What does an Inverter add? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-06-2014, 12:53 PM   #1
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What does an Inverter add?

I don't quite understand what an inverter does. Can anyone explain? Do you need one to add solar? thanks
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:00 PM   #2
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When you are not connected to alternating current power (i.e. 120V AC), an inverter converts your 12V DC battery power to 120V AC (when you are connected to AC power, there is no need to have an inverter). Usually the inverter is ok to run AC appliances having a relatively low power consumption. However, they do tend to drain your batteries fairly quickly. You do not need an inverter to use solar power on board your trailer. If you do not bring any 120V devices with you and rely solely on 12V devices, you would have no need for an inverter. Many people do this. Others, however, like to power their microwaves, coffee makers, or other devices using 120V, thus may prefer to have an inverter.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:01 PM   #3
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An inverter uses the 12 volt power of the trailer battery to make 110 volt AC. It allows the use of devices such as a microwave.

Some people have no use for them and others love being able to use 110 volt devices.

Lots of info on the forum. It's yet another item where there's lots of individual opinions. I've had them for years, don't use it too much but when you need it it's nice to have.

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Old 11-06-2014, 01:05 PM   #4
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Lets see if I get this right.... The inverter converts 12v dc to 120v ac. The inverter supplies power to your 120v outlets when your not plugged in to campsite power. For us, it means my wife can use her hair drier, and we can use the microwave, and use other 110 volt devices. Because the power drain will be significant when using 110 we don't plan to use it but for a few min. at a time, or for the day. We upgraded to a 1500 watt, pure sine wave inverter. The pure sine wave is significant for use of sensitive electronic devices. And, yes, we have solar to recharge the batteries so we don't have to be "plugged-in" to use electricity.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:16 PM   #5
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Be sure to familiarize yourself with all your options before you make a final decision on how you want to set-up your system. Built in sine wave inverters are pretty costly. When we don't have access to 120V power, I only use an inverter for my TV and stereo. I bought small, relatively inexpensive plug-in inverters that have the advantage of portability and both include USB ports for charging mobile devices.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:25 PM   #6
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If youre on the fence about an inverter think about what you may actually need one for. I was borderline for a while until it dawned on me there are times I need to charge the battery for an oxygen concentrator, (not a good idea to have a dead battery for that), and I may want to take my ham radio with me.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:27 PM   #7
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Be sure to familiarize yourself with all your options before you make a final decision on how you want to set-up your system. Built in sine wave inverters are pretty costly. When we don't have access to 120V power, I only use an inverter for my TV and stereo. I bought small, relatively inexpensive plug-in inverters that have the advantage of portability and both include USB ports for charging mobile devices.
I use a small (400 amp) inverter to power the speakers for the flip down DVD player. While the input for the speakers (Bose computer speakers) was 12 volts they didn't like the RV's 12 volts. An auto audio shop suggested I use an inverter to go from the trailers 12 volts to 110 and then through to the speakers via the small 110-12v transformer that came with the speakers. Works well.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:58 PM   #8
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Housekeeping! I use a vacuum to clean Ten Forward. There's no electricity available where the 5er is stored. But, since I have an inverter and the batteries are fully charged, I can clean it anyway.

Okay, that's a lame excuse for needing one. But it works for me!
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:59 PM   #9
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transformer confused

Quote:
Originally Posted by GerriJ View Post
I use a small (400 amp) inverter to power the speakers for the flip down DVD player. While the input for the speakers (Bose computer speakers) was 12 volts they didn't like the RV's 12 volts. An auto audio shop suggested I use an inverter to go from the trailers 12 volts to 110 and then through to the speakers via the small 110-12v transformer that came with the speakers. Works well.
The trailer's 12 volt system is DC . A transformer only works on AC (AC in AC out) Are the speakers 12 volts AC or DC ? Just curious
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Old 11-06-2014, 02:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by pkgman51 View Post
Lets see if I get this right.... The inverter converts 12v dc to 120v ac. The inverter supplies power to your 120v outlets when your not plugged in to campsite power. For us, it means my wife can use her hair drier, and we can use the microwave, and use other 110 volt devices. Because the power drain will be significant when using 110 we don't plan to use it but for a few min. at a time, or for the day. We upgraded to a 1500 watt, pure sine wave inverter. The pure sine wave is significant for use of sensitive electronic devices. And, yes, we have solar to recharge the batteries so we don't have to be "plugged-in" to use electricity.
pkgman
With one caveat - the inverter provides ac power to your 110V outlets when you have a transfer switch also. The transfer switch allows the 110V outlet to be "switched" from shore power to the ac power coming from the inverter. Otherwise, you plug your ac devices into the inverter directly.
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Old 11-06-2014, 03:41 PM   #11
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charging things like cordless tools is handy, as well. most need a pure sine power supply. Computers also are fussy, tho it's actually cheaper to just buy a computer specific 12V adapter ($20+)

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Old 11-06-2014, 03:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Housekeeping! I use a vacuum to clean Ten Forward. There's no electricity available where the 5er is stored. But, since I have an inverter and the batteries are fully charged, I can clean it anyway.

Okay, that's a lame excuse for needing one. But it works for me!
Thats ok Donna I have one mosltly to make coffee quickly while traveling on the road. I justified it to my female family members that they could use a hair dryer and curling iron while not plugged in.
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Old 11-06-2014, 04:02 PM   #13
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The trailer's 12 volt system is DC . A transformer only works on AC (AC in AC out) Are the speakers 12 volts AC or DC ? Just curious
Good question. All I know is that it works. I think I should have referred to it as a Transformer/Converter. I have a half a dozen or so of these lying around the house and they all say 120VAC in and various V DC out. The inverter puts out 120V AC. The little 120 V AC transformer/converter that comes with the speakers plugs into the inverter and the transformer/converter outputs the 12V needed by the speakers. I assumed it was 12v DC but obviously if the 12 V requirement is AC that would explain why the speakers wouldn't work when hooked up directly to the trailer 12V DC. Interestingly, with a previous camper I installed an under cupboard kitchen style TV. It came with the same kind of transformer. When I bypassed the transformer and connected the TV to the 12 V DC it worked fine for several years until we sold the camper. I can rewire a car but electronics are a mystery to me. The trailer with the speakers and manual are in storage so I can't check that right now.
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Old 11-06-2014, 05:08 PM   #14
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Steve; I think you have hit the nail on the head. Just out of curiosity I checked the speaker manual and found that the speaker power input is 12V followed by a symbol that has a bar with a small sine wave below. Not your regular AC symbol which is a sine wave alone nor the standard DC symbol; a bar with 3 dashes below. I could not find this symbol on a brief internet search.
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Old 11-06-2014, 08:45 PM   #15
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What is the "loss" when converting 12 volt to 110 using an inverter? Does it make a difference?
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Old 11-06-2014, 08:52 PM   #16
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Your basic inverter changes 12v DC to 120v AC so you can run your AC appliances. Some appliances require a sine wave inverter to work properly. Some actually put out a modified square wave that approximates a sine wave. I have used such in the past to operate computer printers when on the road.

What do you need to operate and what are the wattages?

There is some power loss in the inversion process, so it would be better if you could use DC appliances?
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Old 11-06-2014, 08:55 PM   #17
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What is the "loss" when converting 12 volt to 110 using an inverter? Does it make a difference?
Conversion loss used to be around 15% for most inverters, but I think it's come down to 10-11% with the improvements in solid state device technology.
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Old 11-06-2014, 09:48 PM   #18
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What is the "loss" when converting 12 volt to 110 using an inverter? Does it make a difference?
Alot depends on the efficiency of the inverter, but the gauge and length of the wiring will affect it as well.

This link has a basic reference chart that calculates the loss per foot of wire based on wattage and gauge:

http://www.doityourselfrv.com/rv-inverter-install-diy/
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