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Small RV Air Conditioner For Cooling During Adventures 

 October 5, 2021

By  admin

Recreational vehicles offer an affordable yet comfortable way of traveling the country throughout the year. However, summertime in a small RV without an air conditioning unit is very uncomfortable, not only for you but also for your guests and family. So whether you are looking to replace an existing unit or get an upgrade, staying cool is always a top priority for any RVer.

The best RV air conditioners come in two variations, the best portable air conditioners or rooftop air conditioners. Choosing the best RV air conditioner is difficult, bearing in mind that there are many different options on the market today. Fortunately, we have researched and come up with a list of our best RV air conditioners, along with a guide to help you choose the best unit for your small RV.

What is the smallest RV rooftop air conditioner?

What is A Small RV Air Conditioner?

Commonly used in homes, offices and other public places when the weather is hot, an air conditioning unit is a system that cools down the temperature in a room. It works by taking in the existing heat and warm air and replacing it with cold air from the system.

Summer is best characterized by too much heat and humidity. On the other hand, most RVers prefer to go on family trips and camping during this period. Having an RV air conditioner will help you cool your body down and enjoy your adventure. If you are also planning on taking your pet on an adventure, an RV AC unit is a must-have.

Let us look at the best RV ACs in this category.

1. Dometic Brisk II Air Conditioner

Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner, 15,000 BTU - Black (B59516.XX1J0)
  • Nominal capacity,15,000 BTU/Hour; Installation type: ducted or non ducted
  • High-performance motor and fan
  • Electrical rating- 115V AC, 60 Hz, 1 Phase
  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • 2 Year Protection Plus Warranty

Our first pick is the Dometic Brisk II rooftop air conditioner. This AC has excellent features that set it apart from other models in the market. Rated at 15,000 BTUs( British Thermal Units), this AC unit could down a 750 square feet RV in no time. Additionally, it can be installed as a ducted or non-ducted AC, depending on your preference.

Apart from its cooling properties, this Domestic AC unit has a heat pump. The heat pump helps to heat your RV or camper when the temperature is cold. In addition, this model has a high-performance fan and motor that lowers power consumption.

Pros

  • Has a cooling power of 15,000 BTUs
  • Constructed with durable materials
  • You can install it as a ducted or non-ducted unit
  • Comes with a heat pump
  • Low noise output

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Works well with single-use thermostats
  • Has a high starting wattage
  • The base pan is not as durable

2. Emerson Quiet Kool Air Conditioner

Sale
Emerson Quiet Kool 5,000 BTU 115V Window Air Conditioner with Mechanical Rotary Controls, EARC5MD1,...
  • 5,000 BTU air conditioner for window-mounted installation cools a room from 100 to 150 sq. ft.
  • 1-2-5 years warranty (1 year labor, 2 years parts and 5 years compressor)
  • Mechanical rotary controls with 2 cooling speeds, 2 fan speeds and variable temperature dial
  • Excess moisture removal up to 1.3 pints per hour for a more comfortable environment
  • Quiet operation keeps you cool and comfortable without keeping you awake (on low dBA = 50). Emerson...

If you have your RV parked in a trailer park or are camping for a long time, this Emerson Quiet Kool Air conditioner will work well for your RV. Since it is a window AC unit, you can install it and leave it up while you're parked. However, you cannot use it on the go.

At 16" x 15" x 12.5", this window AC is compatible with most RV windows, making your search for a fitting unit bearable. The Emerson Quiet Kool has a cooling power of 5,000 BTUs and does not consume much power to run. Additionally, it has two fan and cooling speeds which you can adjust on the dial.

Pros

  • Eay to install
  • Efficient for its priceNoise output is low
  • Has an extended warrant

Cons

  • For stationary use only

3. SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner

3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner with Built-in Dehumidifier Function,Fan Mode, Remote Control,...
  • HANDY AND PORTABLE: The SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner System features a lightweight, handy,...
  • 3 OPERATING MODES: The compact floor AC indoor cooler conditioning unit features a simple electric...
  • BUILT-IN DEHUMIDIFIER: you don’t only get the cooling effect of the portable AC but also helps...
  • REMOTE CONTROL: Features a digital touch button control panel which includes the power, mode, timer,...
  • 8000 BTU COOLING POWER: with 900W rated power and 8000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 4,000 BTU (SACC) cooling...

Although not a well-known brand, SereneLife has excellent quality products that you will love. The SLPAC8 portable air conditioner is rated at 8,000 BTU, enough to cool a small 225 sq feet RV. In addition, this AC unit has a dehumidifier that easily removes 1.2 liters of water every hour from your RV.

Appliances with more features are more fitting for an RV than single-use counterparts. The SLPAC8 portable air conditioner has plenty of extra features to offer. The sleep mode reduces the cooling speed while you get some rest. Other notable features include a washable filter and a timer.

Another good thing about the SereneLife air conditioner is that it comes with a universal window kit. This allows you to mount the lightweight AC unit on your RV window. In addition, there is a remote control that allows you to change the settings to your liking easily.

Pros

  • Allows up to 3 different configurations
  • Affordable
  • Doesn't take up much valuable storage space
  • Has a built-in dehumidifier

Cons

  • The unit is quite loud

4. Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner

Sale
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS 12,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan with...
  • 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 7,000 BTU (SACC) cooling capacity
  • Three operational modes: air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. This unit can cool up to a 400 square...
  • Full installation set includes extendable exhaust and intake hose (up to 60") and window kit: 6.5" W...
  • AWARD WINNING : 1. Good Housekeeping's "Best Portable Air Conditioners to Buy in 2019" 2. The New...
  • Full thermostatic control (61°F - 89°F) with digital readout, 24 hour programmable timer;...

With a BTU rating of 7ooo, the Whynter ARC-122DS portable air conditioner can cool an RV with up to 450 square feet. It doubles up as a fan and a dehumidifier, making it a great addition to an RV. In addition, the dehumidifier removes up to 76 pints of moisture daily to ensure that your RV is cool and comfortable. This Whynter ARC-122DS air conditioner is configured with dual hose venting and outlets at the back to cover the collected condensation.

At 29.5" x 19" x 16", this portable air conditioner unit fits both small and large RVs and campers. The fan has three settings that allow you to distribute cold air throughout the RV. Additionally, the AC unit has a digital control panel that lets you adjust different settings to your preference. A remote control is also present to make remote adjustments.

Pros

  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Effective at air circulation
  • Comes with an intake hose
  • Has a window kit for installation

Cons

  • The warranty period is short
  • Airflow is not as good compared to other
  • Whynter AC units

5. Furrion RV Air Conditioner

Furrion FACR14SA-PS RV Air Conditioner, Rooftop, 14.5 BTU- White
  • Superior Performance: The Furrion Chill is a 14,500 BTU Rooftop Air Conditioner for RV, trailer, or...
  • High Energy Efficiency: Furrion Chill is designed with high energy efficiency and high cooling...
  • Vibrationsmart & Climatesmart: Designed with VibrationSmart Technology that helps resist vibration...
  • Lightweight & Aerodynamic: Furrion Chill is designed for lightweight and aerodynamic rooftop design...
  • Easy Installation & Warranty: The air conditioner requires a simple bolt-on installation and has a...

The Furrion FACR14SA-PS air conditioner utilizes vibration smart technology to protect the internal components of the AC from getting damage. Excessive vibrations in the unit could cause this damage. In addition, this technology helps in minimizing the noise output when the RV AC is on.

The FACR14SA-PS conditioner has 14,500 BTUs(British Thermal Units), allowing it to cool RVs up to 750 square feet effectively. Being a full-height rooftop AC unit, the noise is also significantly reduced. Finally, this AC unit uses the ClimateSmart technology by Furrion to run more efficiently. It is also energy efficient hence saving you money in the long run.

Pros

  • Has a cooling capacity of 14,500 BTUs
  • 40% more energy-efficient than leading models
  • Vibration resistant
  • Low noise output
  • ClimateSmart technology

Cons

  • High wattage consumption

What Are the Benefits of A Small RV Air Conditioner?

Rolling down the windows and taking cold drinks could significantly help in cooling down your body. So, why else would you need an RV air conditioner? Let us look into the benefits below.

  • Comfort is vital when you are traveling. An RV AC makes you appreciate the cool temperature, especially in the months when heat is unbearable. Camping or adventuring in an RV that lacks air conditioning could result in you having an overall bad experience.
  • Your RV is most definitely your second home away from home. As such, maximizing the time you spend in there, be it sightseeing, sleeping, or resting, is made possible by having either a portable air conditioner or a rooftop unit. Having an AC in your RV ensures that you have quality time doing the things that you love.
  • Clean air is essential for good health. RV air conditioners ensure that there is a free flow of air in your RV or camper. This is especially critical if you are prone to allergies from dust and pollen. In addition, germs that breed from warm, humid air are less likely to thrive in a small RV with air conditioning hence keeping your health a priority.

Types of Small RV Air Conditioners

Before we look at getting you the best air conditioners for your RV, you must understand the different types of RV air conditioners along with their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Window

Window RV air conditioners are pretty similar to the AC units you find in most homes. They are installed outside the windows in your RV to pull out hot air and release it outside. Space is essential in a small RV, making a window AC unit more suitable since it does not take much interior space.

Ease of installation is another significant benefit of window air conditioners. Since they are small in size, this type of unit mounts effortlessly on the window. Unfortunately, window ACs have their fair share of downsides.

Finding the exact window AC size that matches your RV window can be difficult. First, you need to ensure that the dimensions are equal since these AC units are meant to be installed on the window. Another downside is that your view will be obstructed and so is the sunlight coming into your RV. Finally, window AC units are not ideal if you are on the go. They are more suited for camping in your RV.

2. Rooftop

Rooftop air conditioners are more popular with RVs since they help to save space inside. These RV AC units are placed on top of the RV, meaning that the air outside is responsible for cooling your camper. In addition, they offer the largest cooling capacity compared to other RV air conditioners.

A rooftop RV AC unit is usually mounted on the ceiling. However, you can opt for a wire that is directly connected to the thermostat in your RV. The latter might be a great option if you like to set and forget as it does not require additional temperature settings. On the other hand, a ceiling-mounted AC unit allows you to regulate the temperature in your RV depending on the outdoor condition. In addition, it saves on energy since you only put on the AC when you need cold air in the recreational vehicle.

3. Portable

Portable RV air conditioners do not need any installation. As the name suggests, portable ACs are not mounted and can be moved from one point to the other. You can use this type of AC at home when you're not in the RV. A portable AC unit works best to cool air in a small RV. However, you can use it to supplement an already existing air conditioner.

Portable air conditioners will take up space in your RV. They will also require extra care and maintenance to last longer. In addition, portable air conditioners are more suited for use in areas with dry heat rather than humid ones. This is because they evaporate the hot air and release a cold stream to cool the RV.

4. Underbench

Another popular RV air conditioning option is the under-bench unit. If your RV rooftop is overcrowded or the roof is curved, an under-bench RV AC unit is a good alternative. As the name suggests, it is installed under a cabinet, RV sofa bed, or a seating bench.

An under-bench AC unit takes up space inside your RV. However, you will not see it once it is installed. Depending on your preference, this type of installation may be great if you don't want to see your AC or have it obstructing the window or the skylight. However, if you are concerned about having cabinet storage to store items you need on your adventure, this RV AC unit might not work for you.

Another important thing to note about under-bench RV air conditioners is that they require more power to push hot air out of the recreational vehicle. This is because hot air rises and the units are located on the floor of your RV. In addition, you also need to clear the space where the AC is installed to ensure maximum efficiency.

5. Ducted

Ducted air conditioner units require an existing ducting system to work. They have more cooling capacity, making them more fitting if you have a larger RV. Ducted RV air conditioners pass air through the ducting system and evenly distribute the cool air throughout the RV.

Ducting systems are located on the wall, floor, or ceiling of your RV. Some RVs have systems in all three locations. This helps you to effectively target the distribution of cold air to parts of your RV. In addition, if you wish to integrate your new AC into the RV's thermostat, ducted units are more fitting for this, letting you set your desired temperature.

6. Non-ducted

Non-ducted AC units blow air out of the unit and do not need an existing ducting system. Similarly, they do not focus on heat distribution throughout the RV. This makes them more suitable and effective for small RVs.

A non-ducted RV air conditioner allows cool air to pass through vents. You can manually direct the vents to cool targeted areas in your RV. However, since they are installed at the center of your RV, the front and back areas often do not get cooled down.

The pricing point of non-ducted air conditioners makes them favorable among many RVers. In addition, some models allow you to control the temperature using a remote control. The only downside of these AC units is that they are noisy.

How Do You Choose A Small RV Air Conditioner?

When looking for a small air conditioner for your RV, you will quickly notice no small AC unit. However, there is a standard size that is sufficient for cooling your RV or camper. Let us look at the features and specifications of the best RV air conditioners to help you narrow down your options.

1. Type of Air Conditioner

Each type of air conditioner, as we have seen above, has its advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the type, your personal preference plays a significant role. However, most air conditioners fit small RVs, such as portable, rooftop, under-bench and non-ducted RV air conditioners.

2. Portable or Rooftop

Many air conditioners for RV are distinguished as either portable or rooftop. A portable air conditioner unit enables you to move with it without needing to install or reinstall it. On the other hand, a rooftop air conditioner is mounted on the roof of your RV.

In terms of cooling capacity, a rooftop air conditioner is more efficient than the portable one. However, portable units have more features like EPA filtration, remote controls, sleep modes and other comfort features. In addition, you can make use of your portable AC unit at home when you are not traveling.

3. BTU Rating

The BTU rating( British Thermal Unit) measures the cooling capacity of an air conditioner. This helps you determine if the AC unit has enough cooling capacity for the square footage inside your RV. As a rule of thumb, a higher BTU rating translates to a higher cooling capacity rate.

Most RVs fall between a cooling capacity range that is 15,000 BTUs or less. For example, rooftop ACs are sized between 13,500 to 15,000 BTUs. On the other hand, models between 8,000 and 12,000 BTUs will effectively cool an RV with 300 to 550 square feet. Additionally, extremely hot and humid places will require you to have an AC with a higher BTU rating.

When looking at the BTU rating, it is best first to consider the size of your RV. While getting an air conditioner with more cooling capacity ensures that your RV is cool, it also uses up a lot more energy compared to smaller-sized AC units. For this reason, you may opt to get two smaller sized AC units than one large unit to minimize the energy consumption.

4. Energy Efficiency

An air conditioner uses energy in the form of watts to run. Therefore, to save you money, you need to invest in an energy-efficient AC unit. This also allows you to extend the longevity of your RV generator or batteries and make use of other appliances simultaneously.

More often than not, RV generators burn gas to produce power that runs the AC units. A high wattage unit requires more power hence more gas and even more money. The same is true for a low-wattage air conditioner. In addition, an air conditioner consuming fewer watts will allow you to use other RV appliances without the worry of blowing a fuse or popping a breaker.

Determining the energy efficiency of an air conditioner before buying it sounds like a tasking job. Fortunately, manufacturers label the starting and running wattage of the air conditioner so you can make an informed purchase.

5. Air Conditioner Design

Another important specification to consider when choosing an air conditioner for your RV is the design. RV air conditioners are grouped into low profile and full height designs. A low profile design is lighter, slimmer, more compact and more aerodynamic. It is an excellent choice if you use your RV more frequently and would like to cut on high fuel expenses.

Low-profile AC units add less height to the total height of your RV. This allows you to reduce the risk of coming into contact with underpasses and low bridges. In addition, since they are lighter, they have less drag when you're driving.

Full height RV designs are great if you have a short rig. They are less noisy than the low-profile counterparts and more suitable if you do not want to bug other RVers in the park. However, full height designs do not help in optimizing fuel economy.

6. Ease of Installation

It is essential to consider how easy you will install your AC unit before completing the purchase. Portable air conditioners don't require any installation to use. However, the primary concern with these units is finding a stable space inside your RV to place them while driving.

Window units come with the hardware required to mount them on the window. The downside, however, is that you cannot drive with the AC sticking out of your RV. This means that you have to go through the process of installation every time you want cold airflow.

Since they are located under the seating bench or cabinet, under-bench air conditioner units have a complex installation process. First, you will need to vent them to the RV's exterior, so be prepared to kneel and lie down to install the unit. Additionally, under-bench AC units take up a lot of valuable storage space.

Rooftop AC units are hands down the most time-consuming units to install. This is because they come in two separate parts installed in the interior and exterior of your RV. There is also a lot of wiring involved.

Seeing as there's a lot involved with installing each type of air conditioner, it is best to make it a one-time process, so you don't have to worry about reinstalling, storing, or moving your AC unit around when driving.

7. Other Abilities

Apart from cooling power, some air conditioner models have other additional abilities, such as air filtration modes, heat and condensate pumps. These additional features enable you to get the most out of your RV AC unit.

For example, a heat pump allows you to weather cold conditions by heating your RV. An air filtration system ensures good air quality by filtering out harmful elements like CFCs, dust, pollen and smoke. Since an RV is small, appliances that serve more than one use are better than single-use items.

Conclusion

Whether you are a frequent RVer or only get to use your rig during summer, having a cooling system in place will ensure that you are comfortable throughout your adventure. RVs are designed to be livable through different climates in a calendar year and depending on the AC unit you choose, you will be set and ready for each climate. We hope that our reviews and insights come in handy when upgrading or replacing your RV AC unit.

Emil Schoene


Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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