RV Handy Work: Inverter Installation

18 12 2010

Some quick background for the uninitiated:

Two 12 volt deep cycle batteries power the electronics in our RV. That means that our lights, water pump, circuit boards, propane spark ignitors, and generator engine control board / regulator. But… 12 volt electricity isn’t terribly helpful for running things like a computer charger, blender, or any other ‘normal’ household appliance made to run on 120 volt service.

There are three ways for our RV to get 120 volt service.

  1. Plug in to shore power
  2. Run our generator
  3. Invert our 12 volt battery power to 120 volt household service

Option one requires an outlet, something we don’t have access to. And we want to have 120 without needing to plug in. Option two is fine, but uses gasoline (anywhere between .5 and 1+ gallons per hour) and is a bit noisy, although not too noisy. Option three is ideal, especially combined with solar. But our RV didn’t come with an inverter. Obvious solution: we bought one.

Installing an inverter requires super thick wire and very close placement to the batteries. At the same time, it’s bad practice to install the inverter in the battery compartment. Inverters don’t like corrosive gases. We installed the inverter in an outside storage compartment near the battery compartment. Using a hole saw, I drilled a hole through the floor of the compartment clear through the RV body. This gave me access to run the wiring from the compartment and underneath the RV to the battery compartment. The wires were clamped to the underbelly of the RV to prevent them from catching on anything, and the inverter was mounted horizontally in the storage compartment.

Mounted Inverter, And Some Clutter

Mounted Inverter, And Some Clutter

Surge Protector Coming Up Through Buckle Access

Surge Protector Coming Up Through Buckle Access

Having 120 volt outlets in an outside storage compartment isn’t helpful, so I ran a mountable surge protector from the inverter to the interior of the RV, temporarily running the wiring up through one of the dinette seatbelt access points. The next step would be mountain the surge protector, but for the time being we had 120 volt service in the RV.

The Surge Protector In Its Temporary Location

The Surge Protector In Its Temporary Location

Good Luck Keeping Track Of These

Good Luck Keeping Track Of These (Two batteries wired in parallel, solar wiring, inverter wiring, and wiring to power the RV)

posted by jay

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