How Long Can You Run An RV Air Conditioner?

When it is a blisteringly hot day, there is no greater thrill than heading back to a nice and cold RV. This means that you need an AC. A lot of people wonder whether they really can run their AC all day and, perhaps more importantly, how long it is going to run completely unattended. We are going to answer all of these questions (plus a few more) on this page.

So, how long can you run an RV air conditioner? Well, in theory, you could run an RV air conditioner for an unlimited amount of time. However, you will likely only have around 8-hours of life in your RV’s air conditioner if you run it on a generator. An RV air conditioner doesn’t take that much in the way of gas. Well, as long as you plan things properly. 

Let’s go into a bit more depth on this. As we said, there is a ton that we want to talk about when it comes to RV air conditioners and ensuring that they run as long as they possibly can.

Can You Leave An RV Air Conditioner On All Day?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief, there are absolutely no issues with leaving an RV air conditioner on all day. You could leave it on every second of its life, if you really wanted.

Although, of course, you do have to remember that if you leave an RV air conditioner on all day, two things will happen:

  • It will consume a lot of power
  • The lifespan of the RV air conditioner will be reduced slightly. After all, an RV air conditioner is going to need regular maintenance

If you are happy with all of that, then feel free to have that RV turned on all day. It is not dangerous in the slightest. You could even leave the air conditioner running while you are out of the RV.

Do bear in mind that an RV air conditioner can be noisy. This is probably one of the main reasons why people will not have it switched on at all hours of the day.

You should also remember that having a generator powering an RV all day is probably going to be annoying to anybody in the nearby area. Most campsites will have rules about when you can and can’t run a generator. So, if your RV air conditioner is being run by a generator, then you may not even be allowed to have it on in the evening. Thankfully, most evenings should be much cooler than in the day, so this is unlikely to cause you too many issues.

How Long Wil An RV Air Conditioner Run On a Generator?

This is going to be dependent on the type of generator that you have (i.e. how efficient it is), as well as the type of fuel that you are using.

In an ideal world, you would be using propane to keep an RV air conditioner powered. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. An air conditioner cannot be plugged into a propane system, at least not without too much hassle. You are only going to be able to get it running when it is plugged into a mains power supply or a gasoline/diesel-powered generator.

Generally speaking, you should be able to get about 8-hours of RV running on 2-gallons of gas. So, if you have a generator that is able to hold 6-gallons of gas, and you are not running anything else from that generator, then the RV air conditioner will be able to run 24-hours per day.

Of course, this is only going to be a general guideline. You still have to remember that air conditioners will have different fuel efficiencies. It will also depend highly on the condition of your RV air conditioner. The older your air conditioner is, the more power it is going to consume. It doesn’t matter whether it is well maintained or not. It just happens as components naturally age.

How Do You Increase The Efficiency Of An RV Air Conditioner?

Of course, we are positive that you want that RV air conditioner running as long as possible. You don’t want to consume much fuel, but you also want to ensure that you remain incredibly cool. We are hoping that the tips that we share in this section may be able to squeeze a few hours of extra life out of your air conditioner.

We are going to assume that you are not in the market to switch out your air conditioner here. Although, if you do have an air conditioner that is more than 4 years old, we do recommend that you replace it. it is about the 4-year mark when the efficiency of an RV air conditioner really starts to plummet. 

Keep Your Windows And Doors Closed

Your RV air conditioner is just like the air conditioner that you have in your home. Yes. The way that they work is ever so slightly different, but there are still a few basic principles that you need to follow that are similar between the two of them.

If you have your windows and doors open, then your air conditioner is going to need to be working a whole lot harder to cool that air down. 

Therefore, if that air conditioner is running, then windows should be constantly closed. Your doors should be open as little as possible. 

You may also want to check whether there are any draughty areas around your doors or windows, just to double-check that air isn’t creeping in.

Don’t Turn The Air Conditioner Down Too Far

The lower the temperature that the air conditioner is set to, the harder it has to work. Even turning that air conditioner down by a degree or two could drastically increase the amount of fuel that it consumes.

We highly recommend that you set the air conditioner to a level that you will find comfortable. If you are planning on heading out for long periods of time, you don’t really need it to be incredibly cold inside of your air conditioner. You just need a maintenance level. So, switch the air conditioner to a higher temperature when you are out. If you get back to the RV and this temperature is not comfortable, then turn it down.

Don’t Constantly Turn The Air Conditioner On And Off

Air conditioners take a huge amount of power when they are kicked into action.

We have seen some people that switch their air conditioner off as soon as it hits a temperature that they are comfortable with, and then they switch it back on when the temperature is uncomfortable again.

Don’t do this. Each time you turn that air conditioner on and off, you are going to be consuming a lot of extra power. Sometimes it is best just to leave it turned on.

Maintain The RV’s Air Conditioner Regularly 

Your air conditioner should be serviced every 1,000 hours of life. Yes. This is fewer hours than an at-home air conditioner. 

You can do must maintenance yourself, cleaning filters, etc. However, at least once per year, you should call in a professional that can check over the air conditioner to ensure that there are no problems that need to be rectified.

Even the smallest of issues with the RV’s air conditioner can cause a huge number of efficiency issues. Of course, it can also increase the chances of the air conditioner breaking.

How Long Does An RV Air Conditioner Last?

The average lifespan of an RV’s air conditioner is somewhere around the 4-6 year mark. Now, we are not saying that the air conditioner will just stop working after that point. However, the efficiency is going to completely plummet. It is going to be so much more beneficial for you to replace the air conditioner in the short term than it will be to pay those increased fuel costs in the long term.

Not to mention the fact that the older an air conditioner gets, the more likely it is to break. You probably don’t need us to tell you that having an RV air conditioner break during the midst of your vacation can be completely annoying. Not only are you probably going to boil, but you are also going to find it incredibly tricky getting a replacement air conditioner while you are in the middle of nowhere!


You can run an RV air conditioner all day if you want. You just need to ensure that you are feeding it a decent amount of fuel to keep it chugging along.

If you do plan on running your RV air conditioner regularly, then we do suggest that you take steps to increase its efficiency of it. This means that you should ensure that the temperature is not switched too low, and you do not constantly turn your air conditioner on and off. Above all, you will also want to ensure that your air conditioner is properly maintained.