RV Inverter Install: Four Different DIY Methods To Get Off The Grid
For a small inverter, installation is a straightforward affair as it comes with a convenient cigarette lighter outlet.
Anything larger, however, will need wiring directly to your batteries.
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Wiring an Inverter
The good news is, there are a plethora of ways to wire your inverter.
However, whatever wiring method you choose to go with, it’s crucial you ensure that you do not have either the generator or shore power connected to the output of your generator.
Again, regardless of which method you choose to go with, you can perform the wiring with a standard 12 AWG, household type non-metallic cable.
Getting off the Grid: 4 Installation Processes
As we had mentioned earlier, there are various methods to get off the grid with your inverter, but in the section below, we shall highlight the four common RV inverter Install.
Connecting your RV inverter directly to your RV’s AC distribution through a transfer switch is probably the most elegant and expensive solution of connecting an inverter.
The transfer switch will automatically determine which power source to use; for instance, the switch will select the shore power if it's available, and inverter power if it's not.
If you choose to connect the inverter directly, you would want to keep both the inverter and converter on simultaneously to avoid the push-and-pull of energy.
Fortunately, you can avoid powering these gadgets by use of a split distribution panel.
While at it, it's crucial to ensure that the type of switch used should be based on your RV inverter as well as that of your generator, if you have any.
Now, if you think the direct connection method is more of a hassle, read on our next methods.
2.Use of a Relay
The use of a relay is a simple and hassle-free way of connecting your inverter.
Here, you’ll simply need to run an extension cord from the inverter to whatever device you would want to power.
While this method will get the job done, you will soon realize that you will get tired of constantly plugging and unplugging the extension cord on different devices into the extension.
Again, though simple, it will often leave you tripping over the extension cord.
3.Use of Dedicated Outlets
A slightly less crude option, this one will entail connecting your inverter to one or more dedicated outlets.
With this method, you can either connect new outlets or disconnect the existing outlets from your distribution box. Either way, the major challenge with this connection is determining the location of the outlets and how difficult it is to hard wire them.
A major drawback of this method is that it will mean having some outlets not function, especially when you are on shore power, and this can be quite frustrating.
4.Use of 30-Amp Receptacle
This is yet another effective method of delivering power output from your inverter.
This method entails the use of a 30-amp receptacle installed on the exterior of your RV and then connecting it to the output of your inverter.
Now, when you want to power from the inverter, you will need to plug the RV from shore power and then plug it into the receptacle.
However, as we mentioned earlier, while discussing the direct connection method, both the inverter and converter should never be on simultaneously. To get past this stumbling block, it’s required that you flip the circuit breaker for your converter every time before you turn on the inverter. Though practical, it’s not feasible as you are bound to forget flipping the breaker, and this can result in damage.
A more practical solution here is to get a relay with a 120 VAC coil and rated at least 10-amp DC that will allow a safer a practical operation. This way, when the inverter is turned on or off, the relay will automatically switch the converter on or off.
While at it, it’s vital that you mount the relay on or close to the converter. This is because the relay coil draws negligible current and you can either use a lamp cord or cut a heavy duty extension cord if it requires protection.
Now, you have the four common RV install methods. Whatever method you use, ensure that you position your inverter close to the batteries as possible to reduce voltage drop.