Summer is one of our favorite times to get out on the road. Festivals and local celebrations are in full swing, and we love those splashes of local color! When temperatures start rising, though, we’re confronted with one of the biggest challenges of RV living: extreme temperatures. Let’s dig into how to keep your RV cool this summer!
Across the nation, the mercury’s bursting thermometers and heat records are dropping fast. RVs are excellent when it comes to moderate temperatures.
But when it starts creeping into the high 80s and 90s, crossing your fingers and hoping the AC holds out doesn’t cut it.
There are plenty of ways to keep your RV cool this summer that don’t involve blasting your rooftop unit on maximum 24/7. Not only is it inefficient, sometimes it just can’t keep up.
We’re looking at some of the top ways to cool your rig when the temps at night don’t dip below 90℉.
Grab a cool drink, and let’s get started!
What Temperature Is Too Hot for an RV?
When you’re planning a trip into a hot zone, you should know what your rig can handle without struggling. Your home on wheels is only as strong as the weakest links, and in the heat, there are a couple.
Electrical systems have a hard time keeping up with the heat because as the circuits get too hot, they shut down. That breaker panel on your RV is there to prevent system failure, sometimes at the expense of your AC.
Cooling your vehicle’s interior is of utmost importance, and if you’re relying on air conditioning, you’ll need a reliable power source.
You’ll have access to power at an RV park, but it has to be running at 120 Volts to work. Some parks don’t, and breakers will flip in that case.
Solar panels are rated up to 148℉ and provide consistent voltage, especially in the heat.
If you’re in a pinch and need to cool down your breaker panel, some folks use any means necessary to keep things cool.
Hot Tip: Use a fan to keep your breaker panel on ice! https://changinglanesrv.com/rving-in-extreme-heat/
If you’re traveling during a heatwave, pay attention to the road. Your tires are rated up to 156℉ before you’re at risk of a blowout.
While you’re not likely to encounter that temperature on this planet, tires run hot.
Generally speaking, your tires run 30℉ to 50℉ hotter than the ambient temperature.
Tips for Keeping Your RV Cool in Hot Weather
Aside from running your AC non-stop, a few tried and true methods exist to keep your RV cool in the summer.
With just a little planning and preparation, you can still enjoy living on the road.
Check out our top tips for staying cool!
Park In the Shade to Beat the Heat
This might seem obvious to you, but parking in the shade is more complicated than it seems. During the hottest part of the day, you want your rig in full shade.
Park so the sun hits the smallest amount of surface area. For most rigs, that means parking on an east-west orientation.
In the event that you can’t park fully in the shade, park so your AC unit isn’t in the sun. It’s possible to overheat the unit if it’s exposed to direct sunlight with no air movement.
Use Awnings to Create Your Own Shade To Keep Your RV Cool This Summer
Natural shade isn’t always available, but your RV may have it built-in. At the RV park, keep your awnings extended to shade the sides and windows of your vehicle from direct sunlight.
You’ll be surprised how much radiant heat impacts your energy usage and interior temperatures.
Cover Skylights With Radiant Barrier Film
Along those same lines, covering skylights in your bathroom and common area has a similar effect. You could also install a radiant barrier film on windows to keep those rays on the outside.
Also, don’t discount the power of a reflective sunshade in your cab. The windshield is a massive source of radiant energy; the more you can keep out, the better!
Seek High Ground to Stay Cool
Higher elevations stay cooler, even during a heat wave. Park your rig up in the mountains and use your toad (towed vehicle) to venture into the valleys.
According to a Sam Houston State University study, for every 1000’, you lose 3.5℉ in temperature. So if the valley is at 1000’ and 100℉, heading up to 7000’ drops it down to 79℉!
Maximizing RV Ventilation for a Cooler Summer
When the temperature rises, airflow is your best friend. You’ll enjoy cooler air all summer long by paying attention to your ventilation.
Clean Your Vents and Filters
You winterize your rig, so make sure you summer-ize it too! Locate all air filters in your vehicle and replace them as indicated.
Blocked filters don’t allow good airflow and can significantly reduce ventilation. And while you’re at it, clean your vents with a vacuum to remove any dust or debris.
Install a Roof Vent Fan
While your AC is chugging away, an RV roof vent fan keeps hot air out! While it’s great in the summer, you’ll also appreciate the fan because it removes moisture in cold and damp climates.
Check out this review of top RV Roof Vent Fans! https://campaddict.com/rv-roof-vent-fan/
Open Your Windows At Night for Better Ventilation
When it’s cooler outside, even just a little bit, you should open your windows to create a cross breeze.
Running your fan and AC with windows open might seem like overkill, but it works!
Optimal temperatures for sleeping are around 65 to 70℉, so get it nice and chilly overnight.
Once things are nice and cool, keep that cold air inside as long as possible!
Insulating Your RV for Better Summer Cooling
In the summer, your rig is one big heat sink. While the sun is up, your RV absorbs radiant energy, and that energy has to go somewhere. Insulation keeps the energy from entering your living area. There are a few places to add insulation to your vehicle for maximum impact.
Add Spray Foam to Your Interior Walls
Most walls have gaps between the exterior and interior walls. Check with the manufacturer, but spray foam insulation is an easy fix to fill the voids.
Closed-cell spray foam is ideal and relatively easy to install yourself!
Check out this video of DIY foam installation. https://youtu.be/vsm0klRhcOE
Doors and Windows Let in the Heat
Most RVs don’t have adequate seals on doors and windows in the living area. If you notice air leaking, replace the weather stripping and caulk any leaky spots.
A more permanent solution is to upgrade your doors and windows for maximum efficiency.
Eco-Friendly Solutions for Cooling Your RV
If you’re not using your generator to run the AC, chances are you’re running off of electric hookups or a solar system.
That’s a much more eco-friendly approach to staying cool. Some of the tips we already mentioned are eco-friendly, but here are a few more!
Use a Swamp Cooler
Traveling in a hot, dry area provides ideal conditions for a swamp cooler. Working from the concept of evaporation, it uses cool water to mellow out burning temperatures.
Air entering your rig through the cooler chills and brings some much-needed moisture along with it. Pair it with a rooftop fan so condensation isn’t an issue.
Breathable Bedding Makes a Difference
Use bedding designed to keep you cool at night. It might be more of an investment upfront, but you’ll appreciate the energy savings!
You won’t have to sacrifice comfort, either. Replace your pillow topper with a cooling gel pillow topper for maximum comfort.
Cook Outside To Keep Your RV Cool This Summer
Take your cooking outside to keep from heating up your living space. Invest in an efficient cooking system so you aren’t sweating it out while the fam waits inside for dinner. You can also prep meals in advance, so you’re not cooking much in the heat of the day at all.
Plan Ahead So You Can Enjoy Your RV This Summer!
Don’t let El Niño ruin your travel plans. With our tips and tricks to keep cool, you can beat the heat and savor every mile!
Planning to maximize efficient cooling might seem like a chore but trust us, we’ve never regretted it.
For more articles on RV travel and remote work check out these valuable resources