RV Hacks for Keeping Your Camper Cool
Handle the heat that comes with summer camping by implementing these cool strategies.
RVing is a lot less fun when you can’t get comfortable. As the weather warms up, it pays to have a few RV hacks for keeping your camper cool in your back pocket. These hacks go further than just beefing up your air conditioning unit, too. Some of them are quite simple and others will require a slightly larger investment in time and money. Use the hacks that make the most sense for you to make RV living more comfortable in hot climates this year.
Choose Sites Wisely
The more you can avoid your RV sitting in direct sunlight, the cooler it will stay. When you arrive at a campground, most hosts will allow you to take a lap through the park to get a better sense of the layout.
Ideally, look for sites that are going to be mostly shaded throughout the day. If you can’t find a fully shaded site, calculate the angle of the sun’s arc to find a site that will have shade in the afternoon. This will help you avoid having your RV sit in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day.
Most campgrounds require advance reservations these days. Even if you already have a particular site booked, however, there’s no harm in asking the host if it is possible to change sites.
Also, many campgrounds are starting to offer virtual tours. These tours are a great tool for identifying shaded sites before you make a reservation.
Add Window Insulation
Most of us think of insulation for the purposes of keeping our RVs warm. But proper insulation is effective at minimizing heat transfer, in general. While completely overhauling the insulation in the walls of your RV is a massive project, adding window insulation is a manageable hack.
For the front windows, adding insulated sun shields will keep direct sunlight from baking the dash. Sun shields also have the added benefit of acting as a privacy screen for those large front windows in Class A RVs. Plus, they will reduce UV degradation of the finish on your RV’s dash.
The rear and side windows can require a bit more creativity because it is harder to find pre-made insulation squares for these windows. Thankfully, it’s not hard to make your own. Using a roll of reflective foil insulation, cut squares or rectangles to the outside dimensions of your windows.
From there, you have options on how you keep them in place. If your RV’s windows have metal framing, you can use magnets to temporarily hold insulation sheets in place. If not, you may have to use something like two-sided Velcro tape.
Set Up an Outdoor Kitchen
Fortunately, some of the nicer RVs and fifth wheel trailers come equipped with outdoor kitchens. If you have one, this step will be easy. For the rest of us, it isn’t too hard to get a propane cooktop that will allow us to cook outside during the heat of the summer.
As you probably already know, the heat produced by your gas range or oven can heat up your RV quickly. Instead of cranking the air conditioner up while you’re cooking to combat that heat, just move the majority of your cooking efforts outside.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still do most of the prep work from the comfort of your RV’s indoor kitchen. Just relocate the actual heat sources outside so that your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard to keep your camper cool.
Capture Cool Night Air
Where I grew up, it’s rare to find a home with air conditioning. Our problems are more related to staying warm in the winter. Still, when it warms up in the summer, air conditioning simply isn’t an option.
Fortunately, we have relatively cool nights even when the days are in the upper 80s and low 90s. So, we open all of the windows at night to allow cool air to seep into our homes. With a few fans on to promote air circulation, this cools things down surprisingly quickly and you can use the same strategy for your RV.
Open up the windows a little bit before sunset as the temperatures start to drop. Turn on your ceiling fan (or fans) and leave the windows open overnight. Then (and this is the key), close everything up and draw your shades when you wake up in the morning.
If you made a few of those window reflectors we mentioned above, this is a great time to put them up as well. Now you will have trapped as much cool air in as possible and your RV will stay cooler during the day.
Invest in an Extra Portable Fan (or Two)
Just getting the air inside your RV to circulate more can have a surprising effect on your comfort. While most RVs have ceiling fans or fan options built into their air conditioning units, you may consider investing in an extra portable fan for the hottest months of the year.
These can be positioned at locations where your current fans don’t do so well when it comes to air circulation. If you are frequently plugged into shore power, you can get a portable fan that plugs into a wall outlet. For boondocking or off-grid camping, you will be better served with a battery-powered or rechargeable fan.
Service Your Air Conditioner(s) Regularly
Like any RV appliance, your A/C units should be regularly inspected and serviced. The frequency with which you need to do this will depend on your level of use, but a full inspection on an annual basis is recommended (at a minimum).
If you haven’t changed the filter in your air conditioning unit in quite some time, it probably isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Cleaning and replacing air conditioning filters is the best way to aid your units in their mission to keep your camper cool.
Switch to LED Bulbs
LEDs emit a fraction of the heat of traditional light bulbs. Switching a single bulb out might not be noticeable, but swapping all the old bulbs in your RV out for LEDs can have a noticeable effect on the temperature inside your rig.
Keep Extra Hand Towels…On Hand
Okay, this last tip might not actually make your camper cooler, but it can make you more comfortable when you’ve tried everything else and the temperature inside your rig is still unbearable. Wet a few hand towels and place them on your forehead and on the back of your neck.
If the water coming out of the tap in your RV is even too warm, dip the towels in your ice chest before placing them on your body. They might not lower the actual temperature inside your RV, but they can bring you sweet relief when you need it most.
Utilize these hacks for keeping your camper cool this summer and you won’t have to sweat a thing.