Let’s face it, you invested in an RV for camping rather than a tent because you kind of like the comforts of home while you’re exploring this beautiful country. Keeping your RV cool on hot, humid nights is probably one of the creature comforts at the top of your list. If your current air conditioner just isn’t quite cutting it, it might be time to invest in a quality AC unit.
Keep reading for our top picks of the best RV air conditioners to help you keep cool on the road, including an option that isn’t technically an RV AC unit.
Our Top Picks
Dometic Penguin II
ASA Advent Air
Best for AC Power
Dometic is a trusted name in the RV community, and the Penguin II is one of their best-selling AC units, making it our top pick for the best RV air conditioner.
This low-profile AC unit is only 10” tall, so you don’t have to worry about knocking off your AC unit when you encounter a low-hanging branch, or unmarked bridge for that matter. The low profile also means less drag, which translates to better fuel mileage.
This unit works for both ducted and non-ducted RVs, and single and multi-zone applications.
- Works with ducted and non-ducted
- Single and multi-zone applications
- Can be noisy when running
If you’re looking for a budget option for your RV air conditioner, the ASA Advent Air is a great choice.
One advantage the ASA Advent Air has over other RV air conditioners is that it only weighs 50 pounds, as opposed to 100 pounds or more.
That’s a huge difference when you’re trying to get your air conditioner onto the roof! That extra weight savings also means more room for fun things you can take with you.
One disadvantage to the ASA is that it is only for ducted applications. However, they do sell a non-ducted ceiling assembly unit.
- Only for ducted units
Best for AC Power
If you like to boondock, or if you use solar power, check out the Nekpokka 12-volt AC unit.
This RV air conditioner runs off your battery so there’s no need to plug into a pole or use your generator.
It’s lightweight, easy to install, and doesn’t require you to drill new holes in your roof.
Another bonus with the Nekpokka unit is that it heats as well as cools.
However, keep in mind that because this is a 12-volt RV air conditioner, it is not going to be as cold as your standard 120-volt unit.
It also doesn’t come pre-charged so you’ll need a vacuum pump (available to rent from Auto Zone) and a few cans of Freon.
- 12-volt power
- Also heats
- Doesn’t come pre-charged
- Not as cold as standard RV air conditioners
Best Mini Split
Looking for an efficient alternative or supplement to your current RV air conditioner? Look no further than the Cooper Hunter mini-split.
Even though it’s not officially an RV air conditioner, it’s worth considering to help lower your electric costs. Simply set the thermostat on your mini-split a degree or two lower than your rooftop AC unit.
Keep in mind that part of the unit needs to be installed outside your RV. This is a fairly easy set-up and there are plenty of YouTube videos to help. A wall mounting bracket will allow you to attach the mini-split to your RV with ease.
Another great feature of the Cooper Hunter mini-split is that in addition to being a great option for an RV air conditioner, it also heats. And, because it doesn’t use propane to heat, it helps cut down on the dreaded winter condensation.
Cooper Hunter has a dry mode, which is essentially a built-in dehumidifier.
- Energy efficient
- Heats and cools
- Digital thermostat and remote control
- Requires drilling holes for outside unit
- More complicated to install
Best for Heating and Cooling
Like the Cooper Hunter, the RecPro RV air conditioner both cools and heats. But, this unit is installed on your ceiling like a traditional AC unit.
The RecPro is a non-ducted unit that uses less energy than a ducted RV air conditioner. That also means it’s quieter.
One complaint with the RecPro, which could be annoying for some, is that the fan runs continuously.
- Easy to install
- Heats and cools
- Digital thermostat and remote control
- Bolts are a little short for some installation applications
- Fan runs continuously
RV Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
When shopping for the best RV air conditioner, you’ll see terms like high, mid, and low-profile when describing the height of your air conditioner.
You need to know the height of your RV before choosing your air conditioner, keeping in mind that you want to stay under 13’6”.
One other thing to consider is that the low profile RV air conditioners have been known to be noisier than the high profile.
Ducted or Ductless
Knowing whether your RV needs a ducted or ductless air conditioner replacement is also crucial.
A non-ducted RV air conditioner blows air from overhead directly into the room. On the other hand, a ducted unit blows the air throughout the RV through vents – like an air conditioner in a sticks and bricks.
Not sure which one you have? Take a look at your ceiling. If your RV has vents, you have a ducted RV air condition system. If you have a unit with controls on it, you have a non-ducted system.
Generally speaking, ducted systems are installed in larger RVs.
RV Air Conditioner Frequently Asked Questions
Can I just put a portable air conditioner in my RV?
Absolutely. In fact, the Shinco portable air conditioner is a great option. It’s small, powerful, and can be controlled with a remote from the comfort of your recliner.
How do I maintain my RV air conditioner?
The easiest, and most important, step in maintaining your RV air conditioner is to clean the filter.
If you’re a full-time RVer, having a schedule to do this monthly is a good idea. With most RV air conditioners, you can simply remove the filter and rinse it off with warm water.
While you have your filter out, check it for any tears or holes. That would be an indication that it’s time for a replacement.
This is where your RV manual is going to come in handy. It will tell you how to replace your particular filter and what size you need.
Be sure to add checking the RV shroud and seal to your usual roof maintenance schedule.
Wrapping up the Best RV Air Conditioners
As you’ve probably noticed, aside from the mini-split, all of our best RV air conditioners are roof-mounted. Although some rigs do have basement air conditioners, roof-mounted units are more popular so we chose to focus our attention on them.
Now that you know which RV air conditioner will keep you nice and cool during your time on the road, it’s time to take a look at your surge protector. After all, investing in a new AC unit isn’t going to do you any good if there is no power.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Melissa Goins is a lifelong resident of Indiana and currently resides on a 15-acre homestead with her family where she has lived full-time stationary in a 2000 Travel Supreme fifth wheel for the past two years.
She has always loved traveling and in 2000 she and her husband purchased a fully self-contained semi truck and hit the road with their two kids, visiting all 48 contiguous United States and learning about our amazing country along the way.
Melissa has learned a lot about living full-time in an RV over the past two years and loves sharing tips and tricks with others — which is why she loves writing for Beyond the Tent. From staying cool in the summer to preparing for winter, to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 12 in an RV, there’s so much to learn, enjoy, and share Beyond the Tent.
When she’s not writing or enjoying the great outdoors, Melissa loves to spend time with her family. She is a proud wife, mom, and grandma to three beautiful grandbabies.