As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid boondocking in areas where it is simply too hot to be outside. When it’s uncomfortably hot outside, then it’s going to be even hotter inside your RV. We all have different comfort levels. What’s yours?
Once your RV gets hot, it is very difficult to cool it back down. The key is to keep it from getting too hot in the first place. If you find yourself in a situation that’s getting uncomfortably hot, here are some things you can do to.
Run an Air Conditioner While Boondocking
Your first instinct may be to turn on the air conditioner. Doing this will usually involve firing up a power generator because air conditioners are very power hungry.
If you really need A/C, consider using a portable 2000 watt generator that uses less gas.
Run an Air Conditioner With a Small Portable Generator
In the past you’ve needed a large generator to power an RV air conditioner. Small portable generators just weren’t able to handle the large initial power draw of the compressor. This is no longer a problem.
Aftermarket devices called soft start devices can be installed to eliminate the initial power surge of the A/C unit. With a device like this MicroAir Easy Start installed, you can now run an RV air conditioner just fine with a 2000 watt portable generator that runs quiet and uses less gas.
Newer RV air conditioners are also more efficient than the older ones. For example, these Houghton A/C units from RecPro operate at a lower current and can be powered just fine by a 2000 watt portable generator. No soft start device is required.
Can you run an air conditioner on solar?
Yes. With enough solar power and lithium batteries, you could run an air conditioner for a while. While possible, this is still not a practical solution. The solar and battery system you would need to do this would be much larger than your average off-grid boondocking setup.
There are RVs out there that have the capability to their A/C from solar for an extended period, but for most RV owners it’s not a viable option. Not yet anyway.
Keep Your Windows Out of Direct Sun
Most of the heat inside your RV comes from heat radiating off of your windows. Position your RV to minimize the amount of direct sunlight on your windows. We prefer to face either East or West.
You can also insulate your windows to minimize heat transfer. Cut pieces of reflective insulation (the bubble wrap kind – Reflectix) and place them in your windows during the hot part of the day.
If you have an awning, use it to shade your windows. This helps a lot and also gives you a shady spot to sit.
Vent fans are pretty effective at extracting heat and improving airflow in your RV. Fantastic Vent Fans and Maxxair Vent Fans, are thermostat controlled and will automatically turn the fan on when it starts warming up.
Installing a vent fan in one of your RV vents is pretty straight forward. I’ll show you how here.
A portable box fan can move a lot of air and create a breeze in your RV when there isn’t one. Place it near a door or window for best results. If you don’t have room for a larger box fan, consider a smaller electric fan. Better yet, buy two. You’ll use them.
Finally, use a small DC powered fan while you sleep you need a cool down. Some small ones can be plugged into a USB outlet. Also, if it’s cool outside, consider leaving your windows open.
Move to Cooler Climate
The great advantage of owning an RV is that you can pick up and move whenever you want. So the best suggestion I can offer for keeping cool is to avoid hot climates all together.
Move up. Temperatures will typically drop about 4 degrees (F) For every 1000 feet of elevation. So when temperatures climb, move to a higher elevation.
Of course, the final option is to move north where it’s cooler.
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Also check out my Boondocking for Newbies article to get all of your boondocking questions answered.