How Many Watts Do Motorhome Air Conditioners Use?

A motorhome air conditioner’s watts can vary, ranging from 500W for a 5,000 BTU unit to 2700W for a 27,000 BTU unit—however, most fall within the 700W-1500W range.

The typical motorhome comes with a 13,500 BTU air conditioning unit, which, on average, uses 1350W. This is based on an energy-efficient ratio (EER) rating of 10, with a 1,000 BTU output producing 100 watts of power.

While motorhome AC units are often the largest power consumers in modern-day motorhomes, various ways exist to reduce their usage. Specific models are more efficient than others, and there are practical steps you can take to enhance your motorhome AC unit’s energy efficiency.

Understanding Motorhome AC Wattages and BTUs

British Thermal Units, or BTUs, measure the energy needed to remove heat from the air and cool it within an hour. This is a way to measure an air conditioning unit’s cooling capabilities and is the standard measurement for any air conditioning system.

Knowing how capable your AC unit is of cooling your environment is essential, and buying the proper unit will cool your space quickly and effectively. You can use information about BTUs and wattages to determine the best AC unit for your motorhome.

BTUs also help you calculate what wattage generator you’ll need. Generally, 1,000 BTUs can produce 100 watts of power. So, if you’re considering an air conditioning unit that’s 13,500 BTU, you can safely assume it will use around 1350W. Most motorhome AC units use 500W-2,700W, depending on their size. That means you’ll need to ensure your motorhome’s generator or solar generator is at least 500W – a 200W generator won’t be enough.

You’ll also need to consider an AC unit’s EER rating. The higher the EER rating, the fewer watts it will use. For example, a 5,000 BTU unit with a 10 EER will use 500W, an 11 EER will use just 455 W, and a 12 EER will use 417W.

Starting Wattage vs. Running Wattage

The above figures refer to the running wattage of a motorhome air conditioning unit. These systems require much more power when they first start up, requiring several hundred more watts or even double the running wattage. As such, you’ll need to ensure your motorhome generator has enough power to allow the AC unit to start up. Once it’s started up, the power will stabilise back to the running wattage level.

Not sure what your AC unit’s starting wattage is? You can usually add 200-400W to the running wattage to ensure you’ll have enough power to avoid a shortage.

The running wattage for a 5,000 BTU unit is 500W, but the starting wattage may be 900W. A 10,000 BTU unit requires 1000W to run but 1400W to start, a good general rule when determining running wattage. 

How Can I Make My Motorhome Air Conditioner More Energy Efficient?

The good news is there are specific steps you can take to enhance your motorhome AC unit’s energy efficiency. Here are a few tips to consider:

Keep the Filter Clean

Dust and debris build-up on air filters can restrict airflow, making your AC unit work harder than it needs to. Clean the intake filter often to ensure the airflow doesn’t get blocked, cooling your motorhome correctly.

Insulate Windows and Doors

Ensuring proper insulation in your motorhome will help keep cool air in and hot air out, meaning your AC unit won’t have to work as hard, especially in direct sunlight. Invest in proper window coverings and seal any gaps around windows and doors.

Optimise Thermostat Settings

Set your thermostat to a moderate temperature, not too low or too high. Adjust it for comfort, and then leave it as is. Constantly changing the settings means your AC unit must work harder each time you adjust it. If your power consumption has increased, try increasing the level one degree higher to minimise energy usage without drastically changing comfort levels.

Benefits of Choosing an Efficient Motorhome AC

Many motorhome AC units are available on the market, some more efficient than others. Here’s what you can look forward to if you choose an efficient motorhome AC unit.

  • Run It Longer or Power More: Lower power consumption means you can run your AC unit for extended periods without worrying about draining your motorhome’s battery. You can also use that energy surplus to run appliances like a mini fridge or electric stovetop.
  • Eco-Friendly: An energy-efficient motorhome AC unit is better for the environment, reducing the carbon footprint and saving resources. It might not seem like much, but the more people invest in energy-efficient AC units, the more significant the impact.
  • Run It Using Solar Power: With an off-grid setup, you can run an efficient motorhome AC unit using solar power and battery storage. You can use the EcoFlow 400W Rigid Solar Panel, or, for curved or irregular surfaces of your motorhome, you can use EcoFlow 100W Flexible Solar Panels and EcoFlow Power Kits to generate and store energy for your motorhome, including the AC unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Energy Ratings Required for Motorhome Air Conditioners?

There is no mandate requiring energy ratings for motorhome air conditioners. However, looking at EER ratings when shopping for an AC unit can help determine its efficiency and ensure you choose a unit with power requirements you can support. The higher the EER rating, the more efficiently it will run and the fewer watts it will require.

Final Thoughts

Investing in an energy-efficient motorhome AC unit and enhancing its efficiency can make a big difference for your wallet and the environment. Consider the tips above and use solar power options for a more sustainable motorhome experience, like EcoFlow’s Solar Panels and Power Kits. Stay cool while minimising your energy consumption!

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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