed system with too long wire runs on too thin wire exacerbates this because your inverter will shut off when voltage is too low about 10.7 volts. A 105 amp load will cause your battery's voltage to drop significantly and coupled with wire distance/gauge you may not be able to make coffee in the mornings. Suggestion: I use a stove mounted kettle to boil your water and use a french press or use coffee singles (coffee bags that are identical to tea-bags...they make decent camping coffee...afterall, aren't we roughing it?)

If you want brewed coffee and your electrical can't handle it and you don't want to boil water in a kettle on the stove, may I suggest: This is a propane powered coffee brewer!
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Old 12-27-2015, 04:24 PM   #23
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Thank You

Thanks to everyone for the responses, great info for me to mull over until spring
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Old 12-27-2015, 07:38 PM   #24
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Great write up. I had the same thoughts, but I'm a slow typist..............


My faithful coffee buddy for the past 6 years on the road is this unit:

Only draws 600 watts, brews fast, no timer or electronic controls that get fussy when connected to a MSW inverter, easy to stow for travel.

FWIW, when I am boondocking (usually at Walmart or a truck stop) although my rig has a 2000 watt inverter, I rarely use it except to watch TV at night. At night I set the thermostat to 55 degrees. When I get up in the AM, I fire up the genny and turn on two electrical space heaters (one in the shower enclosure and one in the galley) and the electric portion of the water heater. I usually crawl back under the covers for another 10 minutes while the coach warms up. I then get up, start the coffee brewing and pop a bagel in the toaster. This is a total load of about 5500 watts (including the Converter/inverter/charger) on my 8000 watt genny, which gives it good excercise. After my breakfast and a quick shower, I can shut off all the loads and shut down the genny and hit the road.
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Old 12-28-2015, 09:14 PM   #25
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Feel free to check out my install thread.

It sounds like your needs are similar to what mine were. after my install, I simply turn on the Switch with the remote and if I plug or start the generator in the Auto Transfer switch switches back to shore that power source, if I unplug or turn off the generator, it switches back to the Inverter.
Much Simpler once implemented, and you don't have to worry about getting it wrong by not bypassing the converter, etc.
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Old 12-28-2015, 09:58 PM   #26
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I love auto-transfer switches though the first time I wired it, I accidentally put inverter power priority over generator....easily fixed!

This is the one I used: There are cheaper brands but this one was the first one I used 3 campers ago and has been 100% reliable

Because I bypassed the power panel to prevent the fridge and alternating current powered converter/charger to be run on inverter alternating current, I had to find a way to fuse the shore/generator power going to the both the fridge and power converter.

I had a couple of these lying around in my workship BP SRU Buss Fused Outlet Protect Power Tools Appliances Fits Standard Handy Box | eBay and the did the trick. A more ideal way would be to use a baby breaker box such as this one Baby Box enclosure for 1-4 MNPV or MNAC din rail breakers for the two un-fused lines but the fused outlet was easier for me. I do carry several spare fuses but never had to use them but heating elements on fridges can short out when they go bad and power converters can overheat and short out if the cooling fan fails.
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