How to Select a Right Power Inverter For Camper Van

What is Power Inverter?

power inverter diagram
Buy Pro-Line pure sine wave power inverter

A power inverter is the specific equipment that converts electricity from one form(DC) to another(AC). Power inverter has been the popular power solution for nowadays resisdential use or mobile use. Generally 240VAC for U.K, 230VAC for Germany, 240VAC for Austrailia, and 120VAC for N. America. 

Power inverter is mostly used as the conversion from battery electricity into the ac power the same as, even bettery than the main electricity, which we call it pure sine wave inverter. 

pure sine waveform

Modified sine wave or Pure sine wave?

There is another cost-effective power inverter which make output with modified sine wave whose waveform is not smooth as the pure sine wave. Generally we will always see the recommendation of pure sine wave, and the salesman highly suggest us buy the pure sine wave, as they will tell you "pure sine wave inverter will not create harm to your appliance". 

modified sine waveform

Each inverter type has their pros and cons and what you end up choosing will come down to cost and the type of equipment you want to power. Modified sine wave inverter is cost effective, as the advantage of cheap price(not cheap quality). Modified sine wave power inverter is able to run common house appliances without problem. But it is not recommended to operate the sensitive loads by modified sine wavem. light dimmers, variable speed drills, sewing machine speed controls, some laser printers etc. will not operate correctly with a modified sine wave power inverter.

You can buy a cheap(mean low price) modified wave power inverter which makes output of a fairly choppy AC power, which will take you much less cost than a pure sine wave inverter.
Therefore it is easy for you to make the decision based on the information above. If you have no sensitive loads, only the general microwave, fridge, lights and the laptop charger, a modified sine wave power inverter is the ideal option for you. 

While if you have water pump, fridge, cord power tools, or other motored equipment, pure sine wave power inverter peformance will be better than modified sine wave. Pure sine wave power inverters are especially designed to provide a more accurate sine wave output and so can be used with these appliances. The disadvantage is that they are a little bit expensive. Check with your with appliance manufacturer or its specifications to confirm if you can use a conventional power inverter or will need a pure sine wave inverter.

How much should your camper van need?

Power inverters come with a range of power capacities, generally you can find from 300W to 3000W in the RV power products store. So selecting the right one for you is very important. Your power inverter needs to be able to provide sufficient power for the equipment you want to use it with.

Here is a brief check list:

  • Check the power consumption for the device you want to power
  • Allow an additional 25% power
  • Add the power for all the devices you want to run at the same time
One thing need to be noted that some inductive devices, like an power saw, AC water pump may require 3 to 7 times the operating power when they start. 

Using an under-powered power inverter may damage it or the appliance you are trying to use. Some power inverter detects the overload, and it will try again and again to see if the overload condition is removed, which will creat a lot of heat. So be sure to check the specific wattage requirements and operating instructions for appliances / tools to be used.

Installation environment 

Power inverter hates high temperature. High-temp will low the inverter working efficiency, and make the inverter be over-heat and shut down. Power inverter creates a lot heat when it's working. The temperature-controlled fans will work when it up to a specific temperature point. 

A cooling environment does make sense for inverter. But in the camper van a 45℃ is easily reached when we are driving a trip more than 200 miles under the sunlights. Make sure there are enough space for inverter fan working to make the air flow in good performance. 

power inverter cooling fan

If you have any problems of the power inverter, you can also contact Popsail(click me) for problem solving, or installation suggestion. 24/7 service for you. 

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