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Old 01-10-2022, 12:19 PM   #1
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boondocking and inverter

To avoid arguments between hubby and I please answer this simple question. We are presently not boondocking, but will be heading out on Friday for a 3 night stay. When we are boondocking, should the inverter panel show green light that it is on. It is off while plugged to shore power (or is this wrong?). Or does it automatically turn on when we use the generator?
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Old 01-10-2022, 12:59 PM   #2
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When on shore power or if the generator is running, the transfer switch should turn the inverter off, so ac power will go directly to your ac distribution panel. If you have a hybrid inverter/charger, the inverter function will turn off when connected to shore power, but the charger function will continue to operate to charge your batteries. Therefore, if you want to have ac power when you are not connected to shore power, you have the option to turn your inverter on or off.
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Old 01-10-2022, 01:10 PM   #3
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Don’t know your inverter but generally they must be turned on and off.

The inverter has nothing to do with your generator. Two different methods of “generating” 110v AC power. Inverter does this by inverting 12vdc from your batteries into 110v AC the other has a internal combustion motor to turn a generator to produce 110vac.

Some people leave their inverter on all the time when on shore power (I do) others turn their inverter off when on shore power. The inverter automatically passes the shore power through the inverter. It’s not inverting when on shore power just passing power through it. And in a way it’s standing by. Should the shore power stop for any reason the inverter would automatically transfer to produce 110vac from your batteries.

As to the green lights take a look at your inverter’s owners manual.

One more thing, since I don’t know what RV nor what inverter you have I can’t give you specific answers. I have seen some Class B vans required the inverter to be on to even use shore power.
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Old 01-10-2022, 02:03 PM   #4
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It may vary depending on which inverer and which charging system you have. A check of the manual might be the most direct way to get some ideas. It may be clear info or it may be lacking a whole bunch!

In general, if I was plugged in or if running the generator, I would normally think leaving the inverter off to avoid leaving the inverter ready to pull power from the batteries. I tend to save battery power like this when I don't have a need for the inverter to make AC from the DC.
But that depends on several small points like if the inverter switch also kills AC coming through from the plug or generator or not??? My guess would be it would not, but very much a guess there!

Part of the problem is that there are different versions of things. There are converters which we almost always want to leave on as they charge the batteries when/if we get AC power somewhere. Then there are stand alone inverters which use the battery DC power to make AC. Those we can turn off in most cases if we already have AC or don't want to use it. But when it may get confused is when we get a combined inverter charger that does both functions but we don't know if the switch kills both.

Looking at the parts catalog here:
https://catalog3d.winnebagoind.com/2013/182386.htm

It looks like you have a 1000 Watt stand alone inverter, so I would say it is safe to turn off except when you might want AC power for some smallish item like a laptop, lamp, etc while not being plugged in or wanting to use the generator. Other times, I might tend to leave it off to avoid drawing down battery power while not actually using/needing AC power.
The downside of leaving it off? You won't get AC power to that outlet, until you turn something on, either plug in, generator or inverter! If the outlet is dead and you are driving down the road, it likely comes clear what to do!

Inverter appears to be in second compartment toward the rear from the entry door?
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Old 01-10-2022, 03:16 PM   #5
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On mine;
green = using shore or generator power (not inverting)
orange = inverting (using battery power to product 120 volt)
red = low battery voltage.
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Old 01-10-2022, 03:28 PM   #6
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Thank you Richard for your thorough answer and easy to understand. Yes when on shore power the inverter is off. I needed to have clarification that when boondocking, the inverter should be on and when we head out for a few hours turn it off. Am I understanding correctly?
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Old 01-10-2022, 03:52 PM   #7
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It can get down to which smallish worry one has on any specific trip. If needing the batteries to last fully as long as possible, turning it off as well as not usi9ng any bettery power you can avoid is going to make the battery last longer. But if actually going to a campsitewhere you have elctrical, the time spent with the inverter on and using the AC power while driving is not anything at all as the batteries will be constantly charged from the engine alternator as driving and so using any AC power you want (up to the inverter limit) is not going to change the batteries much at all.

Kind of a judgement call at times. If I wanted to stop roadside for lunch and check in with a laptop plugged into AC, I consider that a good use of the inverter. But if I decided to watch a ball game on TV and I was wanting to run a cpac machine on AC at night without being plugged in, NO WAY on the ballgame!

When driving or other ways the batteriesare gettingcharged, the inverter on/off is more a matter of which you want to do. Leave it on and you may forget to turn it off when not charging and it may use a small bit of power just setting turned on but if you leave it turned off, then it can get irritating to have to get up and flip the switch.

Part of the question is how close to running out of battery power you are getting when boondocking and that's often hard to put a finger on.
When not sure of the results, I tend to be conservative when dealing with power or water, etc. --just because it seems right.
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Old 01-16-2022, 06:10 PM   #8
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Better question that might help simplify your answer: What are you using the inverter to power when not on shore power? Answer that and I think you will answer whether or not to have it on while boondocking. Residential fridge - you definitely want to leave it on or your fridge will not run. Coffee maker - turn on as needed. Inverters have a small draw on the batteries when they are just on and on standby.

If you inverter is not a standalone and is used to charge you batteries, then you will want it on when on shore power to ensure charging. This is all basic and would need to know specifically the make/model, how it’s wired, and needs to give a better direct answer to your question.
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Old 01-16-2022, 06:22 PM   #9
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For us, we turn the inverter on when travelling, and boondocking. When plugged into shore power or running the generator, we have the inverter turned off. When driving, all batteries get fully charged.

When boondocking, running the refer, tv, satellite, computers and cpap at night is no problem. We top off the 4 6v GC2 batteries at night before quiet hours and in the morning with the generator.

Just our way of doing things, others with other battery setups may do things differently.
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Old 01-17-2022, 03:16 AM   #10
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We have a 35f and this is the way, I believe, ours works. I ditto reading the manual about your specific setup.

Our inverter is normally in the off position, the green power button is not lit. If we plug into shore power, or start the generator, the green power button illuminates. As others have stated, most (prewired) inverters are "passthrough." So, in this condition, I believe the current is merely passing through the unit and not actually providing any of the electricity.

When we disconnect from power, the power light stays on and we have to manually turn it off if we don't want power while driving. So, if you are strictly running the inverter, no green (power) light would mean no electricity.

There may be a common misconception that the inverter powers all of the outlets in the RV and this is not the case - or at least in ours. In ours, it powers 5 outlets in the entire unit, and the kitchen countertop area is not one of them. If you want to plug in a coffee maker, it would require plugging it into one of those 5 outlets or using a short extension cord. It might be a good idea to (pre-camping) turn on the inverter, get an outlet tester, and see which ones are powered. This might eliminate in the future suspecting there is a problem when there isn't one.
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