RV Converters and Inverters – What's the Difference?

1.  What is a converter?

Remote camping in a modern recreational vehicle requires an electric power source (i.e. a 12-volt battery system). The power converter recharges the battery and supplies 12-volt power for the lights and appliances when 120–volt AC power is available.

2.  What is the maximum rate my Converter/Charger will re-charge my battery?

The 9200 Series and 9100 Series electronic Converter/Chargers used by Winnebago can charge the battery at their maximum current output rating, provided there are no other 12-volt systems operating and if the battery is discharged enough to accept this charge rate. Progressive Dynamics presently manufacturers six different models of the 9100 series and four models of the 9200 series power converters as shown in the chart below. The last two digits of the part number indicate its maxim current charging capability in amps.

3.  Does my Converter/Charger completely shut-off when the battery reaches full charge?

When the battery reaches full charge, the charging current of the converter drops down to between 20 and 25 milliamps. Batteries will self-discharge themselves at this low rate even when no other 12-volt current loads are present. The converter senses this current loss and automatically replaces this lost current to maintain full battery charge.

Maximum Output & Charging Rate 9200 Series Model 9100 Series Model
30-amps   PD9130
40-amps   PD9140A
45-amps PD9245C PD9145A
60-amps PD9260C PD9160A
70-amps PD9270 PD9170
80-amps PD9280 PD9180

4.  Why doesn’t the fan on my converter run all of the time?

The fan provided on Progressive Dynamics 9200 and 9100 series converters is an intelligent fan and uses an electronic temperature sensing system that operates the fan only as much as required usually under high current drain applications. This means that the fan typically will not operate at night when the RV owner has turned off most 12- volt lights and appliances and is trying to sleep.

So… what then is an inverter?

The RV’s inverter does just the opposite. It converts 12 VDC from your battery into 120 VAC, standard household type electricity.  Size is dictated on what you want to run, and how far you want to wire:

Microwave Oven 1200 -1500 100 – 125
Queen electric blanket 250 21
Coffee pot 1200 100
TV 180 15
DVD 60 5
Computer 100 8
Hair Dryer 1200 – 1600 100 – 133
Cell phone charger 20 2


Common Inverters and Common Wireplace Locations:

Winnebago Class Cs

110 – 1,000 watt  Entertainment Areas and Possibly the Bedroom

Winnebago Class As

300-2,800  Entertainment Areas, Possibly the Bedroom, or Whole Coach

Pure Sine Wave inverters used in 2,800 watt series provide cleaner, smoother power, with less risk to bouncy wavy lines on TVs and/or damage to high end appliances. A power inverter device which produces a smooth sinusoidal AC waveform is referred to as a pure sine wave inverter.

Many 2,000 and 2,800 watt inverters also have surge guard protection built into them…