Prepare your RV for Summer Camping Trips

RV Air Conditioners

The first thing I recommend is to make sure your RV air conditioner is ready for the hot weather.

One of the most important things you can do is keep the air conditioner filters clean or replace them. The cleaner the filters are the more efficient the air conditioner works. You can remove the filters and clean them using a small hand-held vacuum cleaner or you can clean them using soapy water, rinse thoroughly and let them dry prior to re-installing them.

Your RV air conditioner is designed to condition/cool the interior temperature on an average of 15 to 21 degrees lower than the ambient temperature. To check your air conditioner you can purchase a small thermometer at an auto parts store. Place the thermometer at the intake side of the air conditioner (where the filters are located) and take a reading. Next place the thermometer at a duct or grill where the conditioned air comes out. If the reading between the two temperatures is less than 15 degrees there could be something wrong with the air conditioner. Have it checked by a RV repair facility before any hot weather camping trips.

In addition to making sure the air conditioner is up to the task there are several other things you can do to stay cool.


RV in shadeAsk for a shady site when you check in at the campground. This will not only help cool the RV down, but your refrigerator and roof air conditioner will work much more efficiently too.

Use your patio awning and any window awnings to assist in keeping the RV cool. In addition to the awnings use your window blinds or shades to help keep the sun out and the cooler air in.
Try to avoid, or minimize using appliances that produce heat like the range burners or oven. Cook outside rather than inside whenever possible.

Start the air conditioner early in the morning to get the RV cooled down before the midday heat comes on. This will help maintain a cooler temperature throughout the day.

RV Refrigerator

The initial cool down process for your RV refrigerator can take 4 to 6 hours. Turn the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave on your trip, and before you put any food in it. When you do put food in the refrigerator the food should already be cold, and the food put in the freezer should already be frozen. Putting cold food in the refrigerator, rather than warm food allows the refrigerator to work more efficiently.

One common mistake made is to over-pack the refrigerator with food. There needs to be space between the foods to allow for air to circulate throughout the compartment. In most situations you will have access to a store where you can buy food, so a three or four day supply should be enough. To assist with air circulation you can purchase an inexpensive, battery operated refrigerator fan. Put the batteries in the fan and place it in the front of the refrigerator compartment blowing up. The fan will improve the efficiency by circulating the air and it will reduce the initial cool down time by up to 50 percent.

The heat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Air enters through the outside lower refrigerator vent and helps draft the hot air out through the roof vent. Periodically inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent the heat from escaping. The outside temperature also affects the operation and efficiency of your RV refrigerator. When it’s really hot outside try parking your RV with the side the refrigerator is on in the shade. Periodically inspect and clean the refrigerator door gaskets. Try to limit opening the refrigerator or freezer doors, and the length of time you leave the doors open. Every time the door is opened it loses some of the cooling. On a hot summer day it won’t take long to lose its cooling capacity.

Proper Ventilation

Another key ingredient to keep your RV cool is proper ventilation. Proper ventilation helps prevent excess heat from building up in your RV and allows heat to escape from the RV. You can install Maxx Air vent covers over the roof vents to allow for ventilation. They are inexpensive, easy to install and they let the fresh air in, even when it’s raining. I use a vent cover on each end of our RV to promote cross ventilation. It’s a good idea to take a couple small portable fans with you to help circulate the air too. If for some reason you can’t run the air conditioner you’ll be glad you have the fans.

To learn everything you ever wanted to know about your RV check out Mark’s best selling book, The RV Book.

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