Understanding RV Power Centers
Your RV needs an electrical power source for you to operate all the appliances and electronic equipment inside. The power centers of RVs typically run on a 12-volt battery system, but because your batteries and most of the electronics in your vehicle run on DC power (direct current) and your appliances will run on AC power (alternating current), you will need a system that can convert and/or invert the electricity from the source into what is required. Converting power simply means converting the electricity from AC form to DC. To invert power means your system will need to transform DC voltage to AC.
Most, if not all, RVs will already have a converter charger installed in it. However, most of these models are not of high quality, which means they are often not as reliable as you need them to, or are just designed to top up your batteries when plugging into a power pedestal at the RV park. Recent RV models will have better-quality models, but experienced RV owners always try to upgrade their power centers as soon as they can and/or keep a backup charger, just in case.
The RV converter charger works by converting the 120-volt AC power from the RV park pedestal (or the power outlets at home) into 12-volt DC power which is needed to charge the RV’s battery. Getting a converter charger is an absolute necessity because it is the only option for topping up RV power centers with shore power or generator power. Aside from being a charger, it will also allocate the DC power to other systems in your RV that need it, as well as deliver unconverted AC power to your RV’s breaker panel, which can be used to run appliances.
For some RV owners, a converter charger may be enough. But you should also consider getting an RV inverter. The inverter works by transforming 12-volt power into AC power, which is what we generally recognize as standard “household” electricity. Using an inverter is the only way for you to run most appliances in your RV without having to connect first to a shore or generator power source. Not all RVs come with an inverter, because manufacturers don’t really recognize it as standard equipment.
Keep in mind, though, that the inverter in your RV will only let you use as much electrical power as what is stored in your battery. For RV owners who frequently use appliances while on the road, adding an inverter to their RV’s power centers will be a huge convenience. Sometimes you might find yourself traveling through areas where there are no electrical hookups available, or sometimes you just like the idea of being self-sufficient. In cases like this, an inverter will definitely turn out to be a clever investment.
Just keep in mind that running large appliances such as air conditioners will still not be possible on an inverter. The electrical load will simply be too much, so you will still need to hook-up with shore or generator power. Otherwise, your batteries will be drained quickly. However, for those who already have a sufficient 12-volt power supply or perhaps do full hookups daily, buying an inverter might not be necessary anymore.
Xpower Inverter 5000W GFCI – Compact, lightweight, and ready to run your entertainment systems, TVs, power tools, laptops, and more. Available in several models.
DLS Series Converter Charger 45A – Delivers reliable battery-charging and power conversion for your RV. Uses switch-mode technology featuring two selectable charging modes and a low operating temperature.