RV Electrical System Basics
For a person new to RV’s, the RV is a perplexing beast. I haven’t found lots of beginner materials, so I thought I would write up a little information that can help newbies. Almost everything I am learning comes from Puma, our trusty travel trailer and our Open Range 399BHS.
Types of Electrical Systems in an RV
There are two types of electricity in the world, DC and AC. AC is what you get from the wall socket in your house. DC is the type of electricity that is used in cars and is very compatible with battery systems.
An RV has both types of electrical systems. The AC power enters the RV and then is routed to many appliances that operate on AC. It also routes to a device called a converter which converts AC power to DC. The DC from the converter goes to several DC appliances and to the battery. When the AC power goes away (because you are camping without a connection to AC power for example) then DC power from the battery is sent to the DC appliances.
Some devices are ‘dual powered’ in odd ways so that you can use them without a connection to AC power and still have many modern conveniences.
Refrigerator : The refrigerator is dual powered but not like you think. It can work off of AC power when you are connected to AC, but it can also keep food cold when it is not connected to AC power by using LP gas (surprise). So you can have cold food when you are dry camping (no hookups)! [ Updated : This was unique to our Puma – Our Open Range actually uses AC, then DC, then finally LP gas – all automatically switched ]
The following items ARE NOT operable UNLESS you are connected to AC power : Roof Air Conditioner, Microwave Oven, AC converter, AC power outlets, some lights, and the TV. [ Update : In our Openrange, the Microwave is a DC Microwave and we have NO AC lights. All of our lights are DC ]
Puma does not have a generator but if it did, then we could watch TV in the jungle.