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

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

SoftStartRV is perfect for boondocking and moochdocking Rv air conditioner use

The SoftStartRV 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.

Not only can you run your RV air conditioner off your house batteries and 2000 watt inverter when boondocking with the SoftStartRV, 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 – will now let you run the AC all night long. You can even use the RV's outlets for other things, like a CPAP machine, TV's 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 of government campground. 

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


Why SoftStartRV?

There are a number of companies that make similar devices that soft start your RV. Frankly, I don't have the time or interest to review every one of them. I'd rather spend all the time that would take out RVing.

But I do want what SoftServeRV can provide me.

I first heard about SoftStartRV from my longtime friend Chuck Woodbury of RVTravel. Chuck's been around the industry for decades and urged me to get one. 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. Doug insisted I get a SoftServeRV and shipped one out right away.

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 need on my RV (listen to next week's Podcast where Mike will be my special guest explaining how this all 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. I learned about SoftStartRV just as I was selling our current RV and about to pick up my new one. But I am so impressed by the potential of this product that I obtained one that I will install the SoftStartRV as soon as we get our new RV in late June.

SoftStartRV 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 SoftStartRV 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 pig. But that energy draw is worst at the start. Think back to when you fire up your RV air conditioner. Remember hearing that bug 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 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, especially if they have lithium batteries with solar panels

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,

Take the system we have on our current Class C motorhome, for example, which consists of two 100-amp lithium batteries, a 2000 watt inverter, and 400 watts of rooftop solar panels. We are so happy with that system that we have insisted on it being in the new one we will take possession of at the end of the month.

We do boondocking all the time (see down the page for some links to info on boondocking). But I can not run the RV air conditioner off my batteries with my existing system. That's because the 2,000 watt inverter can't deliver enough power for that initial spike that is required to get the compressor running. 

My solution has been to start the 3,500 watt LP generator on our RV. That lets me start and use the AC as much as I 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, I could run my 16,000 BTU RV air conditioner right off my inverter, which in turn is powered by my lithium batteries. Lithium batteries charge faster and fuller than typical AGM RV batteries. And lithium can be totally discharged, right down to zero, while AGM's go down to only about 50% before having to be recharged.

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 will I be able to run my RV air conditioner with SoftStartRV?

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

It also depends on how hot and humid it is.

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

On two fully charged lithium coach batteries, I expect that SoftStartRV will allow me to run my 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.

When boondocking, those 400-watt solar panels will usually top off my house batteries enough on a sunny day during the summer to once again get an hour and a half or so of RV air conditioner time. Typically,  I'd not turn on the AC till dark and then shut it down after 30-45 minutes. That's more than enough time to remove the humidity and cool it down for comfy sleeping.

As I said, we have a small Class C motorhome and are buying a new Class C in a couple of weeks. But installing SoftStartRV on larger motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels also offers dramatic benefits.

Here's a video of the Battleborn lithium battery power system we have installed on our RV:

See more of 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 (that's why I'm glad to have a rear ladder permanently attached), 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.

Again, I got my SoftStartRV as soon as I heard about it, just as I was selling my current RV and about to get a brand new one. When I take possession at the dealership, this is the first accessory I plan to install.

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 $299. That's what it lists for on Amazon. But we can save you from $30-$50 off that price 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


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Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.


  • 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.

  • Agree with Cary Alburn!

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

  • 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.


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