Summer is arguably the best time to go camping, but it’s not all fun and games when it entails hours upon hours spent in the tight confines of an RV or camper, steeping in billowing, humid heat. After all, while you may be en-route to some place you can keep cool, your camper’s in-built air conditioning might not be enough to keep you completely comfortable while you’re actually on the road. Just between 1999 and 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded over 7,000 heat-related deaths, while a staggering and alarming number of heat-related incidents have been recorded occurring in overheated vehicles, especially to children; the last thing we want when we’re planning to enjoy a camping trip is getting heatstroke on the way. Thankfully, with the right portable air conditioner – compact enough to fit in easily into your RV or camper but heavy-duty enough to keep it cool in the most sweltering of weather – you won’t have to worry about overheating, both on the road and at your camping site. Take a look at our top picks for the best portable cooling unit for campers.
Coleman-Mach 15+ A/C Unit
If you’re worried about eating into the already limited space of a camper, a rooftop air conditioner is the way to go – and the Coleman Mach 15 is the best way to go, pegging it at first place on this list. With 15,000 BTU cooling, the unit is perfect for keeping an area of up to 600 square feet chilled and comfy on a hot summer’s day, offering airflow of 325 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Constructed with the environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant, the rugged, heavy-duty cooling unit comes with a drainage pan to collect moisture and prevent corrosion, the shroud secured with rust-resistant stainless steel screws.
Under the ‘hood’, so to speak, the unit packs a 1/3 horsepower fan motor and a starting kit of start capacitors and a Positive Temperature Coefficient Resistor (PTCR) device to enable the unit to switch on effortlessly when temperatures and/or moisture levels are high.
The unit fits into 14 by 14 inch cut-outs or vents, usable with both ducted and ductless adapters.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
EdgeStar Ultra Compact 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
If you’re not planning on going anywhere particularly scorching, are camping off-season (not at the peak of summer) and/or have a smaller camper or van you aren’t hard put to cool down, this compact, portable little device might be the right pick for you. The 8,000 BTUs can cool 200 to 250 square feet, the in-built fan coming with three adjustable speeds while the dehumidifier function can tackle humidity with a capacity of up to 50 pints a day, more than enough to tackle high degrees of moisture choking up the air.
The unit comes fitted with two stages of filtration – a washable mesh pre-filter, as well as a replaceable carbon air filter – ensuring that the air you’re breathing is not just cool, but also clean, with dust and other potential allergens strained right out. Operable by both touch-sensitive digital controls and a remote device, the compact unit comes with a window installation kit adjustable up to 55 inches, and an extendable 49 inch exhaust hose to boot. Gliding caster wheels make for easy mobility of the unit, programmed with a 24 hour timer and environmentally friendly, Chlorofluorocarbon-free R-410A refrigerant. The unit also doubles as a fan, with three available speeds.
Whynter ARC-08WB Portable Air Conditioner
The 8,000 BTU unit works just right for areas up to 200 or 250 square feet, the compact design making this an ideal machine to use in a narrow space like a camper, while still packing all the functionality you’d look for in a top-of-the-line portable cooling unit. With temperatures adjustable between 62 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit via digital thermostat control, the unit also works as a dehumidifier with a capacity of 45.6 pints a day – the type of specs you’d look for in a machine capable of dealing with excessive dampness in areas measuring up to 2,500 square feet. The unit operates using the self-evaporative system, dispensing condensate outside rather than requiring you to manually empty the unit, though drainage can be carried out both continuously and manually. In the event of a leak, the device has an in-built Leakage-Current Detection and Interruption (LCDI) plug to switch the unit off to avoid damaging it or causing a mess.
The window installation kit or panel measures up to a maximum of 48 inches, with an extendable hose reaching up to 59 inches. The sleek white machine is fitted with smoothly gliding caster wheels to allow easy maneuvrability, constructed out of lead-free Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant materials and the R-410A refrigerant.
Dometic B59516.XX1C0 Brisk II Air Conditioner
With both ducted and ductless installation, this unit has a cooling capacity of 15,000 BTUs, ideal for up to and over 600 square feet. The large openings of the device allow for better air flow, the unit re-engineered to improve upon its predecessors with 15% greater air flow and cooling capacity. The EPP foaming of the unit’s housing makes the device lightweight as well as improving its cooling performance, dampening brackets reducing the noise and vibration you might otherwise experience with a motor-run cooling unit. The rigid construction makes for longer wear and durability what with its custom wrap-around shroud and carbon steel base. Suited to fitting in 14 by 14 inch vents, this is one of the most compact RV rooftop air conditioners around, so you can rest assured that with its lightweight and discreet construction, it’ll be easy to set up without sticking out jarringly in your RV, trailer or camper. The device is built for use with Dometic’s Universal Air Distribution Box (ADB), Return Air Grill, and both the Single Zone LCD and Comfort Control Center II thermostats (not included with the unit).
- Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-heat-related-deaths
- Coleman-Mach: http://www.airxcel.com/home
- Whynter: https://www.whynter.com/
- Dometic: https://www.dometic.com/en-us/us