Ultimate guide to choosing an inverter for your campervan
Electrics Planning

Choosing An Inverter for Your Campervan | Ultimate Guide

Are you planning a campervan adventure? If so, you know that having a reliable and efficient power source is crucial to making your trip successful.

That’s where a campervan inverter comes in! But with so many options in the market, choosing an inverter for your campervan can be daunting. 

Don’t worry, though! This post will provide all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

From understanding the key features and differences between pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters to determining the appropriate size and portability for your specific needs, we’ve got you covered. 

So, let’s dive in!

Portrait photograph of Jolly sipping a coffee

Trust Me, I’m An Electrician

Jolly is a self-confessed electrical geek with over 17 years of experience as a qualified electrical engineer.

His focus now is campervan conversion electrics which started in 2019 with the birth of Vandercamp. Jolly is either building his own campervan, drinking coffee or providing electrical help and guidance to others.

The Renogy 2000w Inverter Charger is installed on his current campervan powered from a Renogy 200Ah Lithium Leisure battery. 


The information in this post is a combination of our knowledge, expertise and research. The content of the post is not sponsored. Therefore, all opinions are our own.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. Meaning, if you make a purchase after clicking one, we may earn some commission. This pocket money will help Vandercamp Adventures continue to grow at no extra cost to you. It’s a win win situation!! Learn More…

What is an inverter?

An inverter is essential to power your home appliances or any electronic gear that can’t run on battery DC power. In your campervan, you can plug a portable inverter into the cigarette lighter to get power through a 3-pin plug.

And if you’re looking for more power, you can go big and hard-wire larger units directly into the electrical system.

Our Renogy Inverter Charger

Now, when it comes to campervan inverters, there are two types: pure sine wave and modified sine wave. Both produce a 230-volt output to power your appliances but differ in how they deliver the electricity. More on this in a moment.

How Do Campervan Inverters Work?

An inverter converts DC (direct current) to AC (alternator current). Campervan inverters convert 12 volts DC into 230 volts (120 volts in America) AC power, similar to what you have in your home. 

NOTE: Some campervan inverters are capable of converting 24 volt and 48 volt DC systems into AC.

How a inverter works. 12 volt DC power into the inverter, 230 volt AC power out of the inverter.

DC power is the supply power to the inverter from the leisure battery, solar panels, and/or alternator. The current in DC power flows in one direction; therefore, it’s known as direct current.

AC power is what’s produced by the inverter. The AC current changes direction periodically; therefore, it’s known as alternating current. It’s the same type of power a power grid produces to power homes.

Types of Campervan Inverter: PSW & MSW

Two types of campervan inverters are available in the market – pure sine wave and modified sine wave. The pure sine wave inverter produces high-quality AC power that resembles the electricity supplied in your home. It is perfect for powering sensitive electronic equipment. 

On the other hand, the modified sine wave inverter is suitable for many appliances, but it may not work well with some delicate and sensitive devices.

Further Reading | Pure Sine Wave vs Modified Sine Wave Campervan Inverters: Which Is Best?

Key factors and features of Campervan inverters

Rated Power Capacity

Inverter rated power, also known as continuous power or continuous output power, refers to the maximum amount of electrical power that an inverter can provide over an extended period without overheating or overloading.

The rated power of an inverter is usually measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). 

Rated power capacity / continuous power output of the Renogy 2000w 12 volt pure sine wave inverter
Rated Power / Continuous Power Output Of The Renogy 2000w Inverter

For instance, if you have a 2000-watt rated inverter, the inverter can deliver a continuous output up to 2000 watts of AC power. However, the load must not exceed this level.

Exceeding the inverter’s rated power capacity for an extended period may result in overheating, shutdown or damage.

Therefore, choosing an inverter with an appropriate rated power capacity is essential to ensure your electrical equipment operates reliably and safely.

Surge Power (Peak Power)

Inverter surge power, also known as inverter peak power, refers to the temporary or instantaneous power output that exceeds the rated power capacity of an inverter. The surge power rating of an inverter is crucial for handling the initial, brief power spikes that some appliances and devices experience when they start up. 

Surge power value of the Renogy 2000w pure sine wave inverter - 4000 watts
Surge Power / Peak Power Of The Renogy 2000w Inverter

Many appliances, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, power tools, and electric motors, require a higher initial surge of power to get them running before settling into their lower operating power. 

For example, a 2000-watt rated inverter with a surge power rating of 4000 watts can handle power demands of up to 4000 watts for a short period, usually a few seconds to a minute, without overloading or shutting down. 

It’s important to note that the surge power capacity is temporary and not meant for continuous use. Exceeding this surge rating for extended periods can damage the inverter or lead to a shutdown due to overheating or overloading.

Therefore, when selecting an inverter for your needs, consider both the rated power (continuous power output) and the surge power capacity to ensure it can handle the startup loads of the devices you plan to power.

Input Voltage

The input voltage is from a DC power source, such as solar panels, batteries, or a vehicle’s electrical system. DC voltage is what powers the inverter and gets converted into AC power.

Input voltage of the Renogy 2000w pure sine wave inverter - 12 volts DC
Input Voltage Of The Renogy 2000w Inverter

Inverters are designed to work with specific input voltage ranges. For instance, campervan inverters commonly have 12, 24, and 48 DC input voltages. A 12V inverter, for example, is designed to accept 12V DC input, while a 24V inverter needs 24V DC input. 

It’s essential to ensure that the input voltage matches the voltage requirements of the inverter to prevent any damage. Generally, the acceptable input voltage is within a range. For instance, the 12v Renogy inverter can accept 11-16 volts.

Output Voltage

The output voltage from an inverter refers to the AC (alternating current) voltage it produces. A 230v inverter will provide a steady output voltage of 230 volts AC, similar to the voltage provided by a wall socket in your home.

This output voltage is essential for powering household appliances, electronics, and other devices that require 230V AC power. 

Output voltage of the Renogy 2000w pure sine wave inverter - 220 volts AC + - 10 volts
Output Voltage Of The Renogy 2000w Inverter

Inverters are designed specifically for the country where they are to be used. Therefore, they can produce different output voltages.

For instance, a UK spec inverter will produce 230 volts, whereas an American spec inverter will produce 120 Volts.

Here’s a table of nominal voltages for each country.

It’s crucial to note that the quality of the output voltage, including its waveform (e.g., pure sine wave, modified sine wave) can vary between different inverters. 

When selecting a 230V inverter, consider your specific power requirements and the types of devices you intend to power. 

Idle Power

Idle power consumption, also known as inverter standby current, static current or no-load power consumption, refers to the power consumed by an inverter when turned on but not powering any loads. 

Static current / idle power value of the Renogy 2000w pure sine wave inverter - 1.3 amps
Idle Power / Static Current Of The Renogy 2000w Inverter

The amount of power consumed while idle depends on the type and quality of the inverter. Pure sine wave (PSW) inverters typically consume more power than modified sine wave (MSW) inverters due to their complex electronics.

Regarding off-grid or solar power systems, where energy efficiency is crucial, it is vital to consider the idle power usage. High standby power consumption can lead to unnecessary energy waste and can gradually drain batteries or other power sources over time.

To improve efficiency, some inverters have power-saving features that reduce standby power consumption when no load is detected. Additionally, some have a remote switch, allowing them to be easily turned on/off when required. 

Remote Switching And Bluetooth

Remote switching capabilities with a power inverter offer several advantages, making it a convenient and versatile feature for various applications. 

1. Convenience: You can control the inverter from a distance, which is useful when installed under a bench or in a hard-to-reach place. You can turn it on or off without physically accessing the inverter.

2. Energy Efficiency: You can easily power the inverter on and off with remote switching. This can help conserve energy when the inverter is not in use, preventing it from drawing power and reducing standby losses.

3. Versatility: In off-grid solar systems, you can remotely activate the inverter to provide power when sunlight is available and deactivate it at night or during extended periods of low power generation.

4. User-Friendly Operation: Remote switching can be paired with monitoring systems (via wired connection or Bluetooth), allowing you to check the status of the inverter and receive alerts or notifications about its performance. This enhances your ability to manage and troubleshoot the system effectively.

5. Customization: Depending on the specific remote switching system, you may have the flexibility to customize the control settings and tailor the inverter’s behaviour to your requirements.

Overall, remote switching with a power inverter provides greater flexibility, convenience, and control over your electrical systems.

Two examples of remote switching: Victron inverters can be monitored, configured, and switched via their VictronConnect app, while Renogy inverters have a simpler remote on/off switch.

Victron Bluetooth App
Renogy Inverter Remote Switch

UPS Function

UPS stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply. Some inverters, such as Renogy inverters, are equipped with a UPS feature that enables them to be powered by 12-volt and mains 230v. The UPS feature automatically switches to the secondary power supply if the primary supply is lost or turned off. 

Inverter UPS function drawing showing 12 volt and 230 volt input, changeover switch and 230 volt output

For instance, a UPS inverter can run on your leisure battery until a 230-volt hook-up is connected. Once the mains hook-up is connected, it will run off the mains instead. If the mains hook-up trips out or is disconnected, the inverter will immediately switch back to battery power.

The UPS switch time is super fast, which makes it especially useful for sensitive electronic equipment, computers, and laptops that require uninterrupted power. The 2000w Renogy inverter, for example, takes less than 50ms to switch.


The Dangers Of 230 Volts

It is essential to know that 230 volts AC can be dangerous and even fatal if not handled properly and safely. It is crucial to always follow electrical regulations and guidelines to ensure your own safety and the safety of others. 

Most inverters come with built-in circuit protection and safety features, which can vary depending on the brand. If you are using a permanent, hard-wired inverter, it may require an RCD, consumer unit, and circuit protection to be installed. 

If your inverter is centre-tapped (floating Neutral-Earth), it is essential to install double pole (DP) socket outlets for added safety measures. Remember to always prioritize safety when dealing with electricity.


All inverters generate heat when they are in operation. Pure Sine Wave inverters are highly efficient and produce very little heat, unlike Modified Sine Wave inverters with low efficiency and less sophisticated components; hence, they can get very hot.

Additionally, when an inverter is pushed to its limit, it generates heat and may even overheat. Therefore, installing the inverter in a location with enough ventilation and airflow to dissipate any excess heat is crucial. 

Ventilation Requirements For The Renogy 2000w Inverter – Sourced From The Manual

Inverter overheating can damage components, reduce efficiency, or cause failure. Refer to manufacturer instructions for ventilation requirements.

Built-in Protection

Good quality inverters come with built-in protection to ensure your safety and the safety of the unit and the wiring. Inverters typically have five standard protective features, which are:

  1. Overload Protection: This feature prevents electrical circuits and equipment from getting damaged by excessive current flow.
  2. Short Circuit Protection: In case of a dangerous fault, this feature disconnects the power supply to prevent excess current from flowing.
  3. Input Voltage Protection: This feature protects against voltage levels outside the safe operating range, preventing damage to the inverter and connected devices.
  4. Over Temperature Protection: This feature shuts down or reduces power to prevent the inverter from overheating.
  5. Low Battery Voltage Protection: This feature prevents damage to the battery by disconnecting the load when the battery voltage falls below a safe level, ensuring the battery’s longevity.

What Will You Be Using The Inverter For?

Choosing a suitable inverter depends on the appliances, electronic devices, and equipment you want to power. You also need to consider how often you plan to use it. 

Therefore, the main decision when choosing an inverter is whether you need a PSW or MSW inverter.

If you need an inverter to charge your laptop or phone while on the go, an MSW portable inverter could be a simple and affordable option. Here are some more advantages to MSW inverters.

Here’s an example:

500w 12v Modified Sine Wave Inverter

500w Modified Sine Wave Inverter

  • Plugs into cigarette lighter
  • Ideally for charging a laptop or phone on the go
  • No installation required
  • Socket and USB outlets

However, if you need to power home appliances, laptops, battery chargers, and phones, which require household sockets, a PSW hard-wired inverter would be the best choice, even though it may be more expensive and advanced.

Check out more advantages and disadvantages of PSW inverters here.

Here’s an example:

Renogy 1000 watt inverter with remote switch

1000w Pure Sine Wave Inverter

  • Wired directly onto the leisure battery
  • Can power all household appliances
  • Best option for powering sensitive equipment
  • Available as 1000, 2000 and 3000 watts

Further Reading | PSW vs MSW Campervan Inverters: Which Is Best?

What Size Inverter Is Best For My Camper?

To determine the size of the inverter you need, there are two methods you can use: maximum power demand and realistic power demand. 

Maximum power demand method – is the easiest but not the most realistic. This method involves adding the load values of all your 230v appliances and devices. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll use all your appliances at full power simultaneously. 

Realistic power demand method – is recommended because it provides a more realistic power load figure. This method determines the highest wattage of appliances and devices you use simultaneously. 

For example, your maximum power demand is 1500 watts. But you will only use appliances and devices that equal 600 watts simultaneously.

Once you’ve decided on the maximum or realistic wattage, multiply the total load by 20% to ensure the inverter is not running at its total capacity. 

For example, 600 watt max load x 1.2 (+20%) = 720watts. Therefore, an inverter larger than 720 watts is required.

Remember that inverters running near their maximum power output will be less efficient. Therefore, it’s better to choose an inverter that is larger than your total power demand figure.

Here is a table that lists various types of inverters along with their respective sizes (Output power).

Sine Wave300w500w1000w1500w2000w3000w
Renogy 1000 watt inverter with remote switch
Renogy Inverter Charger
Renogy Inverter Charger with remote switch
Victron Pheonix
Victron Pheonix Pure Sine Wave Inverter 12 volt 1200
Victron Phoenix Smart
Victron Pheonix Smart 2000w Inverter
Epever Ipower
Epever ipower IPT inverter 1000w
Sunshine Solar
1000 watt modified sine wave inverter from sunshine solar
Modified Sine Wave
300w 12v Modified Sine Wave Inverter

What Size Battery Do I Need To Power An Inverter?

Five factors must be considered to determine the battery size required for an inverter. These factors are: 

1. Load Wattage – This refers to the wattage required to power the electrical appliances and devices via the inverter. 

2. Load Run-Time – This factor determines how long the load wattage needs to run for in a day. 

3. Voltage – Voltage of the leisure battery 

4. Inverter Efficiency – Inverters use energy to convert 12v to 230v, which means more energy is required to power the loads. Most top brands of inverters have an efficiency rating of over 90%. 

5. Battery Type – There are various types of leisure batteries available, including lead-acid, GEL, AGM, and lithium. Each battery type has a usable capacity, which limits the amount of Ah that can be drawn from it to prevent damage.

Follow these 3 steps to calculate what size battery you need to power your inverter;

Step 1: Load Wattage And Run-Time

The load wattage and run-time must be determined for each electrical appliance and device; refer to their technical specifications. These specifications contain information about the watts or amps needed for their operation.

If the specifications indicate the amount in amps, you can easily convert it to watts by multiplying it with the battery voltage.

Amps x Voltage = Watts

Run-time refers to the hours the appliance or device will be used throughout the day. If you use hours and minutes to calculate run time, you must convert the total time into minutes and divide it by 60 to get the time as a decimal.

For example, if the device is used for 1 hour and 45 minutes, the total time in minutes would be (60 + 45) = 105 minutes. Dividing it by 60 would give us 1.75 hours.

Using the formula, you can determine the battery amp hours required to operate the appliance or device.

(Load Wattage x Run-Time) / Battery Voltage = Ah

For example, an 800w coffee machine is used for 1 hour and 45 minutes throughout the day. So, (800w x 1.75) / 12 = 117Ah

Add the total Ah values for all your appliances and devices to determine the battery capacity required (#1).

Step 2: Inverter Efficiency

Inverters are not 100% efficient; they require some energy to convert the DC voltage into AC voltage. Therefore, we need to account for this energy loss. 

The best PSW inverters have an efficiency rating of over 90%, meaning 10% more power is needed to compensate for the energy loss. 

For example, a 2000W inverter with an efficiency rating of 90% requires 10% more power to deliver its power output of 2000W. So, 2200W is required from the battery (2000W x 1.10 (+10%) = 2200W). 

To determine the efficiency rating of your inverter, apply this formula.

Battery Capacity (#1) x Efficiency = Total Battery Capacity (#2)

Step 3: Usable Capacity Of The Battery

To determine the usable capacity of a leisure battery, it’s crucial to consider its battery type. Fully depleting a leisure battery is not recommended, as it can negatively affect efficiency and lifespan. Hence, the rated Ah of a battery doesn’t indicate its usable capacity.

Four common leisure battery types are suitable for campervans: lead-acid, GEL, AGM, and lithium.

Each battery type has a recommended usable capacity, expressed as a percentage, determining the amount of amp hours (Ah) that can be safely drawn from it. 

For instance, the usable capacity percentage for different leisure battery types are as follows:

Battery TypeUsable CapacityUsable Capacity Multiplier

Use this formula to determine the battery size required for your inverter:

Total Battery Capacity (#2) x Battery Usable Capacity = Battery Size Required

Example 1 –  180Ah battery capacity requires a 270Ah GEL battery – 180Ah x 1.50 (50%) = 270Ah.

Example 2 – 180Ah battery capacity requires a 200Ah Lithium battery – 200Ah x 1.10 (90%) = 198Ah.

Please Note

It is important to note that the calculations and processes described above are only meant to determine the battery size required to power your inverter. They do not consider other loads you may have in your camper. Additionally, these calculations do not factor in the recharge of the battery. They are only intended to help you determine the size of battery required to power your load for a single day, assuming that the battery will be charged to 100% every day.

If you need a battery to power your load for multiple days without a recharge, you must multiply the total battery size by the number of days required.

Battery Size And Duration Tables

These tables illustrate the duration a leisure battery lasts when powering different loads. They include Inverter power in watts, battery capacity in amp hours, and duration in hours.

NOTE: The figures in the tables are to be used as a guideline only

Lead-Acid and GEL Leisure Battery Table

Lead-Acid and GEL leisure batteries have a usable capacity of 50%. This figure is shown in brackets.

Power (W)Power (A)50Ah (25)80Ah (40)100Ah (50)120Ah `(60)150Ah (75)200Ah (100)300Ah (150)
300w25A1 hr1.6 hrs2 hrs2.4 hrs3 hrs4 hrs6 hrs
500w42ANCNC1.2 hrs1.42 hrs1.8 hrs2.4 hrs3.6 hrs
1000w84ANCNCNCNCNC1.2 hrs1.8 hrs
1500w125ANCNCNCNCNCNC1.2 hrs

AGM Leisure Battery Table

AGM leisure batteries have a usable capacity of 80%. This figure is shown in brackets.

Power (W)Power (A)50Ah (40)80Ah (64)100Ah (80)120Ah (96)150Ah (120)200Ah (160)300Ah (240)
300w25A1.6 hrs2.6 hrs3.2 hrs3.8 hrs4.8 hrs4 hrs6 hrs
500w42ANC1.5 hrs1.9 hrs2.2 hrs2.8 hrs2.4 hrs3.6 hrs
1000w84ANCNCNC1.1 hrs1.4 hrs1.9 hrs1.8 hrs
1500w125ANCNCNCNCNC1.2 hrs1.2 hrs
2000w167ANCNCNCNCNCNC1.4 hrs

Lithium Leisure Battery Table

Lithium leisure batteries have a usable capacity of 90%. This figure is shown in brackets.

Power (W)Power (A)50Ah (45)80Ah (54)100Ah (90)120Ah (108)150Ah (135)200Ah (180)300Ah (270)
300w25A1.8 hrs2.1 hrs3.6 hrs4.3 hrs5.4 hrs7.2 hrs6 hrs
500w42A1 hr1.2 hrs2.1 hrs2.5 hrs3.2 hrs4.2 hrs3.6 hrs
1000w84ANCNC1 hr1.2 hrs1.6 hrs2.1 hrs1.8 hrs
1500w125ANCNCNCNC1 hr1.4 hrs1.2 hrs
2000w167ANCNCNCNCNC1 hr1.4 hrs

What Happens If An Inverter Is Overloaded?

It’s important to understand that overloading can occur when the power required from an inverter exceeds its rated output power.

For example, if you try to draw 3000 watts from a 2000-watt inverter, it may lead to overloading. 

Cheaper, unknown brands of inverters may have limited protection, leading to damage to the internals and reducing the inverter’s lifespan. On the other hand, good quality inverters have built-in overload protection that senses when overloading occurs and switches off the inverter to prevent damage. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to correctly size an inverter to ensure it runs efficiently and is reliable.

Installing A Campervan Inverter

When choosing an inverter, there are a 3 important factors that you should consider in regards to installation. These are;

  1. Inverter dimensions and ventilation requirements
  2. Appropriate location of the inverter
  3. Fuse and Isolation switch space and requirements

These factors are often overlooked when choosing an inverter for a campervan. But they are crucial to ensure that the inverter operates efficiently and fits perfectly in your camper. 

Dimensions And Ventilation

Campervan inverters come in different sizes and shapes. You can refer to their user manuals for their dimensions. To help you get started, below is a table showing some common inverters’ dimensions. 

Renogy Inverter
Renogy 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter
342 x 173 x 76mm
442 x 220 x 92mm
482 x 220 x 92mm
Sunshine Solar
150 x 105 x 55mm
180 x 105 x 55mm
240 x 150 x 70mm
Epever Ipower IPT
286 x 160 x 73mm
371 x 228 x 118mm
387 x 228 x 118mm
Epever Ipower Plus

Epever Ipower Plus 12 volt inverter
286 x 163.5 x 78mm
371 x 232 x 123mm
557 x 232 x 123mm
Victron Pheonix
Victron Pheonix Pure Sine Wave Inverter 12 volt 1200
86 x 172 x 275mm
105 x 230 x 325mm
117 x 232 x 362mm
Renogy Inverter Chargers
Renogy Inverter Charger
510 x 248 x 193 mm
510 x 248 x 193 mm
Victron Pheonix Smart
Victron Pheonix Smart 2000w Inverter
485 x 219 x 123mm
485 x 219 x 123mm
533 x 285 x 150mm

It’s important to note that campervans have limited space, so always check that the inverter will fit. Additionally, inverters need adequate ventilation and airflow to dissipate the heat produced. Failure to do so may lead to the accumulation of excess heat and possible overheating issues. 

Luckily, the inverter user manuals contain information on recommended ventilation measurements that you can follow.


When installing an inverter, it’s crucial to find an appropriate location that considers accessibility, ventilation, and cable size.

Ideally, the inverter should be placed as close to the battery as possible to minimize voltage drop in the DC inverter cables. The farther away the inverter is positioned, the larger the cables need to be to accommodate the increased distance, which can be more costly and challenging to install.

Example of our Renogy Inverter Charger installed close to the leisure battery

Additionally, it’s vital to ensure adequate ventilation around the inverter to maintain a cool operating temperature. Fortunately, most inverter user manuals provide clear guidance on the recommended DC battery cable size and ventilation requirements.

For our installation, we placed our Renogy Inverter Charger under the bench seat near the battery and cut vents to aid in air circulation.

Fuse And Isolation

It is worth considering that while this factor may not be as significant as the others, it is still crucial. The DC battery cable connected to the inverter must be fused and have a means of isolation for safety purposes.

The fuse is essential as it safeguards the cable and should be installed as close to the battery/positive busbar as possible. An isolator should also be installed between the fuse and the inverter to enable the functional or maintenance switching of the inverter.

Inverter charger wiring diagram with DC isolator, mega fuse and leisure battery

Now, why is this important when selecting an inverter?

MEGA or MIDI fuses and DC isolators can be much larger than expected. Therefore, it is essential to have enough space to install and terminate the cables into them. The larger the cables, the more space is required to isolate them, as they are not very flexible.

DC battery cable isolator

DC Isolator

  • Dimensons: 68 x 68 x 75mm
  • Current rating: 100 – 600 Amps (12VDC)
  • Voltage rating: 12-48 VDC
MEGA fuse carrier and fuse


  • Dimensions – 96.5 x 39 x 39mm (L x W x H)
  • Voltage rating: 32VDC
  • Current rating: 500A
  • Cable size: 70mm2 max
  • Cable studs: M8
MIDI fuse carrier and fuse


  • Overall dimensions: 70 x 37 x 23mm (L x W x H)
  • Fuse sizes: 30 – 150 Amps
  • Cable size: 16mm² max

How To Use A Campervan Inverter?

Using a campervan inverter is an effective way to power various appliances and devices while on the road. There are three methods of using campervan inverters:

  • Portable
  • Hard-wired small
  • Hard-wired large

1) Portable

500w 12v Modified Sine Wave Inverter
MSW Inverter 500w

A portable inverter is the easiest and cheapest option. Just plug it into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter and use the inverter’s 230v outlet and USB ports while the engine runs.

These inverters are ideal for charging small items like phones and laptops and are best suited for campervans with no leisure battery or small capacity leisure batteries. They’re the cheapest option regarding cost and quality.

2) Hard-wired (small)

Renogy 1000 watt inverter with remote switch
Renogy Inverter 1000w

A hard-wired inverter is fixed in position and connected directly to the DC power, such as the leisure battery or solar.

It can be used whenever required, as long as the battery has enough charge. These inverters come with DC battery cables, so little installation is required

However, these hard-wired inverters need to be accessible and cannot be hidden away in a cupboard because access is required to plug in your appliances and devices to the socket outlet and USB port.

Additionally, access is required to switch the inverter on/off unless it has a remote switch like the Renogy inverter, so you can operate it remotely. 

This option is best suited for more frequent charging of devices and days without travelling because it doesn’t require the engine to power it (unless you need to charge the leisure battery via the alternator). Also, you can opt for a better-quality inverter. 

Note: these inverters can also be used for option 3 below.

3) Hard-wired (large)

Victron Pheonix Smart 2000w Inverter
Victron Pheonix Smart 1600w

A hard-wired inverter is the most sophisticated option for powering your camper. Like hard-wired (small) inverters, they are permanently installed and wired into your campervan’s electrical system.

However, these campervan inverters do not have built-in outlets. Instead, they have cable terminals that need to be connected to an AC fuseboard, which will power the socket outlets in your camper. 

Hard-wired inverters are typically larger and more complex, requiring additional components and installation knowledge. They are best suited for those who need a regular supply of 230v AC power for household appliances, electronic equipment, and devices.

These inverters are more sophisticated because they can be adjusted to suit your needs and environment. 

However, they are typically the most expensive option due to the inverter itself and the additional components such as the fuseboard, fuses, cables, sockets, etc.

For instance, we have the Renogy 2000w Inverter Charger hard-wired into our electrical system since we live full-time and work from our campervan. This allows us to charge our phones and laptops frequently, use lamps at night, and utilize kitchen appliances regularly.

Alternative Ways Of Getting 230v AC In A Camper

If you want mains power in your campervan, an inverter is the most convenient, user-friendly, and economical option. However, there are three alternative methods to operate 230v AC appliances in your camper.

1) Electric Hook Up

Mains hook up cable

Hook-up or shore power allows you to draw electricity from the grid to power your campervan while parked at a campsite or home. It’s a great way to have a reliable power source for your appliances and devices. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider.

Firstly, hook-up power isn’t free. Campsites usually charge a daily fee for using their power, while power from your home will be metered.

Secondly, hook-up power is only available when your campervan is stationary and if a hook-up point is available. This makes it an inconvenient method to rely on if you plan on travelling frequently.

Electric hook-up cable kits are available that require no installation and are ready to use right away. Alternatively, as a minimum requirement, you can install a hook-up socket and fuse board with an RCD in your camper.

Electric Hook up wiring kit to include fuseboard, socket, wiring and 16A socket

Electric Hook-Up Wiring Kit

Further Reading | How To Power A Campervan With Hook-up / Shore Power

2) Power Station

Renogy Power Station 500
Renogy Power Station 500

A power station is a handy device that combines a battery, inverter, and power outlet in one box. It is easily portable and perfect for outdoor activities, camping, or campervans without electrical installations. 

To use a power station, you need to charge it from your campervan or mains power. They are ideal for charging phones, laptops, and batteries as the battery can last for a few days between charges. 

Some models feature fast charging, MPPT solar charging, and even an ambient light. The Renogy Portable Power Station is a great option, as it can be charged in only one hour and has solar MPPT charging capabilities.

3) Petrol Inverter Generator

Honda GU23 Generator
HONDA EU22i Petrol Inverter Generator

A power generator, also known as a ‘Genny’, is a device that generates power using an inverter powered by a small fuel-powered engine. 

Although they’ve existed for many years, the newer versions are more economical. Some models have an Eco mode that reduces the output, slowing the engine down and making it run quieter. 

As long as there is fuel, a power generator can provide power for extended periods off-grid without requiring any installation, only a place to store it. However, due to the noise and fumes they produce, they cannot be used everywhere. 

Power generators are the most expensive option for generating 230v electricity in your camper, but they can also charge your campervan’s leisure battery.

Expensive vs Cheap Inverters

When discussing expensive and cheap inverters, we must clarify what we mean. A ‘cheap’ inverter doesn’t necessarily mean low quality, as you can find a good quality inverter cheaply. By cheap, we mean an unknown brand only available on platforms like Amazon, AliExpress or eBay and is usually much cheaper than other brands.

On the other hand, an ‘expensive’ inverter is a well-known, trusted brand with a designated website. However, these inverters are typically more expensive. 

The Renogy 2000w Inverter is considered a cheap inverter. It is cheaper than other well-known brands but performs as well, if not better. That’s why it’s our favourite campervan inverter.

Cheap Inverters For Campervans

Here are some common factors of what to expect from ‘cheap’ campervan inverters.

  • Inadequate DC battery cable sizes. They can lead to voltage drop and inefficiency.
  • Mostly modified sine wave (MSW) inverters because they’re cheaper to manufacture than pure sine wave (PSW) inverters. 
  • Can damage sensitive electronic equipment such as laptops and cause humming in audio equipment if MSW.
  • Use cheaper components such as circuit boards, capacitors, and cable connectors, which can lead to a shorter lifespan and higher failure rate.
  • Inadequate heat dissipation due to poor ventilation and low-quality materials, which can lead to overheating and reduced efficiency.
  • Untested or no IP rating for protection against dust and moisture, making them more likely to let in debris and potentially cause a fire hazard.
  • No circuit protection, leaving connected devices vulnerable to power surges and other electrical faults.
  • Will have a shorter lifespan and require replacement sooner than higher-quality inverters.

Expensive Inverters For Campervans

Here’s a list of what to expect from ‘expensive’ campervan inverters.

  • Expensive inverters are equipped with better quality components that can withstand the demands of the inverter and have a longer lifespan.
  • Adequate fans and heat shields are used to ensure good heat dissipation.
  • They come with circuit protection to prevent damage to electrical circuits and equipment.
  • They are designed to last years and have a tested IP rating to withstand dust and moisture.
  • Trusted warranty is provided by well-known brands if things should go wrong.
  • Brands have existed for numerous years and maintain their reputation.

Even though a cheap inverter could do the job and last many years, we always recommend choosing a well-known brand to ensure safety, optimal performance and longevity.

Remember: “Buy cheap, buy twice.”

Choosing An Inverter

Now that you know how to choose the perfect campervan inverter, it’s time to explore your options. Whether you’re looking for a top-quality pure sine wave inverter or an affordable modified sine wave inverter to charge your laptop on the go, we’ve got you covered. 

Check out our recommended list of campervan inverters, including our top picks, to find the perfect one for your needs.

Best Inverter Brands

These are the top brands of campervan inverters

  • Renogy
  • Victron
  • Epever
  • Durite
  • Sterling
  • Redarc
  • Sunshine Solar

Top Dog: Best Features and quality

Victron Pheonix Smart 2000w Inverter

Victron Pheonix Smart 3000

  • Pure Sine Wave
  • ECO Mode
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Control And Set Parameters Via The Victron App
  • Hard-Wire Into Electrical System
  • 5 Year Warranty (10 Year Option With Bimble Solar)
  • Victron Support
  • Available as 1600w and 2400w

Best Budget Inverter

Renogy 2000 watt inverter with remote switch

RENOGY 2000W Inverter

  • Most Affordable Campervan Inverter
  • ECO Mode
  • UPS Function
  • Simple Installation And Setup
  • 2x Socket Outlets
  • Renogy Support
  • Socket Outlet Compatible For The UK, USA, Europe, AU/NZ And Universal
  • Available as 1000w, 2000w And 3000w

Best MSW Inverter

1000 watt modified sine wave inverter from sunshine solar

1000W Modified Sine Wave Inverter

  • Can Be Portable Or Hard-Wired
  • Socket Outlet And USB Port
  • Simple Installation
  • Less Expensive Than PSW Inverters
  • Economical
  • Available as 300w – 3000w

Best Portable Inverter

300w 12v Modified Sine Wave Inverter

300W MSW Portable Inverter

  • Ideal For Charging On The Go
  • Plug Into The Cigarette Lighter
  • Socket Outlet And USB Port
  • No Installation Or Setup Required
  • Cheapest Inverter Option
  • Available as 300w – 3000w

Best Hard-Wired Inverter

Renogy Inverter Charger with remote switch

RENOGY 2000w Inverter Charger

  • Programmable To Suit Your Needs
  • Incorporates A Battery Charger, Saving Space
  • UPS Function
  • Suited To All Campervan Electrical Systems
  • Remote Switch
  • Available as 2000w And 3000w

Inverter Chargers

Inverter chargers are devices that combine an inverter with a battery charger. Although they are usually purchased separately, combining them helps save on costs, space, and installation time.

For instance, we use the Renogy inverter charger with its 2000W inverter and a 65A battery charger to charge our 200Ah lithium leisure battery.

Victron Multiplus

500VA – 1600VA

RENOGY Inverter Charger

2000W / 3000W

Renogy Inverter Charger with remote switch

Comparison Table

Here’s a table comparing different types of campervan inverter, including their key features, dimensions and ventilation requirements.

WattageSine WaveBudgetPortable / Hard WiredDimensionsVentilation RequirementsRemote/BluetoothUPS function
Epever Ipower IPT
PSW£££Hard-Wired Small286 x 160 x 73mm
371 x 228 x 118mm
387 x 228 x 118mm
150mm from the upper and lower edges of the inverter.RemoteNo
Renogy Inverter
Renogy 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter
PSW£Hard-Wired Small342 x 173 x 76mm
442 x 220 x 92mm
482 x 220 x 92mm
5cm space on all sides.RemoteYes
Epever Ipower Plus

Epever Ipower Plus 12 volt inverter
PSW£££Hard-Wired Large286 x 163.5 x 78mm
371 x 232 x 123mm
557 x 232 x 123mm
150mm from the upper and lower edges of the inverter.RemoteNo
Renogy Inverter Chargers
Renogy Inverter Charger
PSW£££££Hard-Wired Large510 x 248 x 193 mm
510 x 248 x 193 mm
Well ventilated. Fans and vent holes not blocked.RemoteYes
Sunshine Solar
MSW££Portable150 x 105 x 55mm
180 x 105 x 55mm
240 x 150 x 70mm
Not KnownN/ANo
Victron Pheonix
Victron Pheonix Pure Sine Wave Inverter 12 volt 1200
PSW££££Hard-Wired Small86 x 172 x 275mm
105 x 230 x 325mm
117 x 232 x 362mm
10cm space on all sides.Bluetooth*Requires switch
Victron Pheonix Smart
Victron Pheonix Smart 2000w Inverter
PSW£££££Hard-Wired Large485 x 219 x 123mm
485 x 219 x 123mm
533 x 285 x 150mm
10cm space on all sidesBluetooth*Requires switch


As you conclude this post, we hope you better understand how to choose the perfect inverter for your campervan

Remember to consider the factors we discussed, such as the rated power capacity, surge power, and the type of inverter that best suits your needs.

We understand that choosing the appropriate inverter can be a daunting task. However, with the knowledge gained from this post, you can confidently make a decision that best suits your campervan lifestyle.

A suitable inverter ensures you can travel confidently, knowing your power requirements are met.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and choose the perfect inverter for your campervan, and get ready to create unforgettable memories on the open road!

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