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Planning on long vacations in your RV in the upcoming summer months? There are many upgrades and additions that you can make to your motorhome to make sure life on the road is as comfortable as possible in demanding weather.
The absolute first thing you should do is to get the best RV air conditioner, because after all, nobody wants to spend their summer roaming around inside a big movable sweatbox that you can’t escape.
To make the research and purchasing process as easy as possible for you, we have compiled everything you need to know about RV air conditioner. You will find a handpicked list of the absolute best RV air conditioner units on the current market.
Each of them are sworn by seasoned RVers, and you will definitely find a unit in this list that meets your budget and needs, regardless of what your priorities are.
In this comprehensive guide, RV Talk will also discuss AC unit types, what to look for in an RV air conditioner, frequently asked questions and pro maintenance tips.
Table of Contents
- Quick Recommendations
- Dometic B57915.XX1C0 Best Overall rv AC Unit
- Airxcel Mach 15 Best value
- Dometic 640315CXX1C0 Best Low Profile RV Air Conditioner
- Arctic King WWK05CM91N Best RV Window Air Conditioner
- Black + Decker BPACT10WT Best Portable RV Air Conditioner
- Midea MAW05M1BWT Best Smallest RV AC
- Dometic B59516.XX1CO Best Biggest RV AC
- Top Rated RV AC Comparison Chart
- Best Rooftop RV Air Conditioners
- Dometic Brisk II B57915.XX1C0 Air RV AC
- Airxcel Mach 15 RV AC
- Airxcel Mach 3 RV AC
- Dometic Brisk II B59516.XX1CO Air RV AC
- Dometic Penguin II 640315CXX1C0 RV AC
- Advent ACM150 RV AC
- Dometic Penguin HP 651816.CXX1C0 RV AC
- Atwood 15027 RV AC
- ASA Electronics ACM135 RV AC
- Airxcel Mach 8 Cub RV AC
- Coleman 48203C969 RV AC
- Atwood 15026 RV AC
- Best RV Window Air Conditioners
- Best Portable RV Air Conditioner
- Types of RV Air Conditioner
- Best RV Air Conditioner: Buyer’s Guide
- Maintaining RV Air Conditioners: Pro Tips And Tricks
- FAQs About RV Air Conditioner
- 1. How long does an RV air conditioner last?
- 2. What size RV AC unit do I need?
- 3. How to recharge an RV air conditioner?
- 4. How to install an RV AC?
- 5. How to quiet an RV air conditioner?
- 6. How to clean an RV AC?
- 7. Why is my RV air conditioner not blowing cold air?
- 8. How cold should an RV air conditioner blow?
- 9. Is it possible to run air conditioners on battery alone?
- 10. So all AC models should fit all recreational vehicles?
- 11. The air conditioner in my rig is working fine. Do I have to upgrade it?
- 12. What are the best brands of AC for RV?
Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our in-depth reviews on the best RV air conditioners below:
Dometic B57915.XX1C0 Best Overall rv AC Unit
Airxcel Mach 15 Best value
Dometic 640315CXX1C0 Best Low Profile RV Air Conditioner
Arctic King WWK05CM91N Best RV Window Air Conditioner
Black + Decker BPACT10WT Best Portable RV Air Conditioner
Midea MAW05M1BWT Best Smallest RV AC
Dometic B59516.XX1CO Best Biggest RV AC
Top Rated RV AC Comparison Chart
High quality RV air conditioners are worthwhile to invest in because they do not only keep the indoor air cool but also dehumidify and purify them. This will keep the interior of your RV airy and fresh while helping to prevent allergies.
Below is a list of the units that are testified and highly recommended by seasoned RVers and many RV air conditioner reviews. This list offers a variety in terms of type, price and features, so rest assured that there is something for everyone, regardless of your camping needs.
|No||Best RV AC||BTU||Prices||Our Reviews|
|2||Airxcel Mach 15||15,000||$$$||*****|
|3||Airxcel Mach 3||13,500||$$$||*****|
|5||Dometic Penguin II 640315CXX1C0||13,500||$$$||****|
|7||Dometic Penguin HP 651816.CXX1C0||15,000||$$$$$||***|
|9||ASA Electronics ACM135||13,500||$$$||***|
|10||Airxcel Mach 8 Cub||9,200||$$$||*****|
|14||Arctic King WWK05CM91N||5,000||$$||****|
|15||Black + Decker BPACT10WT||10,000||$$$||*****|
Best Rooftop RV Air Conditioners
This first list will focus on rooftop units as the category at the moment offers plenty of choices for increasingly compact, durable and reliable designs.
Rooftop units are the preferred choice for RVers that require significant cooling capacity for demanding summer camping while maximizing the space inside their motorhome.
Dometic Brisk II B57915.XX1C0 Air RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 2,800W
Why This Is The Best:
Compact, aerodynamic and powerful, Dometic Brisk II Air (B57915.XX1C0) is the best RV air conditioner on the market in terms of all-around performance. As this rooftop Dometic unit possesses a modest profile, it’s the ideal choice for recreational vehicles that have limited room.
Thanks to the use of lightweight materials in its construction, Brisk II Air (B57915.XX1C0) facilitates smooth installation as well as maintenance.
As this AC model from Dometic features a center discharge air delivery, its airflow and cooling efficiency prove to be superior to the average air conditioner on the market.
While the unit is powerful, it remains fairly quiet in operation due to the presence of the noise-dampening brackets.
For post-purchase support, RVers would receive a 2-year Protection Plus warranty. However, keep in mind that the warranty is going to be voided if you use the unit with household thermostats.
Easy to install, works great.
Finally killed my 13,500 btu Dometic ac unit last summer (12 years old). My RV is large (35 foot travel trailer) and on hot days it would run constantly. Upgraded to the 15,000 btu unit. Really easy install, less than 30 minutes start to finish. Blows ice cold and operates properly. I thought I would be spending $1000 and busting knuckles for four hours, but no, less than $600 and 30 easy minutes. I hope I can get 12 years out of this one.Shared by Mr. James
- Cool pretty well
- Top-notch airflows
- Customer service is unresponsive
- Less than ideal quality control
If you want to see how to install this unit in an RV, check out the video below. Doing it yourself will save you hundreds of dollars:
Airxcel Mach 15 RV AC
+ Voltage: 120V
+ Wattage: 1,800W
Why It’s The Best Value:
Featuring a 1/3 HP fan motor, which is the largest one used in modern RV air conditioners, Airxcel Mach 15 is essentially the strongest RV roof AC unit available for purchase.
With the ability to deliver cool air at an impressive rate of 320 cubic feet a minute, this model is widely rated as the best RV AC unit regarding power by countless RV air conditioner reviews.
The streamlined designs of the unit further improve its cooling efficiently in conventional RV configurations.
Packing an excellent combination of all-copper tubing and gas-flux brazed joints, the Airxcel AC often maintains peak performance for a long time on the road.
As the unit incorporates large evaporator/condenser coils and raised lace fins, it can dissipate heat effectively and efficiently in demanding weather conditions.
Being a high output model, Mach 15 is the best RV AC unit for ducted installation but with a ceiling assembly kit, it shall perform admirably in non-ducted setups.
Designed for the standard 14 x 14 vent opening, Airxcel Mach 15 could be adapted to most recreational vehicles so compatibility should not be an issue.
As the unit can work with existing Coleman thermostats, you will save a good deal of money if you get it as a replacement AC.
I have access to a forklift at work, so getting it up on the rooftop of my 96 Gulf Stream was easy. Replaced a worn out 13,500 btu Coleman Mack with this unit. At first I thought this would be an easy direct swap, but when I got this into place I realized that not only was the bolt pattern different by about 1.5 inches on each corner, it required smaller bolts than the old unit. (1/4 vs 3/8). But after a trip to the hardware store and some creative fabrication work on the ceiling bracket I got it bolted firmly into place. The wiring plug was a perfect fit. We’ll see how well it does this summer, it does move a lot more air through the ducts than the old one. 😊Shared by Pat
Update: This ac unit is awesome! It easily keeps my 32 foot Gulf Stream cool parked in direct sunlight on a hot day. Both my 5500 watt Onan generator and my Champion 4000 watt inverter generator easily start and run this unit. Very happy with this purchase!
- Superb cooling power
- Could serve as heater
- Undemanding installation
- Delivery time is long
- Mediocre post-purchase support
Airxcel Mach 3 RV AC
+ Voltage: 120V
+ Wattage: 1,075W
Why It’s An Editor’s Choice:
For RVers that care about electricity bills and the environment, Airxcel Mach 3 is arguably the best RV air conditioner you will find on the current market.
Boasting superb cooling capacity without eating up too much power, this Airxcel model is the most efficient RV air conditioner as sworn by many professionals and full-time RVers.
Similar to its cousin Mach 15, Mach 3 also possesses a 1/3 HP fan motor which provides it with a splendid flow rate of 320 cubic feet per minute.
Aside from cooling the interior of the vehicle, the unit could generate heat if fitted with the optional heater assembly. Add the optional heater assembly, and you’ll have 5,600 BTUs of heat for cool-weather camping.
You can count on the Mach 3 for reliability. Thanks to the built-in shaft, this Airxcel air conditioner is relatively safe from damages caused by harsh outdoor elements.
With the incorporation of the plastic drain pan, the unit skillfully prevents and eliminates corrosion. The shroud that comes along the model also features protection for condenser coil so overall resistance is truly top-notch.
If necessary, it’s possible to mount Mach 3 directly to the bulkhead to address angle distortion of the blower wheel.
To speed up the setup process and reduce cost, Airxcel Mach 3 can reuse existing ceiling assembly as well as thermostats. The model still needs to settle which means you should refrain from leaving it on for too long at first.
We bought this to replace the original rusted roof top air conditioner in our 1969 Avion T28. It was very easy to install once we got the old unit out. I lifted the unit and my husband up in the bucket of his tractor and he was able to easily maneuver it into place. The wiring snapped together and the foam seal worked great. It is a little bit loud, but I like to run a fan at night to help me sleep anyway. It cooled our 28 foot camper and definitely eliminated the humidity. We are very pleased.Shared by Lisa
- Straightforward setup
- Solid cooling capacity
- Comprehensive resistance
- Make a lot of noise in use
- Packaging is barely acceptable
Dometic Brisk II B59516.XX1CO Air RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 2,800W
Why We Love It:
If you like Dometic Brisk II Air (B57915.XX1C0) but want more cooling power, Dometic Brisk II Air (B59516.XX1CO) will be the best RV air conditioner for you.
This unit offers a 15% air flow increase and is 19% lighter than previous models.
Boasting a BTU rating of 15,000, this Dometic unit can satisfy the cooling needs of RVers traveling in the hottest days of summer.
Like its cousin, Brisk II Air (B59516.XX1CO) features a lightweight body for easy installation.
Because of its aerodynamic design, the Dometic A/C adds negligible drag to your rig which means minimal effect on your fuel-efficient.
In addition, the model uses a noise-reduction fan-motor setup that ensures silent operation. Overall, this model is truly a hassle-free and enjoyable addition to your rig.
Dometic Brisk II Air (B59516.XX1CO) is offered along with a free shipping and handling policy upon purchase.
In case you want to change the unit shroud or get a bigger heater, all you have to do is to give Dometic a call.
This unit works well. Read the instructions well. They say to hook it up to electricity before you mount it on top of your trailer. This way, you can see the fans turning and inspect for any rubbing that results from jolts during shipment. This unit needs to be light weight to put on top of a camper or box trailer. Do not expect a light weight unit with a light weight frame with a compressor and fan motor mounted to it to arrive in perfect condition after UPS shipment. The frame base metal will be bent due to shipment. You will need to bend it back and make sure both fans can turn freely before mounting this on top of your camper.
Also, if you are mounting this to a unfinished box trailer with no interior, you will need to fabricate at least a 1/2″ thick sheet of plywood to facilitate getting the conduit/wiring to the unit. The control panel needs to mount to a flat surface with some small wood screws. The control panel has no openings for the wiring to enter. The control panel separates the in and out ductwork, and must be used as designed. Your camper or trailer needs to have the wiring to the 14″ by 14″ opening in such a way that there is a flat wood surface inside the camper/trailer for the control panel to mount to. Some slight fabrication will be needed to mount this to a camper / trailer where there has never been a unit before.Shared by Huggins
- High durability
- Compact and light
- No adjustment
- Quality control should be improved
Dometic Penguin II 640315CXX1C0 RV AC
+ Voltage: 120V
+ Wattage: 3,000W
Why We Love It:
Working in both ducted and non-ducted setups, Dometic Penguin II (640315CXX1C0) is by all accounts one of the very best RV air conditioner models. Being a low profile RV air conditioner, the Dometic AC minimizes drag and improves your rig’s fuel efficiency.
Packing a sturdy rib-reinforced base pan, the unit can withstand virtually every challenge outdoors and offer you reliable service for a long time on the road.
As it uses an environmentally friendly refrigerant, Penguin II (640315CXX1C0) earns raving reviews from eco-conscious RVers.
Featuring a straightforward control interface, this model from Dometic proves to be easy to use and simple to regulate.
The high-performance motor of the model offers three blowing speeds so you can adjust the airflow as preferred.
If you want to stay warm in chilly weather, Penguin II (640315CXX1C0) can deliver heat if you outfit it with a heat strip that is sold separately.
Because Dometic Penguin II (640315CXX1C0) is able to work with ducted as well as non-ducted cooling systems, it fits virtually every RV nowadays. Using the low-chloride R410 refrigerant, the AC proves to be environmentally-friendly.
This unit meets expectations for the job. Retrofit on old Airstream trailer. The low profile and low weight of the unit was a huge positive point and now that it is installed we are very pleased with the unit.Shared by Craig
- Low drag
- Automated control
- Streamlined construction
- Somewhat noisy
- Inconsistent quality
Advent ACM150 RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 2,800W
Why We Love It
Engineered for demanding camping conditions, the Advent ACM150 packs thick vent opening gasket and dense foam support pads for optimum performance in all outdoor weathers.
With the rugged metal base pan, the model is well stabilized even on the move. The first class shroud that accompanies the ACM150 shields it from damages and keeps noise in operation to the bare minimum.
In terms of cooling power, the 15,000-BTU rating and three fan speed options of the model shall guarantee that your recreational vehicle stays cool in the hottest days of summer. If you wish to turn the unit into a heater, all you have to do is to outfit it with a plug-in heat strip.
Advent ACM150 could work with standard vent opening so installation should not be an issue in most cases. In addition, as the unit packs a light weight, you would have an easy time getting it to the mounting hole.
- Reasonable price
- Responsive customer service
- Outstanding customer support
- The delivery service requires revisions
- Some units arrive without compressor
Dometic Penguin HP 651816.CXX1C0 RV AC
+ Voltage: 120V
+ Wattage: 3,500W
Why We Love It :
If you happen to be a full-time RVer that travels all year round then the Dometic Penguin HP (651816.CXX1C0) would probably be the best RV air conditioner for your money.
Possessing a heat pump, this Dometic model will keep you comfortably cool in hot weather and keep the interior of your motorhome warm and toast once winter hits.
Therefore, experienced RVers and professionals always mention Penguin HP (651816.CXX1C0) when discussing the best RV air conditioner regarding versatility and flexibility.
Its price is a little steep at $1,500. Although you are paying extra, being able to travel any time of the year with optimal comfort definitely justifies the price tag.
Boasting reinforced mounting holes, heavy-duty support brackets and thick EPA foam housing, the Dometic model holds itself together well against the harsh elements.
The presence of the foam collar in the construction keeps noise transfer to the minimum which results in quiet operation. Thanks to the well-engineered shroud, the unit enjoys superior drag reduction as well as ventilation.
While the unit performs admirably in a lot of setups, it’s essential that you conduct thorough research before buying Dometic Penguin HP (651816.CXX1C0).
Take into account the characteristics of your recreational vehicle, current air supply layout and thermostat to get the right model.
- Run quietly
- Quick delivery
- Great packaging
- Slightly complicated installation
- Instruction manual is less than ideal
Atwood 15027 RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 1,200W
Why We Love It:
Built to deliver cool air while withstanding harsh elements found in outdoor travels, the non-ducted Atwood 15027 is reliable as well as dependable.
Packing a flow rate of 360 cubic feet per minute, the Atwood AC could keep the interior of your rig reasonably cool in most weather conditions.
Because cold air would be delivered out of the sides instead of straight down, the unit possesses superb circulation.
A high plus is that since the 15027 is a low-draw model, it’s capable of working alongside other appliances without straining the power system.
This Atwood AC unit can be controlled through the digital thermostat as well as the IR remote. Because the dual-motor of the A/C runs the condenser fan and blower fan separately, the noise level is minimal in most cases.
Last but not least, Atwood 15027 boasts an aerodynamic front profile which minimizes the drag of your rig for optimal fuel efficiency.
- Minimal drag
- Quiet operation
- Complex installation
- Some units have incorrect labels
ASA Electronics ACM135 RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 3,000W
Why We Love It
ASA Electronics ACM135 is your best RV air conditioner if you want a straightforward, reliable, no-nonsense addition for worry-free traveling.
Once properly mounted, the ASA Electronics model would work after you plug in the control unit, no wiring is required. Boasting a sturdy metal frame, the unit is capable of withstanding tough conditions in the outdoors.
In addition, the model uses an environmentally-friendly coolant and foam pads for minimal noise in operation. Thanks to the premium, thick, watertight vent opening gasket, leakage is not a worry in most cases.
With special attention to overload protection, ACM135 possesses a long lifespan compared to the average models on the market.
Regarding installation, ASA Electronics ACM135 comes with everything you need. The bottom fan bolts from the inside and requires no duct which saves a lot of hassles.
Have only used it once, for an 8 day stay, and it worked great. It gets 5 stars so far. It is for the dressing room of a horse trailer, but it actually cooled the whole trailer, front end and back where the stalls are. The entire trailer is insulated, but I was not expecting it to be powerful enough to cool the whole trailer.Shared by Jill W
- Washable filters
- Overload protection
- Eco-friendly refrigerant
- Slightly inconsistent field performance
- Shipping service is barely acceptable
Airxcel Mach 8 Cub RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 1,500W
Why We Love It:
Want a small RV air conditioner for your rig? This Airxcel Mach 8 Cub will be the best RV air conditioner you could get nowadays.
Packing an ultra-low profile, the Airxcel unit is by all accounts an excellent match for small-sized recreational vehicles.
It is also a worth consideration in case your rig is very tall, which requires the most compact AC unit available to allow safe height clearance, yet you do not need a unit with very powerful cooling capacity.
Using fiberglass in its construction, Mach 8 Cub possesses high endurance and is lightweight. Additionally, the AC is also highly energy efficient.
As it’s designed specifically for small RVs, the BTU rating of the model falls behind other units on the list. Nonetheless, at 9,200 BTU, the AC is still sufficient to keep the interior of your vehicle cool in most cases, and will be more than enough if you travel in moderate climate.
Additional handy features include an ultra-quiet fan for minimal noise. If necessary, Mach 8 Cub would work as a heater once equipped with Elect-A-Heat.
Using R-410A refrigerant, Airxcel Mach 8 Cub excels at dissipating heat in the interior and proves to be environmentally friendly.
- Through instruction manual
- Straightforward installation
- The BTU rating is somewhat limited
- Some parts must be strengthened
Coleman 48203C969 RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 1,400W
Why We Love It
Featuring large evaporator/condenser coils and raised lance fins, Coleman 48203C969 is capable of dissipating heat at a fast rate.
With all-copper tubing and gas-flux brazed, this AC from Coleman possesses a fairly long lifespan compared to other models on the market.
While its BTU rating of 13,500 is not the highest on the market, Mach 3 remains a robust option if you want to keep your rig reasonably cool during summer travels.
It’s also worth noting that the unit could be equipped with an optional heater assembly to serve as a heater.
To simplify installation, the Coleman 48203C969 unit is relatively light and is designed to have a streamlined setup which lets you get everything operational in a blink of an eye.
Still, to ensure proper fit, it’s strongly recommended that you check out the dimensions suggestion from the manufacturer before deciding.
While running, Coleman 48203C969 is fairly quiet so you should be able to indulge yourself in the cool atmosphere without being disturbed in most cases.
The model also offers multiple fan speeds so you can easily regulate air flow to your preference.
- Cool pretty well
- Undemanding setup
- Longevity is top-notch
- Packaging is mediocre
- Quality control needs to be improved
Atwood 15026 RV AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 2,000W
Why We Love It:
Made to withstand harsh elements in the outdoors with the use of high-quality materials, Atwood 15026 is the best RV air conditioner when it comes to weather resistance.
You won’t need to worry about fuel economy, thanks to its aerodynamic design which allows for insignificant drag on your rig. The 15026 comes with a digital thermostat for easy control.
Packing a BTU rating of 15,000, this Atwood model should be more than sufficient to keep you comfortably cool even in the hottest hours of blazing summer days.
The unit also features a heat pump which proves handy for winter outings. In addition to such versatility, you will also appreciate the unit’s reasonable power draw of the A/C; no need to worry about a hefty utility bill at the end of the month.
Considering the fact that 15026 has separate motors for the blower fan and the condenser fan, it keeps noises at a minimum.
For installation, Atwood 15026 requires a standard 14 x 14 opening so setup should not be demanding. Once the unit is in place, connect it to the bolt brackets, do the wiring, plug in the diffuser and drive away in your cool rig.
Affordable, easy to install and performs beautifully, just like your home’s heat pump! Definitely the best value out there for reliable RV AC and heat. I simply removed an existing RV skylight, 14″x14″, set the unit over the hole, connected it with 4 bolt bracket (comes with diffuser), and connected the 120v ground, neutral, and hot wires, finally plugging in the diffuser and snapping the diffuser in place. Wasn’t clear in product details or previous reviews, but the gaskets do come pre mounted on the unit. Been using for 2 months, both AC and heat, and its effectiveness and blower power is impressive.Shared by Robert Snider
- Energy efficient
- Great cooling output
- Dependable and reliable
- Horrible delivery
- Inconsistent performance between units
Best RV Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are the perfect cooling solution for your RV if you want something affordable, easy to install and also efficient in the amount of energy they use.
Here are the 2 best performing units in the window RV AC category.
Midea MAW05M1BWT Window AC
+ Voltage: 110V
+ Wattage: 537W
Why We Love It:
With 2-in-1 functionality (fan and air conditioning), Midea MAW05M1BWT offers substantial boosts to the comfort level of RVers. Rated at 5,000 BTU, the cooling capacity of MAW05M1BWT is sufficient for spaces up to 150 square feet in size.
Boasting various settings for temperature, the air conditioner from Midea lets owners of recreational vehicles get the right amounts of cooling for the right occasions. That is why MAW05M1BWT of Midea is held in high esteem by enthusiasts of RVing around the globe.
Slim and sleek, MAW05M1BWT is superior to ordinary air conditioners for recreational vehicles on today’s market once it comes to handling characteristics. Thus, people don’t have to spend much time positioning and securing the air conditioner of Midea on their rig.
Additionally, Midea MAW05M1BWT is able to keep the noise down so it seldom bothers RVers in the vicinity which is a big plus. By picking up MAW05M1BWT, RVers could get some quality shut-eye and cool air at the same time.
For maintenance, Midea MAW05M1BWT uses a washable mesh filter that only requires a bit of effort to clean. If you have few opportunities to look after your appliances, you should consider adding MAW05M1BWT to your shortlist.
- Noiseless operation
- Sturdy and stable
- Particular units show up damaged
- Tech support is hardly adequate
Arctic King WWK05CM91N Window AC
+ Voltage: 115V
+ Wattage: 450W
Why We Love It:
Created with a small build for window applications, WWK05CM91N of Arctic King occupies little space on recreational vehicles. Hence, with WWK05CM91N, enthusiasts of RVing don’t have to give away a huge chunk of the interior in return for cool air.
Furthermore, featuring a straightforward that involves no significant modification to window frames, the unit made by Arctic King could be set up in a flash. All the tools that RVers need to get Arctic King WWK05CM91N up and running lie in typical toolboxes.
In the course of operation, with plenty of built-in settings, the Arctic King air conditioner allows people to adjust interior temperature as they want.
The control interface of WWK05CM91N is user-friendly, therefore, manipulating its operation is a walk in the park. Owing to the terrific combined energy efficiency rate, WWK05CM91N of Arctic King also draws negligible amounts of energy. That means keeping the air conditioner of Arctic King on for extended periods of time is a piece of cake.
As a low-priced model, Arctic King WWK05CM91N could be squeezed into most spending plans with relative ease.
To reassure owners of recreational vehicles, Arctic King back its air conditioner with a one-year warranty, part and labor.
- Instantaneous setup process
- Noise level is low
- Users notice deviations in cooling
- A number of units arrive dead
Best Portable RV Air Conditioner
Portable RV AC units become more popular recently because of their versatility, convenience, and energy efficiency. With a portable AC, you won’t break a sweat to install it in your camper.
Besides that, if you want to keep your camper space cool and dry, portable units will be a great choice as they also offer the dehumidifier feature.
Check out our recommended choice in this category:
Black + Decker BPACT10WT
+ Voltage: 115V
+ Wattage: 1,150W
Why We Love It:
Capable of moving around the interior to distribute cold air, Black + Decker BPACT10WT permits enthusiasts of RVing to cool individual sections of recreational vehicles.
As it cools the atmosphere, the Black + Decker air conditioner gets rid of moisture too.
Because of that, BPACT10WT proves well-suited for owners of recreational vehicles that experience humidity troubles on the road. In addition, since Black + Decker BPACT10WT utilizes the eco-conscious R410a refrigerant, it’s an environmentally friendly model.
Equipped with a 24-hour timeout, BPACT10WT prevents needless waste so RVers could save a couple of bucks while traveling.
In times of need, people may activate auto-control and let the air conditioner of Black + Decker determine the fan speed as it sees fit.
It’s noteworthy that Black + Decker centers BPACT10WT around self-evaporating operation so there is no need to worry about buckets and drain pans.
Last but not least, the incorporation of reusable air filter slide-out in the design of BPACT10WT facilitates maintenance.
For control, the interface of Black + Decker BPACT10WT is intuitive so people need mere minutes to firmly grasp everything.
A remote control is present as well, thus, you don’t have to stand next to the air conditioner from Black + Decker to manage it.
- Splendid portability
- Simple to control
- Kind of loud
- Reports of fluctuating output surface on occasions
Types of RV Air Conditioner
These air-conditioners are installed outside of the windows of your RV, thus does not take up interior space.
They are one of the simplest forms of AC. A downside is they obstruct the windows and reduce the amount of natural light inside the rig.
Nowadays, you can find mini window air conditioners as small as 14 inches that open horizontally instead of vertically.
These compact window units are in increasing demand as they are easy to store away. The current smallest model is the 5,200 BTU model by Friedrich. It fits windows starting at 22 inches wide and openings 12 inches tall. This is the best AC option for small campers like light-weight travel trailers or pop-up campers.
Under bench units are stored away nicely under your seats in the RV to free up limited interior space and keep the AC hidden for aesthetic purposes.
As hot air rises and stays on top of the interior of your motorhome, these under-bench units are very effective as a heating device compared to rooftop units, which will be discussed below.
If you want to use your air conditioner to combat both hot and cold weathers, an under-bench RV unit will be your best option.
Compared to window units and rooftop units, the skylight or the windows are not obstructed or modified, so you can enjoy a lot of natural light. On the other hand, a downside is that you will lose some space in your floor plan.
For additional comfort alongside your existing RV air conditioner, you can also buy a portable air conditioner that can be kept in the cabin.
As the name implies, these compact units are easy to move around, so no climbing on the RV rooftop is required during installation. When you are not traveling, you can use them in your garage or office as well.
If you are considering a portable system, then the main considerations are the overall size, or how powerful the AC unit is. This will depend on whether you have an existing air system in your RV and the RV’s overall size.
The most powerful units of this category will have 14,000 BTU, with BTU denoting cooling capacity. 14,000 BTU is recommended for an area of 500 square feet and above.
A 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner is the average, which can typically cool a space of 10 by 50 feet or less.
If a portable unit cannot meet your cooling demand, especially when you travel in the hottest weeks of summer, you will need an RV rooftop air conditioner instead.
RV rooftop air conditioner units, as their name suggests sit on the roof of your RV. The main benefits of this type are superior cooling capacity and that it does not take up any space within your RV.
However, unless you choose one with an integrated window, it can reduce the amount of natural light within your motorhome.
Another downside with rooftop units is that they are not ideal for heating RVs in cold weather. This is because the warm air tends to concentrate at the top of the space and stay there, as warm air is lighter than cool air.
Low profile vs Full height Rooftop units
Within the rooftop category, there are low profile RV air conditioner units and full height or regular profile units.
The low profile units are more compact, more streamlined, aerodynamic and lighter. Therefore, they reduce drag and the RV’s total weight, thus can increase fuel efficiency compared to full height units.
They also reduce the risk of damage to the unit when passing under low bridges or other overhanging obstacles.
This type of RV roof air conditioner is necessary for a motorhome that is tall. As RV’s get taller and closer to bridge height limits, the low profile units are more in demand. The downside to these low profile designs is that they tend to be a lot noisier.
If you are considering getting a low profile design, take a look at the Dometic Penguin II. It costs $853 and has the lowest design on the current market.
A further choice with both portable and rooftop conditioners is whether to choose a ducted or ductless system.
Non-ducted units are the simplest type of RV air conditioner. They are more suitable for smaller RVs or those without air systems. Opt for these if you own a small RV and if you do not require targeted distribution inside your rig.
They are cheaper but noisier. A non-ducted system may use a remote for temperature adjustments.
They can be installed through a hole cut in the RV’s roof, but often designed to fit into pre-existing roof vents. These units consist of a compressor, condenser, and blower that are all packaged together in an aerodynamic body that sits on the roof of the RV.
These function by having air blow out of the unit itself. Then, the air usually gets sent through vents that either opened or closed. These vents will direct the air to where it’s needed, whether it’d be forward or backward, within the RV.
If you have a smaller camper that doesn’t need to distribute air over long spaces and if you don’t mind a somewhat noisy AC unit, you should consider the non-ducted units.
Ducted units tend to be better suited to larger RVs as they integrate with the existing air flow system and push air around the entire space. Ducted units are the perfect choice if you need highly targeted distribution inside your large motorhome.
A ducted style air conditioner wires directly into your RV, while a non-ducted system does not. A ducted air conditioner uses a thermostat on the wall, much like your heating and cooling unit at home. Ducted units have the same part that bolts onto the roof as the non-ducted versions.
However, they don’t have the control unit on the inside of the RV. Instead, these air conditioners control the temperature by passing air through a duct system that usually pipes through the ceiling, floor, or walls. In doing so, these systems allow you to control the temperature in multiple rooms at once with a centralized control panel.
An important note is that you can have several of these air conditioners installed throughout your RV.
Many RVers who travel in summer install 2 ducted AC units for the front and back of their long RV to make sure the whole interior is sufficiently cool during the hottest hours of the day, that is from around 11AM to 4PM.
Best RV Air Conditioner: Buyer’s Guide
The cooling capacity of an air conditioner unit is commonly referred to as its size. To determine if a particular air conditioner is strong enough to keep everything cool, all you have to do is to check its BTU rating. The higher the BTU rating, the stronger the cooling power.
Take the space inside the interior of your recreational vehicle into account to decide just how much BTU you need. The following estimates can serve as general references.
- From 100 to 300 square feet: Between 5,000 and 7,000 BTUs
- From 300 to 550 square feet: Between 8,000 and 12,000 BTUs
- From 550 to 1,000 square feet: Between 14,000 and 18,000 BTUs
Feel free to go for higher BTU ratings or even opt for two units in case where you’re traveling to is especially unbearable. Installing two units for the front and back is a decision by many full-time RVers who own an RV that is particularly long.
Dual Use with Heat Pump
This factor is an important buying factor for full-time RVers who like traveling all year round in varying weather conditions. A heat pump is an essential element in an air conditioning unit if you want it to be able to heat as well as cool the air within the RV.
A heat pump is a mechanical-compression cycle refrigeration system that can be reversed to provide either warm or cool areas within the RV.
If your RV air conditioner unit has an integrated heat pump, then it is possible to heat your RV with your air conditioner. However, if you are using a rooftop air conditioner, you may find that the heat pump is not the most effective way to heat your RV. This is because heat is lighter and thus rises, so the warmer air will stay at the top of your interior.
If you are likely to need regular heat, then an under-bench unit may be more ideal. In colder climates where the temperature is likely to be close to freezing, then a specialist heater instead of a single AC unit is recommended for the best results.
Virtually every air conditioner these kinds of days produce noise in use but some prove to be quieter than others. Browsing for the best RV air conditioner that runs silently will significantly improve your camping experience.
To minimize the chance of having many sleepless nights in the long run, check the decibels that your AC unit makes, which is the measurement of sound. Different units will admit different noise levels and generally over time the situation could get worse as the unit age and deteriorate.
For a quick comparison, an average conversation can fall between 40-60 decibels. So when you are comparing it to 37-82 decibels that a particular AC model might make, you can see whether such a unit will be a pleasant addition to your RV in the long run.
The good news is there are upgrades that you can do to help reduce the noise. For instance, use noise-absorbing material around the unit like rubber to greatly reduce the noise output of the AC unit.
If you travel across countries, then you need to ensure that your electricity hookups for your unit are compatible with the local electricity source.
An alternative to this is to ensure that you have a suitable generator, which is also handy if you tend to travel off the beaten path.
Units that offer lower power consumption are more cost effective over the long term and are more environmentally friendly. If you often travel in demanding weather conditions, your air conditioner will eat up more electricity and faster than you would expect. In the long term, this will add up to a considerable expense in your camping budget. Therefore, when shopping for the best RV air conditioner, make sure to look for an energy efficient unit.
On average, a 7,000-BTU rooftop AC unit consumes 1,700 watts of electricity for startup and with an average wattage once running of 600. The respective figures for a 10,000-BTU unit are 2,000 and 700 watts, while those for a 13,500-BTU unit are 2,750 and 1,250 watts. The most heavy-duty units with 15,000 BTU consumes 3,500 watts for startup and 1,500 for running.
Vent position and number
The position and number of vents of your air conditioner unit affects the airflow: if the vents are situated on different sides of the unit, you will enjoy a freer flow of air around the interior space of your rig.
While not an essential, it can improve your comfort if you travel regularly in airs with poor air quality. An RV air conditioner with a built-in air purifier can also help to remove the odors that can be present after your RV has been in storage, as well as improve the general smell of its interior.
An air conditioner unit with an integrated window will allow you to enjoy the natural light that you get from a roof window.
Size And Weight
For models mounted on the rooftop, the size of the unit is going to affect clearance height and overall drag. For portable models, the size of the unit determines how much space it occupies in the interior of the vehicle.
Most AC units will fit straight into the skylight section of the camper van with very little cutting needed. The average size of an RV AC unit is 14×14 inches, however it is imperative that you check the measurements of the AC unit as well as the space available in your RV before purchasing. It can save you time having to measure and make big adjustments in your RV.
In addition, it’s widely advised that you consider the weight of the unit as that often influences installation and maintenance. Once again, think about the profile and layout of your RV to make wise investments.
If you are adding a rooftop air conditioner unit, then clearance height is an important factor that you need to consider. The taller the unit, the greater the risk of damage when trying to navigate low bridges and overhanging obstacles.
In case your rig is already tall, a low-profile unit will be a safe choice. These streamlined units can add as little as 25cms to the clearance height of your vehicle.
For full-time or frequent campers, note that more compact AC units not only will allow you to roam freely and safely but it also reduces drag and improves the aerodynamics plus fuel economy of your vehicle compared to a regular full-size unit.
Another buying factor to get the best RV air conditioner is to ensure that you know the insulation strength of any unit you are considering. You should always refer to either your dealer or an authorized service center before making a final choice.
Insulation provides a barrier that slows the heat exchange. It keeps the heat from coming in on a warm day and from going out on a cold day. Insulation strengths of RV air conditioner units vary widely and the optimal strength for your RV depends mainly on the vehicle’s size.
Another way to ensure proper insulation is to equip your AC unit with easy-to-install foam seals to close the gaps between the window A/C unit and window frame.
Ease Of Installation
Of course, you could always drop by an RV workshop and hire professionals to take care of the installation for you. Still, it’s possible to install all by yourself by strictly following the manuals and prioritizing products that have straightforward installation. To ensure that the installation proceeds smoothly, it’s essential that you get all the parts from the same manufacturer.
Maintaining RV Air Conditioners: Pro Tips And Tricks
Having the best RV air conditioner is indeed nice but if you want to get the most out of it, you must look after it. The last thing you want to find when you reach your first stop on your trip is that your RV air conditioner unit isn’t working.
Depending on where you are, at this point, you could be completely stuck if it is anything serious. The best way to avoid this, or at least reduce the risk of it happening, is to test it before you leave and undertake regular maintenance.
Except for age and damage, corrosion and dirt are the main problems that are likely to lead to an underperforming RV AC unit or one that won’t work at all. Before undertaking any maintenance on your RV air conditioner unit, ensure the power is turned off and disconnected. Wear gloves as well, as some parts inside the unit may be sharp.
It is also a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s handbook or online guide before you disassemble your unit.
- Wipe The Coils: To access the evaporator coils, you need to remove the metal cover, unplug the control board and take out the freeze sensor. Normal household cleaners should be adequate but for maximum effect, consider using purpose design products.
- Straighten The Fins: Air conditioners that have bent fins tend to have restricted airflows which make them become less efficient. So every now and then, grab a specialized coil fin comb and proceed to straighten the fins of your AC.
- Oil The Fan Motor: If your AC features bearings, it would have oiling ports so all you have to do is to refill the ports. On the other hand, in the case your air conditioner uses sleeves, you have to oil the shaft in between the sleeves and the housing.
- Covering your RV: While regular checks and maintenance are vital, you can reduce many issues by covering your RV when it is not in use. This prevents dirt, dust, and other debris from entering the AC unit. Such a cover also protects the unit from moisture, insects, and extreme weather conditions.
FAQs About RV Air Conditioner
1. How long does an RV air conditioner last?
2. What size RV AC unit do I need?
The BTU or British Thermal Units refer to the amount of energy your RV air conditioner uses per hour. Therefore, it’s essential you know exactly how much BTU your RV requires to keep it nice and cool.
After all, you don’t want to buy an RV air conditioner that is either too weak or too powerful. Instead, you want a product that is just right for your RV. Standard RV air conditioners are going to be around 13,500 BTU and this a perfect place to start calculating how much BTU your particular RV needs.
For instance, if you’re going to be vacationing in hotter climates, you should look for an RV air conditioner with a higher BTU than 13,500. On the other hand, if you’re going to be vacationing in cold climates or plan on using the AC sparingly, you should look for something with a lower BTU.
Another factor to consider is the size of your recreational vehicle. The following estimates can serve as general references.
+ From 100 to 300 square feet: Between 5,000 and 7,000 BTUs
+ From 300 to 550 square feet: Between 8,000 and 12,000 BTUs
+ From 550 to 1,000 square feet: Between 14,000 and 18,000 BTUs
3. How to recharge an RV air conditioner?
+ Lower the power supply to the AC unit by accessing the electrical breaker in the panel box.
+ Make sure you bought the right refrigerant. Refer to the instructions about which refrigerant to obtain on the side of the RV air conditioner unit.
+ Lift the lid of the air conditioner. You should use a socket to remove the shroud screws around the lid to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible. Then, lift the lid straight up to make sure you don’t damage any parts inside the unit.
+ Once you’ve lifted the lid, you should check the refrigerant gauge. Then, unscrew the port with a wrench and begin to add in the necessary amount of refrigerant.
+ It is vital that you add in the refrigerant slowly. As you’re adding refrigerant, make sure you make a note of the difference in temperature between the air within the unit and the RV several times.
+ After adding the necessary amount of refrigerant, the temperature difference between the air in the AC unit and the RV should be about 20 degrees Fahrenheit different.
Restore the power to the air conditioner and monitor the temperature in your RV to ensure the air conditioner has been charged effectively.
4. How to install an RV AC?
4.2. Determine where the best installation spot for your new air conditioner is. You’ll need to pick a place that will be strong enough to reasonably support the unit. Also, it’s important to make sure there are at least 8 inches between that spot and the edge of the roof.
4.3. Next, cut a hole in your roof. This will be the most challenging part of this whole process, so be careful and measure precisely. You must also make sure the hole is big enough to fit the connections between the ceiling part of the air conditioner and the roof part of the air conditioner. Next, mark locations of where the bolts will go in as well.
4.4. Mount the roof part of the air conditioner over the hole. Then, screw the unit in with the mounting bolts at the locations you’ve marked. Next, inside the RV, install the bolts that will hold the ceiling part of the air conditioner in place. Finally, mount and secure the ceiling portion.
4.5. Add sealant to the points on the roof where the air conditioner comes in contact with metal for extra stability.
4.6. Wire the ceiling unit to the proper locations that will be determined by each wire’s color. In other words, match the wires to their corresponding wires that share the same color.
4.7. Plug the ceiling unit into the roof unit. Turn the power supply back on, and your air conditioner should be ready to run and cool your RV.
5. How to quiet an RV air conditioner?
A unit can lower the AC’s sound by 8 to 10 decibels that can create a huge difference in restoring silence and serenity inside the RV. These silencers use thick cotton lining inside the duct system to make sure that the noise is muffled right there.
A loose component: A loose nut, bolt, or screw can displace a component and make it create an unusually loud sound. The easy way to fix that is to check the system physically and tighten the loose hardware.
Worn out rubber cushion: Every air conditioning system has rubber cushions for absorbing the vibration of various parts. When these cushions wear out or become hard over time, they cannot take in as much vibration as they were used to. For this reason, the air conditioner starts making noises.
Old units: Older air conditioners are not going to get fixed unless you replace them. One last thing that you can do is check the bushings to see if they are loose.
Dirty fan blades: Dirty or off-balance fan blades could be the culprits too. Clean them and the system will start making less sound.
Fan speed: Another solution to the how to quiet RV AC problem is to lower the fan’s speed from high to low. This is one of the simplest fixes for AC noise reduction.
Greasy ducts: Greasy ducts can be another reason for AC’s unusual sound. Cleaning or changing them will solve this problem.
Air vent: Sometimes, restricted airflow makes the AC’s fan create loud noises. In that case, make sure that the registers of the air vent are open.
Maintenance: As with everything else, regular maintenance is necessary to make sure the AC works properly. If the commotion does not stop after performing regular maintenance, you need to replace either a component or the whole unit.
6. How to clean an RV AC?
For instance, a good thorough every other season cleaning of your RV air conditioner’s condenser and evaporator will go a long way towards making sure it stays working for a long time. Follow these steps to keep your AC strong and running:
1. Unplug the AC from the power source by either disconnecting your RV from the shore power or turning off the breaker.
2. Once you’ve turned off the power source, it’s time to get up on that roof. If your RV’s roof isn’t meant to be walked on, make sure you put down some plywood that you can safely walk on. After you’re safely walking around the roof, remove the nuts and bolts keeping the AC shroud in place.
3. Cover all the electrical connections with plastic bags to help protect them from moisture. Then, apply your chosen cleaner to coils and let it soak for a good 15 to 20 minutes. Regular household cleaners would get the job done.
4. After letting it soak, use a garden hose to flush out any loose debris. Depending on how bad you let your coils get, this may take several attempts to get rid of all the dust and other debris.
5. Let the coils dry out for a few hours. You can even use a vacuum or fan to help speed up the process, but make sure the coils are completely dry before putting the AC shroud back on and turning on the power source.
7. Why is my RV air conditioner not blowing cold air?
Clogged condenser fins: One reason for an RV air conditioner not blowing cold is clogged condenser fins and external leaks. Dirt, leaves, and spiderwebs can collect in the condenser coils, so first make sure the fins are clean. Also, you can use the foil tape to seal the blower box from the outside.
Inside filter: With an RV air conditioner not blowing cold, every little bit contributes to the AC cooling. On the inside of the intake grate, there is a foam filter that can get filled. You can clean it with soap and water or if yours is a couple of years old, just buy a new one.
Evaporator and blower motor fins: Next step is to clean the evaporator and blower motor fins. We need to get all the dust and grime out of the grate so that air can flow freely.
Check cooling capacity: Now that we know the air conditioner is getting good airflow, we can check for sure if the AC unit is working. An RV air conditioner will produce about a 20-degree difference between the intake and exhaust air. The easiest way to check this is if you have a meat thermometer. Check the ambient temperature of your RV. Then start up your RV air conditioner and let it run for about 15 minutes. Measure the air coming out of the exhaust vent of the air conditioner. If the difference between the ambient temperature and the exhaust AC temperature is at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit it means the AC unit is working! This is a good sign that the RV air conditioner not blowing cold is not caused by low refrigerant levels but can be caused elsewhere.
Intake and exhaust leaks:
– Hot air leaking into the intake of the AC: On each side of the AC intake, there are wires poking through the duct. This might not look like a big deal, but the air being sucked in through these holes comes straight from the roof space of the RV. It’s like blowing a small stream from a hair dryer into the intake of your air conditioner. Use the foil tape to cover up these holes.
– Cool air leaking out of the exhaust before getting into your RV: Check if the factory foil tape that was used to seal the ducts had fallen off causing gaps between the duct and the roof. If this is the case, the cool air was blowing around the duct and straight into the hot roof cavity.
– Intake and exhaust air mixing: Between the intake and exhaust of the air conditioner is a small foam insert. The splitter has a foam ring that is supposed to seal the two sides from mixing air. After years of vibration and natural deterioration, the foam causes leaks between the intake and exhaust of the air conditioner. These leaks cause the cold air that the AC produces to be sucked back into the intake. The air conditioner is working, but the air is just circulating around between the intake and exhaust and never makes it into the RV interior. To check for splitter leaks, put a flashlight behind the edges and look for light seeping through. Just like with the exhaust leaks, use the weather seal foam and foil tape to seal up any openings.
8. How cold should an RV air conditioner blow?
In addition, if the RV is in direct sunlight on a hot day the AC unit will have a hard time keeping up. A shaded RV campsite will help improve the cooling efficiency of the air conditioner.