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Friday, August 11, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - Installing a Tripp Lite 1500w Inverter

If you recall, three weeks ago our inverter burned out on our motorhome.

An inverter takes the 12 volt DC current power from our batteries (which is mostly derived from our 500 watts of solar panels on the roof) and inverts it into AC current to run items that are in the motorhome.

Items such as TVs, coffee maker, hair curling iron, microwave, and chargers for laptops and cellphones. Many of our light fixtures in the rig are already DC 12 volt, but some of them are AC 120v fixtures. The inverter gives us more comfortable RV living when we are out and about, especially in campgrounds without power pedestals. Or while boondocking out in the desert, or overnighting in a Walmart lot.

Three weeks ago when we were installing our oven, we noticed our light bulbs in the AC fixtures were browning out really low, and then flared up really high to 180 plus volts! Then our Progressive Industries EMS electrical management system protection shut it down for good. I am so glad we didn't have a fire!

Here is the blog post I wrote about removing the old inverter:

Being that our old inverter was at least twenty-two years old,
 it died a sad death after many years of faithful service.

Steve did some research for a week or so, reading about new inverters. Our old one was 2000 watts and we really didn't need one quite that big. So we decided on a 1500 watt. Pure sine wave is nice, but we chose a modified sine wave instead, mostly for our budget. Our last inverter was modified sine wave and our two TVs, computers, tablets and other household appliances worked well, so we did not feel the need to upgrade to pure sine.

We also needed one with a transfer switch pass through, 3-stage charging system, hard-wired unit, and also a remote cord to a panel inside the rig to turn it on and off from the comfort of indoors. Sure beats having to go outside to open a compartment door to turn it off. I give all the specific details for the techie type readers at the end of this blog post.

We ordered the inverter from CompSource and it came quickly in the mail in just three or four days.

Can you imagine this? 
A man reading instructions?

Yes, that big huge thing by his feet is the inverter.  I took care of the registration online and we both went over all of the details and the instructions before going out to start the installation.

Of course, I am the tool getter, gopher runner, and photographer for the blog.  Steve gathered all of his tools and started wiring all the wires into the inverter in their correct holes on the bar.

Steve is very cautious with electricity, and of course all of the power was removed from both the DC and AC power feeds. Steve had gone to tech school for electrical training and also handled a lot of wiring in his job for the last 38 years. Not to mention building houses and remodeling, so electricity is nothing new to him. But it is never something to be taken likely, or done in a haphazard manner. Every connection was double and triple checked before we powered things up.

Once everything was connected in the inverter compartment, next he had to attach this big huge 250amp fuse. It comes in a nifty plastic housing to keep out the moisture, dirt and dust. It needs to be mounted within 18 inches of the batteries on the positive battery cable. Our inverter compartment is located on the opposite side of the rig, so Steve attached the fuse in the compartment underneath our bed, against the engine wall near our isolator unit.

He also ran the thermal sensor wire over to the batteries that tells the inverter in case things are overheating, it will shut down. I didn't get a picture of him doing that.

The last item to install we just ordered this week. It should be in by Monday. It is what's called the remote panel. It's mounted inside of the motorhome so we can turn the inverter on and off. We have been hoping the previous one from the Heart Interface 2000 inverter would work with it. But no, we had to order the one that corresponds with the Tripp Lite system. The plug ends were even different so we needed to order the correct one. For now we can operate it from outside with the on and off switch on the inverter itself.

Okay, here it is! All installed and mounted into place. Every connection is double checked and triple checked. We fired everything up from running it either via batteries, via generator, or from the shore power plug. Steve carefully measured the current flow with his voltmeter. Everything is operating properly as it should!

Here are the costs of what we purchased:

 pn: RV1512UL   
T o t a l $449.86

  ORDERED REMOTE: Tripp Lite APSRM4 Remote Control Module for RV- $88 FREE SHIPPING

 FUSE: InstallGear 1/0 Gauge AWG In-Line ANL Fuse Holder with 250 Amp Fuse  $12.55 FREE SHIPPING

Here are the specs of the inverter from their website:

APS PowerVerter RV RV1512UL Power Inverter With Charger
1500 W Continuous Power / 3000 W Peak Power
Power Description:
  Input Voltage12 V DC
120 V AC
  Input Voltage Range10 to 15 V DC
  Output Voltage120 V AC ±5% Nominal
12 V DC Nominal
  Frequency60 Hz ±0.3Hz
  Input Current145 A @ 12 V DC
35 A @ 120 V AC
  Load Capacity1500 W Continuous Power / 3000 W Peak Power
  Waveform TypePulse-width Modulated Sine Wave
  Switching Time6 ms
Environmental Conditions:
  Temperature32°F (0°C) to 104°F (40°C) Operating
  Humidity0% to 95% Non-condensing Relative Humidity Operating
Physical Characteristics:
  Weight (Approximate)40.20 lb

    • AC Output: 120 VAC nominal
    • DC Charger Output: 12 VDC nominal
    • DC Input: Requires 12 VDC input source capable of delivering 145 A
    • AC Input: 120 VAC
    • AC Input connection type: Hardwire
    • DC Input connection type: Set of 2 DC bolt-down terminals
    • AC surge suppression: 450 joules AC
    • Cooling method: Fan
    • Low voltage transfer to battery power: User configurable to 75V, 85V, 95V & 105V
    • High voltage transfer to battery power: User configurable to 135V, 145V
    • Moisture-resistant components for marine use or wet climates
    • Temperature-sensitive charging and automatic generator-start capabilities
    • Advanced 3-stage battery charger and selector switch for gel or wet cell batteries
    • Allows unlimited runtime capability by allowing the use any number of user-supplied batteries
    • Overload protection: Includes 25 A input breaker dedicated to the charging system and 20 A output load breaker
    ON EDIT: 
    The remote panel unit came in the mail later on Saturday. 
    Steve installed it right away and it works just fine! 

    We can now turn it on and off from inside the motorhome. Also, he has a timer (similar to a hot tub timer) that we can set to turn it on and then it shuts off after a period of time. 

    Handy for setting it on for watching tv in bed at night and falling asleep (my bad habit) and then the inverter shuts off and does not run all night.


    I am so happy that Steve is able to do these repair and replacement projects on our motorhome. I shudder to think what it would cost if we had to bring it in somewhere to an RV dealer. Chances are, an RV dealer is not even experienced in how to install one of these. I guess I would almost look to a fleet installation company for inverters on things like ambulances or specialized delivery trucks or even sound system experts to install one.

    My next blog post is going to be about camping at High Cliff State Park over the weekend.

    1 comment:

    1. Everyone's needs are different but you are right that a person has to have the experience to properly work on any electrical system. One mistake could result in a fire that would destroy everything that you worked for. Regularly checking that connections have not gotten loose is also a wise practice.
      Be Safe and Enjoy!

      It's about time.


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