“Cool” Tips to Make Your RV Air Conditioner Run More Efficiently

As we approach the dog days of summer, we find ourselves “recreating” in some extreme temperatures and high humidity conditions. In our homes we can maintain a comfortable temperature just by setting the thermostat and not worry about it. Every time we walk into the house the temperature is the same. Too many new RV owners expect the same performance from their RV roof air conditioner and become frustrated when they step into an uncomfortable rig!

To optimize the performance of your roof air conditioner and help it run more efficiently, you need to understand: how the system works, what limitations it has, and how surrounding factors can affect your overall comfort.

How the System Works

The compressor “compresses” the refrigerant into a vapor and then the condenser removes the heat and condenses it to a liquid. As it passes over the evaporator coils, heat is drawn from the return air to make it expand vaporize. The removal of heat from the air provides the cold air to the RV. The system is completely closed so there is no “recharging” refrigerant like you would do for an automotive system.

The biggest culprit in low cooling in an absorption system is a dirty return air filter or even dust and contaminants in the cold air return. You should clean your cold air filter every two months and check the return air for signs of dog hair or even dust.

If you have a ducted roof air conditioning system, the cold air return is usually behind a vented grate in the ceiling and the ductwork is embedded into the ceiling.

To make your roof air conditioner operate at maximum cooling capacity, here are some tips:

1. Make sure your filters are clean and unobstructed. Clean them in lukewarm water with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly, and then let dry overnight. You can also use an air compressor to blow them out as well.

2. Verify the air return to the AC unit is not clogged with dirt or other contaminants.

3. Check the condenser coil up on the AC unit to verify the coils are not obstructed or pinched and will let the fan blow out hot air to the outside.

4. Make sure you have at least 115 volts of AC going to the unit. Low voltage at the campground source will still allow the unit to operate, but not at maximum capacity.

5. Park in the shade. Getting out of the sun can mean a temperature change of over 20 degrees during hot weather. The roof air conditioner can only cool the ambient inside temperature about 20 degrees, so if it’s 100 degrees inside the rig, you will only be able to cool it down to 80 degrees if everything is working perfect!

6. Keep the window blinds down and windows shut (again, getting the inside to cool down by insulating the windows and not allowing the cool air inside the rig to escape).

7. Limit the use of heat generating appliances such as the stove top, toaster, oven, and even the microwave which will exhaust hot air into the coach.

8. Add fans inside the rig to circulate air help get rid of “pockets” that air sits and gets warm.

9. Develop “zones” that need to be cooled and those that don’t. You may not be able to cool a 40’ rig when the temperature is 110 degrees outside, so close off the bedroom and bathroom and close the ductwork if available and have both air conditioners cooling the living room and kitchen. Then cool the bedroom at night when the temps go down and zone off the living room.

10. Install LED lights as they not only draw about 10 times less power, they run about 10 times cooler.

11. Use the patio awning and window awning to help provide shade and a cooler interior.

12. Install a MaxxAir roof vent cover and bring in cooler air when temperatures are good, and exhaust hot air out during the heat of the day.

Now that you have a better understanding of your rig’s cooling system, hopefully you can use some of these tips to make yourself comfortable. Stay cool!

Have something to add? Leave a comment below or share with us on Facebook.

Pre-Trip Checklist
Discussion
  • (will not be published)
  • If your questions pertains to a specific component or appliance, please fill out the info below:

50 Responses to ““Cool” Tips to Make Your RV Air Conditioner Run More Efficiently”
  1. RONALD

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: salam, RV Year: 2011, Brand: adding camera to back of 5th wheel

    do wireless cams work or other suggestions

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Ronald,

      Wireless backup cameras are a great asset not only for backing up, but for
      seeing what or who is behind you when traveling! I’ve tried a number
      of “cheap” cameras and have not been impressed. They have limited
      field of vision and several only have a distance of about 25 feet for the
      signal. There are some good products on the market such as Furrion,
      Tadibrothers, and Rear View Safety. They have a great camera that is
      weatherproof, long signal distance, and quality monitor which also has
      good night vision. Plus they are easy to install and have limited
      interference from local WiFi and other signals.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
    • David

      RV Make: KZ, RV Model: Connect 241RK, RV Year: 2018

      Wireless rear cameras are great for backing into a barn or a parking space. They are also good for monitoring traffic behind you while traveling.

      Reply
    • Steve

      RV Make: Coachouse, RV Model: 272xl, RV Year: 2019, Brand: Dometic

      Are the Dometic ACs having problems we have tried all your tips and our new rig has had issues keeping the inside cool, we clean the filters and close off vents but still not able to cool to our expectations, thoughts??

      Reply
  2. Gary

    RV Make: HIGHLAND RIDGE/Open Range, RV Model: 319rls Light , RV Year: 2015, Brand: Accu-slide, Model Number: Dining room slide-out

    What are the weight Specs. Or limits. And Island position on slide + other weight issues.

    Reply
  3. Allen

    RV Make: Jayco, RV Model: 25 RKS, RV Year: 2013

    I’m camping in Georgia. Outside temp about 80 degrees. Temp inside my camper 88 degrees. I have good shore power, good battery voltage, clean filters inside, clean fins on roof unit, thermostat seems to be working fine. AC unit is working but blowing air at 87 degrees. Any help would be greatly appreaciated as I’m away from home working out of my trailer.
    Thank you,
    Allen Kingsley

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Allen,

      It would appear your compressor is not coming on or not running very long? If the outside temperature is 80 degrees, the inside temperature will be higher and the blower is pulling inside air through the return air and just recycling it so it will get hotter. First, make sure your thermostat is set to cool and low fan. Some have a fan only setting that will not start the roof air, just run the fan to recycle air. Then turn off the thermostat, set it to 70 degrees, turn it to cool and low fan, and the fan should kick on and then you should hear the compressor come on with a vibration and lights dim slightly. If it does not come on, you should test the thermostat by pulling the cover off and jumping the two power wires. Since you did not provide the make, model and year of the rig or the type of thermostat, I can not tell which wires to jump. If the compressor comes on for a short period of time and shuts off, it could be the compressor coils are dirty and not getting air flow. This can only be identified by taking off the roof air cover and cleaning the coils inside.

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  4. Leroy

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Bouncer classic, RV Year: 2012, Brand: Stock mirror ?

    Knocked mirror off in accident, replaced with the same from Fleetwood, when replacing the mirror found I didn’t have any wiring from motor home.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Leroy,

      Could you please provide us with some more information? Are you saying that the wires that go from the motor home to the mirror are missing? What is the year, made, and model of your motor home?

      Thanks,

      Becky
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
      • James Adkerson

        RV Make: Forester, RV Model: 3271S, RV Year: 2019, Brand: Dish, Model Number: Tailgater

        I’m buying a portable satellite called tailgater. I do not see a satellite connection outside…but there is a cable connection on drivers side… inside RV is a place where a satellite receiver can be installed…there is a connection there but not sure if its pre-wired …

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hi there James!

          That’s a great question!

          The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

          Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

          1. Click on the email link: https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c18239
          2. Click on the Premium Membership offer.
          3. The Checkout page will display your Premium Membership purchase.
          4. Fill in your Billing Details and create an account password.
          5. Fill in your debit/credit card information.
          6. Finish by clicking Complete Order.

          If you have any further questions, please contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3536 at your earliest convenience, or chat with us on our site.

          We greatly appreciate your business!

          Sincerely,

          Jessica
          RV Repair Club Video Membership

          Reply
  5. theresa

    RV Make: keystone, RV Model: spingdale, RV Year: 2010, Brand: unknown

    NB Ticket#17684 can i cover floor vents when ac is cooling.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Theresa,

      Thank you for your patience. In regards to your question-

      To provide more specific information on the floor vents we need the make, model, and year of your RV. Most RVs have a separate roof AC and furnace system so they do not share a common return air. If that is the case in your RV, you can cover the floor vents and not have an issue with restricted return air flow.

      You can reply with your make,model and year of your RV at rvrepairclub@program-director.net.

      Sincerely,

      Dave
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.

      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C12983

      Reply
  6. Hollie & Gary Przybysz

    RV Make: Montana , RV Model: Big sky, RV Year: 2012, Brand: 5th wheel, Model Number: 3625RE

    How to make the a/c run quietly,black tank

    Reply
  7. Rick Harrington

    RV Make: Executive, RV Model: 35cb, RV Year: 1984, Brand: Dometic

    A/C does work.

    Reply
  8. matt.caldwell2201

    RV Make: Country Coach, RV Model: Magna 630, RV Year: 2006, Brand: Dometic, Model Number: 630516.321

    I just bought this Motorhome last month. Now wondering what the “return air filters” look like. Since it’s a fully ducted system with ceiling shapes (mirrors, lights, and wood), where in the world would I be able to find the filters? Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Matt,

      It depends on what style air conditioner you have. The standard ones will have a large square plenum just below the air conditioner. It can have two side vents that can be removed to gain access to the filters, one large vent and screws have to be removed to bring it down, one in the front that can be removed or other variations of this. There is also what they call “low profile” AC’s that don’t have a vent directly below the AC, but off to the sides. There will be two in this case. They look like normal vents but the can easily be removed and they will have filters located in them. With any AC, the return filters will be directly below the AC unit. They can off to the side but will be very close to the AC. Search the area directly below and you will find them. I have included a few different styles that are very common in RV’s.

      This is the low profile, there are two and they are on the sides closer to the walls.

      I hope this helps!

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  9. barry

    RV Make: holiday rambler, RV Model: vacationer, RV Year: 2017

    the kitchen shown in the picture is gorgeous. what motorhome is this in.

    Reply
  10. davidjames4554

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Tioga, RV Year: 2011, Brand: Coleman, Model Number: Mach model# 48208A876

    How hot should the electric motor that pulls air though the condenser get

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-
      It may get warm but usually it doesn’t get hot to the touch. There is heat coming out of the condenser and the compartment does get warm so the motor will get a little warm but it shouldn’t be getting real hot. If it does, there could be something binding it up or the motor is failing. There is usually a plastic casing and if there is any warping to it, it has gotten too hot. Again, there will be heat back there and it is pushing it away so it will get hot but it shouldn’t be too hot to touch.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  11. David

    RV Make: KZ , RV Model: Connect 241RK, RV Year: 2018

    Rear cameras are great. They also help watch the traffic behind you if you can’t see them.

    Reply
  12. Kenny Brooks

    RV Make: Volkswagen, RV Model: Eurovan, RV Year: 2000

    My wifes older (2000) Eurovan Weekender needs new A/C . I want to use a roof top a/c in place of the standard system. Would these cool adequately inside this smaller space than a standard RV? If so what would you choose given out hot/very humid south Alabama summers.. Thanks for any help you may have…

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Kenny,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      I believe it would work quite well for the smaller area. Usually the smaller AC roof mounted systems are around 13,000 BTU and I would assume that is better that what the standard system was in the Eurovan. I think those were closer to around 9,000 BTU. I do like the Dometic Brisk II AC’s, they are a little louder than other systems but the fan runs faster and gets out the humidity much better which will help cool faster as well. For harsher climates the Dometic Air Command is the best model, it is a lot quieter too just a little bulkier. If you want something smaller and more sleek, I recommend the Penguin model. Anyway you go, I’m sure these models would cool better than what you had before. I hope this helps!Here is some more information on their models:https://www.dometic.com/en-us/us/products/climate/air-conditioners/rv-air-conditioners

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c16375

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club

      Reply
  13. The best RV air conditioners of 2019 - The Wayward Home

    […] Most RV air conditioners are units on the roof of your RV that are built to withstand vibration and the elements. They work with similar technology as the refrigerator in your home, by using a compressor. Instead of pumping cold air into your RV, the unit actually removes warm air from your rig. If you love learning about the tech behind an RV AC unit, read this article on how RV air conditioners work. […]

    Reply
  14. Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Chateau, RV Year: 1983, Brand: Dometic

    Hi. My unit stopped blowing cool air today and started dripping water on the inside through the air intake screen. Advice please?

    Reply
  15. Scott Dunckel

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: Vengeance , RV Year: 2015

    Awning won’t go in.
    How to close off ac vents?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Scott,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      Well for the awning I would need some more information. If you have an electric awning, it could be a loose wire, bad switch, bad motor or low voltage not allowing it to go in. The best thing to do first is check the fuses and make sure nothing is blown. You then want to inspect all of the wiring and check for loose connections at the fuse panel, switch, the wires coming out of the wall to the awning arm and then the wires on the awning motor. A lot of times the exterior connections can go bad so I would check those closely. If everything looks good, you would then have to check the voltage going to the motor when the switch is pressed. If there is voltage there but it doesn’t run, the motor is bad. If there is no voltage there you would have to trace back and find what would be causing the voltage loss. If you have a manual awning and it won’t click over to the retract position, there is something either wrong with the lever or inside of the spring assembly. You would have to take apart the assembly from the tube and see if there is something bound up or of the lever is broken. As for the AC vents, there are many different styles and some have the option to close them off by closing the flaps on the vent while there are some that don’t have this option. Usually if they can close, there will be an arrow on them telling you which direction to push to close them. If they don’t close, you would have to remove the vent and block it with something or put some tape over it. Every manufacture uses something different and many don’t like to use vents that close since it will restrict air flow and could cause the AC to not work as well. They work much better when all vents are open. Some can be turned or installed differently to get a different direction if that would help.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
    • Sarah

      RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Sprinter, RV Year: 2017

      Water dripping in cab floor on passenger floor and cab ac not getting cold

      Reply
  16. Jeff Sederquist

    RV Make: Winnebago , RV Model: 36ft. Chieftain , RV Year: 1989, Brand: Norcold dual refrig. , Model Number: Not sure

    It was not working when i bought the rv

    Reply
  17. Russell Boatright

    RV Make: Newmar, RV Model: Kountry Star, RV Year: 2005, Model Number: KSCA3302

    Our A/C in the cab (driver and passenger) area isn’t consistently working. Sometimes we get cool air and other times not. We can’t find anything on your site that addresses this problem. Can you give us pointers? (First time RV owner.)

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Russell,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      Sorry but unfortunately we don’t have any videos showing auto repairs. The cab accessories are part of the chassis which is a separate from the living area components and that is what we mostly cover. There are many things that could cause the AC to sometimes work or not work at all. A lot of times it is something electronic like a sensor. If there is a leak in the system this could happen as well. These problems can be tough to track down being intermittent. Usually something like this is best to take to a shop that has pressure measuring equipment and monitors to check the system as it is running when the problem does arise. Without this equipment really the only thing you can do is try recharging the system to see if this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  18. ROBIN V EBERT

    RV Make: Tioga, RV Model: Phoenix Flyer, RV Year: 1999

    My roof is not leaking, however it has deteriorated down to black layer. What should I use to resurface and seal my roof?

    Reply
  19. MARTIN JOHNSON

    RV Make: winnebago, RV Model: View, RV Year: 2011

    The housing on my unit is black. Would I get increased efficiency by repainting it white? It would seem to make sense but want to be a bit more sure before I go to the cost and effort. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Martin,

      It depends on how well insulated your RV is. If the walls and insulation are very thin and light, it could make a difference. But if you have thick interior wall and they are vacuum insulated, it really might not make that big of a difference. It also depends on your climate. If you are always in a location where it is very hot and you get direct sunlight on the RV most of the day then painting it could be beneficial. I have heard from other owners that they can notice a difference when it is painted black but it is also hard to compare because the other RV’s might have had better insulation. I have hear people say they can feel the walls inside get warm from the sun, if this is the case the insulation is not the best and painting would help.

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  20. Allen Perkins USA RET.

    RV Make: FOUR WINDS , RV Model: MANDALAY 40B, RV Year: 2005, Brand: DOMETIC

    I installed a port in the system and was able to recharge again. No more purchasing a new AC unit if you loose the Freon.

    Reply
  21. Bob

    RV Make: Mercedes Sprinter, RV Model: 313 , RV Year: 2011, Brand: Talvor , Model Number: 2011 313 Sprinter

    Any help at all with this model

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Bob!

      We’d love to help!

      Would you be able to describe your issue in a little more detail and include your year, make, and model of your RV? Then I will forward your information on to our expert!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  22. Barry Rubin

    RV Make: Cherokee, RV Model: 274dbh, RV Year: 2916, Brand: Cherojee, Model Number: 274dbh

    Is there an update or a new antenna I can install in my unit I get a few tv or radio stations?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hey Barry!

      That’s a great question.

      Would you be able to provide your year, make, and model of your RV? I will then forward your information to our expert!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  23. Jeffrey W. Gann

    RV Make: Keystone, RV Model: Hideout, RV Year: 2011

    Can the coils on my camper air conditioner be sprayed w/ the same cleaner I use for my home?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hey Jeffrey!

      Interesting question!

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

      Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

      1. Click on the email link: https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c18282
      2. Click on the Premium Membership offer.
      3. The Checkout page will display your Premium Membership purchase.
      4. Fill in your Billing Details and create an account password.
      5. Fill in your debit/credit card information.
      6. Finish by clicking Complete Order.

      If you have any further questions, please contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3536 at your earliest convenience, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  24. Don Baker

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Chieftain, RV Year: 1990

    Reading this post on getting most out of your RV AC..It said to mount a maxair vent..I have a crank open vent in roof but no fan in it..Sorry if sound stupid but this RVing is all new to me..should I replace my no fan vent with a famed vent and do I open vent and turn fan on in it when AC is on?Or can I just keep my no fan vent and just open it when AC is on?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Don,

      We’d love to help!

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

      Please follow the steps below to receive the annual membership at the introductory rate:

      1. Click on the email link: https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c18282
      2. Click on the Premium Membership offer.
      3. The Checkout page will display your Premium Membership purchase.
      4. Fill in your Billing Details and create an account password.
      5. Fill in your debit/credit card information.
      6. Finish by clicking Complete Order.

      If you have any further questions, please contact Customer Service at 1-855-706-3536 at your earliest convenience, or chat with us on our site.

      We greatly appreciate your business!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  25. Israel Garza

    RV Make: Open Range, RV Model: 2804, RV Year: 2018

    What is your experience with “soft starts” to reduce amp requirements for AC?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Israel,

      Some people like to have them but they are only really helpful in a few instances. If you have two AC’s and want to run them on a 30 amp service like a generator, then it could help run them but you still wouldn’t be able to run anything else. Depending on the AC the starting amperage does get to around 14-16 amps but running amperage isn’t much lower, closer to 10-12 amps. It really isn’t that big of a difference but if you are experiencing the main breaker tripping a lot when running the AC because you are running a lot of other things it could be useful to have. These are costly too so it depends on how much worth you believe you would get out of it. I honestly think they are more useful for residential than RV’s since they are more powerful and louder. Again, they are nice to have but you would have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself and see if it is worth the money and install for what you have.

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  26. Charles Greene

    RV Make: Fleetwood , RV Model: South wind 36T, RV Year: 2000, Brand: A/C

    Can you recharge the rooftop A/C units.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Charles,

      Technically you can but you would have to find and fix the leak before re filling. They don’t sell any replacement parts unless you can find old units that are the same. Also manufactures won’t usually tell you what refrigerant was used in it, they stopped using R-22 years ago so with different ones out there you would have to make sure you use the correct one. It is best to replace the whole unit unless you know what you are doing with re charging AC systems.

      Sincerely,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply