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Going back to a hot RV after a long day of summer activities can be a bit of a letdown. That’s why it is common to want to leave your AC running even when you go out and explore. However, you might wonder if you can run your AC all day.

You can run your RV’s air condition unit 24/7 and it wouldn’t be a problem. You just have to adjust your thermostat a little bit lower so your compressor can still cycle on and off and can work effectively. Most importantly, you need to have enough source of power if you would like to keep it running all day. 

Additionally, if you have 2 units you can alternate from the front and rear AC to give each a break.

No doubt, AC is one of the essentials in our rigs. We can’t even imagine going on a summer trip without it considering how our RV, especially trailers, can easily heat up in the sun. 

Most RVs have AC units and it’s rare to find one that doesn’t have it. We’ll tell you more information about running your AC all day and we’ll give you some tips that will help you to effectively use it.

How Does RV AC Work

A zoomed image of an RV focusing it's ac unit with a mountain view
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A zoomed picture of an RV focusing the ac unit

Your RV AC works differently than the regular house air conditioner that produces cold air through its unit.

RV AC works by sucking the heat and moisture from the outside to release cold air into your rigs with the use of two AC systems. These are the evaporator and compressor systems. 

An evaporator works when the water is vaporized and collected in a filter. Then, each AC unit has a fan and it is the one that releases ambient air and creates heat. 

The compressor system on the other hand holds molecules in gaseous refrigerant together, then pressurizes it until it turns into a liquid. After that, it will flow into a pipe system to turn it back into a gas in the evaporator and that’s how the heat and moisture turn into cold air.

How to Run an RV AC All-day

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RV Thermostat in an RV’s interior

An RV AC unit will need at least 3,500 watts to start and 1,500 watts to maintain its coolness and keep it running. Therefore, you will need enough power if you would like to run it all day.

You also have a thermostat that helps you to balance and control the temperature of your RV based on your liking. 

To set your RV AC you can do the following steps.

  • First, you have to set your AC unit to either “high cool” or “low cool”. This adjusts the fan speed and how hard the air blows into the RV.
  • Then, set the temperature to “cool” or “cold”.  The fan setting will only bring in outside air without cooling it.
  • Next, choose your preferred temperature which can be about 73-77 degrees. If you choose a temperature that is too cold and the air is too humid the AC could freeze up.

That’s it! Easy, right? But as we have mentioned in the beginning, if you’d like to run your AC 24/7, you need to lower your thermostat a little bit so it can work effectively

Pro Tip: Don’t go lower than 70 degrees on the thermostat as this can put the whole system at risk.

Additionally, it’s better to start turning it on in the morning or while you go somewhere to explore. By doing this, you’re giving your AC enough time to cool down your rig.

You will have a consistent temperature until night and during the night is also the best time to set your thermostat to a lower temperature.

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An electric panel at a campground

Pro Tip: this is worth mentioning again, you need to be plugged into a continuous power supply. It is possible to run your AV on a large generator or electric source. However, running your generator all day just for the AC will likely make your neighbours a little irritated.

Tips in Maintaining RV AC Unit

Generally, an RV air conditioner’s lifespan is about 4-8 years. But with good care and proper maintenance, it can be longer than that. 

However, any machine or electronic device’s lifespan depends on how you maintain it. So before it’s too late, here are 5 simple ways to maintain your RV AC unit.

  1. When your AC is not in use, open your roof vent to let the moisture evaporate.
  2. Keep the fan oiled. This will help the fan inside your AC unit to work more effectively.
  3. When your RV is not in use or it’s off-season, make sure to cover your AC unit. If you could also invest in a good quality cover, that would be better. it would help you to protect your AC unit from rain, snow, sun UV rays, or debris.
  4. Clean your AC’s air filter. Depending on how often you’re using it, you need to make sure that its air filter is clean at least once or twice a month.
  5. Avoid overworking your AC. Try to set the temperature a little warmer (75 deg) so it doesn’t have to work as hard. Also, only run it all day when necessary not all the time.

Tips on How Can You Keep Your RV Cool During Summer

Besides running the AC, there are other things that you can do to keep the RV cool while you’re off the road. Here are a few tips to help you keep your rig cool during summer.

  1. The first thing that you need to do is find a good spot for your RV to park. Look for a spot where at least your AC and refrigerator are covered in the shade.
  2. Use an awning or any window shades. Covering your RV windows with awnings or your window shades will help your RV to get less heat. (Read here whether Blinds or Curtains are better)
  3. Try cooking less inside your rig. Cooking inside your RV, especially on the gas stove top, can add heat to your RV. So instead of cooking inside all the time, try some outdoor cooking, like grilling.
  4. Use LED light instead of incandescent light. It is much cooler and more efficient on a hot day’s trip. LEDs will last longer when on battery too.
  5. Make sure to cover your skylights shower when it’s not in use. Skylights are one of the sources of heat gain in your RV so make sure to cover them with sunblocks.

Important Related Questions

How Cold Should an RV AC Get?

Most people are comfortable at 73-75 degrees however, a temperature of 78 degrees is what we would recommend. It can already give you cool and nice weather inside your rig especially during hot days. 

Can I Run My AC with Solar Power?

An RV AC can run on a Solar Panel but it must be large. It may need additional watts to overcome the start-up power. At least 3,500 watts for the start-up power and 1,800 watts for continuous running.

If you’re going to run it all day, you will need lots of power since most RV AC units need at least about 3,500 watts to start and 1,500 watts to keep it running. 

Most RV systems are not equipped with this type of solar power and battery banks.

When Is the Best Time to Run My AC? During the Day or at Night?

There’s no such thing as the best time in running an AC. It’s a machine that is specifically made to run any time of the day. However, if you’re planning to run your AC for a day, turning it on early in the morning would be better so it can have plenty of time to cool down your RV.

What Size of AC Do I Need for My RV?

The size of AC you’ll need will depend on the size of your rig. If you have a big trailer or motorhome then, a big AC will be better. Whereas, if you’re using a campervan or a small trailer, then a small AC is already enough to keep your RV cool. You can also try to have two AC units for your RV then use them alternately. This is what other RVers do to avoid wear and tear.

Can I Run RV AC on Battery?

Running your RV AC on a battery is not possible since it requires a lot of power. Unless you have 4000 watts DC-TO-AC power converter then you can do so. With it, you can use your battery for AC electricity.

But the thing is, most RVs only have a maximum of 2000 watts inverter. Although high-end RVs have 2-3 aircon units, therefore, they may also have a larger power inverter.

A woman standing outside of an open RV door with a mug in hand.
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Can an RV AC Run All Day?

Final Thoughts in Running an RV AC All-day

We understand that we sometimes think about saving energy, that’s why we choose to have our AC units running only when we are inside our rigs.  However, running it all day regardless if we are inside or outside our RV, would be much better for you and your AC. 

Your AC consumes a lot of energy when it’s starting and it will consume more when your rig is too hot since your AC needs to work hard to make your rigs cool. The same goes for turning it on 2-3 times a day.

Well, isn’t it great to be back in your RV that has a cool climate without a need for you to wait for a few minutes after a fun activity outside? 

Having this great feeling and convenience isn’t possible. All you just have to do is to know how to properly use your AC and maintain it for its efficiency and longer life.

If you want other RV tips and hacks, you can start here.

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  We travel with kids and extended family.  I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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