RV Advice

17 Tricks for Keeping Your RV or Camper Cool in the Summer

May 4, 2022

How to Keep Your RV Cool in Summer

Keep your RV cool on the hottest days to enjoy sunny summer weather no matter how high the temperature rises. Summer is prime time for hitting the road for an RV vacation, so don’t let the summer heat keep you from checking items off of your summer bucket list.

High temperatures combined with a lack of a powerful central air conditioning system can quickly turn your RV into a too-hot spot. On very hot days, cooling an RV often requires more strategies than the standard cooling system. When an RV air conditioner is operating properly, the difference between the ambient temperature and the conditioned air temperature will only be about 16 to 22 degrees. Make sure you implement some strategies to supplement your cooling system and keep your RV as cool as possible.

With some pre-planning and insider know-how, you do not have to sweat the summer temperatures. The following tips to keep your RV cool in the summer will help your whole family beat the heat and focus on having some fun in the sun.

1. Park in the Shade

In the heat of the summer, one of the most important considerations you can make when selecting a campsite is the shade factor, which works wonders to prevent your RV from becoming a toasty sauna. Since the sun is most intense in the afternoon when temperatures are warmer. If possible, orient your RV so that it is shaded during the hottest part of the day. Position any trees on the western side of your rig, and use your awning for shade in the morning.

2. Create Shade

Keeping your RV cool in the summer can be as simple as utilizing your available shade. Shade is nature’s air conditioning. Even if you have a shady camp spot, maximize your shade by keeping your awning down and using tarps to rig up a shady spot to relax. Be sure to use tree-friendly straps such as wide nylon to avoid damaging any nearby trees. If there are no nearby trees, get a large tarp and tie one side to the top of your RV and secure the other side to the ground with stakes to create a triangular shaded area.

Close up of camper van with window open

3. Go With the Flow

A simple way to create airflow into your RV is to orient your rig with the breeze. In general, the wind in the United States moves from west to east. Check local weather conditions where you are traveling and try to position your rig to take advantage of wind patterns. Keep windows open and use screens to keep dust, bugs, and debris at bay. The breeze will help cool your RV during the day.

4. Buy a Portable Fan (or Two)

If you are wondering how to keep your RV cool in the summer on a budget, consider purchasing an affordable fan. A small portable fan goes a long way to move warm air, create a breeze, and cool your RV. During the evening, set up one fan in a window pointing inward to pull cool air in, and one fan pointing outward to pump hot air out of your RV. During the day, use shaded windows to draw in cooler air.

5. Protect Your Windows

The handy insulated window covers you use in the winter work just as well to block out the heat as they do the cold. Glass does a poor job at insulating—meaning that it will let in the heat. Be sure to cover any sunny windows or big spans of glass, such as windshields and picture windows, with curtains or insulated window covers.

6. Close Your Windows Each Morning

Opening your windows at night can create a nice, cool breeze to help you sleep comfortably. Keep this cool air in your camper and make it last longer by closing your windows as soon as you wake up each morning. Try to close your windows before the sun rises and warms the outside air. This will keep cool air from overnight inside the RV and hot, humid air outside the RV.

7. Use Reflective Insulation

Use reflective insulation if you don’t have window awnings to help block the sun from entering the RV. Heat from the sun can enter your RV through the windows depending on how thick the glass is, but reflective insulation can reflect the sun away from the windows to keep the heat out. You can purchase various sizes of reflective insulation for an affordable price at home improvement stores.

Products like reflective insulation reflect the sun away from your RV to keep the interior cooler. Simply cut a piece of reflective insulation to fit each of your windows and use mini-blinds, window visors or day/night shades to help secure the insulation against your windows or windshield. Depending on the product type you choose, reflective insulation can reflect up to 97% of the sun’s radiant energy away from your windows.

8. Keep Your Cooling System Efficient

Keep your cooling system running efficiently if you use one. Proper maintenance can help you optimize your cooling system and get the coolest air possible from it. To properly maintain your air conditioning system, make sure that all filters remain clean. This helps increase the efficiency of the unit and makes it easier to cool your RV. Inspect filters regularly, and clean or replace them as necessary.

9. Cook Al Fresco

Nothing heats up an RV like running an oven or stove. So ditch the indoor kitchen on hot days and take your cooking outdoors to avoid stifling heat build-up inside your rig. Try some fun camping recipes and impress your loved ones with the delicious meals you cook over the campfire. You can also cool down with some tasty frozen treats as you spend time inside or outside of your RV.

10. Cover Skylights

The summer sun sits high in the sky, and any skylights attract heat. Use insulating covers to block out any solar radiation coming in from above. This will help keep your RV cooler, especially during extra-hot days.

11. Keep Your Door Shaded

A shaded outdoor space also keeps your door area from building up heat. To achieve this, orient your RV to have your awning and entry in the shade throughout the day. This can be tricky with a high summer sun, but typically this means positioning your door toward the south. The overhang of the awning keeps the sun out, keeping outdoor space cooler. Keep in mind, this method won’t be as effective if you have a lot of big windows on the north side of your trailer. Strike a balance between shade and exposing large expanses of glass to the sun.

12. Increase Ventilation

Proper ventilation helps prevent excess heat in your RV. You can install vent covers over the existing roof vents to help increase ventilation in the RV. They are inexpensive, easy to install and they let the fresh air in, even when it’s raining. Use a vent cover on both ends of our RV to help promote cross-ventilation.

13. Clean Fridge Vents Frequently

One of the most significant sources of heat in an RV is the refrigerator. To keep your food cool, the fridge must dump tremendous amounts of heat. This heat radiates from the appliance and out into other areas of your RV, raising the temperature. Keep your RV fridge vent as clean as possible to allow for the heat to dump properly. Regularly inspect the vent to make sure it hasn’t collected dirt and debris from your travels.

14. Use LED Lights

LEDs give off a fraction of the heat of regular bulbs. Switching to LEDs is more energy-efficient, and it will keep your RV cooler in the summer, too. Additionally, while you are paying attention to energy efficiency, be sure to switch lights off throughout the day and only use electricity when necessary.

15. Keep Electronics Powered Off

If your RV is rigged up with the latest technology, consider keeping things turned off during hot days. Electronics like TVs, laptops, and other devices produce heat just like any other appliance. Keeping screen time to a minimum will help keep your rig as cool as possible and help you fully connect with nature without electronic distractions.

16. Shut the Door

When the temps are soaring and you crank the AC, avoid leaving windows and doors open. It can be tough when kids and pets are running in and out all day long but try to minimize door openings during the day so your RV stays cool.

17. Use a Swamp Cooler

If you are traveling in dry climates, use an evaporative cooler to stay cool. Also known as a swamp cooler, it can be an efficient way to cool an RV. You can make your own mini-swamp cooler with a five-gallon bucket, fish tank pump, forced air filter and a little bit of ingenuity.

But if that sounds too complicated, a sufficiently damp towel over your head or neck, combined with air movement from a fan, works great to cool you down during hot nights.

Using these strategies, you can keep your RV quite comfortable in the summer. Start by developing a better understanding of how the sun comes across your campsite, and you will be on your way to keeping your rig a cool home base for your next big adventure.

Stay Cool at Kampgrounds of America This Summer

Whether you are planning the perfect road trip or a fun family vacation, keep your RV cool to maximize comfort during your trip. Stay at KOA to enjoy comfortable amenities, including electric hookups to power your cooling system. Many KOA campsites have shaded areas to keep you cool and plenty of space to position your RV in a way that takes advantage of the breeze.

Park your RV at KOA this summer and enjoy various activities at different locations. Select KOA Campgrounds are even pet-friendly, so you can bring your pet along and enjoy convenient dog-friendly campsites — reach out to your KOA to learn more about their policies. KOA is the perfect place to relax, explore and have fun.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.

High temperatures, combined with a lack of a powerful central air conditioning system, can quickly turn your home away from home into a too-hot spot. These handy tips will help you keep your RV cool this summer, so the whole family can beat the heat.


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