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If you want to operate normal household appliances in a mobile home, caravan, truck, or car, you need a voltage of 230 volts – and a voltage converter of 12V > 230V for this. Also known as inverters, power converters. Mitsubishi Air Compressor
But wait, that’s not entirely true. Standard mobile homes can use 230 volts – but only as long as they are plugged into the mains. The 230V sockets (usually) only work when standing alone. So if you want to use your usual equipment, you need a voltage converter for the motorhome
The terminology in first: what is a voltage converter?
It has many names: inverter, voltage converter, current converter, and AC-DC converter. Then there are direct current converters (DC-DC converters).
A voltage converter transforms current into the desired voltage. And is mostly used where power comes from the 12 volt battery (or 24V) and needs to be consumed with a device with a different voltage (usually 230V). There are certainly other areas of application (e.g. photovoltaics), but we are concentrating on the electricity that is stored in a mobile home battery, which is present in the onboard network of a caravan, mobile home, truck, or car.
What does an inverter do ? Most touring vehicles have a 12V battery installed in the living area. So it’s about converting this 12V DC voltage into 230V AC voltage. This is exactly what a inverter does. And I can then plug the desired device into this and consume the converted electricity.
Do i need a voltage converter?
Wait, do you need it? For almost every device with 230 volts, there is an alternative with 12 volts
You can say that it works without 230V – as long as 12 volts and gas (or diesel or an oven) are available because everything intended to generate heat or cold consumes a relatively large amount of electricity. And apart from the 12 V fridge, it won’t be easy. The 12V kettle takes an eternity to boil half a liter of water. There may be 12V air conditioners for motorhomes, but normally you need more electricity to operate them.
One thing remains to be considered: 12-volt devices are sometimes more expensive. It says “camping” on it, and camping accessories are generally more expensive. So the question arises as to what is more expensive: purchasing a converter or new equipment, especially for mobile homes, trailers, trucks, or cars?
The best example is the 12V compressor refrigerator – unspeakable prices are called here. They cost many times more than normal refrigerators.
Tip: Inverter for the laptop? no
A laptop normally needs about 19V DC. 230V AC voltage comes out of a socket. When we operate a notebook as an inverter, the following happens: the voltage converter converts 12V to 230V, and the notebook power supply converts 230V to 18V. So once up and down, including two losses due to conversion. It doesn’t need that. There are 12V notebook power supplies, some from the manufacturer (e.g. Lenovo), but above all from Hama (with adapter for all laptops) and for Apple. However, please note: our high-performance laptops draw 10 amperes under full load (video editing, playing games).
If the cable behind the 12V socket is 3 meters long and the laptop draws up to 10 amps, then the calculation is 10 amps: 5.5 x 3 meters cable length = at least 5.5mm² cable cross-section. It should therefore be laid 6mm², with longer lines also gladly more.
We have two such laptops at the start, and our 12V cables are too thin – which is why we currently operate them with a 230V inverter. We do that until someone feels like laying new cables. This inverter is 300 watts and has a pure sine wave. It’s only there for laptops and to charge the cordless vacuum cleaner.
Which inverter is right for me?
There are countless voltage converters on the market. So let’s distinguish:
SINE: Modified sine and pure sine wave inverters
VOLTAGE: Voltage converter for 12V to 230V (car), 24V to 230V (truck), 12V to 110V (USA)
Renogy: Power converters with power from 150 watts to 3000 watts (there are even bigger ones)
COMBI: Voltage converters that can convert the current in both directions: 230V > 12V to charge the battery, and 12/24V to 230V, to consume the current. Or for feeding into a power grid (home network).
Sine wave inverters pure or modified sine wave?
Probably the most common starting position at all. The counter-question is always: which coffee machine, a simple one or a capsule/pad machine? Not every inverter turns 12-volt direct current into usable 230-volt alternating current. Especially the cheaper voltage converters only generate a “modified sine wave.” However, many devices require a “pure sine wave.” Otherwise, they either don’t work at all, or only a little bit or they bite the dust.
Ø Functioning with modified sine: non-electronically controlled devices such as toasters, kettles, simple coffee machines
Ø Mostly, but not always: radio, television, laptop
Ø Devices that cannot walk or break: laptop, pad and capsule machines,
Ø Plug in and instantly turn into e-waste: electric toothbrush (or at least the one from Oral B)
Ø (Almost) pure sine wave from the cheap sine wave inverter
Sinus inverters are significantly more expensive. Anyone who wants to save money here and would like to look around on eBay for a cheap voltage converter with a pure sine wave should know: It’s not always a pure sine wave that says sine wave on it. It may just be sine-like. The same applies to power generators. Cheap devices cause problems because they do not generate a pure sine wave. So it can happen that the battery charger in the mobile home does not want to use the electricity from the generator. But this only marginally.
Conclusion: pure sine is better and has its price
It can go well with a cheap sine wave inverter from China – and it can also go wrong. I did the test myself, almost involuntarily, when I let two 1500-watt voltage converters burn out when I was converting my mobile home. Cheap Chinese products, even if they had a German company name on them. The third, on the other hand, another made in the middle price segment, still lasts three years without a single failure. Nevertheless, I would buy a higher-quality voltage converter today. Smoke in the motorhome is not a nice experience.
If you don’t want to connect any devices with sensitive electronics to your inverter, you can use the much cheaper voltage converter with a modified sine wave. Or a cheap Chinese part, with a supposedly pure sine wave, that won will make a small difference in price.
150 watt to 3000 watt which inverter power when makes sense
The maximum power a voltage converter must be able to provide depends on what you want to operate with it. The basic rule is: the smaller the inverter is dimensioned, the more energy-efficient it is. However, if it is dimensioned too small, that’s nothing either, so you buy twice.
The starting current must also be taken into account. As a rule, twice the value of the nominal power (continuous power) is given. For a 1000 watt inverter, that is 2000 watts. Some devices require a high current for a very short time to reach operating temperature. Electrical tools, for example, where a 10-fold power requirement is quite possible. It gets stupid if this starting current lasts longer – for example, my small 230V compressor fridge does not need 50 watts when it is running, but it needs 500 watts for the first 5 seconds. This is too long to count as starting current, so the continuous output of the inverter is designed accordingly.
We have two 12V inverters in the mobile home, one large and one small.
Large 3000w power inverter : is only switched on when required for the coffee machine, induction hob, hot water by electricity, and oven.
Small inverter 300 watts: runs 24 hours a day, the two laptops and the battery-powered vacuum cleaner are attached to it.
Why two inverters in a mobile home?
The larger the voltage converter is dimensioned, the higher its no-load current. An inverter consumes electricity even when it is not converting electricity. But he could do it at any time if he wanted to, and this on-call service costs more with a larger inverter than a small one. That doesn’t matter in the summer when the solar system constantly pumps electricity into the batteries – but it does in the winter half of the year when the sun is low in the sky, and the sky is often overcast.
What do you have to pay attention to when buying an inverter?
Ø Usability via remote control or app
Ø FI circuit breakers may already be integrated
Ø Two outgoing sockets make sense with an inverter with a lot of power.
Ø Stable design and careful processing
Ø Lowest possible idle power consumption
Only some people need all of these features. You can easily build a remote control yourself to conveniently switch the voltage converter on/off. However, a corresponding connection socket should already be available for this. If you don’t want to be able to switch off your inverter, you should pay even more attention to low power consumption in sleep mode. For those who need it frequently, efficiency plays a greater role.
Even this small 12-volt inverter has several connections: VE. Direct is for a data cable (PC) or Bluetooth dongle (smartphone) and for making settings. The Remote is for connecting a remote control (a cable with an on/off switch will also suffice). Grounding on the right. Here you can connect a cable to the ground, e.g. the body.
These small inverters are plentiful on Amazon, are also sold as “sockets for the car,” and come with a 12V plug for the cigarette lighter. The wiring of these cigarette lighters is often not very generously dimensioned! A 300-watt voltage converter cannot be operated with this!
Small voltage converters up to 300 watts are suitable for: laptops, battery chargers, televisions, stereo systems, electric toothbrushes, and razors.
Medium-sized voltage converters, 600W 1200W
Suitable for small hair dryers, toasters, hand blenders, small fan heaters, 230V refrigerators, or for simultaneously operating several devices with lower power consumption.
For power-hungry devices such as coffee pad machines, infrared hotplates, ovens, microwaves.
Battery inverter is also a very good choice. In addition to converting DC power into AC power for electrical appliances, the battery inverter can also charge your RV battery.
Press Release Distributed by The Express Wire
To view the original version on The Express Wire visit Buying and Installing the Right Inverter for Your RV
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