How We Selected the Products
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing yet on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
In order to be sure we chose the best available and most reliable RV air conditioners, we weeded through countless dozens of options available. When it comes to RV air conditioners, there is a surprising number of choices, so we narrowed it down by relying on our own personal expertise, as well as the experiences of thousands of satisfied, and unsatisfied, customers.
In the end, we also wanted to provide you with options that were suitable for a wide variety of RV makes and models, and not specialized to one specific RV type, because let’s face it, there are a ton of different RV styles and sizes out there. We further eliminated options that were manufactured by companies that didn’t already have a stellar reputation and a long-standing track record of producing high-performance, durable products. The result is the list you see above.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
When it comes to selecting the ideal RV air conditioner to suit your needs, there are several key factors that, if addressed appropriately, will ensure you get a great product that will last you a long time. After all, RV air conditioners aren’t cheap, so you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment won’t be left sweating and miserable on those 100-degree days.
Benefits of RV Air Conditioners
Types of RV Air Conditioners
Rooftop air conditioner units are popular since they save you space inside the RV. Their ideal place on top of the vehicle means the brisk air outside cools the RV AC unit, and low-profile units consume less energy and have a lower risk of damage when passing under bridges. Rooftop AC systems come in two options: ducted and non-ducted. Ducted systems are suited for large RVs, as they push the cool air to all corners of the RV. Non-ducted units are suitable for smaller RVs and cost less.
The under-bench RV air conditioner, as you might expect, is located inside your vehicle. It’s stored under a seating bench or inside a cabinet. So while it does take up valuable storage space inside your RV, it’s a perfect option if you have an RV with a curved or already overcrowded roof. It does allow you to keep your windows free and unaffected by ductwork.
Portable units have a smaller size and a better design, as you can move them around, and they don’t require installation. They take up space inside the RV and need extra care for handling. The units are energy efficient but require a hose to avoid water leakage. Instead of the usual refrigeration process, the unit evaporates the air and releases a cold air stream to cool the area.
A Swedish company opening its doors in 2001, it manufactures a wide range of products, designed for recreational vehicles. With a global distribution network dealing in over 100 countries. Its product line continues to evolve, including everything from camping gear to power systems for RVs and boats. Among its top climate control systems for RVs is the Dometic B59516.XX1J0 Brisk, favored for its powerful cooling effects.
This brand falls under the Dometic manufacturing umbrella, but it’s still worth noting. It was successfully bought out due to its high-grade products spanning from heating systems to windows and doors. Focusing on the recreational vehicle industry, you’re likely to find an Atwood product in just about every modern RV. An Illinois-based company, it dates back to 1909, continuing to innovate tech in the RV industry. One of its helpful products when setting up an RV air conditioner is the Atwood Ducted Ceiling Assembly.
Furrion is a company that’s dedicated to melding modern luxury with sustainability. The founding partners met as engineers on a megayacht crew, so they understand what luxury mobile living means on a personal level.
Founded in Kingfisher, Okla. in 1900 by William Coffin Coleman, this company has been manufacturing and delivering reliable and trusted camping and outdoor equipment for more than 120 years. From tents and sleeping bags, to camp stoves, gas-powered generators, and RV air conditioners like the Coleman 48204C869 RV Air Conditioner, there’s almost nothing you can’t get to make your camping or RV experience as comfortable as possible.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it’s a technical specification that can help you decide which AC suits your RV based on its size and average local weather conditions. The average AC unit has 13,500 BTU power. This is enough power to cool down a large RV. Humid weather conditions demand more BTU power in your AC. If you visit areas with high humidity or extreme temperatures, you’ll need to invest in a unit with more BTU power.
Air conditioning units consume a lot of energy, so choosing a unit that consumes less power saves you money in the long run.
Air with poor quality is a health hazard, especially for people prone to allergies or respiratory issues. Not all RV air conditioners have built-in air purifying systems. Those that have them, however, do a good job of removing odors. The air purifier improves the quality of the air inside the RV and keeps it fresh and clean, regardless of the conditions outside.
Not all RV air conditioners are manufactured to the same size specifications. Be sure to measure your existing unit or the hole for the AC unit prior to purchasing. This is true for rooftop units, under-bench models, and window units. Most rooftop openings measure 14 x 14 inches, but some can be smaller or larger, depending on the manufacturer.
You cannot use the unit to heat the RV in cold weather unless it comes with a heat pump. If your AC doesn’t have a heat pump, you can buy heat strips or a heater assembly kit.
Every two months. Check for cracks in the plastic. Clean the filters and air vents and check for wear and tear marks on the unit.
While you technically can run your RV air conditioner using battery power, it’s not recommended. RV air conditioners are power draws that can quickly drain your batteries down to an unusable state, even with plentiful solar panels to help recharge them. It’s usually best to run your AC only when the engine is running, plugged into pedestal power, or by using an appropriately sized gas-powered generator.
Now that you know what to look for in a top-quality, high-performance RV air conditioner, it’s probably easy to see why we chose the ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air RV Air Conditioner as our top pick. It’s a reasonably priced unit that’s compatible with most RV makes and models. It also comes with an optional plug-in heat strip, making it an even better value.
For a more budget-friendly option, we like the Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner. It’s a well-built RV air conditioner that comes with a lot of features you will only find in pricier models. This newly revamped version also offers a 15 percent increase in airflow from its previous version, giving you a bigger bang for your buck.