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There are many appliances that are a must-have in RVs, and an air conditioner is just one among all the other devices that you should have in an RV.
However, for some people, not every AC is going to work – you may have very specific needs like quiet operation.
And if you are looking for the quietest RV air conditioner, we may have something interesting for you.
Best Quiet RV Air Conditions quick picks:
Quiet RV air conditioners reviewed
If you are a bit restricted on cargo capacity, then maybe the Dometic Brisk II air conditioner is the right option for you. This AC unit may not be the quietest one on our list, but it certainly is the lightest.
This air conditioner’s housing is made from the so-called EPP foam, which is probably the main contributor to this air conditioner’s lightness. The Brisk II weighs just 77 pounds, which is very light compared to other units on our list.
Dometic also boasts on their website that they’ve developed an air conditioning system for NASA’s lunar electric rover. What this means is that Dometic most likely knows how to make rigorous and powerful AC units, so you could trust them on this one.
Dometic offers the Brisk II in 2 cooling capacity options – 13,500 and 15,000BTU. They are exactly the same when it comes to size and weight. The only things that differ between them are obviously the cooling capacity and their power needs – 1,670 and 1,725 watts respectively, which isn’t that much.
Another good thing about this air conditioner is that it can be installed either ducted or non-ducted. So whether you want to put this AC in a specific room or want to cool the entirety of your RV, the Brisk II can work for you.
The one downside of this AC unit is that it is loud compared to the rest of the models on our list. If you aim to find the quietest RV air conditioner out there, this isn’t the very best option, but it’s good in many other fields instead.
- Very lightweight.
- 2 power options available.
- Can be installed either ducted or non-ducted.
- Relatively loud.
- Aerodynamic low profile reduces wind drag, saves fuel
- Quiet power: Delivers the optimum balance of air flow
Up next on our list is the Dometic Penguin II air conditioner, which is a pricier option than the Brisk II. At the basics, the two Dometic AC units are similar, but there is one feature that stands out in the Penguin II.
This air conditioner has a low-profile design with a height of 11 1/4 inches. For some perspective, the Brisk II air conditioner was 13.87 inches tall, so there is more than a 2-inch difference. This may seem negligible, but the effects of those 2 inches can be quite significant.
The Penguin II air conditioner, thanks to its lower height, is noticeably more aerodynamic than the Brisk II. And, if you didn’t know, the aerodynamic properties in vehicles significantly affect fuel efficiency and thus fuel costs.
As research has shown, on a compact sedan, rooftop cargo (which rooftop ACs basically are) can decrease fuel efficiency by 2-8% in city driving, 6-17% at highway speeds, and 10-25% at interstate speeds.
The fuel economy penalties depend on the size of the rooftop cargo relative to the size of the vehicle, so in RVs, the effects would not be as detrimental. But they will still be there, and even a 1% efficiency penalty is going to be costly in the long term.
So, if you don’t have room for an indoor AC unit but do care about fuel efficiency, the Penguin II air conditioner is a good option.
Like it was with the Brisk II, there are two variants of the Penguin II available – one 13,500BTU and another high-capacity variant, which is probably around 15,000BTU. The former is rated 1,731 watts and the latter 1,762 watts.
Plus, the weaker unit is indicated to be non-ducted, while the high-capacity one can be installed either ducted or non-ducted.
Lastly, this unit comes with a heat strip pre-installed, which may be a thing necessary for some people.
The one thing we don’t quite like in this AC unit is its weight. Weighing 101 pounds, this is one hefty unit, the heaviest on our list. So if you are really concerned with every pound in your RV, the Penguin II may not be the best option.
- Sleek, low-profile design.
- 2 power options available.
- Comes with a pre-installed heat strip.
- Cool/heat capacity: 15, 000
- Electric heat Element capacity: 5, 600
If you don’t really care about aerodynamics and just want an AC unit that is going to make your RV cool and cozy, then maybe the Airxcel Coleman-Mach 15 is a good option for you.
The particular Coleman-Mach 15 model we based our review on has a cooling capacity of 15,000BTU and power consumption at about 1,800 watts. Plus, you can get an optional 1,800W heat strip to receive 5,600 BTU of heating capacity.
This AC unit is also designed for ducted systems specifically, but it may also be used in non-ducted RVs.
Around 15 inches tall, this AC unit isn’t particularly aerodynamic. Both Dometic models are going to beat this air conditioner in regard to aerodynamics. However, there are a couple of things that are better in the Mach 15 air conditioner.
When compared to the Penguin II, this air conditioner’s main benefit is that it is 15 pounds lighter. A small number, but it may be big enough to make a difference for some. Besides, the Mach 15 is slightly cheaper.
As for the Brisk II AC unit, the thing that is better in the Mach 15 is that it seems to be not as loud. So while this AC isn’t as light and aerodynamic as the Brisk II, it appears to have the edge when it comes to noise level.
- Not too heavy.
- 15,000BTU cooling capacity.
- Designed for ducted systems specifically.
- Not too aerodynamic.
Lastly, if you are looking for a non-ducted AC unit, the Atwood AirCommand air conditioner may be a good option for you. There are ducted variants of this AC available, but we chose the non-ducted one for some variety in our list.
It should be mentioned that since 2017, Atwood air conditioners have been sold by Dometic, though this one seems to be an older model from the times when Atwood still sold their own conditioners. Keep this in mind if you will be doing research on your own.
Back to the features of this AC unit.
The AirCommand AC seems to be a rather quiet unit, perhaps even the quietest RV air conditioner on our list. If you are indeed looking for quietness and don’t really care about anything else, this AC may be a good option for you.
The cooling capacity of this AC is on par with the other air conditioners on our list – 15,000 BTU per hour. So in spite of being quiet, it delivers a comparable level of cooling performance.
A thing to be mindful of in this air conditioner is its weight. Weighing 99 pounds when installed, this is one heavy air conditioner. So before getting it, make sure that your RV’s roof is going to support it.
- Suitable for local applications.
- Cooling capacity of 15,000BTU.
- Very quiet.
- Not designed for ducted installation.
- Weighs 99 pounds.
Things to look for in RV air conditioners
Now that we know what each of the AC units on our review has to offer, it’s time to make a final choice. But to be able to make it, you need to understand what all those numbers and terms mean. So let’s overview the key features and specs that you should consider when choosing an RV AC.
Rooftop vs under-bench AC
First of all, let’s understand the differences between the two main types of RV air conditioners – rooftop and under-bench conditioners. As you could have guessed, all the AC units on our list are rooftop models. However, the fact that we chose only rooftop ACs doesn’t mean that they are always better.
When it comes to rooftop ACs, the biggest advantage is that you aren’t dedicating any indoor storage space inside your RV. If you really need every inch available in your RV, a rooftop unit is a better option.
In addition, rooftop ACs may be installed either ducted or non-ducted, while under-bench units can be only installed ducted.
On the other hand, there are several downsides characteristic of rooftop units, including:
- Rooftop units may obstruct rooftop windows.
- Rooftop units add to your vehicle height and worsen its aerodynamics.
- Rooftop units aren’t the best for heating due to the natural tendency of heat to rise.
As for under-bench AC units, their pros and cons mirror those of rooftop units. That is, they occupy some indoor storage space, do not add to the height of the RV, don’t obstruct any rooftop windows, and work well as heaters.
Cooling capacity is key in AC units since cooling is the thing that people buy them for.
Cooling capacity is usually measured with British thermal units per hour (BTU/hour or simply BTU). The proper amount of BTU will depend on the square footage of your RV.
This chart made by Energy Star should give you an idea of the required number of BTU to have:
|Area to be cooled||Required BTUs|
Finding out the indoor area in your RV is very easy – you just multiply its interior length by its width to get the area in square feet. If you plan to install the RV in a specific room, calculate only its area.
Energy Star also gives a couple of tips on choosing BTU, which may be useful for you:
- Reduce BTUs by 10% if the room is heavily shaded.
- Increase BTUs by 10% if the room is very sunny.
- If the room is regularly occupied by more than two people, add 600 BTUs for each additional person.
- If you’ll be placing the AC in the kitchen area, add 4,000 BTUs.
Needless to say, you need to provide the AC unit with the necessary number of watts and amperes. Thus, before making a final choice, make sure that your RV’s electrical system satisfies the desired AC’s power needs.
In particular, pay attention to the starting & running wattage, plus the number of amperes that the AC unit requires. Plus, if you think that you will add a heater to your AC in the future, make sure to consider its power needs as well.
Ducted vs non-ducted
It’s also important to consider whether the desired AC unit requires ducted or non-ducted installation.
In the case of ducted installation, an AC is connected to the RV’s indoor ducting system in order to distribute cool air evenly throughout the RV. With non-ducted installation, an AC unit just blows air in whatever direction its output nozzles are facing.
If you want to cool your entire RV, go for a ducted AC. And for a specific room, go for a non-ducted unit.
Weight & size
Needless to say, you need to have both the cargo capacity and the space for an AC unit. And if an air conditioner needs more room than your RV can provide, things just won’t work. Thus, make sure that the desired AC unit doesn’t exceed your RV’s carrying capacity, as well as isn’t excessively big for it.
Height is important in rooftop air conditioners. We’ve already touched upon one of the reasons for this – aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. As you remember, an increase in height negatively impacts RV’s aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
The height clearance is another thing to be mindful of. If your RV is tall, it may have a problem passing under certain bridges or tunnel roof with a rooftop AC on. So make sure not to make your RV so tall that it scratches tunnel roofs or whatnot.
Some AC models also allow you to install heat strips, heat pumps, and other heating elements that essentially add a heater functionality to an air conditioner. If you need some specific heating extension, make sure that the desired AC has it.
That’s it for our review of the best quietest RV air conditioners, as well as for our buyer’s guide. Hopefully, you’ve been able to find whatever information you’ve been looking for. And if you think that one of the showcased AC units is the right one, consider getting it, but do in-depth research before making a decision.