Cool Camping
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10 Tricks for Staying Cool in Your RV

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Cool Camping
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Cool Camping

Most of the best RV shows take place in the winter, but the season for putting endless miles of road in the rearview mirror of your travel trailer, motorhome, or fifth wheel is undoubtedly summertime. Most RV excursions take place during the hottest months of the year, and even RVs with excellent climate-control systems can get hot and stuffy. Here are some expert tips on staying cool when you hit the road, no matter the weather outside.

Related: Renting an RV? These Are the Features You'll Want — and Some You Won't

A Few Initial Tips
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A Few Initial Tips

Before diving into advice on making the most of your AC or considering any upgrades to your RV, there are some good, old-fashioned tips and tricks that have been helping RVers keep cool for generations. "Aside from using the AC unit, a few quick tips include parking in the shade, taking advantage of your awning, traveling somewhere a little cooler, and planning activities outside," says Megan Buemi, senior manager of customer experience for the RV rental marketplace RVshare. "We especially recommend anything that gets you in the water."

Related: Cool off Across America — Where to Swim in All 50 States

Check Hookup Specs Before You Arrive
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Check Hookup Specs Before You Arrive

The first and most obvious remedy to high heat is a good air conditioning unit. That unit, however, is only as good as the power on which it runs. 

"One of the most important things you can do is be sure to pick a site with the right amps for your equipment so that you don't burn out your air conditioner," says Dean Geracimos, chief operating officer at Blue Water Development, a developer of campgrounds on the East Coast.

Supplement Your AC With Fans
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Supplement Your AC With Fans

Even a strong AC system that's powered with the right amount of amps can use a little help. 

"We have a good AC in our camper, but we still like to make use of a small portable fan while sleeping to minimize the noise from the A.C.," says Grant Sinclair who, along with his wife, runs the blog Our Wander-Filled Life, which documents their time on the road with their travel trailer. "When boondocking, we have a battery-powered fan from Ryobi, which uses the same batteries as our drill and other tools, to keep cool on hot nights." 

You're not, however, confined to a specific brand or style — and when it comes to the number of fans, more is almost always better. 

"There are also countless portable and mountable fan options available," says Luca Sumberac, category manager at RV parts and accessories supplier CAMPERiD.com. "Strategically placing a few of these within your rig will keep the air circulating and your passengers happy."

Prioritize Maintenance
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Prioritize Maintenance

Just as the right hookups are important to a functioning AC, so, too, is regular and diligent maintenance. 

"Having a functioning AC unit in your RV during the summer months is crucial," says RVshare's Megan Buemi. "That's why it's imperative to keep your camper AC unit in ship shape by performing regular cleaning and maintenance, so you get ahead of any major issues before they start. Regularly changing any filter screens and giving the entire unit a once-over can go a long way."

Expect To Grill Instead Of Bake
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Cook Outside

RV life is so amazing, in part, because you can cook inside. But just because you can doesn't always mean that you should.

"To eliminate excess heat, try cooking your food outside of your RV," Sumberac says. "Grilling is an easy, yet tasty alternative."

Related: 16 RV-Friendly Meal Hacks for Delicious Eats On the Road

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Insist on Good Windows

When you buy an RV you're naturally going to look for opportunities to cut costs. Skimping on good windows is not one of those opportunities. 

"If you have not purchased an RV yet, do yourself a huge favor and don't buy one with windows that barely crack open," says Kelly Beasley, co-founder of RV education and product review site Camp Addict. "Buy one that has many windows and that can open wide."

Get the Most Out of Your Windows
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Get the Most Out of Your Windows

Windows, of course, open and close — but there are many other ways to manipulate your windows to improve the climate inside. 

"Especially when boondocking, it can get really hot in your RV," says Brooke Baum, who co-founded TrailingAway with her husband, Buddy. The couple are full-time travelers who spent a full year exploring the U.S. and Canada in a 25-foot motorhome. "But even with the AC on, taking some considerations to stay cool can go a long way. Don't park in direct sunlight and keep your blinds closed. You may also consider upgrading to dual-pane windows." 

Sumberac agrees and offers other suggestions, as well. "When it comes to staying cool in your RV, there are a handful of surprisingly simple tips that go a long way," he says. "When it's particularly warm out, covering your windows completely or lowering the shades could make a huge difference. On a shady and cooler day, open the windows to let fresh air in and to make sure there's enough ventilation in the RV."

Insulate When the Situation Calls For It
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Insulate When the Situation Calls For It

You can also adopt a familiar strategy from your home's climate-control system and apply it to your RV — the use of insulation. "In very hot climates, if your AC cannot keep up or you don't have AC, try using Reflectix," Beasley says of a popular brand name reflective-based insulation. "Cut it to fit your window size and put it on your South-facing windows on the inside. Some people even line the inside of their cabinets for extra insulation."  

Sinclair opts for a similar insulation strategy. "We have insulating squares, which fit into our vents to keep things cool when it is hot outside," he says.

Let Your Plans Determine Your Features
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Be Realistic About Your Generator's Limitations

The venerable gas-powered generator has provided power and comfort to generations of RVers. The reality, however, is that they have their limitations in terms of primary climate-control power. 

"If you are staying in an RV park, you plug in and most RVs have great air conditioning," says Bob Hamilton, founder of Bob Hamilton, founder of RV Dream New Radio. "But if you are dry camping (boondocking), your choice will be to run your generator. Turning on your generator will allow you to run your air conditioner, but for the most part, generators run on gasoline and will burn up about a gallon an hour. RVs will not let you run out of gas and some RVs automatically shut down when you go below a quarter tank. Generators tend to be noisy and unless you are alone and away from everyone, running the generator in the middle of the night won't be an option."

Consider the Benefits of Solar
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Consider the Benefits of Solar

Exciting new technologies are changing the way RVs are powered and cooled, and while some of those technologies are still emerging, Hamilton urges RVers to take a good, hard look at investing in solar. 

"Many RVers have added solar to their RV's roof and invested in the latest battery technology, namely lithium ion. Being truly self-contained is on the way as RVs get all the electricity they need to run air conditioners, microwaves and other devices in the RV. With the new battery technology coming, help is on the way. While we are at it, there are people working on electric-driven RV's as well, but that possibility is not here yet."