How to RV Without Air Conditioning

RV air conditioning
RV air conditioning.

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Some 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 some of your favorite places to take your RV, air conditioning is essential in those climates.

Like anything else you rely on in life, air conditioners break down and or you may not even own one on your ride. What can you do to keep cool? Here’s how to keep an RV cool without air conditioning.

3 Things to Do to Keep It Cool When RVing Without Air Conditioning

Keep the Air Flowing

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

Pro Tip: Use fans, if possible, to force air out of your RV to help keep it cool if you have the windows open. All a fan does is circulate air, it doesn’t make you cooler, so put those fans to good use and let it suck out the warm air to cool you down.

Keep the Heat 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 generate their heat such as dishwashers, clothes dryers, and others. That load of laundry can wait for the colder 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.

Pro Tip: Grill meals outside to keep heat from getting trapped in your RV or trailer. Grilling food makes it taste better, and you’ll stay a bit cooler than being caught cooking in your rig.

Keep the Sun Out 

You can take a proactive stance and try to keep the heat off 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 allow the RV to absorb and store it. 

Awnings are another way to keep the heat out in the first place. Awnings are a fantastic 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. 

Pro Tip: 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 sizzling summer day.

Make Your Air Conditioning with an RV Swamp Cooler

You can 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:

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

Here’s how to make a basic 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 your 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 sealed correctly. 
  • Turn on the fan, point the cup vents in whatever direction you want. 

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.