A Frame Pop Up Trailer

Air Conditioning For Pop Up Campers (Window, Portable & Rooftop A/C)

You might be surprised to know that you can get A/C for your popup camper.

Let’s walk through the available air conditioning options for your Popup trailer so that you will know exactly what you need to stay cool, because there is nothing worse than sweating it out in a pop up camper without air conditioning.

What Size A/C Unit Do You Need for a Pop Up Camper?

This will depend on a number of factors but will primarily be determined by the size of your popup camper.

The larger the space, the more A/C you will need to cool down the camper. 

However, it is very important that you choose the appropriate size AC unit for your trailer space.

You don’t want to choose more or less than you actually need.

Understand also that the better insulated your trailer is the less A/C you will need.

To figure out just how much A/C we need we must first understand the concept of BTUs.

Understanding BTUs and A/C Cost

What Does BTU Stand for?

BTU us an acronym that stands for British Thermal Unit. So now that you know what it stands for lets go over why it should matter to you when selecting an A/C unit.

How Many BTUs Do You Need To Cool Your Camper?

It’s important to note that the amount of BTU’s needed will be more or less depending on the type of unit you choose (window, portable). Below is a chart with a few examples of the number of BTU’s you will need depending on the square footage of your pop up camper. 

BTU Calculator for Window Air Conditioners

Room Size in FeetArea Sq. Ft.Recommended BTU'sFull SunKitchen Use
39 x 401,56024,50026,95028,500
25 x 401,00018,00019,80022,000
25 x 3280015,00016,50019,000
22 x 2555012,00013,20016,000
18 x 2545010,00011,00014,000
17 x 203408,0008,80012,000
14 x 202807,0007,70011,000
13 x 202606,0006,60010,000
10 x 151505,0005,5009,000

When determining the number of BTUs you will need it is important to also compensate for the number of people in the camper as well as the height of the camper.

If you have more than two people in the camper you should add in an additional 600-700 BTUs for every additional person. Additional BTUs should also be factored in if you are cooking or if the camper is in direct sunlight.

If you don’t know your pop up campers square footage simply multiple the length of the camper by the width.

3 Types of Air Conditioning Units for Pop Up Campers

To add air conditioning to your pop up camper you really only have three options that you need to consider.

My favorite is number 2 on the list, but every RV owners situation is different.

If you know of other options that I have not covered here please send me a message with what you found.

I would love to know about it so that I can share it here with other RV enthusiast looking for camper cool down options.

#1. Window Mounted Air Conditioning Units

I have seen people get very creative with their AC mount jobs.

I would personally recommend that if you are going to go with option one that you seek the help of a professional craftsman to do the work for you.

Choppy work can not only be dangerous but it can also cause your trailer to depreciate faster in value. It may be a little more cost up front but in my opinion its well worth it.

Pros

  • The advantage of a window mounted air conditioning primarily has to do with space. Unlike a portable A/C unit that you need to place within an already small pop up camper, window mounted units are placed on the outside of the camper.
  • Window Mounted units are also stronger than most portable A/C units and cool the camper down extremely well.
  • The unit is outside the camper and so the noisy level is reduced.

Cons

  • The main disadvantage of a window mounted unit is that you need to disassemble it when traveling from point to point.
  • Storage of the unit when traveling.
  • Requires installation (professional recommended)

Estimated Cost

$300.00 – $500.00 not including installation.

Recommendation

If you are going to go with a Window Mounted A/C unit for your pop up trailer take a look at the MIDEA MAW10R1BWT Window Air Conditioner 10000 BTU Easycool AC on Amazon. Its surprisingly quiet and comes with a one year parts and labor warranty.

#2. Roof Top Air Conditioning Units

Like I had mentioned earlier, roof top air conditioners are my favorite option for popup campers for several reasons.

They are much cleaner looking than window mounted A/C units, and they provide you with more space than a portable A/C unit.

Keep in mind you will also need to purchase an air distribution box (ADB).

I would recommend that you higher an expert to install the unit.

Many RV owners have made the mistake of installing a roof top air conditioner incorrectly only to deal with a build up of condensation and water dripping into their RV which you definitely want to avoid for obvious reasons.

Pros

  • Roof top Air conditioners take up less space in your camper.
  • Looks better installed than a window mounted A/C unit or a portable unit.
  • More powerful than both window and portable A/C units.
  • Does not require you to disassemble the unit before towing the camper.

Cons

  • Requires installation with an estimated time of 3-8 hours to complete.
  • Need to cut a whole through the roof of your pop up camper.
  • A/C unit can weigh roughly 80 pounds and is difficult to get on the roof.
  • More expensive than window mounted and portable A/C units.

Estimated Cost

A quality rooftop air conditioner will cost between $600.00 – $900.00 and will most likely need to hire a professional to install the unit.

Recommended Roof Top Air Conditioners to consider

After looking around I personally like the Dometic Polar White 15,000 BTU Conditioner on Amazon. It’s a very popular brand with RV owners and it comes with a two year warranty.

You will also need a Gasket kit like this one from Camco to properly seal the conditioner and an Air Distribution Box.

#3. Portable Air Conditioning Units

If you don’t want to mess with custom mount jobs or rooftop air conditioners a portable A/C unit might be a good fit for you.

They are not too expensive and they do a good job of cooling the camper.

Pros

  • Very limited installation is required.
  • Obvious mobility of the unit.
  • Less costly than a roof top unit.
  • You can get a unit that doubles as a heater for cold weather RV living.
  • Easily stored.
  • Many portable A/C units also come with a dehumidifier option.

Cons

  • Takes up a good amount of floor space in the camper.
  • Still requires some setup since the unit hose will need to feed outside the window in order to remove the warm air in the camper.
  • Depending on what you buy it can be louder than a window mounted or rooftop A/C unit.

Estimated Cost

The average portable A/C unit will run between $300.00 – $600.00.

Recommendation

I would take a look at the Black & Decker 10000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Unit with Dehumidifier mode on Amazon. It’s fairly inexpensive and comes with various output options at 8,000, 10,000 & 12,000 BTUs.

You can also choose a unit with the heater option at 12,000 and 14,000 BTUs. If you plan to do any camping in the winter time this is a great option. 

Many owners are also surprised at how quiet the unit actually is when compared to other A/C units.

It also comes standard with a two year extended warranty which can come in handy when purchasing items like this. 

Additional A/C Pop Up Camper Tips

Properly Insulate Your Camper

When a camper is well insulated it will help to keep the hot air out and the cool air from your A/C inside.

I wrote a post about how to insulate a trailer that you might find helpful for this step.

Taking the time to do this will result in overall savings since you won’t need to run the A/C as often.

Maintain Your A/C Unit

Proper cleaning and filter changes will make sure that your ac until does not have to work overtime. It also ensures better air quality.

Park in a Cool Place

Popup campers are like hot boxes and parking in the sun will spike the temperature in your camper. If you can park in the shade or simply out of direct sunlight you will reduce the amount of A/C required to cool your RV.

Conclusion

Adding air conditioning to your popup camper is not terribly difficult.

It will simply require a small amount of installation for whatever type of unit you decide to go with.

I would recommend that you spend some time on YouTube looking through some of the various videos other popup camper owners have put out there in order to explore and see the options that other RVers have gone with.

 

Related Reading  Does My RV Need A Surge Protector?
Written by
Johnathan R. Smith
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