Running RV AC on batteries: Can You Run an RV AC on Battery?

Not all campgrounds that allow RVs have electrical hook ups. That means you need to bring an alternative power source with you if you want to run the features included in your RV. Generators work well but they can take up a lot of storage space when not in use.

Can You Run an RV AC on Battery? Yes, you can. Some batteries can hold lots of electrical power. This ability makes them perfect to use when you cannot find an electrical outlet to plug your RV into. Of course, depending on how many electrical items you power off your battery, your battery may not last the night.

To read more about using a battery to power your RV Ac unit, just continue to read our article. It is filled with the information you need to know to find the right battery for your RV air conditioner.

Running RV Air Conditioner on Batteries

It is possible to run your RV air conditioner off a battery but it may take two to get the power and longevity you need to cool your RV down. The key to running your AC unit off of batteries is that the batteries will need plenty of power.

How long the AC unit will run for while on batteries would depend on its size and how many BTUs it produces. The higher the BTU output the shorter your battery power will last.

Some people have gone to Lithium batteries that bring that power but they are not inexpensive. These batteries can run you about $1200. But their 5+ years of life help make up for that initial cost.

To run your RV Ac unit off a battery you would need an inverter to convert from DC to AC power.

How Many Watts does it Take to Run an RV air Conditioner?

The amount of watts you need to run your RV’s AC unit will depend on how many BTUs the air conditioner produces. If you are using a small air conditioner that puts out about 6,000 BTUs then you will need approx. 560 watts.

A 13,500 BTU air conditioner will need roughly 1200 to 1300 watts just to run it. Start up wattage is much higher and gets close to 3000 watts. A 15,000 BTU air conditioner needs only about 1800 watts to run it while its start up wattage runs in the neighborhood of 3500 watts.

Another factor to consider when trying to figure out how many watts you need to run your air conditioner is the make and model of the air conditioner inside your RV. Each different style has its own wattage requirements.

Your owner’s manual should be able to provide you with all the information you need to find the right wattage to power your RV air conditioner. Of course, if you have 2 then you may need to double the wattage.

How Many Batteries does an RV Air Conditioner Use?

This also depends on what kind of battery you are using. If you are using normal lead batteries then you may need about 3 or 4 at the very minimum. If you spend the money for a lithium style then you may be able to stop at 2.

The number of batteries you will need to use will depend on how much power they can hold, how often you use your RV’s air conditioner and how many BTUs the air conditioner produces.

How Long Will an RV ac Run on Battery

If you are using a 15,000 BTU producing air conditioner that requires about 1500 watts to run it, then the two lithium batteries can keep the air conditioner running for 90 minutes before needing recharging.

That test was done at full power and trying to cool a hot 86 degree F RV down to about 66 degrees F. Your results will differ as you may be using a different sized air conditioner that producers fewer BTUs. Also, you may not be looking at cooling your RV so drastically.

Some people have had their batteries last for hours but their set up may have included more batteries or a very small air conditioner.

Can you Use solar Panels to Run the RV air Conditioner

Since people are always looking for ways to save money while getting more power, solar power is often brought into the discussion. The good news is that it is possible for you to use solar power to run your RV’s air conditioning unit.

The only issue is that the AC unit in your RV may require more energy than your solar panels can produce. Because RV AC units require a lot of wattage just to start up, you would need a solar panel that can produce 2800 watts or more.

You can get solar panels to handle this amount of wattage, but the inverter would be impractical and not be of any help. Another drawback to using solar panels is that they need sunlight to get their energy.

That means you would have to park your RV in the sun and defeat the purpose of using solar panels.

Some RV AC Use Tips

If you decide to use batteries to power your RV’s air conditioner, you may want to consider using the following tips to help you conserve your battery power:

  • Cook outside- if you have an electric stove or other appliances you use for cooking your meals, bar-b-q outside would save your battery power
  • Limit your AC use- don’t run your AC unit for long periods of time. Use it only when it is needed
  • Buy a smaller sized AC- you can always buy a smaller RV with a smaller AC that produces fewer BTUs.
  • Circulate the air first- if you can get rid of some of the hot air by opening the doors and windows, this will help your AC work more efficiently

Some Final Comments

Using air conditioning in your RV while on vacation makes sense. It does get hot in the great outdoors in the spring, summer and fall. Those Indian summers can be extreme some years.

When you cannot find a camp site that has electrical hook ups, having a back up plan is a must. Batteries do come in handy and can power your Ac if you have the right ones and the right number of batteries.

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