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The Best RV Converters (110V AC to 12V DC)

Written by Philip Lopez / Fact checked by Paul Lemaire

best rv converter

Do you know that you can power your 12-volt appliances and devices when hooking an RV to the shore power outlet? It’s possible with the best RV converter to turn the shore’s 110V AC power to 12V DC power.

This type of device supplies power to and protects your rig’s electrical system. It also helps recharge your RV batteries to keep them from draining too much. Since power is important in running your appliances, having a converter is a must-have in your rig.

To choose the best converter, here are some points to consider:

  • Ease of installation: A good RV converter should be easy to install. The open-top design of deck-mounted converters makes them the easiest to set up. For guidance, look for an instruction manual that shows the proper wiring connections.
  • Safety features: Safety is always a top priority. The best models offer safeguards from low line voltage, reverse polarity, and overload. When the unit is exposed to ambient temperatures, the cooling fan activates to prevent overheating.
  • Charging process: A multi-stage converter wins in this aspect. Compared to a single-stage model, multi-stage units offer different levels of charging to keep batteries in their best shape. They recharge devices quickly and trickle down their operation when charging is complete.

There are still a lot of things to learn in our buying guide below. We’ll tackle the different types of converters and highlight their benefits. But first, let us review five of the most outstanding RV converters on the market today.

Product name Outstanding Features
Top 1
Powermax PM3 Series 55
  • 3-stage charging system
  • WF-9800 series battery chargers
  • Stays cool with thermal protection
Details
Top 2
WFCO WF-9855 55
  • Comes with a cooling fan
  • Durable and safe to handle
  • Offers a reliable 55-amp power
Details
Top 3
Powermax PM4 55A
  • Easy to install and wire
  • 4-stage charging system
  • Won’t overcharge devices
Details

Top 5 RV Converter Reviews

1. Powermax PM3 Series 55 Amp Power Supply Converter

Powermax’s 55-amp model is an excellent power converter for RV that turns 110V AC power into 12V DC power. It’s a good upgrade or replacement for WF-9800 series converter chargers.

What I like most is the 3-stage charging process of the PM3 series. It does what it’s supposed to do — keeping the battery charged while extending its life. I’m pleased that I can hook this device to any type of automotive battery and have no worries about overcharging/undercharging problems.

This RV AC DC converter has a cooling fan that works smoothly while producing no more than a whisper. I like that the fan is temperature controlled, so it only circulates air when the unit gets hotter. True enough, the unit stays cool to the touch even when in use in the summer.

I think that this RV power converter charger will last for a long time. It offers protection from overload and reverse polarity to protect batteries from damage. I truly appreciate the thermal protection of this 12v converter because it makes me feel at ease that the unit won’t overheat when I’m traveling in hot weather.

The unit can run any appliance and charge any type of RV battery with no problem. However, it comes with poorly written instructions.
Pros
  • Has a temperature-controlled fan with a quiet operation
  • Designed with a 3-stage charging system, no over or undercharging
  • RV converter charger replacement for WF-9800 series battery chargers
  • Works with all types of automotive batteries
  • Protects from reverse polarity, overload, and overheating
  • Stays cool with thermal protection
Cons
  • Comes with poor instructions
Overall, I’m more than satisfied with the performance of the Powermax PM3 Series. The unit charges RV batteries safely and quickly. It also has enough protection to prevent reverse polarity, overload, and overheating.

2. WFCO WF-9855 55 Amp Deck Mount Converter

The WF-985 is another great option for camper usage. This 55 amp deck mount converter seems enough to offer reliable and clean power to all my pumps, leveling jacks, and other 12-volt devices.

What I love most about this electric converter is that it works in a 3-stage charging process. The unit trickle charges to extend the life of my battery when I’m parking the RV for a while. When my power bank comes really low, the converter amps up its operation to increase the battery’s capacity.

The cooling fan on this converter battery charger works quietly. This aspect is important to me because I’m a light sleeper and I don’t want to wake up in the middle of a nap. And since the fan only works as necessary, it saves power.

The overall construction is another attractive aspect of this model. It has an open-top design to make installation fairly easy. I didn’t even have to get new wiring for the setup, as my old one worked just fine.

Thanks to the fully insulated DC connections, I can handle the unit without any fear of getting electrocuted. The insulation also serves as a great barrier to moisture and heat, hence preventing premature damage.

If there’s something to nitpick, it will be the warranty service. Buyers have to be patient when getting a defective product replaced because the brand will take six weeks to evaluate it.
Pros
  • Offers a reliable 55-amp power
  • Features a 3-stage charging process, adjusts itself according to the battery level
  • Comes with a cooling fan that works silently and only as needed
  • Easy to install with its open-top design
  • Durable and safe to handle, thanks to the full insulation
Cons
  • Has a poor warranty service
Altogether, this WFCO power supply converter charger offers great ease of installation. It also does not disappoint in terms of quick, efficient charging of RV batteries.

3. Powermax PM4 55A 110V AC to 12V DC Power Converter

The PM4 55A is another excellent power converter from Powermax. Like the PM3 series, the PM4 is compatible with lithium batteries and offers excellent protection.

The best part about this motorhome converter is its 4-stage charging system. It’s excellent for charging multiple batteries in boats, cars, or other automotive vehicles. Fortunately, I encountered no problem setting the voltage output to 14.6 when powering my lithium-ion power bricks.

When the batteries are full, the device slows down to prevent overcharging. Similar to the PM3, this unit provides protection from reverse polarity, overheating, and overload. This aspect helps increase the longevity of the model.

Unlike my previous Powermax PM4-100 power converter, I’m not bothered by the fan noise of this 55A device. In reality, the fan’s noise doesn’t interrupt my 2-way radio communication. I also like that this unit doesn’t get very hot while under load.

Surprisingly, the unit is easy to install in the trailer. It fits into the panel just right and is easy to wire. Just don’t forget to set up the ground wire to prevent electric hazards.

Overall, this unit has the same downside as the PM3 series. It comes with poor instructions.
Pros
  • Charges automotive batteries, including lithium-ion batteries
  • Features a 4-stage charging system, perfect for battery banks
  • Protects the unit from heat, reverse polarity, and overload
  • Has a low fan noise and won’t get hot while in use
  • Easy to install and wire
  • Won’t overcharge devices
Cons
  • Instructions aren’t helpful
Altogether, I find the PM4 an upgrade to the PM3. Instead of three stages, this new model offers four charging phases to maintain our battery’s life. The unit is also packed with excellent safety features to help extend its life.

4. Progressive Dynamics PD9260CV Inteli-Power 9200 Series Converter

The PD9260CV Inteli-Power is a 60-amp charger for travel trailers. This RV smart converter offers filtered DC power to all my 12v devices, offering dependable service.

I love the built-in charger of this unit. The Charge Wizard helps me monitor the charging process and even change the voltage the device puts out. I love that it’s smart enough to determine whether my battery needs a quick recharge or is at full capacity.

The said Charge Wizard has four modes to address the need of the RV battery. I believe that it selects the Boost mode when the batteries need a quick recharge. When they become idle for long hours, the Wizard senses it and reduces the voltage output to charge in Storage mode.

I’m pleased with the reverse battery protection because it prevented damage to the unit when I hooked my RV batteries backward. I also don’t worry about irregular power flows damaging my camper battery, thanks to the converter’s low line voltage protection and excess voltage reduction.

The unit also comes with a nice cooling fan that only turns on when it senses a rising temperature. At a lower fan speed, the sound is barely noticeable.

However, the converter creates a buzzing noise for a few minutes after the fan stops working.
Pros
  • Offers clean DC power to all devices
  • Integrated with a smart Charge Wizard that works in four modes
  • Has a Storage mode and a Boost mode to charge quickly
  • Protects the unit from low battery voltage, reverse batteries, and overloads
  • Built with a quiet, automatic fan
Cons
  • May produce a buzzing sound after the fan stops operation
All in all, this is a good converter for RV trailer for RV owners looking for an intelligent model. This unit comes with battery charger that works depending on our needs and many safety features.

5. RecPro RV Converter

This 35-amp converter handles a maximum of 510 watts. This amount of power is enough to work my water pump, fridge, and other low-amperage devices.

The thing that appeals to me most is the LED indicator light. Thanks to that light, I know whether my converter is functioning or not. Also, there’s a fan to help cool the unit when the weather gets hot or the load overburdens the unit.

Like many other converters in its class, RecPro offers a 3-stage charging mechanism. Once the battery is full, it switches to a trickle maintenance mode. With this feature, I’ll never have to worry about overcharging my power banks again.

RecPro is another excellent converter for lithium batteries. It also works for AMG batteries and lead-acid ones. I appreciate that this unit is adjustable regarding voltage, so it’s versatile to use in any situation. The device seems to use 14.6 volts when charging the battery quickly under the Boost mode.

My only dislike is that the fan seems to run a bit loud. Thankfully, the fan cycles on and off, so I don’t hear the noise all the time.
Pros
  • Has an indicator light to signify power
  • Built with a temperature-controlled fan to cool the unit
  • Designed with three stages of charging
  • Won’t overcharge batteries, thanks to the trickle maintenance mode
  • Works with AGM, lithium, and lead-acid batteries
  • Has adjustable voltage output to suit any situation, handles 510W at maximum
Cons
  • A bit noisy due to the fan’s operation
Altogether, this RecPro 35-amp converter works well for an RV with low amperage devices. It offers a 3-stage charging method and stands out with its versatility. It can work with lead acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries at different voltage outputs.

What To Know Before Buying RV Converter

power-converter-for-rv

RV converters are necessary for a more convenient RV life, but choosing one can be a little daunting because there are many features to consider. Before you make a purchase decision, here are things you need to know.

The different types of RV converters

RV power converters come in many types, so you must know them to find the best one that suits your needs.

  • High output converter: If you run a high load of appliances, consider getting a high-output converter. This type delivers about 80-90 amps of DC output. [1]
  • Deck mount converter: This type is the easiest to install. You can pick any place to install in your rig where your cords will reach. It’s perfect for customized rigs as you can install the unit under seats or anywhere else you desire. [2]
  • Multi-stage converter: Also known as a smart converter, this type is a good RV converter upgrade if you own a single-stage converter. Unlike a single-stage model, a multi-stage unit has 3-4 charging stages to suit different battery states.

When your battery runs very low, it charges in a bulk or boost mode. It goes into the normal or absorption mode when the battery almost reaches a full charge. After the battery is full, it switches into a trickle charge. A fourth equalization stage is necessary to prolong battery life.

Benefits and drawbacks of RV converters

Many appliances in your RV run on DC power. They include gas leak detectors, light bulbs, and fans. To use home electricity for your camper, you’ll need an RV converter.

The top-rated RV converters transform the AC power from typical shore power or generator into DC power safely. They’re packed with many safety features to protect your electrical system. For instance, there are models with low line voltage protection to safeguard appliances from low voltage issues.

Also, a converter helps recharge your RV batteries. You need to keep them full to power your small devices when you go boondocking. If you choose a charger with smart features, you can prolong the life of your power units as well.

However, you’ll need to be mindful of the load capacity. If you overload the converter, you can blow a fuse. Also, some of these models have noisy built-in fans that may irritate you.

Features To Look For

RV converters are packed with features to work more efficiently. Here are some attributes that you should look for:

  • Installation: You want to choose a converter that’s easy to install. Some models are pretty straightforward, so it’s easy to fit them in your rig. Check the instruction manual for the wiring connections and find an accessible location in your camper.
  • Charging system: RV converter chargers work either in a single stage or multiple stages. The latter is preferable because it charges the batteries more quickly and efficiently.

The top-tier RV converter charger should also be compatible with many battery types, including your own. Besides, ones with a high battery capacity will be of great use.

  • Safety features: Converters easily get hot under load and ambient temperatures, so try to look for an efficient cooling fan to dissipate the heat. Thermal protection also helps prevent overheating problems. You also want to protect the unit from reverse polarity and overloading to keep it from damage.

What is the Difference Between an RV Inverter and Converter

RV power converters and inverters both change your electrical supplies. The difference is their transformation.

An RV inverter turns the 12-volt DC power to 110 AC power. It’s used to run AC-powered appliances like TVs, motors, and radios.

Conversely, a converter transforms AC to DC power. It’s used to power a wide variety of electrical devices like water pumps, lights, and gas appliances.

How Big of a Converter Do I Need

To get the right size, determine the continuous power ratings of the appliances that you’re trying to operate in your RV. The converter’s rating should be high enough to manage all the loads when these appliances are working simultaneously.

The capacity of converters/chargers are measured in amps. To compute the total amps you need, divide the total wattage of all your DC-powered devices by volts.

Let’s say you get a total of 40 amps in power. You should look for a converter capable of handling more than 40 amps. In this case, a 45 amp RV converter is possible. Using a 30 amp RV power converter at this point will only trip the circuit breakers.

Will an RV Converter Work Without a Battery

Yes, a converter will still run without a battery. Just make sure that your RV is hooked to shore power. Also, read the manufacturer manual before doing it because there might be precautions to take.

Can I Use a Higher Amp Converter in My RV

It’s not recommended to use a higher amp converter in your camper. It should depend on your total load. Going more than five amps is okay, but going beyond that might cause potential problems like overheating the wiring.

For instance, it’s not wise to use a 50 amp RV converter when you only need 30 amps.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an RV Converter

An RV power converter replacement costs around $150 to $1,600. Technically, a higher amperage means a higher price. For budget reasons, you should choose a model that’s enough to power all your devices.

How Do You Troubleshoot a WFCO 65 Amp Power Converter

rv-converter-upgrade

It’s easy. Here are WFCO 65 amp power converter troubleshooting guides:

  • Test the converter using a voltage meter to know whether it’s working. The meter should read around 12-13 volts.
  • Conduct regular maintenance on your RV battery because the life of your converter depends on it.
  • Check the cooling fan for any dirt or blockage. Clean the fan as necessary.
  • Inspect the battery to see whether it is dead or not. This is especially important if you have stored the RV for a long time.
  • Watch out for any blown fuses on the circuit board. Replacing the fuses is cheaper than buying a whole new converter unit.

If none of these troubleshooting tips work, perhaps it’s time to get a new converter.

Conclusion

The best RV converter can truly make your life safer and more convenient. Our top recommendation is the Powermax PM3 Series because it can run a good amount of 12-volt devices and charge any type of battery. I like its many safety features, like reverse polarity protection to help keep the unit safe from damage.

If you want to buy your own RV converter, you can follow our guide above. Make sure that the model’s capacity can handle all the loads you have in your RV. Moreover, choose a brand that you trust.

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