Saturday, September 23, 2023


RVelectricity: Honey, they shrank my SoftStartRV…

Dear Readers,
One of the fun things I get to do in my FunkWorks Lab is play with prototype products long before they’re released to the general public. However, I’m generally under a media embargo with most of these products (essentially a gag order), so I’m not allowed to disclose what I know to my readers before a certain date.

This leaves me busting at the seams sometimes, because there are occasionally new products I really want to write about and review for you but can’t. And this is one of those times….

The good news is that while I was under a media embargo not to release this info until the end of March, someone else jumped the gun. So I now have permission to show you what I know about the new and improved SoftStartRV™ (SSRV) controller. And I already know a lot about this since I’ve been testing it for months.

The new and improved SoftStartRV controller

Well, good things can and do come in small(er) packages. This is a great example of clever engineering reducing the size of that package, while still keeping all the performance. Sometimes mounting the original SSRV controller could take a little blacksmithing (cutting and sawing a few things) to find a good mounting spot inside of your rooftop air conditioner that wouldn’t interfere with the airflow of the condenser fan.

Most of the time this worked out, but there were occasional installation challenges to finding the correct mounting spot inside of your air conditioner housing. But the new and improved SoftStartRV controller has shrunk the size of the case by a good 1 3/4″ shorter and 1/2″ narrower than the original, which makes it a lot simpler to mount in tight places. And as you can see from the picture where I’m showing the new and improved SSRV controller in my Penguin II test air conditioner, there’s a lot more room left—which translates into easier mounting.

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But does it do the same thing as the original?

I’m happy to report that the new SSRV controller appears to work exactly the same as the original version. It’s just been mounted inside of a smaller case.

While I haven’t done a full HRDL (High Rate Data Logger) test on it yet, the peak starting surge values of the new version look to be the same as the original. Here’s a video I made a while back showing exactly how the SSRV technology works its magic (that you can watch in slow motion), which allows you to start a rooftop air conditioner on a 2,000-watt class Inverter Generator. And the ramping up current envelope reduces the noisy “bang” when the compressor starts up using the factory capacitor. Click on the picture above or HERE to watch.

What about installation?

Here’s a video I made last year showing the latest No-Splice installation procedure for the original SoftStartRV Controller. It also works for the new and improved version. To watch the installation video, just click on the picture or HERE.

As long as you turn off ALL power and can safely climb on the roof of your RV, this is really a straightforward installation that shouldn’t take more than an hour from start to finish.

You can find complete SoftStartRV wiring instruction for nearly every brand and model of RV air conditioner HERE. But if not, the installation gurus at SSRV will draw up a custom installation diagram for you and post it online.

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Why do you need a SoftStartRV controller?

Well, I’ve written about this extensively. But in a nutshell, the SSRV Controller reduces the starting current surge of your air conditioner compressor from more than 50 amps down to 24 amps or so. This not only allows you to power your RV air conditioner from a smaller generator (I use a Honda EU2200 all the time), or you can run two RV air conditioners, each with a SoftStartRV, on a single 30-amp outlet at a campground pedestal without tripping the breaker.

The SoftStartRV Controller (both the original and the new version) is definitely NOT a $10 hard-start capacitor which does the exact opposite by pulling 52 amps for well over a second, and will likely cause even more circuit breaker tripping and generator shutdown. Read more about how the SoftStartRV technology works HERE.

Spring has sprung…

It’s time to get ready for the camping season, so now is a great time to evaluate your air-conditioning power usage. If you’re having trouble starting your RV air conditioner on your portable generator, then this is the time to upgrade your air conditioner with a SoftStartRV Controller. And, yes, if you have two air conditioners on your RV, you’ll need a SoftStartRV controller for each one.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.




  1. I had the original one installed and now I can run the AC with my solar panels, 2 lithium batteries and 2000w inverter.

  2. I just installed the smaller version this week and have previously added the larger one. I can verify they install on the same connectors, there is no wire cutting needed, and they both appear to work the same. When I tested them by turning both air conditioners on at my thermostat at the same time they both started after the built in time delay within 30 seconds of each other.

  3. Thanks Mike, I appreciate your articles. I had planned to get one this spring as I’ll be spending a lot of time in the heat and humidity this summer, much of the time with 20A service only.

  4. What is the impact on the compressor motor?
    I presume the above graph looks at the starting current at the input to the AC unit as that current would directly affect what the breaker would see.
    What happens to the current at the input to the compressor? And what are the implications of that current pattern on motor reliability?

    • Actual test data is hard to find, but several of my colleagues who do large electric motor design have said they believe it would increase longevity of the compressor and motor due to the reduced strain on the components during normal starting. These sort of soft start controllers have been used on industrial motors for decades. And I agree with them…

  5. Summer of 2020 we were having sticks n brick home remodeling so had to live in MH for 3 wks in Houston hot summer. After reading your articles on SoftStart we purchased 2 (with the RV Travel discount) & were able to live comfortably on 30 amp pwr. Installation was easy with instructions provided. We did not have a problem with the size for installing in our units, but smaller is always better, as long as they work great like the original SoftStart. Thanks for your articles on this great product.


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