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Use your RV air conditioner in low-power situations

By Chuck Woodbury
PUBLISHER

(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 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 (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.

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.

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:

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Lola E Smith
26 days 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
26 days 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
25 days ago
Reply to  Lola E Smith

https://ryansrvrepair.com/
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 month 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?

Dave
2 months 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
2 months 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

Jbs
2 months 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.

Chloe Derian
2 months 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

Florida-Traveler
2 months 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
3 months 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
3 months ago

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

Donald N Wright
3 months 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 ?

Dave
3 months 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
4 months 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.

Peyton
4 months 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)

Richard
4 months 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
4 months 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

bisonwings
1 month ago
Reply to  Marcus Tibesar

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

Marcus Tibesar
4 months ago

Btw it’s not true you can’t run your RV air conditioning off of 15amp house circuit. I do it all the time running our Dometic ac off of exterior house outlets.

Victoria
4 months ago

We have two Soft Starts and have been on the phone with tech support for hours (literally) at various times the past month. They can’t figure out and admittedly had to do more research as to why we can’t run our two a/c’s at campgrounds with 30 amps nor with our 3500w generator. Even with everything turned off except the soft starts, the breaker is kicked in minutes. We have two 15kw units on our 2020 Montana.
Honestly, I hate the things because it’s so blame hot and it’s nothing but trouble trying to see if they’ll work at each location.
The tech on the phone went through every step with my husband to make sure they were hooked up correctly (they were.) Still no answer in sight and the last tech person hasn’t returned with an answer.
We do know some of the older campgrounds have 30 amp that don’t actually throw 30 amps but that’s never mentioned and doesn’t explain why they don’t work with the generator.
Now we’re waiting to get the amps our a/c’s actually use to see if that’s it.

Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Victoria

I would check the draw on you RV with every breaker turned off but the main breaker, should be 0 amps Then turn one AC breaker on start the AC and check the Ampere draw and note the draw, then turn off the first AC and do the same to the 2nd AC noting the ampere draw, the combined draw should not exceed the 30 amp rating or 3600 watts. Turn on only the AC breakers and try starting one then the other. Just a note, My 60amp converter/charger draws 1000 watts or approximately 8 amps. If you are using lights and charging your batteries while plugged in you need to figure this into your total Amperes/Watts. Refer on electric 300watts/2.5 amps, water heater 1440 watts/12 amps. Run whatever you can on gas to limit you electrical draw.

Dave
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria

I’m having the same problem. I almost wish I had never purchased my SS. I’m tired of climbing up on the RV roof. I have a Montana too.

Richard Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Victoria

This watts where wattage comes from. I would wire the second unit to a line plug and not overload the 15 amp. You might only have one strong 30 amp, near the stove. As well, unplug the microwave till you need it. It’s on the same plug.

Joe White
4 months ago

installed (self) on our camper. Works great with our 2K 1.6K running Etrailer inverter!

Larry E
5 months ago

I installed soft start based on many reviews that a 15kw air conditioner would work with a 2000 watt inv. generator. Mine only ran for 2-4 min then shuts down (Honda 2000i). Contacted soft start. they say you need a minimum of 2200W, a 2K won’t work. I then tried a 2200W Generac, lasted less than a minute. Any thoughts?

Joe White
4 months ago
Reply to  Larry E

Gee not sure, ours, the AC, ran just fine with our E-trailer 2000K 1600K running generator.