If you are the one who lives in an RV or thinking about living in one or even follow YouTubers who live the travel life, you definitely would have thought about the source of power. Without the regular supply of electricity as in homes, solar and battery would be the primary thought that strikes you. And when it’s about power consumption, air conditioners are ones with an extraordinary appetite. Even a 5000 BTU window air conditioners’ power consumption shoots up to 500W regardless of the size of your RV. So the question is, can we run this on solar power? Well, the simple answer would be a yes, but the practicality of it is quite complicated.
- How Does it Work – The solar panel charges your battery and the battery supplies power to all your accessories. Your RV’s 12 volt DC accessories can be powered directly from the battery. But you’ll need an inverter to convert the battery’s 12V DC electricity to AC for running the air conditioner and other AC electronics. In order to solar power your air conditioner, the size of your solar panel, battery capacity and inverter wattage matters.
- Get the Battery Right – Turning on the air conditioner can give a sudden rise to your amperage. For a 13500 BTU air conditioner, the rise could be around 150 amps. Add this up to your other accessories, convert it to watts and double it up – Will give you an approximate idea of battery needed for your RV. A lithium-ion battery is any day better than a lead-acid battery, except for the cost. It’s also much lighter on the environment.
- Light from Above – When you know how much amps your air conditioner is pulling in, you’ll get an idea of the size of solar panel you should be considering. For a 13500 BTU air conditioner, drawing 150AH energy, you’ll need at least 1500 watts of solar panels to support your air conditioner. So technically, you don’t have enough space on your RV roof to install enough solar panels to run the air conditioner independently on solar power. Tilting your panels can increase the electricity produced to over 25%.
- DC to AC – Before you finalize the size of your inverter, keep in mind that wattage required to start the air conditioner is way more than what is required to run it. For a 13500 BTU air conditioner to start you will need around 2800W inverter. But you’ll end up installing a 3800w inverter to ensure it doesn’t get maxed out. If this size doesn’t sound practical to your RV, install a soft start, which could start your air conditioner with almost half the wattage inverter generator.
- Is it Practical? – It is definitely practical to run your RV air conditioner on solar power, but not independently on solar power. The only thing that might stop you from installing one would be the cost. But if you can handle that and install the setup properly, the advantages are numerous.
As you travel and camp in your RV you’ll end up in places where you certainly wouldn’t want the annoying sound and fumes and the hassle of your generator – Well, go solar!
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