For years I have traveled with a 1,000-watt Honda generator that was sufficient enough to run my wife’s hairdryer on low and keep the house batteries charged, but not large enough to run the rooftop air conditioner.
When it was excessively hot, we found an RV park to hold up in to run the air conditioner on shore power, or we headed to higher elevations where it was cooler. Recently, however, I have been traveling to speaking engagements during the summer, finding myself in hotter climates more often with no high country to seek relief during uncomfortable hot spells.
Given the desire to stay cool, press releases and blogs about the new Easy Start system have piqued my interest in being able to run my air conditioner on a smaller generator. Easy Start advertises it can reduce the current required to start your RV’s air conditioning by 65-75%. This reduction in power allows RVers to start and run their air conditioner with a smaller generator like a 2,000 or 2,200, negating the need to haul around a bigger generator like a 3,000-watt or run two smaller generators in parallel.
After speaking with an Easy Start representative at an FMCA convention, I decided it was time to upgrade if I could get a 2,200-watt generator to fit in the same location as my 1,000-watt.
Determining the Honda 2,200 would fit, I ordered one and was about to purchase the Easy Start when I remembered hearing about some folks having success with running their 13,500 BTU air conditioners with 2,000-watt generators. I figured if a 2,000-watt could do so, the extra 10% power in a 2,200 should be no problem. After watching several YouTube videos on the subject and the start-up procedures others had success with, I decided to give it a try before adding an Easy Start.
After watching the videos and experimenting with the 2,200-watt generator connected to my travel trailer, here is what I discovered:
- Running the generator with the Eco mode turned off (RV refrigerator set to gas): Start the fan only on the air conditioner and let it come up to speed, then engage the air conditioner’s compressor. Result: The compressor started up with barely a grunt out of the generator.
- Running the generator with the Eco mode turned on (RV refrigerator set to auto): Starting with just the fan and then bringing the compressor online like the example above. Result: The generator really grunted but soon was turning the compressor and producing cold air just fine.
- Running the generator with the Eco mode turned on (RV refrigerator set to auto): I switched on the air conditioner just like I would on shore power. Result: A concerning deep hum from the air conditioner (things trying to turn, but not quite) and nearly stalling the generator, but the generator really revved up and the air conditioner motor and compressor began to turn, the generator idled down, and cold air started flowing.
Currently, I feel confident enough using the first example that I postponed ordering the Easy Start until I have more experience using the generator to run the air conditioner in a variety of different conditions, mainly high elevations. Given that gas engines lose about 3% of their power for every thousand feet of elevation gained, there could be a point where the generator won’t operate the air conditioner.
However, since it is also 3-5° cooler for every thousand feet of elevation gain, the two might balance each other out. The generator might not run the air conditioner at 10,000-foot elevation, but it is unlikely it will ever be hot enough that I need to do so.
Stay tuned as I head off into hotter parts of the country this summer. Staying cool without having to carry a hundred-pound generator, just another adventure in RVing!