What Size Inverter to Run RV AC

What Size Inverter to Run RV AC

If you are an avid RV camper, you know how important it is to have a reliable power source for your air conditioner (AC) during those hot summer days. While many RVs come equipped with built-in generators, they can be noisy, expensive to maintain, and may not always be available. That’s where inverters come in. In this article, we will discuss what size inverter you need to run your RV AC and answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to this topic.

An inverter is an electrical device that converts direct current (DC) power from your RV’s batteries into alternating current (AC) power, which is what most of your appliances, including the AC, require. The size of the inverter you need depends on the power requirements of your specific AC unit. Here are the steps to determine the right size inverter for your RV AC:

1. Check the AC unit’s power requirements: Look for a label on your AC unit that provides information about the required voltage (V) and amperage (A). The most common voltage for RV AC units is 120V.

2. Determine the running wattage: Multiply the AC unit’s voltage by its amperage to get the running wattage. For example, if your AC unit requires 120V and draws 10A, the running wattage would be 120V x 10A = 1200W.

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3. Consider the starting wattage: AC units require a higher surge of power when starting up. This is known as the starting wattage. It is typically around 2-3 times the running wattage. In our example, the starting wattage would be 1200W x 2 = 2400W.

4. Calculate the total power requirement: Add the running wattage and the starting wattage to get the total power requirement. In our example, the total power requirement would be 1200W + 2400W = 3600W.

Now that you have determined the total power requirement, you can choose an inverter that is capable of handling that load. It is recommended to choose an inverter with a capacity slightly higher than your total power requirement to ensure smooth operation and avoid overloading the inverter.


1. Can I run my RV AC on a small inverter?
No, running an AC unit requires a significant amount of power, and a small inverter may not be able to handle the load. It is best to choose an inverter that matches or exceeds your AC unit’s power requirements.

2. Do I need a pure sine wave inverter for my RV AC?
Yes, it is recommended to use a pure sine wave inverter for running sensitive electronics like an AC unit. A pure sine wave inverter provides a cleaner and more stable power output, ensuring the safe operation of your AC unit.

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3. Can I run my RV AC on solar power?
Yes, you can run your RV AC on solar power, but it requires a larger solar panel setup and battery bank to meet the high power demands of the AC unit. Consult with a solar power expert to determine the right setup for your needs.

4. Can I run multiple appliances with the same inverter?
Yes, you can run multiple appliances as long as the total power requirement does not exceed the inverter’s capacity. Be mindful of the power limitations and distribute the load accordingly.

5. What other factors should I consider when choosing an inverter?
Apart from the power requirements, consider the inverter’s efficiency, reliability, noise level, and ease of installation. It is also important to check if the inverter has built-in safety features like overload protection and low voltage shutdown.

6. Can I use a smaller inverter and just run the AC intermittently?
While it is possible to use a smaller inverter and run the AC intermittently, it may not provide consistent cooling and can put strain on the inverter. It is best to choose an inverter that can handle the continuous power requirements of your AC unit.

7. How do I install an inverter for my RV AC?
Inverter installation should be done by a professional or a knowledgeable technician. It involves connecting the inverter to the RV’s battery bank, ensuring proper grounding, and installing a transfer switch to switch between AC power sources.

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In conclusion, choosing the right size inverter for your RV AC is crucial for a comfortable camping experience. Consider the power requirements of your AC unit, choose a reliable pure sine wave inverter, and consult with experts if needed. With the right setup, you can enjoy the cool comfort of your AC even when you are off the grid.