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Old 11-13-2020, 06:03 PM   #1
Rich M.
 
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Inverter - Leave on when leaving or turn off?

I have a 2003 Journey dl. Should I turn off my inverter when leaving the RV for over a week or leave it on. I was not able to start my generator and it seems the batteries are low or dead. My RV place told me to shut off the invertor when I leave as I may have left on something. The battery switch on the dash is turned off every time i leave but the only switch I see to turn off the invertor is on the invertor itself. The batteries are only one year old.
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Old 11-13-2020, 06:59 PM   #2
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I have a 2003 Journey dl. Should I turn off my inverter when leaving the RV for over a week or leave it on.
Plugged in... leaving on wouldn't be terrible. BUT.... not plugged in leaving it on will drain your batteries in 36 hours or less and deplete them so completely that you will not be able to bring them back to life unless if you intervene immediately and recharge then within a few hours of them going dead.

If your inverter is your charger it works automatically even if you turn your inverter off. When the inverter is on, even if it's not called upon to power any AC loads, it will use so much power just idling that it will deplete your batteries, probably as soon as overnight.

The only problem leaving it on while plugged in and you are away is that if the shore power goes out you will also deplete your batteries.
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Old 11-14-2020, 02:23 PM   #3
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An inverter when it is turned on, but not powering any 120V AC devices will still pull 2-3 amps. That means in 24 hours you will have used 48-72AH's. You probably have 3 house batteries for a total of around 250-300AH of which only 50% or about 125-150AH is usable for long battery life.

So be sure to turn off the inverter when not actively powering 120V devices. There should be an inverter panel to turn the inverter on and off located at your EMS power center.
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Old 11-29-2020, 06:59 PM   #4
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Good rule to live by when it comes to inverters in the RV: Leave them off if they are not being used. They draw power even when no appliance is operating. If you get into that habit, you should not have any surprise battery discharges. You can leave the inverter on while plugged in to shore power, but you MUST remember to shut it off while unplugged from shore power, especially if the RV is not being driven, to avoid any inadvertent battery discharges. Sure, driving from shore power to shore power setup would not be an issue unless you stop for a while, like overnighting at Walmart State Park.
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Old 11-29-2020, 07:17 PM   #5
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Good rule to live by when it comes to inverters in the RV: Leave them off if they are not being used. They draw power even when no appliance is operating. If you get into that habit, you should not have any surprise battery discharges. You can leave the inverter on while plugged in to shore power, but you MUST remember to shut it off while unplugged from shore power, especially if the RV is not being driven, to avoid any inadvertent battery discharges. Sure, driving from shore power to shore power setup would not be an issue unless you stop for a while, like overnighting at Walmart State Park.
All true, except that I think you meant to say, “the inverter should be off when not being used”. After all, it’s designed to be used when not on shoreline power (parked while camping without shore power), and while driving. Just don’t want any confusion. I knew what you meant, but the OP might take every word verbatim...
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Old 11-29-2020, 08:11 PM   #6
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All true, except that I think you meant to say, “the inverter should be off when not being used”. After all, it’s designed to be used when not on shoreline power (parked while camping without shore power), and while driving. Just don’t want any confusion. I knew what you meant, but the OP might take every word verbatim...
I believe that is what I stated. Keep the inverter off when it (the inverter) is not being used. No matter if you are plugged in to shore power, driving or whatever. Another way to say it would be; turn the inverter on only when you need to use it (the inverter).
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Old 11-29-2020, 09:12 PM   #7
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Sorry Joe, It's different for us with a residential fridge. We leave it on all the time. It runs the fridge. The only time I turn mine off is when I store the RV or when I'm not running the fridge.

When I first got the RV I used to turn it off all the time and then I needed to remember to turn it on when driving or dry camping.

Now I turn it on when I pick the RV up from storage - like I did today - it's on right now even though I have 30-amp power at the house. And then on Tuesday when we drive to South Llano River State Park it will be on while I drive. Then when we plug in the RV to the pedestal it will stay turned on still.

It's a 3-day trip and the inverter will be on, non-stop, until I take the RV back to storage this next weekend.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:22 PM   #8
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I believe that is what I stated. Keep the inverter off when it (the inverter) is not being used. No matter if you are plugged in to shore power, driving or whatever. Another way to say it would be; turn the inverter on only when you need to use it (the inverter).
Just a minor caveat, was all I was saying. You said, “ You can leave the inverter on while plugged in to shore power, but you MUST remember to shut it off while unplugged from shore power, ”

Just don’t want to throw the OP off on minutiae...

As Creativepart also said, we use our inverter while driving, or camping absent shoreline power.
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Old 11-30-2020, 06:06 AM   #9
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As you stated, you NEED the inverter on all of the time because of a residential refrigerator or whatever. So leave it on. Most of us don't have residential refrigerators. I could have converted to residential but considered the issue of having to convert power to ac all of the time so I opted for a dc compressor refrigerator. A savings of about 10% power usage loss due to conversion. Not a big deal for the big rigs with mega-battery storage, big generators and alternators. But they can't go to the 30 foot maximum sites found all over the country in state and national parks and we can.

The problem is, today's typical RV refrigerators are poorly insulated and are very energy inefficient, especially the gas/electric ones. Hopefully that will change in the near future. The technology is available, so just build it. But the RV manufacturers tend to take the cheapest path possible.
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:41 PM   #10
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Good thread. I too am new to the whole motorhome thing as well. So, I understand that the inverter should be off unless plugged into shore power or motoring down the road. But what about the overnight stay at the Walmart state park, wouldn't that also kill the house batteries if the inverter is left on absent the onboard generator running?

It would seem that an inverter is only good for short periods of use correct?

Now about that battery disconnect switch on the dash. What does that do and when should it be on or off?
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Old 12-01-2020, 02:08 AM   #11
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Good thread. I too am new to the whole motorhome thing as well. So, I understand that the inverter should be off unless plugged into shore power or motoring down the road. But what about the overnight stay at the Walmart state park, wouldn't that also kill the house batteries if the inverter is left on absent the onboard generator running?

It would seem that an inverter is only good for short periods of use correct?

Now about that battery disconnect switch on the dash. What does that do and when should it be on or off?
Allow me to clear up some statements regarding the inverter power and residential refrigerator.

First I’ll address your direct questions, and then respond to the previous post.

The inverter Should be ON, not OFF, when NOT connected to shoreline power or the generator, as that is what delivers power to all 110v devices that need it. It’s designed to convert the 12v power from the battery to 110-120v for operating things like the tvs, residential refrigerator, etc.

For example, if you do have a residential refrigerator that runs SOLELY off of electricity (that’s the distinction between one that also runs off of propane), then one MUST have it on when the generator is NOT running, or you’re NOT on shore power, OR, the refrigerator will have no power EVEN WHEN DRIVING.

However, in MOST units, an inverter will NOT power all of the 110v plugs—typically only ones dedicated for tvs and the refrigerator, and, if your lucky, a few more random outlets.

Will running the inverter drain your batteries when on? Of course, but that is what batteries are there for—storing energy for when you need it. That’s where a good battery management system can help you to know how much power you have used, and what is remaining.

The inverter is using the batteries to power many things, when you’re not running off of the generator or shore power, so depending on your battery capacity, and type of battery, (Regular flooded acid, VS. AGM, VS. Lithium, you’ll get various amounts of available energy. Our Lithium batteries are good for more than a day, vs the flooded stock acid batteries, as few as a few hours.

Now, for the battery “disconnect” switch you mentioned. Assuming I’m guessing that as you have described it, in most cases, that switch will disconnect your coach batteries from the coach, so that you won’t be draining your coach batteries when NOT IN USE. That switch is normally applied when storing your RV, as to not have a parasitic load—anything that draws some small current, from draining the coach batteries while in storage and not in use.

Insofar as a residential refrigerator being equated to only large RV’s, many newer units are offering them, including our 26’ class A than can get into most any park.
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Old 12-01-2020, 01:17 PM   #12
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Allow me to clear up some statements regarding the inverter power and residential refrigerator.

First I’ll address your direct questions, and then respond to the previous post.

The inverter Should be ON, not OFF, when NOT connected to shoreline power or the generator, as that is what delivers power to all 110v devices that need it. It’s designed to convert the 12v power from the battery to 110-120v for operating things like the tvs, residential refrigerator, etc.

For example, if you do have a residential refrigerator that runs SOLELY off of electricity (that’s the distinction between one that also runs off of propane), then one MUST have it on when the generator is NOT running, or you’re NOT on shore power, OR, the refrigerator will have no power EVEN WHEN DRIVING.

However, in MOST units, an inverter will NOT power all of the 110v plugs—typically only ones dedicated for tvs and the refrigerator, and, if your lucky, a few more random outlets.

Will running the inverter drain your batteries when on? Of course, but that is what batteries are there for—storing energy for when you need it. That’s where a good battery management system can help you to know how much power you have used, and what is remaining.

The inverter is using the batteries to power many things, when you’re not running off of the generator or shore power, so depending on your battery capacity, and type of battery, (Regular flooded acid, VS. AGM, VS. Lithium, you’ll get various amounts of available energy. Our Lithium batteries are good for more than a day, vs the flooded stock acid batteries, as few as a few hours.

Now, for the battery “disconnect” switch you mentioned. Assuming I’m guessing that as you have described it, in most cases, that switch will disconnect your coach batteries from the coach, so that you won’t be draining your coach batteries when NOT IN USE. That switch is normally applied when storing your RV, as to not have a parasitic load—anything that draws some small current, from draining the coach batteries while in storage and not in use.

Insofar as a residential refrigerator being equated to only large RV’s, many newer units are offering them, including our 26’ class A than can get into most any park.
Two more edits. The inverter needs to only be on, when you need to power the refrigerator, etc. if your refrigerator is empty, and your not using the RV, you can turn it off.

Also, some parasitic load remains even when the coach battery disconnect switch is employed. Small things like the propane detector, and any other gauge lights, tank sensors, etc could also stay in the loop. These will drain your coach batteries eventually even with the battery disconnect switch in the off position.

Best thing to do when storing the RV, charge the batteries fully, then disconnect the ground wire on the battery.
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Old 12-02-2020, 05:49 AM   #13
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Okay, everything you said makes sense. One more point of clarification. On my journey 32t nothing has power unless my inverter is on. Doesn't matter if I'm hooked to shore power or the generator is running. If my inverter is off nothing has power. Does that sound normal?
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Old 12-02-2020, 07:19 AM   #14
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Does that sound normal?
Absolutely not.

HINT: Also, when discussing power issues on your RV don’t forget to mention if you are referring to 110v AC power or 12v DC power or both.
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Old 12-02-2020, 03:33 PM   #15
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Okay, everything you said makes sense. One more point of clarification. On my journey 32t nothing has power unless my inverter is on. Doesn't matter if I'm hooked to shore power or the generator is running. If my inverter is off nothing has power. Does that sound normal?
What year Journey? Is this the original from the factory inverter, or was it added/replaced later? Is it an inverter and charger combined? What make model inverter?

Are you say "nothing has power unless the inverter is on" does that mean the air conditioner doesn't work unless the inverter is on?
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Old 12-03-2020, 09:29 AM   #16
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Sorry for the slow response, still doing the work thing. Second, I apologise to the OP for hijacking this thread.

I was a little overbroad in describing my situation. Without shore power and the inverter off I am able to use interior lights and put the slides out. I assume this all works off the 12v house batteries. With the inverter still off no 110ac outlets work nor major appliances. In order to get 110ac to work I have to be plugged to shore power and have the inverter switched on.

The inverter is an aftermarket install. I have 3 huge solar panels on the roof that appear to be wired into a magnum 2000 watt inverter/charger. I assume the solar panels work through the inverter to charge the house batteries. The walk through sales guy at the dealership had no clue how it all worked, so I am learning by trial and error.
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:20 AM   #17
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So hard to tell from your description. This is the thing buying used from a dealer - no one knows what the previous owner did or did not do.

Generally, modern inverters have automatic transfer switches with AC pass through so that whether on or off shore power AC current simply passes through. Since you haven't noted the model of the inverter we can't tell if your model has this or not. I know some of the smaller less expensive Magnum models lack the auto transfer function.

Is this a problem? I'm not sure. It seems like something one could live with. But it doesn't sound typical. That's for sure.

Find the model number of your inverter and call Magnum tech support and ask them about this. They are usually very helpful.
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Old 12-03-2020, 01:03 PM   #18
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[QUOTE=alamon;3881299]Sorry for the slow response, still doing the work thing. Second, I apologise to the OP for hijacking this thread.

I was a little overbroad in describing my situation. Without shore power and the inverter off I am able to use interior lights and put the slides out. I assume this all works off the 12v house batteries. With the inverter still off no 110ac outlets work nor major appliances. In order to get 110ac to work I have to be plugged to shore power and have the inverter switched on.[\QUOTE]

That is exactly how mine works, and it’s working fine. My slides get power from the started battery, not the coach batteries.

The interior lights will work with the inverter off, because they work off of 12v, from the coach batteries, and the inverter turns 12v coach battery power into 110 v so the inverter is only needed for 110v things, like tv’s or residential refrigerators.

But most inverters are not big enough to handle microwave ovens, or AC, which is why these have power only when on generator or shore power. Same as most 110v electrical outlets in your coach.
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Old 12-04-2020, 05:32 AM   #19
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Sorry for the slow response, still doing the work thing. Second, I apologise to the OP for hijacking this thread.

I was a little overbroad in describing my situation. Without shore power and the inverter off I am able to use interior lights and put the slides out. I assume this all works off the 12v house batteries. With the inverter still off no 110ac outlets work nor major appliances. In order to get 110ac to work I have to be plugged to shore power and have the inverter switched on.

The inverter is an aftermarket install. I have 3 huge solar panels on the roof that appear to be wired into a magnum 2000 watt inverter/charger. I assume the solar panels work through the inverter to charge the house batteries. The walk through sales guy at the dealership had no clue how it all worked, so I am learning by trial and error.
How things "should" work on your Journey:
-- Slides, jacks, entry steps, power awning work off of the chassis (engine starting) battery.
-- Interior lights, gas furnace and most all controls such as heater/air conditioner thermostat, fridge controls, water heater control, etc operate off of the house batteries.

When not on shore power or the generator is not running:
-- when the inverter is off no 120V device will operate
When the inverter is on:
-- your electric outlets should be working, just don't try to use an electric space heater as it will most likely work but will drain your house batteries very quickly.
-- The TV should work
-- The Microwave will most likely work. Just use it to heat things up, defrost food, maybe microwave a potato or two. Just don't try to run it for 15-30 minutes as it will drain your batteries.
-- A nasty surprise is, if you have a gas/elect fridge and the setting is on "auto" to select gas or elect, it most likely will operate on elect from the batteries through the inverter and drain your batteries in a couple to few hours. In other words: When you are not on shore power and you turn on the inverter, be sure your gas/elect fridge is on propane only mode.

Solar panels:
-- The solar panels should be connected to a solar controller which is connected to the house batteries.
-- The solar panels would not be connected to the inverter/charger
-- You write that you have huge solar panels. Huge panels are about 6' by 4 1/2' and would put out 250 to 350 watts. Regular sized panels on an RV are more in the 3.5' by 2' range and put out around 100-125 watts.
-- If you feel comfortable getting up on the roof and measuring the panels we can give you the approximate wattage (power output) of the panels.

If you are wanting more info about the electrical setup of your RV, then I would suggest you start a new thread in this forum and provide the following details:
-- The number of house batteries, and a close up photo(s) of the battery showing the top and any printing on the batteries.
-- The dimensions of the solar panels
-- Look for the solar controller and provide the make & model. A photo would help as well. The solar controller would probably be located near the inverter or the house batteries.

BTW, starting a new thread would likely give you more replies and info from more people than asking questions in an old thread.
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Old 12-04-2020, 08:22 AM   #20
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Thanks. I am finding things working just as you describe.

Thanks also for the info on the solar setup. I would like more info on that. Maybe I will take your advice and start a new thread.
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