How to Run RV AC on Generator

When it comes to enjoying a comfortable RV trip, having a reliable air conditioning system is Important. However, running an RV air conditioner requires a significant amount of power, and not all generators are capable of providing enough wattage to operate it.

In this article, we will explore the different factors that affect the amount of power required to run an RV air conditioner and provide tips on how to run it efficiently on a generator.

How to Run RV AC on Generator - rvbeast.com

The first thing to consider when running an RV air conditioner on a generator is the size of the unit. RV air conditioners come in different sizes, ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 BTUs, and each requires a specific amount of power to operate.

As a general rule of thumb, a 13,500 BTU air conditioner requires at least 3,000 watts to start up and 1,500 watts to run, while a 15,000 BTU unit needs 3,500 watts to start and 1,800 watts to run. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a generator that can provide enough power to start and run the air conditioner without overloading it.

Another important factor to consider is the type of generator. RV generators come in two types: portable and built-in. Portable generators are more affordable and versatile, but they are also less powerful and louder than built-in generators. Built-in generators, on the other hand, are more expensive and require professional installation, but they are quieter and more powerful, making them a better option for running an RV air conditioner.

Find Out More: How To Run RV AC Without Generator?

Understand Your RV AC System

When it comes to running your RV air conditioner (AC) on a generator, it’s important to understand the basics of your RV AC system. This will help you choose the right generator and ensure that your AC unit runs smoothly.

Types of RV AC Units

There are two main types of RV AC units: ducted and non-ducted. Ducted AC units have a central air distribution system with vents throughout the RV, while non-ducted units have a single unit that blows air directly into the living space.

Ducted AC units are more common and offer better air distribution, but they require more power to run. Non-ducted units are less powerful but more efficient, making them a good choice for smaller RVs or those with limited power sources.

Power Requirements for RV AC Units

To run your RV AC unit on a generator, you need to know the power requirements of your specific unit. This includes the starting watts (also known as surge watts) and running watts.

Starting watts is the amount of power required to start the unit while running watts are the amount of power required to keep it running. These values can vary depending on the size and type of your AC unit.

For example, a 13,500 BTU AC unit typically requires at least a 3,000-watt generator to run, while a 15,000 BTU unit may require up to 3,500 watts. It’s important to choose a generator with enough power to handle the starting watts of your AC unit, as this is when the most power is required.

In addition to the AC unit, you’ll also need to consider the power requirements of other appliances and devices in your RV. Make a list of everything you plan to run on the generator and add up the total wattage to ensure that your generator can handle the load.

By understanding the types of RV AC units and power requirements, you can choose the right generator for your needs and ensure that your AC unit runs smoothly on the road.

Find Out More: What Size Generator To Run 13,500 Btu Air Conditioner?

Using Your Generator to Run RV AC: Detailed Steps and Tips

Once you have chosen the right generator that meets your power needs, you can now use it to run your RV AC. Below are the steps to do this:

  1. Check the Generator: Before starting, make sure your generator is in good working condition. Inspect the fuel levels, and oil levels, and make sure the air filter is clean. The exhaust system should be clear, and the overall unit should be clean and free of any debris.
  2. Position the Generator: Place your generator in an open, well-ventilated area. Generators should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces as they produce carbon monoxide, a deadly gas. Always ensure it is placed on a stable, flat surface to minimize vibration and noise.
  3. Start the Generator: Before you plug in your RV, start the generator and let it run for a few minutes. This allows it to reach a steady state before it begins powering heavy loads. Refer to your generator’s user manual for specific startup instructions.
  4. Connect the RV to the Generator: After your generator has warmed up, you can connect your RV to it. Make sure you’re using a heavy-duty outdoor-rated power cord that’s in good condition. An adapter may be needed if the plug on your RV doesn’t match the outlets on your generator.
  5. Turn on the AC: Now that your RV is connected to the power source, you can switch on the AC unit. It’s a good practice to start with the fan-only mode, and once the fan is running smoothly, you can switch to the cooling mode. This soft start is less demanding for the generator.
  6. Manage the Power Load: Keep an eye on the load your generator is handling. Overloading the generator could lead to it shutting down or damaging the connected devices. If you are using other appliances in the RV, ensure the combined wattage doesn’t exceed the generator’s capacity. Turn off non-essential items when not in use.

Maintaining Your Generator

Proper maintenance of your generator is crucial to keep it running efficiently. This includes changing the oil regularly, checking the air filter, and making sure the generator is properly ventilated when in use. If the generator is not in use for long periods, be sure to start it up every few weeks to keep the parts in good condition.

Find Out More: How To Keep RV Cool In Summer?


Frequently Asked Questions: How To Run RV AC On a Generator

1. How long can an RV AC run on a generator?

The duration for which an RV AC can run on a generator largely depends on the generator’s fuel capacity and efficiency, and the power consumption of the AC. On average, a well-sized generator should be able to power your RV AC for several hours.

2. What size generator do I need to run my RV air conditioner?

The size of the generator needed depends on the BTU rating of your RV air conditioner. Generally, a 13,500 BTU AC unit requires at least a 3,000-watt generator, while a 15,000 BTU unit may require up to 3,500 watts. Always ensure the generator can handle the starting wattage of your AC unit.

3. Why does my generator keep shutting off while running the RV AC?

If your generator keeps shutting off, it might be overloaded. Try reducing the load by turning off other appliances. Also, check if the generator has enough fuel, and it’s not overheating.

4. Can I use any generator to power my RV AC?

Not all generators can power an RV AC. Before purchasing, ensure the generator is capable of providing the required starting and running watts for your specific AC unit. Also, consider other appliances you’ll be using to determine the overall power needs.

5. Can I run other appliances while running the AC on a generator?

Yes, but you need to be aware of the combined power draw of all the appliances you’re using. Make sure the total wattage does not exceed your generator’s capacity. It may be necessary to turn off or unplug certain appliances while using the AC.

6. How can I reduce the noise of my generator?

You can use a generator noise reduction box or position the generator further away from your RV if the noise is an issue. Also, many modern generators have a “quiet mode” that reduces noise.


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