Do tent trailers come with air conditioning ?

Do tent trailers come with air conditioning ?

Rving can be fun provided you get amenities that makes life easy. Air conditioning in RV is very important and with temperature during summer rising like anything its more and more important.

Most bigger RV’s like travel trailer, fifth wheels, class c,even class B are equipped with air conditioners (don’t even ask about class A, they are luxury on road). So, you have this thought of getting a pop up camper as your first RV. After seeing the price you almost finalized that you want to RV like a pro in tent trailer. But, now you are wondering about what all things it would have and can have. So, do pop up tent trailers have AC and if not can you get one installed? Lets find out.

Pop up campers or tent trailer generally don’t come equipped with air conditioning or heating. Having said this, you will also find tent trailer that do come with air conditioning. The reason why they don’t have air conditioning is because they are not best in insulation.

A canvas or vinyl pop up may not be great in terms of insulation and thus air conditioning may not work great. Another reason why an AC’s are not present inside them is because they are smaller and compact. Not having a good Air conditioning or heating is also one of the reason why people don’t buy pop up camper.

But, don’t be sad. You can always get an air conditioning installed on them. There are multiple ways of getting them mounted and a roof top air conditioner can also be mounted. In this post lets see how one can get an air conditioner installed on pop up campers, various types of AC’s for tent trailers and also other tips to keep the pop up tent trailer cooler. So, whether you are about to buy a used pop up camper or a new one, make sure you plan for a AC if its not there already.

What type of ac to get for your tent trailer

Air conditioning is definitely one of the top pop up camper necessities. For a RV or a pop up camper you can install any of the three types of air conditioners.

  1. Window air conditioner
  2. Portable air conditioner
  3. Roof top air conditioner

In most RV’s or motorhomes roof top air conditioner is a best choice and is also preferred by many. Most RV’s infact come equipped with roof top air conditioners only. Since a pop up or a tent trailer may not have an AC installed you get to choose what type of AC will best suite inside.

Pop up campers are smaller in size and they are also not hard sided and therefore roof top may not be an idle one to go. Anyways, it depends on how you get all the installation done by making arrangements on the pop up camper.

You can have any of these types installed but be sure to understand what pros and cons each of these types have. So lets deep dive into understanding each type and their pros/cons.

Portable Air conditioner

A portable air conditioner is stand alone appliance that can be placed anywhere in the pop up but it needs a vent that should run outside through a window. They resemble like a longer dehumidifier and are generally on wheels. Earlier it used to give lesser BTU’s but with advances in manufacturing you now can get a BTU as high as 13500. Many people get such AC’s for their small pop up campers as it needs minimum arrangements.

Pros :

  1. They are compact and smaller in size.
  2. Portable AC can be placed anywhere inside the RV with little bit of setup due to vents (vents results in a disadvantage but practically you can place it anywhere, hence mentioned it as an advantage)
  3. They are cost effective solution for air conditioning. You can get them in less than $150.
  4. Such portable AC’s can be used for other purposes like at home or in other RV as well.
  5. You can move them easily since they are lightweight and will also have wheels to support.

Cons :

  1. They need to be placed near a window since there will be vents running. But with little efforts and setup you can get rid of this disadvantage. Also its better to have a particular place for the AC rather than changing it again and again. A smaller pop up camper may mean you will always keep it at a particular place anyways.
  2. They may not be great in terms of energy consumption. With pop up camper you may not have great electric sources specially when boondocking.
  3. Portable air conditioners can produce noise that can be very annoying in your small pop up camper.
  4. An already compact pop up camper space will be occupied by a portable AC even though it will be compact. A roof top or window air conditioner are good space savers.

Window AC’s

Another option that’s available for you is to install window air conditioning for your tent trailer. This type of air conditioning is not much popular as it comes with its own disadvantages. Roof top remains one of the most used and popular option. lets check out the pros and cons of window installed AC’s in case of pop up campers.

Pros :

  1. Installing them may not be a real challenge. Even though it needs to be done every time you are ready to camp.
  2. They are less costly.
  3. They are mounted on the window and will be placed outside of the camper, there by saving space unlike portable on wheel AC’s
  4. Since they will be placed outside of the camper, you wont get to hear much of the noise. They do produce noise but it will be kept outside of the camper.

Cons :

  1. Window installed air conditioners are less powerful as compared to roof top. But, they may still be better than portable in terms of capacity. Problem is when you get a higher capacity AC, the weight will be more and installing them on windows may then be an issue with more weight.
  2. Even though we say it will be installed, it wont be permanent fixture. You need to get it installed every time you are out to camp. And while you are traveling it has to be uninstalled. A pop up camper when traveling will be without roof and hence the setup.

Rooftop Air conditioners

Rooftop AC are the most popular types in case of all RV types. Getting a rooftop air conditioner however may need additional support for your pop up camper roof. For other hard sided RV’s or motorhome, roof top is an easy to go solution.

Its a single time effort for installation and you don’t have to do anything apart from regular maintenance. A less costly pop up camper would normally need a less costly AC but roof top AC will be more costly and therefore you need to decide on the type. Even though it may come at higher cost, it has lots of other pros. Lets check out all the pros and cons of rooftop air conditioner for pop up tent trailers.

Pros :

  1. They can give you awesome cooling. Roof top air conditioner are positioned great and are also capable in cooling larger area.
  2. Roof top air conditioners come with higher capacity.
  3. They will not produce much noise. Also, they are mounted on top and the noise if any will be outside the RV.
  4. Your space is saved unlike portable AC’s.
  5. They are easy to maintain and once installed you wouldn’t need them to remove or uninstalled.

Cons :

  1. Roof top air conditioners are costly. And for a very less costly pop up camper you really need to think whether that’s a good option or not.
  2. A pop up camper roof need to have good support to get such an AC installed.
  3. Installation of such AC’s need to be done professionally. And thus, adding to the installation cost as well.
  4. Repairing or maintaining such AC will need extra effort since they will be little tough to access or uninstalled.
  5. Even though they may be good in terms of efficiency, the overall consumption of such high capacity AC will be more for a smaller pop up camper.

Getting the AC installed

The portable AC can be easy to use as it will need very little set up. A window mounted will need more efforts though. But, if you are planning to get a roof top air conditioner then be sure to get installed from a professional. A professional would follow below steps to get the AC installed in your tent trailer.

  • Deciding on location that seems good and without any wires or lights
  • Measure the area as per the size of the AC. Identify location for fixing the AC using screws, nuts and bolts
  • Drill holes as per markings
  • Get the ac installed using the nuts
  • Seal any holes and areas that are affected due to drilling and nuts.

Size of the AC

Getting right sized AC is something that a lot of people go wrong at. Its mostly dependent on the area of the space that you want to cool. For your smaller pop up camper RV however the insulation may not be great, its going to be canvas or vinyl.

The overall insulation capability being weak, you may thus need slightly higher capacity AC then what would normally suffice that much area. Lets check out normal requirements accordingly to square feet area. Air conditioner capacity is measured in BTU (British thermal units)

150 Sq feet : approximately 5000 BTU
250 sq feet : approximately 6000 BTU
300 sq feet : approximately 7500 BTU
350 sq feet : approximately 8000 BTU
400 sq feet : approximately 9000 BTU

When going for a big BTU AC you also need to understand the power requirements. With pop up camper most people do boondocking and when you don’t have electrical hookup the only source is the generator.

Watts and Generator : With generator you need to do proper calculation of watts else you may end up over-utilizing the watts. On an average a 5000 BTU AC would consume around 1100 to 1300 watts. A 7000 BTU and the AC would need around 1600 watts. Whatever the BTU you choose for your tent trailer make sure you have the power/watts requirements properly calculated.

Also starting watts requirements of AC are higher than normal running, and thus getting that right watts generator is important. Hence don’t just go as per sq feet area but take into consideration all the factors as well.

Some tips to keep the pop up cool

Getting an air conditioner on pop up camper is easy but at times you may not be able to get it added. And that could be due to various reasons like pop up being too old, it being very small. You may not be able to add AC because the pop up ten trailer was not good enough to get it installed.

Whatever the reason could be, you can always try below tips to keep it cool. And even if you have an AC installed, you can still follow these tips to make the pop up cooler overall. Remember the tent trailer is not great in terms of insulation and an AC will need extra efforts to keep it cooler.

  1. Make sure the pop up camper is parked in shade. A hot shinning sun will make it double hot and even with AC its going to be hard.
  2. Using a portable fan can be a great idea too. Even with AC running such a fan will help a lot. And if you are on low watts source then using such a fan instead of AC can save on watts.
  3. Make sure the installed AC is well maintained. This will not only give you cooler air but also save on watts. Cleaning AC filter regularly can help a lot.
  4. Park the pop up camper at good leveled parking area. Make sure its not only under the shade but also leveled. A not so leveled RV can lead to issues in electric appliances.
  5. Makes sure the pop up camper is well insulated. A leaking air inside the pop up will lead to AC not performing well.


RVing in pop up camper is always great if you want to do it in budget. First time pop up camping will teach you lots of things and not having an AC inside will make you get one as soon as possible. Many people can try to live without such amenities but getting some of these important appliances inside is always important if you don’t want to compromise.

An air conditioner for pop up camper would cost you lesser than $500. Doing the installation on own however may not be a great idea though, hence take help from a professional as you don’t want to damage the pop up canvas.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
Close Menu