Van living is the best way to soak in what nature has to offer. However, if you love to spend time in hot places, it is recommended that you get the best cooling system for your van. A good way to keep cool in a small space is to purchase a portable air conditioner. There are plenty of options that you can choose from, which can be pretty daunting. Knowing what to look for before heading out to shop for your portable air conditioner is important.
|Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU||Wide cooling area|
Consume 66 pints a day
Easy to clean
Great for indoor and outdoor use
|Black & Decker BPACT08WT||24-hour timer|
3-in-1 operation (cooling, dehumidifier, and fan)
|Exhaust hose is bulky|
Not the most powerful portable air conditioner on the market
|Zero Breeze Z19-B||Lightweight|
Has hot and cold modes
|GoCool 12V||Uses 12V power source|
Batteries can be recharged
|A bit bulky|
|LG Electronics LP1419IVSM||Quiet operation|
Easy to install
Storage tray for accessories
|Short vent hose|
A bit heavy
Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU Portable AC: The Best Feature
Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU Portable AC is the first choice that we have on the list. It can be used both in indoor and outdoor spaces. Most of the time, van lifers worry about heat overload, but this portable AC will handle the problem for you. It can cool an area of up to 550 square feet, and the BTU ratio is 12000, which is perfect for a small space such as a van.
This portable AC is also very easy to clean since its dust filter has a convenient design. With this feature, you don’t need to struggle every time you want to clean the Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU. It also has a remote included, which will make it easy for you to customize the AC settings.
When you feel hot, all you have to do is set the fan speed on the remote that is included with the unit. It is also designed to have a timer mode which is pretty great whenever you are sleeping at night and at the convenience of your schedule.
During wet seasons, the Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU can consume 66 liters of liquid from the air per day which is great since it can suck out the moisture out of the van. You can expect your device to run all day, thanks to the continuous discharge option.
This portable air conditioner is perfect for those who have a skoolie on the road, but at the same time, it is still good for those who have a van.
The only downside to the Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU is it has a short hose, which may not be a problem when it comes to your van, but other than that, it is the best choice for your portable AC needs.
The Honeywell MN12CES 12000 BTU is available on Amazon for $599.95.
Black & Decker 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner: The Best Option for Van Life
When it comes to the people’s choice, the Black & Decker Portable Air Conditioner takes the win. It has more than 22,000 reviews, and plenty of people say that they are great for cooling a small area. It has the most flexible BTU options available, from 8,000 to 14,000 BTU. One of the units comes with a heater as well.
However, we are going to focus on the 8,000 BTU since it is the best option for van living. It is quiet and powerful at the same time, so you can rest assured it will meet your cooling needs while being on the road. This portable air conditioner features an adjustable fan speed that cools the air to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celcius) at the coolest setting.
Aside from that, it has a sleep mode which makes the AC extra quiet while you are resting. The Black & Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner is perfect for small areas and can provide steady, fast, effective cooling for up to 150 square feet.
Installation is also pretty simple since all you need to do is wheel the unit at a place where you have a double-hung or sliding window. It comes with a hose that measures four feet by 11 inches, a window adapter, and a plug for the outlet. At the end of the hot season, all you have to do is unhook it and store it so that it won’t get in your way.
The Black & Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner also comes with remote control and a top-mounted LED display that will show a 24-hour timer so that you can precisely control the air temperature. The cleaning process is also easy since all you need to do is clean the filter, just slide it out, rinse it thoroughly under running water, and put it back.
It is best to clean this unit at least once a month so that you can get the best out of the unit. It combines three energy-efficient functions for all your cooling and ventilation needs. These three functions are cool, fan, and dehumidifying, which are the best features to have when you are living in a van.
There are two downsides to the Black & Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner, and the exhaust hose is bulky. Even with the best features it offers, it is still not the most powerful portable air conditioner on the market. However, in a van, you might not need the most powerful unit out there.
The Black & Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner is available on Amazon for $329.99.
Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner: Best Lightweight Unit
If you are looking for a lightweight, portable air conditioner, the Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner is the best option for you. It has maximum use of about 40 square feet, which is great for your sleeping area in your van. It is also has improved so much more than its previous models.
The Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner is the latest design that will help you maintain the ideal temperature you need in your van during the hot summer months. It has the ability to run around 2300 BTU which makes it a powerful portable air conditioner unit to have in your van.
This portable air conditioner is designed to be leak and drip-resistant. Also, its gravity drainage removes running water quickly and easily. Since it has a dual hose, the device can suck the air faster to switch it from hot to cold. With this feature, it can minimize the humidity inside your van.
Now, the only downside to the Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner is it has no dashboard, but that doesn’t take away the performance it can provide.
The Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner is available on Amazon for $180.00.
GoCool 12V Portable Air Conditioner: The Compact Option
The GoCool 12V Portable Air Conditioner is great for small spaces such as vans. When you are living on the road full-time, this should be the portable air conditioner that you should have in your van. It is also lightweight, which is another notable stand-out advantage when it comes to portable air conditioners.
This portable air conditioner is only 30 pounds, and it can hold up to 40 pounds of ice which is a great feature. Since it is battery-operated, this portable air conditioner will not make any noise since it is quiet. It protects the environment because there are no emissions. No need to worry about breathing dust inside your van.
The battery life of the GoCool 12V Portable Air Conditioner is up to six hours. However, the battery charger is sold separately since it is not included in the package. If you don’t like complicated setups when it comes to your portable air conditioner, then this is the unit for you.
It can hold four one-gallon jugs, two nine-liter bottles, or 40 pounds of bagged ice. The GoCool 12V Portable Air Conditioner also comes with a wheel and handle so you can move it around in your van or use it outdoors if you like.
Now, the unit itself is a bit bulky but would still fit inside a small space such as your van. Other than that, this would be the perfect portable air conditioner for your adventures on the road.
You can purchase the GoCool 12V Portable Air Conditioner on Amazon for $439.00.
LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner: Best Smart AC
If you are looking for a smart portable air conditioner, the LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is the best choice for you. It has a quiet operation and energy-saving design, which makes this portable air conditioner a great addition to your van living.
It features a dual inverter technology that uses 40 percent less energy than other portable air conditioners on the market. When the unit is placed on the lowest setting, the unit is only 44 decibels which is quieter than other units. You can rest assured that it won’t disrupt your sleep whenever you are using it at night.
The LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is suitable for spaces up to 500 square feet, which is about 20 by 25 feet which are perfect for your van. It is also rated at 10,000 BTU DOE and has a sleek outer shell that won’t be an eyesore in your van interior design.
This unit offers three cooling and fan speeds, as well as an auto cooling setting. You can also control the setting through a digital control panel, LCD remote, or your smartphone through the LG ThinQ app. Since it is connected through Wi-Fi, the unit can be connected through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice commands to turn on the portable air conditioner while you are doing other chores in your van.
You can easily mount the unit on easy-rolling casters for simple movement, and it has an auto-swing air vent feature that will ensure the air will be distributed throughout the entire van. Other features also include 24 hours on and off timer, auto restart after a power failure, and a filter check light.
When it comes to installation, the LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner comes with a window vent kit that is easy to install. However, you need to keep in mind that the vent hose is a bit short, running at just 35.5 inches, so it has to be close to a window.
Once it’s time to pack the portable air conditioner, there is a storage tray on the back of the unit where you can store the window kit and hose, making it simple to keep all of the supplies together.
The LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is available on Amazon for $762.99, which can be pretty expensive but it is worth every penny!
Different Types of Van Air Conditioners: The 101
There are different types of van air conditioners on the market, and it is important that you choose the right one for your van needs. You should always consider the space that you have in your van to make sure that you have enough for your van’s air conditioner. The following will talk about the different types of van air conditioners available on the market.
Rooftop Air Conditioner: Space Saving Option
These types of air conditioners can be mounted and installed on top of your van, which will not take up too much space. Installation is a bit more complicated than the other types since you have to deal with different vents and wires. However, these units usually range between 5,000 and 15,000 BTU every hour but remember, this capability depends on the unit that you buy.
Due to its vast capability, it may consume much power, and it can be a problem for those who have small loads or are off the grid. You should also be careful going into tunnels since it can damage the unit.
Vent Free Portable Air Conditioner: The Swap Cooler
The vent-free portable air conditioner is also known as the swamp cooler, and it provides moist air ventilation. With this feature, the unit will release the evaporated water into the air. Most times, these units don’t consume much energy since it just needs a vent. The designs are usually compact and beautiful.
Now, you would need to add a hose as there will be a time when the water won’t evaporate properly. Also, the vent-free portable air conditioner is suitable for areas that have dry climates.
Portable Air Conditioner: Great for Van Living
These units are universally tiny, so they will not occupy too much space. Users can quickly move them since they are equipped with handles and wheels. Often one or two ventilation are included in every product, and the ventilation will ventilate the hot air from outside.
Aside from that, several units are equipped with adjustable window frames so that the hose stays still while you are using it. It is best that you should purchase one with two hoses since the single-hose unit might ventilate the heat improperly at times.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing Your Van Portable Air Conditioner
Before you head out and buy your van’s portable air conditioner, you should keep these factors in mind if you want to get the best unit for your van. Considering these factors are important so that you can get the best out of the unit you decide to purchase.
Electricity Source: The Very First Thing to Consider
First, you would have to check whether the campsite you are going to provides electrical power or not. Plenty of free sites do come with hook-ups, but their voltage is not always the same. Usually, the hook-ups only allow five to 16 amps. Make sure that your AC should be suitable for the power source at the campsite that you have chosen.
If this is not followed, there is a huge chance that your unit might break down. You will even make the entire campsite go out of electricity due to overloading. Also, you need to keep in mind that you would need an extension cable which will allow you to connect to the electricity source at the campsite.
It is also best that you purchase a 12-volt battery for backup or for recharging the source.
Noise Level: For You to Sleep Like A Baby
When purchasing your van’s portable air conditioners, people will wonder about the noise levels. Though the natural environment can dampen the air conditioner unit’s sounds while it is working, it is still a noticeable issue. Always take a look at the decibel level or dBA whenever you are shopping for a unit.
Picking a unit that doesn’t produce much noise will also be great since you will not be disturbing your neighbors at the campsite. It is best to choose models with less than 60 decibels and stay away from units over 70 dBA.
Budget: Always An Important Factor to Consider
Plenty of van lifers considers portable air conditioners as a luxury appliance. Now, their prices may not be too affordable since the prices usually range between moderate and expensive. Now, you need to keep in mind that the best model is not always the most expensive one. You should choose one that is based on the factors I have mentioned above.