Anyone who spends a hot summer in an RV comes to appreciate the magic of air conditioning. For most of us, A/C is vital to staying cool while camping in the heat, but not every RV has an air conditioning unit.
Many pop-up campers, teardrops, and truck campers lack A/C units. You need to keep your space cool whether you have the ability to crank up your AC or not. So let’s explore some tips to keep an RV cool without AC.
Shade is your friend – it’s as simple as that. Ideally, all ll RVers should park so that the side of their RV with the refrigerator faces away from direct sunlight. Without air conditioning, however, you should find campsites with full or partial shade throughout the entire day.
This requirement may change how you select campgrounds and plan your road trips. Destinations with minimal tree coverage, such as Badlands National Park, may not be suitable as summer RV destinations.
Create Your Own Shade
Unfortunately, you can’t always find RV parks or campgrounds with enough trees to offer shade throughout the day. When you have a small camper, creating your own shade is a more realistic endeavor.
Use your RV awning or canopy tents to create your own shade. The more you can minimize your RV’s exposure to direct sunlight, the easier it is to keep it cool without AC.
Ventilate Your RV
Air movement is a lifesaver in a stuffy RV. Opening windows and doors to create a cross-breeze can significantly help you keep cool in an RV without AC. If it cools down at night, open the windows and screen doors to allow cool air to pour in. Then, close everything and draw the blinds before it warms up to trap that cool air inside.
When you don’t have air conditioning, consider upgrading your vent fans to a model like the MaxxFan Deluxe. A model like this keeps your RV ventilated when it’s raining or windy, and it comes with a more powerful fan than your average RV vent lid.
Add Insulation and Window Treatments
Most of us think about insulation for combating cold temperatures, but it benefits your RV in hot climates, too. Adding insulation to your RV reduces heat exchange from the outside in, allowing you to trap any cooler night air inside and keep it cool for longer throughout the day.
If you don’t upgrade your roof vent fan, consider adding insulated vent cushions. These cushions easily push up into your roof vents and remain in place with friction. They can be removed if you want to use your fan, but they’ll help to hold cool air in when you don’t.
Shop vent cushions and other vent fan accessories to add insulation to your RV.
Most of us love natural light, but letting direct sunlight into your RV can raise the interior temperature by as much as 10 degrees. Regular blinds and window shades can keep light and heat out of your RV, but you can take things a step further with reflective window coverings. These keep out sunlight and provide insulation to trap the cool air inside your RV.
Employ Portable Fans
Even an upgraded roof vent fan might not be enough when it gets really hot. That’s why portable fans should be a staple for RVs without air conditioning. They allow you to facilitate air movement as you desire.
Evaporative cooling is one of the best ways to make yourself feel cooler inside your RV. Placing a wet cloth around your neck and sitting in front of a portable fan feels like heaven when you can’t crank up an RV air conditioner.
Pro Tip: Jobsite fans are an excellent addition to an RV without AC because they’re usually higher-powered than standard portable fans. If you already have batteries for cordless power equipment you use to maintain your RV, see if your battery manufacturer makes a compatible portable jobsite fan you can add to your RV.
Upgrade Your Bedding
Ditch those thick flannel sheets that feel great for early spring and fall camping. Switch them out for breathable bedding that keeps you cooler and lets you enjoy a comfortable night’s rest in hot climates.
Cotton, linen, or silk sheets can keep you cooler overnight in an RV without AC. There are also mattress toppers designed with cooling gel to lower the temperature of the bed surface and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
When you have a small RV, cooking inside makes the mercury rise quickly. When you’re already struggling to keep your RV cool without AC, the last thing you want to do is fire up the propane stove at meal times.
Cooking outside is your best option, but you need the right campsite setup to make it easy. So here are a few items to help you upgrade your outdoor kitchen:
- Portable grill and/or griddle
- Dutch oven
- Folding food prep station
- Cooking and grilling utensils
- Picnic accessories
Take Cool Showers
When things get steamy in your RV, hopping in a cool shower feels dreamy. There are health benefits of taking cooler showers year-round, but they feel especially good in a hot RV without AC.
Stick to lukewarm water temperature, though. Studies suggest that going “cold” actually has a negative effect in these circumstances, as your body will compensate for the sudden heat loss. So tepid is the way to go, and it’s also not as shocking to your body when you first get in.
While many RVers actively seek destinations to escape the cold, everyone reaches a point where the heat becomes uncomfortable. So we hope these tips help you keep your RV cool without AC.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and it’s time to install an air conditioning unit in your camper, contact a Camping World Service Center near you today.
Do you have other strategies for staying cool in a hot RV? Share them in the comments below.