Rv driving down the road as the sun sets

10 Ways to Stay Cool in Your RV

While we may welcome the summer as a time to travel in our RVs, making memories with friends and family across the country, the heat of summer can be far less desirable changing those jovial summer road trips into sweat-inducing treks that drain both travelers and their onboard AC units. So, our team of RV experts are looking this month at how to keep your RV cool in summer heat. And since true efficiency can’t be achieved with a single element, we’re looking at the cooperative power of 10 different ways RVers can stay cool and comfortable this summer while also reducing their cumulative carbon footprint.

  1. Insulate RV Windows – Just like in a brick-and-mortar house, windows on an RV present a huge vulnerability to the overall energy efficiency of the home because they can allow unwanted energy exchange between the inside and outside. What this means in the summertime is that solar heat enters and air conditioning escapes creating a sweltering, uncomfortable interior environment. Step one in keeping your RV cool is to be sure you have window shades over all windows in your rig; this includes side windows, skylights, doors, and windshield shades (especially important because of the sheer size of cockpit windows).

    If you have pleated shades in your RV and you don’t want to replace them just yet, the addition of a blackout liner can help keep more sunlight and therefore more solar heat out of your rig. United Shade makes a Darkout Kit to easily add a back, room-darkening liner to existing pleated shades.

  2. Invest in Energy Efficient Roofing – Both Tufflex™ PVC Roofing and DiFlex II™ Polar White TPO roofing from Dicor are Energy Star and Cool Roof rated. What that means for your RV roof is that the materials create a reflective heat barrier to deflect the constant onslaught of sunlight resulting in a lower interior temperature. For RVs with air conditioners less on-going energy consumption is needed to maintain that cool, interior temperature; for RVs without an air conditioner, these energy efficient roofing products will naturally keep the vehicle’s interior temperatures lower by reflecting solar energy and siphoning off residual thermal radiation.

  3. Covet Shade – We all know it’s always cooler in the shade; this is true for your RV as well. When possible, park in the shade. Orientate your vehicle so that the parts you use the most during the day are shaded during peak heat hours and if possible, aim your largest windows north when traveling in the USA. You can also use awnings, umbrellas and screen shades to create your own shade around your RV and campsite.

  4. Keep AC in Good Condition – The last thing you want is your air conditioning having issues on a hot summer day. Be sure to keep up with all maintenance requirements for your AC to ensure the unit is in good working order when you need it the most. Coleman-Mach, an industry leader in RV cooling solutions since 1967, recommends RV owners replace their AC filters after 90 days of use to keep air flow optimized and that owners also do a yearly inspection and cleaning of exterior components to ensure the entire system is maintained for optimal performance and extended longevity.

    Soft start is another attractive feature when running multiple air conditioners on an RV in the summer. A Coleman-Mach soft start can reduce inrush amperage up to 75% and lessen overall power consumption. And a continuous-learning feature in the Coleman-Mach soft start allows it to optimize a range of electrical parameters to work with varying load conditions and ensure the motor operates optimally. Soft starts are available as a feature on new air conditioners or in a soft start kit for integration into existing air conditioners.

  5. Upgrade to LED Lights – LED lights have multiple benefits for users; among the top include a lower power draw and cooler operating temperatures. Though it may not seem significant when looking at the heat output of a single light bulb, when it comes to keeping your RV cool every degree counts. When you add together all the lights in your RV and take into account the confined nature of RV interiors plus the limited power supply if you like to go off-grid, it makes sense to upgrade from incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Also, when shopping for new parts, RV owners want to look for components advanced enough to already have LEDs built-in like the MaxxShade Plus for rooftop fans.

  6. Close it Up – During the day you want to keep your RV closed. And while that may seem counterintuitive because closed off spaces can feel stuffy, your goal here is to keep external environmental elements out of your RV. Sunlight comes with solar heat, breezes blow warm in the peak heat of the day, so the benefits of keeping those kinds of temperature-raising elements out of your RV will far exceed any advantage you gain from inviting them in.

    Closing it up also includes closing any interior doors that lead to spaces you don’t regularly use during the daytime. There’s no use putting effort and energy into cooling a space you’re not going to inhabit, so close off interior rooms that aren’t being actively used and focus your cooling efforts on areas that experience consistent use during the day.

  7. Create Smart Air Flow – While you want to keep your RV battened up during the peak heat of the day, when temperatures are low, such as early morning or evening, it behooves you to open your RV up to natural air flow, which can have an incredibly cooling effect on RV interiors. With the use of two rooftop fans, one on intake and one on exhaust, RVers can create powerful air flow, and that ventilation refreshes interior spaces and allows homeowners to benefit from the free cooling effects of lower external temperatures.

    It can also benefit RVers to check on wind conditions when they are looking into the weather at their next destination. Then when arriving, park your RV orientated to the direction of local air currents so that when you open your windows the location’s wind naturally creates air flow. As a general guideline, or if you forgot to check wind patterns at a specific location, the prevailing wind direction in the continental US is west to east.

  8. Eliminate Leaks – As part of proper annual maintenance you should be inspecting the seals on your RV to make sure they are in good condition; this can also be a smart practice before big road trips. Gaps, cracks or loose sealant around doors, windows and rooftop components will let the heat in and cool out. Before you travel to hot locations make sure your RV is ready for the heat by fixing or replacing any problematic seals. Dicor’s Seal-Tite™ product line has kits for some of the more common fixes including a Corner Seal Kit and Window Foamcore Kit.

  9. Gain Altitude – When you go up, the temperature comes down. If summer heat becomes unbearable, visiting destinations at higher altitudes can be a great escape from those hot summer temperatures. Products like the Gen1 from Aqua-Hot (furnace/water heater combination) are high altitude rated up to 15,000 feet allowing for a comfortable escape into the mountains.

  10. Cook Outside – One of the fastest ways to heat up your coach is to cook in it. Heat produced from cooking on stoves or in ovens will also bake the RV interior and when you’re working to keep temperatures down in the summer cooking inside adds an unnecessary challenge to environmental control. However, the solution is easy – take it outside. Suburban has lines of outdoor slide-out kitchens with cooktop or cooktop/sink configurations to set-up a permanent exterior galley. Or there is also the 18- or 23-inch Suburban Griddle that can be installed permanently into your kitchen space or used portably on a picnic table for culinary flexibility as you travel.

And of course, it’s always important to stay up to date with annual RV maintenance. Afterall, to work their best, your RV and its components need to be kept in good working order and that means keeping up with proper maintenance and cleaning. It might not be the most glamourous part of owning an RV, but it’s definitely needed, or you run the risk of key parts either underperforming or breaking down completely when they’re needed most. Airxcel offers a free Service Center Locator for RV owners to find service centers located near your home or campsite for any maintenance work or upgrades your RV needs in order to keep you cool all summer long.

Topics: How-To, Lifestyle, Product