Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Fifth wheel travel trailers – inverters and generators


gary-736Dear Gary,
Do fifth-wheel travel trailers have inverters? If they do not, then I need one with a generator, right? —Robert P.

Hi Robert,
Many 5th wheel travel trailers are indeed equipped with an inverter. In some cases, however, they may not power all 120-volt AC loads in the same manner as an on-board generator. Some trailers are equipped with both an inverter and a generator. It just depends on the manufacturer — no hard and fast rule here.

Xantrex inverter

Some inverters are not designed to handle some loads like a rooftop air conditioner for instance. My recommendation is to find the trailer you like, see how it is equipped and then upgrade as necessary depending on your planned use of the RV. Just about anything can be done in the aftermarket to upgrade just about any RV according to the owner’s wishes! That’s what’s great about our aftermarket! 

Just so you know, if you’re going to purchase an aftermarket inverter, I always recommend investing in a true sine wave output inverter. Modified square wave inverters are more limiting than true sine wave inverters. You’ll pay more up front, but with the technology today, the true sine wave output is just as smooth a waveform as electricity from the grid. 

Likewise, some fivers are equipped with a generator. Of course, if you opt for a gasoline unit, it will require extra space for a fuel tank too. You’ll find AC generators on the larger units, but again, just about anything is possible in the aftermarket! And it’s not uncommon to find RVs sold without an inverter or a generator. You want AC electricity? You’ll have to plug into a shoreline source. Choose wisely, but remember, the aftermarket is a wonderful place!

Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.




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Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

I know everyone says you should get a “pure sine wave” inverter to protect delicate electronic devices. I’ve used a Cobra modified sine wave inverter for over 20 years (yup – the same one!) in two trailers and never had an issue with charging anything. Computers, cell phones, cameras, you name it. On VERY rare occasions it even runs our microwave, and always runs wifey’s hair dryer. Just MY experience, of course.

5 years ago

A “5th wheel trailer” has a “gooseneck” (that attaches near the middle of the bed of a pickup). A “[standard] travel trailer” is towed by a ball hitch near the pickup’s bumper. Both are only form factors of the trailer itself, and an inverter can be OEM built-in or added aftermarket to either type of trailer.

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