Can You Run an RV Air Conditioner on 30 Amp?

Ever wondered if you can run an RV air conditioner on 30 amp? I have, and I've written an entire article exploring the question.

If you are a camper living in an RV, then you already know that air conditioners are a must during hot summer days. We all know that an AC is an appliance that draws more power than any other appliance. But, with RVs’ strict capacity limits, it must be hard to use your AC with other power-hungry appliances. It may lead you to ask, can you run an RV air conditioner on 30 amp?

In short, yes. You can run your air conditioners on 30 amp as long as you avoid using any other appliances in your RV. Some newer models are efficient enough to run them, whereas some may have trouble running both ACs on 30 amps. So, it is better to consider the usual power the ACs draw because excessive power use could lead to a safety hazard.

However, these are not all the facts about RV air conditioners. There is more! Luckily, we have gathered some knowledge for plugging in RV air conditioners on 30 amps. So, let’s dig deeper and find out!

Is it possible to run an RV air conditioners on 30 amp?

Generally, an RV can run its air conditioner smoothly at about 15 to 20 amps. But, this only applies if it is run by following some guidelines. If it has a circuit of 30 amps, it may not run more than one air conditioner.

You can use a 30 amp circuit for both of your ACs in your RV, but there’s a catch! It allows you to do so as long as you refrain from using any other electrical appliance.

The minute you plug your RV air conditioner into a circuit of 15 or 30 amps, it will most likely switch off the other devices on it. It automatically turns the others off to avoid tripping the circuit breaker.

A word of advice is that older RV models have larger air conditioning units installed. Therefore, if you plan to buy an older model, it is less likely that both of your RV air conditioners will run on 30 amps.

The EMS (Energy Management System)

Every RV comes with an automatic system to control the power used by the appliances. The energy management system immediately shuts off other electrical appliances in use whenever an air conditioner is running.

The system takes care of the use of appliances’ power by determining the stored energy available in your RV.

Despite it posing some risk, some folks often upgrade the electrical systems on their RVs to use a separate 15-amp holder. Now, if they wish, they can plug their RV air conditioners into a 15-amp circuit.

However, keep in mind that it is not always a great idea. Because sometimes, the installation of the modified electrical system may go wrong. As a result, you might likely face some safety hazards, like shock, personal injury, fire, or even the death of the passengers.

Here’s a full video explaining everything you need to know about the EMS:

YouTube video

If the video above doesn’t work, click here.

How many amps does an average RV air conditioner need?

Firstly, an average AC requires about 12 amps to 16 amps. However, that isn’t the accurate value.

The operating mode and the BTU of an RV can determine the exact amp rate. Generally, an RV air conditioner with a 15,000 BTU requires about 12.5 amps to 13 amps. A 13,000 BTU, on the other hand, will require roughly 12 amps.

Hence, you have to check the rating depending on the BTU and the mode that your RV air conditioner operates in.

Secondly, the capacity limit of every RV is 30 amps or 50 amps. A good guess is that it will be a risk to exceed the given capacity limit of any RV. A large RV of 35 feet will run on 50 amps smoothly with many appliances in use, whereas a smaller one may run on 30 amps.

So, if your RV happens to be a class A or fifth wheel large RV, it will most likely require a 50 amp capacity.

Moreover, the cooling and heating modes of your RV air conditioner may also vary depending on the amp rating. For instance, an AC of 15,000 BTU in cooling mode will draw fewer amps while it draws more amps in heating mode. Therefore, it is crucial to know how much energy your RV air conditioner draws when it is running. There might be possible tripping of the circuit breaker if somehow the amp-rating limit is exceeded.

What size generator do you need to run an RV AC?

The wattage required to run the generator should always be more than the power the air conditioner requires in your RV.

Most generators installed on RVs normally carry a range of 2000 to 4000 watts. If you wish to run your air conditioner on it, you will need a generator that has about 3000 watts or even more, depending on your power rating.

Many factories make generators built especially for campers and RVs. In fact, some models even come with an already installed generator. I’ve written an article on the 5 best generators for your RV.

Now, the power rate of an air conditioner varies depending on the size of its BTU. To get a clearer picture, here is a chart of how power works for an AC:

Air conditioner BTUWatts to start upWatts to run
50001100 – 1300 Watts300 – 450 Watts
70001600 – 1800 Watts500 – 650 Watts
10,0001900 – 2050 Watts600 – 750 Watts
13,5002700 – 2900 Watts1000 – 1300 Watts
15,0003200 – 3500 Watts1200 – 1700 Watts

Now you know how much power your air conditioner normally uses while it is running in your RV. From this chart of requirements, you can determine what kind of generator you will need to install on your RV to run your AC.

Final thoughts

To wrap it all up, as long as you only use your ACs occasionally, you can run them safely by plugging them into a 30 amp circuit. However, you must keep an eye on the power the ACs draw in your RV and avoid exceeding the limit because safety comes first.

So, if you were wondering, can you run your RV air conditioner on 30 amp, I believe this article covers all the facts for you to stay cool in this tempting weather. As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Default image
Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.