How to Choose and Buy Your RV Air Conditioner in 2019

How Tos & Tips

If you enjoy camping during the warmer parts of the year (and most of us do), an air conditioner is almost a necessity. After all, nobody enjoys sleeping in the heat. Luckily, most modern RVs come equipped with an A/C unit, making it easy to keep cool no matter when you head out into the wilderness.

Unfortunately, these units do break sometimes, and because repairs are often very costly, it sometimes makes more sense to replace the unit rather than repair it.

If you are needing to replace your RV A/C unit, you may be wondering where to begin. Most people know little to nothing about these appliances, and this makes shopping for a new one quite difficult. Luckily, we’ve done much of the research for you and we’re here to help.

Image source: Andrew Fresh

What to Look For in an RV Air Conditioner

The first thing you’re going to want to do is figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a camper air conditioner. The answer to this will vary from person to person, but there are a few key things you’ll want to consider to figure out exactly what your answer is.


Power is the number one thing to consider. The standard RV air conditioner comes with 13,500 BTU of output. If you use your A/C often and need to cool very hot spaces, a unit with higher output is ideal for you. In this case, we recommend looking for a unit offering 15,000 BTU.

Of course, there are those who use their A/C rarely or only need to cool mildly warm spaces. These folks might prefer a smaller price tag and a bit less power.


The next thing to think about is the size of the unit you’re putting in. If you have trouble fitting your RV into its covered storage space, a unit with a lower profile is for you.

Smaller-profile A/C units also offer the user better gas mileage, as they don’t create as much drag as a larger unit might. That said, a small RV air conditioner is typically going to offer less cooling power, meaning you will want to weigh your options carefully.

Dual Usage

A few RV air conditioners offer dual usage by including a heat pump. This is awesome because it gives you a way to heat your RV without using the inefficient RV propane furnace. That said, dual-use A/C units are pretty pricey, so again, you will want to consider this choice carefully.

Will you camp during the winter often enough to make this a worthwhile purchase? Are you better off simply using space heaters? Answering these questions will help you make a decision in this arena.


Finally, there is the question of which brand to go with. Read the section below to learn more about RV air conditioner brands and which one might be right for you.

Coleman or Dometic A/C

The two main RV air conditioner manufacturers are Coleman and Dometic. Both are good companies, and either one of them would be a perfectly fine choice. There are, of course, other manufacturers out there, but we recommend against going with the smaller companies simply because getting replacement parts may not be easy.


Coleman units are less expensive, making them highly popular. Additionally, finding a Coleman RV air conditioner is a cinch since they are sold by many third-party retailers.

When picking a Coleman RV air conditioner, you have a few different choices. However, our favorites are the inexpensive, low-profile Polar Cub and the even-lower-profile-yet-higher-powered Mach 8. Many people also love the very common Mach 15 model.


Dometic models are also relatively easy to find. They are a bit pricier than most Coleman air conditioners, but many people find that they are longer lasting, making them a worthwhile investment.

Our favorite Dometic model is the Atwood Aircommand Ducted 15,000 BTU A/C Unit with Heat Pump. This is the ultimate air conditioner and offers amazing cooling power as well as heat. Because it works so well in so many temperatures, this is the unit we recommend to full-time RVers.

Other great Dometic air conditioner models include the Penguin II, which offers awesome cooling and an incredibly low profile, as well as the tiny Cool Cat, which is ideal for vans and other super small spaces.

Replacing Your Camper A/C Unit

Once you have the perfect A/C unit picked out, you’ll need to install it. Installation is easier than you may think and really only requires a few basic tools and a handy person. You will also need a tiny bit of basic electrical knowledge. You can check out this article to learn exactly what you need to do to get the new A/C up and running.

Not comfortable putting the unit is yourself? That’s totally understandable. A local RV tech will be happy to help you get set up so you can have a much cooler and more fun camping experience.