Can You Use a Propane Air Conditioner for Campers?

Can You Use a Propane Air Conditioner for Campers?

Your RV includes several appliances that run on electricity, including a microwave. However, a number of other devices may need propane to work efficiently, which is great if you ask us. That’s because using propane to operate your electronic machines allows you to boondock without draining your RV’s battery. 

However, you may have to learn how to use a propane generator safely to enjoy your outdoor trip with friends and family at best. 

Luckily, you can use propane to run your RV air conditioner quite easily and simply. Here is what you need to know to become a pro at using propane correctly in no time.

How Can You Power Your AC with a Propane Generator?

RV air conditioners do not use the absorption cooling method. Therefore, they will not run on propane directly. Hence, you need to have a portable generator that can produce electric current from propane fuel. This electricity will then be used to power your AC.

In addition, the generator must be large and powerful enough to generate a minimum of 2000 watts of electricity continuously. However, it would be best to get a 3000-watt generator as it can handle your AC and other useful appliances better. 

How Does an Air Conditioner Run on Propane?

Air conditioners generally cool the air by using a compressor to compress the refrigerant present in your AC’s coils covered with fins. Meanwhile, a second motor operates the fan circulating the air present in the cabin through the air conditioning unit. 

This mechanism resembles how your refrigerator may keep your food cold at all times. 

Things You Need to Do to Run Your Propane AC

The first step to powering your AC with propane is to convert your old cooling system that uses a compressor into an absorption cooling system. The compressor cooling system is a mechanical process to chill the air, while the absorption method is a chemical and heat process. 

Since the mechanics of each cooling system is different, you may experience a difference in your AC’s cooling effectiveness. For instance, your AC’s efficiency may decline by 5 – 7 folds. Moreover, a difference in size would make your currency AC cover unfit. 

In addition, converting your AC’s cooling system is not cost-effective in any manner. Therefore, you should consider investing your money in buying a good generator or getting yourself a different AC. 

Safety Tips for Using Propane to Power RV AC

Propane is a hazardous gas. Therefore, you should remain cautious while using it. This is in the best interest of your family and your own safety. Here’s what you should do to use propane in your RV safely:

Regularly Monitor Your System

If you use propane for your AC, you must check your system twice every year. You must keep an eye for objects that might rub against the propane lines. In addition, watch out for junk and debris. Inspecting things that seem out of order is also a good idea. 

Moreover, if a propane leak is suspected, you can spray soapy water over the propane line to see if any bubbles form. You can track down any leakages in the system and get them repaired by practicing this routine regularly. 

Install Propane Detectors

You should always drive your RV with functioning carbon monoxide, fire, and propane detectors. This way, you can know about a leak as soon as possible. 

In addition, if you ever hear your propane detector go off or you sniff propane, you must get rid of every fire and hear source. Moreover, you should be quick to leave the RV. However, make sure you leave the doors open for the gas to escape. 

Then, once the RV becomes well-ventilated, you can make arrangements to fix the issue. 

Can You Use Your AC While Driving the RV?

The answer is yes, you may use your dash and rooftop air conditioner while you are driving. That’s because the dash AC will work as long as your RV’s engine is running. 

However, the rooftop AC may require you to start your generator to receive power. In addition, using your generator often is a great idea to maintain its efficiency as it may require frequent repairs if you do not use it regularly. 

What Are the Risks of Running Your RV AC with Propane?

Propane is widely recognized as a highly unstable gas. It has potential risks which are not that common with using electricity. Therefore, using electricity to power, your appliance is considered a safer option. 

Regardless, here are a few risks of using a propane air conditioner. 

  • Propane does not go high on your roof. So, you must be careful while installing propane detectors 
  • It has a high penetration rate. As a result, it can squeeze through the holes in your RV and cause serious safety risks
  • Propane is an odorless gas. Therefore, you may not be able to tell its presence by sniffing. So, you should add a smell to it to make it detectable. If a leak occurs, you can identify if you are breathing propane or oxygen
  • Propane includes carbon monoxide. This means that you can not detect the gas without installing indicators for carbon monoxide
  • Propane is a heavy gas. Therefore, it sinks to the floor. This puts any person sleeping or laying on the floor at risk of suffocating from the gas. So, you must install your indicators at floor level to ensure safety
  • The gas is combustible. This means that any electric spark, heat, or flame can set fire in a matter of seconds

Final Thoughts

You can use the RV’s air conditioner for an extended time. This means that you can enjoy a night-long sleep in cool air while running the air conditioner on a generator or electricity. In addition, using propane to power your AC is achievable with a list of preventive measures. 

If you travel with your family and kids, you must ensure your RV is well-ventilated and all propane pipes are leak proof. Don’t forget to check the systems regularly to discover anything out of order for a timely repair. 

Warwick Braith

Warwick Braith is a thrill seeker at heart. He loves getting outdoors and testing his limits in the wild. As a blogger for YapQ, Warwick provides readers with insights and tips on how to get the most out of their outdoor experiences. Whether it's hiking, camping, or simply exploring nature, Warwick knows how to make the most of it.

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