I’ve been getting emails about this product release for months … but now it can be told!
NetworkRV announces plug-in version of their SoftStartRV controller
Even though on paper it looked like a small inverter generator should be able to run a 13.5 kBTU air conditioner, in many cases the inrush/surge current needed by the compressor would cause the generator to go into overload mode and simply shut down its 120-volt AC output.
Of course, this would lead to a lot of frustration from RVers who then had to power down and restart their portable generators, often many times during the day.
First generation SSRV Controller
At that time, NetworkRV introduced their original SoftStartRV controller, which worked by slowly ramping up the inrush current caused by the start winding and capacitor on the air conditioner compressor.
This process took place during the starting cycle and only took a few hundred milliseconds (the blink of an eye), but it was enough to reduce the inrush current by up to 70%, thus allowing a 2200-watt inverter generator to start up to a 15,000 BTU air conditioner.
Second Generation SSRV Controller
But it soon became apparent that some RV air conditioners didn’t have enough room under the cowling for an easy installation of the original SoftStartRV controller. So last year NetworkRV introduced a smaller version with the exact same performance. At 2/3 the size of the original, the New SoftStartRV controller would fit in RV air conditioners that were cramped for space. Same great taste, less filling!
The Next Generation: SoftStartUp
Now NetworkRV has introduced the Next Generation of their SoftStart controller. It’s named SoftStartUp, and it works by plugging it into the 30-amp shore power cord rather than installing it inside of the air conditioner housing.
This allows SoftStartUp to monitor and reduce inrush current from multiple air conditioners at the same time. It also reduces peak inrush current from a residential refrigerator installed in an RV. That’s right! A single SoftStartUp unit can limit compressor inrush current on multiple air conditioner and refrigerator compressors.
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How do you install the new SoftStartUp?
It’s as simple as plugging it into a 30-amp pedestal outlet and plugging your shore power cord into SoftStartUp. The SoftStartUp algorithm recognizes the inrush current of any electric motor starting up, and modulates the available peak current available for a few milliseconds.
This is what allows a smaller inverter generator to power more RV appliances at the same time without tripping the generator’s over-current protection. You can use a 15-to-30 amp dogbone adapter between a 2200-watt generator and the SoftStartUp. Just plug in your RV 30-amp shore power cord to SoftStartUp and you’re good to go.
At a campground SoftStartUp plugs in between a 30-amp pedestal outlet and your RV’s 30-amp shore power cord. It includes a Surge Protector so that’s an extra level of protection.
How does it work?
To fully understand SoftStartUp operation requires some calculus, since it’s modulating the available inrush currents in real time while maintaining the average current. But here are a couple oscilloscope screenshots showing the starting current of a standard 15kBTU air conditioner alongside of the same air conditioner plugged into SoftStartUp.
Note that the SoftStartUp is limiting the peak currents of the startup cycle, which are what normally trips the over-current protection in an inverter generator. It does not reduce the overall current draw while the air conditioner is running, only the initial inrush peak current.
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SoftStartUp for home emergency power
Home emergency power is an additional benefit of the SoftStartUp controller. Since it senses and controls the peak inrush current of a downstream 30-amp branch circuit, you can use your portable 3,000-watt RV generator to power more of your house appliances at the same time.
For example, say you find yourself in a blackout power situation at home due to a natural disaster or forced power shutdown. If you’ve installed a basic generator transfer switch at your residential service panel, you can use the SoftStartUp to help create a safe space in your house with power for a window air conditioner, along with a residential refrigerator and freezer.
This is especially useful if you’re caring for anyone who needs an air-conditioned room, as well a running a CPAP machine and oxygen concentrator. As I’m sure you’re aware, many Southern states are having periods of temperatures over 100 degrees F. This amount of heat is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous for anyone that’s not used to the high temperatures.
You need to install a generator transfer switch to do this safely
You will need to install a manual generator transfer switch in your residential service panel before the emergency occurs.
And be aware that any 3,000-watt generator is single-pole with 120-volts AC, so you can only power 120-volt appliances in your house. But that should allow you sufficient power to operate enough appliances at the same time to be safe and comfortable while keeping your food from spoiling.
Let’s play safe out there….
To get your special RVtravel.com discount on the SoftStartUp, click here.
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Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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