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How to Keep Cool In Your RV Without AC (6 Tips)

Published on August 8th, 2020 by Ray & Tammy Roman
This post was updated on March 24th, 2022

There are many reasons to love RVing in the summertime. The colors are vibrant, the days are longer, and travelers are usually in high spirits.

I do recommend you get an RV Pet Temperature Monitor. I reviewed seven of them.

However, despite the many perks, the sweltering heat often puts a damper on an otherwise ideal trip. Feeling hot and sweaty while being bombarded with glaring sunlight can make even the most enthusiastic RVers want to run towards an air-conditioned refuge.

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With the dog days of summer officially here, and with current temperature records being set, it seems like the hot weather is going to be sticking around for a while.

While modern RVs come equipped with fairly efficient AC units, it’s helpful to know how to keep an RV cool in the event that the AC breaks down or hook-ups are not available, and it’s also helpful for anyone looking to cut down on energy costs and usage.

If you’re looking for ways to minimize your AC use without your RV turning into a sweltering sauna, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Position Your RV Strategically in the Shade

One way to reduce heat gain inside of your RV is to seek out a campsite where there is plenty of shade, and then park your RV so that the side with the most windows is facing away from the direction where the sun is directly shining. By orienting your RV so that most of the windows are pointing towards the shade, you’ll maintain a cooler internal temperature inside of your rig.

Consider Acrylic RV Awning Fabric

Any experienced RVer knows that RV awnings are a great way to relax outside while being protected from harsh sun rays, but the degree to which the canopy will keep you cool depends on the fabric type.

The two main types of RV awning fabric are acrylic and vinyl. While both provide relief from the sun, acrylic is made from woven, breathable fabric that allows for stronger airflow, meaning it will stay cooler underneath an acrylic canopy than a vinyl one.

While there are other differences to keep in mind when deciding whether acrylic or vinyl awning fabric is right for you, acrylic will be the better option if staying cool is your main priority.

Insulate the Windows

Another affordable cooling hack popular among RVers is to use insulative material (a popular type is Reflectix) to block sunlight from entering your RV. Covering your windows with this material will reflect the sun away from your RV, minimizing the amount of heat that gets in.

Utilizing window shades specifically designed to block the sun is another way to do this, though this option will be a bit more costly.

Optimize Your RV’s Ventilation

You can help keep your RV cool by optimizing your ventilation strategy, such as by:

  • Opening the windows facing the shade and closing the windows facing the sunlight will keep warm air out and cool air in.
  • Have fans face outside of the window in order to push hot hair out and bring cool air inside.
  • A roof vent fan can help expel any heat, though it will work better if it is in the shade rather than in direct sunlight. These also help remove any odors worsened by hot, state air.

Install LED Lights

In small spaces like RVs, even leaving the lights on can make a room feel hotter. Incandescent and halogen bulbs produce more heat than LED bulbs, raising the temperature in a small room and even making the air conditioning unit have to work harder. LED bulbs run cooler, which can be an easy way to make a small dent in the temperature of your RV. Though they cost more upfront, they are more energy-efficient and last longer than other bulbs, making them a cost-effective (in the long run) and eco-friendly option.

Enjoy Outdoor Cooking or Cold Meals

During the scorching days of summer, few things will heat up an RV like turning on your oven or stove. To avoid this, make cold meals like salads and sandwiches, or grill outside. If you do want to make a hot meal indoors, crockpots don’t heat up small spaces the same way that your stove or oven does, so don’t be afraid to explore the many delicious and creative recipes that can be made with slow-cookers.

How to Keep Cool In Your RV Without AC Summary

Hopefully, these tips give you a few easy and practical ideas on how to keep cool while RVing without blasting the AC 24/7. Of course, there will be days when the heat is so strong that nothing except turning on your AC unit will keep the sweat off of your forehead, but for times when it’s manageable to use alternatives, these tips will help you save money and conserve energy. If you are boondocking these tips will help conserve battery life and generator fuel.

By taking small steps towards making your RV situation more comfortable, you’ll get to enjoy the rest of your summer without the sunbeams spoiling your good times! Some of these tips also work well if pop up campers are just not as efficient due to the canvas wall construction of most folder tent campers.

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