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How Many Watts Does an RV AC Use to Run Normally?

Written by Philip Lopez / Fact checked by Paul Lemaire

how many watts does an rv ac use

How many watts does an RV AC use to run normally? Most RV air conditioners run from 11,000 – 15,000 BTUs, thus, using about 1000 – 1700 watts.

In fact, the size and type of your RV determine the watts the AC requires. Also, your AC’s amp, voltage, and BTU are critical factors in its energy requirements. Read further as this guide helps determine how many watts your RV AC uses.

Table of Contents

How Many Watts an RV AC Uses


Three methods can give you the wattage your RV air conditioner uses.

1. Determine the size and type of your RV

The amount of space your AC requires to cool can determine its wattage capacity.

Different types of RVs and their sizes have their own AC power requirement due to their interior.

Running RV Wattage Per Square Feet
Average RV AC Running Wattage RV Sizes
300 to 450 Watts 100 to 200 sq.ft.
500 to 650 Watts 300 sq.ft.
600 to 750 Watts 450 sq.ft.
1,000 to 1,300 Watts 500 sq.ft.
1,200 to 1,700 Watts 700-800 sq.ft.

Your RV type lets you know the amount of space its air conditioner unit needs to cool. Here are the various RV class and their average dimensions in length.

RV Types and Average Dimension
RV Class Type Average Length Average Height Average Width
Class B 21ft 9.5ft 6ft 9in
Class C 23-31ft 8ft 8in 12ft
Class A 30-32ft 12ft 13ft

2. Use a watt meter

An easy and accurate method of knowing your camper’s AC wattage is through a plug-in meter. These devices measure the energy transfer between an appliance and an outlet. You can also read your RV AC amp draw better with a meter.

Plug a watt meter into your RV outlet. Turn off the lights and other appliances connected to your RV’s power grid while your air conditioner runs.

3. Converting the BTU cooling output

Every RV Dometic air conditioner has a yellow energy guide sticker that contains a unit’s energy efficiency ratio or EER and its capacity rated in BTU., or a British thermal unit is your AC’s cooling output. At the same time, EER is the unit’s energy.

Use this formula to get the running wattage of your AC based on its BTU and EER value:

British thermal unit rate (BTU) / energy efficiency ratio (EER) = Running Wattage (W)

Example: If your RV AC energy guide sticker tells you your unit has a capacity of 13500 BTU and 12 EER, we can calculate the wattage with this formula:

13500 (BTU) / 12 (EER) = RV AC Unit Wattage (W)

1,125 = RV AC Unit Wattage (W)

You can also get the power requirement of your AC with this RV wattage chart based on its BTUs.

Average RV AC Wattage Chart for 8 EER rating
RV AC Capacity (BTUs) Average RV AC Running Wattage
5,000 BTUs 625 Watts
7,000 BTUs 875 Watts
10,000 BTUs 1250 Watts
13,500 BTUs 1688 Watts
15,000 BTUs 1875 Watts
20,000 BTUs 2500 Watts
24,000 BTUs 3000 Watts
Average RV AC Wattage Chart for 10 EER rating
RV AC Capacity (BTUs) Average RV AC Running Wattage
5,000 BTUs 500 Watts
7,000 BTUs 700 Watts
10,000 BTUs 1000 Watts
13,500 BTUs 1350 Watts
15,000 BTUs 1500 Watts
20,000 BTUs 2000 Watts
22,000 BTUs 2200 Watts
24,000 BTUs 2400 Watts

While the wattage chart is a rough estimate of the power usage of your RV AC, it can give you a good grasp on how much electricity it can use while it is on.

Below is an RV amp usage chart based on the BTU rate to show you the accuracy of the two early charts.

Average RV AC Amp Chart on 115 volts
RV AC Capacity (BTUs) Max. RV AC Running Amps
5,000 BTUs 4.35 Amps
8,000 BTUs 6.96 Amps
10,000 BTUs 8.70 Amps
13,500 BTUs 11.74 Amps
15,000 BTUs 13.04 Amps
20,000 BTUs 17.39 Amps

Calculating the amp and volt on the chart shows you how close the second BTU chart is, showing you how many watts to run your RV AC.

How to Calculate the RV AC Powers

Find the running wattage of your RV AC in its manual or labels. If you cannot find the wattage of your AC, look for the voltage and amp instead to find the power requirement of your unit.

Use this formula to get the power requirement of your camper’s AC:

Amp (A) x Volt (V) = Power (Wattage)

  • Example: If you have a medium-sized RV and an AC that has an amperage of 12 and voltage of 120, that unit’s watt requirement is:

12(A) x 120(V) = Power (Wattage)

1440 = Power (Wattage)

Wattage is the power your camper AC uses while it is turned on.

You can use this data to know how much energy your air conditioner uses at specific times with this formula:

Power (Wattage) x Time (hours) = Energy (Wattage/hour)

  • Example: If you have your AC run throughout the afternoon, its energy consumption is the following:

1440 (Wattage) x 6 (hours) = Energy (Wattage/hour)

8,640 = Energy (Wattage/hour)

Frequently Asked Questions


Why should you know your RV AC watt and voltage requirements?

Knowing your air conditioner’s power usage lets you know if your power generator or solar power lithium batteries are enough for a single trip. A clear grasp of how much electricity you need for your AC also helps you know if you need more power for other RV appliances.

What average amps does a RV AC use?

A standard RV air conditioner unit draws around 11 to 16 amperages. On the other hand, modern campers have energy-efficient air conditioning units that draw lesser amps than the average.

Will a 3000-watt inverter run an RV Air conditioner?

A 3000-watt inverter can power most camper’s air conditioner units since it is rated to deliver 3000 watts. Always consider that you have a higher watt rating than your RV AC running wattage to prevent power issues.

Is there a difference between starting and running wattage of an RV AC?

Starting wattage is the amount of power an RV AC draws to turn on, while the running wattage is the power it uses during operation. A 13500 – 15000 BTU RV AC tends to have a starting wattage of 6000-7000 watts.

What is the generator size I need to run your RV AC?

Use the running wattage of your RV AC to determine the appropriate generator for the unit. The generator must supply enough power to handle your air conditioner’s startup wattage. RV ACs with large BTUs likely require generators that produce higher total wattages.


There are three ways to know how many watts an RV AC uses. One of these methods includes going through the manual and its specifications label. You can also use your air conditioner’s BTU and EER to calculate power requirements.

You can find the appropriate power generator or solar battery to provide sufficient power to keep your outdoor trip comfortable when you know your RV AC is running wattage.

Read more: Reasons why my RV AC breaker keep tripping.

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