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Matt Johnson

How do I Make my RV Air Conditioner Colder?

MattGlamperGear
Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jan 28, 2023Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Are you looking for ways to make your RV air conditioner colder? We all are in the summer heat. However, keeping a comfortable temperature while camping in the summer can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

With some maintenance and proper care, you can keep your camper cool even when temperatures soar. Our experts put together tips on how to get your RV air conditioner running as cold as possible so that you can stay comfortable during hot days.

TipActionBenefit
Clean AC FiltersCheck and clean or replace air filters regularly.Improves airflow and efficiency, reducing strain on the AC unit.
Clean CoilsClean the evaporator and condenser coils with a soft cloth and appropriate cleaner.Enhances cooling efficiency by removing obstructions and allowing better heat exchange.
Check DuctsInspect ducts for leaks and obstructions, ensuring they are clear.Prevents loss of cool air and improves distribution throughout the RV.
Seal Windows and DoorsFix sealants and weatherstripping around windows and doors.Prevents hot air from entering and cool air from escaping, improving AC effectiveness.
Use Roof Vent InsulatorsInstall RV roof vent insulators.Keeps cool air from escaping through the roof, maintaining a cooler interior.
Ventilation at NightOpen windows and vents at night to release hot air and let in cooler air.Lowers the interior temperature naturally, reducing AC workload.
Spray RV ExteriorSpray the RV with water during hot days to cool down the exterior walls.Lowers the temperature inside by reducing heat absorption from the walls.
Draw Shades During DayKeep shades drawn during the day to block sunlight.Reduces solar heat gain, keeping the RV cooler.
Regular MaintenancePerform regular maintenance checks and resets on the AC unit as needed.Ensures optimal performance and longevity of the AC system.

How an RV air conditioner works.

Before we get into helping you make your air conditioner a bit cooler, it’s important to understand how the RV air conditioner works.

The air conditioner, or A/C unit, is responsible for cooling your RV’s interior when you turn it on. This usually involves a combination of fans and a condenser coil that cools the warm air inside your camper.

The AC unit takes in the warm air from inside the camper, cools it with refrigerant and then pushes out the cooled air. That’s why it’s on the roof of your camper, because warm air rises and the AC unit can take it in from the highest point.

There’s two different types of AC units found on RVs—

  • Compressor systems.
  • Evaporation systems.

Both work similarly but with a few key differences.

Compressor RV Air ConditionersEvaporation RV Air Conditioners
How it WorksCompressor systems use a gaseous refrigerant that is pressurized, turned into a liquid, and run through a pipe system.Evaporation systems use a roof-mounted unit to vaporize water collected in a filter.
Cooling ProcessExtracts heat from the outside of the evaporator, cooling down the interior while circulating and dehumidifying the room air.A fan draws ambient air through the filter, creating a heat exchange.
BenefitsOffers consistent, powerful cooling performance regardless of ambient temperature and humidity. Can integrate a heating system with varying levels of performance and efficiency.Low current consumption and lightweight design. Energy efficiency depends on ambient humidity, with performance dropping when humidity exceeds 85%. May increase humidity in the RV.

Compressor RV air conditioners.

Compressor systems use a gaseous refrigerant that is pressurized, turned into a liquid, and run through a pipe system in order to cool the surrounding environment.

This process extracts heat from the outside of the evaporator, cooling down the camper or travel trailer’s interior while circulating and dehumidifying the room air.

The benefits of compressor-based air conditioners include consistent, powerful cooling performance independent of ambient temperature and humidity, as well as the ability to integrate a heating system with varying levels of performance and efficiency depending on which type you have.

Evaporation RV air conditioners.

Evaporation systems use a roof-mounted unit to vaporize water collected in a filter.

A fan then draws ambient air in through the filter, which creates a heat exchange.

Benefits include low current consumption and lightweight design, but the energy efficiency of the system depends on the ambient humidity. The performance will drop when humidity is greater than 85%, and such systems may also increase humidity in the RV regardless of ambient conditions.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit more scientific than you were hoping for. Let’s just jump into how you can make your AC unit pump more cold air.

Tips for making your RV AC unit colder.

If your travel trailer is more than a couple years old, or even sometimes brand new from the factory, it might not be running as efficiently as possible. So here are a few tips to help you make your RV air conditioner colder.

Clean the filter of your AC units.

First and foremost, you should check if the air filter needs to be changed or cleaned. The filter prevents dust and dirt from entering the AC unit and clogging up its cooling fins as well as other parts of the system, reducing airflow and temperature control efficiency.

If you don’t have a filter that can be easily replaced, then cleaning it regularly with warm water and soap should do the trick.

Clean the evaporator and condenser coils.

You’ll have to climb up onto your camper to do this, but take the cover off your AC units and check the coils for dirt, grime, and debris that can block airflow and restrict cooling efficiency.

If you’re comfortable enough to do it, you can clean these coils yourself with warm water and a soft cloth or brush. We recommend using an evaporator coil cleaner which is a spray-on rinse-off product designed specifically for air conditioning coils.

RV Air Conditioner Condenser Cleaner Spray

Check the ducts for leaks and obstructions.

Another common problem that can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner is when ducts are blocked or have leaks.

Check for any obstructions in the vents, such as furniture blocking them. Sometimes you’ll see that the manufacturer left debris in the ducts from when they were making your RV.

Lastly, make sure there’s no damage to the insulation around the ducts, which could cause a leak and reduce cooling performance.

Fix sealants and weatherstripping around windows and doors.

If you haven’t already, make sure to inspect the sealants and weatherstripping around all your windows and doors. Any gaps or air leaks can let in hot air from outside, making your AC unit work overtime to cool your camper down.

Other tips for cooling your RV.

So you’ve tried all that but your RV is still too hot? Here are some other tips for cooling down your living space:

Install a window awning.

A window awning helps keep the sun from heating up your camper. It also provides shade, which can make the interior of your RV 10-15 degrees cooler.

Add an RV roof vent insulator.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to keep cool air from escaping your camper is by adding an RV roof vent insulator. These are simply thin, adhesive-backed reflectors that go over your vents to stop the warm air from coming in through the roof.

Open windows and vents at night.

One thing you can do to help cool the interior of your RV is open up all the windows and vents overnight. This helps release the hot air that’s built up during the day, allowing for cooler air to come in from outside.

Run portable fans.

Running a combination of ceiling fans and/or portable fans in your camper will circulate the air and help you stay cool. You’ll have to try placing your fans in different areas to see what is the most effective. Remember, you’re trying to move stagnant air and increase your AC unit’s air flow.

Spray your RV with water.

On a hot summer day when the sun is beating down on your camper, the walls of your camper are probably hot to the touch. One way to cool it down is to spray your RV with a hose every few hours. This will help lower the temperature and humidity inside, making it much more comfortable.

Keep your shades drawn during the day.

Make sure to keep your curtains closed during the day. This simple step can reduce an incredible amount of solar heat gain and help keep your RV cooler. I know you want to enjoy that beautiful view of the lake, but if it’s too hot then you have to do what you have to do.

Throw on a second air conditioner on your RV.

One option many campers forget about is adding a second air conditioner. It might be a bit of an investment, but having two AC units running in your RV will definitely make it much cooler on those hot summer days.

If you have a 30 amp camper then upgrading a second air conditioner unit might be too much for your electrical system. Your RV probably can’t handle enough power to provide for both RV AC units.

However, there’s an alternative.

You can have a second air conditioner unit installed on it’s own dedicated 20 amp power cable. When you plug in your 30 amp power plug into the shore power pole, you’ll also plug in the standard 20 amp power plug. One of your air conditioning units will run on your camper’s shore power and the other air conditioning unit will have it’s own line.

It’s also worth noting that these are typically installed in place of one of your roof vents, so you’ll lose one of those.

FAQ for RV air conditioners.

Since we like to keep things well-rounded, here are some frequently asked questions about RV air conditioners.

Why is my RV air conditioner not cold?

If your RV air conditioner is not blowing cold air, the first thing you should do is check your filter. A clogged filter can reduce airflow and make your AC unit work overtime to cool your camper down. You should also check if any debris has gotten stuck in the ducts, as this can restrict air flow as well. There could be other issues, but that’s where we would start when troubleshooting a camper air conditioner.

How do I increase the airflow in my RV air conditioner?

To increase air flow, you should make sure all the vents and interior doors are open. Additionally, run portable fans in your camper to circulate the air and help you stay cool. If none of these work, then it might be time to install a second air conditioning unit for extra cooling power.

What is the best setting for an RV AC unit?

That really depends on the climate and model of your RV. If it’s super hot out, then cranking it up to the highest setting will help keep you cool, but if it’s milder, then a lower setting might be more energy efficient. Experiment with different settings to see what works best for you.

Keep in mind that most RV air conditioners don’t strive to attain a specific temperature, but instead, they usually cool the interior of the camper by 20-30 degrees from the outside temperature. So if it’s 110°F outside and your rooftop air conditioner is able to drop the temperature by 30°F, then the coolest you’ll see your camper is around 80°F.

What can I add to AC to make it colder?

There really isn’t anything you can add other than good maintenance practices, like cleaning the filter regularly. If you want to cool down faster or lower the temperature even more, then your best bet is to install a second air conditioning unit on its own dedicated power supply. This will provide extra cooling power and help lower the interior of your RV much quicker than with one AC unit alone.

How do you reset an RV air conditioner? 

The simplest way to reset your RV air conditioner is by pressing the reset button, or if there is no reset button, you can turn off the device at the breaker, test it and wait 30 minutes before turning it back on.

Can you run the RV air conditioner on 30 amp?

Yes, since most RV AC units use between 10-15 amps, they can be run on a 30 amp power source. However, if you want to increase cooling power by adding a second AC unit, then it’s best to install a dedicated 20 amp line for the extra AC unit. You could upgrade your camper to a 50 amp power supply, but that’s a bit more work and very expensive.

How many amps does an RV air conditioner use?

In general, a typical 13,500 BTU air conditioning system will use between 10-15 amps. It’s always best to check the owner’s manual for your specific model and test the amperage usage before running it on shore power. You could also install an amp meter at your shore power pole to keep track of how much electricity you’re using when both AC units are running.

How to clean an RV air conditioner?

There are a few places that you need to clean on your RV’s air conditioner. These include the condenser coils, evaporator fins, blower fan air filters, and drain pan. You can use a vacuum to remove dust and debris from the condenser coils. Then you should use an approved cleaner to sanitize the evaporator fins and blower fan. Finally, make sure the drain pan is clean and free of any clogs or debris. These steps will help keep your AC running efficiently and prolong its life.

How do I turn on my RV air conditioner? 

This depends on the model of your RV’s air conditioning system, but they usually have a simple switch on the kitchen panel or thermostat. For some models, you may need to press and hold the “on” button for several seconds before it activates.

Some RVs have a dedicated power switch to the air conditioner that needs to be flipped then you’ll need to turn the thermostat up to a cool setting. If you don’t have any power to your AC unit, then check the circuit breaker and make sure it’s in the “on” position.

How long can you run an RV air conditioner?

We’ve run our AC unit for days on end in the past here in Central Texas, as it gets quite hot during the summer months. However, it’s best to check with your specific manufacturer’s recommendation, as every unit is different, and some may not be designed for extended hours of operation. Furthermore, remember that running two AC units at once increases the electricity draw on your RV significantly, so make sure you have a strong shore power source or generator.

Is your RV’s air conditioning system producing enough cold air?

Having a properly functioning RV air conditioner is essential for your comfort and enjoyment in the summer months. A bit of cool air can go a long way in the high temperatures of the summer months.

We hope this article has provided you with some helpful tips on how to keep your AC unit running smoothly, from resetting it to cleaning its evaporator coils.

With regular maintenance and good care, you can ensure that your RV’s air conditioning system will be ready when you need it.

If you’re looking for extra cooling power or want to lower the temperature even more inside your camper, then consider installing a second AC unit with its own dedicated power supply.

With these tips and tricks, hopefully, you’ll keep your RV cool in hot weather.

MattGlamperGear

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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