How to Run RV AC Without Generator? October Guide 2023

Knowing How to run RV AC without generator is a valuable skill for many travelers. If you don’t have a generator, then you should have a power supply because, in an emergency, you will need it. Here’s should guideline for running RV AC without generator: 

“To run your RV AC without a generator, you'll need a high-capacity power inverter, ideally rated for your AC's power consumption, connected to your RV's battery bank. Consider adding additional batteries or a solar power system to extend the runtime of your AC while minimizing the strain on your RV's electrical system. Remember that running an RV AC without a generator using a power inverter can drain your batteries, so it's essential to manage power usage wisely and have a plan for recharging the batteries when needed, such as visiting RV-friendly campgrounds or using portable solar panels.”

Preparation Before Running RV AC Without Generator

You should prepare yourself before knowing how to run RV AC without generator. These are the preparation steps. Have a look: 

Checking Your RV's Electrical System

Inspecting your vehicle's electrical system thoroughly is crucial before attempting to run your RV air conditioner without a generator.

How to Run RV AC Without Generator

Look for any potential issues, such as loose connections or damaged wires, and address them promptly. A well-functioning electrical system will ensure a smoother and safer operation when using alternative power sources.

Investing in a High-Quality Power Inverter

You'll need a reliable power inverter to run your RV air conditioner without a generator. Choose a high-quality inverter that can handle the AC's power requirements. A pure sine wave inverter is recommended to avoid potential damage to sensitive electronic devices in your RV.

Gathering Necessary Tools and Equipment

Gather all the essential tools and equipment before running the RV air conditioner without a generator. This may include power cables, connectors, a voltage meter, and other accessories for connecting the power inverter to your RV's battery.

Read more about Best Quiet Generator for RV

General Tools:

  • Screwdrivers (various sizes)
  • Wire strippers and crimpers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire connectors (butt connectors, ring terminals, spade terminals, etc.)
  • Heat shrink tubing and a heat gun
  • Multimeter or voltage tester
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Jigsaw or hole saw (for cutting holes in the RV for cables)
  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Pliers (needle-nose, regular, and vice grips)
  • Socket and ratchet set
  • Cable ties and clips
  • Electrical tape and duct tape
  • Silicone sealant and caulking gun
  • Safety goggles, gloves, and appropriate safety gear

Specific Solar Installation Tools:

  • Solar panels and mounting hardware
  • Solar charge controller
  • Deep-cycle batteries (AGM, gel, or lithium)
  • Inverter (pure sine wave)
  • Battery cables (appropriately sized for the inverter and battery bank)
  • Solar panel cables with MC4 connectors
  • Battery terminal connectors (lugs)
  • Fuses or circuit breakers for battery and inverter connections
  • Mounting brackets or rails for solar panels
  • RV roof sealant (for securing panel mounts and preventing leaks)
  • Ladder or scaffolding (for roof access)
  • Level (for proper panel installation)
  • Crimping tool for MC4 connectors

How to Run RV AC Without Generator?

Running RV AC without generator is straightforward if you are fully prepared. I will provide you with easy steps and complete information on How to run RV AC without generator. These steps are:

"Step by Step Guide"

1. Determine Your RV's Power Requirements:

Check your RV's air conditioner's power requirements. The owner's manual or specifications of the AC unit usually contain this information. Write down the wattage or amperage required to run the air conditioner.

2. Select an Inverter:

How to Run RV AC Without Generator

You should choose a sine wave inverter that can handle your RV's AC's power requirements. It is recommended that the inverter has a continuous power rating equal to or higher than the AC's starting (surge) and running power. Inverters should have a safety margin to prevent overheating.

3. Calculate Battery Capacity:

Estimate how long you plan to use your AC without solar power to determine the battery capacity required. To calculate the AC's amperage consumption, divide the AC's wattage by the inverter's voltage (usually 12V or 24V). In order to get the amp-hour capacity, multiply this number by the desired runtime.

For example, if your AC uses 1000 watts at 120V, the amperage is approximately 8.3A. If you want to run the AC for 8 hours, you'll need a battery capacity of at least 66.4 amp-hours (8.3A * 8 hours).

4. Choose Solar Panels:

how to install a solar panel

Ensure that your solar panels can provide enough power to recharge your batteries and run your air conditioner. Based on your location's average sunlight hours, charging efficiency, and AC and other appliance energy consumption, determine the wattage of solar panels you need.

5. Install the Solar System:

The solar panels should be installed on the roof of your RV or another suitable location. In order to achieve the desired voltage and current, connect the panels in parallel or series. To prevent overcharging, connect the panels to a solar charge controller.

6. Set Up Battery Bank:

To store the energy generated by the solar panels, install a deep-cycle battery bank. Depending on the inverter's voltage requirements, connect the batteries parallel or in series. To ensure safety, use appropriate battery cables and ventilate properly.

7. Connect Inverter and AC:

Your inverter should be connected to your battery bank using the appropriate cables. Fuse or circuit breakers should be used for safety. Once your inverter is connected to the AC output of your RV, connect its air conditioner. High-voltage connections should be handled with caution and safety guidelines followed.

8. Monitor and Maintain:

Keep an eye on your battery voltage, solar charge controller, and inverter to make sure everything is working. To maximize solar panel efficiency, keep them clean and shady. Make sure your battery bank and other components are maintained.

How Long Can I Run AC on Battery?

Running the RV air conditioner on battery power alone has its limitations. The duration you can run the AC depends on factors like the battery's capacity, the power consumption of the AC unit, and the overall energy demand in your RV.

A fully charged deep-cycle battery may power the RV air conditioner for a few hours. However, conserving energy and having alternative power sources on standby is essential.

Read more about Most Common RV Electrical Problems: How to Handle them?

Tips for Maintaining the RV AC While Running on Battery Power

Running the RV air conditioner without a generator requires some thoughtful maintenance practices to optimize its performance and efficiency.

Keep the RV Well-Insulated

Properly insulate your RV to minimize heat transfer and reduce the workload on the air conditioner. Insulating windows, doors, and roof vents can significantly impact how long you can comfortably run the AC on battery power.

Use Fans to Circulate Air

Maximize your air conditioner's effectiveness by using fans to circulate cool air throughout the RV. This will help maintain a more consistent temperature and reduce the strain on the AC unit.

Consider a Solar-Powered Setup

Supplement your battery power with solar panels to recharge your batteries during the day. This renewable energy source can extend your runtime and reduce reliance on the battery alone.

Alternative Power Sources for Running RV AC

Staying comfortable is crucial when you're on the road in your RV, especially during the hot summer months. Running the RV's air conditioning system is typically powered by a generator, but alternative power sources can keep you cool without relying on one. Here are some options to consider:

Solar Power System

Solar power is an eco-friendly and sustainable solution for running your RV's AC without a generator. Solar panels mounted on your RV's roof absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. This power can operate various appliances, including the air conditioner. You'll need solar panels, a charge controller, batteries, and an inverter to set up a solar power system.

Read more about How To Test A Solar Panel With A Multimeter?

The solar panels collect sunlight during the day and charge the batteries. The charge controller ensures the batteries don't overcharge, increasing their lifespan. The inverter then converts the DC power stored in the batteries into AC power, which can be used to run your RV's air conditioner. While solar power is a sustainable option, its effectiveness may depend on the RV's energy consumption and the number of solar panels installed.

Battery Banks

Creating a battery bank is another way to power your RV's AC without a generator. A battery bank is a collection of batteries wired together to store electricity. You can charge these batteries using different methods, such as solar panels, wind turbines, or even when the RV is plugged into a power source at a campsite.

When you want to use the air conditioner, the power stored in the battery bank is drawn upon. It's essential to have sufficient battery capacity to handle the high energy demands of the AC unit. Also, managing power usage becomes crucial, as running the AC continuously can quickly deplete the battery bank. Battery technology has advanced significantly in recent years, offering options like lithium-ion batteries that are lighter, more efficient, and have a longer lifespan than traditional lead-acid batteries.

Propane-Powered AC Units

Propane-powered air conditioning units are another viable option for staying cool in your RV without relying on a generator. These systems use propane as their primary fuel source, which is readily available at many campgrounds and RV parks. The propane is burned to power the AC's compressor, which cools the air circulated through the RV's interior.

Propane-powered AC units are generally more energy-efficient than traditional electric ones, making them an attractive option for RV owners looking to conserve power. However, you should ensure you have an adequate supply of propane before embarking on your journey and keep an eye on consumption to avoid running out of fuel unexpectedly. Propane-powered AC units are an effective way to maintain a comfortable living space while minimizing your environmental impact.

DC-Powered Air Conditioners

DC-powered air conditioners are designed to run directly on the DC power supplied by your RV's batteries. Unlike traditional AC units that require an inverter to convert DC power to AC, these specialized units eliminate the energy loss during the conversion process.

DC-powered air conditioners are optimized for efficiency, allowing you to run your AC without relying on a generator. However, it's essential to ensure your battery bank can handle the demand of the DC-powered AC unit. Like other alternative power sources, managing your energy usage is vital to avoid draining your batteries too quickly.


Can you run RV AC without a generator?

Yes, But do you think how to run RV AC without generator? you can run an RV air conditioner without a generator if your RV has an inverter system. An inverter converts DC power from the RV's battery into AC power, allowing you to run appliances like the AC unit. However, it's essential to consider the power requirements of the AC and the capacity of your RV's battery.

Running the AC on battery power alone may drain the battery quickly, especially if it's not a large-capacity system. It's advisable to have a sufficient battery bank and consider using solar panels to recharge the batteries during the day, reducing the strain on the electrical system.

How do you power an RV without a generator?

You can power an RV without a generator through various alternative methods. One option is using shore power, connecting your RV to an electrical hookup at a campground or RV park. This provides a reliable AC power source to run all your appliances, including the AC. Another option is using solar panels on the roof of your RV.

Solar panels harness the sun's energy and convert it into electricity, which charges the RV's batteries. With enough solar capacity, you can power your RV's AC and other devices without a generator. Additionally, some RVs have auxiliary power sources like propane-powered generators or fuel cells that can provide electricity when needed.

How do you run an AC in an RV?

To run an AC in an RV, you typically need a source of AC power. If you have a generator, you can start it up and use the RV's electrical system as usual. However, you can use shore power at a campground or RV park if you don't have a generator. Plug your RV's power cord into the electrical hookup provided, and the AC unit will run using external electricity.

Alternatively, if your RV has an inverter system and a sufficient battery bank, you can run the AC on battery power alone. Be mindful of your battery's capacity and recharge it regularly using solar panels or other means. Maintaining and servicing your AC unit is crucial to ensure it functions efficiently while keeping your RV cool and comfortable during your travels.

Does the RV AC run on 12V?

No, most RV air conditioners do not run on 12V power alone. AC units require higher ability to function, typically operating on 120V AC power, the standard electrical voltage used in households and RV parks. To run the RV AC, you'll need either shore power or a generator providing 120V AC electricity.

However, some modern RVs have inverters and larger battery banks, allowing limited use of the AC on battery power, but this is different than the standard setup for most RV air conditioning systems.


If you have a power inverter, then don’t worry about how to run RV AC without generator because a Power inverter can quickly start RV AC in just a few minutes. But remember if you use a high-power inverter, then don’t use it for a long time because it can drain your RV battery. Also, you use alternative methods like solar power systems, battery banks, Propane-Powered AC Units, and  DC-Powered Air Conditioners.