How Many Watts Does a RV AC use?

RV refers to recreational vehicles, and during the summer, RVers will need air conditioners to cool down the interior of their RVs. 

In order to operate the air conditioner, we need a power supply, which is easily supplied by a portable generator that can be easily transported in an RV. To enjoy your trip, you can use the generator to run all of the appliances in your RV. 

The air conditioner consumes the most power of any other device. Thus, you should do a proper calculation of your RV’s wattage requirements based upon what equipment you will use inside. 

In the appliance, there are two types of wattage: startup and running. You can learn more about these terms here.

Calculate running and continuous power requirements and add an additional 15% power for marginal care safety. 

How many watts does a RV ac use depends upon a lot of factors. 

Size Of RV

Size of air conditioner described in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs) or tons. In simple terms, BTUs describe how much room an air conditioner needs to cool.

AC with different BTUs consumes different wattages, whose table is at the end. A larger RV consumes more power than a smaller RV due to its size. 

In a small RV, one AC is usually more than enough to keep you cool, while in a bigger RV, three ACs are installed to provide proper air conditioning.

We are making the average power requirement of the air conditioner based on the BTU rating.

The size of a 20-foot RV is 20×10=200 square feet, which requires 5500 BTU, and the different BTU requirements of different RV sizes are listed below.

Length of RVBritish Thermal Unit (BTU)Watts (Approximate)
20 ft. or 200 sq ft. 5500 BTU500-600
25 ft. or 250 sq. ft6000600-700
4008000 to 9000900-1000
4509500 to 100001000-1100
500 sq feet 11000 to 120001100-1200

BTU ratings alone cannot be used to calculate the power consumption of an air conditioner. There are other factors that also affect the working of an air conditioner, which we will discuss below.

The number of people who will live/travel in the RV 

More people inside the rv release the more heat which results in a lot of pressure on the air conditioner. Air conditioner has to do a lot of work to put heat outside the RV released by the people inside the RV which increases the power consumption.  

Age of AC

Power consumption is also dependent upon the age of ac installed in RV. The older the AC it will draw more power due to decline in their efficiency with usage.

Outside Weather

Power consumption depends upon the weather of the area you are traveling. The principle of AC is the difference of temperature inside and outside. 

If there is scorching heat outside the RV then it will draw more power to maintain the temperature inside the RV. 

On the other hand the AC draws less power if there is low temperature outside.

Things you should avoid during running the air conditioner inside your RV. 

Avoid Heating Process 

Try to avoid any kind of work that involves the heating process which will increase the power consumption by putting pressure on the air conditioner.

Try to cook outside the RV so the temperature of your RV remains stable, otherwise you have to put a lot of pressure on your air conditioner. 

Close Window or any Opening

If there is any open space like a window then heat will come inside the RV and ac has to do more work to put that heat outside. 

Minimum Objects 

More objects in RV also increase the power consumption of air conditioners as some solid objects absorb cooling of the AC.

While choosing AC for your RV some points should be kept in mind before purchase.

Choosing right size ac is very important 

If you buy a bigger one then it will cost you upfront plus you have to pay some extra energy expense in monthly electricity bill.

If you buy a smaller one than required, Yes, it is true you saved money upfront but you will lose in the long run. 

The unit puts extra effort to remove heat from space which will increase electricity cost and the other thing you don’t get your room cool enough. 


The wattage requirement of RVs AC depends upon the Size of RV, the number of people inside, age of AC, and outside Weather. You must avoid any kind of heating process inside the RV while AC is running. Try to minimize the objects inside, and also close any kind of opening from where heat can enter in RV. Last but not the least, always choose the right size, and kind of AC for your RV. 

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