Choose a Power Inverter for your RV

Finding a device to convert DC power to AC may seem like it should be a simple task, but when you start shopping for a power inverter for your RV or road trip vehicle, you'll soon find that many choices will confront you. With prices ranging from less than $40 to well into the thousands, it can be difficult to know what features are important and how to choose a unit appropriate to your needs. While wattage, features, and connections are obvious considerations, your final choice should take into account the inverter's wave form output.

There are two general types of power inverters: true-sine wave or modified-sine wave (square wave). True-sine wave inverters produce power that is either identical or sometimes slightly better to power from the public utility power grid system. The power wave when viewed through an oscilloscope is a smooth sine wave.

Modified-sine wave and square wave inverters are the most common types of power inverters on the market. Modified-sine wave power inverters produce a power wave that is sufficient for most devices. The power wave is not exactly the same as electricity from the power grid. It has a wave form that appears as a choppy squared-off wave when viewed through an oscilloscope.

What does that mean to the everyday user? Not much. Most household electrical devices will run perfectly fine on either type of wave form. Most of our customers who are using a power inverter to run a laptop, a/c cell phone charger, fan, or camera find that a modified-sine wave power inverter that operates through the cigarette lighter socket the easiest to use. We usually suggest choosing power inverters that are rated under 300 watts when using the 12-volt cigarette lighter socket found in most vehicles.

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