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.
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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!
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