What Size RV Air Conditioner Do I Need?

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RVs are convenient means of traveling long distances without compromising the comforts of your home. Month-long journeys do require a few extra enhancements, especially while adventuring during the summer months.

Getting an AC for your RV is paramount to great travels.

So what size air conditioner do you need for your RV? If you have multiple rooms, big open spaces, and bathrooms, then getting more than 1 AC may be smart.

Below is a guide to finding out what AC size is right for you, or if you may require multiple units.

What Power Is Needed Most?

A BTU, or British thermal unit, is a measurement of heat that Air conditioners can eject out of an enclosure. An AC with more BTUs can cool down larger spaces and more rooms. Most RV air conditioning units have around 13,000 BTUs. Is this enough for yours though?

How To Calculate Your Air Conditioner Needs

The most common RV size is around 32 feet, and the base AC units that come with these should be adequate.

With bigger-sized RVs which incorporate less airflow due to closed-off rooms and cabins, more ACs may be needed. A standard AC with 13,000 BTUs will need to work harder to cover more space.

When you block off access to airflow, a second AC can help supplement the coolness and its spread.

What Color Is Your RV?

Style and glamour can go a long way while traversing the open road in your RV. However, sometimes the color of your vehicle can adversely affect the heat inside of it. Lighter colors like beige, tan, white, or yellow can help to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it.

Darker colored RVs are common but may require more AC power to offset the absorbed sunlight. When considering AC for a darker-colored RV, you may want to consider its color in your decision.

Where Do You Take Your RV?

The unexplored country inside of your RV can create novelty and excitement in your brain, but it may come costly. Whether traveling through southern states, northern states, summer months, or winter, the location of travel matters.

Having a second air conditioning unit on your RV can be great, even if it goes unused until you need it. A trip across the southwest in desert terrain can be daunting without proper cooling. This is especially true if you have a darker-colored vehicle.

Keeping a second AC stored away for (not so) rainy days gives you comfort knowing you can go anywhere.

How Often Do I Use My RV?

If you only use your RV once a year for a week, then investing in a big AC for it doesn’t make sense. Scheduling your trip during the off-heat seasons can help to mitigate the need for a big AC unit.

If you, however, find yourself living in your RV or using it very often then think about an AC. Comfort is the main reason why travelers invest in RVs. In hot months or areas, the AC not working adequately can make your trip unbearable.

What Is Your Budget Like?

The costly nature of some AC units can dissuade many from investing in one, let alone a second unit. Although there are many cheap options, if you are a hardcore traveler, this is an investment for comfort. Some temperatures in many areas reach above 100 degrees in the United States.

You may be driving through these areas for hours or even days at a time. At this point, the investment in the right amount of AC power for your RV is worth considering.

You can find some baseline model RV ACs for around $200. For the better models with heating power as well, you can see prices rise to above $1000.

The Bottom Line

RVs are great methods of comfortable travel driving very long distances. The AC units in these vehicles can make or break a trip depending on where you go and when. Making sure you have the best size or quantity of AC in your RV makes a big difference.

Some factors that can affect your AC needs are:

  • How much power your RV needs.
  • What color your RV is.
  • Where you drive your RV.
  • What seasons you drive your RV.
  • How frequently you use your RV.
  • How much you are willing to spend.

Depending on these factors it may make sense to buy one or more AC units for your RV. You can even choose to save the backup for when you need it. This can minimize power consumption and make you feel safe while traveling anywhere in your vehicle.

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