Choosing materials for a campervan electric system can end up being confusing, specifically if you’re not acquainted with all the terminology.

You are watching: What is the difference between inverter and converter

And climate you hear around parts favor converters, inverters, and inverter chargers. It’s enough to boggle the brain!

It doesn’t aid when it’s common practice to usage these terms interchangeably or use totally different names because that them.

So even if it is you’re a brand-new RV owner or structure a DIY campervan conversion, this short article explains the basics around converters, inverters and the differences between them.


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RV Camper Electrics Basics | AC and also DC Power

RV Camper Electrics Basics | AC and also DC Power

To aid explain why we need inverters and also power converters in campers, we very first need to know some electrical basics.

Don’t permit this placed you off. It’s not rocket science, and we’ve maintained it nice simple.

There room two types of electricity – AC and also DC.



AC strength – or alternate Current

Generated in strength plants and also delivered over miles and miles of power lines, AC strength is what businesses and household appliances typically use.

AC doesn’t flow as much as oscillate, that is current transforming direction constantly.

It’s this movement that create the electricity.

This makes it much more efficient to transmit over lengthy distances, so it is best for supplying big amounts the energy throughout national networks to houses and also businesses.

Most, if no all, your family appliances usage AC power, therefore every time you plug anything right into a wall surface socket.

However, AC power cannot be stored, so power plants control their production 24/7, depending upon how much demand is across the country.


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DC power – or direct Current

DC power repeatedly flows in one direction, from negative to positive.

This renders it ideal for save on computer in a battery and also perfect because that RV campers, boondocking, and also off-grid living.

Batteries only organize a limited amount the power. Once living off-grid, our capability to recharge them is limited, so us aim to use low voltage appliances where possible.

Anything through a battery, choose mobile phones, use DC power. Part appliances are designed specifically to use v DC power, like 12v fridges, water pumps, and roof vents.

Appliances draft to operation off AC power, prefer a family members fridge or TV, cannot directly run turn off DC batteries.


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Do I require AC or DC in mine RV?

When living off-grid or boondocking, all electrical needs need to be met through the onboard batteries.

Batteries provide only DC power, so anything running straight from them should run ~ above DC.

If you favor wild camping come campgrounds, installing just DC appliances prevents the require for AC power.

If friend can’t perform without your AC coffee an equipment and TV, you’ll need AC power too.

Batteries additionally need to it is in recharged.

Even if you just use DC appliances, you’ll at some point have level batteries without a means to change the used energy.

Installing a camper solar system is a perfect means to stay off-grid and also avoid the need for AC power.

But if friend can’t depend on sufficient sun hours, you need AC power to recharge them.

So if you deserve to rely ~ above charging your batteries native solar and also use just DC appliances, girlfriend don’t require AC power.

To use any type of AC appliance or fee batteries indigenous the grid, you need both AC and DC power.

Why execute I require a Converter or Inverter in mine Camper?

The quick answer is: friend don’t.

Using just DC appliances and charging battery from solar or the alternator way avoiding these electrical components.

If you require AC strength for charging batteries or powering appliances, a converter, inverter, or both is essential.

Remember, AC appliances cannot operation on DC power. Therefore how can you use the coffee maker and TV as soon as living off-grid?

You require to readjust the DC strength from the battery to AC power.

A 12v DC battery can’t be charged directly by AC strength either.

It’s a little like the battery on your laptop.

The battery needs DC to charge.

You plug in the cable come the AC socket. The power is converted from AC come DC in the strength adapter prior to the cable connects come the laptop.


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Most RVs have actually converters already fitted, yet if you’re convert a van to a camper, this is a component to encompass in your electric design.

A converter is an additional name for a battery charger. That takes AC power and converts it come DC to fee the 12v RV batteries.

If you spend a most time at campgrounds v hookup facilities, a converter is the best way to keep your batteries topped up.

They’re additionally useful because that topping increase the battery financial institution at residence in readiness for camping weekends.

Getting enough sun hours on solar panels once living in a valve in winter isn’t always easy, also with a top-end MPPT charge controller, for this reason a converter is a fall ago for recharging.

We live in our valve full-time and spend 80-90% of our time boondocking.

We rely on solar to charge our batteries, but the converter come in handy when we usage campgrounds.

We’ve created a detailed post on RV converters and also battery chargers, so check that the end for much more details.

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In the meantime, here’s some tips for choosing the appropriate one for her camper:

Power capacity have to be sufficient to fee the batteries in a “reasonable” time. Make sure you take into account any kind of ongoing power intake as the battery is charging too.Look for straightforward installation units. Many converters are basic to install, however a couple of are a bit more tricky.Make sure the converter supports the ideal battery type – Lithium-ion, Gel, or AGM.For most efficient charging, select an converter with at the very least 3-stage charging for AGM and also Gel batteries.For Lithium batteries, pick a clever converter.