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Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner With Solar Power?

Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner With Solar Power?

Adding solar power to your RV significantly increases where and how you use your RV. You can easily power your TV, lights, and other essential electronics.

Depending on where you’re using your RV, you may want to run your air conditioner as well.

Can you run an RV air conditioner with solar power? Let’s take a look and see!

Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner With Solar Power?

Yes, you can run an RV air conditioner with solar power. Unless you’re installing a massive electrical system on your RV, you’re most likely going to need to manage your AC and overall power usage.

The size of your RV battery bank should determine how long you can run your air conditioner with solar power.

Keep in mind, your inverter must also supply enough power to run your AC.

Having a large solar panel array and being in a sunny location can help you run your AC longer. However, many RVers opt to travel with the weather and avoid being in hot climates when they’re not plugged into a power source. 

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Run My RV AC?

It’s important to remember that the solar panels themselves won’t power your RV air conditioning. They’ll collect rays from the sun and ultimately send power to your battery bank.

However, if you’re planning to use your air conditioning with solar energy, you’re likely going to want at least 1500 watts of solar. This means you may need at least eight or nine 200W solar panels.

A large battery bank is required as well.

How Many Watts Does It Take to Run an RV Air Conditioner? 

A typical 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner requires 3,500 watts to start and approximately 1,500 when running. You can reduce the amount of power needed for your RV air conditioner by up to 70% by installing an EasyStart on each unit. Using a fraction of the power means you can run your AC longer.

Can an Inverter Run an Air Conditioner?

An inverter is a necessary piece of equipment if you want to run an air conditioner off your RV battery bank. You’ll want to ensure you have an adequately-sized inverter to avoid overloading it. Installing an EasyStart on your air conditioner should allow you to select a smaller inverter.

Pro Tip: Are you curious to know Can A Portable Generator Run My RV Air Conditioner? We took a closer look to find out!

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run an 8000 BTU Air Conditioner? 

An 8,000 BTU air conditioner uses approximately 800W. You’ll want to get an appropriately-sized inverter.

Factor in any additional power usage needs that you might have while running your air conditioner. A 2000W inverter should generally be capable of getting the job done.

Woman turning on AC
Keep cool while on the road by running your AC with solar power.

What Are the Pros of Running Your AC On Solar Power?

Running your AC on solar power means you can camp in incredible locations but still be able to stay cool. There are some pretty unbelievable spots for camping that don’t have a power pedestal to plug in your RV. You can have a bit of privacy and enjoy the wide-open spaces without being crammed into an RV park or campground.

Another advantage of a solar-powered system is that they often require very little maintenance once you get them set up. You can sit back and enjoy the benefits without worrying about keeping track of a maintenance schedule. 

These systems are also very environmentally friendly. You can enjoy nature and know that you’re reducing your impact on the environment. 

What Are the Cons of Running Your AC On Solar Power?

While running your AC on solar power can be convenient, it’s not all that easy. Having a system capable of running your AC will cost several thousand dollars. You can easily spend upwards of $10,000 on all of the components necessary to run your AC for several hours. However, if you want to run it as often as you like, the costs can easily double.

In addition, these systems are very complex and typically require a professional to install them. It can take a considerable amount of time to recoup the investment costs. If you don’t plan on spending much time camping outside of established campgrounds, your system may not pay for itself.

Pro Tip: Looking for a portable air conditioner? We uncovered what Portable Air Conditioners for Camping is Decent, Better, and Best/

Is Running RV AC On Solar Power Worth It? 

Running your RV AC on solar power isn’t practical for most people. Planning your travels to follow cooler temperatures can be a great alternative. You can then carry a portable generator and fire it up as needed. However, if you want to enjoy peace and quiet, the investment might be worth it.

Are you planning to invest in powering your RV AC with solar power? Drop a comment below!

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Can You Run An RV AC On Solar? | Justdownsize

Monday 6th of June 2022

[…] Solar Panels Power an RV Air Conditioner? Can Solar Panels Really Power an RV Air Conditioner? Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner With Solar Power? https://www.rvingtrends.com/can-solar-panels-power-an-rv-air-conditioner/ power an RV air […]

Jodi Wer

Monday 21st of February 2022

Either I missed it or you didn't mention it but one of the drawbacks of solar is the undependability of enough sun to keep your battery bank charged. We use solar but not for our A/C. We mostly camp in cool country but sometimes even 7500 feet gets hot. Then we use our 2200 watt generator and a soft start to run our A/C. Because when you need it - you WANT it!

Frank Benefiel

Monday 21st of February 2022

I designed and installed a solar system on my 30ft Winnebago Minnie 5th wheel for less than $8000. It will run one of the 15k BTU AC's for 3 1/2 to 5 hrs in full sun. I used 2 470W @ 77V solar panels that were used residential / industrial panels. The two panels together are 940W @ 154V. A MidNite Sun Classic 250 charge controller is utilized that I purchased used for $500. It is rated @ 61A/878W. The best I have seen is 58W. 4 x 100AH Battleborn batteries are used and a 3000W Magnum inverter/charger is utilized. The solar system produces approx 38% of the power needed to run the AC. I do have a softstart to reduce the startup amps. We ran this unit for 6 months last year with no problems. We rarely run the AC as we try to stay above 6000 feet in the summer but we do run all of the other systems daily. Microwave and furnace in the morning, water pump, lighting, ect. In my opinion it is best to use high voltage, commercial panels for the best efficiency. The low voltage 12V RV panels are generally not as efficient and require much larger wire and are way more expensive per watt of energy produced. The downside is that the panels I used are roughly 41 in. x 80 in. This can make packaging difficult depending on your trailer, but if they fit there are fewer connections and a cleaner install. I'm not an expert, but this is my experience with my system.

Dave

Monday 21st of February 2022

Good article. Alternatively, it's now possible to run units like Airspool or Hotspot Energy by directly plugging in 4 solar panels. The advantage is that these systems are cheaper and easier. The disadvantage is that the solar panels can only run the air conditioner (or heater, since these are heat pumps).

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