Power Source: Step-by-Step Guide to Using an Inverter

An inverter is an option for both the Achtung Camper Campervan and Motorhome, but one that we highly recommend. It is an independent power source and keeps you cooking and charging, even when you cannot plug in anywhere. However, it does depend on how you camp and what you are powering. If you only stay at powered sites at campgrounds and caravan parks then an inverter would not be an essential feature.

Let’s break down its significance, step-by-step.

Firstly, why would I need an inverter?

If you prefer to camp at national parks, free camping or off-grid with no power source, then an inverter is a must. These places have no power, and there will be times when you want to quickly heat up a meal, or cook from scratch. It does allow you to be more flexible with your adventures and stay remote for a longer period, because let’s face it imagine arriving at a secluded, hidden gem with water views and having to turn around to camp somewhere with a power source. Uh-uh!

What does an inverter do?

The purpose of an inverter is to do the job of making the 240 volt plugs available when you are off-grid camping (not plugged into a mains supply). The normal rectangle shaped double power-point socket that you plug appliances into at home is 240 volt. The microwave that comes as an extra feature with our vans can only run on 240 volt. The issue with the 240 volt sockets in your van is that they can only be used when your van is plugged into a power supply, or switched over to an inverter when not plugged into mains.

If you are camping with no option to plug into power, but you would like to use your microwave or induction cooker then the steps to follow are:

1. Turn the inverter on at the green button (located on the battery box behind the driver in both the Transporter and the Crafter, or access the inverter via the sliding door in the Vito).

2. Plug your cooker into your 240 volt plug point.

3. Only use the cooker on a medium to low heat, and for short periods of time otherwise it will drain your battery too quickly.

4. Once finished cooking or operating your microwave or charging a laptop, switch the inverter off at the green button, otherwise the inverter will continue to drain your battery.

Which appliances do not require an inverter?

Camping fridges, lights, and reading lights in our campervans and motorhomes do not need an inverter, because they function on a 12 volt electric circuit. Mobile phones (USB cable to charge) and televisions also use 12 volt. These sockets look similar to the cigarette lighter in your car. There are 12 volt kettles on the market, and they are popular with campers but they would take 20 minutes to boil water and drain majority of the power from your main battery.

A 12 volt power supply can be used without plugging in to an external power source, as it runs from your van’s leisure battery. Learn more about leisure batteries on the blog.

Which inverter to choose?

Achtung’s choice of inverter is ePOWER 2000W inverter with AC Transfer and safety switch by ePOWER. It delivers clean and energy efficient power and joins our family of suppliers delivering sustainable and eco-friendly product options. This is a big tick! There’s also plenty of additional information on the ePOWER website.

The safety switch monitors the flow of electricity through the inverter and detects any problems that may pose a risk to personal safety and turns the power off in less than a second.

Here’s a quick reference for which common appliances use 12 volt or 240 volt:

240 Volt Appliances Examples

Electric Induction Cooker (Transporter and Vito)

12 Volt Appliances Examples

Mobile Phones (USB cable to charger)
Camping Fridges
Drone (check volt)
Camping Kettle (check volt)

Important Notes
Be careful with appliances that are traditionally 240 volt but have been manufactured for the camping industry to 12 volt. Miniature hairdryers and camping kettles will zap a lot of power from your main battery. It’s almost worth opting for old-fashioned methods such as boiling water on the stove, and towel drying hair.

If you are using multiple appliances whilst free camping they need to be limited to 1000W or less. Otherwise, the inverter will not cope with the power wattage. The microwave is approximately 750W and electric induction cooker is 950W. Therefore, these can be used together with your inverter.

It’s a complex feature and one that takes consideration. If you are still unsure email sales@achtungcamper.com.au to discuss.