Best RV Inverter
BCI 3,000-Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Out of our list of nine inverters, we chose the BCI 3,000-Watt Pure Sine Wave as best RV inverter. It has great versatility, and with an attractive price tag, this campervan inverter has a lot to offer!
This is one of the few options on our list that can even be used in freezing temperatures. That alone sets it apart from competitors. It’s also safe for your cellphones, laptops, and other sensitive devices. Whilst it doesn’t have a USB port for these types of electronics, you can power them through the AC sockets with peace of mind.
If that’s not enough, it is lightweight and small measuring 16.9 x 7.1 x 5.5 inches and weighing under 15 pounds. Most 12v inverters that perform at this caliber are bulky and heavy, so we appreciate the ease of use with this model.
In an ideal world we would have liked the warranty to be longer than one year, but this little issue is far out-shined by the array of features on offer coupled with the fact that this product will last a long time if it is taken care of
How to Choose a Great RV Inverter
If you’re reading this article, you may already know what an inverter is, but in case you don’t, here is the basic lowdown. An inverter converts the direct current power from your 12-volt RV deep cycle battery into alternating current (AC) power so that you can use your 120-volt appliances inside your RV. The RV inverter holds power from the battery and sends it to single sockets or to a breaker panel.
Some recreational vehicles come equipped with power inverters, but many do not. In the case of the ones that don’t, you’ll more than likely need an RV inverter at some point. This can be avoided if you have a generator that has it already built-in. However, it may be more cost-effective to get an RV power inverter rather than a generator. Keep in mind that the more power you need, the larger your RV power inverter needs to be.
Now that you know what an inverter does, let’s get to what you need to know to choose the best power inverter for RV or caravan use.
Looking for the Best Inverter for Your RV?
- Why you need a motorhome inverter
- What you should consider when buying.
- Reviews of the best RV power inverters on the market
- Our unbiased recommendation on the top RV inverter
What Does an RV Inverter Do & Why Do You Need One?
An Inverter for your motorhome or camper is a device that will transform DC power from a power source such as solar panels or your house battery into AC power. If you plan to do any boondocking, or camping off-grid then an inverter is likely a must if you want to power certain devices from your AC wiring system. Typically input and output voltage will go from 12 volts of DC power supply to an AC voltage of 110 volts.
Want a deeper understanding of how RV electrical systems work? Check out our guide on RV Electrical & Power Systems 101.
If on the other hand, you plan to spend all your time in your rig hooked up to shore power, then such devices are probably not a necessity.
Important Factors in Choosing the Correct Inverter for Your RV
What Luxuries Can You Not Live Without?
A large part of choosing the right RV power inverter is going to depend on what you need it to power. RV appliances that use a heating element generally require a lot less power to start up than electronics that have a motor, which in turn use a lot less power than things like a hairdryer or television. You must add together all the power ratings/watts of the electronics and appliances you’ll be powering and then get a van inverter with a power rating that matches or is higher. We explain more about watts in the next section.
As stated before, the total watts of your electronic devices need to be less than or equal to your inverter’s watts. However, there is a small catch with this. Most electronics that have motors have two different watts ratings. One rating, usually the higher one, is the starting watts. This is how many watts are required to get the appliance going. The second rating is the running watts, also called the rated watts. This is how much watts are needed to keep the electronics going after it’s been started up.
When adding up the watts of your electronics, use the starting watts. Otherwise, you may end up with a model that isn’t powerful enough to turn the electronics on.
Just as some electronics have two watts ratings, so do RV inverters. This can get confusing so let’s break this down.
Inverters have what is called continuous watts and surge watts. Continuous watts are much like the running watts of electronics, while surge watts are like starting watts of electronics. The difference is that surge watts are only useful over a certain length of time – usually a matter of seconds. This gives RV power inverters with smaller continuous watts ratings the ability to handle high levels of starting watts just long enough to get things going.
Having a good surge watts rating can help you to save money because you won’t have to get the largest-rated model to start electronics up. However, it may be beneficial for you to splurge on a higher-rated model if you plan to use all these electronics often.
Modified Sine Wave Inverters vs. Pure Sine Wave Inverters
These names may sound highly scientific, but they’re straight-forward.
Appliances run on AC power, which looks like a sine wave. Pure sine wave inverters convert the direct current power to a sine wave so that appliances can use it. Modified sine wave power inverters also convert the DC power to a sine wave, but it’s more choppy and has a square wave output instead of being a smooth curve. This causes appliances and devices to have a lower performance than they would on pure sine wave power inverters
While certain smaller appliances such as griddles or microwaves can get by with a modified sine wave model, in the long run, these types of devices may damage them. Other types of appliances may not work at all on modified sine wave inverters. For sensitive electronics such as cell phones or laptops, modified square wave inverters should be avoided altogether.
So, if the modified sine wave option for inverters isn’t that great for appliances, why buy them at all? The answer to this question is simple: price. This type tends to cost much less than PSW inverters. Our advice is to stick with a pure sine wave version to make sure that all your appliances and devices stay safe. However, if you want to save a few bucks, stick with simple appliances and go for the modified option.
Size and Weight
You probably already have a lot of camping gear, so the idea of having a gigantic, heavy inverter may be a turn-off. Unfortunately, the size (dimensions) and weight r is usually indicative of the amount of power it can convert. If you are only powering small appliances without motors, you can get away with a small, portable model. For everything else, you’ll have to scoot that gear over to make room for a big, heavy piece of equipment.
The above advice should prepare you for shopping for an RV inverter. By arming yourself with the information we’ve given you, you can be sure to be able to pick out the best power inverter for your RV needs. We’ve kickstarted your shopping spree with nine of the best RV inverters on the market today.
The Best Pure Sine Wave Inverter Reviews
AIMS Power 3,000-Watt Pure Sine Inverter
We’ll start this list off with an industrial-grade pure sine power inverter. The AIMS is one of the top RV inverters for being extraordinarily well-designed and manufactured. It has a surge capacity of an incredible 9,000 watts for up to 20 seconds. That’s a 300% surge, which is rare for a commercial model.
This option has a lot of features, but one of the most impressive is the built-in battery RV inverter charger that charges at 100 amps. It’s adjustable from 0 percent to 100 percent so you can have more control over how fast and how much the battery is charged. This comes in handy if you happen to have a small battery.
Unfortunately, it only has two 110-volt standard power outlets, which, for the price is disappointing. However, we are so impressed with the overall quality that we can overlook this (it’s nothing that a good power strip can’t fix). The AIMS 3,000-watts is 16.48 x 8.74 x 7.10 inches and weighs 64 pounds. It’s a fair-sized inverter with a lot of high-quality tech packed into a little box.
- Optional on/off remote with LCD
- Can be customized to auto-start a generator
- It’s high-quality, industrial-grade
- Battery charger
- Alternating current bypass is sometimes faulty
- It’s loud
Bottom-Line: This industrial-grade option is a powerhouse that will power almost anything if you can splurge on the price.
Power TechON GoWISE 3000-Watt
Best Camper Inverter
If you prefer a lightweight option, the PowerTechON 3,000-watt only weighs a little over 14 pounds and measures 22 x 9.3 x 4 inches. It’s one of the lightest devices you can find as it is fairly basic with the parts being on the cheap end, but it is suitable for light-duty use, being best suited for camper usage.
With 3,000 running watts and 6,000 surge Watts, the PowerTechON can handle low to medium wattage electronic devices and appliances. It has four outlets. Three of them are standard 110-volt outlets, and the last one is a USB port.
The Power TechON boasts five different protection systems. These are thermal, under-voltage, over-voltage, overload, and low voltage. Most devices have these five systems, so it’s not a unique point, but it is nice to have them in place.
- Plenty of outlets, including a USB port
- Remote on/off switch included
- Only one alert light for all five protection systems
- Made of cheap parts
Bottom-Line: This is a great option for campers who have a lot of lower-powered appliances and electronics to plug up.
WindyNation Vertamax 3,000-Watt
Best Complete Kit
We call this a no-hassle option because it comes with a complete installation kit. You won’t need to worry about matching and buying additional parts. It’s high-quality, manufactured very well, sturdy, and performs at an outstanding level.
The WindyNation Vertamax features three standard 110-volt outlets. Like most of the options on this list, it can handle 3,000 continuous watts and 6,000 surge watts and has a continuous power output frequency of 60Hz. It weighs 15.4 pounds and measures 16.7 x 10.3 x 3.7 inches. It’s very lightweight but has the performance level of some of the heavier devices.
We like the fact that it has three fans to keep it cool. It comes with the same six protection systems as the BCI version. We also like the fact that there is a switch that allows the display panel to switch between direct current volts and alternating current volts.
- Included battery cables are pure copper
- Each outlet has an individual circuit breaker
- You have the option to hardwire it to your RV
- Some of the parts seem less durable than others
- Short warranty period
Bottom-Line: This WindyNation Vertamax isn’t the best or the worst, but it is a complete solution that saves you time and a headache.
Go Power! GP-SW3000-12
The Go Power! has a great, quality construction that isn’t seen in a lot of rv inverters. It is made with all-metal, durable housing, and is evidently a long-lasting product. Despite this, it still comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty in the case of defects.
With 3,000 continuous watts and 6,000 surge watts, you’ll be able to run a host of appliances and electronics with this option. It is incredibly efficient and stable. The Go Power! only has two standard 110-volt outlets, and we wish it had more. However, this is easily fixed with a power strip, so we’ll overlook this minor inconvenience.
This model comes with the price tag of a high-quality item, but it’s worth every penny for a product that’s going to continuously perform at an outstanding level. The Go Power! measures 17.8 x 6.5 x 8.2 inches and weighs 21 pounds.
- Outlets are GFCI protected
- Has a two-year warranty
- Power save mode sometimes doesn’t wake up when it’s supposed to
Bottom-Line: Efficiency is important with inverters for RV use, and this one converts direct current power to a replica of alternating current household power.
Best for Motorhome Use
The BCI 3,000-Watt is a great, lightweight, high-quality product that can work well in a variety of situations. It’s a pure sine wave power inverter with a continuous power output frequency of 60Hz. It has a surge capacity rating of up to 6,000 watts and can handle up to 3,000 watts continuously. With four standard 110-volt outlets, this model can handle a multitude of electronics and appliances.
While it is a bit limited by the fact that it only has AC outlets, it makes up for this limitation in other areas. Like other devices on this list it has six protection systems, plus an added reverse polarity system. It has dual 2.5-inch cooling fans and two LCD panels so you can keep up with real-time system information.
The BCI 3,000-Wat only comes with a one-year warranty. However, if used correctly it has been shown to continue working well far beyond this time frame. This model measures 16.9 x 7.1 x 5.5 inches and weighs just under 15 pounds.
- This is a pure sine wave RV inverter
- Works great in cold/freezing temperatures
- Can work in up to 90% humidity
- Short warranty period
- No USB ports
Bottom-Line: This is an excellent, safe RV inverter for anything you want to power and at a moderate price point.
The Best Modified Sine Wave Power Inverters Reviewed
Ampeak 2,000-watt 12-volt RV
Here is a good budget option for those who need to save a few bucks. This Ampeak model can handle up to 4,000 surge watts and 2,000 running watts. While it’s not built for heavy-duty use, large appliances, or sensitive electronics, it is useful if you need a cheap option for simple things. We like that the manufacturer clearly states what this product is not suitable for, so you know upfront what it’s capable of.
This Ampeak model is for someone who needs to run small, simple appliances. What it does run, it runs exceptionally well for a cheap RV inverter. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does have three standard 110-volt outlets and five protection systems like most of the other devices.
The Ampeak is very compact. It only weighs a little over 8 pounds and measures 10.3 x 8.2 x 3.4 inches. It’s not made to last as long as other devices, but if you’re only going to use it lightly, it will last a good while.
- Very easy to set up and use
- Can be used with optional remote switch
- Extremely budget-friendly
- It’s a modified sine wave inverter
- Only comes with an 18-month warranty
Bottom-Line: If you are on a tight, strict budget and you need to power simple appliances, this is a great choice.
KRIËGER K3000-Watt 12V
Here is another lightweight option that is very similar to the Power TechON, but with a few minor upgraded features. It’s suitable for light-duty use and comes with a three-year warranty.
The KRIËGER K3000 handles up to 6,000 surge watts and has two standard 110-volt outlets, as well as two USB ports. Since it is not a pure sine wave inverter it is slightly confusing that it has USB ports. It is generally not a good idea to power sensitive electronics with these types of rv inverters, nonetheless, they are there if you choose to risk it. We like the fact that it has a small LCD that gives readings on the different systems inside. The display only gives numbers, but it’s better than being entirely in the dark.
This model is very compact and easy to use. It measures 13.19 x 5.67 x 4.88 inches and only weighs 7.58 pounds. There is also a five protection system, as seen with the Power TechON, including thermal shutdown as well as a short-circuit protection shutdown.
- Comes with a built-in hardwire kit
- It has a wired remote control
- 3000 watts of continuous power
- It’s a modified sine wave model
- Battery cables are short (3 ft long)
Bottom-Line: If space is an issue, this is a great, compact, lightweight option that can fit almost anywhere.
Best Heavy Duty Usage
This is a high-quality, premium RV inverter that offers a high level of performance (with a premium price tag to match). While it can only handle 2,000 continuous watts, it can handle up to 12,000 surge watts. This makes it perfect for large appliances that have heating elements such as industrial ovens and more. It has two AC lines (no outlets).
Another attractive feature of this model is the number of automatic functions that it performs. When AC power is available, it automatically charges batteries. It also automatically passes the power from the AC power source directly to the appliances or electronics, saving the battery power for backup. When the alternating current power is disrupted, it automatically switches back to inverting direct current battery power.
This was designed for heavy-duty use with little to no physical monitoring so you can spend your time focusing on what matters most. It’s truly a “set it and forget it” piece of equipment. This is not a portable model. It will have to be hardwired into your RV, and you’ll need to purchase the basic remote panel separately.
This model weighs 45 pounds and measures 7.9 x 11.5 x 13.2”.
- Automatic functions are very convenient
- Has automatic battery temperature sensing
- Power-sharing prevents tripping of the internal circuit breaker
- Troubleshooting LED light is complicated to figure out
- It’s a modified sine wave inverter
Bottom-Line: This is an excellent model with an incredible surge watt rating that is suitable for heavy-duty and even professional-grade appliances.
Peak PKC0AW 3,000-Watt
We included this option on the list because it’s great value. While we won’t go so far as to call it a budget option, it is on the lower end of the RV inverter price spectrum, and it does have many attractive features. One of the main things we like about it is the fact that it has four standard 110-volt sockets plus one USB port. This allows you to plug up several appliances or electronics without needing an extension cord or power strip. Many of the premium inverters for RVs on this list don’t even have this many options. Unfortunately, it’s a modified sine wave inverter, so you can’t charge or power sensitive electronics from the USB port.
The Peak PKC0AW can handle up to 3,000 continuous watts and 6,000 watts of surge power. This is average as far as other models on the list; however, we will admit that this option may not be able to handle 3,000 continuous watts. Therefore, you may be better off keeping your continuous watts at 2,000 or lower and in doing so you are sure to have a great product without spending a fortune. The Peak PKC0AW is very lightweight and compact measuring in at 20.8 x 9.8 x 5.9 inches and weighing a little over 17 pounds. This makes it very easy to work with.
- Has a wired remote on/off switch
- Comes with everything you need to hardwire it to your RV
- Safety features such as overload protection
- Inefficient with power conversion
- Can easily overheat
Bottom-Line: If you need an RV inverter for simple things and are not concerned about the specs and details, the Peak PKC0AW is a decent choice.
Last update on 2022-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API