Saturday, July 13, 2024

Solar Power For Rv Air Conditioner

Monocrystalline Vs Polycrystalline Panels

How to Power an RV Air Conditioner with Solar – Full Time RV Living

If you want higher efficiency panels, go with monocrystalline. These panels have a black color appearance. They are more expensive to produce, and are thus more expensive to buy.

Polycrystalline panels are the cheaper option. These panels have a blue color appearance. They are faster and easier to produce, thus cost less to buy, but are less efficient at converting solar into electricity.

Almost all boondockers go with monocrystalline panels because the roof of an RV is very limited in space. Polycrystalline panels make more sense for small applications like powering home security lighting, or in cases where you have lots of roof real estate.

Solar Power Requirements For An Rv Air Conditioner

Lets now get into more exact requirements to set up a solar power system in your RV to handle running an air conditioner.

How many solar panels are necessary to operate a recreational vehicle air conditioner? Youll need more than you think.

Youll need to have enough solar panels for about 2,500 watts of power just to run a standard RV air conditioner and not any other appliance in your camper.

An average solar panel measures about 39 inches in width and 65 inches in length. Youll need eight to nine 300-watt solar panels to generate the wattage you require.

If you choose 200-watt solar panels, youll need 13 units to sustain the power you require.

Does your RV have that much available roof space?

Do you have the approximate $3,000-$4,000 to purchase the panels and wiring if you have space? Do you have the skills to install the panels yourself, or will you need to pay extra for professional help?

You must ask yourself these essential questions before moving forward with your RV solar system plans if you want to support running an air conditioner while boondocking.

Is It Worth It To Use Solar Power For My Rv Air Conditioner

While its certainly possible to use solar power for an RV air conditioner, we dont think that its really all that practical for the average RVer.

When you require air conditioning to be comfortable in your RV, using your generator or hooking up to shore power are the most practical ways to stay cool.

Unless you have a specific need to be able to do it, youll likely be better served by going to a full hook-up RV park or running your generator. The amount of money needed to size a solar & battery bank to be able to stay off the grid and run your air conditioner will pay for a lot of fuel for your generator.

Then theres the option that, for us and many other RVers, makes more sense: travel with the weather to areas that dont typically require extensive AC usage and visit campgrounds & RV parks with full hookups whenever AC is needed for comfort.

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What About Soft Start Systems

If youre not willing to invest in an RV solar power system thats larger than average, consdier an A/C/ soft starter. This will allow you to have a smaller inverter to supply power to your RVs air conditioner. Heres how it works according to Doug Curtis from SoftStart RV:

The SoftStartRV is an innovative device that gently smooths-out the startup power demand of the RV air conditioners compressor. The SoftStartRV reduces startup power demand up to an amazing 70% and it solves those A/C startup problems.

Top 7 Questions About A/C Soft Starters Answered,

Zerobreeze Portable Air Conditioner

Can Solar Panels Power an RV Air Conditioner?

The ZeroBreeze is the ultimate in portable air conditioners. From the ground up it was designed to go camping or any other outdoor activity where there is no power.

It runs of its own internal battery and on a low setting it will last for 3-5 hours . If power is available the 12v-charging adaptor can be used to save battery life. The air conditioner uses a rotary compressor for cooling and is powerful enough to cool a 50 sq./ft. space to 44 deg F. The 3 speed seeting helps to control battery life in any condition.

All of this by it self would have made this our top choice, but ZeroBreeze has added some amazing features. It has a build in 3W Bluetooth speaker, a LED light and has 2 USB charging port to charge any device.

The ZeroBreeze is perfect for a tent air conditioner although its a bit expensive, for a complete review of the ZeroBreeze portable air conditioner have a look here.

  • Can run on battery or 12v power
  • Lightweight and Portable

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Can I Run My Rv Air Conditioner On Solar Power

The short answer is yes, you can run your RV air conditioner using solar power. Technically, you can power just about anything using solar power , but with an RV, there are a few limiting factors. These include the interior space needed for storing batteries, as well as the roof size for mounting solar panels.

The long answer is a bit more complicated, but it just requires a few calculations to accurately determine the battery power and number of solar panels that you will require.

Dont Forget The Solar Charge Controller

All solar panels must be wired into a solar charge controller. The controller is then wired into your battery bank. The purpose of the controller is to turn off charging once batteries are full. Otherwise, if batteries continue to charge, they will get hot and eventually catch on fire.

Solar charge controllers are often thought of as the Achilles Heel of solar and battery systems. This is because most RV manufacturers and shops install very cheap controllers to help bring cost down.

A cheap controller is not programmable. Probably 80 to 90% of the controllers sold on Amazon, Walmart, and Camping World can be considered cheap controllers. These controllers assumes you are running a typical solar array at 12 volts, and assumes you are using a typical battery bank with a bulk charge rate of 14.4 volts, and wont allow you to run anything else.

  • Victron solar charge controllers are by far and away the most popular and most respected brand among boondockers. They are fully programmable and can be monitored via Bluetooth from your cellphone.

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Nexgadget Portable Camping Air Conditioner


WHY WE LIKE IT: The smallest portable air conditioner from our research has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can run for up to nine hours and a 700-milliliter capacity tank for up to nine hours of cooling comfort.

  • Supports 60 and 120-degree fan oscillation
  • Can only run up to 4 hours between refills

If youre focused on a truly portable solution, youll like the evaporative cooler from Nexgadget. This is the smallest portable air conditioner that we found during our research thanks to the light 2.88-pound size. This is another USB-powered solution that has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. While it needs three to four hours to fully charge, once charged, the brand claims you can get up to nine hours of cooling power depending on your fan speed.

How Deep Can You Discharge The Battery Bank

AC ON SOLAR!!! Installing a Mini Split Air Conditioner on our Class C RV

The recommended Depth of Discharge of a certain battery depends on its chemistry. For example, while a standard Lead-Acid battery can only be discharged to 50% of its capacity without sustaining permanent damage, a Lithium battery can be discharged up to 90% of its capacity.

The following table provides the recommended Depth of Discharge for different battery chemistries:

Battery Chemistry

Therefore, the size of the battery bank that you need will not only depend on how much energy it needs to supply, but also on its type.

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Lg 10000 Btu 115v Window

The LG window air conditioner is a 10,000 BTU model.

This review details unique features for the model. In truth, most window/space air conditioners are quite a lot alike.

How it Works:

It functions like most room or window air conditioners. See the Frigidaire AC review above for details.


3 fan speeds, Remote, Dehumidifier mode for damp days when you want to get rid of humidity without cooling the air. Timer and digital display. In short, its fancier than the Frigidaire model above, and hence the cost difference.


This is a quality room AC that will keep tents cool with 3-6 people in them, depending on outdoor weather conditions. Fan-only mode moves air when the temperature is OK, but the air is getting stale. The fan makes for great white noise too. When taking little ones camping, that comes in handy. Its Energy Star certified for lower energy consumption .


Youll pay more than if you buy an evaporative cooler but youll get genuine air cooling regardless of the climate.

Best Use/Bottom Line: If you prefer a digital AC that gives you the benefits of a timer, this is a good choice.

Portable Solar Powered Air Conditioner

About 10 years back my family and some friends decided to take a vacation down south to look for the Crossroads of Music. The Crossroads is famed guitar master Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil so that he could be the worlds greatest Blues Guitar player. That location brought our Class C camper along with my buddys family and their Popup Camper from Bucks County Pennsylvania to Mississippi to Memphis to Nashville to New Orleans and finally, a well-deserved trip to Disney World in Florida.

This would be the trip of a lifetime. The one only concern was we were doing it at the beginning of August, which is by our estimation hotter than Georgia Asphalt

It didnt matter we went and you know how people claim that down South people disappear in the summer. They do! The worst part of the journey was Memphis and New Orleans where the Temperature reached over 100 more than a few times. There was no way to escape the heat but climb back in the Camper and run the air conditioner. That was then-This is Now!

Then came Solar Power Air Conditioners.

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You Need The Right Size Solar Array

You can power your air conditioner with solar panels. But they must be capable of producing a lot of energy. For instance, some air conditioners need 2.5kw. So, your solar panel system would need to have at least 3kw to continuously power the air conditioning.

If you intend to power your air conditioning for five hours per day, your air conditioning will require 750 Ah a day from the batteries.

Note: This estimate does not include any other appliances requiring power. These numbers only take into account the energy needed for air conditioning.

To meet this need, the solar panels need to generate 107 amps 7 hours every day. This is if it is a clear, sunny day. More is needed with overcast weather.

If you want to power a 13,500 BTU air conditioner, 1,500 watts of solar panels is the minimum amount required.

How Much Solar Power Do Rv Air Conditioners Really Take

Solar Power for RV Air Conditioner

You will need to install at least 1000 watts worth of solar panels if you expect the system to handle appliances inside the rig such as an RV air-conditioner.

However, solar panels are not exactly known for generating the most reliable amounts of energy at all times, so, the more the merrier. Youll also need a hefty battery bank to store the power and manage the load.

In general, with two 100-watt panels installed, a small to mid-sized RV can be fully powered by the sun . Adding a third or fourth solar panel could make powering an RV air-conditioner a real possibility without disrupting the rest of the rigs energy flow from the panels.

Again, a 1000 watt system or higher is suggested for even thinking attempting to power an RV air-conditioner. That could be four 250 watt panels, two 500 watt panels, or any other combination you decide. A controller and battery bank will also be necessary, as mentioned above.

It is important to note though that even at 1000 watts, your solar system will only be capable of efficiently running approximately 5000 to slightly under 10000 BTU. For a 15000 to 35000 BTU RV air-conditioner, 1500 watts should do the trick .

Hence, the more batteries you have for power storage, and the higher-quality and quantity of panels you have installed, the easier it will be to power your RV air-condition via strictly sunlight.

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How To Select The Best Rv Air Conditioner

There are a lot of options out there. Here are some essential tips for choosing the very best portable RV air conditioner for your needs.

There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing a new RV air conditioner. But, the top three factors that most people may overlook are:


Pick one with a sleek, aerodynamic shape. This way, your AC unit will be shaped to resist wind drag which helps your vehicle from being slowed down in severe weather and increases fuel efficiency.

BTU also is known as British Thermal Units

Before buying an air conditioner, its essential that you know the amount of BTU needed to cool your RV. This number is based on the square footage of the RV. A large RV needs over 18,000 BTU to assure a continuous cooling of the space. You dont want to buy an AC unit that is too weak and cant sufficiently cool your RV.

Refer to this chart:

Easy Installation

The perfect air conditioner unit has to be light-weight and slim for a hassle-free DIY fitment into the RV.

How Many Watts Are Needed To Power An Air Conditioner

The average RV comes with a 13,500 BTU air conditioner. These kinds of ACs require about 2,750 watts to start up. After which they need about 1,250 watts when they are fully operational. Hence, you need about 6 solar panels of 200 watts each to adequately power your RV. But you will need an extra 6 panels to generate enough power to allow your air conditioner to start in the first place. This number can go up and down based on the size of your AC. Generally speaking, though, 13,500 is a standard that you would see in most places.

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How To Calculate Solar Power Requirements For Rv Air Conditioner

There are a few simple steps to take to determine if a solar-powered RV air conditioner is feasible for you.

  • First, we will find the wattage of the air conditioner and convert that to watt hours .
  • Then, we will determine the battery capacity necessary to support the AC unit.
  • Next, we will find a power inverter that can convert the 12V battery power to the 120V that the AC unit expects.
  • Finally, we can calculate the number of solar panels necessary to support the AC unit and determine if it is feasible for the size of our RV.

Lets get to it!

Attach The Solar Panels To The Mounting Apparatus

Off Grid Solar Powered RV Air Conditioning Is it Possible?

This is another process that requires quite a bit of technical expertise. The main thing that you need to avoid here is somehow putting a screw through the solar panel. You need to put the screws through the borders of the panel directly into the mount itself. If the screw pierces the panel at any point, it would limit the effectiveness of said panel at best. At worst, it might just make the panel stop working entirely. We recommend that you hire a professional to do this since the chances of you making a grave mistake here are quite high.

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It Costs A Lot To Implement Initially

The cost is another huge disadvantage for solar panels. If you want to use solar panels, you will have to cough up a lot of money as an initial investment. This money would go towards things like the solar panels themselves as well as other items that you need to get. Solar panels cant work on their own, after all. You also need a mount that would cost a lot of money. Batteries are also required if you want to be able to use solar power twenty four hours a day. Another essential item that you would need to get is a solar inverter. You wont be able to use solar power without some kind of an inverter.

While solar panels do save you money in the long run, not everyone can afford this much of an initial investment. That said, a lot of solar panel manufacturers offer discounts and payment plans. If you use such a payment plan, you can gradually pay off the cost of your solar panels over a period of time. That way you can reap the benefits without having to empty out your bank account.

How Many Watts Do Air Conditioners Need To Start

Different air conditioners, depending on the capacity and manufacturer, require different amounts of power to start and run. You could easily find out this information by referring to the specification manual that comes during the purchase.You can also contact the sales for the requirements of power for the particularly made model. Still, here are some rough estimations of the average portable AC and wall units requirements:



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How Solar Panels Work On Your Rv

Solar power has experienced a surge lately in the residential world, with more and more homeowners installing solar panels on the roof of their homes. It is no secret that solar power is sustainable, and cost-cutting. But how does solar power work on your RV or camp trailer?

In order for solar panels to properly work and produce electricity there are a few key things that have to happen:

  • Solar panels need to be installed either on the roof of your trailer or RV, or you need to have a solar panel on a stand close to your trailer with access to direct sunlight.

  • The power generated from the solar panel has to have somewhere to go. In the case of your camp trailer or RV, the power from the solar panel is sent to your trailer/RV batteries.

  • The power from the batteries is then transferred to the power sides in your RV/camp trailer – there is an AC and a DC power side.

  • There is also an inverter in your trailer/RV. The battery bank also supplies power to this inverter , which then transfers that energy into AC energy.

  • Once the energy is transferred from the inverter to the AC side of the RV, there is electricity that can be used to power a variety of things, such as the air conditioner.

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