Making RV Air Conditioner More Efficient During Summer

It’s the time of the year again when the heat is up and the road is calling for you. Summer is the perfect time to pack your things and go on an RV trip. As much as we love the feel of the heat on our skin, we still want to cool down after our summer activities. RV air conditioner is an RVers best friend during these sweat times. Therefore, making sure that your AC works well saves us from all the hassle and heat waiting for us on the road. 

How to make an RV air conditioner more efficient during summer? Enhancing your AC’s cooling power and reducing heat inside the RV make it more efficient. To do this, you must: clean the AC, use an airflow system, park under a shade, reduce the use of heat-generating appliances, and use reflective insulation and awnings. 

After a fun day in the sun, a cool rest inside our RV is what we want. This article will discuss the proper maintenance of an AC and the different tips and tricks to reduce your RV’s inevitable heat during the summer. This article will also discuss the airflow system that most RVers use to improve the AC’s airflow and make it work at its maximum capacity. 

Enhancing your Air Conditioner’s Cooling Power

RV air conditioner works like a refrigerator. The AC sucks the hot air from your RV and uses refrigerants to remove the heat from it and return cold air into the RV. It does not cool the room down; instead, it removes heat and disposes it outside the rig. Here are some tips to effectively enhance your aircon’s cooling system.

Clean your Air Conditioner

Preventive maintenance is a routine activity done to your AC. It is the process of removing dirt that clogs the air pathway. It is vital to clean your AC regularly. Dirt makes it harder for the AC to produce cold air. The AC has to run longer and work harder to produce the required temperature. This results in parts wearing out and breaking down sooner than expected. 

Cleaning plays a big part in the improvement of your AC’s cooling power. The three parts to be cleaned are the filter, evaporator coil, and condenser coil. The filter is placed at the roof side inside the RV. It sucks hot air from the RV, which will then be processed in the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil uses refrigerants to remove the heat from the sucked air then pass it over to the condenser coil. The condenser coil directs the removed heat from the inside of the RV to the outside. Make sure any dust or debris does not obstruct the condenser coil.

In cleaning the AC, you should always make sure that the unit is turned off. Then, remove the return air screen. The filter needs to be cleaned by washing with soap and water twice a month because it is the most exposed part and clogs easily to dust and dirt. 

Generally, the AC unit of an RV is placed on the roof, outside of the RV. Except for the filter, which is the only part situated inside the RV. Remove the AC unit’s lock by removing the four bolts, then lift the shroud protection from back to front. This will expose two separate panels where the evaporator and condenser coil is.

Open the metal panel where the evaporator coil is. Then, place a towel under the coil. This towel will absorb the water and cleanser to prevent dust and dirt spillage inside the RV. Next, spray the evaporator coil cleaner into the coil and let it sit for five to seven minutes. You can use water to rinse or let it absorb for no-rinse cleaners. Finally, dry the coil and put the screws back in. A pro tip: Seal the panel gap with foil tape to lessen the amount of dirt getting inside the evaporator coil.

The last step in preventive maintenance is to clean the condenser coil located opposite the evaporator coil. Clean debris from the unit using a coil brush. Spray a foaming condenser coil cleaner to remove dust and dirt, then rinse with water. Put the cover and screws back in, and you are done with your maintenance.

Use an Airflow System to Make the Most Out of Your Air Conditioner 

The air in the AC does not directly flow to the ducting system, where cold air is released. The vast space in the plenum makes the air stay there and creates air friction. This causes disturbed airflow to the ducting system, which results in AC’s insufficient cooling. 

The airflow system is an additional device installed into the plenum to help air flow freely to the ducting system. It is installed in the space between the bottom of the AC unit and the cover plate. Airflow system is made from high-density 3-pound expanded polystyrene (EPS). EPS materials do not absorb or maintain moisture and are mold-resistant, making them an ideal part of your AC.

Turn your AC “ON” Early in the Day

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RV AC’s coolness is greatly affected by the temperature of the environment. It decreases the temperature inside the RV by 16-20 degrees, making it cooler. For example, if the outside temperature is 100 degrees, the AC’s maximum temperature would only be 80 degrees.

Turning on the AC early in the morning when the temperature is still low won’t give the AC a hard time keeping the RV cold inside. If the outside temperature is already high and the AC unit is exposed to the heat, it will have a hard time removing the heat inside the RV.

Another tip is not to shut off the aircon when you go out. Leave it open to maintain the coolness inside. There is no need to go back to zero temperature in making the RV cold if the AC is left open the whole day.

Provide Enough Power to your AC

RV air conditioner cannot run on battery power alone. It requires a lot of electricity to start up and maintain it running for hours. 

You’ll need a generator as your power source. To have the AC operate at its maximum cooling capacity, you need at least 110-120 volts of power source going to the AC.  Keep note as well of your RV’s electrical current needs: 4000 watts for one air conditioner, 5500 watts for two air conditioners, and a plug of about 30 to 50 amperes. 

You can use a solar panel as support if you want to use a battery as the primary power source for AC, but it doesn’t guarantee a long time of use.

Reduce RV Heat: Keep Your Air Conditioner at Top Performance

Reducing the heat accumulating inside the rig is one way to help the air conditioner do its job. Reducing the heat inside your RV helps the air conditioner perform at its best. Here are some tips to decrease heat in the RV.

Plan Ahead: Choose a Shaded Parking Space

Even on a summer trip, you’ll still want a place cool enough to stay. Choosing a shaded parking space keeps the environment of the RV cold and less exposed to sunlight. 

There are different available applications you can download to find a campground with shade to protect your RV. AllStays Camp & RV list up to 32,000 U.S and Canadian campgrounds to help you with your parking search. Another excellent application is the RV Parks and Campgrounds, which is 100% free and lists 32,000 U.S and Canadian campgrounds. Lastly is the FreeRoam application, which displays free campgrounds with reviews from fellow RVers.

Choose a space surrounded by trees to add a cooling breeze during the summer. Keeping the RV environment cool lessens the heat inside. Use window and patio awnings to keep sunlight, meaning heat, from entering the RV. Lastly, park your RV avoiding the west side and away from the afternoon sun to decrease direct exposure to sunlight.

Use Reflectix as Additional Heat Insulation

Image Source: “Laura Mugridge and her VW campervan ‘Joni’ park-up outside The Lowry for two days” by The Lowry, Salford is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Reflectix or reflective insulation reflects 97% of radiant heat. It reflects the sun’s heat and the heat away from the RV helping the air conditioner maintain the coolness inside. Reflectix is commonly placed in windows, doors, and windshields where sunlight can pass through.

Keeps Doors Closed to Concentrate the Cold Air in One Area

Close the door and windows, so air flows in just one area. A closed space maximizes the AC’s cooling capacity making the RV cooler. It prevents hot air from the outside from entering. Close blinds and curtains and seal any opening in the RV. The shower skylight is also a source of heat, so you should cover it too.

Limit the Use of Heat Generating Appliances

Incandescent lights, cooking appliances, and vacuum cleaners can add heat to the RV. That is why limiting the use of those will benefit your AC more. 

Replace incandescent lights with an LED light. LEDs are ten times cooler than incandescent light, require less energy, and produce less heat. 

Cooking inside the RV contributes so much heat and smell lingering in your rig, so outside cooking would be beneficial. Preparing pre-cooked or instant meals is advisable if you do not prefer to cook outside.

Cleaning fridge vents make sure that hot air from the fridge is directed outside the RV. Dust, dirt, and debris in the vent will block air, making the heat stay inside the rig.

Open Roof Vents to Expel Hot Air

It is wise to open the roof vents before turning the AC on. This method is used when the temperature inside the RV is hotter than the surrounding. Roof vents help provide good air circulation inside the rig. It pushes stale air outside and brings fresh air inside, so opening them will lower the RV’s temperature before turning the AC on. It also keeps smell and odor out of the rig.

Improve Airflow by Adding Fans Inside the RV

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Improve airflow by adding fans inside the rig. Adding portable fans help distribute cold air. Place them at different parts of your RV where you usually stay. Ceiling fans are also helpful in improving airflow. They are strategically placed over the burner to help dissipate heat.

A swamp cooler, also known as an evaporative cooler, is an additional device you can use to help the air conditioner. It uses the evaporation of water to cool air. The fan blows through a wet pad creating a cooling effect in the RV.


Air conditioners, just like any appliances, need to be taken care of for them to function well. An aircon can only do so much to cool your RV, but tips and tricks, as mentioned here, help it work more efficiently. Knowing these will support you enjoy your summer and prevent you from being fried in the heat inside your RV. Follow these simple tips and see for yourself. 


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