RV inverter can be seen as fairly complex compared to the electrical system in your house. Items such as inverters can seem like relatively complicated electrical devices, and it is hard to know whether should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in or should it be turned off.
What is an RV Inverter?
RV inverters are a piece of equipment capable of running outlets without generators or shore power, instead of using a vehicle’s battery as the source of energy.
Overall, inverters are an excellent option for those who want minimal use of outlets when camping away and without using a generator. They always require some adjustment to your 120v power system but your RV inverters can be helpful.
Should an RV Inverter Be Left On When Plugged In?
There are different situations that decide, should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in or it should be turned off, like the inverter type or the manufacturer’s recommendation. Keep reading to know everything about the RV inverter and whether RV inverter be left on when plugged in or should be turned off.
Should An RV Inverter Be Left On All The Time?
The general question that comes to your mind is should an RV inverter be left on all the time? And the answer to this question is that the RV inverter should always be turned off when not in use, this is because an RV inverter can drain power from your battery even if it is not in use.
How Does An RV Inverter Work?
An inverter uses the RV’s 12V batteries to supply the power and converts the battery’s 12V direct current to 120V alternating current power for the outlets by first increasing the voltage and then modifying it so that it alternates which is a 10x increase in the input amps (current). An RV inverter boosts your 12V direct current power supply to a 120V alternating current power supply. Your inverter cannot provide you with more power than the battery bank that supplies it so the question is should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in?
In addition to that, higher-end inverters include bypass circuitry and in this way, when you’re connected to shore power, they go into Standby Mode. They stop pulling power from your batteries, instead allowing the shore power to flow directly through the circuits.
Some sophisticated inverters offer a feature that is known as Hybrid or Power Assist functionality. These types of inverters can increase the supply of shore power if the load/demand exceeds the supply. They temporarily take power from the batteries and convert it to 120V electricity that is in perfect phase with the incoming power supply.
There are other models of RV inverters that can entirely take over the loads on the circuits it powers and thereby reducing the power required from either the shore connection or your generator. It can sense the load being pulled by the devices it is powering. When that draw exceeds a user-selectable limit, it can switch to invert mode and removes those loads from the draw onshore/generator.
Either way, your inverter works whether it’s a Hybrid or Generator Support model.
Also Read: 8 Best 3000 Watt Inverter
How to Use an RV Inverter?
You will likely have one of a few different types of inverters, but no need to worry. No matter what type of inverter you have, the inverter is unlikely to supply power to everything on board. Power depends on how the manufacturer wired your rig and whether should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in.
In the simplest situation, the inverter is not built into the RV at all. Instead, it is built into a portable unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter. These units are typically low power ranging between 200-400 Watts and offer one or two 120V AC outlets that you can plug devices directly into it. They have a great option for any RV that did not come from the factory with an inverter and for people who only need a few small devices to be powered like charging a laptop
With a portable inverter, you can simply plug the inverter into the 12V socket, turn it on, and then plug whatever device you need to power with 120V AC. Just keep in mind that portable inverters generally have a smaller capacity, meaning you can’t run large appliances with them.
If your RV came with an inverter installed, it is already connected directly to the 12V battery bank and should have a control panel somewhere inside the RV. So, you can turn it on/off. But that RV inverter power can vary.
In some cases, your RV may come with a smaller inverter that is more similar in capacity to a portable model ranging between 300-750 Watts. If so, it may be wired in such a way that it only supplies power to a single outlet to run just the TV and DVD player, a CPAP machine, to charge a laptop or a computer.
In other cases, your RV’s inverter may be wired to a dedicated circuit breaker box that handles certain smaller power circuits such as the TV, microwave, and all of the outlets, but not high-powered drawing appliances such as the air conditioners, washer, dryer, or the electric side of your RV refrigerator or water heater.
Rarely, after installation, your RV inverter may be wired to supply your entire RV with 120V AC power. In this case, you need to be especially careful not to overload the inverter by running too many appliances at once. Pay particular attention to higher-draw appliances, especially air conditioners and heat-generating devices like a 120V water heater or the heating element of an RV refrigerator. You also need to be aware of the capacity of your battery bank to be sure you don’t run a device that will drain your batteries too quickly.
Also See: 5 Major Disadvantages of Hybrid Inverter
Is RV Inverter Important?
An RV inverter is important because it allows you to run your appliances and electronic devices when you are away from shore power. People depend on the RV inverter and solar panels to supply power to their rig by keeping their batteries charged when they have nowhere to plug into.
Should Inverter Be On When Plugged Into Shore Power?
Should an RV inverter be left on all the time? No RV should not be left on all the time. An RV Inverter can be easily shut down when plugged into shore power. It is because there is no need to convert 12V direct current into 120v alternating current as you are already getting 120VAC power from the power grid when plugged in so the RV inverter is unnecessary.
On the other hand, if your inverter is a dual unit that is an inverter and converter combination then you can leave your inverter on when connected to shore power so that the converter can do its own job and charge the house batteries for future use. So, the answer for should inverter be on when plugged into shore power depends on the inverter you have.
Can Your Inverter Run Continuously?
By now you must know about should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in. Your inverter should not be running continuously as turning on the inverter takes approximately 1.7-1.9 amps and the converter/charger will drain your batteries quickly if it is plugged in.
What are Some Reasons to Leave Your Inverters On?
There are so many reasons you might want to leave an inverter running in your RV. Here are some of the reasons for should inverter be on when plugged into shore power:
1. While actively traveling you generally want to leave an inverter running in order to use AC appliances in the RV.
2. If you are expecting to lose access to shore power but on the other hand you also want to keep using your appliances, you will need to leave your inverter on.
3. While traveling, you will leave your inverter on if you plan to charge your laptops and other devices using standard wall chargers.
4. If you have an AC refrigerator in your RV, you will likely want to leave your inverter on to ensure that its contents remain cool. Especially in case, if you are carrying foods that are temperature sensitive such as meat or dairy.
5. If you are disconnecting your campground from shore power and leaving the inverter on, make sure your appliances continue to work when you break the connection. This will leave you with uninterrupted power in the RV’s cabin for camping.
6. If your inverter is a dual unit which is an inverter and a converter combination, then you will leave your inverter on so the converter can do its job and charge house batteries while using shore power when connected.
7. Leaving an inverter on ensures continuous AC power which means you won’t lose any settings on any devices such as alarm clocks or microwaves.
How to Turn Off RV Inverter?
There are two options for how to turn off RV inverter. For the first option, you will find the bypass switch located on the back of the inverter. Then, you will find the on/off button on the front side of the inverter. Press the button until the inverter is switched off.
The second option is for the inverter that does not have a bypass switch you need to know how to turn off RV inverter, then these are the following steps:
Step 1: Switch off the inverter from the front side button by pressing and holding it until the inverter is switched off.
Step 2: Switch off the power socket of the powering inverter from the grid and then unplug the input power plug of the inverter from your home power socket.
Step 3: Now unplug the output plug of your home inverter.
What are the Reasons to Turn Off Your Inverter?
There are several reasons that it might be beneficial for the inverter to be on when plugged into shore power but there are also reasons why it would be better for you to turn it off when not in use. Here are some of the reasons you should know before you choose to leave your inverter on all the time:
1. One major reason to turn your inverter off when not in use is that it can drain an RV battery quickly. It is a serious battery hog. The inverter needs to draw upwards of ten times as much amperage off the battery as it is required to supply when in use.
2. Turning off your inverter when not in use can save on significant amounts of wear and tear on the device which can extend its life longer than if you left it on continuously.
3. You will find it easier to run a generator when AC power is needed rather than drain the batteries by using the inverter all the time. Having an automatic start function connected to your generator is a great choice as it monitors your battery levels and can protect your batteries from damage.
4. If you do not have any appliances that require a constant AC power supply then you can switch off your inverter and can save a lot of energy consumption.
Also Read: Can You Connect Inverters in Series?
There are certain situations when should an RV inverter be left on when plugged in, such as when you are not storing your RV. If you are not using your RV for long periods of time it is advised to turn off your inverter as your batteries can quickly be drained if the inverter is still on. One thing you should do if you are storing your RV, then you should turn the inverter off as well as disconnect the battery and move it to a safe place for storage. If you are boondocking it is also a great idea to have solar panels or a generator that is able to recharge your batteries so you can continue to use them for power. If you have plugged into shore power or a generator, with the help of a converter, your batteries will recharge allowing you to use them whenever you are away from shore power.
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