Best Converter Charger
IOTA Engineering DLS-45
There is no doubt this is the best RV converter on our list. The IOTA Engineering DLS-45 is an excellent, all-around converter that leaves nothing to be desired. This product provides a high-performance experience and outshines the competition time after time in RV power converter reviews. On top of that, it is lightweight and compact, measuring a mere 9.7 x 6.7 x 3.4 inches. That’s a whole lot of quality packed into a small box.
The DLS-45 is a genuine four-stage deep cycle battery charger with the addition of the IQ4 battery charger controller which should help extend your batteries life. It provides clean DC power so you can run any electronics you want without fear of damage. It’s also saddled with all available safety features and is UL-listed. What’s best about this RV 12 volt converter is its durability, it works well and it works for a long time, making it an excellent investment.
Best RV Converter: Transforming Your RV Lifestyle
Wouldn’t it be nice if all appliances would work in a recreational vehicle by the simple fact of plugging them in? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Some items run on AC (alternating current) power while others run on DC (direct current) power. In some instances, you’ll need to connect AC to DC power, and that’s where an RV power converter comes in.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about choosing an excellent RV converter.
Looking to Buy a New 12v Power Converter?
- When you’ll need a power converter for RV use
- Features to look for in an RV converter box
- Often asked questions about power converters for RVs
- The best RV converters on the market
AC Power Converters: Buyer’s Guide
The electrical system in recreational vehicles is complicated and can become a headache if you aren’t at least an amateur electrician. With this being said, you don’t have to know everything about electricity to choose an excellent RV converter charger for your RV. Before jumping into what you should be looking for, let’s answer an important question.
What is a Camper Power Converter, and Do I Need One?
As briefly suggested in the introduction, an AC power converter will convert 120 volt AC down to 12 volt DC power. You need this conversion because most recreational vehicles have both AC and DC power systems.
The batteries, lights, fans, TVs, and other electronics requiring a small amount of power run from the DC power system. The appliances and electronic devices in your RV that draw a lot of energy, such as the refrigerator, air conditioner, heater, run from the AC electrical system.
So what does this mean regarding an RV converter charger?
Think of an RV converter as a way to transfer power from one medium to another. For example, city power is on an AC supply, but your recreational vehicle batteries are on DC power. The converter allows for AC power to charge your batteries and DC-powered devices, while simultaneously providing power to those AC-powered electronics in your camper.
In short, if you have an RV and plan to hook up to shore power for your power supply, then you need a power converter for your vehicle.
Other Converter Scenarios
Running Your RV Off of Shore Power
With the above being said, you can run everything in your RV from the batteries without a converter charger if you have an inverter to transform DC current to AC current. Still, you would only be able to do this temporarily. You’ll probably only be able to run the basics like lights and small electronic devices. Systems like the heat or the AC will drain your battery power quickly.
It’s much smarter to use a power supply converter charger to hook up to the campground pedestal at an RV park.
Using a generator for your power source is in some ways similar to hooking up to a power pedestal at an RV park, as it provides AC power and so you’ll need a power converter to use it. Some generators are inverter generators, but most likely you won’t find any with a built-in converter. Keep in mind that hooking up to the campground pedestal will provide more juice than generator power, so you may still want to hook up to shore power at some point.
If you have a modern power system in your RV that uses solar power, you’re in luck. You don’t necessarily have to have a converter because solar power is on DC power.
But before you ditch the travel trailer converter idea…
Solar power isn’t anywhere near as powerful a power source as hooking up to a campground pedestal. It’s also dependent on factors such as weather or environment. Solar power systems are designed to charge your RV batteries, not necessarily run your appliances and electronic devices. You may want to have an electricity converter charger handy in case you’re in a scenario where mains power is going to work better than solar energy.
Alternatively, there are DC-to-DC solar power RV converters that will increase the amount of energy that your solar panels collect. It also regulates the current so that it’s more consistent.
What You Should Look for in an RV Electrical Converter
Now you know for sure that you need a power converter, the next step is figuring out the best RV converter for your particular needs. Price plays a significant role, of course, but it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. Other aspects you should consider are:
- Amperage (Amps)
- Battery Charging
- Size and Weight
- Safety Features
One of the most significant factors to consider when purchasing a travel trailer power converter is how many amps it is. Amps are the measurement for the current, which can be thought of as the rate that electricity flows through the RV converter. RV power converters come in a range of different amps, but in some cases, the lower-amp RV converter chargers may not be suitable.
This is because when hooking up to shore power for your power supply, you’ll have three-amp options: 50 amps, 30 amps, and 15-20 amps. At 15-20 amps, you’ll barely be able to run what you need in your recreational vehicle. Thirty amps is a decent amount, but if you have at least a 50-amp RV converter, you won’t have to pick and choose what to run at any one time.
Keep in mind that while 50-amp 12 volt DC converters can work in a 30-amp hookup, 30-amp converters can’t work in the 50 amp. This is another reason to go for a larger amp RV converter.
Most travel trailer power converters will charge your RV batteries too, but you should be aware of the different types of RV converters & RV battery chargers available to buy.
The first type is a single-stage battery charger. These are designed to charge your batteries quickly. The downside is that they charge at one battery voltage (one rate), and can easily over-charge your batteries. This will lead to damage to your batteries down the line.
The second type is multi-stage battery charging. This type is sometimes called a smart RV converter charger. It charges in different stages (rates) to prevent over-charging and consequently battery damage, thus extending battery life. The most popular is a four-stage battery charger.
Size and Weight
Most RV converters are lightweight and small. The average weight ranges from five to ten pounds. The size can vary a little more than the weight. There isn’t a standard size for 12 volt power converters so if you have a space you plan to store it in your RV, you’ll want to measure up first.
As with any electronic device, there is potential for hazards like shocks or fires. Because of this, you should choose converter chargers that have built-in safety features. At a minimum, the power converter should have thermal/overheating protection. Other great safety features are reverse polarity protection and overload protection.
Best RV Power Converter: The Results
PowerMax PM3-55 55-Amp
For an economy option, the PowerMax PM3-55 has many features to rival the most premium alternatives on the market. This makes it the best option for people on a budget. It is a 55-amp camper converter that offers three-stage charging for your recreational vehicle.
It weighs 7 pounds and measures 9.5 x 7.8 x 3.5 inches and with mounting flanges, it is simple to install and hardwire into your RVs electrical system.
The PM3-55 has the favorite basic features, such as LED indicator lights and a quiet-ish cooling fan. It also has the option to choose between three-stage or fixed voltage charging. It has high protection (reverse polarity, thermal, and overload) along with a two-year warranty.
Overall, it’s an excellent power converter charger for RV use for a wide range of vehicles. There is however one thing we would like to see the manufacturer work on. The fan, as we said before, is quiet-ish. However, it does cycle on and off a little too frequently. Eventually, this can become annoying if you have to listen to it all day. However, this is a small sacrifice for an affordable unit with great features.
- Three-stage or single-stage
- Three major protection systems
- Can be wired in series or parallel
- Fan can be annoying
Bottom-Line: The PM3-55 from PowerMax is very affordable, with a lot of great features.
Arterra WFCO WF-9855 55-Amp T
Best Ease of Use
RV converters aren’t heavy, but if you want the lightest high-quality product out there, then the 55-amp WFCO WF-9855 is a great choice. Weighing only 4.33 pounds, it’s straightforward to handle. It measures 11.6 x 6.5 x 4.3 inches, which is a good, average size.
The WF-9855 is a versatile, deck mount converter unit. It is FCC Class B compliant and has overload and short circuit protective features. It’s a three-stage battery charger with fully insulated DC connections. The WFCO WF-9855 is easy to install, so if you’re looking for a hassle-free option, this is the one.
One thing to note about this product is that the parts don’t seem to be as “high-quality” as others. We’re not saying it’s not a good product, it just seems to be made of cheap parts. However, since it comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, you can rest assured that the parts are covered.
- Automatic shut down
- Easy installation
- Covered DC inputs
- Parts seem to be cheaper than others
- Mounting holes are smaller than average
Bottom-Line: The WF-9855 is excellent for people who may not know a lot about RV converter chargers or electricity since it is so easy to use.
Progressive Dynamics PD9270CV Inteli Power 9200 Series Converter
Best Heavy-Duty Construction
The top-quality Dynamics PD9270CV is a powerful 70-amp converter that is consistently highly rated. It’s lightweight and small, so easy to handle and will fit just about anywhere. It measures 9.15 x 7.38 x 3.6 inches and weighs 5.8 pounds. Despite being lightweight, it is made of a heavy-duty steel encasing that is very durable.
The PD9270CV has a few extra safety functions as compared to the previous two power converters. These include low line voltage protection, electronic current limiting, reverse battery protection, high voltage protection, and thermal protection. It also has a variable speed intelligent cooling fan that changes speed depending upon the unit’s needs.
The most impressive feature however is the built-in charge wizard, essentially making it a three-stage battery charger. It can connect to a remote pendant, which allows you to monitor the charge level and switch between stages manually.
The only concern we have about this product (and it’s not a significant concern) is that at the price range, it should be a four-stage battery charger. However, this doesn’t seem to affect the performance at all.
- Remote pendant allows manual control
- Variable-speed cooling fan
- Made in the USA
- High quality, heavy-duty construction
- Doesn’t have fourth stage
- Remote pendant is a separate purchase
Bottom-Line: The PD2970CV is highly durable and great for people who may be traveling in rough terrain.
IOTA Engineering DLS-45
The IOTA DLS-45 is a remarkable piece of equipment and was easily assigned our top RV power converter prize. It’s a 55-amp converter that provides efficient and clean power.
At five pounds and 9.7 x 6.7 x 3.4 inches, it’s small, lightweight, and easy to handle. It has all the safety features you can think of, such as electronic current limiting and protection against short circuits. It works well, and for a long time, so it is unlikely you will need to fish out the two-year warranty that this product comes with.
It is compatible with a smart charge controller called the IQ4 which triggers the four-stage charging, so you’ll want to pick this up along with the DLS-45. If you are in the market for something to safely charge your battery bank, then the IOTA may be just the option you are looking for.
Nearly everything about this product is excellent, but the fact that the four-stage battery charging isn’t built-in is a little awkward. However, since the charge controller works well, we can overlook this little hiccup.
- Extremely durable
- Excellent customer service from IOTA
- Super clean DC
- Four-stage charging only with the controller
- No manual control of four-stage battery charging
Bottom-Line: The IOTA DLS-45 works well, is durable, and easy to use making it the best RV converter charger on our list.
IOTA DLS-30 Engineering Power
Best 30 Amps
If you’re in the market for nothing stronger than a 30-amp power converter, the IOTA DLS-30 is an excellent choice. Although it may not perform at the same level as higher amp versions of the DLS-series, it performs well enough for someone who only needs 30 amps or less.
It’s a single-stage unit with 13.6 volts DC output. It’s compatible with the IOTA IQ4 smart charge controller to turn it into a multi-stage converter battery charger. We like the fact that it only uses 400 continuous watts so you can reserve even more power for the things you need the most.
The DLS-30 is like a “step-down” version, so it’s only about 80% efficient. Another thing to consider is that it only outputs 13.6 volts for the bulk stage, instead of the preferred 14.4, but it will still give your acid batteries a good, fast charge in this stage.
- Can be used as a multi-stage battery charger
- Has all four major protection systems
- Quiet cooling fan operation
- Only 80% efficient
- Low DC voltage output
Bottom-Line: This is an excellent product for people who may have a small recreational vehicle and only need to run a few systems.
PowerMax PM4-55 Power
PowerMax makes excellent products, and the PM4-55 is no exception. Although it’s very similar to the PM3-55, the big difference is that it’s a four-stage, instead of a three-stage, charger. This is a high-quality, 55-amp power model that is simple to install and use. It’s an efficient, quiet piece of equipment that will still give enough power to run multiple appliances in your recreational vehicle including the air conditioner.
The PM4-55 has reverse polarity, overload, and thermal protection. It has a sturdy construction, so can handle a few bumps traveling on the road. It’s a little bigger and heavier than most, measuring 12.3 x 9.1 x 5 inches, and weighing 6.45 pounds. Not at all unmanageable but size may be an issue if it can’t fit into certain spaces.
There is however one apparent hiccup with this product. It’s advertised as a four-stage, but it only automatically adjusts to three stages. The last stage must be set manually using a digital voltmeter. This can be difficult, especially once the unit is installed.
- Durable, rugged construction
- Quiet operation of fan
- Built-in smart charger for your batteries
- Fourth-stage takes a manual adjustment
- No low voltage protection
Bottom-Line: Despite the fourth-stage adjustment inconvenience, the PM4-55 is a great, affordable product that performs well.
Progressive Dynamics PD4655V
Most Safety Features
The Progressive Dynamics PD4655V is an RV power converter replacement that can replace damaged converters of different brands. It’s a 55-amp converter and can be considered an upgrade to most of the converters on the market. It’s highly efficient and much more advanced than your average model.
The PD4655V is a bit on the large side at 13.25 x 8 x 5.38 and weighing around 10 pounds. It features many protection systems, including thermal, over-voltage, under-voltage, thermal, and reverse polarity. It also has electronic current limiting. It features Progressive Dynamics’ Charge Wizard, which is their fancy way of saying automatic four-stage charging.
While this is the new and improved version of Progressive Dynamics converters, it’s a bit pricey for only an RV converter replacement part instead of the whole system. However, the quality and performance are worth every dollar.
- It is one of the best converters on the market
- Variable-speed fan
- Batteries reach 90% in six hours or less
- Only comes as a replacement part
- Fan is noisy
Bottom-Line: This is an excellent choice for people who need to replace the interior parts of their converter without having to replace the whole thing.
Go Power! GPC-55-MAX
Most Trusted Brand
Selecting a great brand can be just as important as choosing an excellent converter. One brand that is consistently rated highly for their products is Go Power! Often many of their products are even pre-installed on many recreational vehicles. They are a trusted brand, so you’ll likely be safe when investing in the GPC-55-MAX.
This 55-amp converter is a true four-stage converter that will quickly charge your batteries while protecting them from damage. It’s great for lead acid batteries and banks of up to six RV batteries. It also comes with a 15A male plug for easy installation. This model measures 12.7 x 9 x 5.1 inches and weighs five pounds.
We’ll point out that the fan can be a little noisy. It’s also not completely clean – you may hear a low noise in some of your electronics. However, it’s not so bad that it’s a deal-breaker.
- Works for up to six batteries
- Charges wet cell batteries to fully charged
- Male 15A plug makes installation a breeze
- Fan is a little noisy
- May have some static in electronics
Bottom-Line: If you need a workhorse converter and don’t mind a little bit of noise, the Go Power! GPC-55-MAX is a perfect choice.
Last update on 2021-10-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API