If you’re a full-time RVer, or even if you just camp a few times a year, the ability to keep your trailer cool is an absolute necessity. Thankfully, big names like Dometic and Airxcel/Coleman have been designing better, slimmer, more efficient, and cheaper RV air conditioner units for decades now, making it easier than ever to enjoy the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort inside your home away from home.
The most common type of RV ac is a rooftop unit, and that’s probably what you have in your rig right now. However, if you’re upgrading from an old model or looking to add a second AC unit for extra cooling capacity, it can be confusing to know exactly which type of RV ac to buy. To help, we’ve rounded up some of the best camper ac options available on the market today.
RV AC Cooling
An air conditioner is an essential part of any camping trip, but the physics of how they work can be confusing for people new to the hobby. Most of us think that our RV ac is just blowing cold air into our cabin, but actually it’s a more complicated process than that. Essentially, your RV AC pulls in outside air and cools it by running a refrigerant through it. This cooled air is then blown into your rig through the vents, cooling your cabin and removing humidity.
Depending on the power level of your new RV AC unit (measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units) you may be able to use it to heat your camper as well! Just make sure you check your owner’s manual and have a strong knowledge of electrical circuitry before trying to do so.
Another popular option for those wanting to upgrade their RV ac is to get a ducted model, which is designed to fit into your existing ducting system (if you have one). This makes it possible to target the distribution of cool air to different areas of your cabin, and can be useful for longer rigs where a single unit might not be powerful enough to properly cool all the spaces at once.
Ducted RV ac units can also be wired directly into your RV’s thermostat, which is convenient if you want to easily set and forget your ideal temperature settings. They’re also fairly easy to install, though if you’re replacing an existing unit it may require unscrewing and removing the roof shroud on your trailer or truck camper, which can take some time. To speed things up, we recommend using an insulated RV air conditioner silencer to reduce the amount of noise the fan creates when it’s operating. This will prevent it from becoming too loud and keeping you awake at night or making it hard to have a conversation. If you do need to remove the outer cover, be careful not to damage or lose any of the bolts that hold it in place!