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11 Tips for How to Keep Your RV Cool in Summer

11 Tips for How to Keep Your RV Cool in Summer

As we write this post, we’re stepping into spring which means summer is right around the corner. We’re excited, and we know you are, too. But, one of the top questions RVers seek to answer when the hot weather rolls around is how to keep their RV cool and comfortable. So today, with time to spare, we’re lending you 20 years of summer RV living experience with our 11 tips for how to keep your RV cool this summer.

Before you get too hot, let’s jump right in!

Park In the Shade

When possible, park your rig in the shade. Even if you’re running into a store or a restaurant, seek shade to keep your RV cooler, especially during the hottest part of the day.

Now – if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, this can be a bit tricky, because you don’t want to deprive those panels of the brightest sun of the day. That sun gives you the strongest energy, after all. So, you’ve got to weigh the issue and balance the needs for solar with the cool advantage of parking in the shade.

We take particular advantage of the sun when we tilt our panels as you may have seen in our post asking “Should I tilt my solar panels?”. We’ve been tilting our solar panels for years, and we’ve amassed plenty of evidence that it does indeed make a difference in the amount of power output solar can provide.

A large solar array like ours can provide power to help keep an RV cool in summer

We have a fairly massive solar array and the ability to maximize our harnessing of the power of the sun by tilting half of our solar array accordingly.

Obviously, if your entire rig is parked in the shade and your solar panels aren’t exposed to the sun, nothing much makes a difference. So, again – it’s all about balance.

One option for parking in the shade to keep your RV cool, while still taking advantage of solar panels, is to use portable solar panels for your RV. This way, you can set your portable solar panels out in the sun, well away from the RV’s cooler spot beneath the shade trees.

Photo of solar panel in the sun while RV is parked in the shade to keep rv cool in summer

Portable solar panels can be placed in direct sunlight while your RV is parked in the shade.

Either way, keeping the sun off as much as possible is a key way to keep your RV cool in the summer heat.

Use Your Awnings

Even if we can’t park our RV in the shade, we like to take advantage of our Tough Top awnings and privacy panel to keep the heat off the side of our RV. If you’ve got a patio awning, use it to shade the sunny side of your RV in the midday heat.

If you’ve also got RV window awnings (as we do), use those to your advantage as well. It’s amazing how much heat is deflected away from your RV when your awnings are deployed.

Open a Window and Run Your Roof Vent Fan

If you’ve never run your RV roof vent fan with a window or two open in the rig, you won’t believe how powerful this tip is as a means to keep your RV cool in summer.

Many RVers run a roof vent fan with an open window in the rig all summer to stay cool, and they barely need to use AC at all, (depending on their travel location, of course). This cools the RV amazingly well, but you’ve got to be sure to stay on top of any necessary maintenance of your roof vent fan. The last thing you want to do is head out on a camping adventure without a working vent fan.

So as we make our way toward summer, now’s a great time to check the condition of your RV roof vent fan. If you need to replace your fan, we’ve got you covered with our post on the 3 best RV roof vent fans, and our companion post offering step-by-step instructions for RV roof vent fan replacement.

This is a great DIY project if you’re comfortable working on your roof. As always, use caution on the roof, and make sure you have the tools and components you need on hand before you begin.

Be sure to also visit our post on how to install an RV roof vent cover, so that you can even operate your fan in the rain. Just because it’s overcast and raining out, doesn’t mean it’s not also hot (and, worse, MUGGY)!

If all your current RV vent fan needs is a good cleaning, follow along as we super-clean an RV Fantastic vent fan:

Use Interior/Personal Fans

Sometimes a personal fan, or an additional interior fan, may be all you need to keep cool in your RV, depending on your ability or desire to run your AC. A little wind can go a long way in a rig, and these fans have great reviews among RVers.

Sirocco II 12V/24V Fan

Caframo’s Sirocco and Sirocco II fans have been popular among RVers and van campers for quite some time. The amount of air these fans are capable of moving is reportedly impressive despite a low power consumption. To top it all off, they’re made in North America and come with a two-year warranty.

Sale
SEEKR by Caframo, Sirocco II Fan, Omni-Directional Gimbal Fan for Boats and RVs, Made in Canada, Auto-Sensing DC, 12V/24V, Black
  • Innovative gimbaled design offers complete 360 degree airflow
  • Versatile 12/24V auto-sensing capability

O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Desktop Air Circulation Battery Fan, 2 Speed, Compact Folding & Tilt Design, with AC Adapter

This is a more personal, in-your-face kind of fan – something that could run directly on you either at your desk, kitchen table, or on your bedside table. The 10-inch blades are noted to push a fair amount of air, and two speeds are offered.

The fan folds for easy storage and works on battery power (6 D-cells) or via the AC adapter.

Treva 10-Inch Portable Desktop Air Circulation Battery Fan, 2 Speed, Compact Folding & Tilt Design, with AC Adapter (Graphite)
  • BATTERY -OPERATED PORTABLE FAN. You can cool off when you’re at home, work or outdoors with O2COOL’s 10-Inch Battery-Operated Portable Fan....
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION. Durably crafted using sturdy plastic construction for long-lasting strength and use, this portable fan boasts a patented fan...

Geek Aire 19,200mAh Rechargeable Battery Operated Floor Fan, Powered Fast Air Circulating Fan, Up to 30 Hours

This is a portable metal fan with 12-inch blades that runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 30 hours. It comes with a 26.5V power adapter that charges the fan in 2.5-3.5 hours.

Reviewers note that these fans push a powerful airflow and can be used outdoors. This one has the longest-lasting battery, but Geek Aire makes other versions of this fan including one with larger 16-inch blades to move more air.

Sale
Geek Aire 19200mAh Rechargeable Battery Operated Floor Fan, Powered Fast Air Circulating Fan, Up to 30 Hours, Portable Metal Fan for Outdoor Camper Golf Car, Travel Hurricane or Indoor, 12-Inch…
  • 【Large Capacity Battery & Fast Charging】 This rechargeable fan is powered by a 19200mAh rechargeable battery, which can support up to 30-hours of...
  • 【Perfect for the Outdoors】 Thanks to the IPX4 water resistant protection and closed battery box made by ABS fire-resistant materials, this battery...

Reflective Window Coverings

Reflective windows coverings are great for keeping the heat of the sun from warming up things inside your RV. Many campers use Reflectix or a similar foil-over-bubble-wrap insulation material to construct window covers for every window in their rigs.

This product comes in a roll, and you can use paper to make patterns of your windows, and then cut the Reflectix to size, allowing for an extra ½ inch or so around the perimeter of each so it fits snugly in the window frame to stay in place. The insulation generally slips very easily into the window casing and holds there very well.

Reflectix BP48010 Double Pack Insulation, 48 in. x 10 ft
  • Item Weight: 4.6 lb
  • Country of Origin: China

Keeping the heat of the sun out of your RV as much as possible, whether by parking in the shade or insulating your windows, is a great way to keep your RV cool this summer.

Leave Your RV

One really great way to stay cooler in the midday heat of summer is to get out of your RV and explore the woods, beaches, creeks, rivers, streams, oceans, or any of the other attractions near where you’re camping.

Kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and hiking in the shade, are all fantastic activities that will not only feed the body and soul but also keep you away from the RV during the hottest part of the day.

Use an Insulator When Not Running Your RV Vent Fan

Insulating your vent fan when it’s not in use is very helpful in keeping both the heat of summer (and the cold of winter) from entering your RV. And if you have a skylight in your RV, insulating that opening from the sun is a very good idea when the weather’s hot, too. Skylights and roof vent fans don’t provide much insulation, so they’re a prime spot for the summer heat (or winter cold) to get inside.

These are a standard size, but be sure to measure the opening in your RV just to be sure it’ll fit. They’re not expensive, and they work well. Just push them up into the opening and you’re likely to see the interior temperature of your RV drop.

Sale
Camco RV Vent Insulator And Skylight Cover With Reflective Surface, Fits Standard 14" RV Vents (45192)
  • RV Vent Insulator with Reflective Surface: Blocks the sun's damaging rays; Helps keep your RV cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter
  • Saves Energy: Reduces heat transfer and increases A/C efficiency

Cook Outside

When it’s hot outside and you’re trying to keep your RV cool, using your indoor stove or oven will only make it hotter. Consider cooking outside when you’re camping in hot weather. If you’re connected to shore power (or have a generator you don’t mind running briefly or a large enough battery bank), you can also use your microwave to quickly heat up a meal. Or, you can simply choose to eat cold foods instead, and avoid generating ANY extra heat.

We really enjoy cooking outside, so we’ve set our rig up with an easy BBQ grill connection to our RV’s onboard propane tank. If you’d like to take a look at how we do this, feel free to have a look at our video:

Upgrade to LED Lights/Bulbs

LED lighting is one of the best investments you can make in your RV. Yeah, we know – it seems like an inconsequential thing. But it’s not. Not only will LED lighting save you LOTS of power (which is especially beneficial when you’re boondocking), but LED lights are also MUCH cooler than incandescent lights.

When you’re trying to keep your RV cool in the heat of summer, every little bit helps. To help, switch out your standard light bulbs/fixtures for LED lights, and you’re sure to notice a difference.

We’ve got a 6-part series beginning with Part 1 on the “how” and “why” to LED your RV, that you can follow all the way through. These are accompanied by our 6-part YouTube series on LED lighting, beginning with Part 1 right here:

Stay Well Hydrated and Use Personal Cooling Items

When you’re camping or participating in activities in the heat and humidity of summer, it’s particularly important to stay well hydrated. ALWAYS have water with you no matter where you are or what activity you’re enjoying. Even activities on the water require consistent hydration when you’re in the summer sun.

Additionally, grabbing a neck gaiter or wrap similar to one of these is a great way to cool yourself down on hot days. Simply wet the gaiter or wrap of your choice with cold water, and wear it around your neck or, if necessary, to protect your face.

MISSION Cooling Neck Gaiter

MISSION Cooling Neck Gaiter Face Your Mask Coverage Mission Cools Wet- Hat
  • Proprietary technology cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature when wet
  • Chemical-free, UPF 50 protection from the sun; helps defend against dust, debris and wind

Columbia Freezer Zero II Neck Gaiter

Sale
Columbia Men's Freezer Zero II Neck Gaiter, Moisture Wicking Fabric, UV Sun Protection
  • OMNI-SHADE: Be safe and protected. Omni-Shade blocks UVA and UVB rays to help prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage. The tight weave construction...
  • HANDY FEATURES: This Men's Freezer Zero II features sweat-activated technology to keep you cool.

Move Your Location

One of the greatest things about RVing is the ability to take your camp-on-wheels and drive away to a location that suits your health, well-being, and enjoyment. So, sometimes the best way to beat the heat is to pack up and move to cooler weather or a higher elevation. Or maybe you just need to give up on your boondocking plans and head to a full hook-up to run your A/C!

Don’t be afraid to establish Plan B! You have the flexibility to drive your hotel-on-wheels to a place that’s more comfortable and more enjoyable.

How Do You Stay Cool In the Summer Heat?

So, tell us – how do you stay cool in the summer heat? If you’ve got tips to offer (other than running the air conditioning!), we’d love to have you share them with our readers in the comments section below.

Geek Out With Us Every Week

Join our newsletter to learn about all things RV-related. Every week we offer free tips, tricks, product reviews, and more to our online community of RVers. So, whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned expert, we’d love for you to geek out with us!

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dr. Mike

Saturday 16th of April 2022

When staying at a campground, we just plug in and use the A/C units. If we are boondocking (usually), we use the Ontel Arctic Air Evaporative Portable Room Cooling Tower with 3-Speed Oscillating Fan. This thing really works very well and does not use nearly as much power.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Good to know that evaporative air cooler works for you, Mike! They're definitely good in less-humid climates (especially the desert SW), though we bet it would have limited benefit for, say, Louisiana or Florida on a really hot, very humid day.

TJL

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Summer heat can play havoc with an absorption fridge. Mine is on the right side. When choosing a site with unknown sun/shade, facing west is my first choice; fridge facing north, no sun. Facing north is my second choice; fridge facing east gets the morning sun but not the hotter mid-day and afternoon sun. And of course, use the awning.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Absolutely, TJ! Being aware of which direction to park to keep you and/or appliances out of the hottest sun can make a world of difference! Glad you've got your procedure so well outlined. Thanks for sharing!

R Bennett

Saturday 16th of April 2022

We use a tension rod room divider and thermal panel curtains across the cab area. This helps keep heat and cold coming through the windshield in the cab area. We also use these while driving to help the cab A/C and heater more effective.

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Sounds like a great (and easy!) solution! Thanks for sharing that!

Neal Davis

Saturday 16th of April 2022

We use our awnings, fans, and AC units when we can't escape the sun. (When not in use Reva the Revolution (2016, 42T) is parked under cover. Geez, ... a thorough, comprehensive written article per day?! No wonder your YouTube channel is not getting regular updates!? These articles are so good, so wide-ranging, so full of information methodically and clearly presented! You're giving daily RVing seminars! Thank you! Have a great weekend!

Scott Floyd

Friday 15th of April 2022

Great tips. Some I knew from your earlier posts and others led me to buy things on Amazon today so thank you. 👍

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 16th of April 2022

Glad it was helpful, Scott! Hope you have a great RVing season this summer!

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