RV Converter vs Battery Charger

RV Converter vs Battery Charger : Full Topic Discussed

Last Updated on July 31, 2022

Most RVs come with either a converter or a battery charger. Confusing regarding which one: RV Converter vs Battery Charger is appropriate. RV converters and battery chargers are two devices that are often used in RV applications. While they perform similar functions, there are some key differences between them.

RV converters are typically used to convert DC power from the RV batteries into AC power that can be used to run RV appliances. Battery chargers are designed to recharge RV batteries when they are low on power. The charger converts AC voltage into DC voltage, which charges the batteries.

It is important to note that a converter cannot be used for charging an RV’s batteries; only a battery charger can be used for this purpose. As a result, it is important to have a battery charging device and a converter in your RV.

RV Converter vs Battery Charger: Which One is Preferable?

RV Converter vs Battery Charger Which one is preferable

If you own an RV, you’ve probably had to decide whether to use an RV power converter or a battery charger at some point. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to understand the difference between the two before making a decision.

Converters are typically less expensive than battery chargers, but they also tend to be less efficient. Battery chargers in contrast are more expensive up front but they’re more efficient in the long run. Another factor to consider is that converters can be used to charge both lead-acid and gel-cell batteries, while battery chargers are only designed for lead-acid batteries.

Ultimately, the best option for you depends on your budget and your needs. If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful solution, a converter may be the way to go. But if you’re after something more long-lasting, a battery charger is probably the better choice.

Advantages of Both RV Converters and Battery Chargers

Advantages of Both RV Converters and Battery Chargers

RV Converters

RV converters change alternating current (AC) to direct current, making it possible to use AC appliances in an RV. Here are 12 advantages of using RV converters:

  • Relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Small and compact, making them easy to store.
  • Lightweight and portable, making them easy to take with you on the road.
  • Offers a clean and efficient way to power your RV.
  • Safe to use and pose no risk of fire or electrocution.
  • Environmentally friendly, as they do not release harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
  • Quiet, making them ideal for use in RVs where the noise level is a concern.
  • Low energy consumption, making them cost-effective to operate.
  • A variety of voltages and wattages are available to suit your needs.
  • Comes with built-in circuit breakers for safety purposes.
  • Some models come with thermal protection to prevent overheating.
  • Most converters have LED indicator lights that let you know when they are operating properly.

Battery Chargers

There are several types of battery chargers, each with its own set of advantages. Here are 09 advantages of battery chargers:

  • They allow you to charge multiple batteries at once, so you’re never left without.
  • Trickle chargers are ideal for long-term storage, as they maintain a constant voltage and prevent overcharging.
  • Rapid chargers are perfect for quickly restoring power to a depleted battery.
  • Solar chargers are a great eco-friendly option for charging batteries.
  • Many battery chargers come with built-in voltage and current monitors, so you can keep an eye on the charging process.
  • Some chargers also have built-in short-circuit and overheat protection to prevent damage to your batteries.
  • Many new battery chargers are compatible with both standard and rechargeable batteries.
  • Some battery chargers come with USB ports, so you can charge your mobile devices while you’re on the go.
  • Most battery chargers are relatively small and portable, so you can easily take them with you when you travel.

Disadvantages of RV converters and battery chargers

There are several shortcomings associated with RV converters as well as battery chargers. When deciding whether to choose battery chargers or an RV converter, it is important to consider the disadvantages of each option.

RV Converters

  • Often less efficient than other types of electrical power converters, meaning that they waste more energy and generate more heat.
  • Expensive to purchase and install, particularly if you need a high-powered converter for your RV.
  • Difficult to troubleshoot and repair if they break down since they are not always easily accessible.
  • Generate a lot of noise, which can be annoying, especially if you are trying to enjoy the quiet of nature.
  • Create electromagnetic interference (EMI), which can interfere with electronic devices.
  • Produce harmful exhaust fumes, which can be unhealthy for you and your family if you breathe them in.
  • RV converters can be a fire hazard if they are not properly installed and maintained.
  • Requires a lot of maintenance, such as regularly cleaning the air filter and replacing the spark plugs.
  • It can be finicky and may not work properly in extreme cold or hot temperatures.
  • Difficult to find a replacement if it fails.

Battery Chargers

  • Takes up a lot of space.
  • Heavy and difficult to move around.
  • Noisy, making it difficult to sleep or concentrate.
  • Emits fumes, which can be dangerous to your health.
  • Overheating issues, posing a fire hazard.
  • Expensive to purchase and maintain.
  • Require regular electrolyte levels cleaning and checking maintenance.
  • Produce sparks, which can be dangerous if they come into contact with flammable materials.
  • Cause damage to batteries if used improperly.
  • Interferes with electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers.

Despite their cons, they offer crucial benefits for your RV battery charge. Both devices can help to reduce the cost of running an RV, so they are worth considering. There are several reasons why we should overlook the drawbacks of using battery chargers and RV converters and get one of them.

RV Converter vs Battery Charger : Types and Usage

RV Converter vs Battery Charger Types and Usage

RV converters charge your batteries and convert shore power into 12V DC power, so for the most part, the two terms are interchangeable. RV converters are also battery chargers but with additional features. Battery chargers are only intended for charging batteries.

Types and Usage of RV Converters

One of the primary considerations is what type of converter you need. RV converters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each designed to suit the specific needs of RVs. They can be classified or typed in numerous ways according to features. There are three types of RV converters according to their power output and affordability:

  • Modified sine wave: Most common and affordable type.
  • Pure sine wave: Offers clean power and is compatible with all types of electronics.
  • Multi-mode: Offers the best of both, providing clean power at an affordable price.
  • One way converter: 
  • Two way converter: 
  • Multi-stage converter: 

Modified Sine Wave Converters: As the name implies, a modified sine wave RV converter produces a modified sine waveform of AC power. This is done by simply chopping up the AC sine wave at a high frequency and then rebuilding it using square waves. The result is an approximation of a sine wave that works well enough for most purposes.

Pure Sine Wave RV Converters: They are a type of electrical converter that is used to convert DC power from a battery or solar panel into AC power.

The waveform of the AC power produced by a pure sine wave converter is a smooth, sinusoidal wave, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a “true sine wave” converter. Despite being expensive, they are necessary for powering some types of electronics, including laptops and microwaves.

Multi-Mode RV Converters: This type of converter is designed to work with both AC and DC power sources. The converter consists of a rectifier, an inverter, and a transformer. When the RV is plugged into an AC power source, the rectifier changes the AC power into DC power. 

The inverter then converts the DC power back into AC power. When the RV is running on battery power, the inverter converts the DC power into AC power. The transformer then regulates the voltage level so that it is compatible with the RV’s electrical system.

One Way Converters: These are devices that allow you to use your RV’s electrical system with a standard 110v AC power outlet. The converter converts the alternating current into the direct current from a single source of power, allowing it to recharge the RV’s batteries. 

Most one-way converters also have an inverter, which allows you to use DC power to run AC appliances. This can be used to power appliances in an RV, such as a fridge or a TV. 

Two Way Converters: Two-way RV converters are devices that can convert (AC) into (DC), or vice versa. AC is the type of electricity that is typically used in homes and businesses, while DC electricity is used in RVs and boats. 

Two-way converters are able to change AC into DC and then back into AC again. This allows for the use of standard household appliances in an RV without the need for special adapters or plugs. In addition, two-way converters are often used to charge RV batteries from a standard household outlet. 

Multi Stage Converters: The converter takes the alternating current from the RV’s hookups and converts it into direct current. This process is known as rectification. The DC power is later used to charge the RV’s batteries and to power any 12-volt devices that are plugged into the converter. Multi-stage converters are more efficient than single-stage converters, and they also help to extend the life of the RV’s batteries. 

The first stage of the converter regulates the AC voltage, and the second stage uses a DC-to-DC converter to charge the batteries. The third stage of the converter is a low-voltage disconnect that prevents the batteries from being overcharged. They are an essential part of many RVs, and they help to ensure that the RV has a reliable source of power.

Types and Usage of Battery Chargers

Types and Usage of Battery Chargers

When it comes to RV battery chargers, there are a few different types available. RV battery chargers are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Continue reading for some of them listed below:

  • AC Powered Battery Chargers
  • DC Powered Battery Chargers
  • Trickle Battery Chargers
  • Solar Battery Chargers
  • Generator Powered Chargers
  • All in one Battery Chargers

AC Powered Battery Chargers: AC powered battery chargers are a type of charger that uses alternating current in order to charge batteries. AC chargers work by using a rectifier for converting and then using that direct current to charge the battery. Chargers that use AC power are typically more efficient than DC chargers, and they can also charge batteries faster.

DC Powered Battery Chargers: Most RVs have a 12-volt DC battery system that powers the lights and other electrical devices. Battery chargers are devices that use direct current power to charge the batteries in RVs. 

The charging process works by connecting the positive and negative terminals of the charger to the corresponding terminals on the battery. This causes a flow of electrons from the charger to the battery, which charges the battery. Most DC powered RV battery chargers have a built-in voltage regulator that prevents overcharging. 

Trickle Battery Chargers: Trickle chargers are battery chargers that slowly and steadily add electricity to a battery over time. Unlike standard chargers, which deliver a large amount of electricity all at once, trickle chargers work by slowly raising the voltage of the battery. Allowing it to safely absorb the charge. They work by sending a small amount of current (usually between 2 and 6 amps) through the RV battery. 

Solar Battery Chargers: Solar battery chargers take advantage of the renewable energy of the sun to recharge RV batteries. These chargers work by converting sunlight into electrical energy, which can then be stored in batteries. They’re made up of one or more solar panels, which collect sunlight and convert it into electrical energy. 

When the batteries are full, the charger will shut off automatically. The charger will turn back on and begin supplying power to the batteries again when there is a need for power. Solar battery chargers are a great way to keep your RV batteries topped off while on the go. They’re also affordable and easy to install.

Generator Powered Chargers: Most generator powered chargers have two inputs: one for AC power and one for DC power. The AC input charges the batteries, while the DC input is used to power the charger itself. The generator produces alternating current, which is then converted into direct current by the charger. 

All in one Battery Chargers: All-in-one rechargeable battery chargers that can be used with multiple types of batteries. These chargers combine multiple functions into one unit, making them easy to use and compact. They typically have multiple ports, which charge different types of batteries simultaneously. Most all-in-one battery chargers also include a built-in display that shows the charging status of each individual battery. 

Components of RV Converters

Components of RV Converters

A typical RV converter consists of some main components:

  • Bridge Rectifier: The Bridge Rectifier is one of the essential components of an RV Converter. Its function is to change the Alternating Current (AC) from the shore power or generator into Direct Current (DC). Since most of the RV’s electrical appliances and accessories run on DC power. 

Without a Bridge Rectifier, these devices will not work. The Bridge Rectifier is usually a large, block-shaped component with 4 or 6 terminals. It is typically installed near the Converter’s Power Center. 

  • Power Transformer: A power transformer is a device that transforms the alternating current from your RV’s electrical hookup into the direct current (DC) that powers the lights, appliances, and other accessories in your rig. This provides the necessary voltage for the inverter to function properly.
  • Inverter: Inverters are devices that convert DC electricity to AC electricity, and they are an integral component of any RV converter. Most RVs have a 120-volt AC power system, which means that the inverter must change the DC battery power to 120-volt AC. 

A good rule of thumb is to choose an inverter that is at least twice the wattage of the appliance you plan to run. For example, if you want to be able to run a coffee maker that requires 1000 watts, you would need an inverter that is 2000 watts or more.

  • Transfer Switch: With a transfer switch, your RV’s electrical system will be isolated from the power grid, preventing damage from electrical surges, and you can seamlessly switch between the shoreline and generator power.
  • Power Distribution Panel: The power distribution panel is also responsible for distributing power to the RV’s lights, as well as any 120-volt AC appliances connected to the panel. 

In some RVs, the power distribution panel also contains circuit breakers or fuses for each of the circuits in the RV. These components help to protect the wiring in the RV from damage caused by overloading or short circuits.

  • Capacitors: Capacitors have two terminals that are connected to either side of an electrical circuit. When the capacitor is connected to a power source, it stores energy in an electric field between its plates. This stored energy can then be released into the circuit as needed. They regulate the power flow.
  • Diodes: Diodes are devices that allow electrical current to flow in one direction only. This is important because it helps to prevent damage to sensitive electronic components. 

In an RV converter, the diode helps to protect the circuitry from voltage spikes that can occur when hooking up to an AC power source

Without a diode, these voltage spikes could damage the converter, resulting in costly repairs. In addition to protecting the circuit board, diodes also help improve the efficiency of the converter by minimizing power losses.

Components of Battery Chargers

Components of Battery Chargers

By understanding the basic components of a battery charger, you can be sure that your batteries will always be properly charged and ready. A typical battery charger includes: 

  • Resistor: The resistor is one of the key components of this process, as it helps to regulate the flow of electricity and prevent damage to the battery. This ensures that all of the cells in the battery are at the same voltage level, which allows the charger to then apply the optimal amount of current. 
  • Capacitor: A capacitor is a device that stores energy in the form of electrical charge when it is powered. It becomes charged and can then release that charge to provide power. Also smooths out any fluctuations in the DC current.
  • Inductor: The inductor of a battery charger, and its function is to store electrical charge in a magnetic field. When the current flowing through the inductor changes, the stored energy is released in the form of an electromagnetic field. This EMP pulse will charge a battery. The higher the inductance of an inductor, the more energy it can store. 
  • Rectifier: A rectifier is an essential component of any battery charger, and its main purpose is to transform AC electricity into DC electricity. This process is important because it allows the charger to store energy in the battery more efficiently. 

The rectifier is typically made up of a series of diodes, which are electronic components that allow electricity to pass in a single direction. When AC power is applied to the diodes, they will only conduct current in one direction, meaning that the DC output will be smooth and steady. 

Without a rectifier, the DC output would be choppy and less efficient, making it more difficult to charge the battery.

  • Regulator: Its job is to ensure that the voltage flowing into the batteries is at the correct level. Too much voltage can damage the batteries, while too little voltage will prevent them from charging properly. 

The regulator also helps to protect batteries from overcharging, which can shorten their lifespan. In order to function properly, the regulator must be matched to the type and size of the batteries being used. The regulator plays a crucial role in an RV battery charger.

  • Status Indicator: A status indicator is an important component of a battery charger, as it lets you know when the batteries are fully charged. There are two main types of status indicators: visual and audible. 

Visual indicators are usually located on the front of the charger, and they typically consist of a series of LED lights that turn on or change color. 

Audible indicators make a beeping sound when the batteries are done charging. Some chargers have both types of status indicators, while others have just one or the other.

  • Control Circuit: The Control Circuit is the “brain” of the battery charger. Its job is to make sure that the charging process is happening correctly and safely. The control circuit monitors things like voltage, current, and temperature in order to ensure that the batteries are being charged properly. If something goes wrong, the control circuit will shut off the charger to prevent damage.
  • Ammeter: An ammeter is a vital part of an RV battery charger. It helps to measure the amount of current flowing through the charging system. Without an ammeter, it would be difficult to tell if the charger was working correctly or if the batteries were being overcharged. Also helps to diagnose charging problems by revealing whether too much or too little current is flowing through the system.
  • Thermal Shutoff Switch: This is a critical component of any RV battery charger. This switch is designed to prevent the charger from overheating, which can damage the battery and cause a fire. The switch is located near the batteries, and it monitors the temperature of the battery cells. 

If the cells get too hot, the switch will automatically disconnect the charger, preventing damage. The switch works by sensing the temperature of the charger and shutting off the power if it gets too hot. In most cases, the switch will automatically reset when the temperature drops.

  • Voltmeter: The voltmeter of an RV battery charger measures the amount of voltage that is being delivered to the batteries, and it also serves as a safety feature. 

If the voltmeter indicates that the voltage is too high, an automatic shutdown will take place to prevent damage to the batteries. In addition, the voltmeter can also help to diagnose problems with the charger itself.


1. What happens if you have neither a converter nor battery charger?

What happens if you have neither converter nor battery charger

Without an RV converter or battery charger, your RV will not be able to function. The converter is responsible for converting the DC energy from the batteries into AC power, which is used to power appliances, lights, and other electronic devices in your RV. 

The battery charger is responsible for keeping the batteries charged so that they can power the converter. If either of these two devices fails, your RV will be without power and will be unable to function. 

In order to avoid this situation, it is important to regularly check and maintain both the converter and the battery charger. By doing so, you can ensure that your RV will always have the power it needs to keep running.

2. Do you need both a converter and a battery charger?

There may be a question of whether you require both simultaneously. The answer depends on how you plan to use your RV. Mostly hooking up to shore power, then a converter will suffice. However, if you’re planning to do more boondocking and dry camping, then you’ll require the use of a battery charger and converter. 

If you’re only going to be using your RV for short trips and won’t be needing any major appliances, then a RV converter charger should suffice. A battery charger, on the other hand, charges the RV’s batteries when they are low. So, if you’ll be spending more time off-grid, it’s important to have both an RV power converter and lithium battery charger on board.

3. How do you know when to use a converter vs a battery charger? 

Chargers and converters for RVs serve two different purposes, and it’s important to know when to use each one. RV converters are used to convert 120-volt AC power from shore power or a generator into 12-volt DC power. 

This is the power inverter that is used to run the lights, fans, and other 12-volt appliances in an RV. Battery chargers, on the other hand, are used to charge the RV’s batteries. This is important because the batteries are what provides power to the RV’s 12-volt appliances when there is no shore power or generator available. 

So, if you’re just looking to run some lights or fans in your RV, you’ll need to use an RV converter. But if you want to charge your RV’s batteries, you’ll need to use a battery charger.


RV Converters vs Battery Chargers, which one is better for your needs? The answer ultimately depends on what you need and what your preferences are. No matter which option someone chooses, it’s important to be aware of the components of each in order to make an informed decision.

If you are frequently using your RV and need a reliable power source, and want something that is more powerful and can handle larger loads, then an RV converter would be preferable. 

However, if you’re looking for something more lightweight and portable that can be used for occasional trips, something that is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, then a battery charger might be the better option for you.

Let us know in the comments below.

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