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Tips from the experts: Get the most from your air conditioner and heat pump

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with techs from Coleman about RV rooftop air conditioners and heat pumps. They had some great suggestions to get the most out of these units.

Supply chain woes

The first thing I learned was, not surprisingly, they have supply chain issues too. They, like everyone else in the RV business, are having lots of problems getting parts and new air conditioner units. Shipping containers are stuck at loading docks, some holding over 30,000 parts.

One good thing though is that they were told by the RVIA to take care of the after-market folks before the manufacturers. Good news for everyone that already has an RV and sweating out these record heat waves. Not so good for those waiting for their new RV…

SoftStartRV™

SoftStartRV is mentioned a lot on RVtravel.com, but for good reason. Here’s why:

  • Soft start systems slowly ramp up power to the compressor to allow using two AC units with 30 amp shore power,  small generator or even one AC unit from a 20 amp household outlet.
  • Manages the start-up power surge so that it doesn’t hit at once, but gradually, avoiding the huge power spike. Eliminates the “thud” when the compressor kicks in.
  • After-market soft start systems can void the warranty so check with the manufacturer before installing.

Learn more about the amazing (and highly recommended) SoftStartRV here.

Keep it cool with an air conditioner

  • Start early and turn on your AC in the morning.
  • Keep windows closed when humid. Opening windows, even when cool in the morning, can add humidity to the RV that the AC needs to remove along with the heat. Humidity infiltrates everything – wood, clothes, furniture, even styrofoam insulation!
  • Don’t add heat or more humidity. Cook outside when possible and avoid adding more moisture when cooking inside.
  • Point ceiling vents toward the walls. Think of the cool air hitting the walls and circling to the bottom of the room and back up.
  • Rotate the vents away from the temp sensors if RV is so equipped. Cool or warm air blowing on the sensor can provide false readings to the thermostat.
  • The AC times out for about three minutes if stopped and then restarted.
  • Use a high fan setting to avoid AC freeze-up.
  • Use portable fans to rotate air through RV.
  • Set AC fan to ON when AC is cycling on and off. This keeps the air moving through the RV even when AC is off.

Warm up with a heat pump

Be ready when the chill finally descends again. If your unit has a heat pump, it is a great way to take the chill off without using up propane.

  • Heat pumps don’t run when exterior temps are below 40 degrees or above 70 degrees.
  • Heat pumps will turn on propane furnace if the thermostat setting is 5 degrees higher than the ambient temperature in the room.
  • The condenser in the AC/heat pump becomes an evaporator as the coolant literally circles in the coil in the opposite direction.

These few tips have really helped keep my motorhome cool in the summer’s heat and warm when the temps have dropped up north. Good luck, and stay cool!

RELATED:

Beat the heat: How to keep your RV cool this summer

Can your air conditioner beat the heat?

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Montgomery Bonner
4 months ago

To put less stress on the start/run capacitor, leave unit in a non auto mode, with a set fan speed, then the fan runs all the time, and only compressor cycles, less stress on unit. If extremely hot outside, with today’s unit, having to set a lower temperature seems normal now, we have to set ours down to 70F to keep unit cool, and so we don’t have excessive heat.

Tom
4 months ago

I’m not sure that I understand the statement, “Soft start systems generally put in 80V to 120V. Hard start systems put in 400V at one time.” This doesn’t make sense. RVs use 110-120 volts, nothing as low as 80 or as high as 400 volts. This needs to be reviewed, as it leads one to question the reliability of other statements in the article.

Bob p
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

A/C’s use a capacitor to start the compressor that supplies a jolt of electricity to “jump” start the compressor. By the use of transformer the 120V is stepped up to a higher voltage and stored for the next start. The “soft start” systems slowly apply voltage to ramp-up the voltage to slowly start the compressor. Therefore you don’t hear a “thud” every time the compressor starts.