A Primer On Rooftop RV Air Conditioners

21 October 2019
 Categories: , Blog

Owning an RV is all about bringing the comforts of home with you, and having a cool, air-conditioned space to spend your time is a crucial part of that. Whether you are replacing an old, failing air conditioner or retrofitting a new one to an RV without air conditioning, the first step in the process is choosing the right unit.

The Advantages of a Rooftop Unit

Rooftop units are not the only choice for keeping the heat away, but they are one of the most popular. Alternatives to the rooftop unit are generally just repurposed home air conditioners. RV owners who choose to take this approach may use window units or portable air conditioning units. While both options will work just fine to cool the interior of your RV, they come with significant downsides. Portable units are generally inefficient, loud, and take up significant interior space. Window units, on the other hand, can rarely be secured well enough to remain in place while traveling.

Rooftop units, while usually more expensive than window or portable units, can go a long way towards eliminating these downsides. Rooftop air conditioners are permanent fixtures while still offering the same cooling efficiency as a window unit. In most cases, it is also trivially easy to remove the air conditioner for replacement or repair.

Sizing Your Air Conditioner

Sizing an RV air conditioner is similar to sizing any other HVAC system, just on a much smaller scale. When considering how much air conditioner you need, there are two main factors to consider:

  • Interior square footage
  • Heat loading

The first of these factors should be easy to understand: the larger the interior volume of your RV, the more power you need to maintain a comfortable temperature. The second factor might seem less familiar, but it's equally straightforward. Heat loading refers to the amount of heat that is likely to enter the interior cabin. If your RV has many windows, then the heat load will be higher. Likewise, you can expect a more significant heat load if your RV has many heat-generating appliances or if you plan to spend time in scorchingly hot areas.

As a general rule, you should size your air conditioner based on the square footage to be cooled and then step up a size if you expect unusually large heat loads.

Choosing the Right Air Conditioner

Once you know how much power you need, all that's left to do is select the right model. Since you won't want to frequently remove your air conditioner for maintenance or repairs, going with a trusted brand such as Coleman is usually advisable. An option like a Coleman Mach 15 AC Unit can offer high-end cooling ability. Whichever brand and model you decide to choose, be sure to check reviews carefully to ensure that your new AC will keep you cool and comfortable no matter where your adventures take you.