Pop-up campers are also known as fold-out campers or tent trailers. These lightweight trailers are becoming an excellent choice for many campers because of the versatility and convenience they offer.
Now, summer is in its most brilliance. This is a suitable time for those who love camping and own pop-up campers to embark on a journey. However, with weather like this, it’s not easy to have an enjoyable trip without being affected by the heat. An air conditioner for pop-up campers is device RVers should consider equipping for more comfortable camping trips in hot-weather days.
To make it easier for you to choose the best pop-up camper air conditioner, we have compiled everything you need to know including different types of AC for pop-up campers & a handpicked list of best performing pop-up camper AC units available on the market today.
- Types Of AC For Pop-Up Campers
- Comparison Chart of Best Pop Up Camper Air Conditioners
- Best Rooftop AC For Pop-Up Campers
- Best Window-Mounted AC For Pop-Up Campers
- Best Portable AC For Pop-Up Campers
- What To Consider In A Pop-Up Camper Air Conditioner
- What Size AC Do You Need?
- How To Add Air Conditioning To A Pop-Up Trailer
- Running An AC Pop-Up Camper: Tips And Tricks
Types Of AC For Pop-Up Campers
If you have not equipped one on your pop-up camper, there are 3 types of RV air conditioners you can consider: portable, window-mounted, and rooftop-mounted. All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, you have to understand them if you want to choose the right AC to bring on your trip.
|Rooftop Air Conditioner||Window Air Conditioner||Portable Air Conditioner|
|SUMMARY||The most popular & practical air conditioner for pop-up camper is the rooftop-mounted unit. |
This device looks like a box mounting on top of the trailer of the pop up camper.
The rooftop air conditioner is also very strong. A single AC can cool an area of 10 to 20 feet quite easily.
|Unlike the rooftop AC, the window air conditioner is a portable AC unit that is secured in the window.||This is the newest type among the three. It looks like a tall dehumidifier with fans to keep the air moving inside. |
The portable air conditioner has wheels and can be placed anywhere in the vehicle.
|PROS||+ Powerful and efficient|
+ Work quietly
+ Equip a thermostat
+ Not have to worry about removal when traveling
|+ Easy to install|
+ Does not take up much interior space
+ Low noise level
+ Energy efficient
– Costly in installation & repair
|– Must take off when traveling||– Loud|
– Take a lot of interior space
1. Rooftop AC
Rooftop-mounted ACs are the most popular and practical choice. They do not take up space, of course, and you do not have to remove them when traveling. They are efficient and powerful and have a wide cooling area. They are quieter than portable or window-mounted ACs, which is great for your sleep.
Come with those advantages is a pretty high price for the acquisition, maintenance, and repair. Rooftop-mounted ACs require high energy, so that is a part of the cost too. Some pop-ups already have a hole on the rooftop for AC, but depend on the type that you choose that you have to do additional arrangements. In some cases, you will have to cut a hole by yourself. Another big problem with rooftop-mounted ACs is the weight.
Even when your roof is weight-supported, every time you go on the road and your vehicle bumps, the ACs also hit your roof a little bit. In a long time, it will make your roof sagging, so some supports in the roof may be needed, adding to the cost of the ACs. Other than that, there is also the leakage problem that you should be concerned about.
2. Window-mounted AC
This is a popular choice when it comes to AC for pop-up campers. They are not as cheap as the portable units, but the price is still suitable for most people. They need a little more arrangement than portable ACs but still easy to install, you can do it all by yourself with no problem.
Window-mounted ACs do not take place inside the RV but have the compressor and fan outside instead. This also means they have less noise (but still noisy because the walls of pop-up campers are not very thick). They can be plugged into standard wall receptacles, and adapt well to a wide range of camping settings.
Though window-mounted ACs work better than portable ACs, they are still not as powerful as rooftop-mounted ACs. You will have to take them off whenever you want to travel and mount them again, but since they are easy to install so that is not much of a hassle anyway.
3. Portable AC
This is a new type of AC on the market. They look like tall humidifiers, small, lightweight, easy to move around (they have wheels). This is the cheapest type of the 3 types of air conditioner for pop-up campers. Because the space is not very large, one portable AC is quite enough, you can use a fan to circulate the cool air better. Not much installment is required, you just have to find a place for vent line(s) and plug them in to use.
Portable RV air conditioners are the cheapest, and they have the lowest efficiency. They not only suck out the hot air, but they also suck a bit of cool air outside too, because the compressor and fan are all in one place. This greatly reduces their cooling ability. They made the ACs very loud when running and maybe a disturbance to your sleep. Other than that, they will take up precious floor space, usually near a window because of vent lines.
|Rooftop AC||Powerful||Quiet||Easy to remove |
yet hard to install
|Expensive||Need roof support|
|Window AC||Good||Quiet||Easy to install||Normal||Must take off
|Portable AC||Normal||Loud||Easy to install |
yet take a lot of space
|More affordable||Portable & convenient|
Comparison Chart of Best Pop Up Camper Air Conditioners
|#||Pop Up Camper AC||Price||Our Ratings||Type|
|1||Dometic Brisk II Air||$$$$$||*****||Rooftop-Mounted|
|2||Airxcel Mach 15||$$$$$||*****||Rooftop-Mounted|
|3||Arctic King WWK05CM91N||$$||*****||Window-Mounted|
|6||Black + Decker BPACT10WT||$$$||****||Portable|
Best Rooftop AC For Pop-Up Campers
1. Dometic Brisk II Air
+ Cooling Capacity: 15,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 27.6 x 29.6 x 13.9 Inches
+ Weight: 77 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Boasting large air openings for optimal airflows and cooling, Dometic Brisk II Air is undoubtedly the leading pop-up camper air conditioner in its class. Rated at 15,000 BTU, the Dometic AC proves capable of keeping the interior of standard RV cool in summer travels. In addition to that, thanks to the custom wrap-around shroud and carbon steel base, Brisk II Air holds itself together well on the road. Unsurprisingly, full-time RVers that desire long-lasting air conditioners tend to hold Dometic Brisk II Air in high regard.
With dampening brackets, dual rubber bushings and long copper lines, the unit from Dometic consistently keeps noise to the minimum. As a result, RV owners could enjoy the cool airs without having to put up with a loud AC. Also, since it uses the environmentally-friendly 410A refrigerant, Brisk II Air is considered to be the all-time favorite model of eco-conscious people. Finally and above all, the installation of Brisk II Air of Dometic is relatively straightforward so you may set it up on your own in the blink of an eye.
As for aftermarket support, Dometic back its air conditioner with a 2-year protection plus warranty which speaks volumes about the performance of the AC.
- Light but rugged
- Top-notch airflows
- Undemanding setup
- Quality control is less than ideal
- Some RVers report receiving damaged units
2. Airxcel Mach 15
+ Cooling Capacity: 15,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 38 x 26.1 x 13.8 Inches
+ Weight: 85 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Designed with a ⅓ HP fan motor, one of the biggest motors used in air conditioners, Airxcel Mach 15 delivers cool airs at 320 cubic feet per minute. That is more than enough to keep the average campers cool during the dog days. Due to the integration of high-quality evaporator and condenser coil, the heat dissipation of Mach 15 is second to none. In terms of durability, the Airxcel unit packs gas-flux brazed joints and an all-copper tubing so it’s able to run reliably in a wide range of conditions.
In the factory configuration, Airxcel Mach 15 would be an excellent companion for RV enthusiasts that want to escape the heat. But if you fit the Airxcel heater assembly to Mach 15, it should keep you warm in the cold months too. About the cost, the air conditioner of Airxcel seems to be a costly model and you have to pay more to pick up the heater assembly since it’s optional. Nonetheless, considering its solid values, Airxcel Mach 15 remains an outstanding pop-up camper air conditioner that RVer could count on.
Mach 15 arrives with all required components, therefore, mounting it on the average recreational vehicle is a walk in the park. Still, as the AC from Airxcel is a bit heavy, it’s a good idea to ask for assistance.
- Nice warranty
- Marvelous cooling capacity
- Aerodynamic shroud
- Kind of cumbersome
Best Window-Mounted AC For Pop-Up Campers
3. Arctic King WWK05CM91N
+ Cooling Capacity: 5,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 13.19 x 15.98 x 12.05 Inches
+ Weight: 39.6 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Compact and light, Arctic King WWK05CM91N is well-received by many RVers that own small pop-up campers. In spite of its modest profile, the Arctic King AC could cool spaces up to 150 square feet in size. Packing an assortment of fan and temperature settings, WWK05CM91N makes sure that people feel comfortable on hot days. Furthermore, Arctic King WWK05CM91N operates in a quiet manner so you don’t have to worry about nerve-racking noises while using it.
Accompanied by mounting accessories and a manual that contain detailed instructions for installation, the air conditioner from Arctic King only takes moments to set up. That being said, to let the mounting screws go in smoothly, it’s strongly recommended that you make pilot holes on the window frames beforehand. Featuring a basic mechanical control dial, Arctic King WWK05CM91N allows RVers to regulate its functions without much hassle. Available at a good price, the Arctic King AC is also highly sought after by budget-minded RV owners.
One interesting feature of Arctic King WWK05CM91N is the auto-restart: If power is cut all of a sudden then the Arctic King air conditioner would automatically go back to work under the previous settings once power resumes.
- Fair price
- Intuitive installation
- Inconsistent performance
- The compressor needs some work
4. LG LW1016ER
+ Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 22.20 x 23.62 x 15.00 Inches
+ Weight: 73.0 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Engineered to meet the Energy Star standards set by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), LG LW1016ER is truly unmatched if it comes to power saving. Needless to say, RVers that wish to cut down the utility expenses often think highly of the LG AC. Moreover, boasting an output of 10,000 BTU, LW1016ER possesses an impressive cooling area: 450 square feet. Hence, LG LW1016ER should be capable of keeping the interior of campers cool as outside temperature reaches intolerable levels.
Because of the user-friendly remote, it’s a breeze to adjust the air conditioner of LG to individual desires. In fact, you may apply changes to temperature, fan speed and so on at will. It’s worth noting that a 24-hour on/off timer is present too so managing the runtime of LW1016ER is a piece of cake. Regarding endurance, the LG AC utilizes premium anti-corrosion coating, a nice tough for those that travel year-round. The filters of LG LW1016ER happen to be washable as well which ensures simple maintenance in most cases.
Besides blowing out cool airs, LW1016ER could dehumidify the inside of your rig by getting rid of excess moisture. So if you go through high humidity regions from time to time, LG LW1016ER is the best pop-up camper air conditioner for you.
- Low noise level
- Versatile and flexible
- Good values for the price
- Poor instructions
- Delivery is mediocre
5. Midea MAW10R1BWT
+ Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 21.89 x 18.98 x 14.65 Inches
+ Weight: 63.9 Pounds
Why We Love It:
By combining three functions (air conditioning, dehumidification and fan) into one unit, Midea MAW10R1BWT is second to none in terms of adaptability nowadays. Able to keep the users comfortable in various weather conditions, MAW10R1BWT is a superb air conditioner that everyone could put to good use. Since all required mounting accessories come alongside the Midea AC, installation is a cakewalk. Additionally, there is no need to make substantial modifications to the window frames so as to accommodate MAW10R1BWT.
Due to the inclusion of the EcoSave functionality, the air conditioner from Midea allows itself to shut off after it gets to a set temperature. That means by using Midea MAW10R1BWT, you would simultaneously save quite a few and protect the environment. MAW10R1BWT also features a sleep mode that automatically regulates the temperature throughout the night to match your sleep cycle. Last but not least, the Midea AC packs a low noise level so it’s a fine choice for people that seek a quiet pop-up camper air conditioner.
To reassure RVers of the quality of MAW10R1BWT, Midea backs it with a 1-year part and labor warranty. If your AC fails due to manufacturing defects within the warranty period then you could claim a free replacement.
- Reliable and dependable
- Silent operation
- Inadequate customer service
- Some units arrive with damaged shrouds
Best Portable AC For Pop-Up Campers
6. Black + Decker BPACT10WT
+ Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.5 x 26 Inches
+ Weight: 52.9 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Made to offer immediate and uninterrupted comfort, Black + Decker BPACT10WT earns lots of praise from RVers, novices and veterans. Being a portable AC, BPACT10WT could be quickly repositioned so it’s possible to get cool airs as you loiter in the interior. By creating steady and powerful airflows through vertical motion, the Black + Decker air conditioner keeps temperature inside the RV stable. Furthermore, since its refrigerant is R410a, Black + Decker BPACT10WT proves itself to be an environmentally friendly AC.
As for the control, BPACT10WT accompanies a full-function remote that lets you customize its performance to your preferences. Thanks to the LED display and symbols on the unit, it only takes a glance to determine the running setting of Black + Decker BPACT10WT. Featuring cooling, dehumidification and fan modes, the air conditioner of Black + Decker should be able to meet a wide range of requirements from the users. As BPACT10WT comes at a reasonable price as well, it’s definitely a solid AC for typical vacations.
For maintenance, Black + Decker BPACT10WT boast slide-out air filters that RVers could rinse and wash under a faucet. Thus, BPACT10WT is a fitting pop-up camper air conditioner for those that frown at maintenance-intensive AC.
- Sleek profile
- Outstanding coverage
- Unresponsive customer service is reported sometimes
- Short exhaust hose
7. RolliCool COOL100H
- Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
- Dimensions: 14.2 x 16.5 x 28.4 Inches
- Weight: 62.0 Pounds
Why We Love It
Powerful and multifunction, RolliCool COOL100H of Rollibot is a modern air conditioner engineered to meet modern pop-up campers. With a cooling capacity of 10,000 BTU, the Rollibot AC is superior to the average portable air conditioners regarding output. Depending on the surrounding conditions, RVers could switch between air conditioning, dehumidification and fan modes at a moment’s notice. To cycle the operating modes, owners of campers have up to three options: remote, smartphone and voice control (Amazon Alexa).
Using eco-friendly R410A refrigerant and reusable filters, the Rollibot AC is known to have minimal impact on the environment. So if you decide to go green, you should think about adding RolliCool COOL100H to your shortlist. As for its portability, the RV-rated air conditioner from Rollibot boasts rugged caster wheels. Because of that, moving RolliCool COOL100H around is undoubtedly a walk in the park. Since it’s also made of first-class materials, the Rollibot unit takes on bumps and vibrations without falling apart.
Since Rollibot offers all the parts and hardware, the installation of RolliCool COOL100H lasts for just a few minutes. Follow the instructions in the manual and cool air would fill the interior of your rig before you know it.
- Robust construction
- Advanced and stylish
- Marvelous handling characteristics
- Unsecured filter guards
- Less than ideal window adapter
8. SereneLife SLPAC10
+ Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
+ Dimensions: 17.4 x 13.4 x 32.1 Inches
+ Weight: 55.1 Pounds
Why We Love It:
Possessing a compact and slim body, SereneLife SLPAC10 is seen as the ideal pop-up camper air conditioner for RVer that like to travel light. Due to the integration of top-grade rolling wheels, the SereneLife AC boasts impressive portability compared to the traditional air conditioners for recreational vehicles. For cooling, the 10,000 BTU output of SLPAC10 guarantees that everyone inside the RV feels comfortable during the hottest summer days. Packing a low power consumption, the air conditioner of SereneLife is economical to run too.
Since it carries a built-in dehumidifier, SereneLife SLPAC10 is particularly well-suited for locations that have high humidity levels. By removing excess moisture in the air, the SereneLife AC prevents the spread of allergens, mites, mildew and others. Through the digital touch button control panel on the unit, you could monitor key readings and apply adjustment at will. Also, SereneLife SLPAC10 is accompanied by a handy remote so you could manage its operations without having to get up.
As proof of confidence, SereneLife even backs SLPAC10 with a market-leading 100% money-back guarantee. That means if you find the AC of SereneLife inadequate for your camper, you could ask for a refund.
- Fast cooling
- Multiple settings
- User-friendly control
- A bit loud in use
- Blow circuit breakers on occasions
What To Consider In A Pop-Up Camper Air Conditioner
Overall, if you know what to look for, it’s a breeze to find a pop-up camper air conditioner that meets your personal preferences.
So to make a worthwhile purchase, it’s strongly recommended that you remember these criteria.
For your information, BTU (an acronym for British Thermal Unit) indicates the cooling power of air conditioners: as the BTU rating rises, the amount of heat removed also increases accordingly.
To determine the ideal BTU rating for your future air conditioner, it’s of utmost importance to take the dimensions of your camper into account.
If you own a compact rig, you could opt to get models with standard ratings. On the other hand, if you happen to have a huge pop-up camper and wish to stay cool, go for high BTU air conditioners.
It’s common knowledge among RV owners that once it comes to power-hungry appliances on recreational vehicles, air conditioners often take the top spots. Hence, if you intend to purchase an AC for your pop-up camper, you must think about power consumption.
Having a powerful air conditioner means nothing if it consumes way too much electricity and leaves the rest of the appliances on your rig underpowered. So before picking up a particular model, you need to ensure that your recreational vehicle is able to power it.
All air conditioners on the market make noises in use but it’s worth noting that certain models possess reduced noise levels compared to others.
Thus, if you want to enjoy cool airs and have peace of mind at the same time, you should prioritize units that run relatively quietly.
Usually, air conditioners of recreational vehicles that feature noise-reduction designs and sound-muffling materials operate in a silent manner. Still, to be on the safe side, it’s widely advised that you check out reviews of customers to see if they complain about noise.
Machines require periodic inspections and repairs to stay in working order and the same applies to RV-rated air conditioners.
Of course, you can always bring your recreational vehicle to the local auto shops and let the professionals take care of the AC maintenance.
That being said, as an RVer, you likely have an assortment of expenses to cover. Thus, why don’t you buy a no-nonsense conditioner that you could maintain on your own and save some bucks for more pressing needs?
Different RVers often have different ideas regarding the cost of AC: many opt to get expensive units while others seem to be willing to settle for low-priced models.
In general, unless you have first-class requirements, there is no need to grab a premium AC and empty your wallet in the process.
If you look around hard enough, you would be able to come across decent units that come at affordable prices. However, you have to steer clear of dirt-cheap air conditioners as the manufacturers of such machines often cut corners to keep the price down.
What Size AC Do You Need?
To deduce the amount of BTU needed to keep your camper cool, all you need to do is to multiply its square foot area by 20.
That is going to help you narrow down the number of units to check and save a lot of time. Of course, if you like to play it safe, feel free to increase the recommended BTU rating of the AC slightly as a precaution.
For example, the overall size of your pop-up camper is 25 x 40 feet and its square foot area is 1,000 ft2. The recommended rating for the AC of your recreational vehicle would be 20,000 BTU (1,000 x 20).
How To Add Air Conditioning To A Pop-Up Trailer
The installation procedures change from model to model, hence, it’s of utmost importance that you refer to the owner’s manual while adding an AC to your camper. Nonetheless, if you need pointers, follow the steps down below.
Note: To prevent incidents, you need to cut the power supply and disconnect the battery prior to AC installation.
Step 1: Unbox The AC
Overall, depending on the weight of the air conditioner, you may want to ask another person to help you lift it out of the packaging. Instead of putting the AC on the ground, it’s strongly recommended that you consider laying clean clothes underneath.
Moreover, keep an eye out for tubes, connectors, wirings and so on during the unboxing. Such components require delicate treatments: one mishandling and the AC could experience a wide range of issues in use.
Step 2: Drill A Mounting Hole
As pop-up campers usually come without provisions for air conditioners, you need to create a hole to attach an AC to your rig. To preserve the integrity of the camper, you must analyze the composition of the exterior before powering up your drill.
Also, it’s a good idea to deploy your RV on level surfaces to minimize movements and improve drilling precision. For your safety, you should arrange wood pieces in parallel around the drilling site to get a grip of yourself.
Step 3: Mount The Air Conditioner
Again, it’s nice to have a helping hand around as you move the AC and associated components into the hole on your camper. Refrain from dragging the air conditioner since that is going to cause damage to the lower end of the unit.
Place the AC in a vertical manner so its cord is able to fall inside your pop-up camper. So as to bring the air conditioner to center, you could gently wiggle it until everything is to your satisfaction. Afterward, fix the air distribution box and connect the power cord to the central connector.
Step 4: Go Through The Wirings
Now you need to connect components of the AC with suitable wires so to avoid messing up the wirings, follow instructions in the manual. In addition, be thorough once it comes to the lengths of the wires: if you leave the wires too stretched then they would disconnect soon.
Aside from that, you should also cover all of the wire connections in insulation tapes. Exposed connections lead to an assortment of hazards that put you as well as your pop-up camper at risk.
Step 5: Reconnect The Power Supply
Assuming that you nail the wirings, your air conditioner is essentially operational and the only thing left to do is to reconnect the battery and turn on the power supply. That being said, for good measure, inspect the wirings, connectors, sockets and so on one more time for odd signs. If nothing is out of the ordinary, proceed to hit the circuit breaker and enjoy the long-awaited cool airs
Running An AC Pop-Up Camper: Tips And Tricks
- Look For Shaded Parking Spaces: Parking under the blazing sun would lead to temperature spikes which force your AC to work extra hard so as to cool the interior. If you wish to simultaneously cut the utility bill and extend the lifespan of your air conditioner, you should park your camper in shaded spaces. By getting your RV out of direct sunlight, you don’t have to turn the thermostat all the way down just to keep yourself cool.
- Change The Air Filters Periodically: Over time, all kinds of things could accumulate all the filters of air conditioners and obstruct the flows of airs. Because of that, to make sure that your AC operates at peak performance, you need to change its air filters from time to time.
- Think About Insulating The Interior: Typical pop-up campers nowadays have less than ideal insulations. Therefore, to get the most out of your AC, you must insulate its interior to keep cool airs in and shut hot airs out.
Last Updated on October 6, 2021