Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In Search of the Elusive Roadtrek Inverter

I am going to take you with Meryl and me on an journey. Not one that we took with our Roadtrek but one we took inside our Roadtrek. One in search of the elusive Roadtrek inverter!

You just read an article here last week all about the Roadtrek inverter but I never told you where to find it inside the Roadtrek. That is because I did not know where it is. I had an idea of where it is but I have never seen it. Meryl thought that she saw it but it as it turns out from discussion the night before we took this journey, that she had never seen it either.

When I first got the Roadtrek, someone told me - and I really cannot recall who - that the inverter was located on the inside of the first bottom cabinet on the passenger side below the bed area of the Roadtrek. When we were first setting up the Roadtrek for traveling, Meryl was inside placing things to be stored in various cabinets. She opened that cabinet and was about to place several things - some heavy things - in there and I stopped her. I told her that inside that cabinet is the inverter and it would not be a good idea to put anything inside there that could be bounced around and damage such a vital piece of the Roadtrek like the inverter. She looked inside and told me she saw a plastic box inside and we both assumed - since I have been told that this is where the inverter is - that this was the inverter. Enough for us to leave storage out of that cabinet.

Recently one of our readers had been asking about the inverter and I had been reading forum posts about the potential needs to get to the actual inverter to make adjustments or turn it on and off with its own switch rather than the remote switch on the wall. Meryl and I got to talking about the inverter. She asked me, "What does the inverter look like?"  I got out the inverter manual and showed her the picture. She looked at me and said, "There is nothing at all that looks like that inside that bottom cabinet." OK, then what is inside there? I have not been able to look inside that cabinet for myself and I asked her to describe what she sees when she looks there. She described a large plastic box type of thing that goes beyond the cabinet. What she was seeing is the rear interior water tank that is a feature of Roadtrek 190s and Roadtrek 210s.  So where is the inverter?

We got out the Roadtrek manual. Let me tell you right away that for somethings the Roadtrek manual are very useful but for many things they are useless BECAUSE they have not been updated with the change in models. There is a diagram inside our manual that shows the locations of all of the "appliances" which includes equipment that has been installed inside the Roadtrek. This diagram is for a Roadtrek that is much older than our 2011 and even in the 2007 manual that we were given with our 2011 Roadtrek (don't ask), the diagram is the same as the manual that Roadtrek emailed me for a 2010 190 and as the so-called revised and updated manual that I downloaded from Roadtrek that includes the 2011 190. There is a symbol shown on the key of the diagram for the inverter. We found that symbol on the driver's side of the Roadtrek in the first cabinet on the floor under the bed area. This is the cabinet that contains the hot water heater tank and the water pump.  Could the inverter be there too? Well, the manual diagram did not show the water pump or the hot water heater as being there at all. These were in a different location. In fact a number of things were in a different location from where they actually are in our Roadtrek. The furnace is not across that aisle as shown on the diagram. The propane detector is on the opposite side. I started to wonder if the whole thing was just reversed but no - the sink was where it belongs and the toilet was where it belongs. This was a diagram for some long past Roadtrek. (By the way - I plan to create my own correct diagram and share it with you all in the future.) We started speculating where could the inverter be? OK. The next day we would go out and search.

As it turned out, Meryl lost sleep over this wondering where was the inverter. She went out before I did the next morning and came back still baffled. She even opened the cabinet where the water pump is and said there was some electric box on the wall in there but it did not look anything at all like the picture of the inverter that I had showed her. We both, then, went out together - and I took my camera along - as any journey should be well documented.

She went back to that front cabinet that we "thought" the inverter was. She confirmed that it had to be the interior water tank that she was seeing. She could see the sensor wires attached to the tank if she looked deeper in toward the rear. She looked around as we saw in the inverter manual that it can be attached to a wall. Nope. Nothing like it. Someone had described being able to see it deep in from the back of the Roadtrek under the bed behind the rear passenger door inside a small cabinet that is in there. I knew that cabinet but never looked inside. This whole section is actually one long continuation on the passenger side of the Roadtrek from the front cabinet that we had been looking at and thinking all along that it was in. Perhaps we could just not see in deep enough. But this inverter has got to be accessible. There are things that one must be able to see and reach the inverter to do. It could not be buried someplace.

I went to the rear cargo doors and opened the passenger side and looked in. Here is what I saw.

Let me explain first that MY Roadtrek 190 Popular has the non-power bed in the rear. If you have the power bed which is more common than what I have you will most likely see a different view in general than what you see above in the photo of the back of my Roadtrek. When you look in yours you will see the bottom of the power sofa - but you will also see this cabinet or something very similar.

 So, forgive the mess and look off the the right. See what looks like a door with a hole in it.I reached in and put my finger in that hole. I gave a gentle pull and nothing moved. I looked for a hinge. At the back of the door was an aluminum frame but no hinge. this door was not going to swing out as far as I could see and started to wonder if it was a really a door at all. I was not going to pull hard. I do not want to break anything that I will regret. Meryl tried to see in that direction from inside that front cabinet but could not see anything there. We got a flashlight and tried to look into the hole. Something was inside. Meryl got down closer - as I have said in the past, I cannot really bend down in ways that I would like to without starting to feel dizzy. (Readers who are medical professionals please refrain from offering a diagnosis.) She took the light and looked into the hole. "I found it!", she exclaimed. "It is in there!"  Great, but how do we get to it. I tried another little tug on the hole. I tried feeling for a catch. Nope, this was tight. It slightly moved toward the back of the van like it would slide. I tried sliding it. Nope. that was not it either.

I asked Meryl who makes the bed on the platform right above the point we were at if there is an access door or panel above here under the bed cushion. She did not think so. I said, well let's look to make sure. We went inside and took off the long mattress cushion off the wooden platform - remember this is the non-powered rear bed. Here is what we saw - 

Close up, please...

An access panel! At last, we found a way to get to the inverter! I got out my small, rechargeable, lithium battery screw driver that I keep on the Roadtrek for minor repairs and getting into trouble. Put on the square drive bit for the square drive screws that are used throughout the Roadtrek and apparently all RVs and started removing screws, hoping that I would not find out later that they would not go back. The screws backed out easily. It seemed almost too easily. I opened the panel...

And this is what I saw! Two household metal electric boxes on the outside wall and below...


The inverter is the white box off to the back. The junction wiring is what is close up here with the red and yellow connections. All things that you do not want to touch! I stuck the camera in the confirm what I thought I was seeing. 

 And while here was the inverter. This access is not very practical.There had to be a way through that door in the rear! I took the camera and explored the back of the door...

I had to get a close up of the other corner. I reached inside with the camera and got as close as I could and snapped the photo and looked at the camera's screen...

A catch!

OK! Then I knew that I would do no damage if I really gave this door a yank. I went back outside the van and to the under bed storage area to the door. I reached my finger into the hole and really gave a pull and at the same time slid the door forward out from behind the aluminum frame at the other side-

Here is the elusive inverter and in a position where you actually can lean in and see the indicator LEDs and get to the dip switches and the setting switch.

Here is what the inverter looks like overall -

And here is the part up close that you may need to get to...

There to the left are the dip switches that need to be set if you change the type of battery you have. There in the middle on each side of that blue plug are the Green, Yellow, and Red banks of LED indicator lights, and to the right of that is the Switch - Auto/Remote - DC Off - Charge Only.

The two electric outlets in the metal boxes above - the one nearer to the rear of the van is labeled "Inverter INPUT" and the one near to the front of the van is labeled "Inverter OUTPUT". 

There it is in all of its glory! Elusive no more! And most important - no need to remove any screws in the panel above to get to it. Just give the hole in that door a tug and pull forward and slide out - it has to come out from behind that metal frame on the other end!

The inverter in your Roadtrek if it is another model or an older model may not be here at all - then yo will need to take your own journey! But I am pretty sure that that all recent year 190s and 210s with or without the power sofa/seat will have the inverter right where I have showed you!

Now that all is said and done - I could have just written "The inverter is located in..." but taking you on the journey seemed like so much more fun! It was an exciting journey and we did not have to leave our driveway for it! I thank you all for coming along for the excitement!  Now, if it only would get warm outside again, we could take the Roadtrek on a real journey! When it is 95 degrees outside in July, I will think back to the cold and wonder which is better - sweating in the heat or being able to get warm by putting on coat and gloves? Well, since you can travel easier in the Roadtrek when it is 95 degrees I guess the answer is sweating in the heat and in the Roadtrek you always have the A/C.


  1. Just a quick observation. That red wire that runs from under the plywood floor up and to the outside toward the van sidewall? You might make sure that's not rubbing on anything metal back there, (plus any other hot wires). If it/they are, get some of that plastic automotive conduit covering and slide it over those wires where they touch

  2. Robert, this is another incredibly informative article. Thank you so much for doing this.

  3. wow! that inverter didn't want to be found! Good job, and thanks for the infos, you just saved us a full day of work!

  4. In my "new" 2004 190 popular, the inverter is accessed from the drivers side bench top. A pull up panel gives easy access to the reset button.(Of course it took me forever to discover this, buta welcome discovery it was!)

    1. Older years and different models have the inverter in various places. And it is usually and adventurediscovering where.

  5. Jerry Park, do you mean the drivers side kitchen bench top?

    1. Jerry is referring to where the manual shows the inverter to be - the cabinet on the floor on the drivers side used to make up the driver's side of the front (or side corner) of the bed. This is apparently the location in older 190's. Newer years have the inverter moved to where I show it in this article.

  6. Robert, I Googled Inverter switch and there you were! As you have been told many times (I'm sure), your articles are MOST helpful! I solved a major problem, and regained confidence in my recent purchase of a 2005 Popular 210 and the world looks rosy again! And I've only read two posts! Thank you!

    1. Jim - keep reading and you will uncover the solutions to a lot of Roadtrek mysteries that should not have been mysteries in the first place!

  7. First time owner of 1997 Roadtrek. I probably would have resold it if not for your articles. THANK YOU for writing for the novices. As to the inverter--my manual only talks about the converter/charger located under the driver side bed. In aviation we call a/c to d/c a transformer rectifier and d/c into a/c a static inverter. What is the inverter on the RT? Do I need to know where mine is located?

    1. Your 1997 Roadtrek has a very different set up. You have a single converter/charger unit to change 110 volts to 12 volts when needed and also charge the batteries. I do not know if you have an inverter at all - it is very possible that you don't. The inverter on the RT for years that have one, converts your battery 12 volt power to 110 volts AC - with limited capability. There are 12 volt appliances made for RVs and boats that will run just off of your batteries - TVs, lamps, fans, etc. that compare to those that require an inverter - and only when you don't have the ability to plug in or run a generator to run all of your 110 volt appliances.