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2022 SoftStart Review: How boondocking & moochdocking campers can run their RV air conditioner

| Updated Jun 21, 2023

The Soft Start RV is for boondocking and moochdocking RVers who have long been frustrated in not being able to run their RV air conditioner with low power.

This is really a hot new way to stay cool… to be able to run your RV air conditioner without being plugged into a 30 or 50 amp power outlet.

Now that warm weather is with us again, having our AC on in the RV is essential for much of the country. But because an AC unit is such a power hog, most RVers can't use it unless they are plugged into 30 amp or 50 amp service.

That's where Soft Start comes in so handy.

You can run your RV air conditioner off your house batteries and 2000 watt inverter when boondocking with the SoftStartRV. Plus, you can also run into it when plugged into someone's measly 20 amp house circuit when moochdocking in their driveway.

Lots of us visit friends and relatives and sleep in the driveways. But unless they had a 30 amp supply out there, summer moochdocking was often miserably hot. Using a 12 gauge power cord plugged into a 20 amp 110v household outlet from the friend or relative's garage will now – with SoftStartRV installed in your RV's rooftop AC unit –  let you run the AC all night long. You can even use the RV's outlets for other things, like using a CPAP machine while RVing, TVs, or to charge your computers and other devices.

This really is a major game-changer for RVers who have felt they always had to be in a crowded commercial or government campground. 

Keep reading my review below. But if you immediately want more info on SoftStartRV, CLICK HERE

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Why Soft Start RV?

I first heard about Soft Start from my longtime friend Chuck Woodbury of RVTravel. Chuck's been around the industry for decades and urged me to look into it.

So, I called Doug Curtis of, the company that makes SoftStartRV. I learned that Doug started his company after spending 10 years with Dometic, the largest RV and marine climate, power, and control accessory supplier in the world and the company that just happens to have made my RV air conditioner.

CLICK HERE for an RV Lifestyle special price on the SoftStartRV

Then, I called the guy I think is the top expert in the country when it comes to all things involving RVs and electricity – Mike Sokol, of Mike is an engineer who literally wrote the book on the topic – the author of No Shock Zone RV Electrical Safety. He's spent 40 years in the industry and did extensive tests with the SoftStartRV device. His strong endorsement of the product convinced me that this was something I needed to recommend to my followers.

CLICK HERE for my Podcast interview on how SoftStart works.

So, based on what I learned from Chuck, Doug, and Mike, I want to share all this with you as we get ready for another summer of RV travel. 

Soft Start and Moochdocking and Boondocking

Let's talk more about why I think SoftStartRV is so useful for boondocking and moochdocking.

The key to understanding this device is its name… soft start. That's what it does with your RV air conditioner.

SoftStartRV lets boondocking and moochdocking RV air conditioner run on low power
The SoftStartRV is a huge help for boondocking and moochdocking campers who want to run their RV air conditioner on low power

The problem Soft Start solves for  boondocking and moochdocking campers who want to use their RV air conditioner: 

The problem with an RV air conditioner is that it is a huge energy hog. But that energy draw is worst at the start. Think back to when you fire up your RV air conditioner. Remember hearing that big thud when it first starts?  That's the compressor kicking in. It needs a huge surge of power for that. Once it starts running, the power needs to dramatically drop… down to maybe 13 or 14 amps.

SoftStartRV solves that initial electrical usage spike of your RV air conditioner by managing the start-up power surge so that it doesn’t hit at once, but gradually, avoiding the huge initial power draw. It soft starts the AC… hence the name, reducing the startup amps by 65-70%.

So, besides moochdocking, boondocking RVers in Class B and Class V RVs can really use this SoftStartRV device.For boondocking and moochdocking you can't beat lithum batteries

For boondocking and moochdocking you can't beat lithium batteries. The SoftStartRV works very well with these batteries… and AGMs, too. If you do boondocking all the time (see down the page for some links to info on boondocking), you know that you can not run the RV air conditioner off your house batteries unless you have a massive bank of batteries and a large inverter. That's because anything less than a 3,000-watt inverter generally can't deliver enough power for that initial spike that is required to get the compressor running. 

Yes, if you have a big enough generator, you can run the AC as long as you want. But generators are loud. Try sleeping with one running in the background. No way. If you have any neighbors, they're not going to appreciate the racket generators make. That's why campgrounds that allow dry camping for boondocking RVers have no-generator rules, or only allow generator use for limited amounts of time.

But with SoftStartRV installed, you can run the RV air conditioner right off your inverter in most cases.

Want more info on boondocking or moochdocking and where SoftStartRV would be helpful? See these resources:

How long can SoftStartRV run the RV air-conditioner for boondocking and moochdocking camping?

So, how long long you run your RV air conditioner with SoftStartRV?

Not all night. You would need massive amounts of battery power for that. RV air conditioners, even with Soft Start, are power hogs.

It also depends on how hot and humid it is.

But you should be able to run my RV air conditioner off your batteries long enough to cool down the RV before going to sleep or to keep your dog cool when you grab dinner in a restaurant and your pet stays in the RV out in the parking lot. 

On two fully charged lithium coach batteries, expect that SoftStartRV will allow you to run the AC for maybe two hours when unplugged from commercial 30 amp power. If it's extra hot and humid, maybe an hour and a half.

That's more than enough time to remove the humidity and cool your RV down for comfy sleeping.

Installing SoftStartRV even on large motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels also offers dramatic benefits.

See our videos on boondocking and where the SoftStartRV system would be very handy:

How is the SoftStartRV installed in the RV air conditioner?

It is easy to install the SoftStartRV so boondocking and moochdocking campers can run their RV air conditioner on low power
It is easy to install the SoftStartRV so boondocking and moochdocking campers can run their RV air conditioner on low power

If you're dreaming about the extra time you can spend boondocking and moochdocking with the SoftStartRV and want to try installing it yourself, the company insists it is a DIY-job that most Rvers can easily do. They say it takes about 30 minutes.

If you want to try to install yourself, the SoftStartRV instructions provide detailed wiring diagrams for all the major RV air conditioners. 

CLICK HERE for an RV Lifestyle special price for the SoftStartRV

Armed with those instructions, you have to climb up on the roof of your RV, remove the cover for your RV air conditioner and follow those instructions to attach the SoftStartRV gizmo, which is just a little bigger than a thick paperback book.

Besides RV service shops, the company behind SoftStartRV says mobile RV techs should also be able to easily install the SoftStartRV. Mobile techs are very familiar with RV air conditioner service and can easily get yours up and running.

SoftStartRV and larger RVs with two RV air conditioners

Boondocking and moochdocking RVers in small Class B campervans and Class C motorhomes looking to run their RV air conditioners on low power are not the only campers who will benefit from this. So do those in big Class A RVs, travel trailers, toy haulers, and fifth wheels. 

Many of those big RVs have (and need) two air conditioners. Some even have three! The problem they face is that often the campground they are staying in only has 30 amp hookups. Those big rigs that have two or more RV air conditioner units can only run one RV air conditioner on 30 amps because of the initial power spike to get the second AC unit started.

That’s a sweaty problem no one wants, having only part of their RV nice and cool. 

SoftStartRV devices installed on both RV air conditioners will let them run them both – on just 30 amps of campground power.

The SoftStartRV will even let them run their RV air conditioner units from a small portable 2KW Honda generator.

What does the SoftStartRV device cost?

The normal cost is $349. That's what it sells for on Amazon.

But we can save you $30 off that price so you can get it for $319 if you use this special link –

In full disclosure, I got so excited by what this can do for moochdocking and boondocking RV travel that I became an affiliate. That means I get a small commission on each sale made through my special link. That doesn't change what you pay.

In fact, you pay less than the Amazon price if you use my link. For becoming an affiliate, SoftStartRV offered a discount to my readers. They also offer free two-day shipping, free support, and a 90-day money-back guarantee if you are not delighted with the product.

CLICK HERE for an RV Lifestyle special price on the SoftStartRV

Do you want to save money by avoiding RV parks and campgrounds?

guide to boondocking

Our Beginner's Guide to Boondocking eBook gives you a detailed look into our preferred way of RVing and traveling.

Boondocking is camping totally self-contained with no commercial power, water, sewer, or any other on-the-grid service. 

We get questions every day from other RVers wondering “How do you do that?” In this step-by-step guide, we show you exactly how to boondock in your RV! 

CLICK HERE for information.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-04-28

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

7 Responses to “2022 SoftStart Review: How boondocking & moochdocking campers can run their RV air conditioner”

May 18, 2022at10:03 pm, Moochdocking Pros and Cons [2022] said:

[…] if you have a great device like a SoftStart RV installed on your RV, that household 20 amp service will power our RV air […]

May 12, 2022at4:05 pm, Moochdocking Pros And Cons [2022] | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] if you have a great device like a SoftStart RV installed on your RV, that household 20 amp service will power our RV air […]

October 08, 2020at1:41 pm, Easy explanation: RV Battery Voltage and State of Charge | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] New SoftStartRV review: How boondocking & moochdocking campers can run their RV air conditioner […]

June 13, 2020at6:48 pm, Tony Muccari said:

This site is not wholly dedicated to DIY. Instead it is a platform to share ideas and products so you can better enjoy the rv experience. Mike clearly explains why he chooses to hire experts in their field to install this equipment. Some of this equipment is on the roofs of our units, and let me tell you, If your not comfortable working on the roof of your rv you enter stay off of it. A fall from there could be tragic. So Mike keep doing what your doing keeps informing us of these great ideas and products.


June 09, 2020at8:51 pm, Mike said:

I wonder how long you can run it if plugged into 110 house outlet?

June 09, 2020at10:19 am, Robert Slimak said:

Agree with Cary Alburn!

June 08, 2020at10:05 am, Cary Alburn said:

I hope when you install the SoftStartRV, you actually do the installing. I was disappointed when you “installed” the Dish system, but actually had it installed by a professional installer. It’s much more realistic for the DIY owner to see what another DIY owner encounters as he/she does the installing of some new device, especially one that is touted as suitable for the DIY owner to do.

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