Soon after receiving our new Cougar fifth wheel I purchased a 1000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter to be able to run our 21″ iMac computer and 32″ LCD TV while off the grid. I wanted a pure sine wave inverter to give our sensitive electronic items clean, stable, and safe power.
The unit has performed well for 18 months now with almost continuous use from our iMac even when plugged into the shore power. I’ve actually come to trust it more than shore power. The way I have installed the inverter it is completely isolated from the regular AC electrical circuits in the RV.
Several key things were necessary for a good installation.
1. Proximity to the batteries.
By being close to the batteries, the inverter is able to get maximum current when needed without losing power in the cabling. Also, there is less chance the cables will heat up under heavy loads. I have around 18 inches of 2 gauge battery cable and they never feel even warm.
2.Isolated from the batteries air space.
This one was a tough one for me. You want the inverter in a different area than your batteries for a couple of reasons. You don’t want battery gasses building up around the inverter because it can cause corrosion to the electronics or a spark from the inverter may cause an explosion. My trade-off was to put the batteries in a vented box to have the inverter very close.
Also, my front storage bay has a lot of air circulation due to the front jack leg holes being open to the air. So far it’s been a good setup with no signs of battery gasses in the compartment. This saves me from running wires 2-3 times longer and cutting holes in my fifth wheel basement storage area.
3.Enough battery capacity to run the inverter for a decent length of time between recharges and allow it to be run near max wattage.
I went with 2 – 6 Volt T-105 Trojan golf cart batteries which gave me 225 Amp Hours capacity. An upgrade from the 85AH capacity of the OEM trailer battery. A fair amount for a 1000 watt inverter. Generally, we go 2 days dry camping before needing to recharge.
4. Switchable Breaker for safety
I installed an 80 amp Breaker in the positive feed from the battery bank to the inverter’s DC input. This way if a short develops in the inverter or wiring there won’t be a meltdown or worse a fire. Since the breaker is switchable I can easily remove the inverter circuit from the batteries for maintenance or testing.
5. Air Space around the inverter
The inverter has two built-in fans so that tells us it can run hot. The best thing for long life is to make sure it can stay cool. I installed mine on the front storage compartments back wall with good fresh air circulation and space around it.
Video showing my 1000W Inverter installation
In conclusion, this has been a great upgrade to the RV and allows us to use and charge many of our electronic gadgets and watch a bit of TV without hookups. One word of advice is you get what you pay for as far as inverters go. I paid nearly $300 for mine if it is much cheaper it is probably not a Pure Sine Wave Inverter or is poor quality. Also, look for one with a remote power button. Running out to turn the inverter off before bed on a cold boondocking camp trip isn’t much fun.
*Update* after 5 years use
After having the inverter installed for 5 years, I can report the unit has performed flawlessly and met our off-grid power needs. Granted they are minimal, just computers, TV, and assorted electronics chargers, but the unit has never even had a hiccup. I’ve had many comments and questions over the years about how I installed it and why I don’t have a higher wattage unit and why I didn’t wire it directly into the RVs power panels, etc. So, I’ve decided to update this post with an additional video explaining my 1000w inverter RV installation in more depth.