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Best RV Air Conditioner: Keeping Cool on the Road

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Editors Choice

Dometic 15,000 BTU Brisk II Air

Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner, 15,000 BTU - Polar White (B59516.XX1C0)

The Dometic Brisk II is reliable, durable, and consistent, making it our best RV air conditioner on this list. It is compact and lightweight, whilst also built to maximize airflow and overall cooling power. 

Thanks to its smart design and the high-tech quality materials used, this compact AC unit has an increased airflow of 15%, whilst at the same time, a reduced weight of19 as compared to previous models. This powerful RV air conditioner offers an impressive 15,000 British Thermal Units per hour (sufficient for large RVs). 

The Dometic 15,000 Brisk II doesn’t take up a lot of space or add much weight to your loaded vehicle, being one of the smallest and lightest rooftop units on the market today. Despite this, it still works well and is the best all-around RV roof air conditioner we reviewed.

Best AC Units for RV Life: Keeping Cool on the Road

When you want to enjoy your adventures on the road, nobody wants their RV domain to feel uncomfortable and sticky. Whether it be at the beach, in the desert, or at a campsite—your recreational vehicle is your go-to for comfort and rest. 

The easiest way to achieve maximum temperature comfort in your recreational vehicle is by investing in an air conditioning unit. If you’ve found your way here, you are likely sussing out the best RV air conditioner for your needs. Whether you are looking to install one for the first time or to replace an old one, read on to learn all you need to know about RV air conditioners.

Looking for the Best RV AC Unit for Your Rig?

  • What features are important to consider
  • RV air conditioner reviews of nine of the top models
  • Our unbiased opinion on the top air conditioner for RV use

How to Choose the Right RV Air Conditioner

The maximum comfortable temperature for humans is up to 79 degrees Fahrenheit in low humidity, and only up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in high humidity. With average humidity, we feel most comfortable at temperatures between 64.5 and 71.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The fickle nature of human comfort makes the air conditioner one of the most important inventions of modern times.

Typically, there is a 14″ x 14″ space in the top of your coach made for an RV AC unit. The installation will require you to unscrew your ceiling from inside the RV using the four mounting bolts. Remember to disconnect from your power supply before you remove an old air conditioning unit and/or install a new one.

With the top unit off the outside, proper installation will require you to align your AC unit with the cut-out using the preinstalled gasket. If your RV is ducted, you will have to line up your faceplate with your ductwork and connect your thermostat to your control panel.

Best RV Thermostat Banner

There are many reasons you may want to replace your current AC unit with a new RV air conditioner. Is the old one slow to start? Is the airflow current weak or warm? Is it leaking, or does it only work well on specific speed settings? Has it gotten noisy? If you are looking for a replacement unit then knowing the model of the air conditioner you currently have is an essential first step

To find the manufacturer’s data tag you should only need to remove your ceiling assembly and perhaps use a flashlight. AC units are available for ducted and non-ducted RV campers, so knowing which you have is important.

Whether you are replacing an old-fashioned unit or looking to buy an RV air conditioner for the first time, there are several factors to consider as you’re shopping around. These include the unit’s BTUs, its shape, noise level, and simplicity of installation.

Key Features to Look For

BTUs

BTUs (British Thermal Units) describe the amount of heat energy required to increase the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs will determine how effectively your AC unit will be able to chill your space to a comfortable temperature.

The BTU rating is a crucial consideration when it comes to choosing an RV AC unit. 13,500 BTU is typical, with a higher output giving a little better performance in extreme heat. On the other hand, if you won’t be using your unit often, nor in extreme conditions, you might reasonably be tempted by the lower prices of lower BTU appliances.

Some people may prefer to install more than one unit, as large RVs may take up to 18,000 BTUs to cool satisfactorily.

Ease of Installation 

To some extent, this is about the weight of the unit. Especially if you plan to install the air conditioner by yourself, you will do better with something compact and not too heavy. Ideally, you will also get well-written, easy to interpret installation instructions and a comprehensive manual.

Brand

For RV owners with previous experience with air conditioner units, brand loyalty may factor in your shopping. Something else to consider is that if you already have replacement parts on hand, you may want to shop with brand compatibility in mind for that reason.

Shape & Size

Compact and aerodynamic are both important features for an item that is going to be mounted onto the roof of your moving vehicle. You want an RV AC unit that will resist wind drag and allow your recreational vehicle to be as fast, stable, and fuel-efficient as possible. You will also want to factor the height of your air conditioner into your vehicle’s overall clearance.

As mentioned above, the size of space in your RV ceiling for a rooftop AC unit is pretty standard. However, height can vary significantly. There is often a trade-off between increased power and a lower profile producing less drag. More compact AC units with lower BTUs are also usually more affordable. Hence, it’s wise to think through your energy needs so that you are only compromising your aerodynamics and investing in the maximum BTUs out of necessity.

Types of RV Air Conditioner Units

No matter the model, size, and age of your unit, chances are your RV came with a preinstalled rooftop air conditioner. The advantages of an installed placement are that it does not block windows or take up already limited floor space. This type of air conditioner is reliable and notably energy efficient at cooling a functional size space quickly.

Window RV AC units (or floor units that use a window vent) are a less popular option. They are unsightly, and if they aren’t installed correctly can create dangerous fumes.

There is also the option of buying portable, ventless, indoor RV air conditioners. These are small but do take up floor space. On the upside, they often also include dehumidifier features, require no mechanical skills to set up, and are relatively affordable. This may be an option for larger RVs, for instance, a 45-foot Class A diesel Pusher, might benefit from a second air conditioner unit for the back bedroom, where you can close a door between that space and the main living area. 

Noise

A loud AC unit fan, or a noisy fan motor, can disrupt your sleep and make you an unpopular campground neighbor. Buying a quality appliance should avoid this problem when it is functioning properly. But if it is making strange noises it could be due to some basic mechanical malfunctions, for instance, something coming loose. Check your screen and vent before you assume it’s anything more technical than that. 

Dual Use

When shopping for an RV air conditioner, you may notice dual-usage units on the market. A dual-usage RV AC unit will include a heat pump, allowing them to function not only as air conditioners but as heat sources as well. 

As one might expect, air conditioners with this heat pump feature are generally more expensive, and a heat pump is not designed to heat your RV to toasty comfort in freezing cold weather.

However, the increased versatility of these units is advantageous over using a separate heater, as you will have less need to burn propane for heat (and therefore can buy propane less often).

Maintenance

RV AC units are great, and essential in some cases, to have affording you comfort on the road and at your campsite. Like any other piece of equipment, AC for RV use will require regular maintenance, and eventually, they will wear and break. Air conditioner cover can be a good investment in protecting your RV AC unit, though nothing lasts forever.

With this in mind, be sure to check your camper air conditioner for simple problems and have the number of a mechanic that you trust on hand for when things get more complicated.

Now you know what to look for in an A/C unit let’s take a look at the best RV air conditioners on the market today.

Best RV Air Conditioner: The Top 9 of 2021 Reviewed

Dometic 15,000 BTU Brisk II Air

Editors Choice

Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner, 15,000 BTU - Polar White (B59516.XX1C0)

The Dometic 15,000 Brisk II is the result of two years of re-design. This compact 15000 BTU RV air conditioner achieves maximal airflow and performance, with airflow increased by 15% and weight reduced by 19%. Dometic also promises that this redesign has yielded a quieter upgrade.

The sleek design provides a durable, robust rooftop RV air conditioner at a reasonable 85 pounds. This is still heavier than some models, but it’s not bad considering the power you are getting. This appliance has sufficient cooling power for small to large-sized RVs, and consumers have reported it to have a long lifespan. It is also incredibly easy to install which is a bonus.

Available in a selection of white or black, this model allows you to better match to the colors and décor of your camper. Another flexible feature is that it can be used with ducted or non-ducted RV air conditioning systems. 

Furthermore, the high-speed motor and high-quality fan are unlikely to cause you any issues. Even so, Dometic still offers a 2-Year protection plan, plus a warranty.

  • PROs

    • Easy to Install
    • Includes a 2-year warranty
    • Can be used with ducted or non-ducted system
  • CONs

    • Can be noisy on highest speed setting

Bottom-Line: When it comes to small RV air conditioning units you don’t get any better than this. It’s efficient and durable, with a quiet and robust motor for enhanced airflow. We can safely say this is a good investment.

Coleman Airxcel Mach 15

Most powerful

Coleman 48204C866 Mach 15+ A/C Unit

Due to the use of a ⅓ HP fan motor, the Coleman Airxcel Mach 15 can deliver an impressive 325 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of cool airflow and 15,000 cooling capacity BTUs. It has condenser coil protection for the shroud which enhances durability, as well as all copper tubing and gas-flux brazed couplings. 

This AC unit is also dual usage, meaning it has both cooling and heating facilities although the heating assembly has to be bought separately. Despite this, it may still be a good choice for some as the electric heat element offers an outstanding 5,600 BTUs of heat.

This RV rooftop air conditioner has the typical smart, aerodynamic shape of models from the Airxcel range. It is 90 pounds and easy to install. However, the Mach 15 gets low marks for being notably loud.

  • PROs

    • Dual usage
    • Powerful in both heating and cooling
  • CONs

    • Noisy

Bottom-Line: The Coleman Mach 15 is high-powered and able to cool large areas in an impressively short time. For quality and power, this is an ideal choice.

Dometic Penguin II

Best Low Profile

Dometic 640315C Penguin II 410 Amp Low Profile Rooftop Air Conditioner(Polar White)

Low-profile RV air conditioners don’t come any lower than the Dometic Penguin II 410 Amp. With a profile height of a mere 9.5 inches reducing wind drag and therefore increasing the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. The Penguin comes in two BTU cooling capacity options, 13,500 BTUs or 15,000 BTUs. 

This air conditioner uses an eco-friendly R410A refrigerant, that in conjunction with the high-performance motor and fan increases, the overall cooling efficiency. Like other Dometic models on this list, it has the versatility of being able to work with systems that are ducted or non-ducted. This unit weighs in at 109 pounds.

Consistent with the brand’s usual thoughtful touches for consumers, this sleek model also comes in your choice of black or white. It is constructed to last for a long time and packed with features so it’s no surprise that this air conditioner is more expensive than most. This Dometic product also comes with the company’s generous 2-year warranty.

  • PROs

    • Includes a 2-year warranty
    • Can be used with both ducted and non-ducted units
  • CONs

    • Expensive

Bottom-Line: The 9.5-inch silhouette of the Dometic Penguin II is impressive, and if paying a premium for this increased clearance isn’t a deal-breaker for you, this unit offers top-of-the-line features and versatility to make any consumer smile

Atwood 15026 Non-Ducted A/C Unit

Best Value

Atwood 15026 Non-Ducted A/C Unit

The Atwood 15026 non-ducted RV A/C unit is an excellent option for that sweet spot of affordability versus high functionality. It has many of the essential features of higher-priced models but at a more wallet-friendly price point. 

It has an ample 15,000 BTU cooling capacity and an impressive 360 CFM airflow delivery output. The digital thermostat features a well-designed remote control so you can operate your air conditioner from the comfort of your seat as well. This is another dual usage model with an installed AC unit heat pump allowing you to take the edge off a chilly night inside your RV without needing an extra fuel-burning furnace. 

This air conditioner is notably reliable, durable, and heavy-duty, and built to stand up to the harshest of exterior conditions. As the name implies, this is a non-ducted model only and is a manageable 90-pound weight making it relatively easy to move around and install.

The individual motors for the condenser fan and blower fan, in combination with this unit’s low amp draw, help ensure optimal function with reduced power consumption.

  • PROs

    • Quiet operation
    • Dual usage
    • Can withstand harsh environments
  • CONs

    • Frequent cycles can cause a shaking effect

Bottom-Line: The Atwood 15026 is efficient both as an air conditioner and a heater. It is very quiet offering you and your neighbor’s peace and quiet and at a great price.

Coleman Airxcel MACH 3 Plus

Best Efficiency

Coleman 48203C966 Mach 3+ A/C Unit

The Coleman RV air conditioner Airxcel Mach 3 Plus is built for longevity and durability with its all-copper tubing, gas-flux brazed joints. With 320 CFM of airflow, it can offer you a cool environment within minutes, making it a standout among non-Airxcel models of a similar spec, with just 13,500 BTUs. 

This model is another RV AC unit that has the option of operating as a heater, however, the optional heater assembly is sold separately. This might be a worthwhile and convenient additional investment to consider though if electricity is readily available. Also to note is that the additional heat strip consumes 1800 running watts, compared to the energy required when cooling which is only 1400 watts. 

This unit weighs 80 pounds and is available in your selection of black or white to suit your colour scheme. Though this motor home air conditioning unit has a lot to offer, some consumers find it noisy.

  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Dual usage
    • Lightweight
  • CONs

    • Could be quieter

Bottom-Line: For its notably durable construction and impressive airflow cooling capacity, the Coleman Airxcel Mach 3 Plus stands out as the most efficient RV air conditioner and at an affordable price.

ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air

Lightest model

ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air 13,500 BTU Roof Top AC, White

The ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent features a unique optional plug-in electric heat strip, making it dual usage and a useful piece of equipment for a broader range of climates. At a mere 68 pounds, it is lightweight, especially for a unit that also offers heating capacity. This makes it easy to maneuver and install. 

It has a 3000 starting watt rating and provides 13,500 BTU, putting it in the standard range for RV AC units. There are three different fan speeds you can choose from, giving you an extent of control. 

It has an inflexible metal-forged base pan and an in-built dense, well-sealed vent gasket with six plush foam support pads which enhances durability. It comes in either black or white, to better coordinate with your recreational vehicle. 

Despite all that is right with this RV rooftop AC unit, ASA Electronics lose some bragging rights due to their questionable customer support reputation with some reporting an unfavorable experience.

  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Dual usage
    • Lightweight
    • Multiple fan speeds
  • CONs

    • Questionable customer support

Bottom-Line: For ease of installation this model wins hands down. It also has a nice range of features at a competitive price.

Atwood 15028 Ducted A/C Unit

Best RV AC for Quiet Performance

Atwood 15028 Ducted A/C Unit

The Atwood 15028 is a ducted RV air conditioner and comes with a heat pump that can lend you warmth in chillier weather, or at colder times of the day. 

This model is rated at 15,000 BTUs/hour and is said by Atwood to be able to go as high as 18,000 BTUs “equivalent performance.” Despite this stand-out power, it’s relatively light weighing in at 88.2 pounds. It is also reasonably streamlined with an aerodynamic shape and profile of just over 14″. 

The digital thermostat has a remote control so that you can tweak temperature, fan speed, and enable the sleep timer from anywhere in the coach. It also offers 360 CFM, making it an airflow leader in its class. It’s also quiet, and has an improved airflow circulation, thanks to its superior V-FLOW™ airstream.

  • PROs

    • Quiet
    • Dual usage
    • High CFM
    • Good customer service
  • CONs

    • Expensive

Bottom-Line: The Atwood 15028 is high-performing with all of the most desirable features, including easy installation, incredible power, and of course quiet noise levels.

Dometic 13500 BTU Rooftop Duo Therm Brisk Air II

Best Budget

Dometic Brisk II Rooftop Air Conditioner, 13,500 BTU - Polar White (B57915.XX1C0)

The Dometic Duo Therm Brisk II is compact and has a reasonable installed weight of 72 pounds. This model offers the standard 13500 BTUs and is recommended for small to medium-sized RVs. 

This small RV air conditioner has openings that are larger than average, improving airflow and overall cooling efficiency. It also has a multispeed blower for better climate control. It’s simple to operate and maintain, and compatible with both ducted and non-ducted units. There is an optional heat strip for those looking for a dual usage appliance.

It is built with copper tubing and dual rubber bushings, a carbon steel base, and a wrap-around shroud that adds strength and reduces the noise of your appliance. It’s also made from resilient carbon steel components, standing up to vibration tests lasting for 30+ hours.

At this performance level, it’s an affordable option, durable yet highly portable. One drawback is that the noise level may be too much for some, although it does come with dampening brackets designed to aid in the reduction of shaking and noise.

  • PROs

    • Dual usage
    • Small size
    • Affordable
  • CONs

    • Could be quieter
    • Spare parts are sometimes hard to find

Bottom-Line: This camper AC unit offers bang for your buck. It’s well made and easy to install. It’s one of the smallest on the market, and its subtle, aerodynamic design is attractive.

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Categories HVAC

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