If you’re going to be boondocking in a hot spot during your summer vacation, you want your RV AC running. And if you want to avoid the noise from a portable generator as much as possible, your battery is an option.
But, can an RV AC run off the battery? Well, your 1,500 to 2,000-watt battery setup won’t be able to produce enough power for your air conditioner.
An RV AC consumes a lot of power just for starting up. And by continuously drawing power, your battery system ordinarily doesn’t have that capacity.
However, to keep your AC running continuously for a larger part of the day, you need a lot of things. These include a lot of space, batteries, and solar panels, the last two, of course, translate to a high investment.
How An RV Battery System Works
A solar and inverter system is your best bet for using the AC while parked and in your camping location. But, first, we need to have the basic knowledge of how an RV solar system-powered battery bank works.
The solar panels keep the batteries charged while the batteries supply power to everything in the RV. The batteries are wired directly to the 12 volt direct current panel and therefore power all 12-volt electronics directly.
The batteries supply electricity to 120V alternating current electronics through an inverter which receives 12-volt direct current from the batteries. It converts it to 120V alternating current. It then sends the current on to power your RV’s 120 volt alternating current panel.
This in turn supplies power to all 120 volt AC electronics like the air conditioner. So all AC loads can potentially be powered by your batteries – even your air conditioning.
Therefore, it’s just a matter of how large your solar panels are to keep your batteries charged up. Of course, this also depends on how large your battery bank is. This ensures it can last through periods where the sun isn’t shining.
It also depends on how large your inverter is to be to handle an appliance like the air conditioning system.
How Much Power Does An RV Air Conditioner Draw?
Note that the air conditioning system is such a high-draw appliance that can drain your battery bank down to zero in some hours of air conditioning.
An average RV AC has up to 15,000 BTU. It uses a minimum of 3.5 kilowatts just for starting up and up to 1.5 kilowatts for continuous operation. Considering you’d be running the system off your battery, a 13,500 BTU AC may be more energy-effective.
A 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner requires a starting amperage of around 2800 watts to 3000 watts. Therefore, it’s really not advisable to regularly start an air conditioner with a 3000-watt inverter.
This is simply because you would normally have other appliances to power. A little more power added, and you’d overwhelm the system.
What Battery Capacity Do You Need To Run An RV AC?
You’re going to need to have up to a 4000-watt inverter to be able to run your AC and other appliances.
An average air conditioner draws 12 to 16 amps and if you want to run the air conditioner for five hours a day, that means it’s going to draw 60 amp hours from the batteries.
So, you have to size your battery bank to handle air conditioning. Since the air conditioner draws around 16 amps, you’re going to need to increase the capacity of your battery bank.
If you want to run a 13,500 BTU air conditioner off solar, and you have a 3,000-watt inverter, you’re going to need to add 750 to 1,000 watts of battery. Of course, you’ll need to have more solar panels installed.
How Many Solar Panels Needed To Power The AC Unit
You need solar panels that can collect enough UV that can produce up to 2,800 watts or more to charge the batteries. This means you’ll need up to 12 240-watt solar panels to make 2.8 kilowatts.
The AC uses so much electricity that you may choose not to regularly use it if you don’t have enough financial power for an upgrade.
Raising your power generation involves increasing the solar space and battery capacity. But if you can’t live without AC, you can still make it happen with solar.
How Many Batteries Does An RV Air Conditioner Use?
To power a single unit of RV air conditioner, you’ll need about 8 to 10 12V 100aH flooded lead-acid batteries or 4 100aH lithium batteries.
What Can You Run Off An RV Battery?
A 4,000-watt battery should be able to power an air-conditioning system, water pump, lights, and other small appliances for most of the day.
How Long Can an RV AC Run Off The Battery?
Two lithium batteries should be able to power a 15000 BTU capacity air conditioner with 1.5 kilowatts of running power for up to 90 minutes.
It’s just a question of; is it worth it to run an air conditioner on battery? Does your RV have the space required for the heat: battery bank and a large number of solar panels you’re going to need.
Some RVs may not have the space. Some already have the maximum amount of batteries that can be installed without cutting more into the storage.
And if the roof isn’t very big, you can move with the weather and stay where the climate is cool for whatever season it is. However, if it gets really bad, you have the fuel-powered portable generator option. You can fire this up and run the AC to clear out the hot air on warm nights.
So, the answer to the question of “can RV AC run off battery” is, yes, you can. But it’s going to be expensive. And it’s going to take up a lot of room and roof space.
If you can’t provide these, settle for other options – using a portable generator or camping in a cool season/spot.