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How to Run RV AC on Generator

If you’re an avid traveler or a passionate camper, having a reliable RV (Recreational Vehicle) is essential for a comfortable journey.

One of the essential components of an RV is the air conditioning (AC) system, especially during hot summer days.

While RVs typically run on electricity from shore power or batteries, there may be situations where you need to rely on a generator to power your AC system.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best practices and step-by-step instructions on how to run your RV AC on a generator effectively.

Understanding Your RV’s Electrical System

Before diving into running your RV AC on a generator, it’s important to have a basic understanding of your RV’s electrical system.

Most RVs have two primary sources of electrical power: shore power and batteries.

Shore power refers to connecting your RV to an external electrical source at a campsite or RV park.

Batteries, on the other hand, provide power when shore power is not available.

Choosing the Right Generator

To run your RV AC on a generator, you’ll need to invest in a suitable generator that can handle the power requirements.

When selecting a generator, consider factors such as wattage, fuel type, noise level, and portability.

Ensure that the generator you choose can provide enough power to run your AC system smoothly.

Preparing Your RV for Generator Use

Before connecting your generator to your RV, it’s crucial to prepare your vehicle for generator use.

Start by turning off all electrical appliances and equipment in your RV.

Then, locate the generator compartment or storage area and ensure it is well-ventilated for proper airflow and cooling during operation.

Connecting the Generator to Your RV

Connecting the generator to your RV requires following specific steps to ensure a safe and reliable connection.

Firstly, position your generator a safe distance away from your RV, considering noise levels and exhaust fumes.

Next, use an appropriate power cord and connect it from the generator’s outlet to the RV’s external power inlet.

Ensure the connection is secure and avoid using any adapters that may compromise safety.

Starting and Running Your RV AC on the Generator

To start and run your RV AC on the generator, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that your generator has enough fuel or is connected to a continuous fuel supply.
  2. Turn on the generator according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Inside your RV, set the thermostat to your desired temperature.
  4. Switch on the AC system and allow it a few moments to start cooling.
  5. Monitor the performance of the AC system and adjust the temperature as needed.

Tips for Optimizing AC Performance on the Generator

Running an AC system on a generator requires careful optimization to maximize its performance.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Use energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting in your RV to reduce overall power consumption.
  • Close windows and doors tightly to minimize cool air loss and improve cooling efficiency.
  • Park your RV in a shaded area to reduce the internal temperature and lessen the load on the AC system.
  • Consider using additional insulation or reflective window coverings to keep the interior cooler.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

While running your RV AC on a generator, you may encounter some common issues.

Here are a few troubleshooting tips:

  • If the AC system doesn’t start, ensure that the generator is running and providing sufficient power.
  • Check the circuit breakers in your RV and the generator to ensure they are not tripped.
  • Clean or replace the AC air filters regularly to maintain optimal airflow and cooling performance.
  • If the generator overload alarm sounds, reduce the load on the generator by turning off unnecessary appliances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I run my RV AC on any generator?

Not all generators are suitable for running RV AC systems. It’s important to choose a generator with sufficient wattage and a stable power output specifically designed for RV use.

How much wattage do I need for running an RV AC?

The wattage requirement varies depending on the size and efficiency of your AC system. On average, most RV AC units require around 2,000 to 3,500 watts to start and around 1,000 to 2,000 watts to run continuously.

Can I run other appliances simultaneously with my RV AC on the generator?

It depends on the generator’s wattage capacity. If your generator has enough wattage to handle the combined load of the AC system and other appliances, you can run them simultaneously. However, be mindful of not exceeding the generator’s capacity.

How often should I service my generator?

Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your generator in optimal condition. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended service intervals, which usually include oil changes, filter replacements, and general inspections.

Can I use solar panels to power my RV AC instead of a generator?

While solar panels can provide power to certain appliances in an RV, running an AC system solely on solar power is challenging due to the high energy demand of AC units. Solar panels are typically used to supplement other power sources.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when running my RV AC on a generator?

Absolutely! Ensure that your generator is placed in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Use a carbon monoxide detector inside your RV to monitor levels. Additionally, follow all safety instructions provided by the generator manufacturer.


Running your RV AC on a generator allows you to enjoy a comfortable and cool environment while traveling or camping.

By understanding your RV’s electrical system, choosing the right generator, and following proper connection and operation procedures, you can ensure a seamless experience.

Remember to optimize AC performance, troubleshoot common issues, and prioritize safety throughout the process.

Now that you have a comprehensive guide on how to run your RV AC on a generator, it’s time to hit the road and enjoy your adventures in comfort.