Can An RV Air Conditioner Run Continuously?

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When we start getting into the “dog days” of summer, we do whatever we can to keep cool when we’re inside. This is easy to do in our homes. However, many RV owners get frustrated because they can’t get the same results in their RV.

Many find that their AC will run constantly and they ask the question: Can an RV air conditioner run continuously? The answer is NO- it should not be running continuously and if it is, there’s probably an issue with your unit.

There are some things you can do to improve the performance of your AC and make sure it’s running at optimal efficiency. Of course, you’ll need to understand how the RV air conditioner system works, the limitations of your unit, and how other factors affect your comfort level.

Do All RV’s Have Air Conditioners?

These days, most all RV’s come with an air conditioner already installed. Of course, this depends on the age, style, and brand of your RV. While there are several options for RV air conditioner units, the most common type is a rooftop AC.

How Does An RV Air Conditioner System Work?

Simply put, the unit exchanges the warm air in your RV for air that has been cooled for your comfort. It pulls the hot air in and sends it outside. Then, cool air is pushed back into your unit through the vents. The parts that make this happen are:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator
  • Fans
  • Refrigerant

If you find that your AC is not cooling properly, the first thing to do is to check the air filter and see if it needs to be cleaned. You might even check for contaminants in the cold air return. You should be cleaning your air filter at least once a month when you are using your RV.

Common RV Air Conditioner Problems

There are several things that could potentially go wrong with your RV’s air conditioner, seven of them are listed here:

  • The air conditioner will not turn ON. If this is the case, the first thing to do is check the batteries in the remote. In some cases, this could be the cause of the AC not coming on.
  • The AC is blowing out hot air instead of cold. If this is the case, check the thermostat first. However, if you have it set right and it’s still blowing out hot air, you may need the thermostat replaced.
  • The AC motor is loud. Typically, AC units are smooth and silent- so it’s noticeable when it starts to make noise. Most of the time this is due to the rubber shock absorbers not being in the proper location.
  • There is ice collecting on the AC. While it’s not very common, ice will appear on the outside of the unit from time to time. This is due to the freon levels in your AC- to find out if you’re leaking freon, check your unit.
  • There is a bad smell coming from your AC. This is almost always due to filters not being cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. If you clean the filter and it still has a bad smell, the radiator may be the issue.
  • The air conditioner will not turn off. If you turn off your air conditioner, but it continues to run, you’ll want to have this taken care of right away. There are a few reasons why this may happen, including a busted thermostat. However, if the thermostat is not the issue, it could be the circuit board.
  • The AC is leaking. This is a fairly common issue and is often due to the deterioration of the rubber gasket on the top of the RV, where the AC is.

Tips To Make Your RV Air Conditioner Operate Effectively

In this section, we’ll offer some tips on how you can make sure that the air conditioner in your RV is running effectively.

  • Be sure filters are clean/unobstructed. Clean them with warm water and mild soap. Make sure to thoroughly rinse and allow time to dry overnight.
  • Check the air return for any dirt or contaminants.
  • Check condenser coil and make sure there’s no obstructions or other issues.
  • Be sure that you are powering your air conditioner with at least 115 volts of electricity, as low voltage will allow it to run, just not effectively.
  • Try finding a spot in the shade to park, as this can mean a temperature difference of more than 20 degrees.
  • Keep windows closed and blinds down to keep the cool air inside.
  • Limit the use of appliances that generate heat, such as the oven, stove, microwave, or toaster oven.
  • Use fans to circulate the air inside your RV, especially in the areas that tend to get warm.
  • Create “zones” in your RV by closing off areas that are not being used so that the ones that are can be cooled more effectively.
  • Install LED lights, as they are much cooler and draw 10x less power than standard incandescent bulbs.
  • Consider using the awnings to provide shade and keep the inside cooler.

Bottom Line

Most RV’s these days come with an air conditioner already installed. They are a necessity, especially if you live or are vacationing in the south, as it can get really uncomfortable during the hot, summer months. You will definitely want to make sure that your air conditioner is running efficiently and cooling effectively and most of all, NOT running continuously.

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