Summer has arrived, and the heat is on. You might be thinking about taking a summer road trip with your family. The big question is, do you need air conditioning in your motorhome?
The answer to this question is yes and no. If you live in a hotter region of the world, then an air conditioner might be a necessity to sleep at night. However, if you are
located in the UK, the climate is temperate for most of the year and an air conditioning unit may not be necessary.
The key factors determining whether or not an air conditioner is needed are the temperature and humidity levels of where you live and your schedule while travelling. If you plan on travelling on the continent on the hottest days of the summer, installing air conditioning might make for a much more comfortable trip. If you happen to be on the road in your motorhome when there’s a heatwave in the UK, you might also be glad for having installed an air conditioner.
For most motorhome owners, the biggest consideration is their budget. For those who hate being sweaty or uncomfortably hot – and they have the funds – then an
investment in an air conditioning unit is likely to be a good choice. Still, none of us
likes being hot and uncomfortable when we are on holiday. So, for those with smaller budgets, we’ll discuss a few affordable options and alternatives in this article.
Pros and Cons of Installing an Air Conditioner in Your Motorhome
The benefits to installing an air conditioner are pretty straightforward: it keeps the motorhome cool. Excessive hot weather for days on end can make the motorhome unbearably hot. Air conditioning units keep people comfortable by lowering both the temperature and humidity levels inside a motorhome, allowing them to sleep better at night and make daytime activities more enjoyable.
Another advantage is those who suffer from allergies or asthma might find relief with air conditioning units installed.
The disadvantages would include the cost for purchase and installation of the air conditioner, as well as the running costs. The motorhome will require a bigger power supply and more energy use when an air conditioning system is operating. Another downside is that air conditioning units can take up space inside the motorhome,
which could be better used for other things.
Ultimately your decision about whether you need an air conditioning unit will depend on what level of comfort you want in your motorhome and how much money you’re willing to spend.
Another factor to consider is that the power supply of different campsite pitches differs. You might find that when you run your air conditioner at the same time as using other electrical items, you might end up tripping the power supply.
Considerations Before Installing Motorhome Air Conditioning
There are a few things you should ask yourself before deciding on the best motorhome air conditioning for your needs.
• How much money are you willing to spend on a new motorhome air conditioner installation project, including any necessary materials and labour costs associated with the installation process itself?
• What is the size of your motorhome?
• How much power does your motorhome need to run the air conditioning unit?
• How often will you be using your RV in hot weather conditions?
• Where will the air conditioner be installed – on the roof or inside?
• Portable air conditioner or a permanent one? Both have their benefits, but one might work better than another depending on your situation
Some air conditioners have added functionality such as air purifiers and heating. So, if you are going to use your motorhome a lot in cooler weather or suffer when the
hay fever season hits, these kinds of air conditioners might be worthwhile options to consider.
Types of Motorhome Air Conditioning
When it comes to air conditioning systems for your vehicle, it boils down to two choices – under bench or roof-mounted. There is a third option – a portable option – but you are limited to just one brand and model.
Roof Mounted Air Conditioning
Roof-mounted air conditioning is a cooling system mounted on top of your vehicle. A roof-mounted unit has two major benefits: it frees up interior space by not taking up any room inside but instead takes up valuable rooftop real estate. It also keeps all mechanical components out of sight so that nothing detracts from the interior design of your motorhome.
A roof air conditioner has few downsides – except that it is an expensive purchase. Most standard-sized motorhomes will usually accommodate a roof air conditioner, but you should check with the manufacturer to ensure your vehicle is suitable.
Modern roof-mounted air conditioning is designed to be sleek and streamlined, but it still might add some extra clearance to your vehicle’s roof, so bear this in mind.
Under Bench Air Conditioning
Under-bench air conditioning is installed inside your motorhome under seating or inside a storage compartment. If your motorhome has a curved roof or other devices such as solar panels on it, this could be the best option. Under bench also ensures that you still get natural light from the roof window.
Some drivers prefer under-bench air conditioners as the lower centre of gravity makes for a smoother ride. The primary limitation to under-bench air conditioning is that you’ll lose valuable internal storage space.
Portable Motorhome Air Conditioner
The EUROM AC2401 is the only portable air conditioner we’ve founded designed for use with caravans and motorhomes. You could use a portable air conditioner like the ones you use at home, but it would take up a lot of room, and they can be rather noisy, so it wouldn’t be ideal.
The EUROM AC2401, which retails at under £600, is a split-unit air conditioner with 2400 BTU cooling capacity. It comes with an LCD control panel and a two-year
The most common method of installing it is on a window frame with one unit on the inside and the other unit on the outside attached by a cord.
The downsides are that the noise from the fan of the outside unit that hangs from the window may disturb your camping neighbours, and though it is portable and compact, the interior unit still takes up some space.
The Top Air Conditioner Brands
The UK motorhome and caravan air conditioner market is dominated by two brands, Dometic and Truma. Both offer high-quality premium performance, and you can’t go wrong with either brand’s product range.
The Swedish company Dometic is a leading manufacturer of air conditioners for
motorhomes, campers, and other vehicles. They have a wide variety of models from under-bench to rooftop units. In addition, they sell a wide range of outdoor products, including awnings, tents, camp furniture, ventilation solutions and more. Their current air conditioner range for caravans and motorhomes consist of six roof-top and one under-bench option.
Popular models include:
Dometic FreshWell 3000 – This is a compact under bench air conditioner that can supply both cool air (cooling capacity of 2700 watts/ 9200 BTU/h) and warm air
(heating Capacity up to 3000 watts). It weighs 21 kg and is suitable for a motorhome or caravan up to 8 m in length. You can also purchase an optional 12V DC adaptor kit so that you can enjoy its cooling power while you are driving.
Dometic Freshjet 1700 – This is a rooftop caravan and motorhome air conditioner for vehicles of up to 6 m in length. It includes features such as remote control, adjustable airflow to encourage effective air distribution, and LED dimmable lighting. This unit has a 1700-watt cooling capacity and, as with the other Dometic air conditioners, can be used with a 12V DC adaptor kit for cool air when on the road.
Dometic FreshLight 2200 – This unit comes with an innovative built-in window so that you don’t sacrifice natural light from the roof window of your motorhome. The
window also has blackout blinds to block out light from the roof window when you are sleeping. It also features dimmable LED lights that can be adjusted at the touch of a
button via the remote control or control panel. The FreshLight 2200 has a cooling capacity of 2200 W (7500 BTU/h) and a heating capacity of 2050 W.
Truma is a German Company first established in 1949 – Truma UK was founded in April 1997. Truma specialises in products for caravans and motorhomes, including air conditioners, heaters, caravan movers, and water systems. Their range of air conditioners includes three rooftop options and two under bench (storage box) units.
These are some of their popular models:
Truma Aventa Compact – Truma describe this model as the lightest and quietest roof-mounted motorhome, caravan air conditioner in its class. Lightweight and compact enough to fit even on small vehicles, this model still offers an impressive
cooling power of 2200 watts. It features remote control and an adjustable four-outlet air distributor for cool and efficient airflow.
Truma Saphir Comfort RC – This is an air conditioning unit that can be installed inside a storage compartment. At a weight of just 23.5 kg, it won’t increase your payload excessively and is designed for vehicles from 5.5 m to 6.5 m in length. It also doubles up as a dehumidifier and can be used as a heater with an output of 1700 W.
Tips on How to Maintain Your Air Conditioner
An air conditioner for your motorhome is a large investment, so you’ll want to make sure that its cooling performance is running optimally and that it lasts as long as possible. You can help ensure this by keeping your unit regularly maintained.
Before working on your air conditioner, disconnect the power supply so you don’t accidentally give yourself an electric shock.
The most important task is to check and clean your air conditioner unit’s filters regularly. If they need cleaning, the best method is to use a vacuum cleaner attachment or hot soapy water. This will help remove the dust and dirt from the
filters, which can clog up your air conditioner unit’s vents. A dirty air filter can make the unit work harder, leading to higher energy bills and a shortened life span for the entire system.
The filters may need to be replaced. Some manufacturers recommend changing the filters every six months, but many experts suggest more frequent changes with shorter intervals, such as monthly. This will depend on conditions like how often you use your motorhome, whether you travel with pets, or if you smoke inside.
As well as cleaning or repairing the filters, check for loose or missing screws on the air conditioner unit and replace them. Ensure that all electrical connections are secure and all the wiring is connected correctly.
Keep an eye out for any warning signs of problems such as leaking refrigerant or oil, unusual sounds, or excessive noise coming from the unit when it’s running.
When not in use, cover it with a protective cover such as a tarp or a canvas to protect it from the elements.
Additional Tips for Keeping Your Motorhome Cool
Parking your RV in the shade is one of the best ways to keep it cool on a hot summer day. If you can find a shaded area with trees when you pitch your camp, you can enjoy cooler temperatures inside your RV. Also, try to orientate your motorhome so that the side of your motorhome with the largest window area gets the least amount of sun.
In addition to parking in the shade, it may also be a good idea to park near water or as close to a river or stream as possible if there is one nearby. This will allow for some natural cooling, and if you’re brave enough, you can also take a dip to cool down!
You can even find cheap and simple devices to keep you cool that are easily purchased online, such as battery-operated fans. Consider getting a cooling pillow designed specifically for use during travel time to help regulate body temperature throughout the nighttime hours.
Forget cooking inside your motorhome when the weather warms up; it’s time to go alfresco and eat outside. Not only will your food taste better, but it will also keep your motorhome from heating up even more.
Our last suggestion is if you don’t have one already, consider buying an awning for your motorhome. In addition to keeping the sun off your motorhome, it will be handy when it rains and maximises your outdoor living space.
Air conditioning is a great way to stay cool, but it can be an expensive luxury especially if your road trips are restricted to the UK, where scorching hot days are less frequent than with many other European countries. An air conditioner for domestic trips might be overkill. If you need some relief from the heat without breaking your budget, there are other options available that can keep you cool.
However, if you are travelling on the continent, for instance, in the South of France, where the average temperatures in summer are 30C (80F), an air conditioner could be a blessing and make the trip so much more pleasant.
To finish the article, we have answered a few of the commonly asked questions regarding motorhome air conditioners.
Why not use the cab air conditioner?
The reason is that the cab air conditioning system is designed more for a small, enclosed space; the motorhome’s large open areas will not be cooled efficiently with this type of system.
How much does an air conditioning unit for a motorhome cost?
The typical cost for an AC unit is somewhere between £1,400 and £3,000, depending on the features and specifications. You should also factor in installation costs if you are not installing the air conditioning unit yourself. Running costs will depend entirely on how much electricity the AC unit consumes which is determined by size, efficiency and temperature changes during operation.
How long do motorhome air conditioners last?
It is difficult to estimate how long a motorhome air conditioner will last. Typically, an air conditioner will last from five to ten years. This can depend on the brand, size, and age of the unit. The length of time an AC lasts also depends on the number of hours it’s used. To keep your air conditioner in good working order, you must keep it well maintained.