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MattGlamperGear
Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthorneUpdated: September 1, 2023

Imagine a world where your RV air conditioner runs smoothly, quietly, and efficiently without causing power spikes or strain on your electrical system. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, this dream can become a reality with the help of an RV air conditioner soft starter.

To help you better understand how an RV AC soft start works, we’ll take a deep dive into the benefits of these innovative devices and how they can revolutionize your RVing experience. So buckle up and get ready to unlock the potential of your RV air conditioner with an RV air conditioner soft starter.

Understanding RV air conditioner soft starters.

As RVers, we know how crucial air conditioning can be during those sweltering summer days. However, the power drawn from an RV air conditioner’s compressor can cause challenges, especially when using smaller generators or limited power sources.

That’s where RV air conditioner soft starters come in. These nifty devices reduce the initial power draw of the compressor, making it possible to run your RV A/C on smaller generators or limited power sources without causing any damage to the electrical system.

If you have ever camped somewhere where it is scorching, you know one of the first things you get going is your RV’s air conditioner.

The principle behind soft starters.

But how does a soft starter work? Soft starters reduce the power surge when the compressor starts up. They connect directly to the compressor motor. They use a four-step, self-optimizing start ramp sequence that keeps the startup current at the lowest possible level.

As a result, the power gradually increases until the compressor runs. This provides a smooth start and reducing the peak current by 50 to 70% or more. This helps eliminate the clunking noise when turning on the RV air conditioner and reduces the strain on your electrical system, leading to improved efficiency and reduced noise.

We’ll get into it more quickly, but this is important when you’re on limited utility power.

Types of RV air conditioner soft starters.

Now that you know how soft starters work, let’s explore the options available for RV air conditioners. The two most common are the MicroAir EasyStart and SoftStartRV. Both of these devices are designed to help reduce the start current of your RV air conditioner’s compressor, with the EasyStart providing up to 65-75% start current reduction.

On the other hand, SoftStartRV is a more affordable option that can cut the startup power demand of the RV’s compressor by as much as 70%. Ultimately, the choice between these options will depend on your preferences, budget, and your RV’s air conditioning system needs.

Advantages of using soft starters in your RV.

RV AC Soft Starters

There are several benefits to using soft starters in your RV air conditioning system. These devices enhance efficiency, reduce noise, allow for compatibility with smaller generators, and extend the lifespan of your electrical components.

We’ll discuss these advantages in more detail and how they contribute to a more comfortable and enjoyable RVing experience.

Enhanced efficiency and reduced noise.

By reducing the power spike needed to start the A/C compressor, soft starters help improve the overall efficiency of your RV air conditioner. This means that your air conditioner will use less energy while still providing the same level of cooling, ultimately saving you money on fuel or electricity costs.

Additionally, the lower current draw during startup leads to less noise, allowing you to enjoy a more peaceful and quiet RV experience. Say goodbye to those annoying clunking noises and trailer shaking when your air conditioner kicks on.

Compatibility with smaller generators and limited power sources.

One of the most significant advantages of using soft starters in your RV air conditioning system is their compatibility with smaller generators and limited power sources. With a soft starter installed, you can power your RV air conditioner with a small portable inverter generator, making it perfect for boondocking or camping without hookups.

For example, we have a 2,000-watt generator we keep with us on trips. Our generator can provide up to 16 amps. Since our air conditioner draws around 13 amps, we should be good, right? Not exactly. It can double those amps briefly when it starts up, drawing up to 26 amps. Without a soft starter, our generator’s breaker would flip every time.

You can even run two RV air conditioners on a 30-amp connection, allowing you to stay cool and comfortable even when you’re off the grid. No more worrying about overloading your generator or being limited by the available power sources.

Extending the lifespan of electrical components.

Soft starters can help extend the lifespan of your RV’s electrical components by reducing wear and tear. By limiting the initial inrush of current and reducing mechanical shock during startup, soft starters can decrease the strain on your electrical system and ultimately prolong the life of your air conditioner’s compressor and other electrical components.

This means fewer costly repairs and replacements in the long run, saving you time, money, and headaches.

Top soft starter options for RV air conditioners.

Now that we’ve covered the advantages of soft starters in your RV, let’s dive into the top options available: MicroAir EasyStart and SoftStartRV. Both of these soft starters come with their unique features and benefits, so it’s essential to choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

In the following sections, we’ll provide an in-depth overview of each option to help you make an informed decision.

MicroAir EasyStart.

The MicroAir EasyStart is popular among RVers due to its impressive features and benefits. This soft starter is designed to reduce the power draw of your air conditioner’s compressor by 25-35% compared to its typical power draw. The EasyStart has specialized fault checks, water- and UV resistance, and side-angled flag connectors for tight spaces.

Some models even offer Bluetooth for remote control and monitoring, adding extra convenience to your RV air conditioning system. The MicroAir EasyStart 364 is the model we recommend for most RV AC units, with prices ranging from $299 to $399.

SoftStartRV.

The SoftStartRV is another excellent option for improving their RV air conditioning system. This soft starter is compact, lightweight, and cost-effective, making it an attractive choice for many RVers. It features fireproof housing and is sealed by resin, ensuring durability and safety.

The SoftStartRV is rated for 115-240 V motors and up to 3-ton compressors, with a nominal working voltage of 110Vac / 220Vac. If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable soft starter for your RV air conditioner, the SoftStartRV is worth considering.

Installation considerations for RV AC soft starters.

You have two main options when installing your RV AC soft starter: DIY installation or professional assistance. The installation process can vary depending on the complexity of your RV’s air conditioning system and your level of expertise.

However, many RVers can install a soft starter independently with the right tools and resources.

DIY installation vs. professional assistance.

Installing a soft starter can be a relatively straightforward process for those comfortable with DIY projects. With detailed instructions, color-coded wiring diagrams, and helpful video links provided by manufacturers, even a DIY installer can do the job quickly and efficiently.

However, hiring an RV technician or electrician is also a viable option if you’re not confident in your abilities or simply prefer to leave it to the professionals. The cost of professional installation will typically involve one to two hours of labor, or you can treat your installer to a case of beer and some steaks on the grill.

Tools and resources for installation.

You’ll need a few essential tools and resources to successfully install an RV AC soft starter. These include a screw gun, wire crimpers, needle nose pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, and a ladder.

Some manufacturers, like SoftStartRV, even offer virtual assistance during installation. Simply take your iPad or phone while working on the installation, and a technician can walk you through the process.

Installing a soft starter with the right tools and resources can be a smooth and hassle-free experience.

Maximizing the potential of your RV AC soft starter.

Once you’ve installed your RV AC soft starter, it’s essential to ensure you’re maximizing its potential. This includes balancing power usage with other appliances and considering off-grid and boondocking options.

We’ll provide tips and strategies for getting the most out of your soft starter and ensuring your RV air conditioning system runs at peak performance.

Balancing power usage with other appliances.

To balance power usage between your RV AC and other appliances, try staggering the power cycles of your appliances and setting your RV AC unit to a temperature only 3-4 degrees lower than the actual inside temperature. Additionally, ensure you have enough power from a generator or are plugged into a 30- or 50-amp outlet.

You can also explore alternative power sources, such as solar power or running your water heater off propane, to help manage your overall power consumption. You can effectively balance power usage to ensure your RV air conditioner runs efficiently without overloading your electrical system.

Off-grid and boondocking considerations.

When running off-grid or boondocking with a soft starter, it’s essential to consider the power consumption of other appliances, the size of your generator, and the availability of power sources. With a soft starter installed, your RV air conditioner can run on smaller generators or limited power sources, allowing you to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning while staying off the grid.

By planning and considering these factors, you can maximize the potential of your RV AC soft starter and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable off-grid RVing experience.

Real-life experiences with RV air conditioner soft starters.

Hearing about the benefits of RV air conditioner soft starters is one thing, but what do real-life experiences look like? Many RVers who have installed soft starters have reported improved efficiency, compatibility with smaller generators, and reduced noise.

Look at some reviews to see what others say about soft starters. After all, you don’t need to only take our word for it. The most common theme we’ve read throughout the reviews is that these are game-changers and super easy to install.

Frequently asked questions about RV AC soft starters.

You might be on the fence and still have questions about RV AC soft starters. To help you make an informed decision, let’s discuss some of the most frequently asked questions.

Is a soft start for RV AC worth it?

Yes, a soft start for RV AC is worth it. The most common advice among answers is that the in-rush of current can damage your AC units. A soft starter helps to reduce this in-rush of current by 70%, protecting your AC units and helping them to last longer. If you’ve ever shelled out $1,500 or more for a new AC unit, you know a soft starter is worth its price tag.

Do I need a professional to install my soft starter?

It depends on your comfort level with electrical work. If you’re familiar with and comfortable with wiring, then you can probably do the installation yourself. However, if you’re unsure, it’s best to hire a professional electrician to help ensure it is installed correctly and safely. There are countless videos online to help guide you through the installation process.

Can you put a soft start on an air conditioner?

Yes, putting a soft start on an air conditioner is possible. A soft start device works by decreasing the current draw of the compressor when starting up, thus reducing potential overloads and other issues related to the current spike when a compressor kicks on.

So, a soft start device is an excellent choice if you want to make your air conditioner more efficient.

Is a soft start bad for the compressor?

Soft Starts benefit compressors because they help minimize potential damage from mechanical shock hard-starting current surges. Gradually building up the power instead of relying on an initial bolt reduces overall strain and allows your compressor to run efficiently and last longer.

How does Micro Air EasyStart work?

Using innovative technology, Micro Air EasyStart helps reduce the power surge when you start your compressor. It does this by controlling the power supplied to the motor’s windings on each AC cycle, gradually increasing it until the compressor runs.

In other words, it’s like having a much smoother and gentler startup.

How long does an RV AC soft starter last?

An RV AC soft starter can typically last around 5-10 years, depending on usage and other factors. Some people have reported that their soft starters are still functioning after ten years, while others have had to replace them much sooner due to wear and tear. Fortunately, replacing one is even easier than installing one for the first time.

Is a soft start the same as an inverter?

No, they are not the same. An RV AC Soft Starter is designed to reduce the starting current of your air conditioner compressor, while an inverter is used to convert DC electricity into AC power. The inverter does this by converting the DC source into a higher-voltage AC power, which is then used to power your RV’s appliances, lights, and other electrical components.

What’s the best RV AC soft starter?

The best RV AC soft starter on the market today is the Micro Air EasyStart. This device is designed to reduce the hard-start current of your air conditioner compressor, allowing it to start up smoothly and efficiently. It’s also straightforward to install and use, which makes it an excellent choice for those who don’t have a lot of experience with electrical work. Of course, this is only our opinion, but we’ve tried quite a few of these out, which is the one we like the most.

Stay cool this summer!

RV air conditioner soft starters offer a wealth of benefits for RVers, including enhanced efficiency, reduced noise, compatibility with smaller generators, and extended lifespan of electrical components. With options like MicroAir EasyStart and SoftStartRV, a soft starter solution suits every RV and budget.

So, whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer professional assistance, installing a soft starter in your RV air conditioning system can revolutionize your RVing experience and ensure you stay cool and comfortable no matter where your adventures take you.

Don’t let the limitations of traditional RV air conditioning systems hold you back. Take control of your comfort and explore the benefits of RV air conditioner soft starters today. Your RVing experience will never be the same again.

MattGlamperGear

Matt Johnson


Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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