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Power Inverter vs Converter [and Inverter-Charger]

DISCLAIMER: AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE I EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES. THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THAT WILL REWARD ME MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE WHEN YOU USE THEM TO MAKE QUALIFYING PURCHASES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ MY EARNINGS DISCLAIMER.

The main difference between inverter and converter-charger is the actual conversion process. A power inverter converts DC (Direct Current) coming from your batteries or solar into AC (Alternating Current). Converter-Charger takes AC and converts it into DC (for charging batteries and powering DC appliances). There is also a device called: “Inverter-Charger” (inverter & converter together), which can do both.

Not sure if anybody noticed, but the inverter is very often confused with converters and inverter-chargers (which is inverter/converter in one), especially on YouTube. It is so EASY to get them confused, so here is a guide for you to clear everything out.

First of all, the basics:

Inverter

Converter

Inverter-Charger

Input 12, 24, 48 VDC 110 (or 220) VAC Both AC & DC
Output 110 (or 220) VAC 12, 24, 48 VDC Both AC & DC
Powers AC appliances DC appliances Both AC & DC
Battery Takes power Charges Both ways
Shore power Pass-through Converts to DC Both ways

RV inverter

Would you like to take your AC electric power supply on the road? Having an inverter in your RV or a camper is an awesome solution for you! It works with different-sized power banks (12-volt, 24-volt, 48-volt) and solar panels.

Inverters will take your battery or solar DC power and convert it into AC power that your appliances can use. When choosing any kind of electrical device (like an inverter or converter), UL-listed products are considered to be of better quality.

How does an inverter work? Let’s start with the basics. The word AC means “Alternating Current” and it is the type of current that is continuously changing amid positive and negative (alternating directions). The word DC stands for “Direct Current” and it is the type of current that always moves from negative to positive and it does not alternate direction.

Even though this may possibly sound a bit complex, the actual process, by which the RV inverter operates, is not that difficult at all. Your RV system has a battery bank that usually made up out of several 12-volt batteries.

You can use these batteries to power your 12-volt DC appliances and lights. Unfortunately, not all appliances could be running this way. They need an AC power supply (or Alternating Current) in order to be useful.

This means that the presence of a power inverter will allow you to use more appliances! Anything from refrigerators, microwaves, televisions and many other electrical devices will require this kind of arrangement in order to give you more comfort and happiness out in a wild.

If you would like to power exceptionally large appliances, you will need a large RV battery bank, as well as a large and adequate size inverter. Since batteries are only 12-volts, more amps will be used in comparison to 120-volt shore power.

RV converter charger

A power converter is another system that is a must to have in an RV. Very often, if you are getting a new inverter, it’s generally a good idea to upgrade a converter as well. A converter is a system that is responsible for turning your DC power into AC (opposite of the inverter).

It is generally built into the RV electrical system and it will power your DC devices while you are using your shore power, as well as charge your home batteries.

RV inverter charger

Inverter converter (or charger) is a very neat combo that you will definitely appreciate if you are limited on space. It combines inverter and converter technology into one unit (along with a transfer switch in most cases).

What does this mean for you? It means that you will be able to enjoy a well-deserved coffee in the morning while boondocking and don’t worry about your batteries getting charged while back at the camp.

Well, if you have a solar system connected, then you don’t really have to come back 😉… An inverter charger is a very useful device in your RV not only because of its ability to change DC current to AC (Alternating Current), but if it detects shore power (or another source of AC power supply, like a generator), it will start charging your batteries!

Since space in RV is often very valuable, the fact that inverter chargers take less space (than having a separate inverter and a charger) makes this device quite desirable. Upon detecting that utility or generator AC power is gone, the inverter charger will start working in the “inverter” mode and you can keep on using your AC devices with no problem.

Here is a nice video on how to install an inverter charger in RV (which is an interesting setup to try):

RV Inverter Setup! How To Power It All! 50 Amp and 30 Amp.

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2 Comments

  1. Randy Van Wyngarden

    Fun, as in laughable that you are trying to explain differences between converters and inverters and then confuse them in one of your bold typed statements.

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