Summer is the best time of the year to camp, because the kids are out of school, campsites are abuzz with excitement and the clear blue skies make us long for endless nights under the stars. But during a heatwave, there’s no desire to hit the backcountry without an air conditioner.
When you buy new, most RVs and trailers come with air conditioning units. But if you bought used or if you bought a unit that had all the bells and whistles on your list without air conditioning, you can always add a unit later. This week, we are going to talk about the best air conditioners for your RV, and air conditioning basics and maintenance, so you can stay comfortable on the road!
RV Air Conditioner Basics
It is important to understand BTU’s (British Thermal Unit), the unit used to measure the strength of the air conditioner. Most new RVs come with 13,500 BTU AC units, which is important to remember so that you can determine what strength works best for your lifestyle.
When determining what strength of air conditioner you should purchase, first ask yourself how often you plan to use the air conditioner. If you only need it sometimes, look for an air conditioner under 13,500 BTUs. However, if you are looking to run your air conditioner more often, and absolutely can’t stand the heat, you should look for an air conditioner over 13,500 BTU.
Ductless vs. Ducted
Most RV air conditioners are roof-mounted, and they typically come as either non-ducted or ducted units. You’ve probably seen non-ducted air conditioners in the past, since they are the ones on the ceiling and many of them have had vents installed by the manufacturer. These types of RV air conditioners often have vents that you can open or close to change the airflow throughout your vehicle. Ducted units, like non-ducted A/Cs, are installed on the roof as well. Ducted units are generally quieter as they are bolted to the roof of your vehicle, but they don’t usually have a control unit on the ceiling inside. This means that you’ll have more headroom inside your RV, and you can install several units if you have a larger vehicle or plan to travel in particularly hot weather.
Ductless air conditioners are generally more expensive but they distribute the air more evenly, while ducted units keep the air more contained in one area, and work well for Rvers who rarely use air conditioning units.
Consider the Size of Your AC Unit
You may want the biggest, strongest, fastest air conditioning unit for your RV, but it is important to keep in mind that the bigger the unit, the heavier and taller your RV becomes. If you are the type of RVer that enjoys the back road, or might need to park in places with height restrictions, it is important to choose an air conditioner that doesn’t add much height to your RV.
Consider the size of your vehicle as well, because if you have a big Class A motorhome, you should consider purchasing two units. This will help disperse the hard work of one air conditioner, and it will keep the vehicle cooler.
More and more RVers are using solar power because it allows for them to go completely off the grid, has environmental benefits and will help your air conditioner run more efficiently. When you run your air conditioner on full blast 24/7, it can use large amounts of power and it will strain your generator. Solar power will work great in this instance because it will back up your generator, and provide enough power.
Tips for Success
Living with air conditioning in your RV is different from air conditioning in your house. In fact our friends at Gone With the Wynns, wrote an entire blog on air conditioning in your RV, because they have found several different pro-tips while living with air conditioning. Here are some tips to keep you cool and comfortable on your next adventure.
1. Stay in the shade. The more you keep your RV shaded, the less energy you will use, and the cooler your RV will stay.
2. Invest in good shades. The key to keeping your RV cool is to make sure the cold air stays inside and stays cold. Invest in some good shades to keep in the dash of your motorhome and darkening curtains or shades for the windows in your RV.
3. Avoid using air conditioning while driving the vehicle uphill or driving for long periods of time. This will keep your vehicle from overworking and overheating. If your vehicle does end up overheating, turn the air conditioning off and turn the heater on, this will help get the hot air off the engine.
4. The fan is your best friend- Install or buy an RV fan that will circulate the air, and can easily turn on and off. You can also purchase a cheaper fan for the inside of your vehicle, or a window fan. At Guaranty, we offer a variety of fans that can be purchased or we will install them for you.
The Best Air Conditioners
Atwood- Atwood creates an efficient, sleek product. The low-profile design will not add height to your vehicle, which allows for you to explore more of the back roads. Atwood is the leader in the RV air conditioning market because the products are extremely durable and are known to last years. Plus, these air conditioning units come with a 2-year product warranty.
Gree – Gree is one of the world’s largest air conditioning manufacturers. These products go through a rigorous testing process, with over 20 different data points. These air conditioners come with a great warranty that protects the compressor for 5 years and a full factory warranty for 2 years.
Advent – Advent has an effective, quiet unit that is a popular air conditioner among shoppers.These rooftop air conditioners have been designed to withstand harsh climates.The fan has three different speeds, which means you can get the level of comfort you want.
Dometic- Dometic air conditioners have been engineered to be aerodynamic and reduce drag while your RV is in motion. Dometic has an outstanding reputation in the air conditioning industry because they were one of the first brands to make air conditioning units. Shoppers love Dometic air conditioners because they have a wide variety of different products which allows for flexibility in the type of air conditioner that you purchase.
Every brand is different, and at Guaranty we would be happy to help you shop for the perfect air conditioner for your vehicle. To check out our full stock of air conditioners please check out air conditioner related items on our parts website.
It is important to familiarize yourself with your air conditioning unit after installation. This will help you understand what parts need to be maintained on your air conditioner. Here are some tips for maintaining your air conditioner so that hitting the road in the summer heat is a breeze!
Clean the fins- Just like in your house, the fins of the air conditioner will collect dirt and debris from the road. It is important to clean the fins of the air conditioning unit.
Make sure the fins are flat- Sometimes the fins of the air conditioner bend, and it is important to make sure these fins are straightened or else it will affect the air conditioner’s ability to effectively cool the RV.
Keep an eye on the outside condition- When you run routine checks on the roof of your RV, you should also check on the outside of your rooftop air conditioning unit. Are there any cracks? It is important to keep the outside of the unit properly sealed to protect it from the elements and harsh weather conditions.
Leaks- Check out the unit for any type of leak or water intrusion.
If you have any questions about servicing the air conditioner in your vehicle, or how to maintain your air conditioner at max efficiency, please contact us today.
Photo: Aleksandr Kozlovskii