best rv air conditioner

10 Best RV Air Conditioners of 2019: AC Unit Reviews & Buying Guide

Looking forward to using your RV for long day trips? Relishing the idea of a summer vacation filled with adventure and nonstop traveling? DREADING the thought of suffering through the midsummer heat?

Fret not, because you can always get an air conditioning unit to keep your motorhome cool and comfortable even through the worst heat of summer. And luckily, this article is here to ensure that you get the best unit for your needs.

In order to do that, first we’re going to brush you up on all the important information you need to know as well as the little tips and tricks that may help you find the most ideal choice for you.

Not only that, but we’ll even provide you with ten different products that we believe are the best choices to get this 2019 as well as their reviews. Of course, you don’t NEED to buy any of these, but we believe that if you do, you won’t regret it. At the very least, it will give you an idea of where to start looking.

This article is the beginning of a journey, your journey to having the most comfortable time in your RV even through the most blazing summers. Say goodbye to sweaty summers and uncomfortable road trips, these products will make sure to keep you cool and comfortable.

What makes an RV air conditioning unit perfect?

RV Air Conditioner

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a computer, a phone, a couch or your lunch, there are always tiny little details that seem insignificant but will surprise you with the effect they have on your life. This much is true when shopping for the next air conditioning unit for your RV.

Here, we will discuss the different factors and little details that will ensure that your choice is the best one to make in order to suit your specific needs. When it’s over, you will know enough to make the best possible purchase, and you can rest assured in knowing that it’s perfect for you.

  • Ducted vs Non-Ducted

All the air conditioning units in the world are separated into two categories, and this is true even for units that are for RV use. It’s simple, your unit is either ducted or not. Obviously, there are cases where one option is better than the other, and this portion is here to help you decide which one is better for you.

Both options have their own pros and cons, and the only person who can really know which one is best for you is yourself. Depending on your needs or your situation, one option will always be better than the other. This is why you need to evaluate your lifestyle first before making a decision.

First, think about how much space do you have in your recreational vehicle. Is it a lot? Is your RV the big kind, the ones that have multiple rooms and enough space to fit a big system of air conditioning? Then most likely, a ducted air conditioning unit is what’s best for you.

Why is that? Because as the name implies, a ducted air conditioning unit works by having a system of passageways through which the air travels, or the ducts. These ducts will run through the length of your motorhome, along with the ceiling, walls and even the floor. This system may take up more space, but it also allows for further distribution of the cold air throughout your vehicle, making sure that no space is left uncooled.

But what if your motorhome isn’t big enough to house such a system, much less need it? In this scenario, you probably don’t have to worry about cooling several rooms at the same time. For you, a ductless air conditioning unit should be a perfect choice.

This particular type works by simply blowing the cool air out of the air conditioning unit itself. This is the reason why it’s more suited for smaller RVs with not much space to cool. Since there isn’t that much space, you don’t really need to have a system of ducts to circulate the cool air around. Getting a ducted system just wouldn’t make sense, logically or financially.

In short, the amount of space you need to cool inside your RV is a huge factor in which type you should go for. Do consider that the ducts of a ducted system also take up space, so make sure you have enough for it.

  • Dual Use (Heat pumps/strips)

Another factor that you should most definitely take into consideration is whether you want an air conditioning unit with heat pumps. This type of units would be able to provide you with not just cold air during warm weather, but also heating during the freezing winter. This ability means that you can use your air conditioning unit as a heating device, allowing you to use it during any time of the year.

Understand that such feature will obviously make a unit cost more, which is why you need to carefully consider it. If you’re not the type of person who goes to different places with varied weather or you only like traveling during the summer, then this option is probably not for you.

On the other hand, if you’re the adventurous type who travels all year round and you see yourself going to places with deadly winters, then this is probably a good investment. Long story short, you need to evaluate your lifestyle and what you want to do with your RV before you can decide on whether or not you need an air conditioning unit with a heat up.

  • BTU (British Thermal Unit)

An important term to know when shopping for the right air conditioning unit for your RV is the British Thermal Unit, henceforth referred to as BTU. The BTU is unit used to measure the energy consumed by your air conditioning unit for every hour of usage.

This means that in order to find the best air conditioning unit for your RV, you need to know the exact number of BTUs that it’s going to be needing. For example, if you buy an air conditioning unit with BTU higher than what you actually need, you’ll just end up paying more for a unit that doesn’t really give you anything more than what a cheaper unit would be able to provide.

For the long run, it will end up being a financial burden to you, since having a higher BTU means that it will consume more energy than a cheaper unit with less BTU. This excess energy won’t be used at all and will just end up being wasted.

On the flip side, however, if the air conditioning unit you buy doesn’t have the capacity to provide the cooling power you need, then it’ll also end up costing you more. If it’s too weak to cool your place, it will have to run for longer before achieving your desired results.

From this alone, you can already see that making the wrong decision about this can be financially damaging not just in the short run, but also in the long run. It is therefore of utmost importance to carefully think about your needs, to ensure that you don’t waste any money getting extras that you won’t need.

One rule of thumb that can make your life easier is by keeping in mind the so-called 13,500-line. The standard BTU for the average air conditioning unit is 13,500. This means that if you think you’ll find yourself spending some time in hotter than average places where you’ll be needing to use your aircon a lot, then investing in an air conditioning unit with more than 13,500 BTUs is almost essential.

On the other hand, if you don’t like the cold too much, or you believe you won’t be using the aircon all that often, then getting an air conditioning unit with less than 13,500 BTU should more than sufficient for you.

  • Quality

Of course, it’s hard to get a measure of quality. Most manufacturers would love to tell you that all of their products are of high quality, but it’s understandable that you’ll find this dubious at best. And that’s perfectly understandable. All companies have one goal: to sell their products. And sometimes, some companies are willing to be less than clean in order to achieve this, and the ones making air conditioning units for your RV might just be one example of such a company.

It is imperative to not be so trusting when it comes to product descriptions that come with the unit, or even from a salesperson. There will often be cases where they would try to twist their words in order to make it seem like their products are capable of something that they aren’t. With this in mind, there are other, more foolproof ways of ensuring a product’s quality.

One such method is by reading the customer reviews of other people who have tried that same product. Before buying something, make it a habit to rigorously read as many customer reviews of that product that you can find. Make sure that the reviews are sufficient enough to support the claims of the company.

Another method is finding a compilation of reviews from someone who’s done that very same research. Just like this one. So if you don’t have it in you to go through hundreds of customer reviews, then you can rest assured that I have, and know that the products that will be recommended are true to their words.

The 10 Best Air Conditioning Units To Get For Your RV in 2019

Airxcel 48204C866 08-0080 Mach 15 A/C

Airxcel 08-0080 Mach 15 15.0 Arctic Wht Upper
102 Reviews
Airxcel 08-0080 Mach 15 15.0 Arctic Wht Upper
  • Cool/heat capacity: 15, 000
  • Electric heat Element capacity: 5, 600

Airxcel’s Mach 15 is a ducted air conditioning unit made specifically for recreational vehicles, filled with numerous features that you’re sure to find useful. First of all, it’s rated at 15,000 BTU, making it perfect for people who will need lots of power to cool their vehicles down such as if you’re planning to go to extremely hot places.

There is also a 1/3 HP motor for the fan, which helps make this product stand out among the competition. This addition allows the unit to have the highest CFM (cubic feet/minute) airflow rate currently in the market, with the Mach 15 having a rating of 320 CFM.

The reason why this is important is that it means the unit can spread the cool air faster than pretty much any other air conditioning unit for RVs on sale right now. Having this product already means that you’re getting the best possible performance you could expect from an air conditioning unit.

Not only that, but this product also has heating capabilities, making it good for use all year round.

And the best part is that even with such great features, this model still doesn’t venture into the realm of expensive air conditioning units for RVs. This unit is still relatively affordable compared to the competition.

If what you need is a modestly priced RV air conditioning unit that you can use any time of the year, then this is definitely an ideal best picks for you. With such a heavy list of features, there shouldn’t be anything about the Mach 15 that will leave you wanting.

In terms of issues, however, there is one potential problem. Using this air conditioning unit tends to create noise, to a degree that several reviewers said it was an annoying problem.

However, considering the price and the bucketload of features, this is a problem which surely many can overlook. Only you can decide if you are such a person, but if you really don’t mind, then this choice shouldn’t leave you disappointed.

Pros

  • Rated at 15,000 BTU
  • Heating capabilities
  • Affordable
  • 1/3 Motor for the fan
  • 320 CFM of airflow
  • Easily installed

Cons

  • Jarring noise levels might deter potential buyers

Airxcel 48203C966 08-0079 Mach 3 A/C

Sale
Airxcel 08-0079 Mach 3 Plus 13.5 Arctic Wht
45 Reviews
Airxcel 08-0079 Mach 3 Plus 13.5 Arctic Wht
  • Cool/Heat Capacity: 13,500
  • Electric Heat Element Capacity: 5,600

Another great product from Airxcel is the Mach 3 Plus, which shares several great qualities of the first product shown, along with even more features that make it unique compared to its sibling.

One distinct feature is the tubing which is 100% copper as well as the brazed joints by Gasflux that will surely go a long way in ensuring that this air conditioning unit will still be cooling your RV even after five or ten years.

Of course, it doesn’t lose the good things that the earlier model had. It also has the same motor for the fan, giving it the same 320 CFM that also makes the Mach 15 stand out among the rest of the competition. This also means that the Mach 3 will never struggle with making sure that your recreational vehicle is cooled to your satisfaction.

There is also the very same heating capability that the Mach 15 had, and it’s also electrical. Last but not least, it’s also very affordable. What else would you look for?

Unfortunately, the problem also stays the same. This unit, just like the previous one, creates noise. Annoying, almost deafening noise. Once again, this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but is definitely something that you should consider.

Pros

  • 13,500 BTU
  • Heating Capabilities
  • Affordable
  • 320 CFM airflow
  • 100% Copper tubes, brazed joints by Gasflux for product longevity

Cons

  • It produces noise that some people may find intolerable

Atwood 15028 Ducted A/C Unit

The next unit we have is still ducted like the other two, but this time it’s by Atwood. And this one packs quite the number of features that will surely satisfy the average buyer. Should you buy this, it definitely won’t disappoint.

First of all, this model has heating capabilities through a pump, meaning you can use it for cooling on hot days and as a heater during cold weather.

Second, it’s rated at 15,000 BTUs (though the company claims that it can reach 18,000 BTUs), This means that it should have no trouble cooling your recreational vehicle even in the toughest heat, even if the 18,000 BTU claim is not true.

The installation process of this unit is also relatively simple, which means it should be easy for you to install and use it.

Finally, if you’re sick of the fact that all the recommendations so far had the downside of being noisy, you’ll be pleased to hear that this unit is quite the silent type. There shouldn’t be any problems on that front.

Unfortunately, it does come with its own share of downsides. The biggest is possibly the price, it’s just simply expensive. Another problem is the weight, this unit weighs at more than 100 pounds. If you can get over these two problems, you won’t find this product unsatisfactory.

Pros

  • Heat pump
  • 15,000 BTU
  • Easily installed
  • Silent operation
  • Energy efficient

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Weighs more than 100 pounds

Dometic Brisk Air II 15,000 BTU RV AC

Dometic Polar White 15,000 BTU Conditioners B59516.XX1C0 Brisk Air Ii 15.0 Pw Upper Unit
399 Reviews
Dometic Polar White 15,000 BTU Conditioners B59516.XX1C0 Brisk Air Ii 15.0 Pw Upper Unit
  • Nominal capacity,15000 BTU/Hour; Installation type: ducted or non ducted
  • High-performance motor and fan

Another non-ducted AC unit, but this time it’s Dometic. And just like anything Dometic, you can expect to be satisfied with getting this unit.

As already mentioned, it’s non-ducted and it also comes with the complete ceiling kit, so that you don’t have to buy any additional parts. This is something that should be good news to most people, unless you enjoy shopping for the necessary parts.

Another great plus that you can find with this unit is the fact that it’s incredibly lightweight, especially compared to its competitors and even the other products in this list. This also helps a ton when it comes to installing the unit itself, which is obviously a good thing.

In short, this is the perfect non-ducted AC unit: it has a heat strip, it’s rated at 15,000 BTUs, incredibly lightweight, and can be easily installed.

Unfortunately, it does come with some downsides that might not be overlooked. For one thing, it’s expensive. It’s also noisy when in use, which is something that can definitely turn off a few buyers. Its quality might not also be the best.

However, if none of the downsides stated is a deal breaker, you don’t have to look further than this product from Dometic.

Pros

  • 15,000 BTUs
  • Package comes complete with a ceiling kit
  • Heat strip
  • Lightweight (79 pounds)
  • Easy installation process

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can get loud when in operation

Atwood 15026 Non-Ducted A/C Unit

Atwood 15026 Non-Ducted A/C Unit
25 Reviews
Atwood 15026 Non-Ducted A/C Unit
  • Atwood Fantastic Vent Corp. 15.0AC TOPUNIT N/D W/HPUM

This air conditioning unit from Atwood is also non-ducted, and it’s definitely something work checking out if you’re an RV owner looking for a non-ducted product. With its boatload of features, you’ll surely find yourself satisfied with having this unit.

First of all, it’s rated at 15,000 BTUs, enough to provide the cooling needs of anyone, anywhere. It also has dual fan motors which not only allows it to be effective but also helps in ensuring that it’s quiet when being used. If noise is an important factor in your consideration, definitely check this one out.

Another feature of this product that you’ll surely find useful is the fact that it comes equipped with a heat pump, so you can also use it if you’re feeling cold or about to go traveling during cold weather. This also means that you’ll always find this unit helpful regardless of the weather during that time of the year.

Atwood also made sure to pack this product to the brim with features that’ll make sure your life is as convenient as can be. Numerous reviewers have stated that the installation of this unit is incredibly simple and easy. This means that it doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had with installing air conditioning units, you shouldn’t find any trouble with making this one work in your RV.

Another great piece of convenience is the presence of a remote, allowing you access to the settings of the unit even without having to go to it. Such a simple addition but it makes this product head and shoulders above the competition in terms of convenience.

Unfortunately, all these goodies come at a price. Literally. This unit is among the more expensive ones, and some people may not be able to afford it. However, if you’re looking for a non-ducted system and are willing to splurge a little for good quality, then you won’t find anything better than this unit from Atwood.

Pros

  • 15,000 BTU
  • Dual motors for the fans
  • Quiet operation
  • Easily installed
  • Heat pump
  • Remote control for convenience

Cons

  • Pricey

Dometic 640315C Penguin II 410 Amp Low Profile Rooftop Air Conditioner

Dometic 640315C Penguin II 410 Amp Low Profile Rooftop Air Conditioner(Polar White)
63 Reviews
Dometic 640315C Penguin II 410 Amp Low Profile Rooftop Air Conditioner(Polar White)
  • Aerodynamic low profile reduces wind drag, saves fuel
  • Quiet power: Delivers the optimum balance of air flow

Another product from Dometic is the Penguin II Rooftop Air Conditioner, and it’s sure to impress you just as much as any of the other Dometic products on this list (and there’s a reason they have a lot). In terms of construction alone, you’ll already be hard-pressed to find something to complain about.

The best is that the construction was specifically designed in order to extend the product’s longevity. It comes with a shroud that will surely increase the unit’s lifespan. Anyone will definitely appreciate the thought that went to ensuring that this air conditioner will last you a long time.

Aside from the shroud, there are also other features that Dometic was kind enough to offer with this product, such as the ability to customize your unit. That’s right, you can get this unit in different BTU ratings as well as different colors.

You can get the 13,500 BTU one, which should be good for average use. However, if you think you’ll find yourself needing more power to cool your RV in a burning climate, you can always opt for the higher capacity of 15,000 BTU. Additionally, you can also have this product model in black or in white. If you’re sick and tired of white air conditioning units, you can totally go for the black one. It’s slick and good looking, you won’t be disappointed.

These options may not seem all that great, but the fact that the options are present at all speaks volumes to the commitment that Dometic has to ensure that all the needs of their customers are provided for. Also, this is something that will stay in your RV all the time to the point that you can consider it furniture. You wouldn’t have ugly furniture, would you?

Last but not least, this unit can be used as either ducted or non-ducted, which further shows that Dometic wants to provide you with anything you need. This means that regardless of whether you’re looking for a ducted system or a non-ducted one, this unit will not disappoint.

Once again, the only major downside is the price. It seems that customizability has its costs, and this unit costs quite a lot. If you’re not willing to splurge, this unit is not the one for you.

Pros

  • Available in both 15,000 BTU and 13,500 BTU options
  • Black or Polar white model
  • 2-year warranty
  • Can be a ducted system or a non-ducted system
  • R410A refrigerant for better dissipation of heat
  • Comes with a shroud for ensuring product longevity

Cons

  • Pricey

Dometic Polar White B59516.XX1C0 Brisk Air Ii AC Unit

Dometic Polar White 15,000 BTU Conditioners B59516.XX1C0 Brisk Air Ii 15.0 Pw Upper Unit
399 Reviews
Dometic Polar White 15,000 BTU Conditioners B59516.XX1C0 Brisk Air Ii 15.0 Pw Upper Unit
  • Nominal capacity,15000 BTU/Hour; Installation type: ducted or non ducted
  • High-performance motor and fan

Another product from Dometic which will surely be just as good as all the others in this list. After all, Dometic has been a manufacturer of air conditioning units for RVs for such a long time already, so you should expect that this won’t be the last product of theirs in this list.

Once again, this product gives you the freedom to choose between the 15,000 BTU and the 13,500 BTU rating. Regardless of your needs, you’ll find that there is an option of this product which will be suitable for you. If you think you won’t be needing anything too much, then get the 13,500 BTU one. If you feel like you’ll be adventuring in some hot climate some time in the future, it’s probably wiser to invest in the 15,000 BTU version.

For example, if you’re planning to go to places such as Arizona, Florida, Texas or Louisiana, you’ll probably need that 15,000 BTU to get the power that the 13,500 BTU one just simply can’t provide.

Just like the previous one as well, this model is also versatile in that it can function with or without ducts. Once again, regardless of your needs, you can easily buy this unit without any worry.

Finally, Dometic once again has the 2-year warranty which will surely please most buyers. After all, accidents can happen to even the most careful person. It’s better to have the ease of mind knowing that there’s a warranty that will help.

Unfortunately, you’ll definitely need the 2-year warranty, since several of the reviewers state that they find this unit failing on them sometime during the second year of use. Such a shame, since this unit really seemed like a product of good quality, with all the features that you’ll ever need.

Pros

  • Available in two options, 13,500 BTU and 15,000 BTU
  • Available in both black as well as polar white
  • 2-year warranty
  • Can be used as ducted or non-ducted
  • Sturdy construction
  • Rigid shroud for further longevity
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Issues with product longevity

ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air 13,500 BTU Roof Top AC

ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air 13,500 BTU Roof Top AC, White
20 Reviews
ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air 13,500 BTU Roof Top AC, White
  • 13,500 BTUs, 115 Volt AC power
  • Rigid, metal constructed base pan

The Advent Air Rooftop AC made by ASA Electronics is also packed with features that are sure to help it stand out among its competitors. One such feature is the heat strip, which you can just plug in and can be a good source of heat during cold months.

If you’re planning on traveling around in cold weather, having a unit with heating capabilities will be a massive help (to the point of being an absolute must). In this regard, the Advent Air has got you covered.

Another great feature that you will surely love to have is the fact that its fan speed has three different levels. There will surely be one most suited to your tastes and needs, and you can easily adjust it any time!

While not very spectacular, it should be noted that this particular unit is relatively lightweight especially compared to the competitors, even the other ones on this list (some of them are rather on the hefty side of the scale). But since this is a unit meant to be placed on your RV’s rooftop, such feature is probably more of a necessity rather than a boon. Nevertheless, it’s there and it’s great.

The rest of the feature list is not that dramatic but are nevertheless not to be belittled. The unit is rated at the standard 13,500 BTU, which should be fine for most people but may not be sufficient for anyone who is planning on going to hotter places. If this applies to you, it’s advisable to look somewhere else.

Long story short, this unit is a rather plain product that doesn’t really impress but is nevertheless worth considering simply because it really shouldn’t fail to meet your expectations, as well as the competitive pricing.

Do note that there are several reviewers who mentioned running into problems with the customer support service of the ASA Electronics. As a potential buyer, this is definitely something that you should first consider before pulling the trigger.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • 13,500 BTU
  • Heat strip (plug-in)
  • Three levels of fan speed
  • Relatively lightweight construction

Cons

  • Poor customer support service according to reviewers

Dometic 651816 651816.CXX1C0 Penguin HP Heat Pump 15,000 BTU AC

Dometic 651816 651816.CXX1C0 Penguin HP Heat Pump 15k 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner
16 Reviews
Dometic 651816 651816.CXX1C0 Penguin HP Heat Pump 15k 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner
  • Must Specify Color Choice..727-505-8530
  • Pre-Installed CB for CCC2 Tstat ONLY

This air conditioning unit from Dometic is a purchase that will not give you anything special but will surely hit all the right spots properly. In short, it will give you anything you need, but don’t expect any amazing features. If you’re someone who knows what they need and don’t want any bells and whistles along with it, then this unit is perfect for you.

It’s all in the name. This unit is rated at 15,000 BTU, so you’ll never be found wanting for more power even if you go to places where the pavements sizzle in heat. When it comes to power, this unit won’t disappoint.

Also in the name is the heat pump, so you can use it all year round regardless of the weather. Traveling through winter? This unit has your back.

And the best part is the absolute lack of any bad reviews about this unit. If you’re simply looking for something that gets the job done, this particular product is the one for you. No frills, no bells, and whistles, just plain old cooling for hot weather and heating for the cold nights. If that’s all you need, Dometic made sure that this unit will be able to provide it without any problems.

Well, it does come with one bell and whistle. Or not, since its shining feature is its silent operation. If it’s not yet obvious, air conditioning units that run silently are not exactly the norm. If noise levels are a concern for you, worry not for this unit will surely never be a bother.

However, there are a couple of downsides. First of all, it is easily the most expensive product on this list. That means if you’re eyeing this, you need to be ready to do some splurging. If the price is a major concern for you, then this ain’t it chief.

And even if you could afford it, another thing to take into consideration is the weight. This unit is HEAVY, easily weighing over 100 pounds. And this unit is meant to be placed on your roof. Getting it there can easily end in a disaster, the best case scenario is it will end up being a major hassle.

If your RV and your wallet can handle the heavy weight that comes with buying this product, then go ahead. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better. If any of those are a no-go for you, then it’s a shame but that’s life.

Pros

  • 15,000 BTUs
  • Heat pump
  • Silent operation
  • Easily Installed
  • Can be ducted or non-ducted

Cons

  • Priciest product in the entire list
  • Weighs more than 100 pounds

Dometic Sanitation 143002P041 Rivet Semi Tube PKG AC

DOMETIC Sanitation 143002P041 Rivet Semi Tube PKG
26 Reviews
DOMETIC Sanitation 143002P041 Rivet Semi Tube PKG
  • dometic brisk air 2 rv ac roof unit b57915
  • dometic brisk non ducted ceiling kit 3314851.000

The final product is once again made by Dometic, and it’s a special type of product. Actually, it’s a rather mundane product, but it has features that you probably won’t find anywhere else. If any of them tickle your fancy, then this product might be what’s perfect for you.

First of all is the size. This air conditioning unit is a relatively small one, making it lighter than comparable products. In fact, it’s possibly the lightest unit in this list, so you definitely won’t have any problems moving it around.

If you are going to be installing your unit alone and you’re not confident in your strength, you won’t have to worry about buying this one. All the other reviews also corroborate on the fact that this particular air conditioning unit’s installation process is very easy.

Unlike all the other products that are easily installed but have features that make the use complicated, this one has absolutely no issues in that regard. After buying this product, there shouldn’t be any source of stress for you since the installation should be a breeze and so will the actual usage.

Finally, this offering by Dometic also comes with a heat strip, which should help you stay comfortable during colder nights or winter weather. This feature makes sure that you will find this unit useful all year round.

Unfortunately, this unit is no more perfect than any of the other products on this list. First of all, there are some customer reviews that mention the flimsiness and durability issues of the shroud that comes with the product.

Another issue to take note of is the ungodly noise it produces while being used. Of course, these two issues may be overlooked by some people, but it wouldn’t be a leap to consider them as deal breakers.

If you are able to get past these issues, you’ll be pleased to know that the price is relatively low, making it affordable for most people.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with a heat strip
  • Easily installed

Cons

  • Included shroud has questionable durability
  • Noisy while being used

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

In this section, we will discuss the other common questions that most RV owners have that are important to making the best decision in buying an air conditioning unit.

How does an air conditioning unit work?

The way air conditioning units work for RVs hasn’t changed since they were first invented. However, in the past, air conditioning units used to run on alternating current or AC power, which normally comes from generators or shore power through a 120-volt socket.

The problem is that these generators are rather expensive, which prompted most RVers to start looking for alternative options when it comes to the power source. For most of them, this came in the form of solar panel systems that they can directly attach to their RVs.

As for how air conditioning units actually work, most of the units made for RVs have vents placed on the RV’s roof to allow the units to offer superior cooling abilities even during long drives.

Honestly, the long story short of how they work is not very different from the long version. It works a lot like refrigerators, where the machine basically functions by merely taking the heat inside and pushing it outside. And of course the process is a lot more complicated than that, but this simple explanation should be all that you’ll need.

In short, its only purpose is to keep taking the heat inside and force it outside in order to keep the insides of your motorhome cool during the blazing summer days so that your life is a whole lot more comfortable.

If your air conditioning unit is of a good enough quality, expect to find your summer days without any hint of discomfort. In fact, there’s a chance that you’ll find yourself enjoying them.

What are the possible reasons for getting an air conditioning unit for my RV?

One word: summer. If you’re a true RV enthusiast, you’ll probably often find yourself traveling all the time. And if you’ve experienced a long drive during the summer, you’ll know that the sensation is far from pleasant. In fact, it makes your RV feel like some sort of dreaded sweatbox as opposed to a comfortable home.

Enter the air conditioning units. If these weren’t invented, it’s highly questionable how people could even survive hot summer nights. Luckily, they were invented, and they do a great job of ensuring that your next trips in your RV are as pleasant as can be regardless of the weather or the place.

Now, you might be thinking that an air conditioning unit is the same everywhere regardless of whether it’s in a conference room, your house or on an RV. And you would be wrong. You see, normal units won’t be able to survive vibrations that can be caused by bumpy drives. This is why products are specifically designed to be used on RVs.

This specificity is also the reason why air conditioning units that are made for household use shouldn’t be used in RVs. And don’t try it in an attempt to save money, you’ll just end up breaking it and needing to buy another two: a special one made for RVs, and one to replace your home’s now broken unit.

If the unit you have in your RV is of good quality, it will also help in making sure the air inside is clean. If you have allergies, this can be a great help.

But the truth is, the greatest reason why you would ever want an air conditioning unit inside your RV is that you don’t want your summer days to drive you and your family crazy.

Are there different types of air conditioning units for RVs?

When it comes to the ones made for RVs, the air conditioning units come in two different types, each one with their own pros and cons: those that make use of ducts (ducted) and those that don’t (non-ducted). Obviously, these two types will have different features that will appeal to different types of people.

  • Ducted Air Conditioning Units

This is the more complicated of the two. Ducted units will have a part which gets bolted on the vehicle’s roof, which should contain a condenser, a compressor, as well as a blower. Aside from this, ducted units will also have a system of ducts that snake through the length of your motorhome. This type works by passing the cooled air through these ducts. What makes this system better is that it gives you control over the temperature of several rooms at once, which you control through a centralized panel.

  • Non-ducted Air Conditioning Units

The simpler type, non-ducted AC units are installed via a hole through the roof of your recreational vehicle (normally there are already specifically made roof vents). A non-ducted unit will also come with the same part as that of the ducted units. This part will also have the compressor, a condenser, and a blower.

The difference is that there is no system of ducts, so the air is sent through the vents and to the place inside your recreational vehicle where it is needed. This also means that the vent decides the direction of the air flow, and it can only be adjusted to point to the front or to the back of your motorhome, giving you limited control.

In short, if your RV is composed only of a single long room then this is the best option for you to get. Since these units are also cheaper, it’s just foolish to get a ducted one if you don’t have several rooms that need cooling in your RV.

What are some good brands that make air conditioning units for RVs?

There are several brands in this list that kept on showing up, and these are obviously easy to recommend (otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place). To give a short summary, here are the companies that we mentioned which we believe are sufficiently trustworthy.

  • Dometic

This company has been selling their products since 1919, and the fact that they’re still in the business is all the proof they need to show you that they are trustworthy, and their products are of high quality. If you like having the peace of mind knowing that your unit is from the best, then you don’t have to look further than Dometic.

  • Atwood

In 1909, the brothers Seth and James Atwood founded this brand. Their company has survived the test of time and their products have been proven to be worthy of consideration, if not admiration.

  • Airxcel

Airxcel is composed of several quality brands that joined together into one holding company. While their history is not yet as impressive as the first two, their products are no less worthy of your consideration.

  • ASA Electronics

This company has been churning out electronics since 1977, and they’re still going strong even until now. Their products are fantastic, there is bound to be one that will perfectly fit your wants and needs, and it will surely not disappoint in attaining both.

How big should my RV AC unit be?

Only you can answer this question, and you can only get the right answer by knowing the British Thermal Units or BTU, which is the measurement of energy that your unit will consume per hour. That means the BTU of a unit directly affect its size. And you need to know the exact BTU you’ll be needing in order to ensure that you won’t be running out of power any time soon.

One possible huge blunder that you can make in choosing an air conditioning unit for your RV is getting the wrong capacity for your needs. While it’s true that the standard for RV-use air conditioning units is 13,500 BTU, this doesn’t immediately mean that this is the perfect one for you.

In order to really make sure that the BTU of your unit is just perfect for you, first you need to consider the places where you feel like you’ll be going in the near future. Are you planning on going to places with hotter climates? If yes, then a BTU of 13,500 will probably not be enough for you. In order to ensure absolute comfort for you and your family during long trips through hot weather, you should get an air conditioning unit with a higher capacity.

Meanwhile, if you don’t see such hot places in your near future, then getting a 13,500 BTU unit should be more than sufficient. While it does seem tempting to just get units that are rated higher, remember that getting a unit that’s rated lower will not only save you the cost of the unit itself but also help you save energy. So unless you’re planning on going to places like Arizona or Florida, just get a 13,500 BTU unit.

In short, just take your daily routine into consideration. If you think you’ll be needing it, then go for the units that are rated higher. Otherwise, save yourself some money and just settle for a 13,500 BTU one. The decision is simple, so no need to overthink.

How do I charge my RV’s air conditioning unit?

Air conditioning units run on something called refrigerant, which is necessary for the unit to run at maximum efficiency. Normally, you should be refilling the refrigerant constantly, but there is the possibility that it will run out. In that case, you will have to recharge your unit.

While it does sound unnecessary and complicated, the fact is that you just need to follow these steps properly and you should be successful.

  1. Buy the refrigerant that’s compatible with your unit. You can confirm this by checking the information on the side of the unit.
  2. Access the breaker in your panel box and turn off the supply of power to your AC
  3. Remove the lid of the unit. The remove the screws of the shroud with a socket first, then just remove the lid. Make sure that no other parts get hit.
  4. Once the lid has been lifted, check your unit’s refrigerant gauge.
  5. Use a wretch to remove the port’s screw and start adding the refrigerant until you have the right amount. Make sure that you add the refrigerant carefully and slowly and notice the different in the temperature of the air inside the AC unit and in the RV all the time.
  6. Once enough refrigerant has been added, the air within the AC unit and inside your RV should have a difference of close to 20 degrees.
  7. Place everything back and turn the power back on. Constantly check the temperature to make sure that the unit is working properly.

How do I install an rv air conditioning unit on my RV?

It will depend on the unit you have, as well as its type. Nevertheless, the process should be relatively simple and easily done. All you need to is to follow this guide and you shouldn’t have any problems.

However, do note that if you aren’t confident, there is always the option of calling for a professional who can do it for you.

  1. Shut down the power to by flipping the right switch in your breaker box.
  2. Determine the location where you want your air conditioning unit. Make sure that there are no obstructions and that the area has enough support to hold the unit comfortably. The spot should be 8 inches away from the edge.
  3. Make a hole through the roof of your vehicle. Measure once, cut twice, meaning you must ensure that your measurements are correct and that the hole you made is sufficiently big to fit everything. Finally, make sure that the locations of the bolts are marked as well
  4. Mount the portion of the unit that goes on the vehicle’s roof, right on top of the hole. Once placed properly, secure it in place using the bolts on the marked spots.
  5. Inside the vehicle, place the bolts and screw them in. Once they’re safely installed, mount the ceiling portion of the unit on them and secure it.
  6. Use a sealant on the edge of the hole where the roof meets the air conditioning unit. This will add stability to the set-up.
  7. Set-up the wiring of the ceiling portion of the unit properly. A good rule of thumb is to match the colors of the wires.
  8. Plug in the part on the ceiling to the one on the roof and turn on the power source. At this point, your air conditioning unit should be safely installed and working properly

Cleaning your RV AC Unit

Cleaning is important to ensure that it’s always running at maximum efficiency. However, cleaning your filter is only one step of the way. To make sure that your unit is running at its best, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the supply of power.
  2. (Safely) get onto the roof and start removing the bolts that keep the shroud of your air conditioning unit in place.
  3. Use plastic bags to cover any electrical connections in order to protect them.
  4. Apply the cleaner to the coils and leave it soaking for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Spray with a hose until all the debris is gone.
  6. Make sure that the coils have been absolutely dried, then you can return the power and start using your unit again.

How to do maintenance for my air conditioning unit?

There is no list of the specific things you must always take care of in order to maintain your unit. As long as you regularly clean it and you’re always wary of its current state, then it should be fine.

Some things you should be mindful of rain and storms, strong winds, debris, or even UV rays, all of which can cause damage to your air conditioning unit.

Regularly checking for any leaks or water intrusion is also a good idea.

If you’re aware of all these things, you should never be caught off-guard by your air conditioning unit when it starts malfunctioning due to some issue. It will also help in ensuring a long lifetime for your unit.

Final words

If you desire the best riding experience while using your RV, having an air conditioning unit installed is a must. Having to deal with blazing heat inside a metal box is nothing short of a punishment.

Because of this, investing on a good quality unit is important. It has to be able to provide for all your possible needs.

However, it also has to be the perfect fit for you. Otherwise, you’ll be losing unnecessary money.

So just go to the list up there and start looking for the one that fits your needs. And no matter which one you choose, it surely won’t disappoint.

Edit: Other recommendations – RV AC Covers

If you have an air conditioning unit installed on your RV, then you probably want to make it last as long as possible. In that case, you should definitely check out these two products that will surely help in protecting your unit from the environmental factors that could damage it.

Classic Accessories Brisk II RV Air Conditioner Cover

Sale
Classic Accessories White Dometic Brisk II RV Air Conditioner Cover
65 Reviews
Classic Accessories White Dometic Brisk II RV Air Conditioner Cover
  • Brand: Classic Accessories, Inc
  • Part Number: 80-226

This one is the Classic Accessories Brisk II, a good cover of high quality that sure won’t disappoint any potential buyers. If you’re looking for that extra level of protection for your unit, this cover will cover all your needs.

First of all, this cover is made from waterproof material, making it good at defending against any environmental hazards that could severely damage your unit. Additionally, this characteristic also makes it really easy to clean.

This cover also fits on pretty much any air conditioning unit on the market right on. To install it, just slip it on and… that’s it. This cover is already designed to stay tightly snug on your unit.

If you’re worried about appearances, don’t be. This cover also comes in both white and gray options.

And finally, its affordable price. For everything that this cover delivers, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out it costs a king’s ransom. Luckily, it doesn’t, so you’re left with more money for a better air conditioning unit.

One problem, however, is the fit. Because of how it’s designed, there are some cases where it wouldn’t be able to fit on your unit. However, if it does fit, then do yourself a favor get one or two already, because you’ll definitely have a hard time getting a better value.

Pros

  • Two color options
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Slip-on design
  • Cheap
  • One-year warranty

Cons

  • Possible issues with the fit

ADCO RV Air Conditioner Cover

ADCO 3021 White RV Air Conditioner Cover
60 Reviews
ADCO 3021 White RV Air Conditioner Cover
  • ADCO Air Conditioner Covers - Protect your rooftop air conditioner while not in use; White Vinyl
  • Heavy-duty jersey-backed vinyl protects against airborne contaminates and UV

If you’re worried about any environmental hazards doing damage to your unit, just get this cover and prop it open on top of your unit, and you’ll find yourself with nothing to worry about.

This cover is made from sturdy vinyl material so there should no issues with it protecting your unit from whatever tries to damage it.

Due to its design, it also helps in reducing the cold drafts that could come into your RV through your air conditioning unit.

It doesn’t have any mind-blowing features, but it does get the job done efficiently AND effectively. You won’t find yourself wanting with this cover. Or rather, you might just find yourself wanting even more considering how good this unit is. After all, accidents can happen which may rip or tear this cover. In that case, surely you’d want to have one or two extra on hand for easy replacement.

And if you’re wondering if the price is eye-watering, stop. The price is very affordable to the point of mysticism. In fact, you can even buy them in packs of four, in case you want extras in the worst-case scenario.

Seriously, this cover just about covers all the areas necessary. Solid and reliable, this cover will surely not disappoint any buyer. Combined with its low price and you’ll definitely have a hard time finding a better deal.

Pros

  • Can be bought individually or in packs of four
  • Made with heavy-duty material (vinyl) which works wonders in protecting against any potential hazards
  • Reduces cold draft
  • Lightweight
  • Cheap

Cons

  • None whatsoever.

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