Confused about what inverter you require or what one is? Start here

Confused about what inverter you require or what one is? Start here

Campervans are an excellent way to travel, allowing you to explore new places while enjoying the comfort and convenience of a home on wheels. To make the most out of your campervan, it’s important to have the right equipment, and one essential piece of equipment is an inverter.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of inverters available for campervans, the factors to consider when choosing an inverter, and some tips on how to install and use an inverter in your campervan.

What is an Inverter?

An inverter is a device that converts DC (direct current) power from your campervan’s battery into AC (alternating current) power that can be used to run appliances and electronics. In other words, it’s what allows you to use standard household devices, like a TV or laptop, in your campervan.

Inverters are commonly used in campervans, boats, and other mobile applications to provide power to devices that require AC power.

There are two types of inverters: pure sine wave and modified sine wave. Pure sine wave inverters produce a clean and stable AC output that is similar to the power you get from the grid, while modified sine wave inverters produce a less clean and less stable output that can cause problems with some sensitive electronics.

Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave inverters, but they are worth the investment if you plan to use sensitive electronics like laptops, TVs, and other devices that require a clean and stable power supply.

How Do Inverters Work?

Inverters work by taking DC power from a battery and converting it into AC power using electronic circuits. The inverter converts the DC power into a high frequency AC power, which is then transformed into a pure sine wave or modified sine wave AC output using transformers and filters.

Inverters come in different sizes and power ratings, ranging from small inverters that can power a few small appliances to large inverters that can power an entire house. In campervans, most inverters are small to medium-sized and are designed to power a few appliances and electronics.

Why are Inverters Necessary for Campervans?

Inverters are necessary for campervans because they allow you to power appliances and electronics that require AC power. Most campervans come with a DC electrical system that is powered by a battery or a solar panel. While this is enough to power lights, water pumps, fans and fridges, it is not enough to power appliances and electronics that require AC power.

With an inverter, you can power appliances like refrigerators, TVs, laptops, and other devices that require AC power. This allows you to enjoy the comforts of home while on the road, without having to rely on external power sources like RV parks or generators.

Types of Inverters for Campervans

There are two main types of inverters for campervans: pure sine wave and modified sine wave.

Pure sine wave inverters produce a waveform that closely resembles the waveform of standard household AC power. This makes them the best option for sensitive electronics, like laptops, TVs, and audio equipment. They’re also more efficient and tend to have longer lifespans than modified sine wave inverters. However, they’re also more expensive.

Modified sine wave inverters, on the other hand, produce a waveform that’s not as smooth as pure sine wave inverters. This can cause some issues with sensitive electronics, like audible humming or interference on audio equipment. However, they’re less expensive and still suitable for most appliances and electronics.

At Tiny Build Electrics we advise ensuring that the inverter you purchase is pure sine wave and NOT modified sine wave. Put simply, the pure sine wave gives a smoother alternating sine wave which is more friendly towards your electronic items, especially those that have single phase AC motors like smoothie makers and blenders. Modified sine wave gives different wave, its more jagged and square. This is fine for items like lamps and hair straighteners because they are not reliant upon a true alternating sign wave. But, for the longevity of your system, pure sine wave will run all types of electronic equipment you decide to bring into your campervan.

Battery types
Battery types

Things to Consider When Choosing an Inverter for Your Campervan

When choosing an inverter for your campervan, there are several things you need to consider:

1. Power requirements: The first thing to consider is the power requirements of the appliances and electronics you’ll be using in your campervan. Make a list of all the devices you plan to use and their power consumption in watts. This will help you determine the size of inverter you need.

2. Type of inverter: As aforementioned, there are two types of inverters to choose from: pure sine wave and modified sine wave. Consider your budget and the types of appliances and electronics you’ll be using to decide which type of inverter is best for you.

3. Size and weight: Inverters come in different sizes and weights, so consider the space available in your campervan and how much weight you can afford to add to your vehicle.

4. Efficiency: Look for an inverter with a high efficiency rating. This will help you conserve your campervan’s battery power and save money on fuel.

5. Safety features: Look for inverters with built-in safety features, like overload protection and short-circuit protection. These features will help prevent damage to your appliances and electronics, as well as your campervan’s electrical system.

Installing an Inverter in Your Campervan

Once you’ve chosen an inverter, it’s time to install it in your campervan. Here are the basic steps:

Choose a location: Choose a location for your inverter that’s easily accessible and well-ventilated. Avoid installing it in areas with poor ventilation and with potential heat sources, such as near the engine bay.

Install the inverter: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the inverter. This typically involves mounting it to a secure backing board.

Connect appliances and electronics: Connect your inverter to your appliances via a consumer unit. The consumer unit houses all your miniature circuit breakers and residual current devices. We can’t stress the importance of the correct consumer unit enough, this is going to keep you and your tiny build safe. PLEASE DO NOT JUST plug an extension lead into the inverter. The system requires many more safety devices before it can be used.

If you require any more information or further help with your design then please get in touch!

Tom Alderdice

Hey, I’m Tom – founder of Tiny Build Electrics

My mission is to help sustainable-minded folks develop their electrical knowledge, giving them the confidence to do their own tiny build electrics.

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