Who doesn’t love the oh-so-tempting convenience of RVs? These marvelous machines let you hit the road without leaving the comforts of home behind. You no longer have to worry about booking a hotel or Airbnb for summer vacation!
And yeah, more people are gravitating toward the world of RVs today. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported that in 2021, RV shipments increased from 504,599 in 2017 to a whopping 600,240 units! And apparently, the rising RV ownership comes with a few questions among which: How many amps does an RV AC use?
Now, if you’re among the many RV owners looking to answer this question, then rest assured. You’ve come to the right place. Herein, we’ll discuss the typical RV AC power consumption in detail. So, let’s get to it!
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How Many Amps Does an RV AC Use?
An RV air conditioner amperage draw ranges between 10 to 16 amps depending on the size, model, and type of the AC unit. But there’s an exception. Some AC units may surpass the 16 amps mark, but such ACs aren’t a common sight.
We’ve known air conditioning units to be among the power guzzlers we have at home. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that air conditioners account for 17% of electricity expenditures at home and 12% of total energy costs an average American household incurs.
So, it really makes sense to want to figure out the power consumption of your RV AC, not just for the sake of your pocket, but also for ensuring that the campground you’re visiting has enough power supply to match the amperage of your AC.
And fortunately, most ACs you find on RVs don’t come with as high amperage as the ones you’d find at home. Most of these units will draw 11 to 16 amps, with the majority settling at 13 amps when connected to a 120-volt power source.
But generally, the number of amps your RV draws depends on the model of the AC you have. For instance, if your RV has a Dometic AC rated at 13000 BTUs, you can expect it to draw about 10.83 amps at 120 VAC when running.
However, if you have a larger unit, say 15000 BTU AC or any other, the amperage will be more. And of course, we’re talking about a single AC here, so, if your RV is equipped with two ACs, you can anticipate the amperage draw to be double.
How Many Watts or Amps Does Your RV Air Conditioner Run On?
The simplest and most effective way to determine the amperage draw of your RV AC is by checking the manufacturer’s specs. Usually, these details are written on a label located on the AC unit or inside the user manual provided with it.
If you’re lucky enough to find the information, then you won’t need to do any calculations. But if it’s in wattage, you may need to divide the wattage by the voltage (generally 120 volts) to get the amperage draw.
Here’s the formula;
Amperage = Watts/Voltage.
If you don’t have the details on hand, then don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get the information.
All you need to do is find out the BTUs and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of your RV AC. Once you know that, use the following formula to calculate the wattage of your AC;
Wattage = BTU/EER.
Once you get the wattage, then you can use the above formula to get the amperage draw.
For instance, if your RV AC has a BTU rating of 13500 and an EER rating of 10, here’s how to go about it;
Wattage = BTUs/EER
= 1350 Watts
Amperage = Wattage/Voltage
= 11.25 Amps.
This is the amperage draw you should expect from your RV AC when running. Assuming that the unit rates 15000 BTUs with the same EER rating, the amperage would be 12.5 when you use the same calculation.
Most campgrounds provide at least 30 amp service, so whether your RV has a 13000 or 15000-BTU air conditioner, it can safely run on most campground’s electrical systems. But then again, you still need to be careful with the total load, especially if on a 30-amp service.
If you don’t know the wattage of your other appliances and electronics draw, it would be wise to calculate the total amperage draw and ensure that it doesn’t exceed 80% of 30 amps, that is, 24 amps. That way, you won’t have to worry about blowing a circuit breaker or causing a voltage drop.
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Can I Run My AC With 15 Amps?
You can’t run your RV air conditioner with 15 amps. Most RV ACs need at least 13 amps to run but more than a 15-amp outlet can provide for the start-up. Hence, using your AC with 15 amps won’t just suffice. It may supply enough running wattage, but it just doesn’t pack enough strength to handle the initial electrical power surge.
You see, RV ACs require more current than most of the other electrical appliances in your RV. And while most may need slightly less than 15 amps to run, the power surge that comes with startup demands more than it can draw from a 15-amp receptacle.
In short, if you’re looking to run your RV AC, then you need at least a 30-amp service. Anything less than that won’t suffice, and going over the recommended 80% load limit can damage your system. So, it is best to be careful and use the right power sources.
Can I Run My RV’s Air Conditioner on a 20-Amp Circuit?
No, you can’t run your RV air conditioner on a 20-amp circuit. Some RV air conditioners such as 13,000 BTU units may be rated at 13 amps but on start-up, they can draw as much power as 26 amps of power. So, like the 15-amp circuit, the 20-amp circuit just won’t provide enough power to run your RV AC.
If you want to run your RV AC, then you need to use a 30-amp circuit. With that being said, even if you do have a 30-amp circuit, ensure that a total load of your RV appliances doesn’t exceed 80% capacity. That way, you can avoid any potential voltage drops or blown fuses.
Can I Run My RV Air Conditioner on Battery Power?
Yes, it’s possible to run your RV air conditioner on battery power as long as you have enough batteries to support it. However, this is not very practical since ACs require a lot of electricity to start and run.
If you’re considering using battery power for your RV AC, it is best to have adequate batteries and solar panels to provide enough electricity to power the AC. And when I say “adequate”, I mean more than most RV owners would be willing to pay for.
So, unless you already have a large number of batteries and solar panels, it’s best to opt for alternative sources of power rather than battery power. Most campgrounds will provide enough power to run your RV AC, so that’s your best bet.
If you don’t have access to one, you may think of getting a generator. As long as you get the ideal size for your RV, you’ll be able to power your AC without any problems. And of course, when sizing the generator, make sure to factor in the power needs of all other appliances you plan on using while on your RV trip.
Can a 3000-Watt Generator Power an RV Air Conditioner?
Yes, a 3000-watt generator will power an RV air conditioner if its power requirement is anything like that of an average RV air conditioner. A typical RC AC rated at 13000 BTUs runs on 1300 watts of power, so a 3000-watt will provide enough for the piece and still leave enough room for a few other appliances.
A generator brings in the convenience of powering your RV AC without having to look for campgrounds with electricity outlets. It gives you limitless freedom as to where you can camp and at what time.
But before investing money in one, make sure that it has enough power for all your other RV appliances. Also, look for reliable and high-quality models with a noiseless operations to ensure that you get the best value for money.
Usually, a high-quality 3000-watt generator should be more than enough power to run your RV air conditioner. Assuming that your motor home’s AC runs at 1300 watts, a 3000-watt generator is even enough to buffer the surge of power that comes with start-ups.
So, to answer the question, yes, a 3000-watt generator can power an RV air conditioner. But it would be wise to limit a total load of your RV appliances to the generator’s rated wattage capacity to ensure that you don’t overload it.
If possible, try to turn off all other appliances every time you want to switch on the AC. You can then turn them back on once the AC’s power needs to stabilize. Otherwise, you risk blowing a fuse or running out of the generator’s power capacity.
Alternatively, you can consider getting a larger size generator with more power capacity to cover all your appliances. That way, you’ll avoid having to sacrifice one appliance for another. But all in all, always remember to get the exact figures of all your RV appliances and factor them in when selecting your generator.
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With 11.2 million households in the United States owning a recreation vehicle, it is essential to know how much amperage all your RV appliances need. And usually, an average AC runs on 10 to 16 amps, which is way less than what most campgrounds offer for their RV park outlets.
You can opt to power an AC with battery power, but that’s not ideal since it would require a lot of batteries plus solar panels to make it work. Alternatively, you can go for a generator. Even so, remember to factor in the max power needs of all other RV appliances when selecting one, to ensure that it’s enough to run them all without overloading.