What is The Best Inverter for an RV?

Do you know how all the electronics in your RV get charged up? Well, the charging system is more complex than just drawing power from batteries.

There’s a device called an inverter that plays a crucial role in running things like your microwave, coffee maker, TV, and other devices instead of just 12-volt appliances.

It transforms your rig’s electricity into standard household AC power. Understanding how your inverter works lets you make full use of your RV’s battery power. Let’s find out what it is, its functions, and the type that’s suitable for a camper. 

What Does an Inverter Do in an RV? It’s Definition and Roles

In simpler terms, an inverter is a device that allows you to use typical household appliances and electronics while traveling in your camper.

What Does an Inverter Do in an RV?

Most RVers are familiar with the term, but may not fully understand what an inverter actually does. It takes the direct current (DC) power stored in your RV battery and converts it to alternating current (AC) power that most of us are used to getting from a standard wall outlet. 

Since batteries supply DC power but devices like phones, laptops, TVs, and coffee makers require AC, the inverter acts as the middleman between the two. It enables you to plug in and operate various appliances whenever you want, regardless of whether you have a power hookup at a campground. 

A travel trailer inverter comes calibrated to different wattage levels depending on your needs. A smaller inverter may power a few small items, while a larger one can run high-drain appliances like the air conditioner, microwave, or coffee pot without overloading. Look for surge protection and low-battery shut off features for safety.

Inverters provide flexibility when running your RV appliances and electronics. You can take advantage of extra power stored in large battery banks or solar panels. This means more freedom to watch movies, cook meals, or keep food fresh without being tied to a campground.

Inverters aren’t strictly necessary in all RV setups. But if you enjoy boondocking or dry camping away from hookups, they can make a big difference. You won’t have to give up your favorite gadgets just because you’re exploring the great outdoors. Today’s inverters are also quite affordable and easy to integrate. Investing in a high-quality inverter pays off in convenience and comfortable camping experiences.

How Does an Inverter Work in an RV?

The inverter operates quite simply. When turned on, it takes the DC battery power and runs it through an electronic circuit that changes it into AC power. That AC power is then available through the inverter’s standard three-prong AC outlets. 

You should know that an inverter doesn’t actually generate any power. It just changes the battery power into a different type of electricity.

To work properly, the inverter needs power from your RV battery. This is why it’s crucial to have a full, healthy battery. A weak or drained battery can cause the inverter to not perform well or even stop working altogether. The inverter can only output as much AC power as the battery can provide. So, the battery has to be compatible for an inverter to function at its peak. 

Inverters have limits on how much power they can convert simultaneously. While small devices usually work fine, running big appliances like AC units or refrigerators may overload the inverter if the battery isn’t up to the task. You could compensate by installing extra batteries, but that adds cost and weight that isn’t practical for many RVers.

What are the Types of RV Inverters?

When shopping for an RV inverter, you’ll mainly see two options: pure sine wave and modified sine wave.

Let’ discuss details about these options: 

Pure Sine Wave Inverters

These inverters are considered the best option for powering your RV. They produce electricity that mimics what comes from regular wall outlets at home. This smooth waveform is easy on your devices.

With a pure sine wave inverter, you don’t have to worry about sensitive electronics like TVs and microwaves getting damaged over time. The power is consistent and steady. 

Pure sine wave inverters are expensive. But they provide top-notch protection for your expensive gadgets. You don’t want that new laptop to get fried from a power oversurge. And you certainly don’t want your fridge or AC breaking down on some hot day. 

They’re also really efficient. Pure sine converts battery power to AC without wasting excess energy. That means less drain on your batteries, so they last longer between charges. So, it’ll be a better option when you’re boondocking. 

Maintaining these inverters is quite easy too. Leave it plugged in and it’ll work. No need to stress about whether it’s charging stuff properly.

Modified Sine Wave Inverters

These inverters are more affordable than pure sine wave models, so they could be a good choice for people on a budget. But there are a few things to know before buying one.

First off, the power isn’t as smooth as you’d get from a regular outlet. Modified sine wave inverters put out a more uneven waveform instead of a true sine curve.

This rougher power can cause issues over time for sensitive electronics, like TVs, microwaves, and laptops. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing glitches or the dreaded blank screen at some point.

With that said, modified sine wave inverters do work for basic lights and chargers without a problem. Things like phone chargers or fans will run just fine. And they’re still a handy way to power small appliances if needed.

Which One Is a Better Choice as an RV Inverter? 

The main choice between a modified sine wave and pure sine wave model depends on what you’ll be powering in your rig.

For any appliances with motors, like the fridge, water pump, or AC unit, a pure sine wave is the best option. These appliances need smooth, steady power or they might not last.

If you’ve got sensitive electronics like TVs, stereos, or chargers for other devices, also choose a pure sine wave. You don’t want static or fuzzy screens from uneven power.

But modified sine waves can work fine for basic lights and simple gadgets. Things like fans, phones, or cheap speakers probably won’t get damaged by the rougher wave.

Only get a modified sine wave if you’ve got a totally separate low-power circuit, like for outdoor lights or something. Otherwise, a pure sine wave is the better choice for maximum reliability in your rig. 

Honest Reviews: 5 Best RV Inverter Models

1. Ampeak 2000W Power Inverter 6.2A

ampeak 2000w power inverter 6.2a

At a glance

  • Power Source: Battery powered
  • Wattage: 2000 watts
  • Battery Capacity: 200 amp hours
  • Recommended Uses: RVs, vehicles, power outages

Why we love it

We’ve found the Ampeak 2000W to be the best power inverter for our roundup of RV inverter reviews. It’s a high-value option for RV applications. Its continuous 2000W and peak 4000W power handling means it can power most appliances and devices without issues. The 17 safety protections far exceed competitors and provide peace of mind.

The LCD display makes it easy to monitor the inverter’s status. The temperature-controlled fan keeps things cool without being overly loud. USB ports and multiple AC outlets give flexibility. Efficiency above 88% means loads under 1760W are solidly within its capabilities. It’s the best power inverter for RV where sustained high wattage isn’t expected. 

However, the metal casing gets quite warm with extended heavy usage. The negative terminal in particular can get very hot, risking burns even at modest loads. The included cables are undersized for draws near the 1000W limit. You’ll want to use thicker gauge wires in that situation. Also, the fan can be loudly noticeable when engaged.

Pros

  • Continuous 2000W and peak 4000W power handling
  • 17 safety protections 
  • LCD display for easy monitoring
  • Efficiency over 88%
  • Reliable for light-duty power needs

Cons

  • Casing and negative terminal can get very hot
  • Included cables too thin for loads near 1000W limit
  • Noticeable fan noise

2. GIANDEL 2200W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter

giandel 2200w pure sine wave power inverter

At a glance

  • Power Source: DC 12V
  • Wattage: 2200 watts
  • Recommended Uses: Homes and vehicles

Why we love it

We tested the Giandel 2200W while living on the road in our RV. From our experience, we can say that it’s the best pure sine wave inverter for RV. 

This unit performs well for its relatively small size, powering all of our main appliances without issue. The pure sine wave output provides clean, consistent power similar to a residential grid. 

Along with dual AC outlets and a USB port, the built-in charger and display make monitoring and charging house batteries straightforward. It’s one of the best RV power inverter models for keeping essentials running during off-grid times.

Be aware that the display could be better positioned for visibility and included cables may be inefficient for high-demand loads. We upgraded to heavier gauge wiring to safely handle large appliances, like our microwave and coffee maker, long-term.

Pros

  • Pure sine wave output for smooth appliance use
  • Compact size allows flexible installation
  • Dual AC outlets and USB ports
  • Affordable price point 

Cons

  • Display visibility could be better
  • Default cables are possibly insufficient for high-wattage loads
  • No remote or Wi-Fi functionality

3. Krieger 2000 Watt 12V Pure Sine Power Inverter

krieger 2000 watt 12v pure sine power inverter

At a glance

  • Power Source: Battery powered and corded electric
  • Wattage: 2000W
  • Recommended Uses: Vehicles

Why we love it

We found the Krieger 2000W as the best RV inverter for a reliable power solution on the road. It delivers smooth, continuous AC power up to 2000 watts from our RV battery. This allows us to run essential appliances, charge devices, and use power tools without issues.

An LCD display makes it easy to monitor input voltage and output wattage. Overcurrent and overload protections help prevent damage to the inverter or battery. And an integrated cooling fan keeps things running quietly. USB ports on the side conveniently charge mobile devices directly from the inverter.

The Installation of this best RV inverter charger is simple using the included mounting brackets and battery cables. However, we noticed the cables are only rated for 94 amps despite the inverter drawing up to 167 amps at full load. While this may work for occasional use, frequent operation at high loads could pose a risk. Long-term use may require upgrading to thicker gauge cables.

Pros

  • Provides continuous 2000W of power
  • LCD display for power monitoring
  • Overcurrent and overload protection
  • Quiet operation from integrated cooling fan
  • Includes mounting hardware

Cons

  • Included cables rated for lower amps
  • Cables pose risk of overheating

4. Energizer 2000 Watts Power Inverter Modified Sine Wave Inverter

energizer 2000 watts power inverter modified sine wave rv inverter

At a glance

  • Power Source: Battery powered
  • Wattage: 2000W
  • Recommended Uses: Vehicles

Why we love it

We’ve been looking for the best inverter charger for RV, and after testing the Energizer 2000W model, we can confidently say it’s one of the best options on the market. This unit continuously outputs 2000 watts of power, which allows it to handle just about any device in our rig. It also has a peak output of 4000 watts, so it can surge higher loads without blowing up. 

Where this inverter really shines is its extensive protection features. Its LCD screen displays the input voltage, output power usage, and even shows what protection mode has been triggered, like overloading or overheating. This level of monitoring gives users great peace of mind. The two AC outlets and dual high-speed USB ports provide flexible charging as well.

Be aware that the unit runs warm under high loads and should be kept in open-air spaces to prevent overheating. It also lacks a remote control, which some users may prefer. However, for reliable power conversion, it’s one of the best RV inverter models. 

Pros

  • Continuous output of 2000W with 4000W peak
  • Dual AC outlets and USB ports
  • Reliable performance for powering RV devices

Cons

  • May overheat under heavy loads in a closed area
  • Lacks a remote control for easier on/off switching

5. GIANDEL Power Inverter Pure Sine Wave 1200 Watt

giandel power inverter pure sine wave 1200 watt

At a glance

  • Power Source: Battery powered
  • Wattage: 1200W
  • Recommended Uses: Homes

Why we love it

The Giandel 1200W is the best inverter for RV if you’re looking for a reliable option for moderate uses. It features 1200 continuous watts of output from its 12V DC input, which allows running appliances up to its full rating, like electric kettles, microwave ovens, small air conditioners, and more. 

The dual AC outlets provide flexibility while the USB and Type-C ports let you charge devices directly. Also, you won’t face overloading issues because of the protection circuitry.

While the remote control and digital display make for easy operation, we did find that the included cables cannot fully handle the rated 1200W load without overheating. So, upgrading to thicker gauge cables is necessary. 

Also, brief simultaneous loads over 900W can cause it to shut off. Otherwise, it met our needs for running essential appliances. 

Pros

  • Provides continuous 1200W of power
  • Dual AC outlets and USB/USB-C ports for flexibility
  • Remote control and digital display for easy operation
  • Overload and other protection circuitry included
  • Rugged aluminum housing can withstand bumps

Cons

  • Lower-quality default cables
  • Won’t run loads over 1200W continuously
  • Upgraded cabling required to use full rated power

How to Calculate the Inverter Size for Your RV

The discussion above should give you a clear idea about this device. But if you’re still not sure about the size of inverter you need for your rig, we’re here to help. Let’s discuss how to calculate the inverter size. 

best inverter for rv

Figure out the Appliance Wattage

The key is calculating the total wattage of the appliances you want to power. Don’t forget to account for startup surge wattage, which is usually double the continuous running wattage.

Add up the wattages of each appliance, including their maximum surge ratings. Common items to consider are TVs, laptops, microwaves, coffee makers, fans, and interior lights. Remember some larger appliances like fridges may have higher wattages. Once you have the total, add 20% as a safety cushion.

Calculation Formula 

The formula for calculating inverter wattage is:

  • Inverter capacity (watts) = Planned appliance wattage x 1.2

Planned appliance wattage: The total wattage of all the appliances/loads that will be powered by the inverter. This can be calculated by adding up the wattages of each individual appliance.

Extra capacity factor is 1.2: A factor to add 20% additional capacity over the planned appliance wattage. This provides a buffer/headroom to account for spikes in power demand.

For example:

  • Planned appliance wattage = 2000 watts
  • Extra capacity factor = 1.2

So, the inverter capacity is: 

2000 watts x 1.2 = 2000 x 20% = 2400 watts

So, the formula takes the total planned wattage, multiplies it by 1.2 to add the extra 20% capacity buffer, and this gives the recommended inverter capacity rating in watts.

In this case, you’ll need an inverter that has a peak output rating of 2400 watts. And it should have at least 2000 watts of continuous output rating.

What’s the Ideal Size?

Most RVs need between 2000-3000 watts unless running multiple large items. A 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter can power TVs, small appliances, interior lighting and more without issues. Just avoid overloading it by running high wattage items simultaneously.

Certain power-hungry devices may require special consideration. Air conditioners, electric heaters, stoves, and electric kettles can overload a standard inverter.

You may need a stronger, more expensive model rated much higher, like 4000-6000 watts, to use these while dry camping. Make sure to factor in your specific RV electrical system too when deciding on an inverter.Β 

The Final Words 

Inverters provide a convenient way to enjoy everyday comforts and technologies in an RV. With the right sized, high-quality inverter, you don’t have to compromise with any amenities. Do your research to understand your power needs and choose a reputable brand for the best performance. 

Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson is a seasoned RV traveler and professional mountain biker with a great sense of humor. After earning a Master's degree in Automotive Engineering from Columbia University, Scott spent years working as an RV technician at Camping World and Outdoorsy. Today, he enjoys exploring the US in his fifth wheel and truck with his wife. With over 15 years of RV living and road tripping experience, Scott now shares his knowledge and expertise as a travel blogger, helping others make the most of their RV adventures.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Really like your page. I currently have a Leisure Brand Motor home that runs a 1000 W inverter . Can I switch that out with one of the 2000w inverters you discuss on your page? I need minimum 1500 W to run some of my current devices. appreciate any advise on the matter.

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