As summer rolls around, many of us are itching to get back into our RVs and travel all across the country. Who would want to stay at home with such nice temperatures outside?!
But one of the biggest challenges to summer RV travel is keeping your vehicle cool & comfortable during the sweltering summer heat. Unless you have access to unlimited electricity 24/7, trying to cool down a mobile home can be a unique challenge when compared to a traditional house.
So in this post, we want to share our top 5 tips that we use to help keep our van cool. These tips have really helped us enjoy long term RV travel and to weather some of the country’s most extreme temperatures.
Use An Air Conditioner (But With Caveats…)
It may be a bit obvious, but the #1 thing you can do to keep your RV cool is to use an air conditioner. Nothing works faster and simpler than to whisk away hot air with the push of a remote button.
However, using an air conditioner in an RV means you’ll need a way to power that power hungry machine. Under the vast majority of cases, trying to run an air conditioner off your RV batteries will not be sufficient. Camper house batteries just cannot provide the amount of long-term power that air conditioners require.
Therefore you’ll likely be forced to power an air conditioner by either hooking up to shore power in an RV park or by using a gasoline generator.
RV parks can be expensive and generators are loud (and tend to annoy the neighbors), so they may not be the best solution for some RV travelers. As a result, we like to keep our RV cool using a combination of the below methods.
Cover Your Windows
The fastest way that heat enters an RV is through the windows. And this is especially true of the front windshield window. That front windshield is a vacuum for heat-inducing UV rays.
So once we’ve parked up, one of our first actions is to place our windshield cover across the front window. Many of these covers are vehicle-specific so that they fit the windshield perfectly. So make sure you pick up the right one.
For even more protection from the sun, you can even pick up side-window covers.
Get A Blackout Curtain
The front cab of the RV is usually the hottest part of the vehicle because of the front windshield. So another effective product we use is a thick blackout curtain to separate the front cab from the living quarters.
And this really works! During the heat of the day, the curtain really does an excellent job in preventing the hot air from passing into the rear compartment of our vehicle.
BONUS: During the cold months, this curtain also helps to insulate the living area by preventing valuable heat from escaping to the front of the RV and through the front windshield.
Fans Are Your Friend
While not as effective as an air conditioner, the simple fan is the standard go-to solution to keep an RV cool. This is because of their low power consumption. We ran some tests over a 24 hour period and found that a simple 12v fan only consumes about 6aH of power per 24 hours. Even the most modest battery systems can power several of these vans all day long.
Among RV travelers, two of the most popular 12v fan options are:
- Ceiling Ventilation Fans – These are permanent units that are installed on the roof of an RV. Maxxfan and Fan-Tastic Fans are two of the most popular brands in the RV community.
- USB Fans – Not only are these tiny fans energy efficient, but they’re also portable and easily pack away when not needed. We have THREE of these in our van.
To learn how to install a ventilation fan in an RV, check out our post.
Park In The Shade
This sounds easy enough, but we’ve seen so many RVs parked out in the sun without even a hint of shade throughout the entire day. We love being out in the sun just as much as the next person, but when our vehicle is out absorbing the sun’s rays all day long, we can feel it when we’re inside. And it isn’t comfortable at all!
So if you can find it, look for a bit of shade to park under. This could be under a tree, next to a hillside, or even just beside a tall building.
During the summer months, every little bit of shade counts to help keep your RV cool.
Know The Sun’s Path
A good tip for when you arrive at your campsite is to understand the trajectory of the sun as it courses through the sky. If you can understand where the sun rises and sets every day, you might be able to park your RV in a way so that it catches some afternoon shade.
Not only that, you can also park in a way so that your front windshield is facing away from the sun, further helping to keep your RV cooler during the daytime.
Install Solar Panels
While not considered a primary cooling solution, installing solar panels (or MORE solar panels) is another way to keep your RV cool. That’s because solar panels cover your roof and provide valuable shade by blocking the sun’s rays from hitting your RV’s roof.
Even if your RV already has solar panels, consider installing an additional panel or two if your roof has empty space. In our van, our solar panels cover almost 50% of our roof.
Solar panels aren’t as expensive as they used to be and an obvious benefit is that you’ll be harvesting even more power to charge your batteries.
If you are interested to learn more about solar, you can check out our RV solar installation guide for tutorials on how to size, wire, and mount solar panels in an RV.
And there you have it! We’re sure that if you implement some of these suggestions, you’ll be able to prevent your RV from reaching unbearable heat levels while you travel during the summer.
Have happy and safe summer travels!
A word of caution: There will always be some instances where it’s near impossible to keep your RV below comfortable temperature levels. You’ll know this if you’ve ever parked out on BLM land in Utah or Arizona. If that’s the case, get yourself under the shade and drink plenty of water. If need be, check into a hotel for the day. Heat exhaustion can be a medical emergency if not prevented against and taken seriously.
How To Contact Us
We also love getting mail! For any questions or comments, please send us an email at [email protected].Or for more on our current Pan-American road trip to Argentina visit us on Instagram: @asobolife.