Summer is a highly anticipated season due to the promise of extended periods of warmth and sunshine. Which entices people to venture outdoors and enjoy life air conditioners.
However, when temperatures rise, it can be challenging to maintain a comfortable atmosphere in your vehicle. The top 9 RV air conditioners for 2022.
While some luxury Class B campers are equipped with air conditioning, it may not be affordable for everyone.
Luckily, there are numerous cooling solutions available for your vehicle. We have curated a selection of top air conditioning units for campervans. Ranging from basic swamp cooler options to high-end campervan AC systems.
All of these are designed to keep you feeling invigorated and prepared to tackle van life. Even on the hottest of days!
Getting the air conditioner in your camper to function (AC vs DC units)
Before we begin, it’s important to note that many campervan air conditioning systems. Particularly those found in Class B RVs, operate on AC electricity that requires 120 volts of power.
Solar panels and battery banks may not be able to meet energy demands. Of such air conditioning units for prolonged periods of use.
To run your air conditioner for longer periods. You’ll need to connect to shore power at a campsite or use a generator.
However, 12-volt air conditioners are a more energy-efficient alternative to AC units that run on 120 volts. And can be powered off-grid using your van’s solar power and battery bank.
These types of air conditioners are more expensive. With prices that can reach up to four times the cost of AC units that run on 120 volts.
In this article, we will review both types of air conditioners. Along with a portable air conditioner and a swamp cooler.
A Campervan’s Finest Air Conditioner Units (120 Volt)
Air conditioning units for campers that run on 120 volts, the same voltage as a household socket. Are considerably more affordable than their 12-volt counterparts. However, to use them for an extended period. You will need to connect them to shore power or use a generator.
The Lowest Profile, the Dometic Penguin II
Dometic is a well-known brand in the campervan air conditioning market. And the Penguin II is one of their most popular models.
It weighs 99 pounds, has a cooling capacity of 11,000 BTU/hour, and a power draw of 3,000 Watts. The unit measures 29 x 40 x 9.5 inches and operates on a 115V AC power source.
It’s priced between $900 to $1100.
The Dometic Penguin II is an excellent air conditioning unit for a campervan. With its low profile design adding just 9.5 inches to the roofline of your van. Reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.
This campervan air conditioner is easy to install and comes with manual, electronic, and wall thermostat controls.
One of the best features of the Penguin II is its use of R410 refrigerant. Which is an environmentally friendly choice that releases heat more efficiently than other AC systems.
The unit also has a 3-speed blower, and although it. Can be a bit noisy due to its 11,000 BTU/hour cooling capacity. It will undoubtedly cool your van on the hottest of days.
The Penguin II boasts an attractive and compact design, produces minimal drag, and comes with a two-year warranty.
However, it can be quite loud, and there are no instructions included.
The Coleman-Mach 15: The Most Potent
The Coleman Mach 15 is a top-notch air conditioner for campervans, boasting the highest cooling capacity on the market.
Its 15,000 BTU/hour cooling capability and 1,800 Watts power consumption make it possible for the device to work even in the hottest conditions.
It weighs 90 pounds and is powered by 115V AC. With a powerful 1/3 horsepower fan, the Mach 15 blows cold air at an impressive rate of 325 cubic feet per minute, yet remains silent.
The Mach 15 also doubles as a heating element and has a durable design, including all copper tubing and gas-flux brazed joints.
Although it is lighter than comparable models, installation can be challenging, taking several hours and at least two people.
This air conditioner is designed for ducted systems but can be adapted for use in non-ducted systems commonly found in campervans.
While it is pricey, the low power consumption and robust design make it a worthwhile investment.
Model Dometic Brisk II: The Lightest
Dometic is a reputable company that has been working with NASA to improve air conditioning systems for years, making them the clear choice for the best camper van air conditioner.
The Dometic Brisk II is a durable and lightweight option with high-quality components that is built to last. It is also easy to install and comes with a gasket that fits a standard 14×14 inch aperture.
Thanks to its vibration-reducing technology, the Brisk II is one of the quietest air conditioners on the list. While it doesn’t have the highest BTU rating, it is more than capable of cooling a campervan.
The Brisk II has a 3-speed blower, washable filter, and remote control, allowing for easy temperature adjustments without having to get out of bed.
Pros include quiet operation, strong and lightweight design, and easy installation. A reported issue with short wires causing malfunctioning evaporator coils is a potential downside to this air conditioner.
The Best Campervan 12-Volt Air Conditioning Units
Air conditioning units designed for campervans that run on 12-volt batteries can be costly, but they have the advantage of being powered by your vehicle’s electrical system.
To run these units off-grid, it would require a large solar setup and battery storage, which is feasible but requires significant investment.
However, the weight of these 12-volt systems is often less than their 120-volt counterparts, and there are many options available in the market.
N3000 Nomadic Cooling
The only air conditioning units that can be used off-grid with 12-volt power are the Nomadic Cooling AC units. These units are expensive, costing around $4,200.
But they are the only true off-grid air conditioners that can run on your van’s batteries, particularly lithium batteries. The Nomadic Cooling 3000 is a 61-pound unit that runs on actual refrigerant and can be installed in a standard 14×14 opening.
This campervan AC unit has two modes, Eco and Powerful, depending on the outside temperature. Eco Mode is the default and is recommended for outdoor temperatures up to 85 degrees.
While Powerful Mode can be used for short periods on very hot days. However, Powerful Mode consumes a lot of power and is not a long-term solution.
The Nomadic Cooling 3000 comes with built-in safety features such as pressure, high/low voltage, motor over-current, and motor temperature protection. A less power-hungry 2000 unit is also available.
While these units are ideal for off-grid operation, they have a high capacity draw and are expensive.
12 Volt DC Air Conditioner B-Cool 9000RM
The B-Cool 9000 RM is an excellent option for those who want to stay cool while off-grid. It has a low profile and won’t have a significant impact on your van’s fuel efficiency.
Although it is not cheap, it is worth the investment if you plan to spend a lot of time in hot weather.
The B-Cool 9000 RM is a 12-volt campervan air conditioner that draws 50-70 amps of power and has a cooling capacity of 10,230 BTU/hour.
You can power it from your van’s batteries, but using deep-cycle lithium batteries is recommended for best results. The unit comes with a wire harness, a watertight gasket, and a remote control for easy installation and convenience.
Although it may not have the most powerful cooling capability, it is sufficient for keeping you cool in your camper van. The B-Cool 9000 RM comes with a two-year warranty, and installation is straightforward.
Not the most powerful cooling system
RTX2000 12V RV Air Conditioner by Dometic
The Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX is a highly efficient and compact 12-volt camper van air conditioner, making it a great choice for off-grid cooling.
With dimensions of 25.4 x 33.9 x 6.6 inches and a cooling capacity of 6,824 BTU/hour, this unit has a power consumption of 10-58 amps and runs on a 12 volt DC power source. It is priced at $2,875.
The Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX has been available in Europe for more than ten years and is now available in North America.
The variable speed inverted compressor provides excellent cooling performance while being highly energy-efficient and quiet.
In eco mode, this unit only consumes around 19 amps, making it an ideal option for off-grid use with van batteries. The camper van air conditioner also includes a turbo option for fast cooling in short bursts and comes with a remote control.
Ideal for off-grid use
Highly energy-efficient and quiet
Comes with a turbo option
Limited cooling capacity
Air Cooling Unit in Mabru
The Mabru RV 12000 rooftop unit is an energy-efficient and powerful 12-volt van air conditioner that can cool your van quickly with its cooling capacity of 12,000 BTU/hour.
Although the unit weighs 59 pounds, it has a sleek and streamlined design that is easy to use. Mabru has years of experience in creating cooling systems for boats and yachts, so their expertise is evident in this machine.
The RV 12000 has low power consumption, so you can use it for hours on your lithium batteries. It comes with three fan speeds and three settings, including an environmental option.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t fit into a standard 14” x 14” roof opening and installation is reportedly difficult. The RV 12000 comes with a price tag of $2,599.
Other models of campervan air conditioners
If you prefer not to install a heavy air conditioning unit on the roof of your camper van, you may want to consider one of these alternatives.
Zero Breeze Mark II is the model that is most lightweight.
If you’re not interested in a heavy air conditioning unit for your campervan, you might want to consider one of these alternatives.
The Zero Breeze is a sleek and compact cordless van air conditioner with powerful compressors and a high BTU rating for its size.
Despite being expensive, this unique solution to your van air conditioning needs promises to lower the temperature by 30 degrees in just 10 minutes, using refrigerant instead of swamp cooler technology.
The Zero Breeze can be easily inserted through a window, although it requires ventilation. It is battery-powered and weighs only 16.5 pounds.
Making it a portable option for cooling small areas of up to 40 square feet. However, it may be difficult to cool larger areas, and for a portable device, it’s relatively heavy.
12-Volt Fresair AC
This eco-friendly option is a water-operated evaporative cooler that requires very little electricity, making it an excellent choice for a campervan air conditioner.
It weighs only 25 pounds and has a capacity for cooling that is not specified. It has a maximum power demand of 10 amps/hour and is powered by a 12V DC power source. The cost is $1,495.
The Fresair S6 rooftop evaporative cooler solves the problem of producing too much moisture, which can lead to an unpleasant environment as well as mold and mildew.
By using a state-of-the-art filter that is antibacterial and antifungal, allowing it to create cold, dry air.
This van air conditioner operates on water, making it an environmentally friendly solution that also consumes very little energy. It comes with an 18L water tank and adjustable ceiling vents.
However, keep in mind that this is an evaporative cooler, which means it will only work in very low-humidity environments, and the manufacturer claims it can reduce air temperature by 40 degrees
Lightweight and easy to install.
Eco-friendly and low electricity consumption.
Adjustable ceiling vents.
Only works well in dry conditions.
Explained: Campervan Air Conditioner BTU Rates
When searching for a campervan air conditioner, the BTU value is an important factor to consider. BTU stands for British Thermal Units and measures the air conditioner’s heat transmission capacity.
A higher BTU value indicates that the air conditioner can cool the room more quickly and effectively. However, other factors such as the size of the space, insulation, and outside temperature also affect the air conditioner’s efficiency.
A BTU value between 10,000 to 13,000 is recommended to keep your campervan cool even in extremely hot weather.
Several Styles of Air Conditioners for Campervans
There are several options available to cool down your campervan, and selecting the appropriate type of air conditioner for your needs can be difficult. Here is an overview of the various types of air conditioners for campervans.
Campervan air conditioners with compressors
The top choice for a van’s rooftop air conditioner is a compressor type that works by taking in hot air and cooling it down through refrigerant.
This kind of van air conditioner can be ducted or non-ducted, and while it is effective in cooling down the temperature inside the van, it consumes a lot of electricity, which may be a problem for your solar and battery system.
In addition, the weight of the unit must be considered, and it should be installed on a sturdy roof with ample space.
Vehicle Air Conditioners With Evaporative Coolers
Van air conditioners, also called swamp coolers, cool the air by evaporating water, which can be achieved by hanging a wet towel in front of a fan. However, this may result in a humid environment that can lead to mold and mildew.
Many van dwellers use rooftop evaporative coolers, but these air conditioners have some drawbacks. They work best in low-humidity areas, making them unsuitable for use in humid areas like Florida.
Additionally, evaporative coolers consume a lot of water, which can be a significant disadvantage.
An air conditioner for a campervan that can be carried around
If you need a van air conditioner that can be easily stored when not in use, a portable air conditioner may be the best option for occasional usage.
Household air conditioning units are larger and have enough cooling power to be used in a campervan, but they must be vented outside, which may require some creativity in your vehicle.
Portable air conditioners, on the other hand, are great for small spaces and are a more affordable and simpler option to vent, and they often run on battery power. While they may not be able to cool down your entire living space, they are still a great option.
For campervans, a window air conditioner is necessary
Despite not being designed for portability, window air conditioners are still a popular choice for campervan cooling due to their superior cooling capabilities.
While they may be bulky and difficult to move around, they can be the best option for a campervan air conditioner, especially if the van’s design allows for easy installation.
Keep your campervan cool when the temperature rises
Making your campervan more comfortable is possible through various means, regardless of whether you have the best air conditioner for a campervan or not.
Some of these ways may be common sense, while others may appear repetitive, but when temperatures rise, even minor modifications can have a significant effect.
Curtains/treatments for windows
Reflective window coverings and curtains in your camper van can serve more than just a privacy purpose. They have the added benefit of reducing the interior temperature by a significant margin, sometimes up to 10 or 20 degrees.
The presence of vents in windows
When converting a van into a livable space, it is highly recommended to install windows that can be vented. There are numerous options to choose from, such as sliding or crank-open windows. Additionally.
Adding a mesh screen to the window can help keep insects out while still allowing air to flow in, especially when combined with a ventilation fan.
The RofoFans are portable fans.
Using a fan alone may not be sufficient to cool down the inside of your campervan on a hot day, but it can help reduce the temperature to match the outside temperature.
The Maxxair and Fan-Tastic roof fans are the most commonly used fans for van dwellers, and they provide crucial air circulation. Alternatively, a small fan powered by USB can be a cost-effective and space-saving solution for circulating air inside the van.
An insulating material
It’s essential to insulate your camper van not just to retain heat in the winter, but also to maintain a comfortable temperature during hot summer days, especially if you have a van air conditioner.
In addition, parking your van in the shade can make a significant difference in reducing the temperature inside, as it protects the vehicle from direct sunlight and prevents the temperature from increasing too much.
Travel to a place with lower temperatures to escape the heat.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re feeling hot and uncomfortable inside your van, you always have the option to leave and go to a cooler place.
One good option is to drive to the beach or higher altitude areas, where the evening temperatures are typically more pleasant and comfortable.
The Final Verdict on the Best Campervan Air Conditioners
People have different heat tolerances, and while some may enjoy hot weather, others may prefer to use an air conditioner. This is especially important if you are traveling with children or pets during the summer.
Whether you opt for a powerful rooftop air conditioner or a small portable unit, having some form of cooling system can significantly improve your comfort while living in a van.
We hope this article provided useful information, and if you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section.