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.

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.

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198 Comments
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John Mooney
11 days ago

I installed the soft start on my Dometic 15,000 BTU heat pump. It worked fine for a few months. The RV sat on the driveway through a heat wave (120 in Palm Springs) and after that the AC would only blow room temperature air. Not sure if the intense heat caused a problem with the Soft Start or the unit itself. Having an RV Tech. diagnose today. Since the Dometic units are pretty much disposable (This is the second one I’ve had fail in three years) I’m guessing the unit will have to be replaced. Trying to decide if I should install the soft start (assuming it is not the problem) in the new unit… Do you know if exposure to the heat could cause an issue with the soft start?

Larry & Bev Lee
1 month ago

Hello I’m so happy to be able to post here today. I in fact added this product to our new 2020 Cherokee 24js. I had an issue that my 3400w Champion would not run the A/C, it would over load instantly. We installed the unit, it only took 2 try’s well no one said i was an electrician. We just had to put the Red wire back on the starter. Ok with that said IT WORKS great. Ran the A/C on high ran the TV,lights an Microwave all at the same time. Thank you folks great product is performed as advertised

R Beck
1 month ago

Will a Soft Start run a single
15000 BTU unit on a 30 AMP Service

Mikey
1 month ago

I have two AC units, am I needing to buy a SoftstartRV for each unit?

Greg
1 month ago

Why are you recommending the Honda 2200? The link you provided shows that unit has 15 amp outlets, the softstart needs 20 (for a single AC). Why not the Generac gp3000i. ? It has 20amp output and is less expensive as well.

Delbert Haley
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

That’s my question why not the gp3000 genetac. Cost is less and is rated top of the generators.

DOUGLAS WASHBURN
1 month ago

So where do you install this at?

BadWolfe
1 month ago

It goes into your A/C unit that sits on top of your RV roof. You remove the cover and you will see the components that make up the air conditioner. This unit installs right beside them and then you cover it all back up again with the cover.

Matt Kunkel
1 month ago

So you can run 2 AC units on a 30 amp with these as I understand. Can you run 3 AC units (2×15,000 1×13,500)with 3 of these on a 50 amp service?

steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt Kunkel

My RV has 2 15K and one 13.5K and it will run all three on 50 amp without the softstart units.

Matt Kunkel
1 month ago
Reply to  steve

Ya I figured this out shortly after I made this comment. I’m halfway new in the RV world. What we have now is a 21′ single axle with 30 amp service that has one ac unit.

Steve Chubb
1 month ago

Chuck,
Soft Start product sounds great and I am really interested. However reading recent reviews on Amazon there are several customers, of Soft Start, that were not able to get Soft Start customer service to respond to their calls. If I purchase the Soft Start product Customer Service for me “is the product”. Thoughts or insights?? Thank you.

BadWolfe
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Chubb

Steve, I had the opposite experience. I was able to contact customer support quickly. I even scheduled the time to work through the installation. You need to know that I am very slow and methodical BEFORE I ever make a step in an installation, so I checked with them and double checked with them. They answered the phone and were extremely supportive each and every time I called. Just call SoftStart tech support: Danny (915) 235-6056.

David Tatlitug
14 days ago
Reply to  BadWolfe

This same product was just used in my home during the install of my new whole house unit. The tech said it makes the compressor last long,

Walter Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Chubb

Best customer service from a tech and purchase point of view. I had small issues that we resolved entirely by the company. These folks provide excellent effort in problem solving and support. Ask for Danny.

Walter Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Jones

Third consecutive day in a row. I’m actually running my ac on 20 amp plug at brother-in-laws house. Also during a boondockerswelcome excursion late last week the same thing. Low power on 20 amp breaker with a 15 amp adapter. No problem. This is a game changer in how we decide where to go nowadays.

Steve Chubb
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Chubb

Thank you folks for the response. I will be contacting Soft Start about my situation. I have a 2018 Newmar with two Dometic Air Conditioners with Heat Pumps. I haven’t seen anything concerning air conditioners with heat pumps. Again thank you for the feedback

Darvin Sparks
6 days ago
Reply to  Steve Chubb

Heat pumps are essentially the same as straight A/C units – there’s just some additional internal valves to reverse the coolant flow. Same compressor load in either mode of operation so the Soft Start should work fine.

Henry Fusco
1 month ago

I have 4 6volt batteries and a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter. Has anyone used their inverter only?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  Henry Fusco

I’m getting ready to do that exact experiment next week. Stand By for a really interesting demonstration.

Mikey
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I can’t wait to see what it reveals. 🙂

Bruce Brownell
1 month ago

can I get this shipped to Canada? I was trying to order one and there doesn’t seem to be any way to enter a Canadian address.

Malakie
1 month ago

In my 1998 Fourwinds Windsport, I ran two AC’s on 30 amp by basically doing exactly this but manually. My unit had a front and a back thermostat. When I would first power them up, I just turned on one first then the other. I don’t think I ever had issue where they both attempt to start at the exact same time being the temps would change at different paces between the front and the rear of the RV. Had it happened, it just would not have started until it tried to cycle again. The ONLY time it needs that power is during startup as the article says.. Once the unit is running, the power draw drops dramatically.

During the day, we just shut down one unit and closed the master bedroom area. At night, we power both on but they run a lot less of course. If on Genset, we ran both as it supplied plenty of 50 amp power.

Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Malakie

If those are the original A/C’s those don’t pull as much amperage as the newer ones do to them being low pressure as the new ones now are high pressure. So that’s probably why you’re getting away with it

Norris
1 month ago

What is the difference between the Micro-Air and the Soft Start RV? From what I can figure, they are virtually identical.

Christopher Schiel
1 month ago
Reply to  Norris

I know that Soft Start Rv has one more wire, so there must be one. That said, from what I have read, Micro-Air has live tech support by calling and SoftStartRV you have to enter a ticket online and wait for them to call you back. No phone number.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  Norris

I’ve not done a full round of experiments with the Micro-Air unit yet, but the main difference seems to be that the Micro-Air Easy Start needs you to cycle the air conditioner 5 times to learn its starting characteristics, while the SoftStartRV has a built-in factory current envelope ramp. That’s the major difference that I’ve seen so far.

Richard DeAgazio
1 month ago

I called carrier and they said my Mach has this feature built in. Is that true. It may be redundant. 2013 model

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago

I’m not sure. If Carrier will send me one I’ll be glad to put it on the lift and do a quick HRDL test. I won’t even have to open the hood.

Steve Rose
1 month ago

Hi Mike and all ,
Based in South Africa.
Just bought my first RV and starting my first revamp and looking to upgrade my solar system, which will be a 5000w inverter system, will this Soft Start work directly off the solar system.

Cheers
Steve

PS will these guys ship to SA.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Rose

What voltage do you have there? I’m not sure about shipping to South Africa, but we can ask.

Steve Rose
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

We work off a 220 but In the RV I have the option of 12v ,24v and the solar.
I contacted a few outdoor stores, most had never heard of soft-start ,LOL
its going to great expensive shipping it in , but the best is worth it.
Cheers

Jan van Harssel
2 months ago

Interesting information. I have gone without AC for years while keeping my small class A stored at home in between trips. All this got me thinking.. if it takes a 70% surge just to get the AC to start running.. can I start the AC with the onboard generator and, once it is running (on low) keep it going on household power (extension cord)?

Alan Wolfe
2 months ago

That is an interesting question. You probably have at least a 3,000 watt generator on your small Class A. I understand that the automatic transfer switches (like mine) have a sensor priority where, if two power sources are available, The generator power source wins.
So in theory, you could start the A/C with your generator, be plugged into Shorepower, then turn off your generator.
I really have no idea on what the effects would be any electronics running (such as an A/C unit).
Mike? Any advice?

Darvin Sparks
6 days ago

Highly unlikely this will work in the long term unless you plan to keep the A/C unit running continuously 24/7 after it starts including all night long. You would have to set the thermostat to it’s lowest setting to get that to happen and even then the system might cycle. The current surge occurs every time the compressor starts, not just the first time.

Last edited 6 days ago by Darvin Sparks
Richard DeAgazio
2 months ago

I have a Coleman Mach 8 AC Heat & pump. I am told that it already has 3 capacitors and I do not need the Soft Start. Coleman said if I install it, it is redundant and may cause a fire. Comment?

Alan Wolfe
2 months ago

Call Dan at SoftStart – (915) 235-6056. He has the information you are looking for.

BadWolfe
2 months ago

Comment on a brand new installation of the SoftStart.
Wow was this simple. I routed the wires into the “box” that houses and protects the Run capacitor. Connected the wires, just like the instructions direct. Went into the RV and turned the main breaker back on, and started up the A/C.
Honestly a simple and easy installation.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  BadWolfe

Yes it is. And I used WAGO connectors for the hookup so I can easily swap back and forth between the SoftStartRV and stock starting capacitors. I love those WAGO connectors compared to wire nuts.

Alan Wolfe
2 months ago

Question about the SoftStart. Mike, if we have the SoftStart installed on our A/C unit, I am hearing that we are NOT able to utilize our portable 30amp Surge Protector that we plug into the Power post. Have you found this to be true? (note: I just installed my new SoftStart but have not traveled with it yet.)

Alan Wolfe
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan Wolfe

Note: I am running a test right now with my 30 amp surge protector connected to 30 amp shore power pole. So far the A/C with the newly installed SoftStart is working. I will continue to monitor it but it is currently looking like the “advice” I heard is not correct.

Joe White
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan Wolfe

Great Question Alan. I don’t think I would have thought of it before I buy & install mine. Thanks for posting this and I hope all goes well during your testing process.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Wolfe

That’s not true. In fact, a SoftStartRV unit will reduce the voltage drop considerably when the compressor is starting, which should reduce any Advanced/EMS surge protector shutdowns.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Wolfe

I don’t think that’s true. However, I can easily run a few experiments later this month while doing my Hughes Autoformer test and try out several EMS/Advanced surge protectors from Progressive, SurgeGuard and Hughes Power Watchdog. I’m sure that a SoftStartRV won’t affect the operation of any surge protector, but I’m willing to do a bench experiment.

Danny
2 months ago

I have 2 15000 BTU airconditioners on my 5th wheel Will the soft start work with that in my 2000 what on the generator

Dennis Lahr
2 months ago

Will it run a 15k BTU A/C off a 2350 watt genny?

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Lahr

Yes, I’m using it to run my Penguin II 15K BTU air conditioner from a Honda EU2200i generator and it works great.

Danny
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Will it run to air conditioners

Capt. Jeff Miskin
2 months ago
Reply to  Danny

I had soft starts on my sailing catamaran and my Honda EU 2000 ran both my 12KW and a 6KW marine A/C

Leonard Rempel
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Great! Thanks so much for the information, and of course your electrical information. Very helpful!