Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Use your RV air conditioner in low-power situations

By Chuck Woodbury

(BELOW: see the video from RV electricity authority Mike Sokol on how to install the SoftStartRV on a Dometic Penguin II air conditioner.)

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 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 need an extension cord it should be of good quality, at least 12 gauge, no longer than 50 feet. The SoftStartRV™ makes this possible.

Here’s what the SoftStartRV lets you do:
• Run two air conditioners (with 2 SoftStartRVs) 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.

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 (with two SoftStartRVs), 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.

Take a couple of minutes to watch this video by RV Electricity expert Mike Sokol for an electrician’s explanation of how the SoftStartRV™ works.

Watch Mike’s Sokol’s video with instructions for installing the SoftStartRV on a Dometic Penguin II air conditioner:


5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephen C
8 months ago

Does this also save wear and tear on your A/C?

8 months ago

Would this allow you to run a third ac on a 50 amp service?I want to add a third ac on my motorhome.

Tony from TN
10 months ago

The peak inrush current on my 15,000 BTU unit dropped from a generator stalling 76 Amps down to 26 Amps when I installed one.

Tony from TN
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony from TN

It also did away with the big noise when the compressor kicks on. Just a soft hum now on startup.

Donald Dalphin
1 year ago

My 40 year career was in HVAC & Refrigeration. Based on the schematic, it appears to be nothing more than a potential relay / start relay set up which I used throughout my career… however, I do see a “start capacitor” already mounted in the unit… I installed a “hard start kit’ on my home AC 20 years ago, and as advertised in this video, it dramatically lowers the in rush current. That bothers me is one of the commenter noted it would shut down his generator after a few minutes, as the compressor run time,, would slowly raise the amperage draw which I found over the years is highly indicative of “solid state” energy savers. Am I wrong ? As I am planning to buy a toy hauler in the next few months, I am very curious

Tony from TN
10 months ago
Reply to  Donald Dalphin

Totally different from the hard start kits we used in the HVAC business. One day when I have nothing else to do I plan to put a couple of current probes on my oscilloscope and see what each winding is doing during startup. I suspect that the device varies the phase shift to the start winding. Interesting thing is that it learns the motor over several starts and it comes down after each start until it gets down to a minimum. On my 15,000 BTU peak inrush went from 76 Amps before installing the device. After installation peak dropped to about 50 on first start, then dropped on each restart until I stopped checking it after 6 starts. 6th start had 26 Amp peak inrush.

Lola E Smith
1 year ago

Already made one comment, this is 2nd. Years ago, A long long time ago (20 about) my husband noticed that 30 amp was only needed to “start” the AC on the camper, but that the running amps were much lower. I sure wish he would have thought of that device back then. What a amazing Idea.

Lola E Smith
1 year ago

What a cool Idea. I am disabled and cannot get on the roof, do you know any legit shops around Sachse, Texas that might do this?

M. davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Lola E Smith

super honest reliable mobile Rv service. Called him on AC unit that had died. Didn’t expect it to be under warranty but they did the leg work and had it replaced in a week. Very pleased with him and his wife for Great response and service. He is based in Princeton. Pretty sure he could install for you. Good luck Mike

David Renner
1 year ago

I am thinking the 13,500 btu Coleman on my popup runs off a dedicated 20 amp breaker. One year, my breaker panel went out on a hot camping trip. Luckily, this popup’s ac unit was plugged directly into this dedicated 20 amp wall outlet inside the camper – it wasn’t hardwired to the panel. I got a hd extension cord, ran it to a 20 amp 110 outlet on the pedestal, and had ac all week (but no other electricity). I’m just not clear how soft start helps on a single ac unit on a 20 amp outlet (most house outlets have 15 amp breakers). Why would it help me? Can it run an ac on a home’s standard 15 amp outlet?

1 year ago
Reply to  David Renner

Did anybody answer this?

Tony from TN
10 months ago
Reply to  David Renner

I think it would be a close call. Just don’t let someone convince you to install a larger breaker without having a professional electrician make sure the wire is rated for the larger breaker. There is a good reason the codes regulate breaker sizing and it involves fire trucks.

1 year ago

Be realistic in deciding. A generator loses 3+ percent of output for each 1,000 feet of altitude. At just 3,000 feet altitude, the generator loses over 10 percent of its output. At 5,000 feet altitude, my 2000 generator wouldn’t even run the microwave.

A 15,000 BTU AC plus the RV inverter can draw more AMPs than a 2200 generator can produce even at low altitude. Reducing output for altitude, it’s uncertain.

A Honda 3000si generator produces only 23.5 AMPs (sea level), which may be barely enough. Some might call a 3000si a “small” generator, but at 150 pounds, that’s too heavy for most people to carry. At high altitude, even a Honda 3000si might not produce enough output.

Lavonne Carns
1 year ago

I think Most RV parks will be very unhappy if you try to run 50 amps rv on their 30 amp plug. Tell me if I am wrong

8 months ago
Reply to  Lavonne Carns

MANY DO IT, simply have to limit to the 3600 watts vs 12000 watts; THE CG POLE CIRCUIT BREAKER does that. Can work just as easy as the 30a popup.

1 year ago

I believe people confuse what the reality is of this product. The running amps will not drop the only change is the inrush or starting amps.

Joe Dobry
10 months ago
Reply to  Jbs

Correct. Also be aware there are different companies with this device. I believe MicroAir is original with the EasyStart.

Chloe Derian
1 year ago

I have wondered about this for some time now but can’t seem to find info for an application on our basement a/c in our 2008 Winnebago Tour DP. Recommendations? Thx

Toni Calzone
1 year ago
Reply to  Chloe Derian

call the coleman folks. they will walk you through how to install the unit and which sift start they prefer. they will know if this one will work or the other is best

1 year ago

I have a new Ford F-150 with the “power on board” inverter accessible from the trucks bed. The “power on board” is rated at 2K watts (max). I have a single domestic 13.5k A/C on the roof AND the trailer is rated at 30AMP max.
Question; Will the “soft start” provide a soft enough start up surge to allow the AC to start and run? I’m talking about at sea level.

mark cieslikowski
1 year ago

I have a 2015 VV on our last trip north I installed the soft start system since I knew we would be staying at a couple of friends houses. We plugged into both of their garage circuits 20 amp. At both locations we kept tripping the breakers. This was what I hoped the soft start would avoid. Things don’t always work like they claim

William Clower
1 year ago

Can the soft start be used with a generator to run home air conditioner?

Tony from TN
10 months ago
Reply to  William Clower

I contacted the manufacturer with this same question 2 years ago and they did not have a suitable device for 230 volts compressors at that time. I have probably same problem, my 8500 watt home backup generator overloads when my 3 ton unit tries to start. I designed a controller that delays the fan motors from starting until the compressor inrush current is over and it is working for me. Thought about building the controllers and selling them but too much liability involved. But you might make a go of it.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

I checked with Airstream online, they did not recommend it. Has anyone received a written & signed “OK” from Dometic in case your A/C is under warranty ?

1 year ago

I believe the article is a bit optimistic. I’m in the process of installing an SS. One 2000 generator will not run a 15,000 btu AC. Plus, at altitudes, you lose 3+ percent of power for every 1,000 foot gain.

To the guy who mentioned screw-on connectors, please give me a link. I’m having the same trouble you had, major pain. I wish SS included those in their kit.

Gary Killcoyne
1 year ago

Sounds more like a paid endorsement. The original works better , has less issues, better support & the latest upgrade is Bluetooth so you can troubleshoot & see what’s happening. MICROAIR Easystart 364. I swear I’m just a customer.

11 months ago
Reply to  Gary Killcoyne

Duh, it is a paid indorsement. This Ad/Article runs here every few months.

1 year ago

Just hooked my soft start up this week. Ran great while at home (off standard house outlets and off my brand new Honda EU2200i. First day on the road, overloaded the Honda in 5 min. After some troubleshooting, the draw, which had been 1350 at the house, is starting at 1600 and creeping up to 1800+ before overloading the generator. If I keep the shroud off the ac, it settles back down to 1500ish and does fine. But with the shroud on, I think something is heating up and drawing too much power? It’s about 80deg outside. Any ideas? (Oh, btw, I have probly run the ac for all of 10 hours EVER. Bought the camper last year, and just running ac for the first time now)

1 year ago

I installed two on the motor home, one on the toy box. So far AOK.
EXCEPTION – One unit gave me trouble because of the “Crimp” style splice caps. Replaced those with “Screw-on” type, problem solved. I knew better than to use the crimp types from my working days but thought maybe things had improved, they haven’t. Our factory started sending the crimp-on types with the equipment. They caused UNENDING problems. We trashed them and returned to screw-on type.
Word to the Wise.

Marcus Tibesar
1 year ago

This is yet another upgrade that should be already installed in all new RVs. Why don’t the RV air conditioning manufacturers include these in all their A/Cs? Can’t wait for the European DC 12-volt units to take over

1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Tibesar

Coleman already has started shipping A/C units that operate within the parameters of the easy start.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.