Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

June 17, 2011

New Inverter Installed

Xantrex Prowatt SW Inverter in Electrical Cavity
And look at that open space!  A place to hide something.
Yesterday, I finished installing my new inverter.  It is a pure sine wave Xantrex Prowatt SW 1000 with a remote switch.  My biggest stumbling block for installing it was finding connectors for the very fine stranded 1/0 audio wire that the old inverter POS was connected to.  After failing to get a soldered connection and another screw on connector, I finally found a clunky but all copper screw-down connector at Home Depot that made a firm connection.  Once that was nailed down, I could proceed.  I had made a new ground cable and mounted it to the ground screw when doing the converter installation so that was ready.

Inverter wires
The inverter only powers a single AC outlet on the wall at the end of the seating/bed area.  It has a yellow Romex wire to power it and was wired directly into the old converter.  The new converter said nothing about a direct wire capability.  It has a dual GFCI outlet.  I cut the wire off the old inverter and got a replacement grounded plug and wired that to the old yellow wire to be plugged into the inverter outlet.

The old remote panel located over the side door was confusing because it had a bunch of charging switches and lights that didn't actually do anything.  All it ever really did was turn the inverter on and off.  I noticed the panel had a second set of markings on the back.  I suspect when the dealer replaced the inverter before I took possession last year, that they had reversed the panel.  I still need to get a cover for the hole it left.  I don't want to leave something nonfunctional up there.  I also wrapped up the cable that fed the old inverter as it is not a match for the new converter remote, cable tied it and tucked it into the cavity.  There was also a power cord jack in there that I did the same thing to.  I labeled both to identify them for what they were for and "abandoned."  That way in the future, anyone who finds them will have a clue.

I wanted to wait until the end of the electrical installations to do the inverter because they are so sensitive.  The new inverter is much thinner and lighter than the old one was.  I also did not want to mount it on the floor.  They warn about water spills. In a moving van, a water spill on the floor is inevitable.  To prevent any potential disasters, I wanted to lift the new inverter off the floor.  There's a small shelf they built above the inverter cavity but it is thin particle board.  I could mount the inverter upside down on it but I had visions of the screws wiggling out and eventually the inverter might crash down.  Not a pretty thought.  So a rack would do the trick.

Stand pieces ready to assemble

Stand Assembled
I made the stand out of scrap poplar sticks I had from other projects (like the bed box).  I used my pocket screw jig to connect the top frame and the legs together.  They make an easy and very strong joint.  After that was completed, I slapped on a couple of quick coats of polyurethane varnish on it to give the wood some protection.  To further stiffen the legs and give a solid base to screw the rack to the van floor, I cut and attached aluminum slats to the bottom of the feet.  That way, if there ever is a flood, the feet should be protected.

Rear of Inverter

Inverter Power Cables
It was time to install the inverter.  Attaching the wires was very easy.  They make it very obvious - battery neg to the black stud, battery pos to the red stud and the ground wire to the clearly marked ground stud.  The batteries were still unconnected from the monitor installation and the shore power was also unconnected.

Rear of Remote hole in
Fridge Cavity
Remote hole cut

Remote installed
I ran the remote cable from the remote location to the inverter.  I decided rather than try to run the remote cable from the driver's side of the van where the electrical cavity is to the top of the passenger side door where the other switches are located (lots of difficult fishing to do that or under-van routing), it would be just as functional (perhaps more so) to locate it right above the inverter powered outlet on the wall next to the seating area.  There is no point in having the inverter turned on unless I am using it so that is a a good place.  I had to drill another hole next to the yellow Romex wire to get into the electrical cavity and then it was very easy to route it to the inverter front.  I taped the area for the remote, drilled holes in the corners and used a jigsaw to cut it out.  The side next to the wall was too tight for the jigsaw so I clamped a blade with vise-grips and hand sawed the last side.  A little refinement with a rasp and the hole was ready.  Pop the remote into the hole and screw it in.  The screws provided stripped badly so I will be replacing those as soon as I can find suitable replacements.  

Final installation:  Set the rack in the cavity.  I had measured and partially screwed in 2 screws to slide the inverter bracket into one side before.  Maneuvering the inverter with the wires proved to be a bit challenging but I found it worked if located towards the converter because of the plumbing vent pipe slant.  I marked the location for the screws in the aluminum feet, pulled it out, drilled, put it back in and secured the rack to the floor.  Then the inverter onto the rack, slide into the side screwed, attached a screw to the front foot on the other side, tightened down the other side screws and the inverter is secured to the rack and solid.

Plug in the outlet plug into the GFCI, and insert the remote cable and the inverter was ready.  I folded and cable tied the excess remote cable to get it out of the way and tidied.  When I connected the battery negative cables, I got some spark as the instructions said.  The inverter worked, the remote worked, and the outlet worked.

I reattached the cabinet door with the vent in it.  There was a white metal screen that had covered the old opening for the inverter.  I elected to not install that.  It reduces the air flow to the inverter and really isn't necessary since the door has a vent installed into it.  Also, there is hidden storage underneath the inverter stand that would be nice to have easy access to - Bonus!

My installation checklist is here.


  1. i like your post its very informative. keep sahring more.
    12v dc inverter

  2. Arleth very good job;

    Could you tell me the distance between screws on your inverter?


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