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What Size Generator to Run RV AC? All You Need to Know

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Have you ever found yourself on a summer camping trip, eagerly anticipating the cool relief of your RV’s air conditioning, only to discover that your generator falls short in powering it? Don’t let the sweltering heat dampen your adventures! So, what size generator do I need to power my RV’s air conditioner?

You’ll need a generator with a minimum power output of 3,000 to 4,000 watts to run an RV air conditioner. However, it’s essential to match the generator size to the specific requirements of your RV’s AC unit. Smaller AC units may operate on a 2,000-watt generator, while larger ones may need up to 6,500 watts.

On average, an RV air conditioner draws around 13,500 to 15,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of power per hour. To run an AC unit of this size, you’ll typically need a generator with a capacity of at least 3,000 to 4,000 watts.

However, it’s crucial to consider other factors, such as the starting surge or additional appliances you may want to power simultaneously, as they can increase the overall power demand. Consult your RV’s manual or contact the manufacturer to determine the exact wattage needed for your specific AC unit.

In this article, we’ll review more details on what size generator to run your RV AC. We’ll also unveil the secret to selecting the perfect size generator to keep your AC running smoothly.

How Many Watt Generators Are There to Run RV AC?

The required wattage generator for running an RV AC depends on various factors, such as the size and efficiency of the AC unit. An RV AC unit usually requires a generator with a minimum power output of 2,000 to 4,000 watts to run effectively.

However, investing in a generator with a higher wattage capacity is advisable to account for additional power needs and ensure smooth operation.

Also, starting an RV AC unit requires a power surge higher than its running wattage. The surge wattage can be 2 to 3 times the running wattage.

Therefore, a generator with a starting wattage capacity of around 4,000 to 6,000 watts is generally recommended to handle the initial surge.

Always cross-check the power requirements mentioned in the manufacturer’s specifications or consult an RV specialist for accurate information tailored to your AC’s needs.

What size portable generator do I need to run an RV air conditioner?

You will need a portable generator with a minimum power output of 2,000 to 3,500 watts to run an RV air conditioner. However, choosing a generator with a higher wattage capacity is recommended to accommodate any additional power requirements and ensure smooth operation. 

In addition, considering the initial surge of power required to start the AC unit, selecting a generator with a starting wattage capacity of around 4,000 to 6,000 watts is advisable.

Refer to the manufacturer’s documentation or consult an RV specialist to determine the correct power requirements for your RV air conditioner and choose a generator accordingly.

What size generator is needed for an RV with 2 AC units?

If you have an RV with two air conditioning (AC) units, you will need a larger generator to power both simultaneously.

The generator’s exact size will depend on each AC unit’s power requirements and factor in the starting or peak wattage and the running wattage.

Here’s a general guideline:

  1. Determine the wattage requirements of each AC unit:
    • A 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner typically requires a starting wattage of 2,750 and a running wattage of 1,250 watts.
    • A 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner may require a starting wattage of 3,500 and a running wattage of 1,500 watts.
  2. Add the wattage requirements of both AC units together:
    • For example, if you have two 15,000 BTU AC units, the total wattage requirement could range from 3,000 to 7,000 watts.
  3. Consider additional power needs:
    • Factor in the power consumption of other appliances or devices you plan to run simultaneously, such as refrigerators, TVs, or lights.
    • Add their wattage requirements to the total calculated in Step 2.

Select a generator that can handle the load based on the total wattage requirement. It’s generally recommended to have a generator with a capacity higher than the calculated total to provide a safety margin and ensure efficient operation.

Therefore, a generator with a wattage output of around 3,000 to 7,000 watts or more for RVs with two AC units should be suitable. However, it’s essential to consult the specifications of your specific AC units and other appliances to determine the precise wattage needs.

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and choose a generator with a slightly higher wattage capacity to accommodate any unexpected power demands and ensure a smooth and reliable power supply for your RV.

What size generator is required for a 30-amp RV air conditioner?

A 30-amp RV AC requires a generator with a minimum capacity of 3,600 watts. The air conditioner’s amp rating of 30 indicates it draws a continuous electrical load of 3,600 watts (30 amps x 120 volts).

However, it’s important to note that the starting or surge power may be higher than the running power. 

Therefore, a generator with a higher wattage capacity, such as 4,000 to 4,500 watts, would be advisable to accommodate the initial surge.

Additionally, it’s recommended to check the requirements of your RV air conditioner and generator to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

What size generator is needed for a 50-amp RV with 2 AC units?

A 50-amp RV with two air conditioning units typically requires a generator with a minimum capacity of 12,000 watts. Each air conditioner draws around 3,600 to 4,000 watts, so running both simultaneously would require a total power output of 5,500 to 7,000. 

However, it’s essential to consider the starting or surge power, which can be significantly higher than the running power. A generator with a higher wattage capacity, such as 12,000 watts, is recommended to accommodate the initial surge.

What size generator to run a 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner?

A 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner typically requires a generator with a power capacity of around 3,000 to 3,500 watts to run properly. However, it’s important to note that the exact wattage requirement can vary depending on factors such as the efficiency of the AC unit and any additional electrical loads in the RV.

To ensure compatibility and optimal performance, it is recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or specifications for your specific AC unit.

A generator within the mentioned wattage range should provide sufficient power to start and run a 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner effectively. Choosing a generator with a slightly higher wattage capacity is a good practice to account for any power spikes or additional electrical devices.

By selecting an appropriately sized generator, you can enjoy a comfortable environment inside your RV while on the road or at your favorite campsite without worrying about power issues.

What size generator to run a 15,000 BTU RV AC?

A 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner typically requires 3,500 to 3,800 watts to start and 1,500 to 1,800 watts to run continuously. Using a generator with a minimum power output of 4,000 watts is critical to manage the initial surge and sustain the power supply for the air conditioner to operate effectively.

Using a generator with insufficient power capacity can result in problems such as the air conditioner not starting or the generator overheating. To ensure dependable and effective performance, always check the power requirements of your RV air conditioner and select a generator accordingly.

It’s important to note that factors like the air conditioner’s efficiency, any other appliances or devices running simultaneously, and high ambient temperatures can all impact the generator’s power requirements.

In such instances, using a larger generator with a higher wattage output may be wise to account for these variables and ensure optimal performance.

A 4,500-watt generator, for example, can provide a safety margin while accommodating additional power needs in your RV.

When picking a generator, it is usually a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the air conditioner and seek professional guidance to ensure a suitable fit for your needs.

Can I Run my RV AC with a 2000-watt Generator?

Running a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner with a 2,000-watt generator can be challenging. A 15,000 BTU air conditioner typically requires around 1,500 watts to run and has a surge power requirement of 2,800 to 3,500 watts during startup.

A 2,000-watt generator may not provide sufficient power to handle the surge power the air conditioner needs, which could result in the generator overloading and shutting down. 

Additionally, even if the air conditioner starts up, the generator might struggle to maintain the required power supply, leading to inefficient cooling and potential strain on the generator.

Using a generator with a larger capacity, such as 3,500 to 4,000 watts, is generally recommended to power a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner comfortably. Always consult the specific requirements of your air conditioner and the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

Will a 2200-watt Generator Run an RV Air Conditioner?

Yes, a 2200-watt generator can run an RV air conditioner, but it may have some limitations. Most RV air conditioners require a starting wattage higher than their running wattage.

On average, a 13,500 BTU RV air conditioner needs around 2800-3500 starting watts and 1300-1800 running watts.

A 2200-watt generator may need help to provide the necessary starting power for the air conditioner, especially if other appliances are running simultaneously. In such cases, it is recommended to use a soft start or an Easy Start device that helps reduce the initial power surge required to start the air conditioner.

This can help the generator handle the load more effectively. It’s important to note that the specific wattage requirements can vary depending on the model and manufacturer of the air conditioner.

It’s always best to consult the manufacturer’s specifications or seek professional advice to ensure the generator can adequately power your RV air conditioner.

Will a 2500-watt Generator Run an RV Air Conditioner?

Yes, a 2500-watt generator should be able to run most RV air conditioners. Most standard RV air conditioners have a starting wattage requirement ranging from 2800 to 3500 watts and a running wattage requirement of 1300 to 1800 watts.

A 2500-watt generator falls within this range and should provide enough power to start and run the air conditioner.

Class C Camper Van RV and a Gas Generator sitting Next to the Motorhome. But What Size Generator to Run RV AC?
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However, it’s essential to consider any additional appliances or devices running simultaneously with the air conditioner. Having other high-power machines or equipment connected to the generator could affect its capacity to handle the load. 

In such cases, you may need to manage the power usage and prioritize the air conditioner as the primary appliance.

Will a 3000-watt Generator Run RV AC?

Yes, a 3000-watt generator should be able to run most RV air conditioners. Most standard RV air conditioners have a starting wattage requirement ranging from 2800 to 3500 watts and a running wattage requirement of 1300 to 1800 watts.

A 3000-watt generator falls within this range and should provide enough power to start and run the air conditioner comfortably.

With a 3000-watt generator, you would have additional power capacity to run other appliances or devices simultaneously with the air conditioner, such as lights, small appliances, or electronics.

However, it’s always important to consider the specific wattage requirements of your RV air conditioner and any other appliances you plan to power simultaneously.

Some larger or more power-hungry air conditioner models may have higher wattage requirements for your RV air conditioner and any other devices you plan to power simultaneously. 

Therefore, seeking professional advice is essential.

Will a 3500-watt Generator Run an RV Air Conditioner?

A 3500-watt generator should be sufficient to run most RV air conditioners. Most standard RV air conditioners have a starting wattage requirement ranging from 2800 to 3500 watts and a running wattage requirement of 1300 to 1800 watts.

A 3500-watt generator falls within or exceeds these ranges and should provide ample power to start and run the air conditioner smoothly.

With a 3500-watt generator, you would also have additional power capacity to run other appliances or devices simultaneously with the air conditioner. This allows you to power auxiliary equipment such as lights, small appliances, or electronics while operating the air conditioner.

However, it’s still essential to check the specific wattage requirements of your RV air conditioner and any other appliances you intend to power simultaneously.

Some larger or high-power air conditioner models may have higher wattage demands, so it’s always advisable to consult the manufacturer’s specifications or seek professional advice for real compatibility and safe operation.

How Long Will RV AC Run on a Generator?

The runtime of an RV air conditioner on a generator can vary depending on several factors, including the generator’s capacity, the efficiency of the air conditioner, the outdoor temperature, and the level of insulation in the RV.

Assuming you have a generator with sufficient capacity to run the RV air conditioner, such as a 3500-watt generator, and the air conditioner runs efficiently, you can generally expect the AC unit to run for several hours on a full fuel tank.

Typically, a generator’s fuel tank capacity ranges from 1 to 5 gallons, and fuel consumption rates vary. Depending on the load and generator efficiency, generators may consume around 0.2 to 0.5 gallons of fuel per hour.

Considering these estimates, an RV air conditioner generator may last 2 to 10 hours on a full fuel tank. However, it’s important to monitor fuel consumption and have spare fuel available, especially if you plan to run the air conditioner for an extended period or in hot weather conditions.

What is the Minimum Generator for RV AC?

The minimum generator size required to run an RV air conditioner depends on the specific wattage requirements of the air conditioner. Most standard RV air conditioners have a starting wattage ranging from 2800 to 3500 watts and a running wattage of 1300 to 1800 watts.

To determine the minimum generator size, it is essential to consider the air conditioner’s starting wattage, as it requires a higher power surge during startup. Choosing a generator that can handle the air conditioner’s starting wattage is recommended to ensure proper operation.

In short, the minimum generator size for an RV air conditioner would be one that can provide the necessary starting wattage of the air conditioner, which can be around 2800 to 3500 watts. 

However, it’s important to note that this is the minimum requirement, and it’s advisable to have some additional power capacity for other appliances or devices that may be running simultaneously.

Choosing a generator with a capacity slightly higher than the air conditioner’s starting wattage is recommended, such as a 3500-watt generator. This provides a buffer and ensures the generator can comfortably handle the initial power surge.

Always confirm the specific wattage requirements of your RV air conditioner and consider any additional power needs to select an appropriately sized generator for your setup.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Sizing A Generator for Your RV AC

Several important factors must be considered when sizing a generator for your RV air conditioner to ensure you choose the right generator size for your specific needs. Here are some key considerations:

1. Power Requirements of the AC Unit

Determine the wattage requirements of your RV air conditioner. This information is usually provided in the unit’s specifications or on the manufacturer’s website. It’s essential to consider both the running and the starting or peak wattage, as the starting wattage is higher due to the initial power surge when the AC unit turns on.

2. Number of AC Units

Consider the number of air conditioning units you have in your RV. If you have multiple AC units, the total wattage requirement will be higher, as you need to consider the power needs of each unit.

3. Additional Appliances

Consider other appliances and devices you will be running simultaneously with the air conditioner, such as refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, or lighting. Add up their wattage requirements to calculate the total power load that the generator needs to handle.

4. Efficiency and Usage Patterns

Assess your usage patterns and the efficiency of your AC unit. It may require a larger generator if you plan to use the air conditioner frequently or for extended periods. Additionally, if your AC unit is energy-efficient, it may have lower power consumption, allowing you to choose a smaller generator.

5. Safety Margin

A generator with a higher wattage capacity is recommended than the total calculated load. This provides a safety margin and ensures the generator doesn’t operate at its maximum capacity, which can lead to better fuel efficiency, longer generator lifespan, and reduced risk of overloading.

6. Noise Level and Size

Consider the noise level and physical size of the generator. RV campsites often have noise regulations, so opt for a quiet generator. Additionally, ensure the generator’s physical dimensions and weight suit your RV’s storage and transportation capabilities.

7. Peak vs. Running Wattage

Remember that an air conditioner’s starting or peak wattage is higher than its running wattage. Ensure the generator you choose can handle the initial surge of power required during startup.

8. Inverter Generator vs Conventional Generator

Inverter generators are generally more efficient, quieter, and provide cleaner power for sensitive electronics. Consider the advantages of an inverter generator, especially if you have electronic devices or appliances that require stable power.

Considering these factors, you can properly size your RV generator to ensure it meets the power demands of your air conditioner and other appliances, providing reliable and efficient power while on the road. It’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines for your AC unit and the generator to make an informed decision.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right generator size for your RV air conditioner is crucial for a comfortable camping experience. The generator’s size depends on your AC unit’s power requirements. Most RV air conditioners have a power rating between 13,500 to 15,000 BTUs.

A generator with a minimum power output of 2,000 to 4,000 watts is recommended for a single AC unit. However, if you plan to run other appliances alongside the AC, opt for a generator with higher wattage, around 5,000 to 7,000 watts.

Generally, a larger generator capacity is necessary for RVs with two AC units or higher amp ratings. Always consult the manufacturer’s specifications or seek professional advice to determine the precise wattage needs for your RV air conditioner.

By selecting the right generator size, you can ensure efficient AC operation and have enough power for other electrical needs during your journey.

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