RVing in high temperatures and the hot summer sun can make for a sticky and unpleasant camping experience. 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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How to Keep your RV Cool During the Hot Summer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cover your RV door window
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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!
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