How to Keep your RV Cool During the Hot Summer

RVing in high temperatures and the hot summer sun can make for a sticky and unpleasant camping experience. Your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer can quickly feel like an oven inside. However, if you know how to keep your RV cool inside, you and your family will enjoy your RV adventure and sleep well on those hot summer nights.

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Hot Weather RV Tips
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How to Keep your RV Cool During the Hot Summer

RV Life - RV Pets - Keeping Cool

Look at our pathetic looking nomad cats. They never lay that way except when it’s really warm! Our RV floor is generally cooler when it’s hot outside because hot air rises. This is why they lay on the floor instead of their cat beds that are in higher places.

But it’s not all about them. And it’s not all about how cool we are either. There are certain RV components and even our electronics we need to keep at a comfortable room temperature. Additionally, be aware that your RV furniture will degrade quicker and cause cracking and peeling. And let’s not forget the sun will cause fading of fabrics, wall coverings and wall art.

Even our medications, supplements and over-the-counter medicines need to be kept to a cooler temperature. As well, nonperishable food will degrade quicker.

So, what do we RVers do to keep cool in our motorhome or camper? Well, we’ll share some great ways for you to keep your RV cool in the hot summer months so you and your furry travel companions can be comfortable.

Drive on!

The easiest way to dodge the hot summer heat is to drive on. Just like snowbirds drive south for the winter to warmer temperatures, those same snowbirds head back north when it gets too hot.

But, if you can’t leave because your RV is stationary due to your job, family or other reasons, we hope these, other hot weather tips that will help keep your RV cool.

RV Life - Keeping RV Cool - Campground Shade Trees

Park your RV in the shade

It’s a no brainer that the shade is much cooler than out in the bright sun. So, if possible, try to pick your campsite or ask the campground management for a shady spot under the trees.

Or, park your motorhome or towable RV near a large structure that will shield your camper from the hot afternoon sun.

RV Air Conditioner - Summer Heat - Stay Cool

Start your RV air conditioner early in the day

Even before it starts getting hot outside, turn on your air conditioner to cool the walls, floors and ceilings of your coach. Its more beneficial to do this than to try to cool a hot RV.

We also  use small portable rechargeable USB fans to circulate the air. We set them on the floor for our kitties but also to circulate the air.

Always On Liberty - Fifth Wheel Campground - Awning

Deploy your awning

If it’s not super breezy outside, extend your RV awning when the sun is on the passenger side of your motorhome or camper. This will help shade your RV at least for a few hours.

However, only leave your awning out while you are at your RV. Never leave your extended awning unattended or while taking a nap or sleeping.

A great addition to your existing RV awning is a breathable screen shade that attaches to your awning. They block almost 90% of the sun’s UV rays but not block your view. You can anchor the bottoms which help keep your awning from too much movement. These help create a comfortable outdoor room for you to relax in.

Pull your window shades

As the sun moves (actually the earth moves around the sun but you get my drift) around your RV, pull your window shades to keep the sun from coming through the windows.

RV MCD Window Shades

Cover your RV door window

Lippert RV Door WIndow Shade Kit

Most towables don’t come with shades on doors. The windows are typically tinted instead. But now, you can buy a window shade kit for RV doors for privacy but also to keep out the hot sun.

But, say you don’t want to spend the money for a pricy shade. You can use insulated covering as a temporary fix to keep the sun and heat out. But also, it adds an insulating barrier to help keep your RV cooler inside.

Insulate your RV windows

There’s a product for insulating RV windows called Reflectix. It looks like silver bubble wrap that you can adhere to your windows if you’re going to be in hot temperatures for long periods of time. You can also use the Reflectix Tape to insure proper adhesion.

Realize when using that method, your windows will be covered all of the time and make the inside of your RV interior darker and cave-like.

Insulate your Fantastic Fan and skylight

RV Fantastic Fan Insulator

You can insulate your fantastic fan vent or skylight with an insulator. This will keep the cool air from escaping up into the vent. As well, it will keep the sun from beating down into your interior spaces below.

Or, you can just use a simple insulating fan cover that attaches or detaches easily and doesn’t take up space to store.

Turn on your ceiling fan

Ceiling Fan

Some newer model motorhomes, towable fifth wheels and travel trailers now come with pre-installed ceiling fans. They can be instrumental in controlling air flow throughout your coach. It can circulate air by drawing air up from the floor or down from the ceiling.

Since your AC vents are in the ceiling, you’ll want to adjust your fan’s direction to push the cool air down.

Close off rooms that you’re not using

Just like your sticks and bricks house, closing off rooms conserves and channels the cooler airflow in the area that you want it.

If you spend time in your kitchen and living area, close your RV bedroom and bathroom door. And, at night, close off your room to keep the cooler air in your bedroom while you’re sleeping. Again, close the vents in the rooms not being used at the moment.

Control your RV air conditioning vents

Like closing off rooms in your RV, you can also do the same with your air conditioning ceiling output vents. This will help your RV’s AC unit force the cold air only into the spaces or rooms you want it. This can make a huge difference on really hot summer days concentrating the cooler air where you’re spending the most time in.

And, you can even control airflow by simply twisting the vent towards the direction you want the cooler air to go.

Turn off lights and lamps

Incandescent and halogen lights emit tons of heat when they are turned on. And, they can be taxing on your electrical system.

We recommend shutting them off during the day. Use your LED lights instead if you need the lights on.

Turn off your television and electronics

Televisions and Electronics (ie. computers, etc.) also get very warm when they’re in use or have been on for any period of time. Turning them off lessens the electrical draw which allows more energy to go to your RV’s air conditioning system.

Don’t cook inside

Cooking in your motorhome or towable camper gives off lots of heat and steam. On hot days, eat cold foods, salads and sandwiches. Or, save those warm days to enjoy lunch out or order takeout.

But if you don’t feel like going out, this is a great time to utilize your outdoor kitchen. This is the perfect time to gather the family outside for cold drinks, lounging in your portable camp chairs and cooking outside.

Cooking Grill

Here’s some great portable outdoor cooking suggestions that are great to use for those hot summer picnics or camping:

For more cool outdoor cooking ideas: Ultimate Grilling and Campfire Cooking Gear

Minimize opening your door

Our mothers told us when we were kids to ‘close the darn door’ and now its our turn to tell every one else who enters to do the same. Minimizing opening the door will allow the cool air to stay in and the hot air to stay out.

Make sure your air conditioner vents are clean

Air Conditioner Vent Filters Drying

These are a huge culprit in air conditioner component malfunctions. You should clean your air conditioner vents at least monthly. Make sure nothing is blocking the air flow.

To see how to you do this, check out our How to Clean Your RV’s AC Vents and Filters.

RV Air Conditioner Ceiling Unit

Service your RV air conditioner annually

By keeping your RV air conditioner serviced every year, you minimize expensive repairs down the road. As well, it will minimize the potential of your air conditioning unit going on the fritz when you need it most.

Hire an RV Tech who is qualified and knowledgeable to service all of your air conditioner and its’ components. Make sure your Tech also inspects the intake and AC vents in your RV.

Portable Air Conditioners

Now, being totally honest here, we’ve never used portable air conditioners however, we know several RVers who do. So, we looked up a few to see which ones could work in your motorhome, camper or small space.

Viable air conditioning portable options should you need them when hooked up to an electric pedestal:

    • Rechargeable Evaporative Portable Air Conditioner Fan – Cordless 3-speed, cordless personal air cooler can be used for 4-5 hours. Cold air can be sprayed continuously for several hours to keep the body cool at night for a good sleep. 
    • Larger 3-in-1 Dehumidifying Air Conditioner – Ror rooms or RVs up to 200 square feet. Comes with a remote control and operates at 8000 BTU. 
    • Compact Floor Air Conditioner – Indoor cooler conditioning unit features a simple electric plug in operation. Three mode operation: cooling, dehumidifier and fan. Also features automatic swing mode with moving wind vent for maximum air circulation. You can choose between 8000 BTU, 10,000 BTU, or 12,000 BTU with or without heat or WiFi features.
    • 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner – Evaporative air cooler with cooling and humidifier. 3-speed with 65ยฐ Oscillation, 12 hour timer and remote. Can cool up to 170 square feet. 
    • Mini Portable Air Conditioner Fan – Small desktop evaporative air cooler and humidifier with 3 speeds. It is super quiet desk air cooling fan has a handle and LED light

Always On Liberty - Desert Boondocking - Awning Sunshine

That’s a wrap!

Well, this concludes our RV tips how to beat the heat and keep your RV cool during the hot summer months. You can still enjoy RVing and camping as the mercury rises. Happy camping!

Related Articles

RV Tips for Weather Emergencies

RV Maintenance: RV Air Conditioner Cleaning and Maintenance

How to Stop Condensation in Your RV

RV Maintenance โ€“ Air Conditioner Vents and Filters

Keeping Your Pets Cool in Your RV in the Summer

 

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36 Replies to “How to Keep your RV Cool During the Hot Summer”

  1. Use velco on the reflexic so you can still use the vent in your bathrm r if you need to see our a window ect

    1. Great idea, Shelley! Thanks for sharing your tip! Stay cool out there! It’s a hot one!! -Dan & Lisa

  2. You’ve got some great RV tips for staying cool. We want to take ours on some trips this summer, but man it gets hot in there! I’ll have to look into getting some insulation for the windows, like you said.

    1. Ridley, We’re glad you enjoyed those tips. Please pass our blog info onto some of your clients. Oh, and you’re so right about it getting HOT (or already has!) Look at cooler places to go enjoy. Being near a lake or place where you can take a dip is always a plus.

      BTW, we will be in Elkhart the first week of September if you’d like to do a meet and greet! We’d love to meet our Liberty Crew followers!

      Stay cool! -Dan & Lisa

  3. I took the inside covers off our units and sealed all areas between supply and return. Huge difference. The manufacturer spends no time sealing these areas which shud be seperate. Major loss of cold air right back to the return. Now we have good flow to the bunk house thru the duct work.

    1. Travis, thanks for taking time to read our tips. We agree, every RV owner should inspect their air duct system and if they find discrepancy, they should consult a professional or research how to fix the issue. Good for you knowing how to do it. Safe travels! -Dan & Lisa

    1. Paprika, we’re so glad that our information is helping you along the way. We hope you keep reading; lots more good info to come! -Dan & Lisa

  4. Except for having a clean filter inside & making sure there’s no debris on outside AC unit & its able to drain properly. These units are NOT serviceable. They either work or they don’t. Learn your unit & “service” it yourself every year.

    1. Hi Kim, Great note! We service our own AC’s often. As we all should know, if we take care of our equipment, it will take care of us. This is one of the reasons we avoid long stays at the beach or salty air. We’ve seen first hand on another RVers’ AC roof units what salt air can do. Totally destroyed the components inside and of course, the efficiency depleted significantly. -Dan

    2. Not true. Remove the a/c cover armed with a soft bristle brush and some 409 (ie) and spray the fins of the a/c unit and let it sit 30 seconds. Lightly scrub up and down ( donโ€™t bend the fins ). Rinse the fins and replace the cover. BE SURE ALL POWER IS OFF. Do this once a year if used heavily.

      Most roofs are white (ish). Clean the food to deflect more heat.

  5. any energy saving ideas id love to know. its 100 degrees here in dickinson an im a new rv owner for the first time.

    1. Hi Theresa, those tips should help conserve energy as well because they help the AC work more efficiently. Thanks for asking! -Lisa & Dan

  6. Good tips! We just picked up one of those little fans. Might have to get another.

    This might seem obvious but we found if you keep an RV in a shady spot it makes a huge difference in temperature.

    1. Hi Scott! Thanks for reading! Yes, shade makes it nice. Well, unless we’re boondocking and needing the solar. But hey, did you see those new batteries we have now? Can store energy for days!! Yay! Those little USB fans work awesome. We even take them outside with us when we’re sitting around. They chase the bugs off at the same time, keep us a little cooler. In fact, we need to order two more; thanks for the reminder.

      Hope to see you soon. We miss you cool kids! Safe travels! -Dan & Lisa

      1. Hi Gloria, thank you for visiting and following our blog and our travels. Have you gotten up on your roof and opened up your AC unit? It may need a good cleaning. Smelling musty may mean you have mold or moisture up in your unit or vents. We recommend reading our blog RV Maintenance Tip #2 – Air Conditioning Vents and Filters. If you’re not able to do the maintenance yourselves, we suggest finding a reputable RV Tech to do it for you. – Dan & Lisa

  7. I never really think about the A/c unit itself or the filters. My awning has had it’s better days and I swear it is always windy when I want to extend it . The wind sensor causes issues. So I leave it in most of the time. I’m still learning how to adjust but I guess summer time is a bad time to learn. I did install the reflective shades in all the windows and it makes a HUGE difference.

    1. Bloggin Brandi, thank you for taking the time to read our blog. I’m glad that you found relief with our recommendation of the reflective shades. I wish they were a little more stylish on the inside portion. When you make reservations at a campground or RV park, check the orientation of the sun. We do better when the afternoon sun is on the left and front side of the RV if possible. That allows shade on the door side. Just another idea to give you some relief. Happy Trails! -Dan & Lisa

  8. Such an informative article you had shared. All the information you had posted is beneficial. Thanks for sharing this article. Your tips will help me to keep my RV cool in the summer. Keep posting this type of helpful post. Good wishes… ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Travis, thanks for taking the time to read our blog post. We hope you’ve read others that will help make your RV travel a little more fun and stress free because we’ve taken the guess work out of it. Travel safe and stay the cool guy you are! -Lisa & Dan

  9. We were in Florida last August (silly is) in our 5th Wheel. We are from Calif. Our rig has ACs in two locations. We tried all those tricks you mentioned but kept getting condensation inside and no relief from the heat . We hired a certified RV tech. He said we needed to use the high fan at all times and not the auto setting. Simple! It worked. Finally we had relief in a very humid climate

  10. About 30 minutes before arriving at a hot sunny site, I start the genset in our motorhome, and turn the a/c unit(s) on. Then after registering, parking and leveling, things are nice an cool when it’s time to plug in.

    1. Hi Denny, sounds like you have a great solution. Nothing like having a comfortable RV to settle in after a long trip. Thanks for reading our blog! Safe travels!

  11. Hello I have a 2006 Keystone Sydney edition 5th wheel and I just replaced my ac with a new unit and itโ€™s 100 plus degrees in Phoenix Az right now and my unit is hot as ever!! The ac unit when on in this extreme heat is blowing hot air and I hear the compressor kicking off and on about every 10 minutes or so and it will blow a little cool air then kick back off blowing hot! Iโ€™m so depressed and disappointed right now cause I spent $850 on this unit plus $200 labor and Iโ€™m getting the run around from the installer telling me itโ€™s my house not the unit. We he installed it only blew air out of bedroom ducts but not kitchen or bunk room and I told him they worked before with the other unit even if it was just fan air. I donโ€™t know what to do Iโ€™m on a fixed income and Iโ€™m full time in my Rv and itโ€™s horrible that this has happened to me especially in a time like this during this virus time. I called a few places to come do a service check to get another opinion and most are closed during virus I guess not an essential business. I need desperate help please can someone point me in the right direction. Iโ€™m disabled do limited ability to do things on my own.

    1. Hi Brendie, we’re so sorry to hear of your AC issues and totally understand. Our only recommendation is to contact your local RV Mobile Tech. They may be able to schedule you in to come look at your AC. Do realize, you will at least have to pay a service call for them to come look at it. We are not RV techs, so we can’t give you any other suggestions than that. Sorry. Hope you get relief soon.

  12. It made sense when you said that covering the door windows on RVs can go a long way in keeping out the sun. According to my knowledge, it would also be smart to get a cover for the RV’s windshield, since that’s a large area that could potentially let in a lot of sun as well. Thanks for sharing this helpful info for anyone planning on RVing this summer!

    1. Yes, Rebecca, there are covers for motorhome windshields but they can be pricy and are custom but do they do work as well. Thank you for that addition.

  13. I live in a box truck with a window unit sticking out the side through a hole i cut for it. It gets real hot in here during the day no shade anywhere. Any suggestions? I almost feel like i need to build some sort of shade over the roof out of plywood to make shade. Its a 22 foot box truck.

    1. It sounds like you have a hybrid-type setup. Your AC is more of a residential type so I would follow your manufacturer’s instructions. There are great suggestions in this particular blog you may want to revisit and check out. Stay cool out there!

  14. We are thinking of buying a camper and are completely new at this. We do not like the heat. Is the โ€˜Arctic Packageโ€™ a good option that will make a big difference inside? Thanks for your input!

    1. Hi Amy, those Arctic Packages are more for winter camping such as heated holding tanks, better insulation, etc. The thing to look for in RVs is double pane windows, tinted windows, ample air conditioning units, white or light colored slide ends, lighter exteriors, etc. There are things you can do inside your RV to stay cool. Here’s some tips we shared earlier. https://alwaysonliberty.com/2018/05/14-tips-on-keeping-your-rv-cool-in-the-summer.html/

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