Reviews

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 July 17, 2021

For the avid RVer, frequent camper, or full-time liveaboards, there are few things worse than trying to sleep or relax inside a sweltering living space. Since most people prefer RVing in warmer climates, investing in a high-quality RV air conditioner makes sense. Staying cool can really improve your enjoyment of the experience—not just for you, but for your family, friends, and guests as well. 

 

When it comes to selecting a high-performance air conditioner, there are no shortage of options on the market. To help eliminate some of the confusion and stress, we’ve taken the liberty of researching the top options on the market right now. We’ve compiled a list of our faves along with an in-depth buying guide that will teach you how to separate the good from the bad when browsing for your perfect RV cooling solution.

Best Overall
Dometic Brisk II 15K BTU
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Summary
Summary

This eco-friendly AC is our top pick because of the great performance and maximized air flow. It’s smaller and lighter than the competitors with improved air cooling capacity and reduced power consumption.

Pros
Pros
  • Tough design withstands shocks and vibrations
  • Compact structure works in any RV
  • Limited power consumption
Cons
Cons
  • Comes with a high price tag
  • Base pan is less durable than rest of AC unit
Best Overall
Dometic Brisk II 15K BTU
Best Value
Aivant Portable Air Conditioner
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Summary
Summary

This compact air conditioner is an extremely affordable and portable air conditioning fan that is ideal for small RVs and trailers.

Pros
Pros
  • Fits easily on a table or countertop
  • Runs on rechargeable batteries, so it won’t drain power from your RV batteries
  • Compact enough to go from RV to home or office easily
Cons
Cons
  • Not specifically for use in RVs, so it's one more thing for campers to tote and store.
  • Not powerful enough to cool a large RV
Best Value
Aivant Portable Air Conditioner
Honorable Mention
Furrion 14.5K BTU RV Air Conditioner
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Summary
Summary
Sleek and modern, this unit is great for medium- to large-sized RVs. Smart Vibration and ClimateSmart technology improve function and lengthen its life span. 


Pros
Pros
  • 50 percent greater cooling capacity and 40 percent better energy efficiency compared to other models
  • Sleek, modern appearance 
Cons
Cons
  • Requires substantial power to operate
  • Self-installation can be a difficult process
Honorable Mention
Furrion 14.5K BTU RV Air Conditioner

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.

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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. 
  • Get the most out of your RV. Sightseeing aboard the RV is a pleasure in itself. With AC units for travel trailers, you can maximize the time you spend on your RV. The AC improves the quality of your sleep and makes the RV feel like home.
  • 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 

Rooftop air conditioner units are popular since they save space inside the RV. Their ideal placement on top of the vehicle means the air outside cools the RV AC unit. 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. Similar to home central a/c units, ducted systems are suited for large RVs, as they feed vents in each room and push the cool air to all corners of the RV. Non-ducted units are fine for smaller RVs, and cost less.  

Under-Bench

The under-bench RV air conditioner is located inside the vehicle, typically 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 allows you to keep your windows free and unaffected by ductwork. Other benefits include the fact that it doesn’t affect your RV’s overall height clearance, and its low position makes it an efficient heating option.

Portable

Portable units have a smaller size and a better design. 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. Portable systems work best in dry heat as opposed to humid environments. 

Window 

Window units are similar to those used in homes. They save up space and have a good cooling capacity. Ease of installation is another perk of this type. They come in small sizes for better handling and power efficiency and mount into most windows with little effort. Obviously, they're not ideal for RVers on the go, and more suited for long-term parked RVs.

Top Brands

Dometic

A Swedish company opening its doors in 2001, Dometic 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. 

Atwood

This brand falls under the Dometic manufacturing umbrella. An Illinois-based company, it dates back to 1909, continuing to innovate tech in the RV industry. It was successfully bought out due to its high-grade products spanning from heating systems to windows and doors. You’re likely to find an Atwood product in just about every modern RV. One of its helpful products when setting up an RV air conditioner is the Atwood Ducted Ceiling Assembly

Furrion

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. Using that knowledge and passion, the company has expanded its reach globally over the years by creating and manufacturing innovative products like the Furrion Arctic 12V Built-in Refrigerator

Emerson

A Fortune 500 company, this publicly-traded brand operates on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker name EMR. With a hand in several industries, including industrial automation, network power, and climate tech, it manufactures a wide range of air conditioners. Many of its selections are compatible with use in an RV, including the Emerson EARC6RE1 Quiet Kool 6,000 BTU 115V Window Air Conditioner, a quality option for more compact rec vehicles. 

RV Air Conditioner Pricing

  • Under $200: Air conditioners in this low price range are not designed specifically for recreational vehicles. These cheap RV air conditioning units are typically window mounted. They also consume more energy and are on the noisy side.
  • $200 to $500: In this price range, you can get a good portable AC for the RV. They have good performance, with reduced power consumption, and are suited for small- to medium-sized recreational vehicles.
  • $600 and up: This level of investment can get you a top-notch air conditioner. Options here are generally compatible with all types of RVs. They tend to offer high performance, a great cooling capacity, and quiet operation.

Key Features

BTU Power

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. 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. 

Power Consumption

Air conditioning units consume a lot of energy. That can be a problem for an RV that uses a portable generator. Choosing a unit that consumes less power saves you money in the long run. These units are also environmentally friendly. If you travel across the border on your RV, make sure the unit is compatible with various power sources in different countries. 

Air Purifier

Not all RV air conditioners have built-in air purifying systems. Those that have them, however, do a good job of removing odors, improving the quality of the air inside the RV, and keeping it fresh and clean, regardless of the conditions outside.

Size

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.

Other Considerations

  • Noise. All air conditioning units make noise; some are quieter than others. A quiet AC means better sleep at night since the little noise it makes blends into the background. 
  • Heat Pump. An AC unit with a heat pump means you can use it to keep you warm when the temperature drops. This is useful if you travel around during different seasons. The best RV heat pumps will keep you cozy even in the cold winter.
  • Frequency of use. If you’re a frequent user of your RV, or if you primarily use it in very warm climates, you may want to purchase a more expensive, more powerful model than if you are only using your RV occasionally or in more temperate climates or cooler climates.

Best RV Air Conditioners Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Dometic Brisk II 15K BTU

Dometic’s Brisk II Model B59516.XX1J0 sets itself apart from the competition with a bunch of features that make it our top pick. This RV air conditioner packs a powerful punch with a whopping 15,000 BTU power to cool recreational vehicles of all sizes. Add to that the sleek design, that combines low-pro aerodynamics with excellent cooling powers. You don’t need to worry about power consumption, as this model is eco-friendly and doesn’t use much electricity. 


It’s worth mentioning that this model was redesigned from the bottom up for power and performance. As a result, the Brisk II is now compatible with standard air vents. You get better cooling capacity since the distribution box uses central air delivery. Moreover, the unit is made from quality materials for better durability, absorbing shocks and vibrations with its stable and strong frame. 


One thing to watch out for with this model is the base pan. It’s less durable than the rest of the unit. The packaging is another issue that needs to be addressed, since the box doesn’t protect the unit from major damage during shipping. Finally, the starting electrical load is too high for small generators.

Best Value
Aivant Portable Air Conditioner

If you want a sleek and affordable air conditioner unit that you can move to different areas of your RV, the Aivant Portable Air Conditioner is the perfect solution. Not only is this one of the least expensive models on our list, It’s one of the smallest, so you can easily take it from your RV to your home with very little hassle.  


This tiny rechargeable air conditioner unit contains a USB charging cable that allows you to easily plug it into portable devices or a standard wall outlet. A single charge can last up to nine hours on the low setting, keeping you cool all night long. It sits neatly on your tabletop or desktop to provide elevated cooling and can oscillate like a portable fan. The genius of this unit is that you just add ice to the reservoir at the top to provide cool air flow. 


The drawback to this air conditioner is that it’s not strong enough to cool an entire room, but is more for personal use. It’s a great option for setting on a bedside table to help you sleep comfortably at night, or to sit on your countertop while cooking or prepping food.

Best for Small RVs
Emerson Quiet Kool Window Air Conditioner

The average RV rings in at only 270 square feet, making the Emerson Quiet Kool Window Air Conditioner more than powerful enough to handle the job. Obviously, a window AC unit can't remain installed while the RV is moving. But if your RV is long-term parked in a trailer park or other location, it'll work just fine. 


With just 5,000 BTUs, the low power places less strain on your RV’s electrical system. This is especially useful for older models where the tech wired in is showing some wear. At only 115 volts, it is a safe pick. Plus, at roughly 16 x 15 x 12.5 inches, you can fit it into most windows. It functions quietly and uses very little energy. Featuring two cooling and fan speeds, it comes with a dial to let you easily adjust the temperature. 


While the price point is attractive, it’s worth repeating that this AC unit should not remain installed in an RV when it's moving. It’s affordable, but suited only to stationary use. 

Best Portable
De’Longhi Portable Air Conditioner

Looking to make a significant investment in your AC unit? Consider the De’Longhi Portable Air Conditioner, a model that’s built to last and is able to perform both in your RV and in your home. Running on 115 volts, this air conditioner features an impressive 1,345 watts. It’s able to quickly cool 700 square feet, taking your RV from sunburnt to frostbitten quickly. Operating quietly, it features extra noise dampeners to limit the sound. Capable of offering a 30 percent reduction in energy use, it’s a worthwhile investment. Easy to control, it features advanced tech that focuses the cooling effects on the warmest spots in the RV. While it is powerful, it doesn’t take up too much space at approximately 14 x 16 x 31 inches. Helping you avoid often tedious window-mount installations, it goes wherever you need it most.


The only downside of this model is that it is not necessarily designed to withstand bumps and bruises common to road travel. Even if your RV has terrific shocks, it’s still worth taking the extra time to affix the AC in place. It limits wear and tear and helps it perform at optimal efficiency.

Honorable Mention
Furrion 14.5K BTU RV Air Conditioner

The Furrion 14.5K BTU RV Air Conditioner features a sleek and modern design that fits well with almost any RV. It’s got a respectable output of 14,500 BTU, which is ideal for cooling medium to large RVs quickly. It’s equipped with dual-fan technology and features a lightweight insulated heat exchanger housing and an isolated plastic base.


This unit features 50 percent greater cooling capacity and 40 percent better energy efficiency when compared to many other models. We also like that this RV air conditioner is built with ClimateSmart and VibrationSmart technologies that help improve its overall durability and  longevity. It’s also got a UV-resistant cover with thermal insulation to protect components from damage due to heat, rain, sun, and debris. 


One thing many users note is that installation of this unit can be somewhat difficult compared to other models and that the instruction manual is not as clear and understandable as it should be if you’re doing a self-install.

Honorable Mention
Dometic Penguin II Low-Profile Upper Unit RV Air Conditioner

If you want the ultimate in aerodynamic design that won’t add a ton of extra height to your RV roof and stick out like a sore thumb, check out the Dometic Penguin II Low-Profile Upper Unit RV Air Conditioner. This unit is the lowest profile RV air conditioner in the industry. It helps decrease wind drag and increase your fuel economy.


The sleek black finish is an understated addition to any black RV. Not to worry, you can also get it in Polar White if you want. This unit offers a decent output of 11,000 BTUs, which can efficiently cool mid to large sized RVs. It’s a versatile unit that is suitable for ducted and non-ducted setups. It offers super quiet cooling that is barely noticeable during operation.


This unit is one of the most expensive on our list, considering its capacity. Add to that the fact that you have to purchase a separate air distribution box, and you’re looking at around $1000 for this unit. It does give you the option of a single- or multi-zone thermostat, though.

Honorable Mention
Atwood 15027 AirCommand 13.5K BTU Rooftop Air Conditioner

For those who frequently find themselves in harsh weather environments or drastic temperatures, the Atwood 15027 AirCommand 13.5K BTU Rooftop Air Conditioner is made to go the distance. Available in black or white, this unit is rated at 13,500 BTUs, but performs at the equivalent of most 16,000 BTU air conditioners. It will easily and quickly cool off even the largest of RVs. This is also one of Dometic’s most quietly functioning models, so you can enjoy cooling off in peace.


This unit can be run with a 2,000 watt generator, and you can also run two of the same units simultaneously on a 30-amp service, making it a versatile choice. The wireless remote allows you to adjust temperature, fan speed, and the sleep timer from almost anywhere in your RV. The electronic digital display is easy to read without being overly bright and distracting.


This air conditioner offers plenty of power, but it comes in a much less slim and streamlined size than some other RV air conditioning units. You will notice more wind resistance and lesser gas mileage with this unit than with some others on the list. It’s also quite pricey.

Honorable Mention
RecPro RV Air Conditioner 15K

The RecPro RV Air Conditioner 15K gets high marks for being both an air conditioning unit and a heating unit for your RV, letting you extend your RV season to the max. It’s a non-ducted setup that’s quick and easy to install. Like most other air conditioners on the market, it’s available in black and white and runs off 115 volts of power.


This unit features a quiet operating noise level of less than 60 decibels. It also draws 12 amps for heating and 14 amps for cooling, which is less than many other models available. That translates into less electricity use for you which can amount to significant savings over time. This unit also comes with a straightforward and easy to read wireless remote control for added convenience. 


While it is on the high end of the price range, this unit comes with everything you need for installation and since it doubles as a heater, it’s actually a great value for your investment.

Tips

  • Make sure to clean and change the filters regularly. Without proper maintenance, they get clogged, reducing the airflow.
  • Use a spray or foaming cleaner when cleaning the compressor. Then, with a vacuum hose, pull out the loosened debris and dirt.
  • Ducted units need servicing too. Use a vacuum hose to clean the air vents.

FAQs

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?

Yes you can. You’ll need extra batteries for that and a source of power to recharge them. Solar panels are also a good source of electricity that can run the AC in the absence of a powerful generator.

Final Thoughts

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 Dometic B59516.XX1J0 Brisk as our top pick. It’s a well-revered and trusted brand that offers powerful and efficient performance in a compact, lightweight, and low-profile unit. 

For a more budget-friendly option, we like the Aivant Portable Air Conditioner. It’s a super portable and inexpensive personal cooling unit that can go anywhere and runs on rechargeable batteries, saving you money on your energy bill.