From solo or family outdoor trips to the most rugged expeditions, you will need enough dependable power supply if you also want to maintain the conveniences of modern life. From powering up your mobile phones, turning on lights at night, and keeping your RV air conditioners on, you will need the best generator your budget can allow. Especially if you absolutely must have a cool setting for comfort, you will need the best generator for RV air conditioner, one of the appliances that require the most power.
If you are in an area with intermittent power outages or in the event of a disaster emergency, you will also need a generator as a backup power supply for your home.
Should you invest in solar power for your RV and home air conditioner, or stick with a conventional gas-powered one?
Here is a guide to help you decide.
How Many Watts Do Home and RV Air Conditioners Need To Start and Run?
Home or RV air conditioners require the most power supply among all your appliances. When air conditioners and other appliances start, they require more power in the first few minutes (starting watts), then the power requirement reduces to normal values (running watts).
For home use, a typical window-unit air conditioner will take around 5,100 watts to start and 1,700 watts to run. Medium-sized window air conditioners average at 900W per hour of usage, and range from 500W to 1400W per hour depending on the age, type, and brand of air conditioner you have.
Generally, average midsized air conditioners use 2400W per hour but can use up to 3000W to 3500W per hour during warm months, or if you are in a warm-climate area. Mid-sized portable air conditioners use 2900W per hour but can use up to 4100W per hour if they are larger-sized.
For RV use, generally, every 1,000 British thermal unit (BTU) output requires 100 watts of power input. Most RV air conditioning units have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating of 10. A good EER for air conditioners is 8.5 and above. The higher the EER rating, the more energy-efficient it is. So, a 15,000-BTU RV with a 10 EER will run on at least 1,500 watts. Generally, for this RV, there should be 2,000 starting watts and 1,700 running watts.
To compute the cost of running your air conditioner per hour, divide the watts per hour estimate by 1000, then multiply the answer by the cost/KWh of your power supply. With conventional fossil fuel-based electricity costs soaring these days, you might want to consider shifting to a solar power system for your home or at least a solar generator for your home and RV.
Power Supply Problems of RV Air Conditioners
Many things can happen when you're on the road in your RV in the middle of summer, and the least you want to worry about but what happens is an RV air conditioner that won't turn on. There's only so much open window airflow you can get and when your air-conditioning unit goes off, you're in for a rough time or an expensive repair job.
When the air conditioner doesn't turn on, the first thing you do is check for power. Make sure that no breakers have been tripped and the fuses are intact. Usually, when breakers trip, too much electricity has been flowing through and it cannot handle the current excess load.
However, if the breaker is fine, then it's probably because you're not getting enough power to run it, especially if you are sharing power among several appliances in your RV. So, try turning off all other appliances, then turn the air conditioner on first, followed by the next largest power-requiring appliances (fridge, microwave), with the lowest power-requiring appliances (smaller kitchen gadgets) turned on last. If this still doesn't do it, then you need more power for your RV.
If this is a frequent experience for you, you might consider investing in the best generator for your RV air conditioner, especially solar power for RV air conditioners.
Why Choose A Solar Generator for Your RV Air Conditioner?
Between choosing a traditional gas-powered generator and a solar generator for your RV air conditioner, consider your carbon footprint impact on the environment as well as the health impact, ease, maintenance needs, and costs of the options.
"Solar generator" as a term often refers to a combination of portable solar panels, battery, battery charger, and inverter in a single device. This device enables you to capture, and distribute power from the sun.
With climate change and rising conventional fuel costs these days, solar generators have become popular alternatives, especially as emergency backup power for homes and camping, boating, and RV trips.
Solar-powered generators vs. gas-powered generators
Compared to traditional gas-powered generators, solar-powered generators are eco-friendlier, with much less noise and no smell from deadly fumes, are lower maintenance and are easy to use.
Solar-generated power is continuous free and clean energy sourced from the sun. Power from solar generators doesn't require fueling, oiling, starting, and maintaining as much as gas-powered generators do.
So, in choosing the best generator for your RV air conditioner, consider choosing solar power for RV air conditioners.
4 Key Things To Look For When Choosing A Solar Generator
Before searching for the best solar generator for your RV air conditioner, determine your RV power needs first by computing your total energy requirements.
Then, compare your power needs with the storage capacity of potential solar power generators you are considering. Include these four (4) essential factors when looking for a solar generator that matches your power needs:
Capacity refers to the amount of power a device can store, often expressed in terms of watt-hours, which is a unit of power per hour. You can find this displayed in small print on devices.
Determine how many watts you anticipate using in case of an outage or outdoor trips. A LED light bulb requires 7 to 10 watts, a laptop requires 54 watts, and a 15,000-BTU air conditioner requires 2,000 watts to run. A solar generator like Infinity 1500 has a capacity of 1512 watt-hours (Wh).
(2) Surge and Continuous Output
Surge output refers to the generator's start-up power available for turning devices on, while continuous power refers to the maximum number of watts that it can continuously provide.
For example, a generator with a surge value of 4,000W and a continuous value of 2,000W means that it can provide 2,000 watts of power at start-up and 1,512 watts of power at continuous running capacity. So, if you plug in a device to the generator that starts up at higher than 2,000 watts, even if it runs at 1,500 watts, it will trip the generator up.
It is not recommended to run at 100% output as this burns up batteries very quickly. It is recommended to run generators at 50% output instead. So, consider doubling your power needs estimate if you expect to run all your appliances with the solar generator you buy.
(3) Solar Input Capability
Solar input capability is an important number to consider when shopping for a generator. It indicates how quickly you can charge with solar panels. Smaller numbers mean you won't be charging it very quickly. If it is rated for a higher wattage, you can charge it faster because you can connect more solar panels to it, although the additional panels also add to costs.
(4) Battery Chemistry
In terms of battery chemistry, there are essentially two (2) options: lithium ion and lithium iron phosphate.
Lithium ion-charged batteries are lighter but you'll get fewer charge cycles. Charge cycles are the number of times you can expect to fully charge your device to 100% and deplete it to 0% before its charge capabilities are diminished to 80%. It usually takes 2 to 3 years for devices before you begin to see their storage capacity degradation. So, a solar generator rated for 1,000 watts capacity with 500 charge cycles will only hold 800 watts after 500 charge cycles.
An NMC (Nickel, Manganese, and Cobalt) battery is a type of lithium-ion battery. They are also known as Lithium Manganese Cobalt Oxide batteries. NMC batteries are the popular option for solar storage because they store more energy, last longer, and require less maintenance compared to lead-acid batteries. The Infinity 1500 uses NMC batteries which are lightweight, too, and is perfect for outdoor handling.
Lithium iron phosphate-charged batteries are heavier but get more charge cycles (usually 3500 charge cycles at 80%). Lithium iron phosphate batteries operate at 7x more than the standard lithium-ion batteries. They are normally rated for 10 years, but the downside is their weight which is around 30% heavier than lithium ion-charged batteries.
Also, you can check the differences between LFP(Lithium iron phosphate) and NMC here: LFP VS NMC Battery: Which One is the Better Option?
In shopping for the best solar generator for your RV air conditioner, consider which is more important: charge cycles or weight? Generally, lithium ions are recommended for RVs and portability, while lithium iron phosphates are recommended as a backup power supply for the home.
Aside from these 4 main considerations, also compare the following value-adding features of the solar generator for the RV air conditioner generator you are considering:
- If you can, run AC/DC efficiency tests using portable testers on them to see how many watts they can produce before fully depleting their batteries at 75% load. Results should yield at least 81% efficiencies, which is the industry average.
- Do they have connectivity to an app that provides real-time data on the battery?
- Do they have or allow for expandable batteries?
- Are their batteries fast charging?
- Do they have wireless charging options?
- Electric power supply (EPS)/ uninterruptible power supply (UPS): Do they have emergency supply functionality?
- Modularity (separate batteries that can be charged and replaced if they've run out of charge)
- What are the additional solar power options? Are they limited to the manufacturers' solar panels or do they allow for other brands' solar panels?
- Can you use solar blankets with them? Solar blankets are rolled "solar panels", easily deployed, and have higher voltage so they decrease the time to charge and do better in low-light conditions, although they may also have higher price points.
Best Solar Generator For RV Air Conditioner
Deciding on the best solar generator for your home/RV air conditioner depends on your specific power needs and what you consider as the best value for your money, given which generator best fits those requirements and parameters, and what their price points are.
If you want a solar generator that is affordable, sustainable, lightweight, fast charging, with enough ports for your needed devices, consider Growatt's Infinity 1500 as your best solar power generator choice.
Growatt portable power station is a rechargeable battery-powered generator that comes with AC, DC carport, and DC USB ports. It is a powerful power hub that keeps all your electronic devices charged.
As the world's newest portable power station, it has:
- a 1512 watt-hour capacity;
- with a 2,000-watt maximum output;
- with a fast recharging time of 1.6 hours;
- wireless charging capacity;
- 2 Quick Charge outlets;
- 2 USB-A outlets;
- 2 USB-C power delivery (PD) outlets;
- 1 carport outlet with supports 12V/24V car charging and electric vehicle (EV) charger charging;
- uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with 24/7 backup power capability; and
- a smart monitor you can control from the MyGro app.
The Infinity 1500 solar generator is suited for RVs with 15,000-BTU (or less) and 10 EER-rated air conditioners. It is lightweight and easy to carry so you can easily transport it for your outdoor camping and adventure trips. It's also fast charging with a wall charge rate of 2 hours and a solar charge rate of 2.5 hours. You can plug in many devices at the same time, so you don't have to give up modern conveniences even while out in the wild outdoors. It can be expanded to 4,536 Wh by adding solar panels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In choosing their best generator for RV air conditioner or solar power for RV air conditioner, people also ask us these questions, and here are our brief answers:
(1) Can You Power An RV With A Solar Generator?
Yes. As long as the solar generator capacity can adequately cover your RV's power needs.
(2) Will A 2000-Watt Generator Run An RV Air Conditioner?
It depends on the RV air conditioner's power requirement. A 2,000-watt generator like the Infinity 1500 can power an RV air conditioner with 15,000 BTUs (1,500 watts) of power needed. However, if the RV air conditioner's power requirement exceeds 2,000 watts, then a 2,000-watt generator cannot run it.
(3) Can You Charge An RV Battery With A Solar Generator?
Yes. A solar panel from a generator can be used to charge an RV battery. Ensure that you calculate first how much power you used so you will know how much power to replace. Keep in mind that solar panels only charge when the sun is shining on the panel, which is around 6 to 7 hours a day. To charge an RV-sized battery with a solar panel in 6 hours takes two 100-watt panels.