Recreational Vehicles, or RVs, are the perfect way to upgrade your summer vacations.
They are portable motor homes that provide living quarters wherever you roam. However, as you travel around to various destinations, you may find difficulty with keeping your vehicle cool in the sweltering heat.
RV air conditioners differ in maintenance compared to other ACs and RV appliances. Thus, it is vital to stay informed on its functions to ensure your travels will run as smoothly as possible.
In this article, we will answer any burning questions regarding the operation and maintenance of RV air conditioners:
Can RV Air Conditioners be Recharged?
RV air conditioners do not work indefinitely, and they must be recharged after excessive use.
AC’s will stop working when the unit runs out of refrigerant. Thus, in order to get the air conditioner functioning again, you must recharge the AC by refilling it with more refrigerant.
The exact refrigerant type you need is fully dependent on your AC.
In order to determine what type of product is best for your AC, you must thoroughly examine the nameplate or owner’s manual provided.
Once you get a product that is compatible with your AC, the next step is to figure out how much refrigerant is needed.
When deciding the amount to refill your AC with, you must first check your AC’s levels. Depending on your model, the AC will not display a method of finding out the refrigerant level.
In the case of this event, a separate line tap must be purchased.
Following the installation of the line tap, you will then be able to accurately gauge how much more refrigerant necessary.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run on Battery?
RV air conditioners can run on batteries only if the batteries have strong electrical power. Air conditioners consume a hefty amount of energy.
Therefore, it will likely take more than one battery for your AC to function effectively. Depending on your air conditioner type, you may need even more batteries if your AC requires a fair amount of watts to get it running.
Your owner’s manual should list details on how much wattage is required to power your specific AC. The answer will vary from person to person based on the AC model and type.
Your AC will only last as long as your battery does, so numerous batteries would be needed if you intend to use your AC frequently.
The life of your battery will also depend on how often the AC is turned on and how many watts the AC needs.
If you intend to use batteries to power your AC, make sure to bring a sufficient amount that is tailored to your needs.
Can RV Air Conditioners Antifreeze be Diluted?
Unlike the more commonly used vehicular antifreeze, RV antifreeze is non-toxic and intended to be used in water systems.
As a result, RV antifreeze should not be diluted.
Diluting the solution will only cause it to lose its antifreeze abilities, and it will possibly damage your pipes. Often times, there will be water left in your pipes that will inevitably dilute the antifreeze anyways.
Intentionally diluting the antifreeze further prior to use would only weaken its freeze protection and render it inefficient. In order to protect your RV completely, you would then have to spend even more money on more antifreeze in the end.
Diluting your antifreeze is not beneficial or cost-effective in any way.
If you do wish to dilute your antifreeze, you can purchase antifreeze concentrate that is designed to be diluted slightly. However, in this method, it would be imperative to follow all the listed directions on the product.
Following the specified directions will protect your pipes and allow your antifreeze to work optimally.
On the other hand, ignoring the instructions can damage your RV and will cost you a fair amount of money for repairs.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run on Propane?
Realistically, an RV air conditioner cannot be properly run on propane.
RV ACs require a great amount of energy that propane cannot efficiently provide. In order to operate an RV AC, electrical power is the most feasible source of energy.
Though an AC can hypothetically run on propane, the method would only be costly and inconvenient over time.
It is not recommended to power your RV air conditioner with propane.
If propane generators interest you, many other items in your RV, such as the fridge and stove, can be run on propane.
Unfortunately, propane is not yet a practical source of power for RV ACs.
Can RV Air Conditioners Freeze Up?
Occasionally, RV air conditioners do stop working.
While ACs can stop functioning due to a multitude of reasons, a common reason for apparent shutdowns would be because of “freeze-ups.”
Your AC can freeze up due to causes such as:
- Dirty evaporator coil and/or condenser coils
- Insufficient Freon levels (AC needs to be recharged)
- Short-circuiting of supply and return air
- Defective thermostat
- An overly hot and humid environment
In conclusion, your RV AC can freeze up and stop working due to poor maintenance.
If you want to tackle this problem, it is vital to pinpoint what specific aspect of the AC is causing you problems.
If you find that none of these causes are producing the freeze up and cannot troubleshoot the issue, then contact a professional so you can have your AC personally checked out.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run All Day?
RV air conditioners can run all day on the condition that it will consume large quantities of power.
Especially if your AC is running on a battery, propane, or solar power, running it all day could end up being very expensive and inefficient.
If you have sufficient supplies, however, nothing is stopping you from running your RV AC all day.
To add on, RV ACs can be fairly loud as it makes more noise than the average home air conditioner. Due to its structure and placement in the RV, the air conditioner vibrates and produces many sounds.
This could ultimately disrupt your vacation, which would not be an ideal situation.
It is more efficient to find cool and shady places to park in. Avoiding sunlight as much as possible is not only beneficial in lowering the temperature but also free of charge.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run-Off Generators?
From portable generators to built-in generators, there are many types of generators that can be used to power RV air conditioners.
However, you must choose a generator that can supply sufficient power to your RV AC. As stated before, different ACs require different wattages.
To determine exactly what type of wattage you should get, it is important to read the owner’s manual for your specific AC type.
The packet should clarify how many watts your AC needs so you can purchase a separate generator accordingly.
Can RV Air Conditioners be Repaired?
RV air conditioners can be repaired by professionals. Though this method may be more costly, it is a reliable and safe way to ensure your AC will be working again.
If you are skilled and wish to fix the AC yourself, there are a few ways to troubleshoot your issue. Sometimes, your issue could just require cleaning the filters and coils as its solution.
Other times, it may be impossible to fix the AC yourself, and you would have to seek a professional opinion.
The outcome is ultimately dependent on the severity of the problem, but your AC should almost always have a solution to its issues.
In the end, RV ACs should not need many repairs as long as the appliance is properly maintained and cleaned.
Can RV Air Conditioners Overheat?
Like many powered appliances, it is possible for RV air conditioners to overheat.
Specific to ACs, the culprit of this issue is often the condenser coil.
When dust and debris accumulate on the coil, the appliance starts to overheat and will eventually stop working.
In order to fix this issue, the condenser coil must be sufficiently cleaned of any dirt.
In order to clean the condenser coil, you must be comfortable with working on the roof of your vehicle. You will also need to remove screws that hold down a shroud covering the AC.
This process of cleaning the condenser coil should be repeated at least once a year.
With proper maintenance, the RV AC should seldom overheat. Taking care of your appliance will allow the AC to last longer and keep it from breaking down.
If you do find your RV AC overheating, take caution before touching it to avoid injury. When cleaning your AC, ensure that the appliance is turned off first to prevent electrocution.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run on 15 and 30 Amp?
RV air conditioners can safely run on 15 amp and 30 amp as long as these specific instructions below are followed closely:
- Be clear on the amps of the electrical circuit you are plugging into, so you are aware of your limitations when using products.
- Nothing else should be plugged into the same circuit you are using.
- Use a properly sized extension cord and make sure to check it frequently for signs of overheating.
- Make sure that the cord feels okay to touch or else a fire can occur.
- Make sure to restrict your appliance use.
- If your RV is hooked up to a lower amp amount such as 15 amp and 20 amp, it is unrealistic to power many household apparatuses at once.
- Different devices have varying amp demands, so be conscientious of what appliances you are using.
- On the contrary, when using higher amps such as 30 amps, you do not have to limit your use.
If you follow these steps properly and heed caution, it is safe to run your RV air conditioner on 15 amp and 30 amp.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run while Driving?
There are two types of air conditioning your RV can have: dash air conditioning and rooftop air conditioning.
Dash air conditioning is placed in the front of the RV on the drivers and passengers side. Like any other vehicle, the dash AC dispenses cool air from the vehicle’s dashboard.
This is the classic type of air conditioning that you can find in almost all cars. Occasionally, it will be extremely hot in the RV to the point that another air conditioner needs to be utilized.
In these cases, a dash air conditioner is not sufficient because it is not strong enough.
The other type of AC is a rooftop air conditioner. This type of AC is much more powerful, and it reaches further in your RV than the dash air conditioner.
It is not limited to only the front seat of the RV, which makes it highly useful for hot days with blistering heat.
However, turning on rooftop air conditioning will ultimately use up more gas. Granted, the amount of gas used should not be significantly more than it would’ve been without AC.
Conclusively, using your RV air conditioner while driving is completely safe.
There are no associated risks with using your RV AC, and it does not cause any damage to your vehicle.
Can you add Freon to RV AC?
Freon is a refrigerant made by the company DuPont and refrigerant is necessary to recharge your AC.
It is possible to add Freon to RV AC.
Though the product is designed to be added to RV air conditioners, make sure the refrigerant type you use is compatible with your specific RV air conditioner.
If not, your AC will not function properly, and you risk damage to your items.
When selecting products for your AC, always make sure to consult your owners manual first to see if what you are using is right for your appliance.
This is a necessary step that can save you damage, time, and money.
What Can I do When my RV Air Conditioner Unit Can’t Keep Up?
Sometimes, you may find that your RV air conditioner is not cool enough to keep up with the hot and humid weather.
Despite switching the AC on, you may feel that your motorhome is not cooling down the temperature you want it to be.
Though ACs can generally only go about 20 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the outside temperature, failure to keep up could be a direct result of poor AC maintenance.
When you run into these issues, try abiding by the following steps:
- Remember that RV air conditioners are not as efficient as home air conditioners.
- Because RVs are not as insulated as your house, the motorhome naturally takes on more heat and humidity.
- If you are in an extremely hot area, your AC is likely struggling due to the sheer temperature of the outside weather.
- Close curtains and blinds to block out sunlight as much as possible.
- Stay in shaded areas to catalyze lowering the temperature.
- Parking your RV under direct sunlight will make it even harder for your AC to keep up efficiently.
- Check to see if the filter on your AC is clean and make sure the power is off before you check to avoid electrocution.
- Take caution when inspecting your appliance to avoid injury.
- Check your evaporator and condenser coils for any dirt, debris, or dust.
- Dirty coils can cause your AC to heat up and work less efficiently.
- If there happens to be anything on the coils, use compressed air or a vacuum to clean them up.
By going through these steps, you may be able to find a solution for your AC when it is having trouble keeping up.
If you are still having trouble with your AC, it may be necessary to contact a professional.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run on Solar?
Solar power is a long-term and cost-efficient source that can be used to power your RV air conditioner.
Undeniably, solar power is sustainable and good for your wallet in the long run. However, just like propane, solar power is not the most practical source of power for RV ACs.
RV air conditioners require a decent amount of wattage to function. Though solar power is easily accessible, it likely is not strong enough to sufficiently power your air conditioner.
In consequence, the AC would not be able to work at its maximum potential.
Additionally, obtaining solar power through panels would mean that your RV must constantly be in contact with sunlight.
This method could end up being counter-intuitive because the light would end up heating your RV.
In the process of trying to cool down your vehicle, the sunlight would be heating your RV back up at the same time.
As a result, solar-powered RV ACs can hypothetically work, but they are more impractical and contradictory than useful.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.