A. The main issue most every RVer faces is reducing or overcoming the initial spike to start the RV A/C. If you’ve got a motor coach, 5th wheel, big travel trailer, toy hauler that has 2 A/Cs and you’re at most campgrounds with 30-amp connection, you can only start 1 A/C because of the initial power spike to get the second A/C started. That’s a sweaty problem no one wants with only part of their vehicle cool. Or if you’re adventuring in truck campers, vans and tiny trailers, did you ever try starting your A/C with a small generator and maybe it blew a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker? Or did your small generator just stop under the heavy A/C starting spike? One RVer, was so overcome with frustration, he leaned against the closed door of his camper and silently screamed in the dark, with no power. Once is enough, right. We all learn. We go without A/C and spend another sweaty sleepless night, get a large generator, or get lucky and find one of the few 50amp campsites.
There’s never been any smart, effective lightweight and low- cost solutions to all these camping problems…Until now.
Now you can gently start your A/C with no power spike. You can eliminate all these power spike problems with a SoftStartRV. You can get SoftStartRV and experience freedom! Freedom to adventure into national parks and remote campgrounds knowing you, your family and friends can stay cool. Freedom to run two ACs on a 30-amp connection. Never worry about a start-up spike preventing you from using the AC while you’re boondocking in your towable. Worry-Free camping at last! Until now, your only options were to find a rare campsite that offered 50-amp or to buy a back-breaking, heavier costly generator, or a more expensive inverter. Everyone knows these cost more money, often over $2000. New generators and inverters prices are increasing, and the cost problem for rewiring an older 30-amp system is not cheap either. It’s specially designed, engineered and tested for as all RVs: motor homes, 5th wheel campers, travel trailers, toy haulers, truck campers, vans, and tiny trailers.
The SoftStartRV reduces startup power demand by an amazing 70%. Now there is an easier/cheaper/better/ way to solve the RV A/C start problem. RVers can start their RV A/C without investing $2000 or more. The SoftStartRV™ is an innovative device that gently smooths-out startup power demand of the RV air conditioner’s compressor. You can use a small lightweight generator, like a Honda EU2200i.
The SoftStartRV reduces compressor startup power demand by up to 70%. The SoftStartRV unit controls the inrush of current by starting the compressor motor slowly. It controls the start-up voltage of the motor /compressor smartly to effectively reduce the inrush and outpouring current while starting-up. It consumes much less power from campground networks or a generator system but still delivers full startup torque for motors and compressors. This small, inexpensive, reliable device leads to happy RV campers enjoying their family holiday. There are over 355,000 motor coaches, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheels, truck campers and folding camping trailers being sold each year. RV Industry Association research reports over 9 million RVs are journeying in North America, and there is a clear opportunity to meaningfully help a huge number of people.
A. For RVers, travel trailers or truck campers who need to start their A/C using a small Honda 2200i generator, it’s an endless problem to get the A/C to start because the A/C starting surge spikes beyond the generator capacity. Every day, campers flip the A/C switch in order to chill off and it fails to start.
The main issue you face is reducing or overcoming the initial spike to start the RV A/C which leads to no A/C cooling, hot, muggy, and sticky camping, and sweaty sleepless nights. Until now, your only option was to buy a back-breaking, heavier costly generator, or more expensive inverter. Everyone knows these cost more money, often over $2000.
New generators and inverters prices are increasing, and the cost problem is not going away. Now there is an easier/cheaper/better/ way to solve the RV A/C start problem. RVers can start their RV A/C without investing $2000 or more. The SoftStartRV™ is an innovative device that smooths-out startup power demands of the RV air conditioner’s compressor. You can use a small lightweight generator, like a Honda EU2200i. The SoftStartRV reduces compressor startup power demand by up to 70%. The unit controls the inrush of current by starting the compressor motor more slowly. This small, inexpensive, reliable SoftStartRV™ unit leads to happy RV campers enjoying their time in the great outdoors.
A. Compressor motors are connected in a way that lets them draw as much power as required to get up to speed quickly. Because of this design, compressor motors require a massive current surge when they start. On each motor identification plate, there is a notice called LRA. This is an abbreviation for Locked Rotor Amps and is the maximum current the motor can draw – according to the manufacturer.
During a typical start, you can expect your compressor to draw this current from the supply. RV rooftop 16000 BTU compressors are rated around 50 to 60 amps LRA. A standard 2000 watt inverter generator is appraised at 2000 watts peak which is about 16.7 amps at 120 volts AC. The generator will not start a load that draws four to five times its peak rating! The solution is to reduce the peak LRA so we created SoftStartRV™.
It is designed to connect directly to the compressor motor and reduce the power surge that occurs on startup. It achieves this by supervising the power provided to the windings of the motor on each AC cycle. SoftStartRV™ gradually increases this power (in less than one second) until the compressor is running. This increases the time it takes the motor to get up to speed and creates a very smooth start that reduces the peak current by 50 to 70% or more. An RV rooftop 16000 BTU, 120-volt compressor can now start with under 20 amps of current.
Will It Work With….?
A. Yes. Using our own Honda EU2200i at SoftStartRV, and we were able to successfully start and run the largest 115V RV and Marine A/Cs on the market, even from ECO mode, using SoftStartRV.
A. Yes, with a SoftStartRV connected to each A/C unit you can then run both on a 30-amp hookup
A. Yes, you probably need a SoftStartRV™. Power management is key and how large a generator and what appliances you operate at the same time. Without SoftStartRV™ the start surge is massive. Generators react to load by slowing down and decreasing the voltage to the air conditioner. If the decreased voltage slows down the generator, they overload and then the air conditioner can’t start. High outdoor temperatures increase the refrigerant pressures triggering a greater current draw. Customers with Honda EU3000iS generators and SoftStartRVs said when temperatures are high their generator won’t start the A/C consistently. Many 4KW generators do start a rooftop A/C consistently but they are much larger and heavier.
A. “Yes, I’m using it to run my Penguin II 15K BTU air conditioner from a Honda EU2200i
generator and it works great.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity.
A. Heat pumps are essentially the same as straight A/C units – there’s just some additional internal valves to reverse the coolant flow. It’s the same compressor load in either mode of operation so the Soft Start will work fine.
A. It can probably be made to work but we do not recommend it. The issue is simply one of size and location. While the SoftStartRV is not big, it still needs to fit inside the unit. Typically window units are smaller than rooftop units. You might want to send a diagram thru our Support Ticket System, list the make and model of your window A/C and we can take a look at it…Again it CAN probably be done, but the workaround may be more than you want to attempt.
A. With the exception of my kitchen outlets and other outlets requiring high amperage, my “regular” outlets are only 15 amps? Any solutions or am I out of luck?
“Well, here’s the secret of 15 vs. 20-amp outlets. Most of them have exactly the same amount
of contact area inside. And if you look at any 15-amp plug you’ll see its contacts have exactly
the same surface area as a 20-amp plug. So if there’s a 20-amp circuit breaker and 12-gauge
wire feeding a 15-amp outlet, it’s actually rated for 20-amps of current. There’s an exception in
the code as well as UL allowing this, so don’t worry. If you’re on a 20-amp breaker with 12-
gauge wiring, then you have a 20-amp circuit, even if it’s using a NEMA 5-15 outlet.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity
A. Your research is correct. The SoftStartRV is the correct model for your 15kBTU Coleman Mach. The SoftStartRV should enable your 2000W inverter to start and run your A/C. Please be aware that any 15k A/C will use up to 95% of the 2000W steady-state capacity of your inverter, so you must use strict power management in your trailer. Be particularly alert with appliances like the battery charger/converter which can start requiring up to 1000W in bulk (rapid) charge mode. Many campers manually turn their water heaters and refrigerators to the propane mode in order to use their A/C on a 2000W inverter or generator. Starting the A/C is easy–you can probably power it with a 2000-watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter. The critical issue is running it long enough to get your trailer cool because you need a big battery bank to support the inverter Experts are skeptical that a small trailer has the space and weight capability to keep the A/C running for more than a few minutes.
A. “The answer is that when running from a 20-amp outlet you can only have ONE high current
appliance on at a time. Trying to use the microwave or vacuum cleaner while the air conditioner
is running won’t work for more than a few seconds before it trips the circuit breaker. The good
news is that nothing will be damaged (unless you do this hundreds of times in a row). This is
exactly how circuit breakers work to protect wiring from too much current. And you would be
asking the wiring the carry too much current. So if you trip a circuit breaker, then you need to
not use that combination of appliances. Of course, if you had an intelligent EMS surge protector
with a voltage and amperage reading, you can see exactly how much amperage you’re pulling
from the outlet.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity
A. Yes, you can install the SoftStartRV and reduce the size of your generator and you would even be able to operate both 15kBTU A/Cs on a 30A utility hookup. Operating 2 x 15kBTU A/Cs would not leave a lot of capacity for other applications on a 30A cord. You’ll need to allocate about 1800W for each of your A/C 15k systems. Estimate about 3600W for both. You will also want to budget capacity for your converter/battery charger, water heater, microwave, and your refrigerator. The best solution is that you won’t need any extra generator capacity to make up the startup spike of your 2 A/Cs because SoftStartRV reduces the starting surge.
A. “I’ve built something I call a HRDL (High Resolution Data Logger) which lets me see the startup and running current data captured 44,100 times a second. See how I did it and the graphs I created from the raw data here: https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-electricity-hrdl-the-turtle/”
Mike Sokol. Mike, fascinating. The data looks amazing. Thank you so much for this article. A pair of SoftStartRV devices are in my future.
A. “It should help get the compressor started, but running any air conditioner at 100 volts for
extended times will tend to overheat the compressor and is not recommended by any of the air
conditioner manufacturers.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity
A. Any handy person could install it. A mobile mechanic is always an option, too. Chuck
Woodbury, Editor, RV Travel, “Since ladder climbing is now in my rear view mirror (ahem), I called a local mobile RV repair guy who says he’s installed several of these SoftStarts. He’ll be here on Thursday to install, and says it will be less than $100. I’m gladly going to pay him while I watch him from the ground…” A local RV facility might install it, a local A/C firm may even be better and more familiar with A/C. Google “RV A/C install 33309” (insert your zip code) for help.
Each air conditioner will use the same SoftstartRV but will have slightly different wiring based on the manufacturer and how their air conditioners are wired. If you go to www.softstartrv.com/support and click on wiring diagrams you will see a list of the most popular manufacturers and a category for “other manufacturers” too. By clicking on the manufacturer of your air conditioner you can locate a wiring diagram and 6 step installation for your specific air conditioner. e.g. Under Dometic find the picture of the air conditioner that matches yours and then click on that for the diagrams. Under Coleman or Air Excel you will need to identify a 1976 number as shown on that page and then click on “Next – Once you have located your 1976 number” to access the list of available diagrams.
Note: The SoftstartRV is water resistant but not water-proof so after wiring, it must be mounted inside the primary air conditioner cover for protection from the elements, with the wires facing DOWN.
A. “I agree that a residential refrigerator can push you over the 30 amp limit with 2 AC running. I
purchased one of those Wye power cords that lets you plug into both the 30 amp and 15 amp
outlets on the power post for a theroectical45 amp supply. What are you thoughts? Whenever
I use this Wye cord connected to my Progressive power monitor, it does not work. And I am
chicken to hook up the Wye cord directly to my rig without the Progressive unit inline. Are
there multimeter checks I can make at the power post to insure the campground has wired
both the 30 amp & 15 amp power post outlets properly? David the other side of that as I
understand is that if your unit has a house fridge in it, it is also wired to run off battery, run it
off the battery and you will reduce the draw to 30 amps,, As I understand it and I may wrong.”
Yes, the best solution is to run your residential refrigerator from an inverter powered by your
battery. However, if you have a pass-through inverter it will automatically switch to shore
power if available, so that would defeat this trick. But most RVs I’ve seen with a residential
refrigerator use a dedicated inverter, so that should work as you describe. The problem is that
there’s so many different ways RVs are wired, and residential refrigerators come in all flavors
A. “Correct, no difference. This technology will reduce the startup current no matter what the power source.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity.
A. “SoftStart claims success with 15,000 BTW AC’s on a 2,000 watt inverter generator. But be
aware that not all inverter generators are created equal. A Honda is the gold standard (and
priced like it), and in many tests it out performs the various wanna-be 2,000 watt knock-off
generators from other companies.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity
A. Watch the instructional videos and see the wiring diagrams, or hire a Dealer, an A/C tech or an electrician that specializes in RVs.
A. Each Rooftop A/C manufacturer and model has its own wiring schematic diagram. On our wiring diagrams page look for your make and model and if you can’t find the diagram, contact support and we’ll either find it or design one just for you, free.
A. Typically it installs under the hood or cowling of the A/C on the RV’s rooftop.
A. Yes. The SoftStartRV can be removed and the A/C’s original wiring can be restored (providing any removed parts were retained).
A. “No, it won’t reduce the running current, and not your utility bills.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity
A. The load that equals the difference between the steady-state running amps for the A/C and the maximum generator’s output capacity can be operating before the A/C is started with SoftStartRV. For example, a Honda EU2200i generator can handle 16.7A of a steady-state load before declaring an overload fault. A typically 13.5kBTU rooftop draws 13A while operating at a steady-state. Therefore, up to 3.7A of other loads could be operating before the A/C is started with SoftStartRV, and the generator will support it.
A. The idea of these small lightweight generators is so appealing that they have increased in popularity over the last several years. Many companies are making them and they are not all equal in their abilities. These generators are rated for both continuous output and peak output but some are very underrated. The Honda EU2200i is the most popular and probably the industry standard. This generator can easily produce more than their continuous rated power to start and run a rooftop AC unit with a SoftStartRV™.
There are many other generators on the market that can also produce good results. Generators with motors over 90cc are the best choice for reliable operation. Some smaller generators, such as those with 79cc motors, may be used with 13500 BTU air conditioners and less as long as all other loads are turned off and the elevation is not too high.
All generators are not created equally or rated equally. How you will use the generator is also important. Some generators work above their 13.3 amp rating to run an air conditioner. Don’t expect to add any other loads to a single generator while the air conditioner is running, unless you have allowed for it in sizing your generator. This means you may want to turn off any electrical appliances including the refrigerator and battery charger.
A. That depends on how big a generator and what electrical appliances and gadgets you want to run at the same time. Without SoftStartRV™ the start surge is massive. Generators respond to this massive load by slowing down and reducing the voltage to the air conditioner. If they slow down enough, they go into overload and then the air conditioner won’t start. Air temperature also affects the air conditioner. Higher outdoor temperatures increase the refrigerant pressures producing a higher current draw. Some customers with Honda EU3000iS generators note that the generator will not start the air conditioner reliably when temperatures get hot.
A. A 3-ton implies to an air conditioning measurement assessment. A SoftStartRV can run an A/C compressor up to 36,000 BTU (3-ton) of heating or cooling capacity. The typical SoftStartRV unit easily handles the typical 13.5K or 16K air conditioners found in most RV applications.
A. The typical issue RVers experience when they have trouble running on a generator is the unidentified auxiliary demands for power in their trailer that are requiring power in addition to the air conditioner. The typical generator may require up to 1750W to 1900W in very hot weather. This requirement indicates there is very little additional power left in a 2000W generator for other loads in your RV or trailer. The best way to understand what’s really happening is to use a clamp meter on one of the power conductors as it leaves the generator. You can measure the complete power requirement load the generator is helping. Other tips to consider: Make sure that your refrigerator is manually moved to propane Confirm the hot water heater is manually switched to propane, and Switch the breaker to OFF for any converter or battery charger or confirmed to be in trickle charge or float mode. A 2000W generator provides about 16.7Amps, and research indicates that you can’t draw more than 3-4A by other appliance loads before the normal A/C attempts to start. If you use more appliance load than that, and your generator could overload when the A/C startup begins – even with the SoftStartRV™ soft starter.
RV Appliance Operation: Amps x Volts = Watts and Watts/volts = amps
AC Compressor 8.5-11.2A* 980-1300 watts*
AC Fan 2-3.5A* 230-400 watts*
Converter/Charger 5-7A* 575-800 watts*
Refrigerator 4-12A* 460-1400 watts*
Water Heater 9-13A* 1000-1500 watts*
Toaster 6-10.5A* 700-1200 watts*
Hair Dryer 13-17A* 1500-2000 watts*
Microwave 5-10.5A* 600-1200 watts*
*Consult the individual appliance data plate for exact amps/watts
*Review the Amps/Watts you have available vs the Amps/Watts of the appliances you want to operate e.g. If your A/C compressor is running 1300 Watts and you have a 2200 Watt Generator that RUNS at 1900 watts then you only have 600 Watts available with your A/C running on 1300 Watts.
– A 2200 watt generator normally provides around 1900 running watts
– Heat increases the amps/watts of some appliances and decreases the performance of your generator.
– Extension cord length and wire size affect the amps/watts – the shorter the cord and larger the wire size the better
– Altitude decreases generator efficiency by an estimated 3.5% per 1000’ of elevation
– Fuel source affects generator efficiency
Note that virtually all RV’s have a converter/battery charger in the electrical system to convert the 120 volt alternating current to 12 volt direct current to run 12 volt interior lighting and to trickle charge the house batteries. This converter will use 7-10 amps or 850-1150 watts. This device may need to be turned off at the breaker box if your input vs output are close or when attempting to running an air conditioner on a smaller generator or lower amp circuitry.
There is a reasonable explanation. We have a 15k BTU Dometic Penguin II and a Honda EU2200i generator at NetworkRV with a SoftStartRV installed. With temperatures at 102-103°F, we can successfully, consistently start and run this A/C on our Honda. Our measurements indicate about 150 watts to spare. We can’t claim that it would work unless we were sure. Many, many RVers have also achieved consistent startups with similar setups and Honda EU2200i generators. Please answer a few questions to begin the troubleshooting:
1) A/C MODEL QUESTION Do you have a Brisk, Brisk II Penguin I, Penguin II model of the Dometic 15k? If you have a complete model number, we can research it. Usually you can take a picture of the electrical diagram on the inside of the electrical panel area.
2) A/C QUESTION What precisely do you mean by “shutting off”? Does the A/C’s compressor start-up and run on the generator, but then suddenly it shuts off a short time later? Or does the compressor of the air conditioner fail to start?
3) GENERATOR QUESTIONIs the generator lighting indicating its “Overload” LED. Does the generator turn OFF its AC output power?
4) BE A GENERATOR MYSTERY DETECTIVE because a 15k BTU A/C can draw ups to 1800W of power and occasionally higher in hot weather, there will not be much capacity available on your 2000W generator to support power to other appliance loads. You may not be aware that other loads are on and drawing power In particular, check to be positive that your hot water heater and refrigerator are manually switched to propane. Then, you must find out if your battery charger/ converter is running or not. Converter/battery chargers are usually the most mysterious ancillary load. Plus, you may not know where its circuit breaker is located. Converter/battery chargers can pull upwards to 1000W -that’s HUGE in rapid charge mode. Additionally, if you have a lot of 12V loads such as lights, fans, etc. turned on inside. Because the converter attempts to power these 12V loads by converting the accessible AC power to DC power to prevent discharging the batteries. Consequently, a smart test is to locate and turn off the circuit breaker for the converter to eliminate if it is the problem. If you have a clamp-on ammeter, then suggest you connect it between the cord you have plugged into the generator and the generator itself. This test will enable you to measure the exact amount of current the generator is providing, even before the A/C is turned on. Doing this will more accurately determine if any of the auxiliary loads are causing you startup problems.
A. No. SoftStartRV works only during the start of the motor then switches itself out of the circuit. Because most compressors stop mechanically before they fail electrically, SoftStartRV does not change the durability of the compressor.
Generators will typically lose 3.5% of power for every 1,000′ in altitude gain over sea level.
It will further lose 1% of power for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit increase in temperature over 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A good rule of thumb is that you will lose 10% of the rated output every time you gain 3,000′ in altitude. Many generators offer altitude conversion kits for around $20 – $25. Look online for your type of generator and see if a kit is available. It changes the mixture to provide for the thinner air found at altitudes.
SoftStartRV will typically start the A/C compressor at altitudes but the generator will probably cut out shortly after starting. It’s the running amps that gives us the issue, not so much the starting amps with the SoftStartRV.
Again, you lose 3.5% of power for every 1,000 feet of altitude. Therefore at 6,000 feet you have lost approx. 20% of generator power. You may also need to re-jet the carburetor to get the generator motor to produce enough power since the thin air makes the mixture too rich. A kit may solve some of this issue. The downside is the generator kit must be removed and the generator put back to normal factory settings when you return to sea level. You can try the kit and see if it helps. Just Google: “generator altitude kit” and look for your generator brand.
From Mr. RV Electricity, Mike Sokol. I’ve now begun testing regarding using solar panels to power an RV air conditioner. And it does look like in order to do this with a 2,000-watt inverter I’m going to need to reduce compressor starting surge considerably. So, in addition to talking VMAX out of one of their storage batteries optimized for solar panel charging (yes, it has its own built-in solar charge controller), I’ll be testing this with traditional Lithium batteries and a REDARC® DC to DC charger with solar panel input. To reduce the compressor surge current to where a 2,000 watt inverter can reliably start the compressor, I’m also installing a SoftStartRV™ controller into a 15kBTU Dometic Penguin II air conditioner for this test. As many of you have found, this technology allows you to reliably start a rooftop air conditioner on a 2,000-watt generator or inverter. See the graph below. And even if you do install a 3,000-watt inverter for your RV, the SoftStartRV™ controller will reduce the compressor starting surge from 52 amps down to 24 amps, which allows you to run more electrical gadgets at the same time without manual load shedding.
This technology also useful on a 30-amp campground pedestal that could already be loaded to the max. I think that reducing your air conditioner starting surge current is just being a good neighbor in a campground that’s struggling to supply enough power to all the other power-hungry RVs out there. Once again I’ll use the CarGenerator™ Hybrid Inverter for the initial experiment, but since Xantrex provided me with a Freedom XC-2000 pure-sine inverter I’ll also include that inverter for this test in the next few weeks. And I’m setting this up with 200 watts of Xantrex solar panels for a start, and I’m asking a few other manufacturers for loaner products as well. But for now, 200 watts is a good start to gather recharging data. Again, everything I’m doing in my Funkstown Skunkworks lab is scalable, so if you want (and can afford) to install 2,000 watts of solar panels, then just multiply or divide my results by 10 to find capacity or charging time.
Yes, it’s really pretty simple once you understand ALL of the variables. This is sort of bleeding edge technology for now, but all the numbers I’m gathering are relevant no matter what new battery or inverter technology comes along. And I’m also going to do a test on a mini-split air conditioner soon which has an inverter compressor that shouldn’t have any startup surge current at all. But if you’re one of the 10+ million RVers out there with a conventional rooftop air conditioner, then you’ll want to follow along very closely.
A. No. Many RVers with trailers with 2 A/C units choose only one A/C as the only A/C they will use when they’re operating on their single 2000W generator. The other choice is to run both A/Cs on a single 30A utility hookup or on 2 paralleled generators. But you would need 2 SoftStartRVs, one for each A/C unit. If you plan to design a solar system with a single 4000W inverter (or bigger) to run both A/Cs, you would benefit more by installing a SoftStartRV into both A/C units. It doesn’t matter which A/C is cycling on at any given time. The same situation is applicable to a 30A utility hookup (3600W). If you plan to only operate one A/C with your solar/inverter system (2000W), then you’d only require 1 SoftStartRV and you select the A/C that would just be run when utilizing the inverter as the energy source.
A. Yes. You can run your A/C with an inverter, but it’s not very practical for the typical RVer. RV Air Conditioners demand high wattage to start up. Once they’re running, they still have medium to high wattage requirements. Generally speaking, most RV house battery systems don’t have a sufficient amount of batteries to support air conditioning requirements with an inverter. You have to calculate how many house batteries and the watts your A/C uses on startup and running, Then, you need to think about the additional weight, cost, and where to locate them. Don’t forget the cost to enhance your alternator on your vehicle to achieve the additional charging needs of the new house batteries. Be sure to calculate for a more expensive Pure Sine Wave Inverter rather than the normally used Modified Sine Wave Inverter. A Pure Sine Wave Inverter needs to have a sufficiently high wattage ranking to achieve the air conditioner start-up power demands. Typically, an A/C can require up to 3 times more power to start it than it uses when it is running. You’ll need a SoftStartRV to start your A/C Compressor.
A. Small lightweight generator companies do not always have the same reliability and their rated peak output is sometimes inaccurate. The industry standard is the Honda EU2200i and their latest EU2200i. These generate continuous rated power to start and run a rooftop AC unit with SoftStartRV™. Other generators also produce good quality results. Looks for generators with motors over 90cc as the preferred choice for dependable operation. Smaller generators, with 79cc motors, can also be utilized with 13.5 KBTU air conditioners and smaller as long as all other loads are off and the elevation is not too high. All generators are not created equally or even rated equally. Googling research before deciding on your generator will make you a smart buyer. How you will use the generator is also important. Some of the above-mentioned generators are working above their 13.3-amp rating to run an air conditioner. Don’t expect to add any other loads to a single generator while the air conditioner is running unless you have allowed for it in sizing your generator.
Essentially you need to practice smart power management. Reduce the generator load by turning of the refrigerator and battery charger, Since air gets thinner the higher you go, elevation also affects the generator. Small generators may not have enough power at higher elevations to keep your A/C running, even though SoftStartRV has been able to start it.
Engines lose about 3.5% of their power per 1000-foot rise in elevation. You may also need to re-jet the carburetor to get the generator motor to produce enough power since the thin air makes the mixture too rich. There are cases where you may need a 3 KW generator or larger to run an air conditioner in the high desert.
Careful planning and generator selection are the keys to success. Be aware that running at lower elevations again will require the jet change again or you risk high combustion temperatures and burned engine components. Honda makes high elevation kits for its generator and some Yamaha dealers can also provide jets for those generators.
A. “There are a lot of things the RV industry doesn’t add to their units. Many dealers are
perfectly happy to add them at the buyers’ request. Many RVers make little or no attempt to
camp at other than full service RV parks and camps so they’d have no need for this option.”
It really is a cost thing. There’s a fair amount of control and power circuitry in these soft-start
controllers, so they will always cost a lot more than a $10 hard-start capacitor. Plus when air
conditioners were first introduced to RVs there were no inverter generators to worry about,
and campgrounds were not filled to capacity with RVers needing air conditioning. Take a look at
my RVelectricity survey which shows that 59% of RVers have 1 air conditioner, 30% have 2 air
conditioners, and 5% have 3 air conditioners. That kind of usage was never anticipated when
rooftop air conditioners made their debut.
A. The RV market is very competitive. The typical AC unit prices are only $600. Additional costs to solve this problem can be difficult to absorb until the market accepts that they really need this SoftStartRV™ technology. There is no substitute for using a SoftStartRV™, you get all the functionality you need to start your RV with low current starting from practically anywhere, with a small generator.
A. The RV A/C market is very price competitive. Manufacturers are hesitant to add more cost. There is no compromise for installing a SoftStartRV, you get improved startability with the reduced current starts.
A. A hard start kit is simply a start capacitor and a thermal device that temporarily connects it to the compressor only for a short time during startup (a “PTCR”). During startup, the hard start diverts more current to the compressor’s start winding to help “boost” the torque to assist in starting. This actually results in more current be sent to the compressor, perhaps for a slightly shortened duration of time. A hard start therefore typically does not make a compressor that wouldn’t start on a particular generator suddenly start working, unless the generator and A/C combination were marginally close to working to begin with.
That is why some do report success when using a hard start kit. In most cases though, these results are a marginal improvement at best, and are not always reliable, especially when the generator also has auxiliary loads before the compressor startup actually occurs. SoftStartRV™ on the other hand, is a sophisticated, controlled soft start device that dramatically reduces the total startup current drawn by the compressor. This has a direct impact and improvement on the generator’s capability to actually start up the compressor. No hard start kit comes even close to doing any of this.
The SoftStart unit cost is 10X that of a Capacitor that the A/C manufacture parts departments
will sell you, they have Kits for around $27, where as SoftStart guys want to sell you their units
for $300+. That’s not true. These intelligent soft start units work on a different principle than a standard starting capacitor. ALL single-phase air conditioner compressors use a starting capacitor of some sort that will draw 5 to 10 times the continuous running current during the startup cycle.
“The aftermarket hard start capacitors you’re referring to tend to draw even MORE current
during the starting cycle which might help jump start a compressor on a low voltage shore
power line, but will overload a portable generator even more than a factory capacitor. I’ve
personally measured the SoftStartRV unit and found that it limits the startup current to around
2x the running current by chopping the starting current and spreading it out over a longer
length of time (1/2 second or so). Starting capacitors can’t do that, which is why they tend
to overload small generators and trip circuit breakers already running close to capacity. I know
because I’ve run these experiments myself.” Mike Sokol, Mr. RV Electricity.
A. RVers who are concerned that a SoftStartRV installation may void the A/C manufacturer’s warranty for their unit’s compressor motor ask a reasonable question. According to legal experts, your warranty should not be voided. But we can’t predict what a manufacturer might claim.
NetworkRV is confident that with the correct installation, its SoftStartRV will not damage your A/C compressor. We do suggest that if you have a possible service contract issue, you contemplate uninstalling the SoftStartRV to avoid any issues related to its installation. We have not had any customers report that a manufacturer wanted to void their air conditioner warranty due to an installation of a SoftStartRV. Provided you follow the recommended simple wiring diagram provided with the unit, NetworkRV is sure that its product SoftStartRV cannot damage your RV air conditioner’s compressor. The 2-year SoftStartRV Warranty covers your RV air conditioner’s compressor motor. If your manufacturer does not cover the repair or replacement of the compressor under warranty, then we’ll replace your compressor, if it’s due to the SoftStartRV malfunctioning. Here’s the online registration form for the 2 -year warranty: https://networkrv.com/softstartrv-extended-warranty-application/
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