Matt Johnson

8 Tips To Keep Your RV Cool In Summer

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 3, 2023Updated: Dec 11, 2023

We’re willing to bet you’re excited to hit the road in your RV or travel trailer—the freedom, the open road, and the chance to explore new places—it’s all so exhilarating!

But if there’s one thing that can put a damper on your RVing experience, especially in the scorching summer months, it’s the heat. Trust us; we’ve been there. So how do you keep your RV cool in the summer?

No one wants to feel like they’re roasting inside their cozy home on wheels. Fortunately, we’ve got your back with tips to keep your RV cool when the mercury rises. So, grab a refreshing beverage, sit back, and we’ll show you how to beat the summer heat and make the most of your RVing adventures.

Understand your RV’s insulation and ventilation systems.

When it comes to keeping your RV cool in the scorching summer heat, understanding your RV’s insulation and ventilation systems is crucial.

These components are vital in maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your home on wheels.

Imagine you’re on a cross-country trip, driving through the arid desert of Arizona. The sun is beating relentlessly, and your RV’s temperature begins to rise. Understanding your RV’s insulation and ventilation systems allows you to make intelligent choices to beat the heat.

The insulation in your RV acts as a barrier, protecting the interior from external temperature extremes. If your RV is well-insulated, it will help keep the hot and cool air outside. Check for any gaps or cracks in the insulation and seal them with foam tape or caulk for maximum efficiency.

Your RV’s ventilation system is crucial in circulating air and preventing heat buildup. Open your windows and ceiling vents to allow cross ventilation, helping cool airflow throughout the living space. Additionally, some RVs come equipped with exhaust fans that can be invaluable in expelling hot air and bringing in fresh, cooler air from outside.

Understanding how your RV’s insulation and ventilation systems work together can create a cool oasis even on the hottest summer days.

So, take the time to familiarize yourself with these systems and make any necessary improvements to enhance their performance.

Tips for staying cool in your RV.

Now that you have an understanding of how your RV generally keeps cool on those sweltering days, we’re giving you some tips for keeping it cool.  We recommend using a few of these ideas together to make the most of your summer days.

1. Use window coverings and awnings to block out the sun.

During the hot summer months, one of the most effective ways to keep your RV cool is by using window coverings and awnings to block the sun. 

Last summer, we embarked on a road trip in our trusty RV across the country.

We were in a Heartland Gravity fifth wheel, which, for the most part, the AC does a decent job at keeping it cool. As we ventured into areas with scorching temperatures, we quickly realized that the sun’s rays could turn our RV into a sweltering sauna. Determined to find a solution, we invested in window coverings and awnings.

We found that attaching reflective window coverings to the inside of our RV windows significantly reduced the amount of heat that entered the vehicle. These coverings helped to block out the sun’s powerful rays, providing a much-needed shield from the heat.

Plus, they were easy to install and removable, allowing us to adjust them based on the intensity of the sunlight. We saw the interior temperature go from 86°F to 79°F with this simple fix.

In addition to window coverings, we also installed awnings outside our RV. These awnings provided shade over our windows, cooling the interior of the RV and preventing the sun from directly hitting the glass. We made sure to position our RV to maximize the shade provided by trees or nearby structures to further enhance the cooling effect.

Using window coverings and awnings helped us keep our RV cooler and protected our furniture and belongings from potential sun damage. Plus, they added an extra layer of privacy during our travels. 

2. Utilize fans and portable air conditioners for additional cooling.

One of the most effective ways to beat the summer heat in your RV is by utilizing fans and portable air conditioners. These handy devices can provide much-needed relief and help lower your vehicle’s temperature.

Think about it this way — it’s a scorching hot day, and you’re traveling in your RV. The sun’s rays are beaming through the windows, making the interior feel like an oven.

That’s when you decide to turn on your portable air conditioner. You can feel the immediate difference as soon as the cool air starts flowing. The oppressive heat is replaced by a refreshing breeze, revitalizing your space and providing a comfortable environment.

Fans are also an excellent option for additional cooling in your RV. Whether you opt for ceiling fans, floor fans, or tabletop fans, they all help to circulate the air and create a cooling effect.

Place the fans strategically where you need them, such as near your sleeping area or in the kitchen, to disperse the cool air evenly throughout the space.

Installing ceiling fans in your RV might be too much of a task. If that’s the case, then we recommend floor fans. You can store them out of the way when you don’t need them.

Incorporating fans and portable air conditioners into your RV cooling strategy can significantly enhance your comfort level during the hot summer months. So, don’t be afraid to turn on a camping fan or invest in a portable air conditioner to keep yourself cool and relaxed while enjoying your RV adventures.

3. Optimize air circulation by strategically opening windows.

Opened RV Window on Hot Day in the Mountains

Optimizing air circulation through strategic window openings is one effective way to keep your RV cool in the summer. 

Remember that scorching road trip I mentioned earlier? As we embarked on our summer adventure in our trusty RV, we soon realized that the scorching sun turned our cozy home on wheels into a mini greenhouse. Desperate for relief, we experimented with different ways to improve air circulation.

We opened windows on opposite ends of the RV to create a cross-breeze, allowing fresh air to sweep through and push out stagnant hot air. Of course, you can’t have window coverings on the windows you open.

By strategically opening windows, we were not only able to create a refreshing flow of air but also prevented hot air from becoming trapped inside. We found that the key was to open windows on the shaded side of the RV while keeping windows on the sunny side partially closed. This way, we could still enjoy the beautiful view while keeping most of the heat out.

Remember, when using this strategy, it’s essential to consider the direction of the wind. Opening windows downwind allows for more efficient air exchange as the breeze naturally sweeps through the RV. We were amazed at how this simple adjustment made a noticeable difference in maintaining a comfortably cool interior temperature.

Optimizing air circulation through strategic window openings is a cost-effective and easy way to keep your RV cool in hot summer temperatures. Not only does it improve ventilation, but it also allows you to enjoy the natural beauty around you. So, next time you hit the road, don’t forget to open those windows strategically and let the fresh air in.

4. Minimize heat-generating activities during the hottest parts of the day.

Cooking on RV Stove

One of the simplest ways to keep your RV cool during the scorching summer months is to minimize heat-generating activities during the hottest parts of the day. We learned this lesson the hard way on our first cross-country road trip when our camper felt like a sauna by midday.

So, to spare you from the same sweaty fate, here are some tips to stay cool inside your RV—

  • Appliances. Avoid using appliances and equipment that generate too much heat. This includes running your oven or stove for extended periods or using the clothes dryer during peak daytime temperatures. Instead, try to plan your cooking and laundry activities for the cooler early morning or evening hours. It keeps the inside temperature down and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Lighting. Another way to minimize heat is using LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs. LED lights produce less heat, reducing the strain on your RV’s air conditioning system. Additionally, consider using natural lighting by opening curtains or blinds to allow sunlight instead of using electric lights. This not only brightens up your space but also keeps it cooler.

Being mindful of heat-generating activities and making small adjustments to your daily routine can significantly reduce the heat entering your RV during the hottest parts of the day. This, in turn, will help you maintain a comfortable and cool environment inside your home on wheels. Trust us, implementing these simple changes will make a world of difference when it comes to beating the heat and enjoying your summer travels to the fullest.

5. Use shade and parking techniques to keep your RV cool.

RV Parked in the Shade

Utilizing shade and the right parking techniques can make a difference when keeping your RV cool during those scorching summer months. Finding a shady spot to park your RV is like finding an oasis in the desert. Not only does it provide relief from the relentless sun, but it can also significantly reduce the interior temperature of your RV. Look for trees, buildings, or other structures that can provide shade, and park your RV strategically.

In addition to finding shade, consider using parking techniques that can help keep your RV cool. Parking with your RV’s awning facing the sun’s direction can provide additional shade and help prevent direct sunlight from entering your RV. Alternatively, if there is a constant breeze, parking your RV to allow the wind to flow through it can help with natural ventilation and cooling.

Remember, the key is to be resourceful and adapt to your surroundings. Utilizing shade and parking techniques can keep your RV cooler and more comfortable, allowing you to enjoy your summer adventures without breaking a sweat. So, next time you plan your RV trip, remember these tips and stay cool under the shade.

6. Spray down your travel trailer or RV with water.

One simplest and most refreshing ways to keep your RV cool in the sweltering summer heat is to give it a good spray-down with water. When the temperatures rise, just like us, our vehicles can use a slight cool-down too. 

I know what you might be thinking: won’t spraying water on my RV cause damage? The answer is not at all. In fact, it can be quite beneficial. As the water evaporates, it creates a cooling effect, bringing down the temperature of the exterior surfaces and helping to dissipate heat. This technique is particularly effective on the roof, as it helps prevent the sunlight from directly heating the interior. Not only that, the cool water will bring down the surface temperature of your camper.

To get started, simply grab a hose and a spray nozzle. Begin by spraying a gentle mist of water onto your RV’s roof, working your way down the sides. Pay extra attention to windows, vents, and other areas where heat could enter. 

And here’s a pro tip: adding a little bit of water to the exterior of your RV’s air conditioning unit can enhance its cooling efficiency. Just remember to use a gentle spray and avoid getting water inside the unit. While you’re at it, your AC unit condenser and evaporator vanes might need a cleansing. This will increase the efficiency of your AC unit.

So, the next time you’re out camping and the sun is beating down, give your RV a refreshing water spray-down. It’s a simple and effective way to keep cool and make the most of your summer adventures

7. Upgrade your camper’s AC unit.

If you want to take your RV cooling game to the next level, it might be time to consider upgrading your AC unit. A more modern and efficient air conditioning system can make a significant difference in keeping your RV cool during those scorching summer months.

Upgrading your AC unit will provide you with more effective cooling and reduce energy consumption, ultimately saving you money in the long run. With newer models offering advanced features like programmable thermostats, improved airflow, and quieter operation, you can create the perfect climate in your RV without sacrificing peace and tranquility.

For example, let’s say you upgrade your RV’s AC unit to a sleek and powerful rooftop model. With its increased cooling capacity, you can beat the heat even on hot summer days. As you relax inside your RV, the cool air circulates throughout, providing a much-needed respite from the sweltering outdoors.

You may consider upgrading from your standard 13,500 BTU model to a 15,000 BTU model. While the latter will provide more cool air, it will also use more power. Check with your RV’s manufacturer or a pro before upgrading your RC unit to ensure your RV can handle the additional power requirement.

8. Add an air conditioning unit to your RV.

This can be a great solution if one AC unit isn’t enough to keep your rig cool on scorching summer days. By installing an additional AC unit, you can double the cooling power and create a much more comfortable environment inside your RV.

Adding an extra AC unit to your RV allows for more precise temperature control, especially in larger rigs. It helps to evenly distribute cool air throughout the entire space, ensuring that every nook and cranny stays comfortably cool. Whether traveling with your family or friends, having multiple AC units can prevent disagreements over the thermostat setting and keep everyone content during those hot summer adventures.

Of course, installing an additional AC unit requires some planning and potentially working with a professional. You’ll need to consider factors such as electrical power requirements, available space on your RV’s roof, and the compatibility of the new unit with your existing system. However, the investment can be worth it when you enjoy the luxury of multiple cooling units on those, particularly scorching days.

On an older RV of ours we added an extra AC unit to the mast bedroom. We removed the standard vent fan and replaced it with a 13,500 BTU unit. Of course, our 30 amp RV wouldn’t accommodate the extra unit, so we had an extra 20 amp plug we would plug into the power pole at RV parks. 

Adding an extra air conditioning unit to your RV ensures maximum comfort, even in the most extreme heat. So, don’t sweat it out in your rig this summer—consider doubling up on AC power and staying cool wherever your adventures take you.

Follow these tips to keep cool this summer.

Keeping your RV cool during the summer doesn’t have to be a dreadful task. By understanding your RV’s insulation and ventilation systems, utilizing window coverings and awnings, utilizing fans and portable air conditioners, optimizing air circulation, minimizing heat-generating activities, utilizing shade and parking techniques, spraying down your RV, and upgrading your AC unit, you can create a cool and comfortable living space on your summer adventures.

We’ve all experienced the sweltering heat during a summer RV trip, but armed with these tips; you can stay cool and enjoy your journey to the fullest. So, before you hit the road, plan to beat the heat. Stay hydrated, take breaks in air-conditioned locations, and prioritize your comfort.

Now that you have these tips in your back pocket, get ready to embark on unforgettable summer adventures in your cool and cozy RV.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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