The hottest days of the season have already arrived for much of the country. It’s at this time that many people plan to escape to different destinations, either to unwind or just travel the world. However, for RV travellers who love dry camping and boondocking, sitting too long under the sweltering sun is a challenge.
Luckily for you, a small RV air conditioners is one of the best ways to keep your camper interior cool day and night.
For that reason, we have created this small portable air conditioner for camper review so you can spend unforgettable vacation time in your recreational vehicle even during the hot summer season in various places.
7 Best Small Air Conditioners for RV
Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Dometic 3314851.000 Air Conditioner
The Dometic Adb Man Control Air Conditioner is easy to use and adjustable. It comes included with the installation pack, and installation is a pretty easy task for any consumer with basic knowledge about how to install air conditioning systems.
This unit provides powerful air distribution, and Dometic is a reliable brand in the world of RV appliances, so you can rest assured that this model has been thoughtfully designed with high-quality materials.
This model doubles up as a heater or air conditioner, so it’s like having a mini HVAC system in your home away from home. This means that you can take long trips in your RV at any time of the year without having to worry about you or your family members being too warm or cold.
There are functional buttons on the unit itself. They are clear and easy to understand. You simply turn the dial knobs to adjust the temperature according to your particular needs. The design is sleek, practical, and highly functional, with vents on the front for efficient heating or cooling. It is also a unit with a low profile, so it won’t stick out too much and look like an eyesore. At only ten pounds, it’s a lightweight unit. All in all, this is a solid product for anyone looking to improve the environment in their RV for upcoming trips.
- Easy to use
- Powerful air distribution
- For non-ducted applications only
2. Dometic Brisk II Air 15,000 BTU AC
The Dometic Brisk II Air 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner includes a warranty card and registration card with any customer purchase. It is a powerful rooftop air conditioner that can be used for both ducted and non-ducted application. You will require an ADB or control kit to install this unit.
With a power consumption of 1725 watts, it’s cooling capacity is very powerful, rated at 15,000 BTU and 4392 watts.
CSA certified, meaning it has passed various safety and quality regulations and tests. With a weight of 77 lbs and streamlined body, its safe to say that this AC is not too bulky, but it is also quite heavy. Thus, you need to make sure there is someone around who can lift it to the appropriate section of your RV for installation. If this won’t be a deal-breaker, there are a lot of features that make the Dometic Brisk II Air a great choice for your RV.
Its smart design has been upgraded and improved from previous Dometic models, so you can be confident that the manufacturer put a lot of thought into this product. Being the best-in-class of any standard RV rooftop air conditioner, you’ll definitely be getting the cream of the crop if you buy this product.
- 15,000 BTU cooling capacity
- CSA certified
- 2-year warranty plan
- Can be used for both ducted and non-ducted application
- A heavy unit
3. Airxcel Mach 15 Air Conditioner
The Airxcel Mach 15 Air Conditioner is a product designed by Coleman Mach, who claim that it is the world’s most powerful RV air conditioner. Thus, if you’re looking for something that packs a punch, this might be the RV air conditioner for you. It has a cooling and heating capacity of 15,000 BTU.
The product specifications are highly detailed and include details about how many watts it takes to run in different climates and settings. For example, in standard conditions it uses 1560 running watts in the desert it uses 2025 running watts. Thus, you can keep track of how much power it’s using and make sure you run it accordingly.
This model is equipped with a 1/3 hp motor, which is the largest in the RV air conditioner industry. The motor is mounted directly to the bulkhead. This design helps to prevent the blower wheel from distorting and will ensure a free turning action. As such, the motor will always be in a fixed position to the blower for maximum effectiveness and durability.
Moreover, this unit has the power to deliver an impressive 325 cubic feet per minute of cool air. This is very useful when you want things to cool down super fast when the temperature indoors is oppressive. It has a streamlined shape which complements the overall style and operational efficiency of the machine.
- 1/3 hp motor, the largest in the industry
- 15,000 BTU rating and 320 cubic feet per minute airflow
- Might be overpowered for a smaller RV
4. Atwood Air Command Non-Ducted A/C Unit
The Atwood Air Command Non-Ducted A/C Unit offers the perfect solution to keep you nice and cool while driving along in your RV. This is a quiet running unit which can deliver up to 360 cubic feet per minute of cold air while also using less power. As such, your RV will be nice and cool in no time, and you don’t have to worry about the unit draining energy.
The more cubic feet per minute, the better. This is because not only will it cool things down super fast, but a higher CFM rating also means a more robust and resilient machine capable of handling more extreme temperature fluctuations.
The front profile of this unit is aerodynamic, meaning that it has been designed for ultimate efficiency and powerful delivery of cool air. The Air Command models, in general, are the lightest in their class, so you get all of the power without having to sacrifice in terms of weight.
This unit goes on your rooftop, so make sure this is the kind of air conditioner you want for your RV before buying. It uses a precise temperature control mechanism that has digital temperature readouts for higher accuracy. It also includes a remote control that you can use to adjust several settings, including fan speed, temperature, and the timer. This allows you to keep the environment comfortable in a highly convenient manner.
- Can deliver up to 360 cubic feet per minute of cold air
- Aerodynamic front profile
- For non-ducted applications only
5. Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 5, 000 BTU Window Air Conditioner
Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E might only have a 5,000 BTU rating, but this doesn’t really matter if you have an average sized RV as it can more than do the job. This unit can quickly cool a space up to 150 square feet, so it is more than capable of ensuring your RV is nice and cool during your upcoming road or camping trip.
There is a window mounting kit included with this unit, but this probably won’t be how you choose to install it on your RV. It has mechanical rotary controls, 2 cool speeds, 2 fan speeds, and 2-way air direction.
This machine won’t drain energy as it has a low power startup. It is also a nice and quiet unit. This is perfect for those hot nights when you’re trying to get a peaceful night’s rest. Moreover, weighing in at 42 pounds, it is much more lightweight than some other RV air conditioners. Thus, the installation will be a lot easier and more convenient.
This model also has a very high energy efficiency rating (EER) OF 11.1, so don’t be turned off by the smaller BTU because it really isn’t a disadvantage with regards to cooling your RV. You can rest assured that this air conditioning unit will effectively cool the environment around you, and won’t drain power during any stage of the process; whether it’s starting up or running for long periods of time.
- Uses standard 115 volt electrical outlet
- Quickly cools a space up to 150 square feet
- The unit isn’t as low profile or streamlined as some other models
6. Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner HL09CESWK
The Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner HL09CESWK is a stylish, portable, and dependable air conditioner. It can cool spaces of between 300 and 400 square feet, so it is powerful enough for many different shapes and sizes of RV.
Additionally, this AC has thermal overload protection making it safe during use. It also includes a one year warranty, so if there are any quality issues or the machine malfunctions during this time, you can get a refund or exchange. This is always a nice feature when buying a new appliance because there’s nothing more annoying than buying something you need only to have it stop working within a short time period.
This unit has lots of customizable features and also includes a built-in dehumidifier. The dehumidifier can remove up to 80 pints of water for 24 hours. It also has a continuous drain option for times when the unit will be unattended for long periods of time. This ensures your unit will keep running effectively without needing to remove moisture from it due to condensation.
Its features are designed for comfort and convenience and include various speeds and modes so you can adjust the temperature in accordance with your own preferences. There are three fan speeds, allowing you to select a speed that matches the weather. You can also set it to sleep mode so that you can enjoy a good night’s sleep without having to worry about the unit running.
- Built-in dehumidifier
- Lots of customizable features
- Bulkier in design than some other models
7. Dometic Penguin II Rooftop Air Conditioner
The Dometic Penguin II Rooftop Air Conditioner is the final installment on our review list. It cools with R410A refrigerant, a chemical substance that ensures it is a highly efficient unit. This model fits standard 14-inch by 14-inch roof openings, so make sure you measure your roof and compare the size before purchasing any rooftop conditioner as it will not work properly if it isn’t sized correctly.
This includes a manufacturer’s warranty and a 2-year protection clause, so you can rest assured that if any quality issues result in malfunction you can get an exchange or refund with relative ease.
The dimensions of this product are slim and streamlined, so it won’t sit too high on the roof. This is important for driving in areas where height restrictions apply. It is also more convenient to have a streamlined design as it will fit more snugly, and you won’t have to worry about how well attached it is.
Finally, this model has a power consumption of 1762 watt when in cooling mode, and it uses an electrical rating of 120 volts (ac current), the equivalent of 60Hz. This means that it is very efficient and won’t drain energy during startup or general use.
- Includes a warranty
- Powerful cooling power
- Very heavy, weighing in at 110 pounds
Small RV Air Conditioner Buying Guide
To choose the best air conditioner for your recreational vehicle, you’ll need to consider several factors, including but not limited to size, power rating, and style.
This guide discusses these considerations in detail. Let’s begin with why you need an air conditioner in your RV;
Advantages of RV Air Conditioners
All recreational vehicles come equipped with an inbuilt air conditioning system. So, the only reason you should invest in a separate air conditioning unit for the RV is to supplement your vehicles AC system.
This is especially true if you’re camping in the summer. An RV can become pretty hot on a summer night. Air conditioning may be useful in such conditions to help you sleep better.
Unfortunately, most in-built RV air conditioning systems aren’t powerful enough to bring down the temperatures to the desired level. Why? Because they mostly use battery power! Under such circumstances, an electric-powered AC can be brought in to boost indoor air conditions.
Remember also that some air conditioners double up as heaters. When buying an AC for your RV, you can use the opportunity to invest in this type of AC, so you’re covered even during the colder months.
RV Air Conditioner Types
There are four main types of air conditioners for RVs, including rooftop, vent-free, portable, and window. Here’s what you need to know about each type;
Rooftop RV Air Conditioners
As the name suggests, rooftop RV air conditioners are tucked into the roof. They are preferred over other types of RV air conditioners because they don’t take up space inside the RV.
When it comes to power, there are options from 5,000BTU to 15,000 BTU – the choice is yours. The ACs can be ducted or non-ducted. Ducted rooftop RV air conditioners guarantee 30% energy efficiency. The air conditioners are cooled by the air outside, meaning that the weather outside the RV directly affects their operation.
Rooftop RV air conditioners aren’t easy to install. First off, the air conditioners weigh up to 100 pounds or more. So, you’ll have to plan for moving them around. Secondly, installing rooftop RV air conditioners involves connecting a lot of wires and vents (for ducted types). The installation process requires at least two people working together.
Keep in mind that, since heat rises, rooftop RV air conditioners also can’t be used for heating. Another drawback is that the air conditioners add to the height of your vehicle. Therefore, if you choose to buy one, find a sleep, low-profile model that doesn’t add too much height to your motorhome.
Vent-free Portable RV Air Conditioners
Also known as swamp coolers because of how they handle moist air ventilation, vent-free portable RV air conditioners are smaller in size compared to other options on this list and typically come in attractive designs.
The main difference from vented options is that no refrigeration process is required to cool the air. Instead, air passing through the air conditioner is evaporated and the resulting dry air released to cool your indoors.
The lack of refrigeration makes vent-free RV air conditioners impressively energy efficient. However, these types of RV air conditioners also come with a few downsides. For one, they take up space on the floor, which might be inconveniencing if you need to put other appliances or use it for other things. Additionally, vent-free air conditioners work best in climates with dry heat. In relatively humid conditions, the AC won’t be very effective at its job.
Portable RV Air Conditioners
All RV air conditioners are relatively small in size. But, portable options are the smallest in the category and feature handles for carrying the units around. Since they are designed to be placed inside the RV, in the vicinity of your guests, they are also generally beautiful and come in all kinds of shapes and colors.
The air conditioners feature one or two hoses for ventilation, with some equipped with adjustable frames for the window. This way, you can position the AC on the window from time to time.
If you choose to buy a single-hose portable RV air conditioner, beware that they can be a bit inconvenient at dealing with heat. The heat removed from the air can sometimes find its way back into your RV. For this reason, two-hose models are better.
That said, portable RV air conditioners are the cheapest of the lot. Single-hose models are particularly very cheap.
Window RV Air Conditioners
Finally, you can also choose a window air conditioner for your RV. As the name suggests, window RV air conditioners are designed to sit on the RV window. In fact, most of them are similar to window air conditioners used at home.
The air conditioners offer high cooling capacity – without taking up space on the RV floor. This makes them an attractive option for regular RV campers. They come in small sizes, some as narrow as 14 inches. They are also quiet and easy to install than both vent-free and portable options.
Things To Consider When Purchasing An AC For Your RV
There are several things to consider when buying an AC for your RV. The following should be top of your list;
BTUs tell you how well an AC can cool your space. To keep the heat out of your entire RV, you should be looking for at least 13,500BTU for a medium-sized vehicle. That’s because the RV isn’t a single room. There are several spaces to be cooled. Additionally, the metal construction of recreational vehicles means that there’s bound to be substantial heat entering your vehicle. Only a powerful enough air conditioner can deal with such high amounts of heat.
2. Ducted vs. Non-Ducted
We mentioned this earlier when discussing types of air conditioners for RVs. A ducted AC blows air from within. It has ductwork just like home air conditioning systems, and it is through these ducts that air is blown into the RV.
Non-ducted RV air conditioners don’t have ductwork. Instead, they rely on the RV’s ductwork to distribute air throughout the vehicle.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages. For ducted options, there’s the risk of hot air mixing with cool air in the “gap” between the zones. Non-ducted options, meanwhile, are difficult to install.
3. Size and Shape
Whether you’re buying a rooftop or window model, size and shape are very important. The size of the unit determines how much space it takes on the floor of the RV and, for rooftop models, how much clearance you have.
As for shape, we recommend a well contoured, low-profile aerodynamic model with a shape that can resist drag. Aerodynamic RV air conditioners not only keep your vehicle from being slowed down but also increase fuel efficiency.
4. Ease of Installation and Maintenance
Some RV air conditioners are easy to install. Heck, some of the portable models don’t even require installation. However, some are also very difficult to install. If you’re happy with calling a professional to do the installation and maintenance, then you don’t have to worry about this point. However, if you’re planning to do the installation and maintenance yourself, then it’s advisable to find a model that’s less complicated and whose spare parts are readily available.
Some of the additional features you can look for in an RV air conditioner include; heaters, air purifiers, and all-in-one functionality. The number of air outlets is another factor you may want to keep in mind. Also, some RV air conditioners use batteries, while others don’t. If you’d like to use your AC while driving, a model that can handle the 12V vehicle battery would be ideal.
Before buying any large appliance, it’s always important to do some research beforehand; particularly features and specifications you should look out for in your chosen product.
With regard to small RV air conditioners, there are a variety of specifications which may be a priority for you: size, shape, weight, BTU rating, and ease of installation. These are just considerations to factor in before making a final decision. You might also want a unit with lots of bonus features like timers, modes, and settings. It’s entirely up to you.
Now that you’ve considered some of the best small camper air conditioners on the market, you’ll be much better equipped when the time comes to making your purchase. Now all that’s left is to get out and explore the world in your RV!