Use your RV air conditioner in low-power situations

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By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR

As most readers know, we don’t say nice things about a company just to earn money. But I am about to say something very nice, and it’s about a company that approached us about helping promote its product. They were willing to pay us, as a respectful advertiser would. Right now, with our advertising way down due to the pandemic, we were receptive to the idea — but only if the product did what it promised.

The small SoftStartRV™ allows you to run two air conditioners on a 30-amp hookup (you’ll need two devices to do run both at once), or one air conditioner using only the power of a small portable generator like a Honda 2000 or 2200. We know from experience that this is a big deal on a hot summer day.

You can even run one air conditioner on a 20-amp hookup. The next time you park in the summer in your RV in a friend’s driveway with only household power available you’ll at least be able to run one air-conditioner (13,500 BTU maximum). If you you need an extension cord it should be of good quality, at least 12 gauge, no longer than 50 feet. The SoftStartRV™ makes this possible.

SUMMING UP:
Here’s what the SoftStartRV lets you do:
• Run two air conditioners on a 30-amp hookup.
• Run one air conditioner using only a small portable generator.
• Run one air conditioner on a 20-amp household hookup.
• Run an air conditioner or two using your onboard inverter system.

TESTING IT OUT
The first thing I did was have the company send a device to our RV electricity expert Mike Sokol of RVelectricity.com. If Mike were to report back to us that it was junk, then we’d have nothing to do with the device or the company. However, after testing it, Mike said it did everything it promised, and that it was a game changer for RVers. You can see his video below.

Here, very simply put, is how the SoftStartRV™ device works:

When you turn on the air conditioner in your RV, there’s a huge jolt of power needed to get it to start. That’s why you hear a loud thud right when it’s kicking in.

But only moments later, its need for power drops dramatically to about 13-14 amps.

What the SoftStartRV™ does is manage the start-up power surge so that it doesn’t hit at once, but gradually, avoiding the huge power spike. That’s why you can run two air conditioners on a 30-amp hookup, which you could never do before because of that spike. Ditto running one air conditioner with only the power of a small portable generator. With summer coming, obviously, this device can make a huge difference in your comfort.

So, that’s our story about our relationship with Network RV, the manufacturer of the product. Now, you may want to watch this short video from Mike Sokol that tells more about how the device works. As most of you know, Mike will absolutely not be associated with anything that does not live fully up to its promises.

If you want to learn more, visit our special page at the SoftStartRV™ website where you can get a discount if you decide to buy one or more of the devices.

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Gary

Any generator starts to lose power as you gain altitude…I think it’s 3.5% for every 1,000 feet above 3,000 feet…give or take. Also, outside air temperature affects a generator’s operation. So, a hot day combined with high altitude may have your gen struggling EVEN with one of the easy start devices. That said, having one of these installed still makes it easier on your AC components than without.

I ran my Honda EU2200i at 4,000 feet on a 100*F day and after about 5 minutes of run time after the compressor kicked on the Honda would cut out for about a second sending the AC/Easy Start back into the 5-minute start up mode as the Easy Start is designed to do. It would do that continuously and we were just barely able to cool the interior. A table fan was essential.

Other than that, it’s a great add-on for camping at lower altitudes. Even with 30-amp hookups the device puts less wear and tear on your AC.

Adjacent

Let’s say you’re running your 15,000 BTU AC off a household 15 or 20AMP (120volt) outlet with one of these installed, using a short 12 gauge power cord. Everything is running smoothly but you haven’t tried using the microwave or a vacuum cleaner or other high power device with the AC on yet. Would you be even able to? I know every setup is different, but typically, with the setup I’ve described, is it possible or would it be too much? Is it safer to just turn off AC while using other high powered devices?

Which brings me to my important follow-up question, what happens when it IS “too much”? Generally, what happens? Does AC get damaged? Does your RV’s electrical system? Or does your household breaker (and/or) RV breaker just trip and everything shut off? Things don’t get permanently damaged in general when you overload, right?

Thanks, again, new to RV’ing

John Mooney

After reading about it here I ordered one for my RV. Easy install and now I can run my AC off the 20 amp outlet in my driveway. The kit includes everything you need. The only problem I had was the grommet that the wires have to pass through needed to be larger. It would be nice if they included a larger grommet in the kit.

Glen Feilen

How does this product compare to the Micro Air Easy Start product

Ozzie

I’m an idiot concerning anything electrical. I understand the purpose is to reduce start up load to reduce amperage needed to start the AC. My question is whether that translates into any reduction (again I realize it’s only start up) that could result in utility savings? I see no mention of that so I’m assuming it’s insignificant?

Lew Anderson

I am truly interested in reading Mike’s evaluation of the Easy Start and comparing it to the Softy Start. I have a Lance trailer and Easy Start is an advertiser on the Lance Forum giving purchasers a discount.

Now, my real question is this. If these after-market devices are so good, why aren’t they installed on the air conditioners at the factory? Why are they NOT included as part of the initial construction of the air conditioners? Is there any detrimental or adverse effect on the air conditioner over time?

James

Does Softstart allow better performance including less ware & tear or any benefit on a RV AC unit that is hooked up to the appropriate power source?
Or is this product strictly assisting low power source start-ups on RV AC units?

Shelley Morgan

I can’t I woke up this morning and read this. Yesterday I was asking about boondocking because RV parks are so expensive but I disregarded it because of my Dalmatian (Jasper💙). He’s always been an indoor dog so without A/C it just wouldn’t work. This made my day👍🏻!

Robb

I have 2 15k AC’s in my 5th wheel. What can the soft start do for me?

Thank you

Karin S.

I realize this new product, SoftStartRV, is awesome, but I would also like to acknowledge another companty who has had their product out for years with great results; MicroAir Soft Start. Right now they are having a summer sale. I believe it is nice for folks to have choices to compare against.

https://www.microair.net/collections/easystart-soft-starters/products/easystart-364-3-ton-single-phase-soft-starter-for-air-conditioners?gclid=CjwKCAjwh472BRAGEiwAvHVfGp0tBk1zljmbGkr_K93NhjPFaW-Z5VCv5Jhv7WIL2oWWdKz2p5ROIRoCcMwQAvD_BwE&variant=30176048267

If I didn’t already have a MicroAir Soft Start, I would consider SoftStartRv after some of my own research about the company and their products and customer service. Though, getting a thumbs up from Mike Sokol, pushes the SoftStartRV up to the front of the line. 🙂

David Kendall

The question is, who can install these for you? A significant number of RVers are not able or comfortable enough climbing on the roof and or working with ac wiring.

Marc Goldstone

These devices need a means to sequence the startup of two AC/Heat Pump units and other heavy AC loads so that more than one can startup at the same time and trip the 30A breaker. Otherwise this will happen when both thermostats activate at the same time…

Jesse Crouse

Just installed my 2 SoftStart units. 85 degree day with bright direct sunlight and no clouds. Hardest part of the job was being up on the roof in those conditions. Turned my generator on (Onan 7500 diesel) and genny did not even groan with 2 15 kw heat pump units turning on. Really could not even hear the compressor kick in. Will try with 2 Honda 2000 units yoked together-4kw -and see what happens. VERY satisfied so far.

M Heritage

I have been looking at capacitors for a year and not ready to pull the trigger with all of the experiences others have shared.
After seeing this option and Mike’s video, I ordered two of them. This will allow me to use 30amp sites in the summer and more options to run both AC units in my trailer keeping it cool faster.
I also boondock at NASCAR races (when they allow fans again ) so I can run both AC units on my predator 3500 inverter generator.
Shipping is really quick on these too.
Don’t let the price drive you to inferior options.

Adjacent

Are they saying with this device installed it is now possible to run your roof AC while connected only to 120 volts household power? Without the need for a 240 volts power?
Thanks (am new to RV’ing)

David Stillwell

I just watched Mikes article on the soft start kit for the A/Cs. Having been in the HVAC industry for fourth years I totally get and agree with his conclusions regarding the soft start
I would however caution that if your RV is running two A/C units and you have a residential refrigerator you may exceed the “running load” amps of a 30 amp breaker. And even if the breaker doesn’t trip you could be doing irreparable danger to either or all three of the items in the RV
I’m right in the middle of this scenario right now. With the two A/Cs running, 26 amps, turn on the refer, 33amps
So be careful, the damage caused can be long term and not surface immediately

Tommy Molnar

I have two Champion 2000 watters I bought at Costco years ago so I could stack them to run the AC. It’s such a pain to haul two generators around, I just don’t do it. We open the windows for ‘air’. But now, with this soft start thing, I’m revisiting the air conditioner possibility. I know Honda is the benchmark for a generator but is there a reason one of my trusty old Champions wouldn’t work with this?

Ken

Mike I have a 16’ Casita with the 6000BTU AC that is factory installed in the lower closet. I have a 700 Watt Costco Propane Generator. Would this work with that set up? If not what’s the minimum size Generator I would need? Thanks.

Jack Gilliam

I had a similar soft start device installed last year. They are well worth the money. The AC no longer thumps when coming on. All you hear is the fan coming on. My 3500 watt champion generator would get a overload on my AC after running for about 15 minutes. This solved the problem.

BudgetRVer

There is obviously more to these $300 units than the $8 starter capacitors, but has MikeS ever tested the “cheapie” soft-start options? I’m curious how *much* better these are at 30X the cost…