Here you’ll find everything including installation procedure, buying guide and tips regarding best RV air conditioners.
Vacation or trip planning has not just tagged along with the transformational aspects of this decade but have achieved enormous levels of comfort and convenience in doing so. Long gone are the days when you return to an insect-strewed pop-up tent after a long hike or have to get up in the middle of the night to nail the pegs of the camp rigidly with the ground. Tents and pop-up campers have been converted into camper trailers which are towed by trucks or more individually, RVs.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to read the complete buying guide and looking for instant purchase then check below the best selling RV Air conditioners which are available on Amazon. I’m sure you’ll not regret if you purchase any one of the mentioned models.
However, we recommend you to read this complete RV Air Conditioner buying guide before making an effective purchase.
Buying an RV is a big investment and will potentially remain with you for years, therefore, you must bedeck it with the best air conditioner so that complies with every sort of conditions. We will discuss everything you must know regarding air conditioners for RV.
Considerations Before Buying Air Conditioner For RV (Buying Guide)
1. The size of the vehicle: Class A RVs are about 45 feet and require two units powerful enough to cool up the entire area while Class B RVs are the smallest and you can rely on a single AC for it. The size of the RV will also decide the power you need on your air conditioner. BTU which is short of British Thermal Unit is used to indicate the power of ACs and 1 Btu is equal to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree; reverse it for ACs, it would be the energy needed to decrease the temperature.
2. Clearance height: This factor only comes in to play when buying rooftop air conditioners because they are installed over the roof and may cause problems when passing tunnels, or underpasses. It is best to go for low-profile and streamlined AC units.
3. Do you have drain spaces: Window and portable air conditioners would need separate outlets for their drainage and you must be knowledgeable as to which window is suitable for the installation of a window AC or as drain outlet.
Considerations for the installation
1. Most of the times, there is a dedicated roof vent for the installation of a rooftop AC. In case there isn’t, you must consider the following locations:
For motorhomes, it should be installed within 2.7m of the driver’s cabin.
For travel trailers, the location should be near the door slightly forward of the vehicle’s centerline.
For a truck with camper, it must be in the range of 1.2-1.5m from the back side of the camper to ensure maximum cooling.
2. Installing a window air conditioner may be the most time-consuming. Firstly, with the aid of a helper, position your unit in the window to keep it balanced and screw it with the flanges above and below. More than half of the unit should be outside. Secondly, secure the unit with any of the necessary fittings like the L-shaped clips and connect the bottom and top sash frame. Then, look for any gaps in the window and seal them with foam and after it, install the drain piping. Drill a hole to route the power cables and voila, you are done! Though, its not that simple and we recommend a professional for doing it.
Top 5 Best RV Air Conditioners
Best Rooftop Air Conditioners For Your RV
Dometic Polar White B59516.XX1C0 (Best overall)
This masterpiece has been among the top three, if not the top model of the majority of the concerned lists which speaks of the quality it carries. Manufactured after a thoughtful planning process of 2 years, it is furnished with everything that an RV air conditioner must contain.
With a power of 13500 Btu, it is powerful enough to deliver the cooling effect equivalent to 15000 Btu units because of the innovative compressor and evaporator design. As a result of better material selection, the airflow is also enhanced by 15%. Proven to have a highly sturdy base which renders resistance against vibrations while the RV moves across extreme terrains and regarded as one of the quietest AC out there in the market, this model promises a wholesome package for you.
It carries a warranty of 2 years and maybe expensive for some people but the high price tag is justified, keeping in view the merits is offers.
- Nominal capacity,13,500 btu/hour, installation type: ducted or non ducted
- High-performance motor and fan
- Electrical rating- 115v ac, 60 hz, 1 phase
- Easy installation and maintenance, dampening brackets reduce noise and vibration
- 2 year protection plus warranty
If you’re interested in reading more about rooftop AC units then check this buying guide of best rooftop air conditioners for RV’s.
Dometic Penguin II (Best Low Profile)
Induced drag exerts extra pressure on the moving RV and that extra power needs to be generated by the engine which results in low running efficiency. Huge air conditioners sitting on top of the roof will add that air resistance, therefore, it is a smart choice to go for aerodynamic AC designs.
Dometic Penguin II may be heavier but has a low profile and sleek design that helps in saving the fuel ultimately. It delivers cool air at a rating of 13500 Btu and is extremely quiet. For those who wish for a versatile AC unit with heating capability, must eye this model as it is incorporated with a heat strip.
In addition, it has both digital and manual controls and can be switched between three levels of fan speed depending on the temperature you want to achieve.
- Aerodynamic low profile reduces wind drag, saves fuel
- Quiet power: Delivers the optimum balance of air flow
- Easy-to-reach, easy-to-use controls - three-speed blower
- Manual, electronic and wall thermostat controls; Input voltage (AC): 115 V
- Pre-installed module board & heat strip for thin ceiling application
Looking interested in learning more about low profile rooftop RV air conditioners, check out the reviews and buying guide of rooftop air conditioners for campers here.
Best Portable Air Conditioners For RV
BLACK + DECKER 10000 BTU (Best Budget and Top Seller RV Portable AC)
It’s always the best to get an excellent product at an affordable price; this air conditioner is just that: convenient in movement, high in functionality, versatile in power offering and inexpensive in rate.
It is the top seller on Amazon and available in ratings from 8000 Btu to 14000 Btu + Heat. The 10000 Btu unit can cool areas of 250 sq. feet easily and make your summer trips as snug as they can be. It delivers cool air through a vertical motion that is pretty much the standard movement for portable ACs so that even temperature is achieved throughout the space.
The controls can be changed through a remote and everything is displayed on the digital front panel which is a user-friendly approach. Modes include sleep to regulate the temperature throughout the night, timer to schedule programmed ON and OFF times and energy saver which turns on the fan but not the compressor.
Moreover, it doesn’t give a lot of noise, can be moved around with ease due to the presence of 4 caster wheels, contains a washable filter and a convenient drain system. However, it requires a supply of 115V to be operated.
- COOL AS A CUCUMBER: Keeps a room, home, bedroom, apartment, dorm or garage that is approximately 150 - 250 square feet or 20 x 20 foot room pleasant and comfy during the summer months when the heat sets in. Works in double hung or sliding windows only, no crank windows.
- DESIGN ENGINEERING: Vertical motion creates a steady and powerful airflow that provides consistent temperature in any room in the house. Slide out filter that rinses easily under a faucet for a fresh air feel. 4 caster wheels included for easy movement and compact portability.
- TOP TECHNOLOGY: Enjoy the simplicity and precision of programmable, electronic controls and the clarity of an LED digital display and a 24 hour on/off timer and sleep mode. 115 volts, 950 watts and 60Hz.Operating Condition : Room Temperature -64 ̊F (18 ̊C) - 95 ̊F (35 ̊C) for Cold and Dry Mode.(Unit performance may be affected when in use outside of these operating temperatures)
- 3-IN-1: Bucket less designed cooling unit combines cooling, fan and dehumidification modes with a simple quiet and noiseless operation (approx. 75dB on high setting). Environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant. Slide Out Washable Filter & Large Front Vented Airflow Outlet
- WHAT'S INCLUDED: The maximum length of the exhaust hose is 4 feet and 11 inches; window kit included for easy installation and a manual guide for set up. BONUS: Remote control included. Important to note: according to the 2017 DOE testing standard, this unit carries a 6000 BTU cool but according to the ashrae 128 this ac is a 10000 BTU cool.
HONEYWELL HL10CES (Overall Best Portable Air Conditioner For RV)
Honeywell’s stylishly constructed model is equipped with all modern technologies and considerations. Be it effective cooling, dehumidifying capability, easy movement or self-evaporation; it has it all.
A 9000 Btu model is powerful enough to cool areas of 300 sq. feet which is roughly the area of your RV, if not less. Like the previous model, it utilizes a vertical motion for consistent cooling but that’s not the noteworthy feature.
It is equipped with dual filters that protect you from bacteria, dust as well as the dander that randomly fly around causing allergies and throat problems. They can easily be washed and inserted back. To be sufficient for winters, it contains a dry mode that removes about 3.3 pints/ hour so that your body doesn’t feel itchy in humid conditions.
Moreover, the sleep mode, digital display, and auto evaporation make it a highly likable product.
- Stylish, powerful & dependable. Thermal overload protection for added safety & peace of mind. Automatic vertical wind motion helps distribute powerful cool air evenly for fast & consistent cooling
- Dual filters designed to protect from dust & hair to extend product life & performance. Filters clean easily under a faucet for easy maintenance. Full set window kit included for quick & easy installation for vertical and horizontal windows (max. Hose length is 4 feet)
- Designed for comfort with 3 fan speeds, sleep mode, digital controls, 24 hour energy saving timer & remote control with digital display included
- Stress-free auto evaporation – no bucket to empty (except in areas with high humidity). built-in dehumidifier removes up to 80 pints/24 hours with continuous drain option for long unattended operation
- 10000 btu (ashrae-128 standard)/5500 btu (doe+ 2017 standard)
If you’re interested in learning more about Portable Air Conditioners then Check theses 7 Best Portable AC Units For Campers.
Best Window Air Conditioner For RV
Frigidaire FFRA051R1E (Best Small Window RV Air Conditioner)
This is one of the lightest and smallest window air conditioner which renders ideal suitability for your RV. With a power of 5000 Btu and 2 fan speeds, it can cool areas to 150 sq. feet within a small period of time.
Apart from its compact design, it is its scheme of grills, powerful motor, silent operation, EER of 11.1 and user-friendly features that make it our top pick. It can also work in dry mode to remove 1.1 pints per hour to clean up the air from moisture and harmful bacteria. All in all, this model is supremely designed especially for RVs and comes at an affordable rate.
If you’re interested in learning more about Windows Air Conditioners then read Top 7 best windows air conditioners for RV.
- 5,000 BTU mini-compact air conditioner for window-mounted installation uses standard 115V electrical outlet (Window mounting kit included)
- Quickly cools a room up to 150 sq. ft. with dehumidification up to 1.1 pints per hour
- Mechanical rotary controls, 2 cool speeds, 2 fan speeds, and 2-way air direction.Accommodates windows with a minimum height of 13 inches and width of 23 inches to 36 inches
- Low power start-up, quiet operation and effortless restart.Exterior Dimensions Height: 12 inches. Width: 16 inches. Depth: 15-1/4 inches
- Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): 11.1, Measures: 16-Inches W x 15-1/4-Inches D x 12-Inches H
- Motor RPM (Low): 1310
Repair Is Important If You Want A Long Life For Your AC Unit
Every machine in the world is entitled to repair because running and environmental conditions affect their interior, for example, a car filter is meant to get caught up in dust after three weeks of use and an AC’s compressor is likely to get a gas refilling after 8 months. Repairing your RV’s air conditioner timely will elongate its life and only then, will you get full advantage of your investment.
Know the parts:
It is important to know what your air conditioner is made up of. Many people know what the outer buttons do and how to clean the filter but fewer are well-informed about the internal structure which includes the evaporator, compressor, and motor.
How to go about maintenance:
Cleaning of the filter is the most obvious maintenance procedure which can be performed. They are either present on the front side of the rooftop air conditioners or at the sides or back side of the window or portable ACs. You can remove them easily and wash it with soap or detergent before drying it in indirect sunlight. Make sure that it is properly dried before inserting it back. A dirty filter restricts the flow of air through the system and causes overheating. It also puts pressure on the motor and causes it to work harder which leads to more power consumption.
For the more extensive cleaning, you need to sink inside the unit and for that, unscrewing of the shroud is required. Condenser coils and evaporator tend to be the favorite spots for the accumulation of dirt. They should be first cleaned by an air blower and then with a clean, dry cloth. Keeping these parts unattended for a longer span of time would largely reduce the cooling effect because after all. It’s the compressor that raises the pressure of the refrigerant to create that pressure difference which is required for the transfer of the refrigerant.
Troubleshooting: Common RV Air Conditioner’s Problems And Their Solutions
1. The air conditioner is not turning on: It can happen due to two minor issues. Firstly, the batteries in your remote may have depleted. Change them and get new ones. Secondly, there may be an issue with the power supply of the AC. Check whether the cable is damaged from some point or not properly plugged in.
2. Air conditioner giving a bad smell: It is frustrating to smell bad air when you turn on the AC but it could happen due to various reasons. The first one is the unclean filter, condenser or evaporator. The solution lies in keeping them clean because they wouldn’t only give bad smell if left dirty but will also nourish the growth of bacteria. The second reason could be water collected in the unit. It produces hydrogen sulfide which has that pungent rotten eggs smell. Check for this time and never have standing water because it can also give birth to mosquitoes.
3. AC giving hot air: There is a problem with the thermostat. Check for the temperature set on the remote as the first solution. You could have mistakenly set it to a high temperature or fan mode which means the compressor is simply shut off. A more technical technique, if the first one fails, is to disconnect the two wires leading to the thermostat and attach them together, bypassing the thermostat completely. If the unit switches on, it is surely a broken thermostat because the circuit is broken. Get an electrician to fix it up for you.
4. The unit is leaking: We are talking about leakage from the back or front side of the air conditioner and not the drain hose because drain hose is meant to expel out water. In extreme temperatures, leakage is likely because of the condensation occurring underside the condenser as hot or humid weather puts extra pressure on the compressor to work. But if the dripping continues, here are some troubleshooting mechanisms.
Check for any blockage in the drain pipe because if there is, the water would collect in the evaporator unit and expel all the way out of the drain tray, through the sides of the air conditioner. There could also be an issue with the drain tray. If it is broken, not all of the water would find its way to the drain pipe and will spill out from the sides of the unit. Moreover, blocked air filters can also contribute to this leakage. If they are crammed with dirt, evaporator coils may freeze and extra water would spill from the sides of the drain tray.
5. Noisy AC: Rooftop and window air conditioners are more prone to this problem because they have a part of them outside the vehicle. Anything from dirt, mud or debris can get into the unit and account for rumbling or humming noise. If there is a rattling noise other than the normal one, the condenser should be inspected for any signs of foreign particles like tiny leaves and get rid of them. Blow air through an air blower if you can arrange for it.
If there is a whistling noise, it is mainly due to the leaking refrigerant. Upon finding out, ring a professional and take his help.
If the nature of the noise resembles a moaning, probably the motor has started to worn out. Look for a new motor; you can either purchase it online but one must be an expert to choose the correct model or go to the market and buy a replacement which is a much safer option.
Tips For Maintaining RV Air Conditioner
If you are not using your air conditioner, it is an intelligent practice to open the roof vent and let the moisture which may be settled within the unit to evaporate.
Don’t always operate your air conditioner on low temperatures because doing so will age up to the unit quickly. Rather, opt for a temperature of 24-26degree Celsius every now and then. The other thing you can do is to turn on the “fan” mode because this will adjust the temperature to the required temperature and then give off cool air.
The fan rotates the entire time an air conditioner is on to circulate the air hence it is prone to get worn out, therefore, you need to keep it well-oiled.
- Keep an eye on the time each time your AC takes to cool up the RV. If it continues to gradually take more time than previously, your compressor or evaporator are aging and need cleaning or repairing. Do this at least twice a year to be well informed.
- What are some good RV AC brands?
Not all brands are trustworthy and therefore, we have only included recognizable and respected brands in our articles.
Airxcel: It was founded in 1991, and quickly became one of the leading manufacturers of climate control products including air conditioners, heaters, furnaces and ventilation systems. Their products have been deemed reliable, up-to-mark and reasonably priced. Manufacturers like Coleman, Dicor, and Maxxair which deal in parts of the products are subsidiaries of Airxcel.
Dometic: It is a Swedish company which deals in food and beverage, sanitation and climate appliances within RVs, marine and automotive vehicles. Rooting back to 1919 and phasing through various acquisitions, it became the Dometic Group in 2009. Their products may be priced a little higher but finding genuine loopholes in their operation is an asking task, such is the magnitude of quality they have maintained.
Honeywell Home: It is a unit of Honeywell International Inc, this American Company provides Home Air Quality, Safety and Heating solutions to its customers. Our interest lies in their portable air conditioners that are furnished with environmental safety, ergonomic design, and reasonable rates.
LG: It is a South Korean multinational electronics corporation that creates products in various ranges. Their window air conditioners are easy to use, high in EER and available in various power ratings.
Fridigare: Founded in 1918, this US-founded company manages the kitchen, laundry, and home appliances. Because of their supremely designed products and good customer service, their air conditioners have found a larger customer base.
What should be the power of the air conditioner for my RV?
It depends on the size of the RV you own. We would script down the rule of thumb however it is subjected to variations depending on the outdoor weather conditions, the manufacturing company of the AC and the amount of heat-emitting devices inside your RV like a refrigerator or vacuum cleaner. To cool small areas of 150-250 sq. feet, 8000 Btu are sufficient, to cool areas of 300-400 sq. feet, you would want ACs of 10000 Btu., for cooling larger areas till 700 sq. feet which is not usually the case with RVs, you would require 12000 Btu units and a larger one for more area.
- What is EER?
It is the ratio which is calculated by dividing the cooling output of an air conditioner (in Btu) by the energy consumption in watt-hours. Abbreviated for Energy Efficiency Ratio, it gives an idea about how efficient your HVAC system is. Simply, the higher the EER value, the more efficient your AC is. 11-12.5 ratings are regarded as good EER ratings. You should always look to but the air conditioner which has a high EER value because it carries significant advantages.
Higher efficiency contributes to low power consumption and ultimately to less electricity bill. Secondly, most of the high-EER systems are much durable, reliable and offer extended levels of cooling due to the incorporation of cutting0edge technologies. Lastly, they are constructed with environmental-friendly parts and thus do not emit harmful gases or compounds.
- How do we charge/refill RV AC?
Like domestic air conditioners, you need to recharge the unit with fresh refrigerant after a fixed time period because they will run out eventually. Follow an easy scheme of steps to insert the refrigerant accurately and safely.
Firstly, purchase the right refrigerant. The details of the accurate one are narrated on the manual or side of the air conditioner.
Secondly, turn off the power supply to the unit.
Thirdly, remove the screws that attach the shroud with the body in case of a rooftop AC, unscrew the backside of the unit in case of a window or portable ones and lift the lid. Be careful that nothing gets damaged. Utilize a screwdriver or a tester for this step.
Fourthly, locate the refrigerant gauge and unscrew the port. After this, add the recommended amount of refrigerant steadily. Check for the temperature difference between the air inside the RV and the unit. It should be greater than 20 degrees. Screw back everything and turn on the power to the unit to discover the change in the cooling effect. (Hoping for better results)
Last update on 2019-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API