Should I Leave My RV Inverter On All The Time?

If you have an RV, chances are pretty big that you have an RV inverter. This is a special device that converts one type of power to another, so you can use appliances and other such things. That said, should I leave my RV inverter on all the time?

No, you should not leave your RV inverter on at all times. Generally speaking, you only want to have it on while you are using it. It should be turned off while you are not using it otherwise it will drain your RV battery.

should i leave my rv inverter on all the time

What Is An RV Inverter?

An RV inverter is a special type of electrical module that converts incoming DC current from a battery into usable AC current that can then be used to run a variety of appliances and electrical devices that are plugged into the outlets inside of the RV.

This can include but is not limited to, stoves, fridges, air conditioners, and edges for charging devices as well. 

If you don’t have shore power or a generator plug-in, an RV inverter allows you to use a variety of appliances, such as microwaves and even televisions. Another purpose of an RV inverter is to convert the DC current created by solar panels into AC current that you can use to plug various appliances into.

Should Your Inverter Be Always On?

When it comes to the question of should your inverter always be on, the answer is absolutely not. Sure, RV inverters are very useful and functional, but they should always be turned off when not in use. 

The reason for this is an RV inverter can still drain battery power from your RV’s battery, even when you don’t have anything plugged into the inverter. 

Yes, there are some inverters where the manual will tell you to leave them on, in which case you do want to follow the instructions. However, generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that if you aren’t using it, you should turn it off.

When Should I Use My Inverter On My RV?

One of the main reasons to use an RV inverter is because you don’t have any shore power, and you don’t have a generator to plug into.

If the only source of power you have is the battery bank in your RV, and you want to run a variety of appliances, such as microwaves, ovens, refrigerators, televisions, and more, then you will absolutely need an inverter. 

You will need an inverter, such as when you are boondocking, to change the 12 Volt DC electricity that your RV battery generates, into 120 Volt AC electricity that you can then use with a variety of appliances. 

If you do not have a battery inverter for your RV, you will need to use a generator to power any and all of those devices. Of course, if your generator is running low on fuel, then an RV inverter does make a good backup power source until you can refill your fuel for the generator.

Reasons To Leave Your RV Inverter On

There are a few different reasons why you might want to leave your inverter on. Take a look at the list below for a variety of examples as to why you should leave your RV inverter on.

  • If you are in the midst of traveling, then you cannot use a power generator. Therefore, if you are on the move, and you still want to be able to use appliances, you will need to use an RV battery inverter.
  • Simply put, if you plan to use any kind of wall chargers, such as to power devices while you are driving, then you will need to leave on the battery inverter.
  • If you happen to be connected to shore power, but expect to lose power, such as if you plan to hit the road or there is some kind of power disruption, then you will want to leave the battery inverter on to continue to power your appliances.
  • Even if you have a generator to power the various appliances in your RV, that generator may run out of fuel. If you expect your generator to run out of fuel before you can top it off, then you will want to leave the RV inverter on.
  • If the refrigerator in your RV uses AC power, you will probably want to leave that inverter on at all times just in case of a worst-case scenario. If you lose power, and you aren’t using the inverter, all of your food is going to go bad.
  • If you happen to have a dual combination RV inverter and converter, then it is a good idea to leave it on, especially as you drive or when you are connected to shore power. This is due to the fact that an inverter and converter combination will allow you to charge the batteries.

First and foremost, you just always want to read the instruction manual on the inverter in question. Moreover, if it is just a single inverter, then you will likely want to turn it off while not in use.

However, if it is an inverter and converter combo, then it is likely that you will be able to leave it on much more often, or even all of the time.

Related: How to fix a beeping inverter.

Reasons To Leave Your RV Inverter Off

Just like there are reasons to turn on your inverter, there are also reasons to leave it off, so let’s take a quick look.

  • If you don’t actively need the inverter, you may as well turn it off to prevent unneeded wear and tear. Just like with anything else out there, the more it is used, the faster it will break down.
  • You can definitely save a whole lot of energy by turning off the RV inverter, especially if you don’t have any appliances that need constant AC power. Remember that these RV inverters do drain batteries, even when there are no appliances connected to them.
  • The reality here is that an RV inverter draws up to 10 times more power than is required to supply an appliance that it is connected to. These things eat through battery life really quickly.
  • There is also the fact that, generally speaking, using a generator to power a variety of appliances, especially when not on the move, is a lot easier and more efficient than draining the batteries of your RV to power your microwave.
  • There is also the fact that some RV inverter manufacturers simply recommend that these devices should be turned off when not in use.

How To Switch Off Your Inverter When Not In Use

Turning off the inverter in your RV is actually very simple. Most of them just have buttons or simple on and off switches that you can press to turn on and off.

You may also be able to turn the RV inverter off by switching off the power socket that powers the inverter where it is plugged in. Simply disconnecting it will do the trick.

Inverter VS Generator For RV

You might be wondering whether you should use a battery inverter for your RV or a generator, so let’s do a very quick side-by-side comparison.

  • First and foremost, RV inverters use a heck of a lot of energy. As mentioned above, they draw up to 10 times more energy than they required to supply a connected appliance. In other words, RV inverters will drain the batteries of your RV really quickly. 
  • On the other hand, a generator does not at all rely on the batteries in your RV, but instead relies on a different fuel source. Generally speaking, this is going to be something like gasoline. One of these things drains the batteries in your RV, and the other does not.
  • It goes even further than that because where an RV inverter uses the battery power from your RV, a good generator can actually be used to charge the batteries in your RV. Most generators come with plugs, at least the good generators, that you can directly plug your RV into. 
  • With an inverter, you have to worry about the RV batteries being charged enough and in good enough condition to function for a long period of time, but with the generator, all you have to worry about is having enough gasoline or whatever fuel source the generator in question uses.
  • What you also need to be aware of, is that with a generator, you can have multiples. If you need a whole lot of power to supply many devices with electricity, then you can use multiple generators.
  • Another thing to consider here is that a good RV converter can have a lot of plugs that you can use to plug in many devices. However, depending on the generator in question, it might only have one or two plugs that you can use to power appliances.
  • Something else to consider here is the fact that gas-powered generators are extremely loud. An RV inverter does not make any noise at all. On that same note, a gas-powered generator releases a whole lot of pollution and smells really bad, like gasoline combustion. RV inverters on the other hand do not release any greenhouse gases, and they don’t make any noise either.
  • All of that being said, if you have no other power source available, and your RV batteries are dead, then you obviously won’t be able to use the inverter, in which case a good generator can be a true lifesaver.
  • If you have a good generator, and many appliances that you want to run at once, it’s probably better to run a generator than it is to use an RV inverter. That RV inverter is going to eat through the batteries of your RV really quickly, and the more appliances you have connected, the faster the batteries will go.

Do Inverters Drain Batteries?

Yes, absolutely, inverters drain batteries. As we’ve covered above, an inverter can drain up to 10 times the battery load from your RV battery as it’s actually used to supply appliances. 

Even if the RV inverter is in standby mode, it’s still going to use power. Even if your RV is parked and turned off, this can still be the case. Therefore, if you are going to use an RV inverter, you want to make sure that you have an extremely high-quality and robust battery system.

Conclusion

You should now know exactly everything there is to know about RV inverters to determine, first, and to turn them on and off, and second, if you are better off using one of these or a generator.

Madeline Cooper
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