RV AC Soft Start – Why You Need It and How to Install It

We all love taking road trips with our families in our beloved RVs. But we don’t always love the discomfort that comes as our AC roars to life as soon as we switch it on. Nobody wants to be jolted awake in the middle of the night. That’s where RV AC Soft Start comes in. It reduces the noise and stress on your AC unit by reducing the current flow that is required to turn it on. Not only is it a great comfort but it also prolongs the life of your air conditioner. Wondering why you need a soft start or how to install it? Keep reading to find out!

Quick Overview of Key Points

A soft start for an RV air conditioner is an electronic device that helps the unit start up more smoothly, reducing the strain on the compressor. Installing a soft start can help lengthen the lifespan of your air conditioner and make it run better overall.

How Does a Soft Start Work?

A soft start provides protection to the air conditioning motor by slowly and gradually bringing it up to the full power level instead of instantly flipping on the power. The extra time and even pressure created by a slow start helps protect the AC system’s motor and other components from strain, damage, and failure due to the uneven pressure that would otherwise be created by instantaneous power.

Soft starts have integral current-limiting circuits that use high voltage triac switches, which control startup currents, preventing them from exceeding pre-set values. When you first turn on a device with a soft start, it charges up certain electrical components within the system in an effort to reduce the amount of strain placed on the motor. The triac switch then progressively increases current levels until full capacity is reached after 5-15 seconds and the user eventually has access to their desired output without experiencing undesired fluctuations.

Although these devices benefit motors by controlling amperage draw which results in less heat buildup, they can be expensive and difficult to install. Some people argue that, depending on how an RV is used, installing a soft start may not always be necessary since frequent setups, takedowns, or shutdowns can all cause strains on an AC unit’s circuitry regardless of whether or not a soft start is fitted.

Ultimately, RV owners should investigate both sides fully before deciding whether or not outfitting their unit with a soft start system is worth investing in. Knowing how a soft start works and its advantages can help people make more informed decisions about their AC systems and what measures are best for protecting them in the long run.

To better understand the motor’s role in this process, let’s move onto our next section about “The Motor”.

The Motor

The motor is the most important component in an RV AC Soft Start system. Without a proper motor, the soft start system cannot function accurately or efficiently and may even cause damage to components. The motor is responsible for providing the power to the system and is a key factor in determining how well the soft start works.

When considering a motor for a soft start system, it is important to consider both the voltage and current that will be supplied by the motor. Higher voltage motors are capable of supplying more power to the system and can reduce overall energy costs. However, higher voltage motors also require more current, which can create additional power surges and stress on other components in the system. Lower voltage motors offer advantages such as lower energy consumption but they may not have enough power to meet the demands of high input systems.

An important factor when selecting a motor is its efficiency rating. Motors with higher efficiency ratings are more efficient than those with lower ratings and can reduce energy consumption significantly over time. Careful consideration must also be given to the type of bearings used in the motor, as different types of bearings carry different torque requirements and could impact the motor’s performance under certain conditions. Lastly, the cost of purchasing and operating an RV AC soft start motor must be taken into account when making an informed decision about which type of motor is best for specific purposes.

Overall, due to their different specifications regarding voltage, current and power surge capacities, choosing an appropriate motor for your RV AC soft start system can be highly beneficial for optimal results. In the next section, we will discuss voltage, current and power surge requirements further in order to provide a deeper understanding of this critical component of an RV AC Soft Start system.

Voltage, Current and Power Surge

Voltage, current, and power surge are important factors to consider when installing an RV air conditioner soft start unit.

Voltage is determined by the amount of power supplied to a motor. Generally, access voltage that is too high can cause damage to the motor while low voltage will decrease the performance of the motor. When it comes to RV air conditioning, selecting the right voltage level is essential for safe and efficient operation.

Current determines how much electricity is running through a circuit at any given time. Too little current, and there won’t be enough power for the motors to function correctly; too much current can overheat both the motors and wires in the system and cause problems down the line. As a result, setting proper amperage on an RV air conditioner unit is critical.

Power surge refers to increases in electricity flowing through wiring when an increase in operating load happens – in other words, when the motor starts running. Unprotected units may experience something called “total indoor motor burnout,” which occurs when too much power is running at once, overwhelming the system and damaging components. Soft start units help to regulate this by limiting power surges from starting up too quickly or suddenly. Furthermore, it is estimated that soft start units also reduce energy consumption upon startup by as much as 40%.

With proper electrical installation and a reliable AC soft start unit, RV owners can enjoy all of these benefits without experiencing dangerous power surges or having parts of their system malfunction or overheat due to improper voltage and current settings. The next section will discuss how these advantages make it worth installing one in your RV today.

Top Points to Remember

An RV air conditioner soft start unit can be beneficial for preventing dangerous power surges, reducing energy consumption upon startup, and ensuring proper voltage and current settings. An AC soft start unit is worth installing in your RV to take advantage of these benefits.

The Benefits of Installing a Soft Start Unit

The primary benefit of installing a soft start unit for an RV air conditioner is that it improves the air conditioner performance, making it more reliable and efficient. Such units make it easier to quickly cool down the RV, reducing compressor start-up current to one-fifth of its previous value. This helps the compressor motor to avoid overloading and potential damage, which can extend its lifespan and prevent the need for replacement. As a result, the overall running costs of an RV are reduced as there is less energy consumption due to reduced heat exchange losses and fewer repairs.

Furthermore, soft starts can help reduce wear and tear on other components, such as the air conditioner’s condenser fan motor. By limiting the amount of voltage spikes during startup, the fan motor is able to run smoother, thus reducing excessive stress and wear on its moving parts. This can help extend its life significantly and reduce maintenance costs over time due to fewer breakdowns.

On the other hand, some people believe that RV AC soft starts are unnecessary since they don’t improve cooling performance significantly or reduce energy costs in a meaningful way. They also argue that while they do protect against occasional voltage spikes, their effect on air conditioning performance may be negligible compared to improving insulation and proper maintenance of existing equipment. Even so, installing a soft start is an easy solution to improve air conditioner efficiency and protect your RV from potential damages caused by these surges in power.

Finally, installing a soft start unit ensures that load on an RV’s generator is substantially diminished during startup, leading into the next section which will discuss strategies for reducing the load even further.

Reducing the Load on the Generator

For RV owners, having a reliable power source from a generator can be invaluable. Generators are used to provide AC power to the appliances and electronics within an RV, but often times the electrical load can overwhelm and overwork a generator, leading to costly repairs down the road. To reduce this load, it is important for RV owners to consider installing a soft start unit which can limit the amount of energy draw at startup, in turn reducing the strain on your generator.

Soft start units use capacitors to store energy until it is needed and can help reduce peak current loads during startup by gradually ramping up the voltage output. This gradual ramp up reduces the initial load placed on generators, resulting in less stress and wear over time. In addition, by limiting the current draw during high-demand periods, soft start units can also improve fuel efficiency, saving RV owners money on fuel costs.

However, some are hesitant to install a soft start unit as they are expensive and require complex installations. In addition, if improperly installed or not matched correctly with the type of generator being used, they may not provide any benefit; in fact they could even cause damage to a generator if not used correctly. As such, it is important for RV owners to weigh out all possible options before deciding whether or not a soft start unit is right for them.

In conclusion, investing in a soft start unit for RV’s can be extremely beneficial for reducing the load on your generator. TheCapacitors used will limit the peak current draw during startups and help improve fuel efficiency over time. With that being said, installing a soft start unit requires careful consideration as it must match correctly with an existing generator and may require complex installation procedures. The next section will discuss considerations for installing a soft start unit for recreational vehicles.

  • A 2016 study showed that using a soft start for an RV AC can reduce the peak starting current by up to 43%.
  • Installing a soft start in an RV air conditioner can help to reduce wear and tear on its internal components, making it last longer.
  • Using a soft starter for RV AC units also helps to reduce stress on the motor, resulting in improved power factor and energy savings.

Considerations for Installing a Soft Start Unit

When considering whether to install a soft start unit on an RV air conditioning (AC) system, it is important to look at the advantages and disadvantages. Soft starts protect both the AC system’s compressor and its starting device from excessive voltage transients during sudden power changes, which can lead to component failure. They also help reduce energy use by providing a gentle power transition where the compressor speed can be regulated to match actual cooling needs.

On the other hand, there are significant downsides to installing soft starts to an RV AC system. The main concern is that some models of soft starts are not designed for long-term exposure to extreme temperatures, or humid conditions experienced in motorhome use, resulting in decreased performance over time. Additionally, depending on the type of existing wiring inside the motorhome and how it’s connected to the AC unit, installation could require significant additional labor and costs due to rewiring or reconfiguring the electrical connections.

Given these considerations, it is essential that RV owners take the time to thoroughly evaluate both their installation needs and potential future needs before making a decision whether or not they need a soft start unit installed and if so, carefully choose a model appropriate to those specific needs. With this information in mind, we will now discuss troubleshooting strategies for working with soft start units in an RV setting.

Troubleshooting a Soft Start Unit

When trouble arises with your RV AC soft start, you need to determine the possible source of the problem. Before you go about replacing the components, however, it is wise to consult all the wiring diagrams for both the soft start unit and the rest of your electrical system. There are two main things to check once you have identified the problem:

1) Check the capacitors in the soft start. With age, these can become weak and begin to fail. When they fail they can cause problems that range from a very noisy fan motor, to an AC unit that will not even turn on. To check if your capacitor is bad, simply disconnect it from power and touch it with a multi-meter on its ohm setting. If there are no readings, then it is likely that your capacitor has failed and needs replacement.

2) On more complicated units, it is possible for some of the components within the soft start to be defective. If one or multiple pieces are malfunctioning, it can disrupt the entire unit and make it difficult to identify where the actual fault lies. The best way to troubleshoot this is to use a process of elimination by removing suspected faulty components one at a time and testing for improved functioning before moving onto an adjacent component.

Both steps can be used when trying to isolate what may be wrong with your RV AC soft start unit. However, unless you are experienced in troubleshooting such electronics, it would be wise to hire a professional who can avoid damaging any vital components within your electrical system while resolving any issues present with the soft start unit.

Now that we’ve discussed how best to troubleshoot a soft start unit when faced with difficulties activating our air conditioning units in our Recreational Vehicles, let’s move on to our conclusion.


Overall, RV AC soft starts can be an incredibly useful feature for those who want to avoid the common problems associated with the strain of the AC. Not only does the soft start reduce overheating, but it can also help preserve a longer life of the AC unit. Having a soft start installed is relatively easy and is certainly worth considering if your RV’s AC has ever given you any trouble in the past.

On the other hand, not every RV needs a soft start. If your vehicle has been running without issue, then it may be wise to leave it as is rather than go through the installation process. The soft start feature also adds some extra consumer costs and it won’t work unless electricity is present. Therefore, many people opt out of this feature due to these potential drawbacks. However, if you are having problems with your existing AC, then consider investing in a soft start to ensure that your air quality and appliance longevity is up to par.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions with Detailed Explanations

How does a soft start for an RV AC work?

A soft start for an RV AC works by gently powering the RV air conditioning unit up when switched on. This helps protect the motor from having to bear too much starting torque, thus reducing the wear and tear of the motor over time. The soft start system can also help reduce power surges by controlling the amount of energy required to start up your RV AC, increasing its efficiency and helping you save energy costs. Additionally, the soft start system ensures your RV AC is running at optimal levels while protecting it from potential damage due to sudden power overloads.

What are the benefits of using a soft start for an RV AC?

Using a soft start for an RV AC can provide many benefits. Perhaps most importantly, it can help extend the life of your AC unit by reducing the strain on its components. When you turn on the AC, a soft start works to slowly bring the power up to full output over time. This prevents excessive load on the compressor motor, reducing wear and tear. Additionally, you’ll experience less jarring motor noise and vibration when turning it on, allowing for a smoother start-up.

Soft starts also have energy saving benefits. By ramping up power gradually instead of immediately turning it on full blast, you’re using less electricity overall. Over time this can save you money on electricity bills while still providing the same cooling effect. Furthermore, in hot climates the external temperature will have less of an impact on your AC’s performance since it won’t be dealing with such a heavy load right away.

Overall, investing in a soft start for your RV AC is sure to pay off in terms of improved efficiency and extended lifespan of your unit.

How difficult is it to install a soft start for an RV AC?

Installing a soft start for an RV AC is not overly difficult and is actually quite straightforward. With the right tools, it can be completed in as little as 45 minutes without requiring any extensive technical knowledge. If you’re willing to commit some time to learning more about the installation process, you can most likely complete this project quickly on your own.

Before starting though, it’s important to make sure you have the right tools and materials available. Most notably, you’ll need wire cutters and strippers, electrical tape, pliers, socket wrenches or screwdrivers, and the soft start kit itself. Additionally some study into AC wiring diagrams will improve your understanding of what needs to be done in order to successfully install the soft start.

Once everything is ready and you feel comfortable taking on this project, the basic installation steps are fairly easy to follow: Adjust the panel box wiring, connect the capacitor to their respective terminals, reconnect the unit’s power wires with the included wire nuts, add fuses and circuit breakers where needed, and mount the soft start using manufacturer-provided screws. Following those steps should result in a successful install that doesn’t take too much time.