How to RV Anywhere Without Air Conditioning

RVing without air conditioning isn't the end of the world

RV air conditioning
••• RVing without AC may not be as bad as you think. Marius Hepp/EyeEm/Getty Images

​Some could argue that air conditioning is one of our greatest inventions. Stuffy, hot, and humid rooms that were once unbearable are now places that are pleasant to work in. There’s no question that air conditioning in RVs is a valuable resource, those metal boxes can heat up quickly in the sun. When you also consider that desert areas are popular places to take you RV, air conditioning is important.

Unfortunately, like anything else air conditioners break down and or you may not even own one on your ride. So what can you do to keep cool? Here’s how to keep an RV cool without air conditioning.

What to Do When RVing Without Air Conditioning

Let the Air Flow 

You’ve probably thought about opening windows but randomly opening windows can only do so much. The idea is to create a direction flow of air through the RV. Try to figure out which way the wind is blowing and open the corresponding windows to create a continuous flow of air. Even better if the windows on opposite sides are higher and lower as this will create suction on the air. 

Keep the Heat is Off

Avoid any activities inside the RV that can create extra heat. Try to avoid cooking of course but also try not to use appliances that will create their own heat such as dishwashers, clothes dryers, and others. That load of laundry can wait for the cooler night or morning.

If you’re staying at an RV park or campground, such as KOAs, that often have appliances to use, use them instead of your own to beat the heat.

Keep the Sun Out 

You can take a proactive stance and try to keep the heat off of your RV in the first place. This can include getting solar shields for your windows and windshield.

You can typically find window shields at any RV supply store or many auto parts stores. These shields will reflect solar heat rather than allowing the RV to absorb and store it. 

Awnings are another way to keep the heat out in the first place. Awnings are a great way to expand your patio area around the RV and they also protect a large chunk of your RV from the harsh sun. Either way, you look at, awnings are a pretty good investment to make for your RV. 

If your RV doesn’t have awnings, you can invest in a canopy if you have the storage space for it. Even a small canopy, or a makeshift one with a tarp and poles, can help keep you cool during a hot summer day.

Make Your Own RV Air Conditioning

You can actually construct an AC unit, or swamp cooler, to help keep the RV cool and not only is it easy, but you likely have all the materials on hand already.

Here’s what you need to create an RV swamp cooler:

  • A large Styrofoam cooler
  • Plastic cups
  • A knife
  • Ice bucket and ice
  • Standard fan

Here’s how to make an RV swamp cooler:

  • Cut a large circular hole on the cooler’s lid that the fan will be able to fit it onto. The fan should be able to rest on this hole without knocking the cooler over if you cooler is big enough you may be able to make this hole in the side. 
  • Punch three to four holes in the side of the cooler the size of your plastic cups. Cut out the bottom of your plastic cups and insert them into the holes to act as vents. 
  • Fill the cooler up with the coldest ice you can find (dry ice if you have access to it), you can put it in an ice bucket inside the cooler if you wish. 
  • Check to make sure all fits are tight and everything is properly sealed. 
  • Turn on the fan, point the cup vents in whatever direction you want. 
  • Enjoy your air conditioning!

No one likes feeling hot and sticky, even more so when you’re inside of an RV without air conditioning. Use these helpful tips to keep yourself cool when your air conditioning is on the fritz or when you find yourself in a sudden heat wave without a unit. Here’s to cool and comfortable travels no matter your destination.