How To Run AC Without Electricity (RV AC Without Generator)

It is virtually impossible to run any electrical device without some form of electricity. There has to be some form of electrical power to run AC units, etc., However, the electricity can come from solar, batteries, or 30-amp plug-in.

If you are in a boondocking situation, like camping in a large big box store parking lot, you won’t find any shore power or have the chance to use your generator. Your power sources for AC will be limited to batteries or solar power.

To learn more about its problem just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can run your AC in different boondocking situations without pulling out your generator.

How To Run AC Without Electricity


Again, the word electricity is erroneous here as you will need some sort of electrical source to run your AC unit or other electrical devices. You may not own a generator or may not be in a position to pull one out if you do.

So the better concept would be how to run your AC unit without the use of a generator or shore power. There are 3 ways to do this.

1. Add extra batteries to your RV or trailer- when you add more batteries, make sure to add an inverter to get the right kind of power to your AC unit. The only problem with this solution is you have to figure out how many more batteries you will need to make the AC unit go.

That is without robbing your other electrical devices of needed power. AC units take a lot of power to run so you will need a lot of new batteries to handle the load.

2. Solar panels- efficient, quiet, and will always be there when you have the sun shining throughout the day. However, the trouble begins with the amount of power your AC unit needs.

On average they will need at least 1300 watts for start-up power which means you would need to install about 2000 watts worth of solar panels on your RV’s roof. You may not have the room for that many solar panels.

3. A direct power source- this is other than a generator or shore power. But again, you would need an inverter to handle the power transfer so your AC unit can function correctly.

There is a fourth option that will work best with all of the above. Simply buy a portable AC unit that does not require a lot of power to run. It will also cut down on your need for extra batteries and solar panels.

Can a 12V Battery Power An Air Conditioner?


Yes, it can but if you are going to use your house batteries, then you will find them dead within the hour approx. The AC unit requires far too much power than is held in your batteries to work right.

To get the right amount of batteries to power your AC unit, you would need to calculate the amps and wattage totals to make sure the number of batteries you are using has enough power. Then you need to calculate how long those batteries will last once you turn on the AC unit.

After that, you will need to calculate how much space you will need to house those extra batteries. You may have to sacrifice some basement storage space to make sure you have enough room for the batteries, the inverter, and the wiring. Make sure the inverter is powerful enough to handle the workload.

On top of that, you have to buy the right size of wires to make sure there are no electrical problems between connections or at those connections. This is a long and involved project and may not be feasible for most RV owners.

No matter which way you look at it, this set up would be quite expensive as would any solar panel set up that provides enough power to the AC unit.

Can RV AC Run Without a Generator?


Yes, as long as it has some form of electrical source sending power to its motor, etc. The only time the AC unit won’t run, barring breakdowns, etc., is when it has no electrical power source.

Unfortunately, without either shore power or a generator, your electrical source options are fairly limited. One of the more expensive options would be solar power. You would need some very large solar panels, batteries, wiring, and other components to make this option feasible.

There is no guarantee that you will get enough sun throughout the day to generate the power an AC unit needs to start and then run for several hours. Of course, everything we have said here is dependent upon the size of the AC unit you have in your RV or trailer.

Smaller AC units won’t need as much power as larger ones. The 15,000 BTU unit will require a lot more power than say a 5,000 or an 8,000 BTU. This means you would need to adapt those electrical source options according to the size of your AC unit.

In the end, you will have to do some math to make it all work for you. It is not so simple as erecting a windmill and using that as your power source. There is a lot of equipment needed for even that unrealistic option.

In other words, your battery banks will have to be the size that fits the size of your AC unit.

How To Run RV AC Without a Generator


One of the best options is to purchase a portable AC unit. These are small enough that they can be stored till you need them. Then when you are in a position where you can’t use your generator or shore power, forgo using the rooftop unit and plug this unit in.

These portable units can cool rooms measuring 275 to 350 square feet with ease and may not need the same amount of power as your rooftop model. You would have to check the specs to see if this is a doable option for you or not.

But we have discussed the 3 main options you have. You would need either solar panels and equipment or a battery bank large enough to power the AC unit. The direct power source is not a good idea unless it is an emergency situation.

Both of these feasible options require space, money, an inverter, and other equipment to run efficiently. Then you have to find a way to recharge those batteries in the battery bank so they are ready for the next time you boondock.

This is not an easy solution and even with a smaller trailer, you may not have the room for all the equipment needed to run your AC unit. Buying a generator large enough is the best solution if you do not have one.

The key will be securing it so it does not get stolen at night. Every RV owner should have a generator when they do not have shore power.

How do I Keep My RV Cool Without a Generator?


You can create different cooling devices. If you do not like the portable AC unit solution, then you can alter different products to act as an AC unit and keep your rooms fairly cool. Here are a few ideas:

1. Adapt a cooler

This will work if the cooler is large enough. Just add some tubing, a fan, and some ice. Then cut the right holes to place the fan and the tubing in the right spots. Then turn the fan on after placing the ice inside. It may work best in smaller rooms.

2. Convert a 5-gallon bucket

It takes a little work as you will again need to cut or drill the right-sized holes in this bucket. Once that is done, add the right amount of insulation to help keep the ice from melting too quickly. Then add the fan.

The air inside the bucket will be cooled by at least one gallon of ice. These two ideas can be operated from your regular house batteries without taking too much power from them.

3. Black out drapes and fans

Simply hang these drapes and close them during the day. Then turn on a nice house fan and let that cool air keep your RV cool without using your AC unit. You may have other good ideas that will work for the size of the trailer.

Some Final Words

Every electrical device needs an electrical source to make it work. The trick is to find the right power source when you cannot use a generator or shore power. The problem is that most solutions can be very expensive.

The best thing to do is research the issue and see what is available to you and will work as you want it to. But the best solution is to buy a generator.

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