If you need an air conditioner for your RV, you might wonder, can you use a portable AC in an RV? Sure, you could choose a roof-mounted unit, but portable units offer some advantages that you should consider if you haven't already.
As the name implies, these ACs are easy to move around, unlike roof-mounted versions. That means you can not only just use it in your RV, but in your house, shed, office, or garage as well! They are also much easier to set up than roof units - no carving holes or climbing on top of the RV is required!
Our list of top portable RV air conditioners is sorted by BTU output to help you find the right model for the job. No matter which one you consider, all of these units come highly rated.
What's the Best Portable Air Conditioner for an RV?
Finding the best portable AC for your RV is really a matter of matching your needs with the appliance. Firstly, you'll want the appropriate BTU output for the area you intend to cool. Here, we've selected the best model units for 14,000 to 8,000 BTUs covering square footage from 600 to 200 feet.
Secondly, you'll want to pair the AC's size and functions to your travel style. As you'll soon see, many portable AC units feature timed settings, digital displays, remote or Smartphone controls, and dehumidifier and fan settings. Plus, portable AC's are lightweight for easy set-up and storage so you can find the right size for your rig.
What Size AC Do I Need for My Camper?
The good news is, for an RV of 32' or shorter, you'll only need one AC unit to keep cool. The best way to size your AC unit is to consider how many BTU's you'll need to cool the area. Between 12,000 and 8,000 BTU's are the most typical of small to mid-size RVs and campers both for cooling capability and amperage. You should consider whether you are cooling an open area or segmented rooms, and where you intend to travel for best results when sizing.
14,000 BTU Air Conditioners
At the top of the BTU spectrum, we have some of the best and most powerful portable ACs on the market. Of course, these ACs are larger, heavier, and more expensive than the other options, so in this case, more isn't always more. Make sure to find the air conditioner that fits the size of your trailer. To help you out, 14,000 BTU is recommended for an area of 500+ square feet. For example, this Tiffin Zephyr motorhome is approximately 500 square feet.
1. Amazon Basics 14,000 BTU Portable AC
This portable AC is remote control operated, so you can stay comfy if you need to make any temperature adjustments. Choose three temperature settings, three fan speeds, and set the automatic timer if you prefer not to think about the ACs' function. A dripless exhaust system keeps the air fresh, and hot air is dispersed via an expandable exhaust hose (simply run through the nearest egress, either window or doorway). This lightweight AC features wheels, so while handy for repositioning, you'll want to secure the appliance before moving your RV. Click here to see on Amazon.
2. Whynter ARC-14S
Whynter is justifiably proud of this Eco-friendly 14,000 BTU unit. There is a lot to like here using CFC-free refrigerant, lead-free components, and an energy-efficient design. Don't forget about the activated carbon filter, either. Plus, the sleek black-and-silver design looks more modern and expensive than most of the other ACs on this list. Click here to see on Amazon.
As you would expect from a large unit like this, however, it isn't exactly lightweight. While it doesn't have the best rating of any AC on this list, keep in mind that it has a huge number of reviews, plus it was awarded Good Housekeeping's "2019 Best Overall" thanks to its fast cool-air delivery.
3. Black & Decker 14,000 BTU Portable AC
Enjoy this AC/heating unit for all-season travel, capable of temperature control within 350 square feet of space. Select from fan, AC, heat, or dehumidifier using the remote control. This unit features a variety of settings, for 24-hour climate control. Easy to clean, removable filter and lightweight design make this ideal for RV use; just remember to secure before travel as the base has wheels. Click here to see it on Amazon.
10,000 to 12,000 BTU Air Conditioners
Moving down a rung on the size ladder, we come to some very popular models that can cool space between 400 and 500 square feet in size - enough for all but the largest RVs on the market. They boast an appealing mix of compact size and good cooling power.
4. MIDEA 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
The Midea is another great portable AC to considerably cool an area of 275 square feet. Select from three modes, including timed settings, for 24-hour temperature control using either WiFi-enabled voice control via your smartphone or the handy remote control. This AC is easily maintained with washable air filters. Just remember to secure it before moving, as it does feature a wheeled base. Click here to see it on Amazon.
5. Serene Life 12,000 BTU Portable AC
Serene Life's portable 12,000 BTU AC doubles as a dehumidifier, boasting 1.8 liters-hour of moisture removal, so you can manage the air quality of your RV through seasonal changes. Manage fan speed and temperature settings via remote control. A simplistic exhaust hose and mounting plate is easy to install on windows. Click here to see on Amazon.
6. SereneLife 10,000 BTU AC with Dehumidifier
For the ultra-modern RV, this freestanding unit provides 10,000 BTUs of cooling power with a dehumidifier, and you can control everything from the comfort of our captain's chair using the remote contorl. Remove 1.2 liters/hour of moisture from the room, and effectively cool up to 300 square feet. Just remember to secure the unit for travel as this modern design can roll easily on a wheeled base. Click here to see on Amazon.
7. MIDEA 10,000 BTU
This MIDEA AC is another well-reviewed item on Amazon. It allows users to set a temperature between 62- and 95-degrees and can cool up to 150 square feet. However, it appears to have plenty of power with one reviewer claiming it cools their 350 square foot room well. And with three fan speeds and five operation models, you should have no problems finding the perfect settings for your RV.
At over 65 pounds, this is admittedly a little on the heavy side, but it appears that weight means reliability in this case. Once it's in your RV, however, keep in mind that it glides easily on its wheels. Click here to see on Amazon.
8,000 BTU - Small Air Conditioners for Campers
Perhaps you just need to cool one bedroom or a small trailer. Any of the above units will probably be overkill for your purposes. Below are the best portable ACs for you. At 8,000 BTU, these products can cool an area of approximately 100 to 150 square feet.
8. SereneLife 8,000 BTU
This SereneLife unit uses moving vents to circulate the air within your RV. What's great is that a convenient remote control is still included even at this price point. Hey, you go camping to relax, after all. And this small unit is very easy to move around if you plan on switching from trailer to home use.
The manufacturer claims that it can cool your trailer down in a matter of minutes, and the online reviews seem to back that claim up. And, once your desired temperature is achieved, an integrated timer automatically switches to quiet mode. Click here to see on Amazon.
9. Black & Decker BPACT08W 8,000 BTU
With enough power to cool between 100 and 150 square feet, this Black & Decker AC is a great value. The slide-out filter makes for easy and convenient washing, while an easy-to-read LED display provides a crystal-clear readout.
While most owners have had a positive experience with their Black & Decker, not everything gets top marks. For example, some reviewers find the blue display too bright at night, while others complain of a flimsy window fastener. Other than that, most owners are happy with their purchase, so this appears to be another good buy. Click here to see on Amazon.
10. Midea 8,000 BTU 3-in-1
You've got options with this 3-in-1 model to choose from the air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier for your 150 square feet of space. Adjust settings clearly using the digital LED display or using the remote control. Timer capability and sleep mode ensure your comfort at any time of day or night. The unit's narrow design can fit in practically any nook of your RV, with an easy to install window exhaust kit. Click here to see on Amazon.
How to Vent a Portable AC in an RV?
Most portable AC units come equipped with an expandable hose and window frame fitting, so you can ideally ventilate through a nearby window. However, if a window is not within easy access or does not slide open, creative owners have devised other methods for ventilation like cutting a hole in the floor or sidewall, affixed with a deck fitting, to run the ventilation hose through.
You can also purchase a vent-free portable AC unit. Although it is recommended for these models to improvise a water catchment and ventilation system as not all of the water circulated evaporates, so it can end up on your floor. Vent-free units work best in dry climates.
Can you put a mini-spilt in an RV?
A mini-split AC is an affordable, compact solution to keeping cool. Most smaller units, at 9,000 to 12,000 BTUs, can sufficiently regulate a 500 square foot area. Mini-splits are efficient using low amperage, and offer simpler installation than rooftop ACs, being mounted on a trailer hitch mount outside or on an interior or exterior wall. There is wiring involved and copper line installation, so if you are not typically a DIY RVer, you might prefer to consult an electrician for this job. Click here to see a Pioneer mini-split unit on Amazon.
Can you Put a Portable Air Conditioner in a Tent?
Absolutely! You can use a mini, portable air conditioner in a tent. Units that provide 5,000 BTU's should suffice, and you can find battery-powered and cord-powered models whether you prefer camping off-grid or at a campsite. These mini-units are lightweight, operate on 12V, and run quietly. Click here to see Zero Breeze portable AC on Amazon.
There you have it - the best portable ACs to improve your RV experience. Thanks for reading, and if you personally own any of these, please let us know how it performs for you!
Find out everything you need to know about other types of RV appliances at "Types of RV Appliances (And How Much Power They Need)."
If you want to get the most out of any climate zone while you travel, check out "What's the Best RV to Live in Year-Round?"