How Long can you Run an RV Air Conditioner?
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Camping during the summer is always one fun activity that you should never miss. The experience is amazing and worth remembering. At times it gets too hot that you need a place to escape the heat.
Your RV is the only place that will ensure your body cools off since it has an air conditioner installed in it. If it is your first time having an RV or need a little help, this article will give you some useful information on how to keep your RV cool and very much comfortable through the air conditioner.
Before you start switching the air conditioner on and off, it is equally important to learn how it works first. This will enable you to know if it is functioning effectively or not.
The RV air conditioner functions similarly to a refrigerator, but in a different way. It does not produce cold air like your normal home ACs. Instead, it sucks out heat and moisture from the air in the RV to cool it down.
The hot air that is sucked into the air conditioner unit changes state from gas to liquid then back to gas again. Immediately hot air is taken out of the room and you will feel a cooling effect.
Instead of an air conditioner in the RV producing air that is chilled, it processes the heat inside your cabin to a lower degree. Generally speaking, RV air conditioners have a temperature conversion increment of 20 degrees.
What does this mean? For instance, let’s say the temperature inside the cabin is about 100 degrees. The air conditioner unit will only drop the temperature down 20 degrees. So, the inside temperature will be around 80 degrees.
You need not worry that your air conditioner is not functioning effectively in such a scenario. The AC does not go below that unless the intake temperature drops down a little bit.
Nevertheless, this is what you can do to ensure the inside temperature drops and your AC does not work twice as hard as it is meant to be working.
- Check filters. You need to ensure the filters are unobstructed and clean. You can opt to blow them out with an air compressor or wash them with slightly warm water and mild detergent and then rinse thoroughly and dry them overnight.
- Clean condenser coils. You should ensure the condenser coils are in a clear view. If the coils are free, the fan will blow hot air to the outside efficiently.
- Clean debris around air vents. Always ensure the air return is very clear.
- Check your power supply. You should have at least 110-120 volts of AC power going directly into the unit. Please note that the air conditioner will still run at lower voltages, but not at maximum capacities.
- Keep it closed. Always keep your windows and door closed at all times. Additionally, the curtains should be closed throughout. This ensures that cool air is kept in and hot air is locked out.
- Park under a shade. Staying away from direct sunlight means the air conditioner does not have to work twice as hard.
Good maintenance will ensure your AC can run all night without failure.
Running air conditioner on battery
You should never go camping without a generator. The battery in your RV is not enough to power the air conditioner unit.
You might argue that your RV has more than one battery. Well, yes your RV has two or more batteries, but that is still not enough power to run an air conditioner.
Many of the RVs you see around have two or more AC units installed in them. Just switching on the air conditioner requires too much power, let alone running it for up to an hour.
With the advancement in technology, the new RVs come with a 15K BTU air conditioning system. These units need at least 3500 watts to get them started and an additional 1500 watts to keep them running. This is a total of 4500 watts to operate the air conditioning unit successfully.
To use the batteries to power the air conditioners, your RV needs to have an inverter. And many of the RVs in the market lacks an inverter. The few that come with inverters range from 1,000 to 2,000 watts.
This is still not enough to convert the battery power to AC electricity that your air conditioner can run on. You will need a 4000 watts DC-to-AC power inverter if you want to power your air conditioner via the battery.
If you are very determined to run your A/C on batteries, then you will need (at least) the following:
- Three 100 AH Lithium-Ion batteries
- 7,000-watt power inverter
- 1,500 watts solar panel
This will produce sufficient power to run two 15,000 BTU air conditioners for about one hour. If you want to run the air conditioner the whole night, then you will need more equipment.
You will need an additional five lithium batteries. This is very expensive if you are planning to stay out for about a week. It is advisable to run the air conditioner using a generator since it is cheap compared to using batteries and it does not consume too much gas.
Running air conditioner on generator
If you are far away from shore power hookup, you can use a portable generator to power up the air conditioner. A generator is great since it will not only power the air conditioner alone but can also be used to power the refrigerator and other electrical gadgets.
If you do have a diesel generator, that is an advantage since diesel generators consume less gasoline compared to unleaded gas. There are three types of generators you can use: diesel, gasoline, and LP.
Consider these factors before deciding which one to carry along.
- Flammability. Gasoline and propane are very flammable compared to diesel.
- Run hours. When you take proper care of both diesel and propane, you will get more hours before you can overhaul the generators.
- Emissions. A diesel generator burns cleaner than gasoline and propane.
How long do the RV’s air conditioners last?
Typically, the life expectancy of an RV air conditioner is around three to five years, plus or minus two. However, this is entirely dependent on its use, the model, and the materials used in its assembly.
Just like any other thing you buy, they are not designed to last you a lifetime. Every machine becomes worn out. Your RV air conditioner is not an exception.
Its life expectancy will depend on how much you travel. If you travel a lot, that means you use it frequently, hence it will not last that long before it needs replacement or repair.
Apart from that, age also determines if it is going to work or not. Thus, you should consider purchasing a new air conditioner instead of a used one. Yes, a used one is cheap, but it might fail to work just two days after you install it on your RV.
You CAN extend the life expectancy of the RV air conditioner! All that is required to ensure it serves you for a long time is general maintenance, cleaning, and everyday use. when a machine is kept for a long time without being used, the moving parts may end up becoming faulty.
Thus, even if you have no trip planned, you can use your RV to move around town, just so that the moving parts keep moving. Here are little maintenance tips to follow to ensure your RVs air conditioner remains in shape.
It is important to do a little bit of weather protection on the air conditioner. UV rays, wind, dirt, and rain can damage the plastic housing protecting the air conditioner.
For this reason, the plastic housing needs to be reinforced with weather protection materials so that it functions effectively.
Regularly check the plastic housing
Plastic housing is an important part of the air conditioner. It can get broken, cracked, or chipped. If this happens, the air conditioner might fail in ensuring the inside of your RV remains as cool as possible.
Thus, always do regular checks before you embark on your journey to ensure the plastic cover is a perfect shape.
Clean the filters
A dirty filter shortens the life expectancy of the air conditioner. When the filters are dirty, the air conditioner will have to work twice as hard to ensure hot air and moisture are sucked out of the RV.
Therefore, you should regularly clean the filters to ensure they remain clean for the air conditioner to function normally.
Check the cooling fins
The cooling fins need to be straight to allow sufficient airflow into the machine. If the fins are bent, the amount of air flowing into the machine is reduced.
This will shorten the life of the air conditioner since it won’t be able to do its work to the fullest. Thus, do straighten the cooling fins.
This should be done carefully because any carelessness might destroy the condenser tubes and cause further damage.
Check for leaks
Gaskets and rubber seals do wear out, break, or crack. If this happens, water will get in and start working on the air conditioner.
You need to check the gasket and seals to ensure they are in a good condition. And if they are broken, cracked, or worn out, replace them immediately.
Turn the lights down
Some types of lights emit heat. The heat being emitted will add to the workload of the air conditioner. Thus, even if it is functioning effectively, the interior will remain hot because of the extra heat produced by the light bulbs.
The best light bulb to use is an LED. It consumes little power while producing sufficient light with no heat emission.
Proper maintenance is key to increasing the shelf life of your RVs air conditioners.
Adding a second air conditioner to your RV
If you feel like one air conditioner is not enough to keep you cool especially during very hot weather you might want to add a second air conditioner to the RV. Yes, it is very much possible and it is not a difficult thing to do.
But consider these tips before you decide to add a second air conditioner to the RV.
Having a second air conditioner means more power consumption. This is going to eat into your travel budget as you will need more gas to power the second air conditioning unit. Powering both units is going to need a 50-amp fuse. Furthermore, when both of them run simultaneously no other electrical gadget in the RV will run.
Buying and installing a second air conditioning unit is going to cost you around $600 on average. This will depend on the model and brand.
Finding a spot to fix the second unit is also an issue that needs consideration. But once you do find one, ensure that you do not take out the air vents from the kitchen.
The RV air conditioner is an important gadget to ensure you enjoy your vacations. When the air conditioner is in perfect shape and properly maintained it will cool the interior of your RV efficiently.
Additionally, to get the best out of the RVs, always use other appliances such as the microwave, toaster, and oven LESS OFTEN during the day to reduce the amount of heat produced inside the cabin.
Also, remember to carry an extra fan with you. This will help regulate the airflow.
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