Camping Air Conditioners That’ll Actually Keep You Cool

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A woman opens the window on her RV on a hot sunny day in the desert

Do you need a camping air conditioner? Summertime beckons RVers with promises of stunning outdoor landscapes, exciting family adventures, and relaxing meals. But no one mentions the slap of hot air you experience in the rig when it comes time to settle indoors. 

Your RV air conditioner just can’t keep up with those South Florida summer temperatures. You don’t want to feel like you have to sleep in an oven, but what can you do?

It might be time to add a camping air conditioner to your rig to bring back the enjoyment of summer camping.

What Is a Camping Air Conditioner?

A camping air conditioner is a mobile unit perfect for cooling down an RV. These portable units cool the air in one room and don’t have to be stationary. Most sit on the floor and have wheels for mobility, making them much more flexible than a window unit. 

A camping air conditioner usually comes with an easy installation kit, as they need ventilation to push moisture and warm air out of the RV. But their most beneficial feature is that you can move them wherever the cool air is most needed.

What Is the Best Air Conditioner for Camping? 

If your RV needs cooling and the built-in unit can’t keep up, a portable air conditioner may work best. Many of the ones touted for camping act more like glorified swamp coolers, requiring you to fill them with water. You can power some of these ‘evaporative coolers’ with batteries, meaning your comfort can only last for up to five hours. 

So invest in a true air conditioner with refrigerant, and check out the BTU rating. It should have a BTU of 4,000 or above. You can use it when hooked to shore power or with a generator.

And you can plug it into an inverter if dry camping. Just remember that the camping air conditioner will use approximately 1,000W of power.

Pro Tip: Find out who makes the best RV air conditioner.

Can You Use an Air Conditioner in a Tent? 

Camping in a tent makes keeping cool on hot summer days (and nights) challenging. But with the right portable camping air conditioner, you can take that temperature down quite a bit. 

In the case of tent camping, an evaporative cooler might suit your needs well, especially if you don’t have access to power (AC or DC). Battery-operated units need water to issue cool air into your tent but don’t require ventilation.

On the other hand, tenters with shore power can make good use of portable camping air conditioners like RVers. These appliances will provide you with cold air. However, you need to ventilate it outside.

Some tents even have an air conditioner ‘flap,’ giving you the option to install a window air conditioning unit. You will need to prop it up off the ground on a small table outside the tent. It’s not easily portable, but campers will benefit from its powerful flow of cold air.

Camping Air Conditioners That’ll Actually Keep You Cool

If your RV or tent becomes stuffy and hot when temperatures rise, consider adding a camping air conditioner to your essential equipment.

Here are a few that we like because of their ease of operation and dependability:

1. Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control

BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner up to 350 Sq.Ft.with Remote Control, White
  • Portable AC: Use this personal air conditioner (15.3” x 14” x 24.8”) in rooms up to 350 sq. ft. Stay cool in the...
  • 3-in-1: Our 4,100 BTU DOE (8000 BTU ASHRAE 128) air conditioner also functions as a dehumidifier & fan. This portable...

The Black and Decker Portable Air Conditioner has 4,000 BTUs and a handy remote control. It can cool up to 150 sq ft. Additionally, it has three settings and can cool rooms to 65 degrees.

It measures only 26” tall. This appliance comes with its own window kit for easy and quick setup.

2. Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Whynter Portable Air Conditioner 14,000 BTU with Dual Hose Dehumidifier & Cooling Fan for 500 Sq Ft Rooms, Includes AC Unit Window Kit, ARC-14S (9,500 BTU SACC)
  • Award-Winning Portable AC Unit: Awarded Good Housekeeping's 2024 "BEST OVERALL PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER," this powerful...
  • Powerful Yet Quiet: The ideal AC unit for bedrooms, this 14,000 BTU indoor air conditioner operates at 51 dBA at low...

The Whynter air conditioner, with 12,000 BTUs, has dual hoses, making this unit more energy-efficient than others. One hose brings in hot air to be ‘conditioned.’

The other gets rid of moisture and residual hot air, sending it back outside. The manufacturer has included a complete window kit for both hoses.

Learn more about single versus dual hose portable air conditioners so you can pick the right one for your next camping adventure.

3. 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner with Built-in Dehumidifier

SereneLife Small Air Conditioner Portable 10,000 BTU with Built-in Dehumidifier - Portable AC unit for rooms up to 450 sq ft - Remote Control, Window Mount Exhaust Kit
  • COOLING: The SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner is perfect for cooling your rooms up to 450 sq ft. with ease, and you...
  • 3-in-1 FUNCTIONS: Our 8,000 BTU compact Portable AC unit features a simple electric plug-in operation and 3 modes -...

SereneLife has created a camping air conditioner that can also act as a dehumidifier or a heater. You can run it with a remote control.

It has a rating of 11,000 BTUs to cool 270 sq ft, and it comes with a complete window installation kit. However, if using the unit as a heater, you will need to empty the internal tank frequently.

Pro Tip: Check out our list of 20 things every camper should own.

4. Shinco Portable Air Conditioner with Built-in Dehumidifier

Shinco 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, AC Unit with Built-in Cool, Dehumidifier & Fan Modes for Room up to 200 sq.ft, Conditioner Remote Control, 24 Hour Timer, Installation Kit
  • 【OUTSTANDING COOLING ABILITY】- Shinco powerful ac unit owns a cooling capacity of 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) / 4,550...
  • 【3-in-1 FUNCTION】- This portable ac unit is designed with a 3-in-1 function that allows you to choose between cool,...

This Shinco product has a BTU rating of 8,000 and cools up to 200 sq ft of space. It comes with a remote control and a window exhaust kit.

You can get it set up and running in no time. This camping air conditioner costs $295 and also has a dehumidifying mode.

5. TOSOT Portable Air Conditioner With Remote Control

TOSOT 10,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 6,000 BTU (DOE) Portable Air Conditioner - Quiet, Remote Control, Built-in Dehumidifier, Fan, Easy Window Installation Kit- Cool Rooms Up to 400 Square Feet
  • Powerful Cooling: Cool spaces up to 400 square feet with an ASHRAE-rated 10,000 BTUs of cool air (6,000 BTU 2017 DOE...
  • 1 Product, 3 Uses: This is not only a Portable AC but also a fan and dehumidifier capable of removing 2.5...

TOSOT’s portable air conditioner includes a window installation kit and remote control. As one of the larger units on our list, this appliance can cool up to 400 sq ft or act as a dehumidifier.

Is There a 12V Air Conditioner? 

Most 12V portable camping air conditioners are swamp coolers, as they do not have refrigerants. These units require water to cool the air, so they don’t work as well as a 120V air conditioner like those listed above.

However, if you consider replacing a factory-installed RV air conditioner, you can find a few new 12V models on the market that will run off your rig’s batteries. These include ones made by Coleman and Dometic that have just recently hit the market.

Stay Cool This Camping Season

You can cool off many ways during the camping season. From a good swim in the lake at your campsite to enjoying a dish of ice cream after dinner, you will get a reprieve from the heat. 

But to make your RV comfortable enough for indoor enjoyment and pleasant sleeping, you may need to invest in a camping air conditioner. It can help your overworked factory-installed AC unit beat the heat and bring back the fun of summer camping no matter where you go.

Last update on 2024-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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