How to Keep your RV Cool in the Hot Summer Months

If you RV in the hot summer months or in geographical regions notorious for high temperatures, you know all too well how excruciatingly hot it gets inside your motorhome or camper. However, there are several solutions to how to keep your RV cool so you and your family stay comfortable while camping in the scorching heat. These helpful cooling tips will also help improve your RV air conditioner’s performance.

I’m sure you all know by now that RVs are not built like residential houses. Campers, Vans and most motorhomes lack sufficient insulation that allows consistent temperatures inside. Just like a car sitting in a parking lot in the hot sun, an RV heats up quickly like a hot oven inside.

But, trying to keep your RV cool inside isn’t just about our comfort. Electronic components that must be kept at a comfortable room temperature. Medications and nutritional supplements need to be kept to cool temperatures. And let’s face it, we’ve all seen that loaf of bread mold faster and fruits left on the counter expire quickly in warmer temperatures.

So, what do RVers do to combat the heat inside our motorhomes and campers? Let’s see exactly how you can cool down the inside of your RV and keep it that way.

Hot Weather RV Tips

This article contains affiliate links. By clicking on them, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Full disclosure here.

How to Keep Your RV Cool in the Hot Summer Months

1) Drive to cooler destinations!

The easiest way to dodge the summer heat is to travel to cooler destinations. Just like snowbirds drive south for the winter to warmer temperatures, those same snowbirds head back north when the mercury rises.

But, what if you can’t leave because you live in your RV in a stationary location? Then, you’ll want to find ways that will keep your RV cool inside as well as you and your pets.

2) Park your RV in the shade

RV Life - Keeping RV Cool - Campground Shade Trees

We all know that it’s much cooler in the shade than out in the hot sun. So, if possible, pick your campsite accordingly. Ask the campground management for a shady spot under the trees.

Also, pay attention to the orientation of your RV in relation to the sun. The afternoon sun is at its’ hottest, so you may want to orient your RV with your door side pointing east. That way you can use your awning to shield that side of your motorhome or camper.

If you’re boondocking, see if you can park your RV near a large structure that will shield your camper from the hot afternoon sun.

3) Deploy your awning

Always On Liberty - Fifth Wheel Campground - Awning

You’ll want to deploy 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.

For further protection from the hot sun, attach a screen shade to your awning. It will block almost 90% of the sun’s UV rays without blocking your view. You can anchor the bottom corners to keep your awning and screen shade from moving around too much in a small gust of wind or steady breeze.

But, be cautious of deploying or leaving your awning out in the wind. Never leave your awning unattended; even stepping out for a few minutes to run to the store or while taking a nap or sleeping.

4) Pull your window shades down

RV MCD Window Shades

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

Your shades will help block not only the heat from coming through the windows but also prevent UV rays from damaging your furniture or interiors.

5) Start your RV air conditioner early in the day

RV Air Conditioner - Summer Heat - Stay Cool

You need to get ahead of the heat rather than trying to cool your RV when it’s already stifling outside. So, start your air conditioner(s) before it starts getting hot outside.

6) 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 because it concentrates the cooler air where you’re spending the most time in.

You can even control airflow by simply twisting the vent towards the direction you want the cooler air to go and open the vent flaps accordingly.

7) Make sure your air conditioner vents are clean

Air Conditioner Vent Filters Drying

Dirty air conditioner filters disallow proper flow of air in your RV. And, if you don’t commit to a regular cleaning schedule, they will affect your RV air conditioner’s performance. Really, you should be cleaning your air conditioner vents at least monthly; more if you have pets or are camping in high dust areas. Make sure nothing is blocking the air flow.

8) Service your RV air conditioner annually

RV Air Conditioner Ceiling Unit

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.

PRO TIP: Between professional RV air conditioner service, here’s how to conduct your RV Air Conditioner Cleaning and Maintenance.

9) Get a Portable Air Conditioner

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.

Portable air conditioner options for when you’re 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 65° 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

10) Cover or insulate your RV door window

RV Door Window Reflectix

Most towable RVs and some older motorhomes don’t come with shades on the door windows. But, most do have tinted windows. They are double edge sword. While tinted windows offer daytime privacy, the black tint absorbs heat from the sun.

So, a great solution to alleviating this problem is to install a window shade kit to your RV door window. Not only does it help keep the hot sun’s rays out but it offers great privacy; especially for those who don’t have tinted windows. They also darken your interior space; making it great for that afternoon nap or to watch a movie in your air conditioned RV.

But, if you need a quick fix, just install a temporary insulated shade on the window to keep your RV cool inside. It adds an insulating barrier to shield your interior from the outside heat that you’ll be thankful for.

11) Insulate your RV windows

How to Keep Your RV Cool in the Summer - Reflectix on Windows

As mentioned above, tinted windows absorb heat that is drawn in from the sun. To keep that from happening in your RV, you’ll want to insulate your windows with Reflectix. It looks like silver bubble wrap that you adhere to your windows if you’re going to be in hot temperatures for long periods of time. To keep it in place, you can use the Reflectix tape to insure proper adhesion.

However, use extra caution in using these with acrylic windows as they can trap the heat between the window and the Reflectix. A good way to still utilize this type of insulation is to adhere it to the outside of your windows. 

Realize though, windows will be covered all of the time and make the inside of your RV interior darker and cave-like. But hey, caves are cool and comfy, so it’s the better option.

12) Cover or insulate your Fantastic Fan and skylight

RV Fantastic Fan Insulator

You can insulate your RV’s fantastic fan or skylight three ways. Either installing an insulator, a ready-made insulating fan cover or cutting the same Reflectix (above) to fit any openings in your ceiling to keep your cool air from escaping. As well, it will keep the sun from beating down into your interior spaces below.

Just remember, you do not want to cover your AC vents or your air intake vents that allows the cool air to circulate in your RV.

13) Turn on your ceiling fan

Ceiling Fan

Some newer model motorhomes and fifth wheels now come with residential ceiling fans. Those ceiling fans can be instrumental in controlling air flow throughout your coach.

You can program your coach’s ceiling to circulate air by drawing air up from the floor or down from the ceiling. Since an RV’s AC vents are in the ceiling, you’ll want to adjust your ceiling fan to push the cool air down.

14) Use portable fans

Remember, hot air rises. You can clip or hang small rechargeable fans from a higher location in your RV and point them downwards, they will keep the cool air circulating to a comfortable level. Also, by doing that will help lessen heat loss through the ceilings.

For example, while our RV’s air conditioner is running, we use one or two small rechargeable fans placed in opposite ends to circulate the air.

Just a quick tip if you’re leaving your pets alone in your RV while you step out, set a couple fans on the floor. This will help keep them cool. But also, in case the AC goes out or your coach loses power during your absence (let’s hope not!), they will at least help keep your pets cool.

RV Pro Tip: Don’t know which fans are good to use in RVs?  Check out our 10 Best Battery Powered Fans for RVs and Camping.

15) Close off rooms that you’re not using

Just like your (former) sticks and bricks house, by closing off your rooms will help conserve and channel 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 your bedroom to contain the cooler air while you’re sleeping.

16) Turn off lights and lamps

Incandescent and halogen lights emit tons of heat while they’re on. And, they are taxing your electrical system.

So, shut them off when they’re not being used. Or, use your LED lights instead.

17) Turn off your television and unplug unused electronics

Televisions and electronic devices (ie. computers, etc.) get very warm when they’re in use. By turning them off lessens the electrical draw which allows more energy to go to your RV’s air conditioners without overtaxing your electrical system. And even leaving unused electronics plugged in creates parasitic draws on your electricity that could affect your AC management.

18) Avoid cooking inside

Cooking Grill

Cooking puts out lot a lot of heat and emits steam and moisture inside your RV. So, on hot days, resort to eating cold foods, salads and sandwiches. Or, save the hot days for eating out, delivery or takeouts.

But if you don’t feel like going out, make some of your favorite sun tea, relax under the awning and dream of cool destinations.

You can place a few rechargeable fans to circulate their air even outdoors! They’re also great for keeping the mosquitos and flies away! 

And those warm summer months are a great time to utilize your outdoor kitchen anyway! Not only does cooking outdoors keep your RV cool inside but doesn’t the food just tastes better anyway?

Some great portable outdoor cooking suggestions to use outdoors:

PRO TIP:  Looking for more cool outdoor cooking ideas? Check out our Ultimate Grilling and Campfire Cooking Gear

19) Minimize opening the door

Remember when our mothers always scolded us to close the damn door!? Well, it all makes sense now; especially when camping in the summer heat. By minimizing constant door openings helps contain the cool air inside your RV while the hot air stays out.

Final thoughts on how to keep your RV cool in the summer

Always On Liberty - Desert Boondocking - Awning Sunshine

We hope these tips on how to beat the heat and keep your RV cool during the summer. Try not to let the heat kill your camping vibe. You still can enjoy RVing and camping even when the mercury rises!

DISCLOSURE: This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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

  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 ( don’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… 🙂

    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 it’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! I’m so depressed and disappointed right now cause I spent $850 on this unit plus $200 labor and I’m getting the run around from the installer telling me it’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 don’t know what to do I’m on a fixed income and I’m full time in my Rv and it’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. I’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 ‘Arctic Package’ 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *