As a travel expert living in a motorhome, I know how important it is to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home on wheels.
Summer is anticipated by everybody, and the prospect of long, warm days makes us all want to get out into the world and enjoy life.
When the weather outside begins to heat up, though, maintaining a comfortable climate in your campervan can be difficult.
While many high-end campers come with van air conditioning systems, there are a variety of other ways to keep your van cool.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of motorhome air conditioning, discussing the different types, their features, and how to choose the best one for your needs.
We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in!
What Are the Different Types of Motorhome Air Conditioning?
There are several types of motorhome air conditioning units available in the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Roof-mounted air conditioners: These are the most common type of motorhome air conditioning systems, installed on the roof of your campervan. A roof mounted air conditioning unit is efficient and reliable, but can increase the overall height of your vehicle.
- Window air conditioners: A portable air conditioner for motorhome use that fits into a window opening. These are more affordable and easy to install, but may not be as efficient as other options.
- Portable air conditioners: These units can be moved around your motorhome, allowing you to target specific areas that need cooling. However, they take up valuable space and need to be vented outside.
- Split air conditioners: These systems have an indoor unit and an outdoor unit, connected by a refrigerant line. They offer efficient cooling and are quieter than other options, but can be more expensive and require professional installation.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Motorhome Air Conditioner
When selecting a motorhome air conditioner, you’ll want to consider several factors to ensure you find the perfect fit for your needs.
- Cooling capacity: The cooling capacity of an air conditioner is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). Larger motorhomes will require a higher BTU rating to effectively cool the space.
- Energy efficiency: Look for air conditioners with a high energy efficiency rating, as they will consume less power and save you money on energy bills.
- Noise level: Some air conditioners can be quite noisy, which may be an issue if you’re a light sleeper or spend a lot of time inside your motorhome. Opt for units with lower decibel ratings.
- Size and weight: Consider the size and weight of the air conditioner, particularly if you have limited space or are concerned about the overall weight of your motorhome.
- Ease of installation and maintenance: Choose an air conditioner that is easy to install and maintain, ensuring you can keep your system running smoothly throughout your travels.
What Are the Best Air Conditioners for Caravans, Motorhomes and Campervans?
Truma roof-mounted air conditioning unit, turbo vents, and portable A/C units are all recommended by motorhome enthusiasts as the best air conditioners to keep you cool in your van throughout the summer months.
What Are Rooftop Air Conditioners?
Rooftop air conditioners are the best option to save space and cool your van by far.
Usually sold with your motorhome, these roof mounted units come built into your motor home or van’s system.
Able to draw quite a lot of cooling power, these air conditioning units can cool down your van in a matter of minutes while taking up limited interior space, since it is also mounted on the rooftop of your vehicle.
Keep in mind that roof mounted air conditioning is often positioned at the roof’s central skylight.
Some caravans, however, have a skylight in an unusual place by design, or the roof isn’t strong enough to support the load, making roof-mounted air conditioning units impractical. This will necessitate the search for a different A/C solution.
What Are Turbo Vents?
On normal, warm spring days in the UK, and sometimes even summer days, the temperature inside your motorhome can range to temperatures that can become uncomfortable.
As a result, rather than opting for a portable or built-in air conditioner, one may also consider a turbo vent.
While this option will not allow for a motorised cool airflow, it does allow for a more natural, less expensive option to cool your campervan.
Turbo vents feature a fan that rotates in both directions, allowing you to better manage the temperature of your van by drawing air out when cooking or allowing fresh air into the camper.
The knobs on the vent make it simple to modify these settings. The translucent aperture cowl of the vent also allows some light in.
Fiamma is the most popular turbo vent maker. Fiamma also makes awnings for caravans and motorhomes, as well as various camper and motorhome accessories.
Pros and Cons of Using Turbo Vents
- When comparing rooftop air conditioning equipment to turbo vents, turbo vents are unquestionably easier to handle and install. As a result, installing turbo vents is not only simple but also inexpensive and feasible.
- A turbo roof vent also has no electrical components because it is powered entirely by the wind. This eliminates the need for a certified electrician to come to your house and install the turbo vent on your motorhome.
- Turbo vents also have the benefit of being very effective. If you’re camping in a high-wind region, these vents will perform an excellent job of removing any heated air from your motorhome.
- Turbo vents are visible on your campervans roof, but they don’t take up much space.
- Another advantage of turbo vents is that they are simple and inexpensive to use, especially when travelling. Turbo vents do not contribute to your electricity bill in the long term because they are entirely driven by wind. As a result, you will have sufficient roof ventilation throughout the day without having to worry about your electricity consumption.
- Since turbo vents rely heavily on the wind to function, they are only useful in high-wind environments. Winds are unreliable, which is a key flaw with this component. This implies that if you are camping in a location where there isn’t enough breeze, your campervans internal temperature could become hotter than you anticipated.
- The more the turbine roof vent is utilised, the faster it deteriorates. As a result, if you ignore the turbine for an extended period of time, it will begin to creak and moan.
- Although these roof vents are inexpensive to maintain, you must remember that they must be serviced on a regular basis. Turbo vents, like any other equipment with moving components, wear down over time, necessitating yearly repair.
Can You Use a Portable Air Conditioning unit in Your Motorhome?
Portable air conditioners can also be used effectively in a motorhome while travelling.
Portable air conditioning is a convenient and economical way to combat the heat while on the road. However, because each device has distinct features and settings, choosing the right portable air conditioner is crucial.
After all, you don’t want to buy a cheap portable air conditioner that has poor cooling power and can’t chill all of your motorhome’s rooms, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort by buying the wrong one.
The best portable air conditioner should keep your camper more comfortable by precisely directing cool air where you need it.
However, some portable air conditioner, on the other hand, can also act as a dehumidifier, which is a useful feature for travellers visiting humid areas.
Pros and Cons of Using a Portable Air Conditioners When Travelling in a Motorhome
- Portable air conditioners do not require installation. This implies you won’t need to hire an air conditioning contractor to set up your system. When you get to your location, simply unload your belongings, connect the electrical outlet, and turn on your air conditioner. This eliminates the need for a specialist to drill into your motorhome’s walls or roof to install the A/C system.
- The best thing about portable air conditioners is how easy they are to transport. As a result, you can keep it beside your bed at night and effortlessly move it to the living room the next day. As a result, these portable devices are ideal for travel. After all, you can put it anywhere you choose.
- Another benefit of portable air conditioners is that they can be hidden or stored when they are not in use. If you think your air conditioner is harming the appearance of your motorhome, just move it to a less apparent location.
- The first and most serious disadvantage of utilising portable air conditioning units is that these units can produce a lot of noise. Therefore, if you are easily annoyed by noise, they may not be the best option for you.
- Indoor condensation from portable air conditioners is collected in a drip tray. As a result, certain versions must be positioned near a window with a hose to allow moisture to escape. This restricts their placement options, and drip tray variants require regular emptying to prevent water from leaking onto the floor.
- A portable air conditioning system is sometimes more costly than a fixed air conditioner. However, because these units will not be exposed to the weather, they will last longer and provide a better return on investment.
- It’s also worth noting that, as compared to a roof mounted unit, portable air conditioning units take longer to chill an area.
Top 6 Best Air Conditioners for Caravans, Motorhomes and Campervans
Totalcool 3000 Portable Air-Cooling System
The TotalCool portable air-cooling system is a lightweight and effective portable unit which works great for a motorhome or campervan.
This is the air-con unit that we use in our own motorhome, and we have found it to be great so far in the hot weather.
Its dimensions are L 260mm x H 210mm x W 240mm and its weight is 2.0kg, so as you can see it is a perfect size and lightweight for carrying in your campervan or motorhome.
As you will know, space and weight saving are essential when you are travelling in a motorhome or camper.
It is Tri voltage 12v, 24v & AC mains power, has a built-in battery protection system with automatic cut off and also has 4 speed settings.
You can add normal tap water to the unit and what we really love about it is that you can add a few droplets of essential oils into the water which then blows out a nice scent around the van.
We use citronella oil which is said to deter fly’s and mosquitos which is great for van life in Summer.
MAXXAIR MaxxFan Deluxe Fan
One of the most popular and highly efficient top cooling solutions for motorhomes is the MAXXAIR MaxxFan Deluxe Fan. This high-performance fan not only provides excellent ventilation, but also offers a range of advanced features that make it a top choice for campervan enthusiasts. Let’s take a closer look at what this fan has to offer.
The MaxxFan Deluxe Fan boasts a powerful 10-speed intake and exhaust fan, allowing you to adjust the airflow to your preferred level. Whether you need a gentle breeze or a strong gust of cold air throughout, this fan has you covered. The 10-speed settings provide the flexibility needed to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your motorhome, regardless of the outside weather conditions.
With a built-in thermostat, the fan allows you to set and maintain your desired room temperature with ease. This feature helps ensure that your motorhome remains at a consistent temperature, preventing sudden fluctuations that can be uncomfortable and energy-inefficient.
Designed to fit all standard 14″ x 14″ roof openings, the MaxxFan Deluxe Fan is compatible with most motorhomes and campervans. This universal fit ensures easy installation, allowing you to upgrade your motorhome’s cooling system without any hassle.
The Truma Aventa RV Rooftop Air Conditioner
The Truma Aventa Compact Air Conditioner offers a lightweight rooftop air conditioner for your motorhome that generates a booming 2200 watts of cooling force.
Even with modest temperature variations between indoors and outdoors, the air is cleansed and dehumidified to guarantee a comfortable interior condition.
Overall, the aventa air conditioning system is a true all-rounder, since it is suitable for a wide range of applications, including pop-top roof caravans, large motorhomes, and even works efficiently as a caravan air conditioner.
You can also adapt this roof mounted air conditioner, to your existing roof aperture or add its exterior compact foot to your selected rooftop applications in the smallest amount of space.
The Truma aventa compact is a great choice for air conditioning in your motorhome, campervan or caravan.
The Fiamma Turbo Vent
The Fiamma Turbo Vent refreshes the air inside your car in seconds due to the 12V DC variable speed motor with 10 blades and a unique electrical circuit that allows for a hassle-free, quick change of rotation.
The Fiamma Turbo Vent, which comes equipped with Polar Control, controls the ingoing and outgoing air of the fan based on the inside temperature of your caravan or motorhome. Thus, in turn, saving you up to 50% on power.
The Dometic Brisk II Rooftop RV Air Conditioner
One of the best air conditioners to install in your motorhome is the Dometic Brisk II. This roof mounted air conditioner works just effectively as a ducted or ductless air conditioning system.
The lightweight and resilient build of the Dometic Brisk II makes it suitable for all types of road conditions. The Dometic air conditioner is also built to be as quiet and vibration-free as possible.
With a nominal capacity of 13,500 BTU/hour, the Dometic B57915 is an air-only type. It’s also worth noting that it’s Dometic’s smallest rooftop air conditioning unit.
Overall, when it comes to cooling a motorhome, the Dometic Brisk II will make a significant impact and keep you cool throughout your travels.
The Fiamma Turbo Kit 2009
The Fiamma Turbo Device is a one-of-a-kind ventilation kit that transforms the air distributor inside your roof light into a fan. It has a 24cm fan and two telescopic hangers that can be adjusted from 36 to 48cm.
This device is perfect for saving space because it can be quickly attached to the ceiling window of your camper van using two convenient brackets.
This makes it excellent for use in a variety of vehicles or if you plan on taking many vans on extended vacations.
This device is also one of the most adaptable on the list. Therefore, it is ideal if you don’t have access to a roof or if you don’t want to block the natural light that enters your trailer.
How to Maintain Your Motorhome Air Conditioning Units
Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of your motorhome air con unit. Here are some tips to keep yours in tip-top shape:
- Clean or replace air filters regularly to ensure proper airflow and prevent strain on the unit.
- Clean the condenser and evaporator coils to improve efficiency and prevent potential damage.
- Inspect and clean the fan blades, ensuring they are free of debris and functioning properly.
- Check the refrigerant levels and top up if necessary.
- Schedule regular professional maintenance and inspections to address any potential issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve gathered some frequently asked questions from Google’s “People also ask” section to help you in your quest for the perfect motorhome air conditioner.
How much does it cost to install air conditioning in a motorhome?
The cost of installing air conditioning in a motorhome can vary depending on the type of system you choose, the complexity of the installation, and whether you hire a professional or attempt a DIY installation. On average, you can expect to pay between £800 to £2,500 for a professionally installed air conditioning system.
Can you run a motorhome air conditioner while driving?
Yes, you can run your motorhome air conditioner while driving, but it may require the use of a generator or an inverter to power the unit if it is not designed to run on your vehicle’s electrical system. It’s essential to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure your motorhome’s electrical system can handle the additional load.
How long will a motorhome air conditioner last?
The lifespan of motorhome air con units depends on factors such as usage, maintenance, and the quality of the unit. On average, a well-maintained air conditioner can last between 10 to 15 years.
How do I know what size air conditioner I need for my motorhome?
To determine the appropriate size of the air conditioner for your motorhome, you’ll need to calculate the cooling capacity required, which is measured in BTUs. A general rule of thumb is to have 13,500 BTUs for every 200 square feet of living space. However, factors such as insulation, window size, and sun exposure should also be taken into account.
Do motorhome air conditioners also work as heaters?
Some motorhome air conditioners come with built-in heat pumps, which can be used to provide warm air to your motorhome during colder months. These units are typically more expensive than those without heating function but can be more energy-efficient than using a separate heating system.
Investing in the right motorhome air conditioner can significantly improve your comfort while travelling, and understanding the different types, features, and maintenance requirements will help you make an informed decision.
Don’t forget to consider factors such as cooling performance, capacity, energy efficiency, noise levels, and ease of installation when selecting the perfect unit for your needs.
With proper care and regular maintenance, your motorhome air conditioner will allow you to stay cool and comfortable on your adventures for many years to come. Cooler days are coming!
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! – https://pin.it/770Cq1Q
I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!