As the single largest power draw on most RVs, air conditioners pull a lot of juice, especially when they first start up. While running an AC unit might not exceed the capabilities of a small generator or shore power connection, the initial power spike when the compressor comes on is where we need the best soft start for RV AC to come to the rescue.
Many RVers want to be able to run their RV’s air conditioner off a small portable generator. After all, boondocking is so awesome, even in the summer! Or maybe they’re driveway surfing (“moochdocking”) at a friend’s house with only a 15-amp connection.
Owners of larger rigs like ours with two air conditioners would love to have the ability to run both units simultaneously off a 30-amp connection since that’s sometimes all that’s available.
An RV AC soft start is helpful for both small generators and limited shore power situations. Our two air conditioners combined won’t exceed a total draw of 30 amps. But the power spike of trying to start them is very likely to trip the circuit breaker. Since we installed the best soft start unit for RV AC in each of our air conditioners, we’ve solved the problem.
So, let’s take a look at what a soft start is and how it works, and why we love ours so much.
- 1) What Is a Soft Start & Why Would I Need One?
- 2) What’s the Best Soft Start for RV AC?
- 3) With the EasyStart 364 Can I Run Two RV Air Conditioners On a 30-amp Connection?
- 4) Can I Run an RV Air Conditioner On a Portable Generator Using the EasyStart 364?
- 5) Can I Run My RV AC While Running Other Appliances at the Same Time?
- 6) Why Is the Micro-Air EasyStart the Best Soft Start for RV AC?
- 7) Can I Install the Micro-Air EasyStart Myself?
- 8) What Is the Micro-Air EasyTouch RV Thermostat?
- 9) How the Micro-Air EasyStart Soft Start Has Changed Our RVing Experience
What Is a Soft Start & Why Would I Need One?
As mentioned, high amperage (current) is usually required to start RV AC compressors, which is why small portable generators often don’t work to power your AC. While you might have a generator powerful enough to RUN your AC, all too frequently they just can’t handle the start-up spike required to start the air conditioner’s compressor.
The startup of a motor, like for an air conditioner compressor, requires an inrush of current – often two to five times the normal running current – to kickstart rotation. The power required is what’s commonly known as “locked-rotor amperage.”
But a soft start can reduce those high power requirements by 65% to 75%. This is sufficient to not only allow you to run a single air conditioner from a small portable generator, or a 15- or 20-amp amp household outlet, but it also allows guys like us to run our two AC units on a 30-amp connection without tripping the breaker.
Why would you need one? Well, for one thing, you’d need one to avoid that startup power surge that would trip the breaker or overpower your small generator.
In addition to allowing you to run a single AC unit off of a small portable genny or 15/20-amp connection, or to run two AC units while connected to 30-amp shore power, a soft start will also reduce the noise associated with the start-up of the compressor, and allow your AC unit to ramp up smoothly.
It can also allow you to run your air conditioner through an inverter or alternate power source, as the reduced startup current demand can often be handled by smaller inverters (if you’re running your AC off your RV’s battery bank).
What’s the Best Soft Start for RV AC?
In our opinion, the best soft start for RV AC is hands down, the MicroAir EasyStart. And that’s why we’ve got two (one for each AC unit).
Micro-Air has been designing AC control units for marine and RV applications for many years. Their EasyStart soft start module was specifically created to use lower amperage power sources to start and run air conditioners when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to work.
In addition, the ability of the EasyStart modules to control the amount of energy used means we can often several other appliances at the same time. Of course, we don’t ever want to exceed the capacity of the power pedestal we’re connected to. But that’s exactly what the EasyStart helps us do.
Because they’re designed for use on single-phase motors, AC compressors can easily be run by generators, inverters, or on limited shore power.
We think the EasyStart is the best solution for allowing the operation of an air conditioner compressor on a generator, inverter, or limited utility power. Without it, the RV AC wouldn’t be able to function in as many places. For example, on a very hot summer day, we’d be forced to find a 50-amp hook-up, or run our big onboard generator endlessly.
With the EasyStart 364 Can I Run Two RV Air Conditioners On a 30-amp Connection?
Absolutely! And we say this from experience.
Our motorhome has two 15,000 BTU air conditioners and we’ve camped in the dog days of summer for nearly 20 years. We appreciate the fact that our EasyStart 364 modules (one on each AC unit) allow us to run BOTH of those AC units when necessary – at the same time. There are some caveats in certain circumstances, such as very old infrastructure at the RV park. But our EasyStarts give us many more options for keeping our cool.
Can I Run an RV Air Conditioner On a Portable Generator Using the EasyStart 364?
Yes. There are some pretty great little inverter generators on the market that won’t start your AC on their own because of the current spike that necessarily occurs when the compressor starts up.
But with a MicroAir EasyStart 364, that spike is stepped down by 65% to 75%, making it possible to start and run your AC using your small portable generator.
Can I Run My RV AC While Running Other Appliances at the Same Time?
Yes, you can absolutely run your RV AC plus other appliances at the same time. And we can say this from experience as well because we’ve done it ourselves. But again, keep in mind, that there are limits. When we’ve been caught in some serious heat with only a 30-amp connection, we’ll make other choices to allow us to allot all available power to the AC units.
For example, we’ll leave our batteries charging off solar, and we’ll run our water heater off propane (although with our awesome new Truma AquaGo, it only runs on propane anyway). We’ll also skew towards grilling instead of cooking with the microwave. Better yet, when it’s that hot, cold meals are the order of the day. Salad anyone?
Why Is the Micro-Air EasyStart the Best Soft Start for RV AC?
In our opinion, the Micro-Air EasyStart is the best soft start for RV AC for a number of important reasons. We’ll lay them out for you here:
- The Micro-Air EasyStart has numerous specialized fault checks not found in any other soft starter to provide further protection for your RV air conditioner’s compressor.
- It includes a water-resistant and UV-protected enclosure with an integrated mounting flange, making it easy to install and ensuring that it will last a long time.
- The Micro-Air EasyStart is the original AC soft starter unit with a huge base of satisfied customers.
- It was designed and is manufactured in the U.S.A.
- All models are UL Approved.
- They offer both high- & low-power protection for your RV’s AC units.
- The superior surge reduction of the EasyStart is a benefit in high heat, humidity, and/or elevation situations.
- Micro-Air extends warranty protection to include the A/C compressor (for all A/C units 6 years old and newer).
- The EasyStart has detailed diagnostic warning lights to assist with troubleshooting, should it be needed).
- They offer a model with Bluetooth-enabled diagnostics so troubleshooting can be completed using a smart device (without the need to get up on the roof!).
- Micro-Air provides US-based support (phone support during the week, email support on weekends) directly from the engineers who designed the EasyStart in the U.S.
Can I Install the Micro-Air EasyStart Myself?
Yes you can… and we did… and we’ll show you how!
Micro-Air sells a convenient installation kit for wiring an RV’s rooftop AC. We bought the kits with our Micro-Air EasyStart units, and we had great success with the installation. The steps are laid out in the post we just linked to, and we even made a video for those who prefer to learn visually:
We recommend buying your Micro-Air EasyStart soft start modules directly from the factory. Be sure to use the code “RVGEEKS” to SAVE $25 when you do. The discount applies to each one you buy, so you can save $50 or even $75 if you have two or three air conditioners.
Run your A/C from a small, portable generator OR run two A/C units on a 30-amp connection. By reducing the start-up current needed to get your A/C compressor running, the EasyStart 364 keeps you...Show More
Run your A/C from a small, portable generator OR run two A/C units on a 30-amp connection. By reducing the start-up current needed to get your A/C compressor running, the EasyStart 364 keeps you cool!
Watch our EasyStart installation video
Get $25 off each Micro-Air EasyStart 364 you buy factory direct using the code listed here.Show Less
What Is the Micro-Air EasyTouch RV Thermostat?
The Micro-Air EasyTouch is a programmable wall thermostat that’s WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled. It has a color touch screen that provides clear, easy-to-read controls for your RV’s HVAC systems. And, it can be operated from a smartphone or tablet when onboard the RV (using Bluetooth) or wherever cell service or WiFi is available (as long as the EasyTouch has an internet connection available to it).
Compatible with both Android and Apple devices, the app for the EasyTouch RV thermostat gives you complete power over the climate control in your RV from anywhere in the world. We always get a kick when we turn up the heat on the RV when we’re on our way home late on a cold night!
See our post on the Micro-Air EasyTouch for more details, or listen as John explains more about the EasyTouch RV thermostat, including the reasons why we decided to install it:
If the Micro-Air EasyTouch RV thermostat interests you, we’ve got a coupon for this great product as well.
Use the code “ETRVGEEKS” to get $15 off:
Looking to add some "smart home" features to your RV? How about a new color touchscreen, programmable thermostat? Even better, how about one that allows you to control it (even remotely) using a...Show More
Looking to add some "smart home" features to your RV? How about a new color touchscreen, programmable thermostat? Even better, how about one that allows you to control it (even remotely) using a smartphone or tablet? That's what the Micro-Air Easy Touch RV thermostat does.
Save $15 on each EasyTouch RV Thermostat when you buy direct from Micro-Air.Show Less
How the Micro-Air EasyStart Soft Start Has Changed Our RVing Experience
Our Micro-Air EasyStart soft starts have allowed us to stay cool no matter where we are. This includes being connected to a 30-amp shore power feed. And when we’re out in the middle of the desert boondocking, it takes the load off our generator by reducing those big start-up spikes.
Thanks to our EasyStart soft starts, we can power our two AC units easily, allowing us to stay cool no matter the ambient temperature or humidity. We had an extreme example of that last summer. We were staying in British Columbia, Canada where the summers are usually gorgeous and comfortable.
We had no concern about staying on a 30-amp campsite, since it rarely gets hot enough there to need AC at all, let alone both of them. But you may have heard about the absolutely incredible heatwave that hit Western Canada in late June, 2021. It made international news when the town of Lytton, BC hit a staggering 121 degrees Fahrenheit! That’s 4 degrees higher than the highest ever recorded… in LAS VEGAS!!
We weren’t that far from Lytton when the 3-day “heat dome” hit, reaching a scorching 113 F on our campsite! With only a 30-amp hook-up! If not for our Micro-Air East Start soft start units, we would have baked like a cake. But it was amazingly manageable, and we survived un-baked.
The Micro-Air EasyStart soft start is a game-changer for anyone who travels in summer, because of the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can keep cool with ease wherever you are (and you can sleep at night no matter how hot and humid it may be!).
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Tuesday 30th of August 2022
Have you ever done a comparison of overall power usage when using this soft start? If it drops overall consumption might ir be possible to run an AC from a good sized solar generator or solar powered LFP battery?
Wednesday 31st of August 2022
Hi Chris. No... we haven't done a comparison like that. But that's partly because the EasyStart doesn't reduce the power consumption of the air conditioner. It just reduces the "locked rotor amperage" that's required to get the air conditioner compressor started up. That surge that's normally required is what can make it impossible to run a single AC unit when using a smaller, portable generator. And it can prevent you from being able to run 2 AC units when on a 30-amp connection (if one AC is already running when the second AC tries to start up). Other than that, power consumption is identical.
Friday 12th of August 2022
At this time, have you done any review or opinion on the new SoftStart Up “Plug and Play”?
Friday 12th of August 2022
Hi Randy. While we have heard of it, we have no experience or detailed knowledge about it, so no opinion at this point. Sorry we're not of more help on this one.
Thursday 21st of July 2022
We have a 30ft 5th wheel and if we add this would it be able to be run off a 2200 watt Honda generator? We have only one air conditioner system on our RV.
Thursday 21st of July 2022
Hey Steve. A 2,200W Honda generator likely has a continuous run output of only about 1,800W (the 2,200W rating is usually the short-term surge capacity it can handle... hate that inverter and generator manufacturers are allowed to market them based on surge!). But with only a single A/C unit (likely 13,500BTU), and being cognizant not to run many (if any) other 120V AC loads (no electric water heater, be aware of your battery charger state, and force fridge over to propane so it's not pulling on 120V), you should be OK. The EasyStart should keep the start-up surge from the compressor down well below the 2,200W surge capability of the generator, and typically should settle back down to pulling around 1,200-1,500W while running steadily. So, again, assuming you manage your other 120V AC loads, you should be good (and since staying cool is usually the priority, everything else can be sacrificed, right?! 😝)
Monday 13th of June 2022
Can this soft start be used on a window unit, 10,000 BTU.
Monday 13th of June 2022
Hi George. Not that we're aware of, but you can reach out to Micro-Air and ask them... they'd be the ones to know.
Sunday 24th of April 2022
We have a 26 ft Class C, one air conditioner. My dealer says I don't need one of these. We have had more problems with out generator not working above 98 F, or too many draws on the poles in a camp, but we cannot run the air conditioner with a toaster or coffee pot. Does the Easy Start just temper the air conditioner start up, or does it maintain a lower voltage on the air conditioner while it runs?
Monday 25th of April 2022
Yes, whatever is wrong with your generator it should be fixed. The whole idea is to run your AC off a 2000-watt generator or a 15 or 20-amp ac circuit. The easy way to tell if you have one installed already is to plug RV into a 20 amp house circuit. Have nothing else using energy from that circuit. Start your AC and see if it will run for 15 without house breaker tripping.. If it starts and runs you have one already installed.
If the breaker trips you need to install an easy start to run your AC off from 2000 watt generator. I would agree with the part where dealers say you don't need an easy start.
I wonder why the generator is getting hot. Filter plugged, Air blocked. When it came out it worked. My advice is any time you have dealing with a dealer or Politician count your fingers. They have a vested interest. Hey, I have been screwed by the best not anymore.