But many RVs won’t need to handle this much power, or maybe you don’t have a large budget and need a more affordable, yet dependable, inverter.
In this article, I will review these top RV inverters:
- Giandel 3000W Heavy Duty Power Inverter
- Power TechON 3000W Power Inverter
- POTEK 2000W Power Inverter
- AIMS Power 5000 Watt DC To AC Power Inverter
- Power Bright PW3500-12 Power Inverter
- Xantrex PROWatt 806-1220 2000W Inverter
Because an RV runs on two types of power – 12-volt and 120-volt – having the best RV inverter for your recreational vehicle will make every camping adventure more enjoyable.
Why Your RV Needs a Power Inverter
While doing my initial research into fulltime RV life, I heard the terms “converter” and “inverter” but never paid much attention to them.
A converter changes 120-volt AC power from a campground power pedestal to 12-volt DC to supply power to the RV’s 12v circuits and to charge up the RV’s batteries.
An inverter does the opposite. Inverters take the 12-volt from the RV batteries and change it to 120-volt AC power to run your RV appliances and devices.
If you plan only to camp where you know you’ll always plug into shore power, you won’t need an inverter in your RV. But for those RVers who love to boondock and still want to use the microwave or run the air conditioner, the only way to accomplish this is with the right RV inverter and enough batteries to handle your power demands.
For RVers who rely on a bank of batteries to store solar power, the inverter becomes an even more vital component to keep your RV functioning properly.
What to Look for in an RV Inverter
Every RV will need different amounts of power to run air conditioners, appliances, and electronic devices like computers, TVs, and radios.
So how do you know how to select the correct inverter for your RV?
You need to understand your RV power needs and the input voltage, output voltage, and the frequency you run your appliances when you don’t use shore power.
Every device inside your RV will pull a specific amount of voltage, so you need to install an inverter that can safely handle the load.
There is no one-size-fits-all inverter for all RVs. Power output from your batteries is a primary factor during the selection process, but so is watts, watt-hours, amps, amp-hours, and surge ratings.
It’s not so bad once you understand the basics of RV inverters.
In simple terms, you need to find your RV wattage and surge power needs then choose an inverter that can handle it.
I will quickly explain the importance of each factor to help you better understand your specific RV power needs so you can purchase and install the correct RV inverter.
#1 – Watts
Watts are a measurement of how much power a device uses or supplies when on. If a device uses 100 watts, that number is the voltage times the amps. For example, a toaster that draws ten amps at 12 volts uses 120 watts.
#2 – Watt-Hours
A watt-hour (or kilowatt hour) is how many watts times how many hours that device is running. For example, if you use a 60-watt lightbulb for eight hours a day, you use 48 watt-hours.
#3 – Amps
An amp is a measure of electrical current at the moment of use.
For RVers, knowing your appliance amps is essential because it determines what size electrical wire you need, especially on the DC side of your inverter.
Wires that are too small for the amps running through them will get hot and can also experience drops in voltage.
You also need to know your amps so you know what appliances you can run simultaneously.
I know that in my RV I will blow my 30-amp circuit if I start the microwave while running my air conditioner because that will push me over my 30-amp allotment.
#4 – Amp-Hours
Amp-hours is the main measure of 12-volt battery capacity and will determine how long you will have power the inverter can use to run your RV 120-volt appliances.
#5 – Power and Surge Ratings of Appliances
An RV inverter needs to supply two types of power.
Peak, also known as surge power, is the amount of energy your appliance needs to start. While the average draw is the amount of power the device draws once it starts.
Appliances with motors, like your air conditioner or water pump, will need a surge of power for a short period, then the power draw will lessen during regular use.
Although each appliance inside RV models is different, here is a good reference guide that lists the average power ratings of many RV appliances to help you start determining your total power need.
A continuous power rating is usually much lower than the surge rating and is not so much a factor in choosing an inverter but for figuring out how much battery capacity you’ll need. Your battery capacity will then determine what inverter you will need.
The biggest mistake RVers make with their inverter is blaming it for power malfunctions, when the real culprit is not having enough batteries set up for the inverter to run correctly.
Your RV inverter has a rating of 4000W, but if you don’t have enough batteries behind it, don’t expect it to start your air conditioner.
#6 – Power Ratings of RV Inverters
Inverters for RVs typically come in size ratings from 1500 watts up to 5000 watts, although bigger ones are available for the needs of large, appliance-laden RVs or those who have extensive solar power setups.
The first step in choosing an inverter is knowing what the maximum surge is from your appliances, and for how long they will run at peak power. Some RVers will install an extra inverter to run a single appliance that needs extra power, to avoid buying a more expensive inverter that can run them all.
The surge rating of an appliance means that the RV inverter will have to handle an overload of watts for a short period. This surge capacity varies widely between inverter models.
The most common inverters with the lowest surge ratings are the high-speed electronic switching variety. These models typically range from 25-percent to 50-percent maximum overload, yet they can still run over 95 percent of RV appliances with no issues.
The highest surge rating models have a transformer base and low-frequency switchers that can range up to 300-percent for short periods.
For RV inverters, the high-frequency switching models allow for a less expensive, lighter, and smaller unit.
However, if you think you’ll ever need a high surge capacity because you run a high-BTU air conditioner inside your RV, you may decide on a larger, more expensive inverter, so you do not exceed its surge rating.
What Is a Sine Wave or Modified Sine Wave Inverter?
There are three major types of inverters:
- Sine wave (also known as “true” or “pure”)
- Modified sine wave
- Square wave
Brands should state in their sales information which wave type their inverter utilizes. Square-wave inverters are nearly non-existent, so I won’t get into that type.
#1 – Sine Wave Inverter
A sine wave is a natural product of rotating AC machinery, like the generator your local utility company uses to create power.
The significant advantage of sine wave inverters is that all of the appliances and devices sold on the market today are made to run best on a sine wave.
Sine wave inverters always cost more, but you can count on them to run your RV appliances problem-free.
#2 – Modified Sine Wave Inverter
A modified sine wave inverter has a modified waveform that works fine with most RV appliances, but depending on the device, you can expect a reduction of efficiency or power.
Refrigerator motors, fans, and pumps will utilize up to 20-percent more power from the modified sine wave inverter because of the lower efficiency.
Some fluorescent lights won’t be as bright or will make a humming or buzzing noise while on. Items like bread makers, light dimmers, and electronic controls for clocks or timers may not work at all on a modified sine wave inverter.
Modified sine wave RV inverters are much more affordable and may still work just fine in your RV depending on the kind of appliances and devices you intend to use.
The 6 Best RV Inverter Reviews
I review the top RV inverters in a range of power ratings to help you decide which one would be the best inverter for your motorhome, travel trailer, or any recreational vehicle, so you always have the power you need while camping.
#1 – Giandel 3000W Heavy Duty Power Inverter with Solar Controller
Best for RVers who want an inverter that can hold up to lots of road trips and can work with solar power systems.
- Remote control
- Full safety protections from overloads and more
- Durable aluminum alloy
- Built-in cooling fan
- Connect solar panels directly
- Runs plenty of appliances
- Hard to read digital display
- Modified sine wave
- Larger and heavier than other inverters
RVers are embracing solar power now more than ever. Having the Giandel 3000W Power Inverter in your RV will make running your system simple with its built-in solar controller.
Even without the need for solar-power hookups, this modified sine wave inverter provides over-voltage, under-voltage, overheating, overload, over-current, and short-circuit protection.
The robust aluminum alloy housing protects against the bumps and vibrations of RV travel. The built-in fan helps prevent circuit shortages by keeping the unit cool.
Customers like the battery charging status indicator and the integrated USB charge port. RVers also found the unit easy to install and operate, and were very happy with Giandel’s responsive customer service.
#2 – GoWISE Power PS1004 Pure Sine Wave Inverter
BEST FOR: Mid-size travel trailers and motorhomes that have enough space to house several batteries in the bank, which you’ll need to power up all your appliances.
- Pure sine wave
- Small and light
- Up to 3000W continuous power/6000W power surge
- USB port
- Five safety protection systems
- With enough batteries you can run all your appliances
- Durable construction
- May not have the power to run some RV air conditioners
- Problems with remote
The Power TechON is a great choice if you are looking for a pure sine wave 3000W inverter for your RV.
The Power TechON inverter can provide plenty of power to your appliances from your RV house batteries when your camping off-grid. The 6000W of surge power is enough to power up many RV air conditioners.
The compact design and LED light indicators make this inverter user-friendly.
Customers love the pure sine wave that delivers efficient energy to all RV appliances with no distortion or weakness. Customers also like the five modes of protection, including two cooling fans, that give them peace-of-mind that the inverter won’t overload or overheat.
#3 – POTEK 2000W Power Inverter
BEST FOR: Smaller recreational vehicles that don’t need to run an abundance of appliances.
- Six protection systems
- Three outlets built in
- USB charging port
- Efficient cooling system
- Power indicator readout
- Modified sine wave
- Not enough power for larger appliances
The POTEK 2000-watt power inverter is another favorite for RVing due to a reliable source of continuous power with a boost to 4000 watts for peak performance.
The inverter comes with three convenient outlets plus a USB charging port for electronic devices. This inverter comes as a complete kit for easy installation without having to purchase cables separately.
Customers are happy with the six integrated safety systems to keep the inverter from overloading, over-charging, overheating, and more. Customers also found the inverter super easy to install and like it’s compact and lightweight design, so it fits nicely in even small recreational vehicles.
#4 – AIMS Power 5000 Watt DC To AC Power Inverter
BEST FOR: Large toy haulers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes who camp off-grid often and still want the use of all their appliances.
- Solid construction
- Thermal cooling fan
- OEM-type use applications
- 9000W peak surge power
- Pre-wired for remote on/off switch
- AC direct-connect terminal
- Built-in safety protections
- Modified sine wave
The AIMS Power 5000 Watt DC To AC Power Inverter turns camping into glamping by providing your RV with plenty of power to run all your 120-volt appliances.
This powerful modified sine wave inverter can supply 5000 watts of maximum continuous power and keeps things safe with multiple built-in protection systems to prevent overloads and more. This 17-inch-long AIMS Power model is the best RV inverter for those who need lots of power but have space limitations.
The manufacturer made an upgrade to this model power inverter, so it works even better. The inverter has an AC direct connect terminal block for use on any application that needs 5000 watts.
Customers love the visible voltage meter to monitor battery levels, and the amp meter to watch how much current the RV is consuming. Customers also like the four AC receptacles and the sturdy, aluminum casing. They also note the unit provides up to 41 AC amps, so it becomes a back-up for running tools, compressors, and pumps if necessary.
#5 – Power Bright PW3500-12 Power Inverter
BEST FOR: Any small to medium size RV that has to run many different devices and appliances at the same time while boondock camping.
- Audible low-voltage alarm
- Durable aluminum case
- 7000 watts of peak power
- Cooling fan and safety features
- LED display of input/output wattages
- Modified sine wave
The Power Bright PW3500-12 will efficiently provide up to 3500 watts of continuous power to all your RV appliances.
The heavy-duty construction of this modified sine wave RV inverter will hold up to vibrations, and impacts while on the road. The vibrant LED display makes reading the input and output voltage easy.
Customers appreciate the straightforward installation and the audible low-voltage alarm so they can stay on top of their RV house batteries and prevent damage. They also like that the inverter has an automatic shut-off in the event of a short circuit.
#6 – Xantrex PROWatt 806-1220 2000W Inverter
BEST FOR: Small to mid-size RVs will the typical appliance power needs that also need a pure sine wave inverter, so all the devices run smoothly.
- True sine wave
- Digital display for output power/DC volts
- Multiple protection systems
- Dual GFCI AC receptacles
- Meets UL quality standards
- USB port
- Display not bright enough
- 2000 watts not enough for larger RVs
The Xantrex PROWatt 2000W Inverter is an ideal choice for RVers who need a pure sine wave inverter for their camper.
The digital display for power output and DC voltage makes it easy to keep on top of your battery performance and prevent potential damage. The device has multiple protection modes and will shut down automatically when low voltage occurs and will also set off an audible alarm.
Customers are impressed by the pure sine wave current that runs their appliances and devices with no issues. Customers like the heavy-duty terminal connectors so it can withstand harsh RV environments. They also like how the compact design makes installation even easier in tight spaces.
If you need a reliable, durable RV inverter that can handle the needs of most RVs, the Giandel brand is my top pick. With many wattage selections, you can get just the right model inverter for your travel trailer, fifth-wheel, or motorhome.
For RVers who love to camp off-grid, having a reliable power inverter is critical. My recommendation is the Giandel 3000W Heavy Duty Power Inverter.
The company keeps its customers happy with a friendly team that answers questions and quickly handles any inverter issues.
I hope this guide to the six best power inverters for your RV was helpful. Watch this short, yet informative, video for more about RV inverters and what you can expect it to do when you install one in your RV.
Do you wish you chose a different inverter for your RV? Tell us what you would change about your inverter installation so you can help your fellow RVers avoid mistakes!