Noob Question: Do I have an inverter? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-16-2016, 07:15 PM   #1
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Noob Question: Do I have an inverter?

Okay, forgive me here for the novice question. I just bought a used 2004 Bigfoot 2500 series truck camper. I plan on renovating the interior and preparing it for full-time living. I've never owned a camper/rv/trailer of any kind and never grew up doing so. I never even went camping until a few years ago! But I feel drawn to this lifestyle and I absolutely love my bigfoot. I want to set up as much as I can now before I fully move into her.

With that said, I am considering installing solar panels since I plan on spending most of my time boondocking, avoiding campgrounds. I know the basic setup of a solar system. Panels to a charge controller to battery to inverter...

My question is: Do I already have an inverter? I have various 110AC outlets throughout the camper that items like my TV and microwave are plugged into. So doesn't that mean I already have an inverter?? If so, any idea where it may be? And is it the same type of inverter I would need for a solar setup?

Just trying to plan out the cost of this as much as I can and if I don't need to buy an inverter, then great! Any other tips you may have for me as to whether or not to go solar would be awesome! (yes, I have a generator, the solar would just be supplemental).

Thanks in advance for your help! This is my first post and I'm so excited to join this awesome community.
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Old 12-16-2016, 07:22 PM   #2
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Most likely you don't have an inverter. The 110 outlets are connected to the shore power supply.
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Old 12-16-2016, 07:26 PM   #3
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Which 110V appliances you're going to use while boondocking?
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:21 PM   #4
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So I thought that too but the AC outlets & appliances still work even when I'm not plugged in. If I go into my cord compartment there are two plugs. One for when I'm plugged into shore and one for when I'm using my generator. They're the same big circular plug (sorry I don't know what it's called) but I'm guessing one is AC and one is DC?
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:22 PM   #5
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Which 110V appliances you're going to use while boondocking?
I'd like to be able to use all the appliances. I plan on living in this thing full time so having a microwave and TV are necessary.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:35 PM   #6
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Hi, Anne,
I doubt that you have an inverter. You do not have a solar panel, right? If you get a solar panel, then you would want an inverter with that. You may be able to run anything with your generator including A/C but solar and an inverter would not run A/C. Solar and inverter will run everything else including a microwave but could only run such high-draw items briefly assuming you have, say 150-w solar, for instance.

If you can provide any photos of what you have, someone here will identify it all.
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RamblinAnne View Post
So I thought that too but the AC outlets & appliances still work even when I'm not plugged in. If I go into my cord compartment there are two plugs. One for when I'm plugged into shore and one for when I'm using my generator. They're the same big circular plug (sorry I don't know what it's called) but I'm guessing one is AC and one is DC?
Since your 120 volt appliances work when you are not connected to shore power, you do have some kind of an inverter. Probably an inverter/charger that automatically switches from being a battery charger when plugged in, to making 120 volt AC when not plugged in. This is a very nice setup, but you have to monitor your batteries to keep from running them down. Adding solar will help, but you have to manage the power by monitoring your battery voltage.

Look at your battery charger and see what you have. Is it a Xantrex, or Heart Interface, or some other brand that does both functions. One disadvantage of the fully automatic systems is that they have standby losses that you should be aware of if trying to minimize battery use.

It seems that usage will always rise to meet available power.

When you say you plan to "install" solar, what do you mean? Install on the roof of your trailer? Or have panels you can set out and plug in to your rig? Both have advantages and disadvantages.
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Old 12-17-2016, 06:15 AM   #8
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Always remember:
An Inverter takes 12 DC and boosts it up to 120 AC.
a Converter takes 120 AC and converts it to 12 v DC

You may not have an inverter but you do have a converter.
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Old 12-17-2016, 10:41 AM   #9
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Jut confirming Raspy's post. There's no way your 120v outlets can have power except from a shorepower connection or an inverter. So you must already have an inverter. I'm not familiar with the truck camper, but it's possible they have a built-in Inverter. If so, then Grant at Bigfoot should be able to provide some details. If an aftermarket mod by the PO, you'll need to locate it so you can determine its characteristics.
Either way, if you expect to make much use of it, you really are going to need to have two 6 volt batteries and not the more common single 12 volt battery.

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Old 12-17-2016, 03:15 PM   #10
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I think she indicated she has a generator ! and, otherwise uses shore power. If so, she may not be using any 12V DC, unless she anticipates using the Solar Power to create DC and swap it over to AC with an inverter ? But, perhaps I'm 'barking up the wrong tree' ?
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Old 12-18-2016, 04:18 AM   #11
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She said she has power at the 120 outlets when not pluged in so she must have an inverter....but I think (and mind you I'm not an Electrician) and there's plenty writen on FGRV about it, that things such as microwaves will take so many watts to run she will need a bank of batteries and a very extensive solar panel array to run something that will probably take at least 900 watt (microwave) for any amout of time + other more important appliances such as water pump / furnace / lights / charge battery
Friend of mine used a small 1500 watt inverter and his wife would blow dry her hair in the mornings and he had no more power after one day of boondocking but he only had 2 - 12 volt Batteries.
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:27 AM   #12
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As Dave said, she has a gennie and that's where her 120 is coming from. I I missed that as well. So no inverter

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Old 12-18-2016, 07:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamblinAnne View Post
So I thought that too but the AC outlets & appliances still work even when I'm not plugged in. If I go into my cord compartment there are two plugs. One for when I'm plugged into shore and one for when I'm using my generator. They're the same big circular plug (sorry I don't know what it's called) but I'm guessing one is AC and one is DC?
You did not say whether your appliances work when not plugged in and not running the generator.

The cables are both probably 120V AC, maybe 30A.

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Old 12-18-2016, 10:17 AM   #14
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Finding your inverter

Hi--Most dual systems shore power the thick black wire with or without an adapter depending on what kind of wall socket you have plugged into an Alternating Current socket in the house or at a panel in a camp ground and inverter circuits supplying limited are usually separate and have side wall plug in sockets.

The inverter wall sockets should be marked with a label.

Not sure get Klein Tools RT110 Receptacle Tester or any brand that is similar.

I usually check the campground sockets before plugging in my rig. I also use a plug in 110v tester all it is is a little LED meter face with a standard plug in the back telling me what the voltage is. Below 107 volts we unplug
Above or near 130v we unplug. High and low voltage can do a lot of damage to your delicate electronics.

I have never seen a camper that has single socket changeover from inverter/ house current / generator current automatically switch. Switching is an expensive proposition and takes some very technical wiring.

In s nutshell inverter power (limited) and alternating power from a power company are two different and separate entities.They cannot be mixed.into one circuit easily.

So when you are checking live wires be careful or you can be a dead duck.

Not sure, feel nervous? Get expert or professional help. Spend a few bucks if you have to.
ABC== Always Be Careful
Thank you Mr. Peck, 8th grade shop. I'm in my late 60's.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:58 AM   #15
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There is a Bigfoot Owners forum where you may get more specifics on your camper, they do charge $ to join. Might also try the Truck Camper sub forum on rv.net that may be worth trying.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:12 AM   #16
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Here it is.

Bigfoot Owners Club International |

I joined for couple of years, but found it wasn't worth the cost. Especially when all the other forums are free and/or supported by donations and are generally much more helpful.

Walt
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:23 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolyn and Steve View Post
Hi--Most dual systems shore power the thick black wire with or without an adapter depending on what kind of wall socket you have plugged into an Alternating Current socket in the house or at a panel in a camp ground and inverter circuits supplying limited are usually separate and have side wall plug in sockets.

The inverter wall sockets should be marked with a label.

Not sure get Klein Tools RT110 Receptacle Tester or any brand that is similar.

I usually check the campground sockets before plugging in my rig. I also use a plug in 110v tester all it is is a little LED meter face with a standard plug in the back telling me what the voltage is. Below 107 volts we unplug
Above or near 130v we unplug. High and low voltage can do a lot of damage to your delicate electronics.

I have never seen a camper that has single socket changeover from inverter/ house current / generator current automatically switch. Switching is an expensive proposition and takes some very technical wiring.

In s nutshell inverter power (limited) and alternating power from a power company are two different and separate entities.They cannot be mixed.into one circuit easily.

So when you are checking live wires be careful or you can be a dead duck.

Not sure, feel nervous? Get expert or professional help. Spend a few bucks if you have to.
ABC== Always Be Careful
Thank you Mr. Peck, 8th grade shop. I'm in my late 60's.
This overplays the complication and fear factor a bit. Inverter/Chargers, like the heart Interface or Xantrex do the switching internally and work flawlessly.

Incoming AC current is looked at for correct voltage and then routed right through to the house plugs, just the same as if they were plugged in directly. At the same time, battery charging begins with a three stage charger. When AC shore power is lost, switchover occurs and the inverter takes over to power the in-house receptacles with 120 Volt AC that is inverted from the 12 volt battery voltage.

All of this is seamless to the user and uses the same house plugs with either shore power of inverter power.

These inverter/chargers have a small standby draw on the batteries, but can easily be turned off to eliminate that if you don't need the AC power.

This technology is wonderful, but not new. I used it for years on my 42' Ketch, both here in the US and in Mexico starting in the 1990's. Never had a problem as long as the voltage was within parameters. I find that camper technology can be way behind, but it doesn't have to be. There certainly is no reason to fear it, have separate plugs for different power sources, or label plugs differently. Just be aware when you have no shore power and use what you have wisely, or turn it off.
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