Can you run an RV AC on solar?

In this blog post, we will answer the question: “Can you run an RV AC on solar?” We will discuss powering the RV air conditioner with solar panels and touch upon the requirements. We will get into the details of installing solar panels and talk about getting the right RV battery bank and the inverter size. We will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the same.

Can you run an RV AC on solar?

Yes, you can run an RV AC with a solar panel. You will need to have enough power or multiple large solar panels installed on the RV roof. The air conditioning system takes up a lot of power. Hence, it is required to have enough panels that will support the AC unit. You will also need to upgrade certain devices to have the RV AC powered.

Having the right setup can power the AC system and the biggest benefit is that solar panels get their source from the sun. On the other hand, air conditioners are used mostly in summer. There are several advantages to using solar power to run your appliances in your RV. Many RV owners are shifting to solar energy since they do not need to depend on hookups while camping.

Powering the RV air conditioner with solar panels 

You will need the right amount of solar panels to power your AC unit. You will also need to upgrade the electrical system in this situation. Some people avoid going through the hassle of connecting the AC to RVs. However, once it is done, you are sure to reap the benefits of using solar panels. There are many steps and changes that you will need to make to your RV.

Installing solar panels 

Installing the solar panels is just one of the steps, but the most important part is selecting the right solar panels. This also depends on the type of roof that you have. Select the right panels that fit perfectly on the roof. You will need to select the solar panels according to the size of the AC. A mid-sized AC unit can consume 2,900 watts per hour.

  • The first thing you need to do is to calculate the RV solar power needs in kilowatts. 
  • Once you know the requirements, you can determine the size and type of solar panel that is required. 
  • Decide the wattage of the solar panels and make sure you have the other components to match the system. 
  • The best way to go about this is by contacting an experienced professional.

Getting the right size 

  • Your air conditioner must be accompanied by the right components like the solar array, battery bank, and inverter. All these components will need to sync to bring out the best output. 
  • Remember that AC units require extra power, the solar panel system should be able to give you that power to run an AC successfully in an RV.
  • Assuming that the air conditioning system requires 2.5 kilowatts to function. You will need to have a minimum of 3 kilowatts from the solar panel to successfully provide power for the AC unit. 
  • In case you are planning on running your AC unit for more than five hours, then you are required to have 750 Ah a day from the batteries. That is just an example to understand the requirements.

A solar panel will need to generate a minimum of 107 amps if you are planning of running your air conditioner for seven hours or so. Other factors need to be considered in this situation. The more sun, the more power you will receive. On a rainy day, this can be an issue. The only good thing is that you might not need an AC running on a cold rainy day.

Solar panel requirements 

  • If you are using 12-volt RV-grade solar panels, you are required to have a minimum of 1,800 watts of panels to successfully run the AC unit. 
  • If an AC unit has an output of 15,000 BTUs, then you will need 3,500 watts. 
  • Remember that the AC unit takes more power when starting up. 
  • Power is the key to running an RV AC on solar. Understanding the power of the AC is essential in this situation.  

The RV battery bank 

  • Once you have figured out the power of the AC and the right size of the solar panels, you need to turn your attention to the RV battery bank. 
  • You need to have a battery bank that is big enough for extra air conditioning power. 
  • 150 Ah will be required if an air conditioner is consuming 150 amps. 
  • Having a battery bank that has 700 Ah will be required to power the AC successfully during rainy seasons.

The RV inverter 

  • The RV inverter must also be the right size and is it best the get a large one. An inverter that has a starting wattage of 2,800 to 3,000 will not be enough for a 13,500 BTU air conditioner. 
  • You will require an inverter that is capable of 3,500 to 4,000 watts. For an air conditioner that has 7,000 BTU, you will need an inverter of 1,700 watts.
  • AC units require 110 volt AC power. The inverter will help to convert the power from the battery from DC to 110 volt AC. Inverters work differently since it has converted 85 percent.
  • A 4,000-watt inverter will be able to deliver 3,400 watts of power. All these components need to be on the same line when it comes to converting power.

Benefits of using solar for an RV AC 

The most and biggest benefit is getting power from the sun. You will not be required to depend on external power sources and camping and RV sites will become way easier than ever. There is no need to worry about 30 amp or 50 amp outlets. All you need is the sun to shine. You will save a lot of power since ACs consume a lot of power in any RV.

Solar energy is renewable as long as you have the sun above you. It will drastically reduce the cost of electricity and you need not worry about paying for electricity. You can also use solar energy for many other appliances. Maintaining solar panels is very easy since there is nothing required for you to do other than cleaning them once or twice a year.

Disadvantages of using solar for an RV AC 

The only biggest disadvantage of using solar for an RV AC is that it is weather dependent. Using solar energy for any type of appliance depends on the weather. If you are caught outside on a rainy or cloudy day, you will need to preserve the energy as much as possible and hope for the sun to come back soon.

  • The storage can also be an issue since you will need large batteries. The other disadvantage is the space. 
  • To make the most of the sunlight you will need a huge inverter and a battery to store power. 
  • You might need to make alterations inside to RV to accommodate these things. 
  • Solar panels for RVs follow the same methods as using solar panels at home.

With the right equipment, you can power up the entire RV and depend only on solar energy. Getting in touch with a solar company is the best way to go ahead with this process. Air conditioners demand power and they can draw double the power when starting up. Some devices can help you with these situations.

RV air conditioner soft start 

Installing an RV air conditioner soft start is recommended. This device will help to decrease the power of the energy when you start the AC in your RV. It is also helpful for those who are running two air conditioners on shore power. A soft start device has the potential to reduce the AC power that is drawn initially by up to 70 percent.


In this blog post, we have answered the question: “Can you run an RV AC on solar?” We have discussed powering the RV air conditioner with solar panels and talked about the requirements. We discussed the details of installing solar panels and talk about getting the right RV battery bank and the inverter size.


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