How To Run RV AC Without A Generator? 3 Best Hacks to Cool Yourself

– 3 Practical Hacks on How To Run RV AC Without A Generator. The second one is the most economical in the long run.

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

We find RVing fun. But the joy can turn into frustration in no time if the weather doesn’t get along. And naturally, we can not always be at the mercy of the weather. Scorching heat, often unanticipated, can ruin your whole trip. 

So what’s the solution? Weather is unpredictable, and it’s always best to be prepared. Most RVs these days come with a preinstalled AC unit within them. So that’s a relief.

But air conditioners demand a lot of power to run. And how do you ensure that power for your AC? It is where generators come to the rescue. 

In this article, we will be diving into methods through which you can run your RV AC with or without a generator. 

How to Run RV AC on a Generator

You can use a generator to run your camper AC in two ways. RVs these days can either have an inbuilt generator or portable invertor-generators. 

  • Inbuilt camper generators: They use fuel directly from your propane tank and power all your RV equipment, including the AC unit. I find them to be the best. They are quieter, and you don’t need to worry about refueling. It’s the closest to home-like experience. 
  • Inverter-generators: Not every RV comes with an inbuilt generator. If that’s the case with you, the only option remaining is to carry those portable inverter-generators. Although a great choice, inverter-generators have their own tantrums. They can be loud to operate and cumbersome to carry. Not to ignore the refueling they require every so often! 

So are there any ways to replace those noisy generators? Yes, there sure are. For starters, you can go ahead with choosing better and newer designs for your generator, which are both more portable and less noisy.

Or, you can choose without a generator option too! Below are three life hacks on how to run RV ac without a generator

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator?

Running RV AC Without A Generator is completely possible. In fact, there will come many times when you will have to use one of the listed options below. It is a very common problem on US roads where you either don’t have a generator or it is not working.

Let’s have a look at some ways you can use to run your RV AC without a generator.

Using Batteries

As simple as it sounds, the batteries already installed in your camper can be a solution. But given that AC units require a large amount of power, your batteries may die quickly. So you’ll need to install multiple ones and they cost! 

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

I have seen that 2 to 3 lithium-ion batteries are enough to power an RV air conditioner for a decent amount of time. If you have lead-acid batteries in your camper, you might need 3 to 4 of them, or even more. 

So although it turns out to be a little expensive, running your RV AC on batteries remains one of the easiest and safest options.

Also, if you aren’t well aware of the technicalities, it’s always better to have an expert performing these electrical operations. Blowing your RV up in the hope of enjoying cool AC air is never worth it! And your basic question “how to run RV ac without a generator?” will turn into “Where to sell a blown up RV?”.

Using Solar Panels

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

Why worry about energy when you have the ultimate source right up there? Solar panels can recharge your fast-draining batteries and help you run your camper AC unit. But you will need to install plenty of them. Moreover, you might need a device called “Soft Start” to compensate for the extra power AC units require to start.

But at the same time, we should not ignore that solar panels come with a lot of uncertainty. The sun is not always going to be kind enough. Even a little cloudy sky can bring down the efficiency of your solar panels to a large extent.

Even after not being entirely reliable, it is always recommended to have solar panels installed on your RV roof. They may not be able to power your AC for long durations, but they are a great source of constant-free energy in the long run.

Using Direct Power Source

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

Many RV parks or camping sites offer a direct power source during your stay. You can plug that in and run your appliances through it, including AC units.

However, one should know that some RV stations charge extra for running AC units with their power source. But believe me, for a peaceful night’s rest or a relaxing afternoon stay, the additional price is worth it!

Now that you know how to power your camper AC below are some of the most common questions our RV adventurers face.

What size generator will run an RV Air Conditioner?

It all depends on the amount of power your RV AC consumes. These days, most AC units in RVs are either 13,500 BTUs or 15,000 BTUs. Each unit has different starting and running power requirements.

So what I want to infer is that AC units demand different power marks to start and to continue to run. For instance, a 13,500 BTU AC would need up to 3,800 watts to start while 1,300 watts to continue running.

Similarly, a 15,000 BTU AC would demand up to 5,100 watts to start and about 1,600 Watts to continue running.  

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

Did you get the gist? The thing is, you need to have a generator valued with more power than what your RV AC requires to start. Generally, from what I have seen, generators ranging from 2000-4000 watts will be a fine choice, depending on how big your AC unit is.

Try Champion’s or Jackery’s. Currently, they are leading the generator sales in the US.

Also, just to be on the safer side, I always recommend not to start your AC unit while other ‘heavy’ appliances like refrigerator, coffee maker, etc., are running. To prevent your generator from burning out, always make sure that you close other devices when you start your AC.

Read our detailed article on What Size Generator for A 30 Amp Rv.

Does running AC drain the battery?

Unfortunately, it does. ACs demand a high power supply and they can quickly drain your batteries. That’s why it is always recommended to have at least 2 lithium-ion batteries or 3-4 lead acid batteries installed in your RV if you seek running AC on batteries. 

On the other hand, you can also charge your RV battery with your RV generator. Read how to do it here

Why is my RV AC not working with the generator?

Ensure all the circuit breakers are in the “on” position. Also, the generator should be powerful enough to fit all your appliances’ needs.

Moreover, ensure that you are not running other heavy electrical equipment simultaneously while starting the AC. Additionally, double-check that your generator is valued more in power than that required by the AC to start.

If none of the given ideas work, it’s time to find an expert to sort things out.

How many solar panels do I need to run my RV AC?

How To Run RV AC Without A Generator

You will need plenty of them. Generally, solar panels generating up to 2000 watts of power would be enough to start your RV trailer AC, given that you are using ‘Soft Start.’

An average 12V solar panel can produce up to 150 watts, so you might need anywhere between 12 to 14 solar panels to reach that 2000-watt mark.

So this was everything you needed to know to run your camper AC. I tried clearing it all, whether you want to do it with a generator or without a generator. Hope you found this article worthy. Until next time, adios!