Can I run my RV or Boat’s Air Conditioner on Battery Power?

Looking to unshackle from shore power while still staying cool? Here at Dakota Lithium we have helped thousands of people learn how to build off-the-grid power systems for air conditioner on boats, RVs, vans, trucks, and campers. Here’s how Dakota Lithium pro staff and ambassadors keep it cool while travelling the open road in hot climates.

5 reasons why Dakota Lithium is the best battery for air conditioning

  1. 500% More Power! A single 12V 280 Amp Hour Dakota Lithium battery has the same usable energy as six 100Ah AGM or lead acid batteries but it the physical size of just one. This means you can replace the batteries in your boat or RV with more than enough power to run an air conditioner.
  2. Half the weight. Dakota Lithium batteries are 60% lighter.
  3. Lasts 5X longer than traditional batteries. Dakota Lithium batteries are built to last 10 to 15 years depending on application. Backed up by a best in class 11 year warranty.
  4. Optimized for solar panels. Dakota Lithium’s signature LiFePO4 chemistry stores all of the energy collected by solar panels vs. AGM and lead acid batteries which loose 30-40% of the energy.
  5. 11 year warranty & lifetime customer service = exceptional reliability.

Can I run my RV or boat’s air conditioner without shore power?

Yes! When your boat or RV is powered by Dakota Lithium you have the freedom to go anywhere and camp in comfort. Air conditioners consume a lot of power. For most folks living in an RV, camper, trailer or van this means shore power is required to run the air conditioner or a large and noisy generator is needed. Dakota Lithium batteries are so energy dense that you can easily replace your house batteries with Dakota Lithium batteries so you can #GoFurther, #PlayHarder, and #LastLonger.

How long can I run my air conditioner on batteries?

A smaller and efficient RV air conditioner will run for 4-12 hours on a 12V 280 Amp Hour Dakota Lithium battery. Smaller air conditioning units are typically 5,000 – 6,000 BTUs of cooling ability and consume 40 to 80 amps at 12 volts. This is the perfect size air conditioner for cooling a room in a house, a cabin in a boat, a sprinter Van, truck camper, or a mid sized RV. Smaller air conditioners running continuously generally cool the space more effectively than a larger air conditioner running occasionally. If in doubt of what size of AC unit you need start smaller.

Small AC units range in energy efficiency. Look at the amps needed to power a RV or boat AC unit to compare which models are the most energy efficient. Some air conditioning models are designed with the idea that you will always be on shore power so they waste a lot of energy. AC units made for Van Life or off-road campers tend to be more energy efficient, since those vehicles rarely have access to shore power.

For large RVs and motor homes and for boats with a large crew cabin a 14,000 BTUs air conditioner may be needed to keep the room cool. A single 12V 280 Amp Hour Dakota Lithium battery will run a 14,000 BTUs air conditioner for 2-3 hours. 4 of the  12V 280 Amp Hour Dakota Lithium batteries linked in parallel will allow you to run large air conditioning systems continously and is a good fit for large boats, big motorhomes, and off grid cabins.

How do I charge my batteries when RV camping or boondocking?

The best way to charge your batteries when RV camping is to install solar panels on your roof and connect the solar panels to your batteries via a solar charge controller. The solar charge controller makes sure the solar panels charge your batteries appropriately.

Another way to charge your batteries is to install a DC to DC charger that allows you to use the energy from your RV or boat’s engine to charge your house batteries.

For example, this 12V 100Ah Off Grid Solar Power System uses both a solar panel and a DC to DC charger to charger the house battery. This gives you the freedom to park in one place and charge up with the solar panel or to drive and charge via the DC-DC charger. If you are planning to run air conditioning add more batteries & at least 200 watts of extra solar panels.

What size solar panel and battery do I need for my RV air conditioner?

Air conditioners are power hungry appliances. If you run the air conditioning in your RV, van, or camper, you will require a larger solar panel and battery system to meet the high energy needs. Many nomads use a generator to power their air conditioner when off-grid or RV camping. However, generators have several drawbacks, such as running out of gas, being loud, requiring expensive gas and extra gas cans, and producing toxic and dangerous exhaust if not well ventilated. If you use a generator, make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector in your living space.

To get rid of the generator, and unshackle from shore power, RV, van, and boat owners are choosing to install solar panels and batteries. Dakota Lithium batteries power an air conditioner without the noise, smell, or health risk of a generator. The result is greater freedom to camp and boondock anywhere, increased health and safety, and more time in your day. You do some work to install the system once and then its maintenance free. No need to buy gas and refill the generator gas tank each day. No to start an engine. Do not apologize to the neighbors for running your generator all night.  Just free power from the sun keeping you nice and cool at night.

Determine the size of the power system you need by the size of the space you are cooling and the size of the air conditioner needed. Air conditioner size is measured in BTUs.

Size of RV  | BTUs of Air Conditioner | # of Batteries  |  Recommended Solar Panel Capacity | Recommended Off-Grid Power System


Battery power for RV and marine air conditioner Dakota Lithium

This customer used 600 Amp Hours of Dakota Lithium power with 400 watts of solar panels to create the perfect sized system for their sprinter van with air conditioning. They can now travel the American southwest even in summer knowing that they can sleep cool and comfortable.

Be The First to Know

Get access to exclusive deals, hear about new products before anyone else, and enjoy tips, tricks, and DIY hacks from our community of experts.