Are you planning on hitting the road this summer? You'll want to ensure that you're riding with the best RV air conditioner or risk one sweaty, uncomfortable trip. Most people will tell you that there's almost nothing worse than enduring a long trip with no air conditioning.
Now imagine being stuck in a hot RV on a family road trip with kids in tow. You can probably guess this isn't fun. That's why it is essential to invest in the best RV air conditioner to keep you and your nerves nice and cool.
Comparison Of The Best RV Air Conditioner
What To Consider When Shopping For The Best RV Air Conditioner
When shopping for the best RV air conditioner, you will find that two brands sit atop the RV air conditioning market. Dometic and Coleman-Mach are the two top brands that offer the best RV air conditioner models money can buy. Here are a few considerations you will need to take into account before making a final decision.
The best RV air conditioner units will offer a sleek, aerodynamic design. This detail is vital as your unit will need to resist wind drag that can slow your vehicle down. This problem becomes more pronounced in severe weather, and it can also harm fuel efficiency.
Watch Those BTUs
British Thermal Units (BTUs) may very well be the central factor you need to think about when deciding on the best RV air conditioner. BTU represents the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. One BTU equates to about 1055 joules (derived unit of energy).
Here's a chart explaining the recommended BTU output for different RV sizes.
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Determining how many BTUs your unit will output can help you figure out how well your new RV air conditioner will cool your space. For example, If you are frequently traveling in hot and humid locales, then you will want a unit with no less than 13,500 BTUs.
Some RVs only have one central air conditioning unit inside them. But, while this setup may work most of the time, it can be a real pain to cool the entire RV. This holds especially true if your RV is set up on asphalt or has metal panels. Keep in mind; a larger RV may require an air conditioning unit with at least 18,000 BTUs or more to cool your rig. In some cases, two units may be necessary.
There are two likely scenarios when it comes to installation.
Let's face it: Installation of an RV air conditioner isn't going to be most people's idea of a good time. Lugging a near-hundred-pound piece of machinery up to your RVs roof may be beyond capabilities of many RVers. Plus, the instructions feel like you would need a technical degree (along with maybe a stiff drink or two) to understand it.
In this scenario, you would need some help. Fortunately, for a fee, you can find many retailers and RV repair shops willing to install your new unit for you. However, expect to pay a few hundred dollars for the service.
You eat and crush cans of spinach for fun. Therefore, hauling an RV air conditioning unit up to your RV roof isn't an issue. Plus, you enjoy reading and critiquing appliance manuals for kicks. The phrase DIY (do it yourself) isn't just tattooed on your body. It is a birthmark. In other words, you feel supremely confident that you can install your RV air conditioner without professional help.
What's the moral of these two stories?
If you believe that you can install your new RV air conditioner on your own, then you are probably correct. However, as for how easy it will be, that's something that may depend on your experience and physical capabilities. That said, there is certainly no shame in getting professional help if you are unsure. This may save you hundreds of dollars down the road should you make a mistake during installation.
Do you need really need a new RV air conditioner?
This question is, of course, only one you can accurately answer. In some cases, your current unit may already be the best RV air conditioner for your needs. It may just need a little maintenance to return to its full glory. However, in other situations, it may be time to consider buying a new RV air conditioner.
Here are a few questions to help you determine if a new RV air conditioner is needed. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it may be time for an upgrade.
Question one: Does it take your RV air conditioner a while to start?
Is your air conditioner blowing weaker than usual or warm air? In some cases, this could mean you need to replace your capacitors. But in others, it means your air conditioner's on its last legs.
Question two: Does your RV air conditioner only operate when set to specific speeds?
In certain situations, this could mean that your motor fan needs replacement. However, once again, it could also mean that you are overdue for a new cold maker.
Question three: Has your RV air conditioner started leaking?
There's nothing quite like stepping in a cold or warm puddle of water barefoot in the middle of the night (especially if you have pets). The explanation could be as simple as a leaky gasket that needs replacing. When this happens, the bolts attach to the AC unit may loosen and start to rust.
Again, however, this could also point to a more significant issue where it may be more cost-efficient to replace your air conditioner.
Question four: Is your RV air conditioner too loud?
The source of this problem could be something caught up in the motor or some other fixable issue. That said, it could also mean that your air conditioner's ready to go out with either a bang or whimper.
How We Discovered The Best RV Air Conditioner
As mentioned earlier, there is not a lot of choices on the market for the best RV air conditioner. However, we did take a close look at all the top models by reading critic and user reviews, watching videos, and consulting a few RV forums. Finally, we decided on the best RV air conditioner models based on the highest overall customer feedback.
Check Out The Best RV Air Conditioner Models
Here are the best RV air conditioner models on the market. These units all sport a low, aerodynamic profile, and offer at between 9,000 and 15,000 BTUs of capacity. They are priced reasonably for an air conditioner, plus they all offer two-year warranties.
The Dometic Brisk II Air is a 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner that's lightweight (75 pounds) and easy to install. The air conditioner's EPP foam housing helps to reduce weight while contributing to improved cooling. Some of its features include a carbon steel base that is proven to withstand vibrations for over 30 hours. There's also an optional heater function that's ideal for chilly evenings.
Plus, a multispeed blower allows you to adjust according to your cooling or heating needs. Finally, this unit offers a silent, vibration-free operation thanks to its long copper lines and dual rubber bushings. In 2018, the Dometic was awarded the Gold Reader's Choice Award by both MotorHome and Trailer Life magazine.
One customer on Amazon says the installation was simple and only took one hour. Plus, he says he's highly-satisfied with the air conditioner's cooling and heating performance.
Meanwhile, a customer on eBay praises the company's customer service and says he couldn't be happier with the product. However, another customer on Amazon complained that the unit was too loud. Similarly, a customer on eBay also complains about the units noise level and says his unit arrived a bit banged up from shipping. This air conditioner is among the priciest, but Dometic offers a two-year warranty.
The AIRXCEL Mach 15 A/C has a cool heat capacity of 15,000 BTUs and features a 1/3 Horsepower motor delivering cool air at 325 cubic feet per minute. This model also features a streamlined shape that enhances airflow and cooling efficiency. Plus, it has all copper tubing, and gas-flux brazed joints to ensure lasting durability.
Also, this model features a large evaporator and condenser coils with raised LANCE fins to enhance the units ability to dissipate heat. The air conditioner shroud also includes condenser coil protection, and you can add an optional heat assembly to provide up to 5,600 BTUs of heat.
He also notes that this model's a few decibels quieter than his old air conditioner. Another customer says that the Mach 15 A/C cooled his RV by 15 to 20 degrees within minutes.
That said, there were a few complaints. One customer says that the air conditioner started to emit a foul odor. Also, another customer complains that his air conditioner does not cool as expected and always troubles the transfer switch. Pricewise, this air conditioner can cost a little less than the Dometic. Plus, it comes with a limited two-year warranty.
The AIRXCEL Mach 3 Plus features a large evaporator and condenser coils with raised LANCE fins which help dissipate heat efficiently. It has a 13,500 BTU cooling capacity and delivers 320 cubic feet per minute of airflow. Plus, you can add the optional Heater Assembly which gives you up to 5,600 BTUs of heat for cooler outings.
And, with gas-flux brazed joints and all-copper tubing, you can rest assured of your unit's durability and long life. Lastly, the air conditioner shroud comes with condenser coil protection for better performance and reliability.
One customer describes the unit as simple to replace and claims anyone could install it in about an hour. Similarly, another customer confirms that installation was straightforward, and the unit is much quieter than his previous air conditioner. Then again, not everyone was satisfied with their purchase.
A customer felt the air conditioner offered mediocre cooling, while another customer complains that his unit arrived damaged. Someone also complains that unlike older models, the unit arrives in two pieces, not one. The cost of this air conditioner comes in at mid-range. Also, it includes a two-year limited warranty.
The AIRXCEL Mach 8 Plus features an industry exclusive fiberglass base pan that provides superior durability and strength while reducing weight. Plus, it has the lowest profile in the industry, measuring at eight-inches tall, providing less drag and better fuel efficiency. With two motors, the Mach 8 plus delivers the same high BTUs of cooling on both low and high-speed operation.
Its cooling and heating capacity is 13,500 BTUs while delivering 300 cubic square feet per minute of airflow. Not to mention, the unit only weighs 90 pounds, making it one of the lightest low profile RV air conditioners on the market. And, it has a built-in 100 percent condensation water removal option. At last, the Mach 8 Plus features reduced outdoor fan noise by five decibels, a robust, 1-piece fan motor, and fan blade venturi design, and improved heat transfer across the outdoor coil.
One customer mentions how the unit's easy to install, very quiet running, and cools his RV like a champ. Another praises the Mach 8 plus as a great purchase. The price of the Mach 8 Plus can range in the more expensive zone. Additionally, it comes with a two-year limited warranty.
The Coleman-Mach Mach 3 P.S offers the cooling power of the Mach 3 Plus with less power demand. In fact, according to Coleman-Mach, this unit outcools even the Mach 3 Plus under some circumstances. This unit has a high-efficiency compressor, fan motor, and oversized coils to maximize cooling while minimizing amp draw.
These features allow you to squeeze the maximum comfort out of your unit, leaving more power for your other appliances. The cooling and heat capacity of this model is 13,500 BTUs while it offers 320 cubic square feet of airflow.
A reviewer states that he put the air conditioner to the test in 98-degree North Carolina heat and it ran cold right out of the box. He also notes that he had zero issues with installation. Another customer says his unit only took an hour to install and started getting cold between 30 and 40 minutes after it was turned on.
However, there was one reviewer who said the unit put out very cool air compared to their bedroom air conditioner. Plus, someone else said the unit ran too loud. The Mach 3 Power Saver may cost a hair less than the others. Also, it comes with a two-year limited warranty.
- Aerodynamic low profile reduces wind drag, saves fuel
- Quiet power: Delivers the optimum balance of air flow
- Easy-to-reach, easy-to-use controls - three-speed blower
The Dometic PENGUIN II features a low profile (11.25 inches) and provides a sleek, contemporary shroud design that reduces drag while improving mileage. The unit's heating and cooling capacity is 13,000 BTUs. Plus, it has eco-friendly R410 refrigerant that releases heat more efficiently, and it's perfect for ducted or non-ducted cooling systems.
Best of all, it has a robust rib-reinforced base pan that ensures your air conditioner can handle harsh environments for longer service life. The Dometic PENGUIN II also has easy-access controls, that include manual, electronic, and wall-mounted controls. Lastly, this unit includes a pre-installed module board and heat strip for thin ceiling application, and it delivers quiet optimum-balanced airflow up to 320 cubic square feet.
One reviewer mentions that the installation was super-easy, and the unit cooled his RV without any issues. On the same note, another customer says he was amazed by the plug-and-play installation and its ability to maintain even temperatures.
But, not all the reviews were positive. Someone notes that the air conditioner is a bit noisy, and another mentions that the distribution box needed to install the unit sells separately. Pricewise, this unit can range in the expensive realm, but it comes with a two-year warranty.
TheAIRXCEL Mach 8 Plus - Club has a design that could make it ideal for smaller RV interiors. At only 8 inches tall, this ultra-low-profile unit is very energy efficient while weighing only 87 pounds. Plus, its fiberglass base pan provides outstanding durability and reduced weight.
Not to mention, it has an ultra-quiet speed fan setting that allows for comfortable night cooling without the noise. It has a cooling and heating capacity of 9,000 BTUs and an electric heat strip capacity of 6,000 BTUs. Additionally, it can deliver up to 300 cubic square feet of airflow.
One camper says the installation was relatively simple, and the unit cooled his small camper like a dream. Another camper says that this air conditioner holds up well under hot Arizona summer weather.
At the same time, other folks were not-so-happy campers. One customer said he had to have the unit repaired two times within three years. Another mentioned that the air conditioner ran extremely loud. This product also retails on the expensive range for air conditioners, plus it includes a two-year warranty.
The Dometic ATWOOD AIRCOMMAND is a ducted system that offers precise temperature control with a digital temperature readout. It also has a wireless remote that allows you to adjust the temperature, fan speed, and sleep timer from anywhere in your RV.
Plus, it fits most standard 14 by 14-inch roof cutouts, making it easy to upgrade older models. Best of all, it comes with an option to focus an arctic blast of air from the ceiling assembly, which comes in handy after a long day in the sun.
One customer remarks how the air conditioner is more efficient and quieter than his last unit. Another says it was easy to install and keeps his camper nice and cool during summer vacations. Then again, another customer complains that the fans are too noisy and run continuously. This air conditioner sits in the higher range for price. Additionally, it includes a two-year warranty.
Here Is The Best RV Air Conditioner To Make You Even Cooler
This unit also offered some of the most potent cooling with its 1/3 horsepower motor and large evaporator and condenser coils with raised LANCE fins.
We hope that you found this guide to the best RV air conditioner models helpful in your search. Remember to stay cool and have fun in future travels. What do you think is the best RV air conditioner? Share your thoughts below in the comments.