Soft starters are important devices for many applications when you need a gentle method of starting your motor. There are numerous types of starters to get a motor running – direct on line (DOL) starters, variable frequency drive (VFD) starters, hard starters, and soft starters.
The difference between these other types of starters and the soft starter is that the latter is much gentler on your motor and the other components in your appliances. This can prolong the lifetime of your motor and appliance, which is why soft starters are beginning to grow in popularity.
Soft starters are excellent for use within RVs and motorhomes to help your power source not become too overwhelmed by all of the initial starting currents. They can help you run your AC units along with other appliances without any trouble.
Compared to the other type of starters on the market, soft starters are among the least accessible. This is due to the fact that they are still considered a niche market with very specific applications.
Because they are less available on the market, there are fewer brands to choose from when it comes to picking your soft starter. Today we will be offering a refresher course into all things soft starter as well as looking at the best soft starter brands on the market.
What is meant by soft starter?
We have precluded what a soft starter is above, but let’s look into this in more detail so that you know exactly what you’re purchasing.
Soft starters are not best used for every application or appliance, so make sure that you do your own research beforehand to ensure that the soft starter is the correct choice for you.
A soft starter is a small device that fits into the inner workings of your appliance. We have all had those appliances that sound like they’re going to explode every time they’re turned on, right?
We actually cower away from the machine once we turn the power supply on in case this is the day that the motor finally pushes itself too hard and explodes in our houses.
This is actually a common problem, and it has made people feel uncomfortable enough to make them create a soft starter to prevent it from happening ever again.
If you’ve ever heard the startup noise that we’re talking about, it should come as no surprise to you that the soft starter can protect your appliance from shortening its lifespan and overheating.
A soft starter’s main job is to turn the motor on more gently than if it were to be powered on without the soft starter. The soft starter manipulates the starting current so that the motor ignites and accelerates easier to protect it from damages.
How does a soft starter work?
A soft starter works by controlling the amount of starting current that can reach the motor once the power supply is switched on. The device also affects the initial torque which can protect the motor and the appliance from premature damage.
As you turn the power supply on at the source, an initial inrush of current is formed. A motor has a running current that the power source needs to supply constantly to ensure that the motor doesn’t shut off.
However, the starting current for the motor needs to be six to ten times greater than the running current. The power source generates this power to ensure that the motor will start. This incredible amount of power is called the inrush of current.
So, once the inrush of current is created it is sent at full speed to the motor. This inrush of current puts immense strain and pressure on the motor, which creates the spluttering and angered noise that it puts out on startup.
However, when you install a soft starter into the appliance it stops the inrush of current in its tracks. Modern soft starters will use one of two things – silicon controlled rectifiers (SCRs) or thyristors.
SCRs are plastic switches that turn on as soon as the power source is powered up. The inrush of current is sent towards the motor but it is stopped by the powered-on SCRs. These only allow through the amount of current needed to get the motor up and running.
Once the motor is running and is ready to accelerate, the SCRs will begin to relax and allow more current to flow through to the motor, little by little. Once all of the currents are flowing to the motor, the SCRs can turn off.
When it’s time to turn the appliance off, the SCRs will turn back on and follow the same process as before but backward. This, again, protects the motor from the surge of power that could be damaging to its inner components.
Using a soft starter allows you to use your appliances without worrying about them overheating and faltering beyond repair. Thanks to the SCRs only allowing small amounts of the current to pass through, the acceleration remains smooth rather than being jumpy and spluttering.
How do I choose a soft starter?
Choosing your soft starter is quite simple when you know what to look for. There are two main types of soft starters – single-phase and three-phase. The phases simply refer to how many phases the motor has for the current to pass through.
Some motors only have one phase for the motor to pass through, while larger motors have three. You can get motors with even more phases than three, but these are less common and might require a different starter option than a soft starter.
Single-phase and three-phase soft starters are almost identical in how they work, with one exception. The single-phase soft starter only has the mechanisms to only control one flow of current to the motor, while a three-phase soft starter can control three.
Make sure that you know whether you need a single-phase or three-phase soft starter for your motor. Using the wrong one will be redundant or cost you too much money, and it could even cause more damage to your appliance.
What is a soft starter kit for an air conditioner?
As we mentioned earlier, soft starter kits are very important for RVs when you want to run your air conditioner along with your other necessary appliances. Air conditioners are large appliances that require impressive amounts of starting current to power up.
Air conditioners often have a split-phase induction motor, meaning that they will need a single-phase soft starter. So, when you’re looking for a soft starter for your air conditioning unit, more often than not you will need a single-phase soft starter.
Soft starter kits are what some suppliers offer that includes more than just the soft starter. They also come with all of the tools and the hardware you need to install your device. If you need help from a professional to install the soft starter, this service might be included within the kit.
A soft starter for an air conditioner is installed into the air conditioner to protect the appliance and its motor from the inrush of current. A soft starter for an air conditioner is the same as any other soft starter on the market.
Why do you need a soft starter for RV AC units?
There are a few reasons why you would need a soft starter for your RV air conditioning unit. For starters, RVs are none other than a metal vessel that can get extremely hot in the summer months. Windows are not typically opened inside of an RV thanks to bugs and the worry of your belongings being vulnerable.
So, the options available to you are to find a way to get your AC unit working inside your RV, or spend your vacation burning hot and uncomfortable. We know which one we would prefer!
You will need a soft starter installed within your AC unit no matter whether you are going to be staying off the grid or at an RV park. Off the grid, you will be using the power of a small portable generator, which won’t offer enough power to start the AC unit on its own.
The soft starter is necessary when you only have a small portable generator around 2200ii to 2500 watts of power. Even if the generator was able to start your AC unit without the soft starter, you wouldn’t be able to run any of your other appliances.
On the other hand, if you are parking up at an RV park with hookups, you should be able to run one AC unit without a soft starter. However, a 30 amp hookup will not allow you to run two AC units as the inrush of power is too much to get the second started.
Even if you’re only using one AC unit, the soft starter is advised so that you know your air conditioner is protected against premature damage, overheating, or immense surges of power. As you can see, soft starters are very important when it comes to RV air conditioning units.
The best soft starter brand: NetworkRV
NetworkRV is the brand behind the incredibly popular single-phase soft starter kit, the SoftStartRV. This soft starter has been created specifically for use in RVs for air conditioning units, so you know that you’re getting the best device for the job.
Below we’re going to be talking you through some of the best selling points of the SoftStartRV and how it can help make your RV vacation much more enjoyable for you and the whole family.
How the SoftStartRV works
The SoftStartRV works by gently allowing your AC motor to power up and accelerate to full speed, rather than letting an uncontrollable amount of current all rush to the motor at once.
While most soft starters on the market will reduce the starting current to 40 to 50%, the SoftStartRV can reduce it from 100% to 30-35%.
This is a very impressive drop in starting current, and you can only imagine how much stress it will take off of the motor and your AC unit as a whole. The AC motor should now start up without any issues, giving you the ability to enjoy a cool environment as well as all of your other electronic appliances.
The SoftStartRV has a capacitor and a contactor all built into the soft starter, so you don’t have to worry about buying your own. You can now run all of your appliances along with an AC unit without having to purchase a larger and more expensive generator.
What the SoftStartRV can run
The SoftStartRV can run an AC unit on a number of different power sources, allowing you the freedom to use your RV in any way that you want. When parking in an RV park, you will be greeted with a 30 amp hookup.
As we already discussed, this is not enough for two AC units because the initial inrush is so great that it prevents the second AC unit from ever starting up. However, you can now use two SoftStartRV devices to run two AC units on a single 30 amp hookup.
Using two AC units will make your RV much cooler and you will be able to feel the effects of your air conditioning quicker.
With that being said, you cannot always run two AC units when you’re in an RV. When you’re living off the grid and parked up in the wilderness, you can still enjoy your AC unit thanks to the SoftStartRV.
Using a SoftStartRV, you’ll be able to run one AC unit off of a small portable generator or a 20 amp household hookup. No matter where you want to power your RV, you can do it thanks to a soft starter such as the SoftStartRV.
The final option you have is to run either one or two air conditioning units from your onboard inverter system. There are four different ways that you can power your AC unit with the SoftStartRV, so you’ll certainly get your money’s worth!
Size and weight
The SoftStartRV weighs under two pounds, meaning that you can install it without worrying about your RV weight limit. This is a great weight off RV owners’ minds so that you don’t have to start thinking about what you’re going to leave behind to make up for the heavy soft starter.
Likewise, the SoftStartRV measures 6 x 3 x 3 inches and therefore can fit into almost any air conditioning unit. There is no obligation for you to purchase an AC unit from the same or similar brand – you can use this soft starter with any air conditioning unit that you already have with your RV.
Reduced thumping noises
A lesser-known issue with RV air conditioning units is the thumping and ‘trail shaking’ issues that come along with the compressor.
You don’t notice it a lot in the daytime when you’re enjoying your vacation and there is a lot of noise around you. During the nighttime; however, you might find these noises deafening.
The thumping occurs once the compressor kicks into action, but with the help of a SoftStartRV, you might never have to suffer sleeping through these noises again. SoftStartRV gives you a good night’s sleep that is both cool and silent.
Installing the SoftStartRV is incredibly quick and easy to do. You will receive everything that you need to install it including the tools and hardware, along with comprehensive instructions that are very easy to follow.
You’ll even receive a diagram of how the wires are supposed to look once installed.
Even better, there are a number of instructional videos online that you can access if you’re having difficulty installing your soft starter.
If these still don’t help and you need to talk to a professional about the installation process, you can chat to the friendly tech support team who have got countless glowing reviews about their help.
Price and warranty
The SoftStartRV has a competitive price with the option to save more money, the more soft starters you purchase. You can also receive $25 for referring a friend to NetworkRV. If you’re not satisfied with the SoftStartRV within 90 days you can get your money back thanks to the manufacturer’s guarantee.
The warranty is the best on the market, being a one year manufacturer’s warranty with the option to expand to two years for free. There is also free shipping to anywhere in the USA and Canada.
Soft starters are vital pieces of equipment when it comes to RV air conditioning units. The best brand on the market is NetworkRV with their excellent product – the SoftStartRV.
We cannot fault this product in any way and previous customers only have good things to say about the product and brand as a whole.
If you’re looking for a soft starter to use in your RV for your air conditioner, you will not be disappointed with the SoftStartRV. And even if you are, there is a 90-day money-back guarantee to take advantage of!