How to Keep Your RV Cool This Summer

Whether you’re relaxing at a full-service resort or roughing it off the grid, staying cool in your RV this summer requires a few tips and tricks. Let nature work for you, don’t be a sun-seeker, and if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Before You Go

Prepare for a cool summer before the weather heats up. Before any trip, check the filters in your air conditioner. Clean filters improve the air conditioner’s efficiency. Depending on your filter, wash in sudsy water and dry completely, or clean with a hand-held vacuum attachment.

Stay cool on the road; make sure batteries are ready for the strain of summer. The hotter it gets the more water batteries will drain. Check the electrolyte level of your batteries and top off wells with distilled water. Replace radiator hoses and other coolant hoses that have been in service for more than five years.  A motorized RV traveling in summer heat needs to stay cool; flush the coolant and replace before hitting the road.

If your RV isn’t already equipped with LED lighting, considering replacing existing lights with cool-operating, energy efficient LED lights.

Seek the Shade

Stay in the shade to reduce the temperature inside

If your destination is a luxury RV Resort or roughing it in the woods, seek shade to keep your RV cool this summer. Make finding and creating shade your top priority; keeping an RV cool is a lot easier than trying to cool down an RV that has gotten hot and stuffy.

Vegetation is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to stay cool in your RV this summer. Shade and “evapotranspiration” from trees and vegetation lower surface and air temperature. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a shaded surface may be 20 to 40 degrees cooler than an exposed surface. The combination of evapotranspiration, the evaporation of water from the surface and plants, and shade can reduce summer heat by two to nine degrees, according to the EPA.

Even partial shade will have a cooling impact on your RV this summer. Park strategically and build your own shade to supplement, if shade is sparse or non-existent at your destination.  Park an RV with the windshield facing to the north if possible, so the built-in shade can take the morning heat and the vehicle casts at big shadow over the outside living area for the hot part of the day.

Extend the RV’s awnings to supplement shade and add tarps to the awning, if possible, to block the hot, late-day sun from its end-of-the-day assault. Supplement your awnings with make-shift shade cloth, tarp or solar shade awnings affixed to the unprotected side of your RV.

Window coverings

Window shades can really help keep you cool.

“Window management” is key to a cool RV in the summer. Open your windows and take advantage of cool evening breezes after the sun falls. Before the sun begins its daily assault, close the windows and trap the cool air inside; using fans to circulate the cool air throughout the RV.  Draw sun-blocking shades and close curtains first thing in the morning.

When shade is scarce, consider supplementing window coverings with radiant coverings – such as reflective bubble insulation. Use removable, or painter’s tape, to affix the insulation to the exterior of the trailer to fight off the worst of summer’s heat.

Stay Outside

Remember, keeping your RV cool is a lot easier than cooling off a steamy, stuffy RV.  Consider taking heat-generating indoor activities outdoors.

Cook meals outside as often as possible; it will reduce energy use and won’t trap heat inside the RV. Small solar ovens, electronic Crock-Pots or toaster ovens plugged into outside outlets, and grills keep variety in camp meal cookery and keep the heat outside.

While a relaxing, steamy shower may sound great after a day on the trails, avoid trapping heat and humidity in your RV, by heading for the bathhouse.

If waiting your turn for the bathhouse shower doesn’t appeal, consider building your own outside shower. Create a shower from a ready-made kit, purchase an inexpensive and foldable shower shelter or design an outside shower that fits your needs. Construct a deluxe, portable enclosure from PVC or go bohemian with a hanging enclosure created from hula hoops and a residential shower curtain.

Air conditions and fans

Expect a perfectly working RV air conditioner operating at full capacity to lower the temperature coming into it by about 20 degrees. If you’re parked in a fully-shaded spot in a full-service RV resort, a perfectly working air conditioner may be enough for a cool, comfortable summer. For everyone else, staying cool will require awnings, strategic use of windows, outdoor cookery – and keeping the air moving with fans.

If your RV doesn’t have vent fans, consider installing some. Add small fans throughout to keep cool air moving through the unit. For camping in dry, hot climates, consider supplementing your fans and air conditioner an evaporation, or “swamp,” cooler.

Make a Service Visit

Be sure your RV is summer worthy with a visit to the service department at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfiled, N.J. Service experts there can assure your RV is ready to battle the heat and keep you cool and safe on your summer travels.