Inverter Installation

Since we are hesitant to interrupt the peace and quiet of campgrounds with our generator, we decided to install an inverter. We wanted one large enough to supply our 110 volt electrical needs, including the microwave. Since peak load on our 800 watt microwave is about 1600 watts (typically you need twice the advertised microwave output for input power), we needed an inverter capable of supplying at least 1500 watts. Also, I have just replaced our original coach batteries with two new AGM batteries. I wanted to treat these relatively expensive batteries correctly. This meant buying a true 3-stage battery charger with temperature compensation rather than using the crude 12 volt Parallax converter that came with the Roadtrek. Fortunately, most larger inverters come with built-in high quality chargers.
This project turned into quite a learning experience for me. After extensive research, I'm still no expert, but know considerably more than when I started out. Hopefully I can share some of what I learned on these pages. Overall, the project took me twice as long as I envisioned (about 2 weeks of working on it every day, sometimes all day long). The project seemed to turn into a series of mini-problems, each of which required a solution before I could continue on. I enjoy problem solving as well as working with my hands, so in the end I found this project very rewarding. Do not attempt this installation unless you are familiar with both 12V and 120V electrical systems. An incorrect installation could be deadly to yourself or your loved ones. When in doubt, seek expert help. Please note that the links I provide are current at the time of writing. I can't guarantee they will work in the future.

Update 2012: On our trip to California this year, our inverter stopped working and started smoking. We quickly turned it off. I replaced it with a 1000 watt pure sine-wave model that we bought in Flagstaff, AZ. I put the new one in while sitting in a Home Depot parking lot. It works great for powering the refrigerator.  I still haven't opened the old one up to see what fried or if it can be repaired.