17 tips to keep RV cool without air conditioner in summer

17 tips to keep RV cool without air conditioner in summer

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Summer are meant for enjoying RV camping. A lot of people head out with their motorhomes or travel trailer for camping. Summer can however be very hot and thus spoil your camping.

Having an air conditioner in your RV is thus a must. But, not all RVs come equipped with AC. Bigger RV’s like class A motorhome or class C RV or even fifth wheel will be most often equipped with air conditioners.

Old RV’s or smaller trailer, or pop up camper do not come equipped with AC all the times. And that’s when this question comes to your mind, “how to cool down your RV or travel trailer”.

In this article, I have put down 17 practical tips to keep a RV cool when you don’t have an air conditioner installed. These can also be used when you want to restrict the air-conditioner usage in your RV.

1. Cover or insulate the RV windows

covering rv window
covering rv window

Windows can provide good ventilation but at the same time can bring in a lot of heat. Even when they are double panned or slightly tilted they can heat up very fast.

If the sun is shining bright then keeping the windows open or without any insulation will only increase the heat. Thus, make sure you either insulate them or pull them down fully.

One can use a bubbled insulation called as reflextix or any other insulation that can do this job. Doing either of these will definately reduce the heat penetration into your RV or travel trailer.

2. Park RV in shade

Do not underestimate the power of shade. Parking your RV directly under the sun can lead to heating of your RV specially when you don’t have that AC installed.

park rv in shade
park rv in shade

When you are inside your RV on a sunny day, it can lead to excessive temperature. Especially while you are boondocking make sure you park the RV under the shade of a tree. Or, even when you in a RV park get a slot that gives your RV good shade.

Orientation of the RV while parking is also critical. Keeping the RV windows or door facing direction with air flow can be helpful.

This tip is definately the best way to keep the heat out of the RV.

3. Extend the RV awnings

using rv awning
using rv awning

RV awning can provide you with extra space. They provide with a patio area that can enhance your RVing experience.

When the sun is hitting hard it can really get hot inside due to roof heating. That’s when you can take benefit from your awnings. Awning are designed to provide you shade and an area that will be extended part for your RV.

There are lots of ideas and products that can make the awning area like an extended room. Accessories that can cover the awning area to provide a rv room like feel.

However, not all RV’s come equipped with an awning. In such cases what you can do is, get a canoy. Or you can also make use of a tarp and a pole to make a shade.

4. Switch to LED lights

Normally RV’s come equipped with bulbs or halogen lamps that can produce a lot of heat. This usually goes unnoticed.

But, in reality this can be a source of heat that can increase the overall RV temperature. Specially when the lights are ON for a longer duration of time it can really make the difference.

One best way to get rid of this heat is to switch to LED lights which are efficient and produce a very less heat. If your RV originally came equipped with LED lights then obviously don’t need any action.

5. Avoid cooking inside the RV

avoid cooking inside rv
avoid cooking inside rv

This is something that can produce a lot of heat. Cooking all your meals inside the RV will heat the RV. A good thing to do is to cook outside whenever possible.

A grill or camping stove is all you need. Also, making such arrangements can be exciting too.

I myself love grill barbecues and eating outside whenever possible. With gas stove burning, the vapor and heat can get trapped.

Also if you cannot cook outside, make sure you have the exhaust fan running and vents for escape. While in RV park you can make use of their cooking amenities too.

Smaller RV’s like pop up camper or tent trailer or even truck campers do not include big kitchen areas and thus with them you can try cooking outside.

6. Do not take extended hot showers

Hot showers just like cooking, can increase the RV temperature. On top of that if your bathroom does not have vents then it can get worse. Make sure you limit the shower use while the outside temperature is soaring. By the way, did know how much water does a shower use in your RV. It is amazing how much you can save water if you are aware of this, read this article to find out.

You can also make use of RV park showers in case you are camping in the park. This is a small thing to do and many of us ignore it. But, the fact is, it can really make it hot. Remember you have to live inside the RV whole day and night.

7. Make use of tarp

Boondockign or dry camping means you will not have access to amenities and facilities the RV park provides. You can carry a tarp while boondocking and make use of it to create shade using a tree or the RV itself. This is useful when you don’t have awning to your RV.

8. Use RV roof vent

Roof vents can be helpful in throwing out heated air quickly. With so many things running inside the RV, this kind of ventilation is much needed. A refrigerator running inside the RV itself can produce a lot of heat.

You don’t really realize it but a refrigerator does produce heat that has to escape somehow. Even other appliances, lights, cooking can produce a lot of heat and for that you need vents and exhaust fan.

9. Make sure shower skylight is covered

A shower skylight can bring in sunlight and increase the air temperature. A good idea is to insulate it using a refletix or other insulation product.

10. Cover the RV but get proper ventilation

In a lot of points above I have said that we should cover the windows or door. But, its important to make sure the hot air inside does not get trapped and moves out easily. For this you would obviously need some ventilation.

So, a good thing to do in this case is to slightly keep the windows on the shade side opened or use RV vents that allow the hot air to pass outside. You need to implement the ventilation in a tricky way if hot air is getting generated inside.

Even while driving, the RV can get heated. So, make sure you keep proper ventilation while driving as well.

11. Do not keep the RV door open for too long

RV door if facing sun can bring in a lot of hot air. Keeping the door closed can therefore make things better. A good idea, as I already discussed is to orient the RV such that door isn’t facing the sunlight and is in the shade.

Unlike winter or spring, summer RVing gives you difficulties that may not seem harsh but can spoil RV camping experience.

Winter too has its own difficulties but most of the times you stay prepared for it. And thats why knowing these small-small tips can help a lot.

12. Limit electronic appliances usage

Electronic appliances when running obviously produce heat and a longer duration of usage will cause the RV air to heat up.

A bigger appliance consuming more watts is going to produce lots of heat. Thus, make sure you limit the electronic usage as far as possible. In summer, even the heat generated by such appliances can make things worse, so be sure you pay special attention to this.

13. Park RV for good air flow

Orientaion of RV should not only be to get shade but also to get good air. Air flow will not necessarily be in the direction of shade. And thus, make sure to understand how the air is flowing.

A fast-moving air can make things cooler. Therefore judge if the air flow can make it cooler and based on this place the RV windows or door facing the air flow. This can sometimes work opposite as well, so make sure it will not work opposite and heat the RV.

14. Keep yourself hydrated

All points here in are directly related to “how you can cool down your RV”. But, all this is to make sure we are comfortable and dont feel the heat inside the RV. And to answer that, keeping ourself hydrated can do wonders.

With proper hydration you will be able to camp comfortably even if the temperature inside the RV is little higher. So, keep yourself hydrated and drink lots of water in summer.

One can also enjoy the outdoors like taking a bath in river or swimming in a swimming pool of the rv park. Staying inside RV all the time with high temperatures and no air conditioner can become difficult. So, head outside and enjoy the nature to cool yourself.

15. Camp in less humid and less hot regions

rv camp in less humid regions
rv camp in less humid regions

A hot temeprature and high humidity can spoil your camping. A good thing to do in first place is to choose a less hot and less humid region for camping. By doing this you will do a great favour for yourself and you may not even need to take care of most of the above tips.

Choosing right RV camping destination is much critical. Its not only about amenities or site seeing but also about weather, temperature in the area.

So, be sure you choose a region that isnt high temperature. Hot regions like desert can see extreme heat. Thus, you can avoid such high temperature regions.

16. Keep air flowing using portable fan

If you do not have AC in your RV then you can make use of a portable table fan. Moving air will cool and make things better. A small portable fan can come at very less cost and shouldn’t be burden in-terms of weights as well as the watts requirement won’t be high as well. You can get a one that you use at home as well.

17. Make your own home made air conditioner

So, what if you don’t have an air conditioner that runs on electricity. You can make a system that works like an air conditioner. This obviously will not be as effective as a real air conditioner but will definately give relief.

For this you will need ice cubes, a portable fan. The idea is to blow air on the cold ice and make the reflecting air cooler. There will be lots of similar ideas out there that can help you with cooling the air using ice.


Going through all of these 17 points, what we have seen is as below,

  1. Keep the air flowing as far as possible.
  2. Do not produce heat inside the RV. This can happen due to cooking, electronics appliances.
  3. Do not allow hot air to come inside the RV
  4. Push any hot air outside of the RV
  5. Keep RV in shade as far as possible

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.
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