Hello, friends of Fitty. Marlan here. I thought I would spend a little time today just going over RV power. There's a lot of things about RV power; you got the lights, you got LEDs, you have inverters, converters, generators, AC, DC. It can be so darn confusing that I thought I'd just spend a little time doing a little chalk talk.
We're going to start at the top and just give you some basics. You don't have to be an electrical engineer, you don't have to be a scientist. The way I'm going to do it is super-simple and it will be just enough for you to be able to figure a lot of things out on your own. I think the first thing I'd like to talk about is, what is power? Power is this thing you run your RV on. You got solar power, you got power off the side of the things, you consume power. Let's just go over it a little bit. I'm going to draw. We're going to do chalk talk and see if this can help.
When you plug into the wall, you're plugging into a thing; it looks like this. It's shaped like this and it's got this, this, this, and this. You usually call it a 110 power outlet. I want to tell you a little bit about it. It's AC power, means alternating current, and that's very, very different than what's in a battery. What we mean by AC power is this:
There's this thing called 0 Volts. There is no volts right here, so there's 0 volts. You know what I'm talking about? I'm being facetious; there's no volts on this, it's 0. Then through power generation and all that, you can actually make a voltage level.
The type of power that's inside of the AC power plug looks like this: It goes above 0, it goes below 0, it goes above 0, it goes below zero, and on, and on and on. Between here and here, these waves which occur in time, believe it or not, is 1/60 of a second. The 60 is, we call that the cycles; it's hertz. When you say, “So-and-so has a 60-hertz . . .” they're just meaning how fast their alternating current alternates. This isn't hugely important. It's just fun knowledge, so don't get too hung up on it. Remember that what's in your goes up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, and up and down. It's AC; it's alternating. It's how the entire United States works, really, Europe and probably every other country for all I know. That's alternating current.
The next type of current we're going to talk about is called DC, which is direct current. More than anything, I'm going to draw a 9-volt battery. Remember the 9-volt battery? It goes in your transistor radio. It's only about yea big, I drew it bigger. One of these terminals is named Plus, and one of them's named Minus, and you hook 2 wires up to it. Remember the other one is AC; there's no such thing as a +/- because when it's above 0, 1's plus, when it's below 0, then that one technically is minus. Batteries are a little different; they have power like this, where there's a 0 on the voltage, and then they have a level of voltage which is 9. This a level of how to a degree of much power . . . that's the wrong thing. It's how much voltage, it's how much potential there is to do something. If you get volts too high, it can destroy things, if you get volts too low, it can destroy things. The point behind this is to explain the difference between AC and DC.
Because your RV runs on battery when you're boondocking, a lot of times, you'll be on DC power because you're not plugged into the power system, entire United States power system, which is AC power; you're on a different power system which is optimal for an RV, a boat, or something very small. That's DC, and it works well with batteries. You see what the United States and the world on is AC. What's inside your RV, what it likes to run on, is DC. They're different. Part of what you get into in power around RVs has to do with that difference.