7 Ways to Keep Your RV Cool

Is Your RV Calling You to Hit the Road?

It’s 2018, and the Sun is already out in many places across America. Time to get on the road for many Weekend Warriors, the open road is calling. Of course, while your hot to trot, the Sun is raising the temperature by the day.

Traveling with your RV is an adventure that calls, but most RVs can quickly become a hot box in the Sun.

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your RV against the rising heat. To help you, we offer 10 simple ways to cool down the hottest RV experiences this travel season.

Trick No. 1 | A/C Efficiency

Many people will take the easy route and just use one or more of the A/C units already mounted to their RV. Let’s face it, the electric is included in the cost of most RV park fees, so hit the switch and enjoy the instant cool. No worries.

But, remember that during storage many A/C units and the ventilation system in your RV will require a good cleaning. Clean vents ensure more efficient, and faster-cooling super-powers. So take the time to clean and prep your cooling system, before you hit the road.

Trick No. 2 | Shade To Go

Your RV windows and ceiling skylights can act like solar collectors, delivering extreme temperatures inside your RV. But, there are tricks to help mitigate this hot box problem. Pulling down your shades can make a huge difference, and don’t forget skylight covers.

Windows, skylights and ceiling vents can pour enough heat into your RV that your A/C can be completely defeated. So you will find it far more comfortable to have a plan to deal with these builtin heaters.

Where the heat is more extreme, we recommend “Reflectix Insulation” or “Cool Shield Thermal Bubble” insulation. You can find this cool and durable insulation at Home Depot or Lowes, and other hardware stores or you can order it from “uLine“.

It is a thin, 3/16” to 5/16” thick insulation with a silver-foil (metalized) finish on both sides. When used on windows it generally provides an approx R-6, and for skylights as high as R-16 insulation value (don’t focus on the R-Rating though, it’s not the real value).

The real trick is the reflective silver-foil works wonders to reflect the Sun’s radiation away from your RV.

You can buy this silver-foil insulation in rolls of various widths, and you need not waste a square in of it. Simply cut the closest fit and use a good Silver-Foil Tape to put the pieces together as needed.

Simply measure every window and skylight in your RV. Cut to fit nicely. Be sure to cut a bit extra wide so you can push it into the window frame grooves for a perfect fit. For skylights and ceiling vents, you can just cut it for a tight fit and push into place.

But there’s more… if you’re going to RV across the Southern part of the USA, places like Arizona and Texas can be blistering hot, and you are going to need triple strength protection on those sunny days.

So we recommend RV window screens on the outside of your RV.  These are not something you can just visit the local RV store to get. You will have to have them custom made for your specific RV, but you will never regret the purchase. The best sunscreens are made with a quality screen material and magnets to hold them in place. BTW, it is also a very good idea to have tire covers as blistering Sun will eat your tires for lunch.

Better, when it’s crazy hot, put on your sunscreens and push your custom cut silver-foil insulation between your sunscreens and the windows. This is basic thermodynamics, as your not letting the heat even enter your RV. In the winter, your silver-foil insulation goes inside against your windows, to keep the heat inside.

Expert Tip: You can add a bit more thermodynamic benefit by using swimming noodles. For larger windows, cut two about an inch shorter than the height of your window. Then place them vertically between the sunscreen and the window or silver-foil if you’re going all the way. This creates a small airspace and natural air flowing from the bottom of the window and escaping through the top of the airspace. The net result, substantially less heat will reach the window.

Lastly, if you value your privacy, you should know that having these screens on your windows, people cannot see inside your RV. Like a 2-way mirror, you can see out really well, but people cannot see inside at all. We depend on this, and once you try it, you will too.

Trick No. 3 | Shade Runner

Whether your boondocking or camping in an RV park, go for the shade. Nothing will cut the power of the Sun naturally like a great shade tree. So make it a point to park your RV under a good tree, or at least where a tree will shade your RV as much as possible.

In addition, using your RV awning(s) can add to the shade around your RV, so use them whenever you can. They will keep the sun off the side of your RV and if you have or add them to your windows, you will beat much of the heat the sun can pound you with.

Trick No. 4 | Air Flow Counts

Unless you are forced to run your A/C, and for many of us, the noise is a great reason to avoid the A/C. You will want to open all the windows and doors you can, to increase the fresh air flow inside your RV.

If your lucky, a light breeze will work in your favor, but if that’s not available, extra 12v fans mounted throughout your RV can provide the additional airflow you need.

When boondocking or dry camping, the lack of quiet electric to run your A/C unit(s) makes proper air flow a must.

So consider ahead of time installing extra 12v fans. When great airflow is combined with the previous tricks like awnings and sunscreens, in many cases the combined effect will help you to avoid running the A/C at all. Naturally, this is a real plus when you are not plugged into a power post.

There are a couple ways to go with this, the fan on the left above is a traditional oscillating style fan that can be easily mounted in various places inside your RV. The ceiling fan on the right above is a more expensive, but also a more powerful solution. If you use two of these at either end of your RV, you can set one to push air in and the other to suck the hot air out or maybe both can just suck if that’s better in your case. Both can be easily found at Camping Word or Amazon, and if you click the pics, they are linked for your convenience.

Trick No. 5 | Cooking with a Plan

When you are trying to beat the heat, get out of the kitchen. Planning your meals for hot days means not using the stove or oven during the hottest part of the day. While the convenience is great, the extra heat is a killer and you can just have a cold sandwich, a salad or other no-cook meal.

Or if you must cook, do it outside. It’s a great part of the camping experience and you will not be using gas and a fire, cooking your meal and yourself inside your RV.

Trick No. 6 | Turn Off the TV

While new technology is changing things for the better, most electronics still create some amount of heat when in use. From TVs to cellphones, the heat adds up to baking yourself.

So if you must watch TV, or use your laptop, do it outside. You’ll get more fresh air and you can enjoy the same entertainment while making the best of modern camping.

Trick No. 7 | Get Out of ‘the Dodge’

When all else fails, do what you came for, get the heck out of ‘the Dodge’ or whatever your RV, and enjoy the great outdoors. Often, this is the best plan for keeping cool on a hot day.

If you plan around the time of day, you can enjoy an outdoor meal, do your shopping, be touring, go for a hike, hit the beach, or just relax outside your rig during the hottest parts of the day or evening.

Let nature help you beat the heat, and stretch your legs a little too.

Bonus Trick No. 8 | Let Nature Solve the Problem

My wife and I did a good deal of RV travel in the Southwest and frankly, we decided to focus more on the Northwest. Today we hang mostly on the Oregon Coast. While we seldom have to deal with getting too hot, it is not really cold either, mostly it’s comfortable for outdoor recreation. Add that it’s absolutely awesome with lakes, rivers, ocean, beaches, and dunes to spare.

So much to offer… we came to Oregon for a visit 3 years ago, and have not found a reason to leave. We are still way too busy exploring 300 miles of the most beautiful coast in America, and we love to beach comb. The camping is the best America has to offer, and frankly, the hiking, fishing, boating, biking, and the whole outdoor experience here is very hard to beat.


These are just a few of the best tricks to keep cool. If you have more, please share and we’ll add them to the list.

Best wishes for your journey, and thanks for reading.

Accept all blessings, be excellent to everyone, work hard, live long, prosper, and party often.

Dustin Rodgers, A.G. Ret.


“Each of us is a unique strand in the fabric of this reality. The small efforts we make each day, helping each other. Is the foundation for our mutual success, thereby completing the ‘Circle of Life’.” ~Ambassador Rodgers




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