What to know about using my A/C with an inverter generator?
The idea of these small light weight generators is so appealing that they have surged in popularity over the last several years. Many companies are making them and they are not all equal in ability. These generators are rated for both continuous output and peak output but some are very under rated.
The Honda eu2000i is the most popular and arguably the industry standard. This generator and the new eu2200i can easily produce more than their continuous rated power to start and run a rooftop AC unit with EasyStart™.
There are many other generators on the market that can also produce good results. Generators with motors over 90cc are the best choice for reliable operation. Some smaller generators, such as those with 79cc motors, may be used with 13.5 KBTU air conditioners and smaller as long as all other loads are off and the elevation is not too high. All generators are not created equally or even rated equally. We recommend researching reviews, blogs, and RV websites before selecting a generator.
How you will use the generator is also important. Some of the above-mentioned generators are working above their 13.3-amp rating to run an air conditioner. Don’t expect to add any other loads to a single generator while the air conditioner is running unless you have allowed for it in sizing your generator. This means you may need to turn off any powered appliances including the battery charger and refrigerator. Easy solution is to buy a bigger generator but that means more cost and weight. Most people just make do with the limitations, it is camping after all!
Since air gets thinner the higher you go, elevation also affects the generator. Small generators may not have enough power at higher elevations to keep your A/C running, even though EasyStart has been able to start it. Engines lose about 3.5% of their power per 1000-foot rise in elevation. You may also need to re-jet the carburetor to get the generator motor to produce enough power since the thin air makes the mixture too rich. There are cases where you may need a 3 KW generator or larger to run an air conditioner in high desert. Careful planning and generator selection are the keys to success.
Be aware that running at lower elevations again will require the jet change again or you risk high combustion temperatures and burned engine components. Honda makes high elevation kits for its generator and some Yamaha dealers can also provide jets for those generators.