Best RV Air Conditioners: Efficient And Affordable Cooling Solutions For Your Camper
Cool your RV and make camping a comfortable adventure with these top RV air conditioners.
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON November 8, 2021
If you love spending time in your RV, whether it’s parked at your favorite national park, or driving all over the country exploring, one thing is certain: hot, humid nights create unhappy campers. Investing in a quality RV air conditioner can be a game-changer when it comes to creating a comfortable, climate-controlled environment that’s perfect for sleeping. Today’s RV air conditioners are efficient and powerful units that will cool your space quickly and help cut down on mold-causing humidity, keeping your RV cleaner and healthier. They come in a variety of sizes, installation configurations, and vary greatly in price. To help aid you in the decision-making process, we’ve come up with a list of some of the best and most reliable RV air conditioners on the market.
This 13,500 BTU AC unit is manufactured to be extra durable and effectively withstand harsh weather and temperatures while still running reliably.
- Compatible with most RV makes and models
- Reasonably priced
- Features an optional plug-in heat strip
- Concern over long-term reliability
- Control knobs tend to come off easily
This RV AC unit is our best value pick because of its great performance and affordable price point. It features a 15 percent increase in air flow over its predecessor, cooling your space quickly.
- Tough design withstands shocks and vibrations
- Compact structure works in any RV
- Limited power consumption
- Noisier operation than some other options
- Base pan is less durable than rest of AC unit
This 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner functions as a heater in addition to an air conditioner, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone and save valuable RV space in the process.
- Rugged, streamlined design
- Compact height works well with almost any RV model
- Improved efficiency over previous models
- Installation manual can be confusing
- Heavier than some other units on the market
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best RV Air Conditioners Reviews and Recommendations
How We Selected the Products
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing yet on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
In order to be sure we chose the best available and most reliable RV air conditioners, we weeded through countless dozens of options available. When it comes to RV air conditioners, there is a surprising number of choices, so we narrowed it down by relying on our own personal expertise, as well as the experiences of thousands of satisfied, and unsatisfied, customers.
In the end, we also wanted to provide you with options that were suitable for a wide variety of RV makes and models, and not specialized to one specific RV type, because let’s face it, there are a ton of different RV styles and sizes out there. We further eliminated options that were manufactured by companies that didn’t already have a stellar reputation and a long-standing track record of producing high-performance, durable products. The result is the list you see above.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
When it comes to selecting the ideal RV air conditioner to suit your needs, there are several key factors that, if addressed appropriately, will ensure you get a great product that will last you a long time. After all, RV air conditioners aren’t cheap, so you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment won’t be left sweating and miserable on those 100-degree days.
Benefits of RV Air Conditioners
- Customizable comfort level. When the temperature outside becomes unbearable, you’ll appreciate the cool air inside your RV. Whether you’re camping or on the road, an efficient RV air conditioner is a necessity. It makes the difference between a comfortable experience and one you’d rather forget.
- Clean indoor air. The air quality inside the RV gets better with an AC unit installed. No more dust or allergies; fresh and moving air is less likely to breed germs or impact the health of those living on board.
Types of RV Air Conditioners
Rooftop air conditioner units are popular since they save you space inside the RV. Their ideal place on top of the vehicle means the brisk air outside cools the RV AC unit, and low-profile units consume less energy and have a lower risk of damage when passing under bridges. Rooftop AC systems come in two options: ducted and non-ducted. Ducted systems are suited for large RVs, as they push the cool air to all corners of the RV. Non-ducted units are suitable for smaller RVs and cost less.
The under-bench RV air conditioner, as you might expect, is located inside your vehicle. It’s stored under a seating bench or inside a cabinet. So while it does take up valuable storage space inside your RV, it’s a perfect option if you have an RV with a curved or already overcrowded roof. It does allow you to keep your windows free and unaffected by ductwork.
Portable units have a smaller size and a better design, as you can move them around, and they don’t require installation. They take up space inside the RV and need extra care for handling. The units are energy efficient but require a hose to avoid water leakage. Instead of the usual refrigeration process, the unit evaporates the air and releases a cold air stream to cool the area.
A Swedish company opening its doors in 2001, it manufactures a wide range of products, designed for recreational vehicles. With a global distribution network dealing in over 100 countries. Its product line continues to evolve, including everything from camping gear to power systems for RVs and boats. Among its top climate control systems for RVs is the Dometic B59516.XX1J0 Brisk, favored for its powerful cooling effects.
This brand falls under the Dometic manufacturing umbrella, but it’s still worth noting. It was successfully bought out due to its high-grade products spanning from heating systems to windows and doors. Focusing on the recreational vehicle industry, you’re likely to find an Atwood product in just about every modern RV. An Illinois-based company, it dates back to 1909, continuing to innovate tech in the RV industry. One of its helpful products when setting up an RV air conditioner is the Atwood Ducted Ceiling Assembly.
Furrion is a company that’s dedicated to melding modern luxury with sustainability. The founding partners met as engineers on a megayacht crew, so they understand what luxury mobile living means on a personal level.
Founded in Kingfisher, Okla. in 1900 by William Coffin Coleman, this company has been manufacturing and delivering reliable and trusted camping and outdoor equipment for more than 120 years. From tents and sleeping bags, to camp stoves, gas-powered generators, and RV air conditioners like the Coleman 48204C869 RV Air Conditioner, there’s almost nothing you can’t get to make your camping or RV experience as comfortable as possible.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it’s a technical specification that can help you decide which AC suits your RV based on its size and average local weather conditions. The average AC unit has 13,500 BTU power. This is enough power to cool down a large RV. Humid weather conditions demand more BTU power in your AC. If you visit areas with high humidity or extreme temperatures, you’ll need to invest in a unit with more BTU power.
Air conditioning units consume a lot of energy, so choosing a unit that consumes less power saves you money in the long run.
Air with poor quality is a health hazard, especially for people prone to allergies or respiratory issues. Not all RV air conditioners have built-in air purifying systems. Those that have them, however, do a good job of removing odors. The air purifier improves the quality of the air inside the RV and keeps it fresh and clean, regardless of the conditions outside.
Not all RV air conditioners are manufactured to the same size specifications. Be sure to measure your existing unit or the hole for the AC unit prior to purchasing. This is true for rooftop units, under-bench models, and window units. Most rooftop openings measure 14 x 14 inches, but some can be smaller or larger, depending on the manufacturer.
Q: Can I heat my RV with the air conditioning unit as well?
You cannot use the unit to heat the RV in cold weather unless it comes with a heat pump. If your AC doesn’t have a heat pump, you can buy heat strips or a heater assembly kit.
Q: How often should I maintain my RV air conditioner?
Every two months. Check for cracks in the plastic. Clean the filters and air vents and check for wear and tear marks on the unit.
Q: Can I run my RV air conditioner on battery power?
While you technically can run your RV air conditioner using battery power, it’s not recommended. RV air conditioners are power draws that can quickly drain your batteries down to an unusable state, even with plentiful solar panels to help recharge them. It’s usually best to run your AC only when the engine is running, plugged into pedestal power, or by using an appropriately sized gas-powered generator.
Now that you know what to look for in a top-quality, high-performance RV air conditioner, it’s probably easy to see why we chose the ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air RV Air Conditioner as our top pick. It’s a reasonably priced unit that’s compatible with most RV makes and models. It also comes with an optional plug-in heat strip, making it an even better value.
For a more budget-friendly option, we like the Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner. It’s a well-built RV air conditioner that comes with a lot of features you will only find in pricier models. This newly revamped version also offers a 15 percent increase in airflow from its previous version, giving you a bigger bang for your buck.