Best Portable AC for RV

Updated: Jan 24, 2024 6:35 PM
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If you’re looking for the best portable air conditioner for an RV, you’ll want to focus on the BTUs and the size. The BTUs will determine the compatible square footage for a unit. But the actual size and dimensions will also matter as a unit that’s too large can block walkways and leave your RV looking cluttered. You’ll also want to consider whether you need a portable air conditioner for an RV, an evaporative cooler, or a top air conditioner. And finally, look for additional features like a dehumidifier, a 24-hour programmable timer, or even smart assistant integration to make your air conditioner more intuitive and functional.

After conducting thorough research through countless consumer reviews, we nominated the Ontel Arctic Ultra-portable air conditioner as the best portable air conditioner for an RV. Keep reading to learn more about our selection criteria and to shop from our recommendations for the best air conditioners for your needs.

Top 10 Best Portable Air Conditioners for RV

 #1  Ontel Arctic Ultra Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A small RV air conditioner that’s perfect for supplemental cooling at a budget-friendly price with a night light makes this ideal for use in sleeping quarters.

Pros
  • Best on a budget
  • Ideal for supplemental cooling
  • Includes a 7-color LED light
Cons
  • Requires users to refill tank
  • Limited airflow range

If your RV already has an air conditioner, you might not be in the market for a traditional portable air conditioner unit for the camper. We like that this small portable air conditioner is an evaporative cooler that’s battery-powered and weighs only 2.6 pounds. It measures 10.15 inches long, 11.1 inches wide, and 12.9 inches tall, making it ideal for leaving on your bedside table or shelf. If you like the idea of a night light, you’ll appreciate that the Ontel Arctic Ultra can be set to one of seven LED colors or cycled through them in continuous mode.

However, this is truly a personal solution as you’ll get a max distance for airflow of 12 inches from the unit. Likewise, because this is an evaporative cooler, you’ll need to refill the tank. According to the brand, the tank can run for up to eight hours between refills depending on the fan speed you select. However, the tank’s capacity is limited to 750 milliliters. Another nice feature is that this can also be used to add moisture and purify the air as it cools. Another great feature is that this pick can be plugged into an electrical outlet or via USB power by connecting it to a laptop or power bank.

 #2  Costway Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable air conditioner for camper vans with 8,000 BTUs to cool up to 230 square feet of space, the ability to switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and three-in-one functionality.

Pros
  • 3-in-1 with 24hr programmable timer
  • Switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit
  • 8,000 BTUs for up to 230 sq. ft.
Cons
  • 56 dB output may be noisy for some
  • 50 pints/24hr evaporation rate

For people who want a true air conditioner, the leading portable air conditioners are a great choice since they’re easy to install. If you’re wondering how to vent a portable AC in an RV, you can use the included window kits to connect the exhaust vent. Although, some of the windowless air conditioners are an option, too. Portable AC units for camper vans come on wheels so that you can move them around your RV as needed. The Cosway model is a great portable air conditioner for camper vans. This model has 8,000 BTUs which is powerful enough for spaces up to 230 square feet. You’ll also get three-in-one functionality which includes cooling, a fan, and a dehumidifier.

You’ll get an evaporation rate of 50 pints per 24 hours. For portable air conditioners in a camper van, this is considered low as it’s possible to find models that can evaporate as much as 120 pints in a 24-hour cycle. Still, we do like that you can switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit and that this model comes with a remote control. Other standard features include two-way up and down air deflection for improved circulation, a 24-hour programmable timer, and a remote control. You’ll also like that this model has self-evaporative technology to remove condensation. However, with a noise output of 56 decibels, this is one of the noisier options. If you struggle to sleep in new locations, it’s best to invest in the tower air conditioner that has a white noise mode to help you drift into dreamland.

 #3  Whynter Elite ARC 122DS Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR OVERSIZED CAMPERS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A quiet portable AC that can cool up to 400 square feet, and with a medium, 76 pints per day evaporation rate makes this one of the best window AC units for an RV.

Pros
  • Quiet 52-decibel sound output
  • 12,000 BTUs for up to 400 sq. ft.
  • 76 pints per day evaporation rate
Cons
  • Low 155 CFM rating

If you have a larger RV or camper, then a lower-capacity portable AC unit for the RV might not be the best choice. We think the Whynter Elite ARC 112DS is one of the best window AC units for an RV. We like that it has 12,000 BTUs of power to cool spaces as large as 400 square feet. That can come in handy if you have an oversized RV. It’s a dual-hose option that provides three-in-one functionality. That includes dehumidification, cooling, and a fan. You’ll get an evaporation rate of roughly 76 pints per day. This puts it in the medium range for removing moisture from the air.

You’ll get a window installation kit with the Whynter Elite with an adjustable panel for windows ranging from 20 and 46 inches. This is another model that has self-evaporative drainage. Additional standard features we like with this pick are the 24-hour programmable timer, a removable washable pre-filter, and the included remote. Another nice option is that in the lowest setting, the sound output is just 52 decibels so it’s a great quiet choice. However, you might not like that this unit has a lower CFM rating of just 155.

 #4  Honeywell MO08CESWK6 Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST SLEEP MODE

WHY WE LIKE IT: An RV air conditioner that has 9,100 BTUs of power to cool spaces ranging from 250 to 350 square feet with a dehumidifier mode for increased comfort and a 10-hour programmable sleep mode.

Pros
  • Includes dehumidifier function
  • 9,100 BTUs for spaces 250 – 350 sq. ft.
  • Includes continuous drain feature
Cons
  • Low 44 pints/day evaporation rate

No one wants a noisy air conditioner keeping them up while they’re trying to sleep. Or more importantly, many air conditioners have sleep modes that are limited to six hours of programmability. But if you’re the type who sleeps longer than that, this may not be compatible. We like the Honeywell MO08CESWK6 RV air conditioner because it has one of the longest programmable sleep modes that we found in our research.

You’ll get 9,100 BTUs which is compatible with spaces up to 350 square feet. This three-in-one solution includes a dehumidifier, but with a low 44-pints per day evaporation rate. Still, you’ll get a 24-hour programmable timer and continuous drainage that comes with a hose. As is common, this pick comes with wheels for increased mobility. You can also remove the filter to wash it and improve air quality.

 #5  Homelabs Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST CAPACITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable AC that can cool spaces as large as 600 square feet with a quiet 53-decibel output makes this a great 2-in-1 solution for your home and when you hit the road in your RV.

Pros
  • Automatic vertical swing function
  • 14,000 BTUs
  • Quiet at 53 decibels
Cons
  • Lacks supplemental heat

If the idea of buying a supplemental air conditioner just for your RV sounds wasteful, then it’s not a bad concept to think of other places where that portable air conditioner could be put to good use. We like the Homelabs AC unit because it’s a large capacity option that can pull double duty in your home when you’re not hitting the road in your RV. With 14,000 BTUs you can cool spaces as large as 600 square feet — which is why we think this is best reserved for people who’ll also use the air conditioner at home. It can be moved from room to room.

The Homelabs is another three-in-one solution with a dehumidifier and automatic vertical swing functionality which helps to oscillate the air to improve circulation when it’s on. You’ll also get a washable removable filter, a sleep mode, auto mode, and a 24-hour programmable timer for increased comfort. You’ll appreciate that this unit is designed with indicator lights to remind you when it’s time to clean your filters and an evaporation system that automatically removes condensate. And as is common, you’ll get a remote control so you can manage your cooling settings without having to get up.

 #6  LG LP1017WSR Air Conditioner

Award: BEST SMART INTEGRATION

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best portable air conditioner for RVs with smart integration thanks to the LG proprietary app and Wi-Fi compatibility, three-in-one functionality, and capacity for up to 300 square feet.

Pros
  • Oscillating flow discharge
  • 10,200 BTUs for up to 300 sq. ft.
  • 3-in-1 cooling, dehumidifier, and fan function
Cons
  • Lower EER rating of 8.2
  • Lacks self-evaporation condensate

If you’re the type who loves the idea of smart integration, the LG LP1017WSR is the best portable air conditioner for your RV. LG’s proprietary SmartThinQ app gives you the freedom to manage your RV’s climate controls from your smartphone. The LG LP1017WSR has 10,200 BTUs that can easily cool spaces up to 300 square feet. It’s also a three-in-one solution, including a dehumidifier that can remove up to 91.2 pints per 24 hours and oscillating louvers for improved air circulation.

This LG unit has a 220 CFM mode but we do like that in the lowest settings, this unit emits only 51 decibels. However, it also has two cooling and two fan speeds, as well as a 24-hour programmable timer and an easy-to-use control panel with a bright LCD temperature display. The only other drawback we noted was that this pick must be manually emptied as it lacks self-evaporation to remove any condensate created.

 #7  Edgestar Ultra Compact Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR SMALL CAMPERS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A compact air conditioner with three-in-one functionality, adjustable louvers, and self-evaporative technology makes this ideal for smaller campers that have limited floor space.

Pros
  • 3-in-1 functionality
  • Self-evaporative for condensation removal
  • Adjustable louvers
Cons
  • Low 50 pints/day evaporation rate

If you have a small camper, an oversized portable air conditioner in your camper isn’t going to make sense. In addition to it taking up precious floor space, you’ll also be using a unit that’s most likely too powerful for your RV. So, finding a smaller unit that can effectively cool the space without making your RV feel cluttered is a smart choice. We like the Edgestar Ultra Compact AC unit because it lives up to its name. With just 8,000 BTUs it can cool spaces ranging from 150 to 225 square feet.

This is another great three-in-one solution that has adjustable louvers to help improve circulation. However, it does feature a lower evaporation rate of just 50 pints per day. Still, we like that you get self-evaporative functionality so you’re not stopping every few hours to empty a collection bin. It also features energy-efficient settings like the 24-hour programmable timer and an auto mode that can reduce consumption when it’s not needed. As is common, you’ll get casters, a window kit, and a remote control.

 #8  Honeywell HL10CESWK Portable Camping Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FILTERS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable AC unit with a dual-filter design to increase the appliance’s lifespan, that can cool up to 450 square feet and includes three fan speeds, and a solid evaporation rate.

Pros
  • Cools up to 450 sq. ft.
  • 9,000 BTUs with dehumidifier
  • 3 fan speeds and 24-hr programmability
Cons
  • Lacks supplemental heat

Being comfortable indoors is about having more than just cool air and a comfortable ambient temperature. Another key feature is air quality. We like the Honeywell HL10CESWK because it has a dual filter design to trap dirt, dust, hair, and other contaminants to not only improve the air quality but prolong the lifespan of the unit. It’s a 9,000 BTU option that can cool spaces as large as 450 square feet. Because it’s a three-in-one solution, you also have a dehumidifier that can remove up to 80 pints per day.

Other included features are three fan speeds, a 24-hour programmable timer, an energy-saving mode, and a sleep mode. The casters make this a great mobile pick, and the window installation kit makes installation a breeze. You’ll appreciate the quiet operation that can range from 49 to 52 decibels depending on the mode you select. However, this model doesn’t come with supplemental heat, which might be a deal-breaker for some people. For people that live in drier climates like the Southwest where the humidity levels are low, the an evaporative air conditioner is a perfect choice.

 #9  Koldfront PAC1402W Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST EVAPORATION RATE

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable air conditioner with a 107-pint evaporation rate that can cool spaces up to 500 square feet makes this ideal for RVs in more humid climates.

Pros
  • Ideal for spaces up to 500 sq. ft.
  • Auto swing louvers
  • 24-hr programmable timer
Cons
  • No supplemental heat

If you’re RVing in more humid climates, a portable air conditioner in the camper van that can remove moisture from the air is going to be important. We like the Koldfront PAC1402W because it has one of the best evaporation rates that we found in our research for this guide. This three-in-one AC unit can remove as much as 107 pints of moisture from the air in 24 hours. It’s also incredibly powerful with 14,000 BTUs to cool spaces up to 500 square feet — making it ideal for oversized RVs and campers.

You’ll also like that it has auto swing louvers to help improve air circulation. While it doesn’t have the best EER rating at just 8,9, we do like that you get three fan speeds, a sleep function, a washable pre-filter, and a 24-hour programmable timer. As is common, you’ll get a remote control with Follow Me, which means that your air conditioner will rely on the temperature sensed by your remote rather than the air immediately around the unit. But you can also manage settings through the control panel on the appliance. And the self-evaporative mode means that you don’t have to deal with emptying condensate every few hours.

 #10  Zero Breeze Mark 2 Portable RV Air Conditioner

Award: BEST BATTERY OPERATED

WHY WE LIKE IT: A truly portable air conditioner for an RV that can run on battery or generator power and is rated IPX4 moisture-resistant and that weighs only 16.5 pounds so you can take it anywhere.

Pros
  • IPX4 moisture protection
  • Runs on electricity or battery power
  • Relatively lightweight at 16.5 lbs
Cons
  • Short battery life at full speed
  • Getting the battery requires an upgrade

While the Zero Breeze isn’t a 12-volt air conditioner for an RV, it is a 24-volt compatible model that’s designed with tent and RV campers in mind. It’s a lightweight 16.5-pound solution that’s guaranteed to take up significantly less space than a traditional portable AC unit in a small camper van. Note that for now, the Zero Breeze can only be purchased through the manufacturer. However, it’s rated to reduce temperatures by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. This model comes with four cooling modes and an additional four wind speeds.

We like that you can choose to power this unit with battery or electrical power. But if you prefer to use the rechargeable lithium-ion battery made by Zero Breeze, you’ll need to purchase the upgrade. This model also has a three-pin power adapter for use with an electrical outlet. In battery mode, the brand promises that you can get up to six hours of use on a single charge. However, we did notice through customer reviews that even though the official sound output was 52 decibels, it was quite noisy in real life. Less noisy units may be found among the best window air conditioners.

How We Decided

If your RV’s existing air conditioning isn’t powerful enough, a supplemental choice such as a portable air conditioner for the RV can be a great way to stay comfortable while you’re on the road in hot weather. To create our guide we focused on the following key features — BTUs, size, style, and additional features.

BTUs are going to be an important factor, especially if you’re shopping for your RV. Using a unit that’s too powerful, in addition to power consumption and possibly damaging the unit, can introduce excess moisture into your interior space and leave the area feeling damp. But you also want to think about the actual size of the unit. Even for a larger camper, space is limited, and you don’t want a massive AC unit blocking footpaths. This can be true for portable air conditioning units as well, even though they are on rolling caster wheels, they can take up a lot of space depending on the style.

Also, think about the style or type of air conditioner. Do you need a portable air conditioner for your RV, or would you be better served with an evaporative cooler? An evaporative cooler can be truly portable at an affordable price, but you will need to consider if you want to continuously add cold water or ice cubes to keep you cool. Additionally, like above, if you live in a humid environment, an evaporative cooler isn’t ideal as it will add moisture to the air. They can also be a smart solution for supplemental air conditioning if your RV already has a central air system but, for example, the bedroom is still warm. But your portable air conditioner can leak water and will need maintenance when this happens.

Finally, we considered additional features such as a dehumidifier or smart integration support. Note that evaporative coolers don’t usually offer a dehumidifier since they work to cool the air by adding moisture and rely on water or ice to do so.

Best Portable Air Conditioner for RV Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. BTU Rating
    The BTU rating is one of the most important specs you should consider when buying an air conditioner unit for RVs. Just like with a home AC unit, you need to think about how much area your air conditioner can effectively cool and ensure it’s compatible with the size of your RV.
    • BTU, or “British Thermal Unit,” outlines the cooling capacity or compatible square footage for an air conditioner.
    • Portable units, such as swamp coolers, are particularly helpful for the hot summer months when an air conditioner isn’t available but is still needed to combat the heat.
    • RV portable air conditioners use an RV AC generator to increase the BTUs. The RV AC generators are available in different watts and voltage.
    • Larger RVs may need a higher BTU rating to cool an area. However, if you get an AC that is too powerful for the space, like the best portable AC for an RV, it can encourage moisture buildup and make your RV feel damp and cold.
  2. Size
    A portable AC for a camper van can be fairly mobile, but they come in a variety of sizes. And even though they’re easy to install, these free-standing models can take up space that may eat into your living areas. Additionally, we have a page to help you answer, how many BTUs for an air conditioner do I need?
    • So, you’ll want to look at the dimensions of your unit, as well as the weight, to ensure that it won’t make your RV feel cramped.
    • Plus, you’ll want to know what temp to set the AC when you’re away. That way, your AC remains cool without using too much energy consumption.
    • On the other hand, some of the best portable AC units for an RV are meant to be tiny and compact.
  3. Style
    Style refers to the type of air conditioner that you’re using. You could opt for a traditional portable air conditioner in an RV with an exhaust hose to vent warm air and hot air, or an evaporative cooler. There are also combination units that both heat and cool. While evaporative coolers are a fantastic option that is typically smaller and lighter, they’re not compatible with humid conditions since they add moisture to the air as they work. Still, many of them can run off of USB or battery power, which may be ideal if you’re concerned about overtaxing your RV’s built-in generator or power supply. A portable air conditioner for an RV usually also features a dehumidifier mode and can be easily installed by using the included window installation kit. However, as noted earlier, they tend to be bigger. Some portable AC units are capable of dehumidification and don’t need window installation like the model in our Whynter ARC-143MX so you can move it around the RV.
  4. Additional Features
    Evaporative coolers tend to be limited in functionality beyond fan oscillation and speeds. However, portable air conditioners in camper vans can include value-added features like supplemental heat, dehumidification, 24-hour programmable timers, self-evaporative condensation, and even WiFi compatibility for enhanced remote operation. Pay attention to the noise level as well. Depending on how frequently you plan to use an air conditioner in your RV, you may find those additional features useful. Also, don’t forget about the unit’s air filter, as it needs to be kept clean for efficient cooling in the summer heat.

Best Portable AC for RV Questions (FAQ)

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