Originally Posted by rex_1_mn
So when using an all in one converter/charger/power distrubution center if its not pluged in to 120vac you can still pull 12vdc through the panel fused circuits from the house batteries right?
Correct. When you're plugged into shore power the charger tops off the batteries and the converter converts 120v AC to 12v DC to power whatever 12 volt stuff you have turned on. Just make sure your all-in-one panel has enough amp capacity to handle both loads. When unplugged you're running strictly from the batteries.
An inverter takes 12v DC power from the batteries and makes 120v AC power. The inverter connects directly to the battery bank (fused) and should be wired with as short a cable as possible to keep cable voltage drop as small as possible. Mount your inverter outside the battery enclosure to avoid corrosion from the battery fumes.
Both AC to DC CONverters and DC to AC INverters lose about 15% in the conversion process. This isn't a big deal for the converter, since you're plugged into the power grid or a generator, but inverters will tend to suck your battery bank dry in a hurry.
To avoid that 15% inverter "tax" I set up our bus to run almost exclusively on 12v to get the most out of our two 6v golf cart batteries. I did install two 120v AC plugs for use when we're on shore power. We use a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket for charging phones and computers but mostly use it when we're driving to avoid draining the starting batteries.
We're weekend warriors and don't mind leaving the hair dryer and microwave at home so our power needs are minimal and the battery bank is sized to match, but if we were full-timing I would want a much different setup (and a much longer bus).