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How Many Watts Does An RV AC Use?

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Staying cool is essential when RV camping, especially in the summer heat. Air conditioning is one of the biggest power drains in an RV, typically requiring around 1500 watts. Running your roof AC off the grid poses a challenge for many RV owners looking to camp remotely.

Portable power stations like Growatt offer a robust solution, providing the wattage and capacity to power RV air conditioners. With efficient solar panels, you can charge a Growatt unit during the day to run the AC in the evenings. This allows you to camp anywhere, without worrying about shore power or noisy generators disturbing the peace.


In this guide, we'll cover how many watts an RV AC uses, generator sizes needed, and recommendations on the best Growatt models for powering your RV air conditioner off-grid.

Typical RV AC Power Consumption

RV air conditioners are major power drains, typically requiring 700-1500 watts of electricity. This can add up quickly if you're running your AC full-time.

For example, running a standard 13,500 BTU AC uses around 1300 watts. If you plan to run your AC for 12 hours per day to keep your RV cool, that's about 1300 watts x 12 hours = 15,600 watt-hours (15.6 kWh) daily.

On the lower end, a basic 5000 BTU RV AC may use around 700 watts while running. At 12 hours per day, that's 700W x 12h = 8400 watt-hours (8.4 kWh).

So in general, you can expect an RV AC to use 8400-15600 watt-hours per day depending on the size and your runtime. This gives you a rough estimate of the capacity you'll need from your RV power source to keep the AC going off-grid.

RV AC Power by BTU Rating

The power an RV air conditioner requires depends largely on its cooling capacity, measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). The higher the BTU, the more powerful the AC unit and the more electricity it will draw.

Below is a table showing the typical power consumption range for RV ACs based on BTU size:

BTU Rating Power Range
8000 BTU 500-800 watts
10000 BTU 600-1000 watts
13500 BTU 1000-1400 watts
15000 BTU 1400-1800 watts

As you can see, a small 8000 BTU AC often runs on less than 1000 watts, while a large 15000 BTU unit can require up to 1800 watts. This power range represents the continuous running wattage after startup.

Growatt solar generator for RV AC

The peak surge on initial startup is often 2-3 times higher than the continuous rating. So a 15000 BTU AC may briefly spike up to 5000+ watts when first turned on. This startup power surge is important to consider when sizing a generator.

In general, the higher the BTU, the more electricity the RV air conditioner will consume. Knowing the unit's BTU capacity provides a good baseline for estimating its wattage needs.

Startup vs Running Power

Air conditioners require a surge of maximum power when starting up, known as the startup or peak wattage. This allows the compressor and fan motor to begin operating.

Once running, the air conditioner settles into a continuous power draw known as the running wattage. This is the amount of power needed to keep the AC running once started.

The startup wattage is always higher than the running wattage. For RV air conditioners, the startup power surge may be 2-3 times higher than the running watts.

Here's a table showing approximate startup and running wattages for common RV AC BTU capacities:

BTU Rating Startup Watts Running Watts
8000 1600 700
10000 2000 800
13500 3000 1200
15000 3500 1500

As you can see, an RV AC can require thousands of watts for the initial startup, while the running wattage is lower. This is an important consideration when selecting a generator or solar power system to run an RV air conditioner off-grid. The capacity needs to handle both surge and continuous power demands.

Generator Size Needed for off-grid RV AC

The size of generator you need to power your RV air conditioner off-grid depends on the AC's power draw and how many hours per day you plan to run it.

Most RV air conditioners have power demands between 1000-1500 watts while running. To calculate the battery capacity needed, take the running watts and multiply by the number of hours you'll use the AC per day.

For example, if your AC draws 1500 watts while running and you plan to use it for 8 hours per day, you would need:

1500 watts x 8 hours = 12,000 watt-hours per day

So in this case, you would need an off-grid power source with at least 12,000 watt-hours of capacity, like a generator or solar generator.


RV solar generator

Growatt offers several solar generator models with the battery capacity to handle most RV AC runtime needs:

  • Growatt INFINITY 1300 - 1382Wh capacity
  • Growatt INFINITY 1500 - 1512Wh capacity
  • Growatt INFINITY 2000 - 2048Wh capacity

The INFINITY 1300 would work for shorter AC runtimes, while the INFINITY 1500 or INFINITY 2000 would provide enough power for full-day AC usage. With sufficient solar panels, Growatt's lithium batteries can be recharged for continuous off-grid AC power.

Choosing the right size Growatt solar generator ensures you'll have ample wattage capacity to keep your RV cool, even when camping off-grid. Their portable, quiet design makes them an ideal power source for RV air conditioning.

Best Growatt Model for RV Air Conditioning

The key factors to consider when choosing a Growatt solar generator are the capacity, power output, and estimated runtime for powering your RV air conditioner. Here are the specs for Growatt's main portable power station models:

Growatt INFINITY 1300

  • 1382Wh Capacity & 1800W Output
  • LiFePO4 Battery with 3,000+ Life Cycles to 80%
  • Fully charged in 1.8 hours
  • Up to 14 Versatile Outlets
  • Reliable 24/7 EPS
  • Easy & Remote Control via App
  • 5-Year Warranty

Growatt INFINITY 1500

  • 1512Wh Capacity & 2000W Output 
  • Wall charge from 0%-80% in 1 hour;  0-100% in 2 hours
  • Up to 12 Diverse Outlets 
  • Reliable 24/7 backup power (EPS)
  • Easy & Remote Control via  App
  • 2-Year Warranty

Growatt INFINITY 2000

    • Capacity: 2048Wh lithium battery
    • AC Output: 2200W pure sine wave
    • Fast Charging: 1.5 Hours
    • Outlets: 15 outlets
    • Expandable: Up to 6144Wh

    Powering RV AC Off-Grid

    One of the great benefits of Growatt portable power stations is their ability to run RV air conditioners completely off-the-grid. With a solar generator, you don't need to hook up to shore power or rely on a noisy, smelly gas generator to keep your RV cool.

    Growatt's large battery capacities, high power inverters, and fast solar recharging make them the perfect solution for off-grid RV AC. Even large 15,000 BTU roof-mounted ACs can be powered for hours with a Growatt INFINITY 1500 or INFINITY 2000 model.

    Simply connect your RV AC to the generator's AC outlets, and it will seamlessly supply the needed power - up to 2000 watts continuous. The pure sine wave inverter provides clean power that won't damage ACs.

    During the day, you can recharge the Growatt using the optional solar panels. This provides an endless power source when paired with sufficient solar.

    Growatt portable power stations

    With a Growatt solar generator, you can enjoy hours of air conditioning without any noise, fuel, or hookups. It provides independence and convenience for RVing off-grid or in remote areas without electrical access. RVers no longer have to choose between suffering in the heat or dealing with the hassle of shore power or generators.

    Frequently Asked Questions on RV AC Power

    What is the average power consumption of an RV air conditioner?

    Most RV air conditioners have power demands between 700 and 1500 watts. Larger units and models from premium brands tend to be on the higher side. Expect an average of 1000-1200 watts for a typical RV AC unit.

    How many watt-hours does an RV AC use per day?

    With average use of 8-10 hours per day, you can expect an RV AC to consume 8000-12,000 watt-hours. For periods of maximum use on hot days, watt-hours may be as high as 15,000-18,000.

    What size generator do I need to run an RV AC?

    You'll need at least a 2000 watt generator to handle the startup surge for most RV ACs. 3000 watt or larger is ideal if running other appliances. For a 15,000 BTU AC, aim for 3000 watts.

    Can I run an RV AC on solar power?

    Yes, with an adequately sized solar generator like the Growatt INFINITY 2000. It provides over 2000 watts and 2048 watt-hours to power an RV AC.

    How do I know if my AC is overloaded?

    Signs of an overloaded AC include circuit breaker trips, power fluctuations, reduced cooling and intermittent shutoffs. An undersized generator is typically the culprit.

    What AC size should I get for my RV?

    Choose an AC based on RV length, not square footage. For RVs under 25 feet, a 13,500 BTU AC is common. 20+ feet units often have 15,000 BTU. Get multiple ACs for larger RVs.

    How many batteries are needed to run an RV AC?

    For a 2000 watt AC, you would need over 500 amp-hours of lithium batteries, costing several thousand dollars. A better solution is the Growatt INFINITY 2000 solar generator all-in-one power station.


    When selecting a portable power station for running an AC in your RV off-grid, Growatt solar generators stand out as the top choice. Their robust pure sine wave inverters can easily handle starting and running most standard RV air conditioners.

    Growatt units provide the ideal combo of large power capacity, compact and durable design, efficient solar recharging, and smart features to monitor and control your AC power consumption. Models like the INFINITY 2000 has high enough wattage ratings to match the peak startup surges of even large 15,000 BTU RV ACs.

    For van lifers and casual RV vacationers, the smaller Growatt INFINITY 1300 can sufficiently power a 5000-8000 BTU AC for several hours per day. Larger motorhomes and 5th wheels will benefit from the increased capacity of the INFINITY 2000 to run AC for extended periods off-grid.

    With fast solar recharging rates, you can harvest renewable energy from portable solar panels to sustain hours of daily AC runtime. Growatt's Lithium-ion batteries, pure sine wave inverter, and advanced safety features make them the premier all-in-one power station solution for off-grid RV air conditioning.

    If you need a reliable and portable power source for your RV's AC away from shore power, Growatt solar generators tick all the boxes. Investing in one of Growatt solar generators tailored for your RV's AC needs will enable true off-grid air conditioning and complete energy independence on the road.

    Growatt INFINITY 1300
    Growatt INFINITY 1300 LiFePO4 Portable Power Station
    • 1382Wh Capacity & 1800W Output
    • LiFePO4 Battery with 3,000+ Life Cycles to 80%
    • Fully charged in 1.8 hours
    • Up to 14 Versatile Outlets
    $1,099.00 $1,299.00
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