If you're looking to install an inverter to your van and wondering how best to do so, here are a few things to look at before you do.
When choosing the inverter, ensure you select something with an RCD (such as Projecta or Enerdrive). This ensures you have the same safety features as at home and reduces the chance of electrocution. Connecting to the RCD you use for mains will not work and the RCD will not activate.
You then need to decide which way to hook power up to it:
- Plugging into it. Running a lead directly to the inverter. This is the easiest when the van wasn't originally wired for an inverter, though is the most unsafe. This should not be done to the main inlet of the van and the RCD (Residual Current Device, or safety switch) will not function.
- Install one power point, wired to the inverter. The handiest way to install an aftermarket inverter. It is advised to have this wired by an electrician so that an RCD can be installed on the line for safety.
- Wire into the mains circuit using a 3-position changeover switch. This is closer to how an inverter is wired during build. The downside to this is that you can have items such as the HWS, Aircon, Fridge and Battery Management System running from it. During build, we wire an inverter circuit, which is all main power points and a supply circuit, which is all of those previously mentioned high draw items.
You will need to place the inverter as close to the batteries as possible, as the average current drawn from the batteries will be 10% of the wattage of the load you're powering. This means that if you're running a toaster at 2000w, you'll need to be able to comfortably draw 200amps through the cable you're connecting. This cable is rather costly and the longer the distance, the greater the voltage drop will be and the worse it will perform.
You may need to increase your battery capacity considerably to comfortably use the inverter without damaging your batteries. Tests run in-house had a 270ah battery bank powering an inverter running a 2000w load, which was drawing 198 amps. The batteries were completely depleted to a full shutdown in only Forty-three minutes.
Fore safety and future protection for yourself I recommend having a professional install it as any modifications performed can void the warranty on any parts of the system affected by the changes. As previously mentioned, inverters are incredibly hard on batteries and can lead to their early failure.