Camping in an RV in the summer is one of the best times to travel and enjoy the outdoors. However, when it gets too hot outside, RVs tend to become like an oven inside. But with a few simple ways to keep your RV cool, you and your family can relax and sleep comfortably while camping in the scorching heat and high temperatures. As an added benefit, these helpful RV cooling tips will also help improve your RV air conditioner’s and electrical 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 your camper balmy comfortable!
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How to Keep Your RV Cool in the Hot Summer Months
RV Cooling Tips
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.
Park your RV in the shade
We all know that it’s much cooler in the shade than directly in the hot sun. Your saving grace is finding a campsite under the trees.
I you’re making a campground reservation, look at the site’s from a Google satellite view. This will give you a basic idea of trees on and around the campsite.
If you’re calling to make a reservation, 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.
This will also help your air conditioner run more efficiently and not work as hard to cool your RV.
If you’re boondocking, I suggest parking your RV near a large structure that will shade your camper from the hot sun.
Deploy your awning helps to keep your RV cool
Another way to keep your RV cool is to deploy your RV awning when the sun is on the passenger side of your motorhome or camper. This will help shade your RV on the awning side at least for a few hours.
For further protection from the hot sun, attach a screen shade to your awning. The shade will block almost 90% of the sun’s UV rays without blocking your view.
Simply anchor the bottom corners using tent stakes and line to keep your awning and screen shade from wind.
But, be cautious of deploying or leaving your awning out. Even a small wind gust has potential of ripping your awning off.
Also, never leave your awning unattended. Stepping out for just a few minutes to run to the store or when sleeping could spell disaster.
Pull your window shades down
As the sun moves (actually the earth moves around the sun but you get my drift) around your RV, pull your window shades down to keep the sun from coming through the windows.
Your shades will keep your RV cool by blocking the heat from coming through the windows.
But also, window shades can help prevent UV rays from damaging your furniture or interiors.
Start your RV air conditioner early in the day to keep your RV cool
Start your air conditioner(s) early in the day before it starts getting hot outside. This allows you to get ahead of the heat of the day rather than trying to cool your RV when it’s already stifling outside.
And, for what it’s worth, don’t set your thermostat so low that it overtasks your air conditioner.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ What is a Soft Start? Why Every RV Air Conditioner Needs One!
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.
Make sure your air conditioner vents are clean
Having dirty air conditioner filters prevents proper flow of air inside your RV.
If you don’t commit to a regular cleaning schedule, RV air conditioner’s performance will degrade significantly.
You should clean your air conditioner vents at least monthly. If you have pets or are camping in high dust areas, you may need to do it more often to allow your air conditioner to run more efficiently to cool your RV.
And, make sure nothing blocks the air flow through the vents. Hence, why regular maintenance checks are important.
Service your RV air conditioner annually
By servicing your RV air conditioner each and every year, you’ll help minimize expensive repairs down the road.
As well, regular air conditioner service, maintenance and cleaning will help minimize potential malfunctions or going out completely when you need it most to cool your RV.
If you can’t do it yourself, might I recommend hiring an RV Tech who is qualified and knowledgeable in RV HVAC systems and components.
Ensure your Tech also inspects the intake and AC vents inside your RV when servicing your air conditioner units.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Between professional RV air conditioner service, here’s how to conduct your RV Air Conditioner Cleaning and Maintenance.
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 cooling options for when your RV is 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 will expel continuously for several hours to keep small spaces in your RV cool at night for a good sleep.
3-in-1 Dehumidifying Air Conditioner – For rooms or RVs up to 200 square feet. Comes with a remote control and operates at 8000 BTU to help cool your RV.
Compact Floor Air Conditioner – Indoor cooler conditioning unit features a simple electric plug in operation. It has a 3-mode operation: cooling, dehumidifier and fan. It also features automatic swing mode with moving wind vent for maximum air circulation to help cool your RV. 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 – This is an evaporative air cooler with cooling and humidifier. It offers a 3-speed fan with 65° oscillation, a 12 hour timer and remote. It can cool your RV or small space up to 170 square feet.
Mini Portable Air Conditioner Fan – This small desktop evaporative air cooler also humidifies with 3 speeds. This super quiet desktop air cooling fan has a handle and LED light which is perfect for cooling the inside of a small trailer, van or truck camper.
Cover or insulate your RV door window to keep your RV cool inside
Most RVs today have both, shades on the door windows and tinted windows. However, while dark window tint offers awesome daytime privacy (nobody can see inside), the black tint absorbs heat from the hot sun.
So, a great solution to alleviating this problem is to install a window shade kit to your camper door window to help keep your RV cool.
Not only does it help keep the hot sun out of your RV. But it also offers added privacy during the daytime hours.
They also darken your interior space; making it great for that cool afternoon nap or to watch a movie in your air conditioned RV.
But, if you need a quick, inexpensive fix, just install a temporary insulated door shade on the RV door window to help keep your RV cool inside.
It adds an insulating barrier to shield your interior from the sun’s heat from coming through the window.
Insulate your RV windows
As mentioned above, tinted windows are known to absorb heat that is drawn in from the sun.
A good solution to keep that from happening in your RV, simply insulate your windows using Reflectix.
You can adhere to your windows if you’re going to be in hot temperatures for lengthy periods of time. To keep it in place, you can use the Reflectix tape to insure proper placement and effective adhesion.
However, use extra caution in using these with acrylic windows as they can trap the heat between the window and the Reflectix. This could cause the acrylic window to spider or warp.
A good way to still utilize this type of insulation, especially on acrylic windows, 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 dark and cave-like. But hey, caves are cool and comfy, so why not? It’s one good option to keep your RV cool inside.
They will help keep your RV cool by shielding out the sun. Then, in the evening hours, you can slide them open if you’d like.
Cover or insulate your Fantastic Fan and skylight
Or, you could cut the same Reflectix (above) to fit any openings in your ceiling to keep your cool air from escaping.
As well, any of those will keep the sun from beating down into your interior spaces below which will make your RV feel cooler inside.
Just remember, you do not want to cover your AC vents or your air intake vents. They are designed to allow the cool air to circulate in your RV.
Turn on your ceiling fan
A lot of newer model motorhomes and fifth wheels now come with residential ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can be instrumental in controlling air flow throughout your coach which helps keep your RV cool.
You can program your ceiling fan 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.
Use portable fans
Remember, hot air rises. You can clip or hang small rechargeable fans from higher locations throughout your RV by pointing them downwards. These small fans will help keep the cool air circulating to a comfortable level. Also, by doing that will help lessen cooling loss through the ceilings.
For example, while our RV’s air conditioner is running, we place two small rechargeable fans on opposite ends of our motorhome 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 to circulate the air.
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 in your RV during the summer.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Don’t know which fans are good to use in RVs? Check out our 10 Best Battery Powered Fans for RVs and to Use While Camping.
Close off rooms you’re not using helps to keep your RV cool in useable spaces
Just like in your house, closing off your rooms will help conserve and channel cool airflow to the area that you want it most.
If you spend time in your kitchen and living area, it’s good sense to close your RV bedroom and bathroom door.
And vice versa at night, close your bedroom to contain the cooler air while you’re sleeping. If your RV has more than one AC unit, during the cooler nights, you may want to turn off the one in the living area.
Turn off lights and lamps
Another tip in keeping you RV cool in the summer is to turn off lights you’re not using.
Especially incandescent and halogen lights that emit tons of heat while they’re turned on. And by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances, you’re giving your electrical system a much needed break.
Another tip, for older RVs that have halogen lighting, hire an RV tech (or DIY) to install new LED ceiling lights instead.
Turn off the television and unplug unused electronics and appliances
Televisions and electronic devices (ie. computers, etc.) get very warm when they’re in use.
By turning off televisions, unplugging unused electronics and appliances actually lessens the electrical draw.
This allows more energy to go directly to your RV’s air conditioners without overtaxing your electrical system.
Also, by leaving unused electronics plugged in creates parasitic draws on your electricity that could affect your RV air conditioner’s performance.
Keep your RV cool inside by cooking outside!
Cooking inside your RV puts out lot a lot of heat and adds 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, make a cheese and cracker tray and relax under the awning while dreaming of cooler destinations.
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:
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Looking for more cool outdoor cooking ideas? Check out our Ultimate Grilling and Campfire Cooking Gear
Minimize opening your RV’s 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.
✰✰ PRO TIP ✰✰ A great way to stay cool outside your RV is to place a few rechargeable fans pointed at you and your other campers. Not only are they good for circulating air, but they’re also great for keeping the mosquitos and flies away!
Final thoughts on how to keep your RV cool in the summer
We hope these RV cooling tips help beat the heat by keeping your RV cool during the summer months. Most of all, 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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