It had always been a dream of ours to convert a campervan, and in 2020 we finally made that dream a reality!
It’s our trusty van Helen that’s accompanying us on this trip, and we had the time of our lives converting her ourselves!
If you’re wondering how to convert a campervan then we’ve got tons of articles on our website, but for now, we’re just going to look at the best RV air conditioners on the market.
Whether you're looking for a portable air conditioner for your campervan or a rooftop unit, there are plenty to choose from.
Honestly, it can all feel pretty overwhelming, which is where this guide comes in…
Firstly, there are various types of air conditioning units so that’s probably the most useful place to start.
Each type has its own benefits and disadvantages, but I’ll dive more into that when we take a look at the specific products…
As the name suggests, this air conditioning unit will be mounted on the roof of your van.
Roof-mounted air con units have two variations; ducted and non-ducted and each one has its own way of cooling down an RV.
Unlike other ac units, you won’t need to substitute them for space as they’ll be on the vehicle’s exterior. This often allows you much more room and means you won’t have to duck under it every time you walk through.
They work by cooling the vehicle directly through the inside air distributor, and they come in a variety of different sizes to suit a wide range of campervans.
The thing with RV rooftop air conditioners is that they’re often quite expensive so you’ll need to consider this if you’re planning to purchase one. However, they’ve very quiet and powerful so they’re still a fantastic choice!
This is generally the same principle as roof-mounted air conditioners but they’ll be fitted in the interior of the van rather than its exterior.
Although they’ll take up more room, ceiling-mounted air conditioners are easier to access and you can often fit them yourself (after watching a couple of Youtube videos of course).
However, they can be relatively technical depending on which system you choose so just keep that in mind. For less stress, you can always pay to get it installed.
The main difference between roof-mounted and ceiling-mounted camper ac units is that you can often get the latter much cheaper.
Just make sure you check the specifications first to guarantee that you’re getting a good deal.
This is another great option if you’re looking for camper air conditioners. The under-seat ac units take up less room, very much like the storage box option.
Being able to have your air conditioning unit under your seat is incredibly handy because this is a space that you won’t often use anyway.
However, it’s still relatively easy to reach if it needs fixing or adjusting for whatever reason.
Another great thing about choosing one of these units is that they often weigh less than rooftop or ceiling air conditioners, which is something you’ll need to think about when it comes to your van's weight limit.
There are plenty of awesome options out there when it comes to under-bench air conditioners too!
You might have guessed by the name, but this type of camper air conditioning unit is installed in the vehicle's storage space.
Cool air is directed into the vehicle upwards through ducts, and it’s often one of the quieter options when it comes to ac units.
Just keep in mind that although this type of unit will be out of the way, it will also take up valuable storage space - especially if you’ve only got a small vehicle.
This is particularly an issue for long-term van lifers as you’ll have more items with you e.g. clothes, kitchen equipment, food etc. so you’ll probably need all the space you can get.
However, there is a get-around as many of them (depending on the size) can be fitted into storage spaces that aren’t very practical for other uses.
If you’re traveling in a small-medium campervan and you’re short on space then I recommend checking out the portable air conditioners that are on the market right now.
Many of them have fantastic specifications that can match some of the roof-mounted units, and they’re much more flexible to travel with.
Portable air conditioners work by pulling the hot air from the environment into the unit. There’s then a motor inside that cools the air before circulating it through the room, or in this case the vehicle.
There are a variety of sizes to choose from so you can choose one to suit the space that you have to work with. They come in different shapes too ranging from slim towers to cube-shaped units.
Just make sure you get one powerful enough to cool your vehicle, so check the specs first.
Now, this one isn’t technically an air conditioner but it is another option if you’re looking to keep your RV cool.
This system cools the vehicle through the evaporation of water so it’s quite a unique technique. Swamp coolers essentially blow air across water or damp pads, which in turn then injects water into the air.
They don’t work the same as other cooling processes but they will cool your camper down on a warm summer's day when it’s most needed.
Although these evaporative coolers aren’t as effective as an ac unit, there are some great offers out there and you can pick a reliable one up for as little as $103 (£89.99).
Just keep in mind that they probably won’t be efficient enough for long-term travel through warm countries, as you do get what you pay for!
An air conditioner unit is one of the most important campervan accessories that you can have, especially if you’re planning to road trip during the summer or through hot countries.
However, there are a couple of things that you’ll need to consider when choosing an air conditioner for your camper…
The first thing to consider is the space that you’ve got to work with! Of course, this will differ depending on whether you’re converting a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or a VW Transporter.
For starters, you don’t want to invest in a HUGE air conditioning unit that’s going to take up a lot of space if you’ve only got a small to medium-sized van.
In this case, it’s often best to pick up a smaller unit that you can place out of the way e.g under a bench/seat.
However, if you’re planning to convert a large vehicle then it’s likely that you’ll need a more powerful air conditioner unit which is often bigger.
The other way to get around this is by having more than one small air conditioning unit and coordinating them.
Before you buy, I’d recommend researching the rough measurements of your vehicle or even taking them yourself if you wish. This will give you a good idea of what you need.
Another important factor is your budget. Before you start looking at air conditioners you’ll need to work out how much money you can afford to spend on one of these bad boys!
Some of them aren’t cheap, and there’s no point trying to decide on the perfect unit for you before you’ve decided what you can pay.
Unfortunately, like with many other things the more energy-efficient units will often cost more money. Although they’ll last down the line and are often recommended, some people just aren’t in the position to fork out that kind of cash!
So jot down the budget you’ve got, and then work from there...
This is something that doesn’t often come to mind when searching for an air con unit but it’s an important one.
The key thing to note here is that any vehicle that goes over the limit of 3.5 tonnes presents some issues; namely having to upgrade your van’s suspension and your license to a category C.
There’s nothing worse than converting a campervan to find it’s gone over this weight, so you’ll want to limit the weight of everything you can.
An air conditioning unit is no different, with many of them being quite hefty in size. Before your purchase, make sure you’ve got a rough idea of what kind of weight you can allow in the van.
For those who are a bit confused with the different types of RV and campervan available, here's a helpful guide to RV classes!
If you’re traveling or even living in your van, it’s likely that you won’t have a concrete idea of where you’re going to end up.
However, having a rough plan of where you plan to go and what time of year you’re visiting will help you when it comes to purchasing an air con unit.
If you’re planning to road trip through the summer months in hot countries then you’re definitely going to need a good-quality air conditioner.
It’s the only way to keep the vehicle cool, especially if you’ve got a dark-colored campervan that retains heat.
The other thing to consider is whether you’re planning to road trip during the autumn or winter months. If that’s the case then it’s best to invest in an air con unit that also features a heat pump.
The last thing to consider is whether you’ll have access to mains power!
This factor will all depend on your travel preferences and where you’re visiting, as wild camping is legal in some countries. For example, both Ireland and Scotland have some fantastic wild camping spots.
If you’re looking to save cash whilst out on the road then wild camping is a popular option. However, you won’t have access to any facilities and that includes electricity so it’s something to keep in mind.
Luckily, some RV AC units run on a battery which means they don’t need to be connected to a mains hookup.
This means you won’t be restricted to where you can camp, or have the pressure of finding a campsite that not only has mains hook up, but that’s also got space to take you!
In my opinion, the Zero Breeze Mark ii is undoubtedly the best air conditioner for campers!
There are three main mechanical components to this unit; a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil. It also uses a cooling agent called refrigerant to help cool the hot air.
You’ll just need to make sure that the rear ducts are pointing outside your van with a tight seal so that no hot air can enter from outside. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting a losing battle!
We’ve got a full review of this awesome unit on our website, but for now, I’m just going to detail the key points.
Firstly, the Zero Breeze Mark ii is a portable air conditioning unit and it’s extremely lightweight so it can be easily moved around your vehicle.
Another fantastic feature of this product is that it’s 100% battery-powered which sets it apart from other portable ac units out there. It runs on a 24v battery and is extremely low power considering its effectiveness.
The fact it’s battery-powered means you don’t need a mains hookup to use it, so you’ve got more flexibility when it comes to wild camping.
You can simply switch out the battery when it’s done and keep powering your unit off-grid!
Or, if you’re looking for the ultimate setup then you can wire the unit directly into your onboard battery system. This is what we do, and you can find out more details of how in our review of the Zero Breeze Mark ii.
This air conditioning unit has so many awesome benefits and one of these is the fact that it can be hard-installed so it’s easy to turn off and on.
It’s also more affordable than most ceiling or roof-mounted solutions and they ship around the world, so you’ll have no problems getting your hands on one!
You can also purchase a variety of awesome accessories for Zero Breeze Mark ii, one of these being a 100W solar panel.
It plugs directly into the air conditioning unit and can be used to charge the battery which is extremely handy if you don’t have access to electricity!
Another good 12v solution is the Indel-Plen which I’ll discuss in a minute. As you’ll see the Breeze is almost half the price, and at full power uses around a third of the hourly power consumption.
However, it’s worth pointing out that the Indel-Plein is more powerful overall and can be roof-mounted in a standard 400mmx400m ceiling space so is relatively convenient!
We find that the Zero Breeze isn’t designed to cool a giant space, but is absolutely perfect if you place your tube under the bed covers at night; allowing you to be cold and comfortable, even if the temperature outside the van is 40 degrees+.
For this reason, it’s a fantastic choice. Although there are a wide variety of portable ac units for campers on the market - this is easily one of the best in my opinion!
Next on the list is the Dometic FreshJet Range!
This range offers one of the best rooftop air conditioners for RVs as it’s specially designed for large campervans and motorhomes.
With a lightweight and compact design, a simple touch control, and ambient LED lighting, the Dometic FreshJet range has so much to offer!
There are four variations of this air conditioning unit; 1500, 1700, 2200, and 3000. Each one is designed for different size vehicles, and understandably, as you go up in size the units naturally increase in price.
The 1500-2200 range is suitable for vehicles up to 7m long, while you’ll have to go for the 3000 if your vehicle is longer than this!
Now, on to the benefits…
With a dual-cylinder inverter compressor, you’ll find that this design minimizes vibration and noise whilst being incredibly energy-efficient.
It also ticks the box when it comes to convenience as this range offers remote control operation so you can change the temperature right from where you’re sitting.
Not only that, but you’ll also benefit from an energy-saving sleep mode!
Still not convinced? Thanks to fewer parts these models are relatively easy to assemble and you can even heat the van with this range if you’re traveling during the winter.
The Dometic FreshJet range is easily one of the most efficient RV air conditioners on the market, so if you’re looking to go down this route make sure you check them out.
There are plenty of under-bench ac units for RVs, but this is the best in my opinion!
The Dometic FreshWell 3000 is suitable for vehicles up to 8m in length, so longer motorhomes and campervans (depending on their size) can still benefit from this.
As it’s housed in the under-bench storage area, it won’t take up unnecessary space and it’s a room-saving solution for small-medium vehicles.
Other benefits of using the Dometic FreshWell 3000 instead of roof-mounted models are that your outside vehicle specifications won’t need to change and there’s no roof load.
This ac unit is 2700 watts and is one of the most compact under-bench options on the market for this category.
It’s also incredibly quiet considering, so you won’t be bothered by the constant buzzing noise that other models produce!
Like the previous Dometic range that I’ve just mentioned, this model also comes with a remote control so you can adjust the temperature with the click of a button.
Not only can this remote control be used to cool the vehicle, but it can also be used to heat your campervan too by circulating warm air.
The Dometic FreshWell 3000 has three blower speeds that you can adjust, and separate outlets that you can adjust depending on where you require the airflow.
For example, you can either concentrate the airflow to the same place or the vents can be fitted in different parts of the vehicle so that the air streams in different areas.
So, when it comes to under-bench campervan air conditioners - this may be the one for you!
The 14.5K Furrion Chill is another rooftop unit so it’s a great option if you’re not looking for a portable unit.
This air conditioner has been aerodynamically designed with dual-fan technology, which makes it one of the better options on the market right now.
The unit’s design, along with its lightweight insulated heat exchanger means that the 14.5K Furrion Chill is up to 40% more efficient than other single-fan models.
Not only that, but this ac unit is incredibly quiet as it contains noise-reduction technology!
Featuring a 2-way airflow, three fan speeds, and a cleanable (and replaceable) air filter, this model has a lot to offer.
Each purchase of the 14.5K Furrion Chill includes the rooftop unit itself, but it also comes with a single zone controller, a wall thermostat, and an air distribution box.
With the air distribution box, you’ll have the choice of LED or without so make sure you select the right option.
You’ll also have the thermostat and controller, which will allow you to control the temperature effortlessly. This goes for the airflow too.
Another great thing about the 14.5K Furrion Chill is that it comes with a 24-month warranty so if anything goes wrong with it you’re covered!
If you’re looking for a rooftop air conditioner for your van then this is another fantastic choice! The unit comes in two colors; black and white so it’s up to you which color you’d prefer.
Next up on this list is the Plein-Aircon 12V!
In my opinion, this is the best ceiling-mounted 12v air conditioner, and there are so many reasons for this.
For starters, it’s the first 12V ac unit of its type for campervans and motorhomes that can be powered by the backup battery alone!
That means you won’t need to install inverters or generators, which is always handy. It will also considerably reduce your power consumption and it eliminates C02 emissions whilst you’re stopping.
This makes it a more eco-friendly option too!
Secondly, it’s effective in cooling and dehumidifying vehicles up to 6 meters without you needing to connect to more powerful energy sources or backup generators.
The Plein-Aircon 12V is designed to be positioned above the sleeping area, so is fantastic at maintaining the ideal temperature whilst you’re driving or sleeping.
This air conditioner comes with compressor cooling technology, two fans, and 1200W of cooling power, so it packs a punch!
Offering practicality and efficiency, this ceiling-mounted ac unit is a great option if you’re looking for an air conditioner for your camper.
However, it’s only suitable for vehicles that are 6 meters in length or less so you’ll need to take that into consideration before you buy!
Just keep in mind the weight of the Plein-Aircon 12V. Like many of the other rooftop air conditioners out there, this unit isn’t light and weighs in at around 25 kg.
This makes it far heavier than some of the portable options on the market!
The Truma Aventa range is known for its high output, efficient airflow, and easy-to-use system that can be controlled via a remote.
Some of the differences between them include cooling power consumption, start-up power, and weight.
However, the key difference is that the Aventa Comfort has an impressive heating power of 1700W whilst the others don’t.
Boasting an effective integrated heat pump, this is one of the best options out there if you’re looking for an RV rooftop ac and heating unit.
Not only does the Aventa Comfort offer heating and cooling modes, but it’s extremely quiet to run, and there are four air outlets so you’ll have no issues finding your perfect temperature.
However, the other two options are smaller and lighter so may offer more convenience when it comes to your van conversion.
Overall, the Truma Aventa Range offers fantastic value for money and is one of the top options on the market.
But, there’s one more thing that you’ll want to consider…
As I mentioned previously, if your vehicle goes over the 3.5-ton limit after your conversion you’ll have to spend some money on the van's suspension and upgrading your license.
For this reason, many people choose to look for lightweight air conditioners, which unfortunately are hard to find if you’d prefer a ceiling-mounted or rooftop unit.
Although the Truma Aventa range is extremely effective, the units weigh between 27-33 kg which makes them heavier than some of the other options on this list.
The Viesa Holiday IIIs 12v is one of the more unique options on the market and seems to be a really interesting solution.
It works very differently from other air conditioners as it uses the water evaporation principle.
Essentially, the unit helps to aid the evaporation of humidity on the skin, which in turn naturally removes heat from the body. This also helps to create a natural feeling of well-being!
This cooling system only becomes more efficient when the outside temperature increases too, so you don’t need to worry about where you’re traveling.
This process of cooling is entirely natural, which makes it very eco-friendly - no oils, chemicals, or gasses are used here!
Offering 100% filtered fresh air, a reduction in fumes, and minimal maintenance, this rather unique air conditioner is a great option.
As the Viesa Holiday IIIs is only 12v, it’s also very economical to run. In fact, it’s up to 80% more economical than other systems out there.
If you’re still not convinced, then this ac unit can be operated while the vehicle is in motion, and it’s silent thanks to its advanced centrifugal pump.
One of the main things to consider with this is convenience, as the Viesa Holiday IIIs is made in Italy and there are only six places in the country where the unit can be professionally installed.
However, you can of course install it yourself if you wish!
It’s also recommended for vehicles 8 meters or less, and with a maximum of four people on board so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
There are plenty of campervan air conditioning units out there, but this is definitely one of the most unique!
The ASA Advent Range has been designed to deliver all the things you want from an air conditioner; efficiency, maximum airflow, and easy installation.
The ACM135/B has a 13,500 BTU-rated cooling capacity, whilst the ACM150/B has a BTU-rated cooling capacity of 15,000.
With 115V AC power, three fan speeds, and a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant, these air conditioners have plenty to offer.
Due to the air conditioners' condensation dispersion cooling system, you won’t have to worry about water-run off either which is always handy!
These ac units are incredibly efficient, and they’re extremely quiet too. This is partly due to the thick foam support pads that work to reduce noise.
You can also get the ACM135/B and the ACM150/B in two colors; white and black depending on your style.
Another thing about these two air conditioners is that they’re backward compatible with previous Advent ceiling assemblies.
So, if you’re already a fan of this company then there’s no need to sweat as you won’t need to change the installation process.
There are several accessories that you can purchase from the ASA Advent range too including a digital thermostat, an electric heat strip, and adapter kits.
There’s also the ACRG15 which is designed for ducted and non-ducted applications, and the ACDB which is suited for non-ducted ceiling assembly.
There are plenty of fantastic air conditioners for RVs and campervans, but make sure you check out the Maxxair Mach range.
This company is always trying to develop innovative ways to make your campervan experience more comfortable, and they’ve been doing this for years!
Along the way, they’ve brought out the Maxxair Mach range which consists of three ac units; 1.7 KW, 2.4 KW, and 3.1 KW.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the difference between the models is simply the power, although they do differ in weight too.
The Maxxair Mach range has a lot to offer as each model features an air conditioner and heat pump, three fan speeds, a night mode, and remote control via Bluetooth.
The remote control is done through the Maxxair app, so you can control the temperature right from your phone. You can also control the fan settings through your phone!
With high efficiency, very low starting currents, and soft start options, these ac units are a great option.
Although the Maxxair Mach range is highly effective, they weigh in at between 32.5-37 kg so they’re one of the heaviest options in this guide.
If you’ve got the allowance that’s great, but if you’re struggling to keep your conversion under the weight limit then this range might not be for you.
There are other air conditioners out there that weigh less, or you can try out a portable ac unit like we have!
Last but certainly not least, is the Dometic Brisk range!
If you’re looking for a quiet RV air conditioner then this ac unit is an awesome option, as Dometic has put plenty of things in place to reduce operating noise.
One of these is that the compressor, evaporator, and motor are all bracketed together so you won’t have to worry about vibrations and noise.
However, it’s not just the lack of noise that makes the Dometic Brisk range stand out from many other air conditioners on the market.
Firstly, the air containers in this range have large air openings which means the airflow and cooling capacity are extremely efficient.
Another great thing about the Dometic Brisk range is that it’s very durable, as it boasts a carbon steel base.
There’s also an EPP Foam housing that helps to reduce the weight of the units and increase the cooling performance.
Lastly, this range of air conditioners also has an optional heater function, with a multi speed blower so you can adjust it based on how cold the temperature is inside the vehicle.
So if you’re looking for a Dometic RV air conditioner, then the Brisk range is a great option.
You’ve also got the Freshjet and FreshWell range which I went through earlier!
There are plenty of fantastic options out there when it comes to air conditioning for campers!
Your decision will be based on several factors; the most important being the space you have to work with, your budget, and whether you’ll have access to mains power.
Of all the air conditioning units in this guide, we LOVE Zero Breeze Mark ii as it’s the unit that we personally use!
With this air con unit, you don’t need a mains hookup, it’s extremely lightweight and portable, and it’s one of the more affordable options!
We've road tripped so many incredible countries with this ac unit including France, Portugal, and Mexico, and it's never let us down. It's also helped us beat the extreme heat of the famous states of Utah and California.
In our opinion, the Zero Breeze Mark ii is one of the best options out there. So make sure you check it out if you're researching campervan air conditioning systems!
If you’re in the process of converting a campervan of your own, or it’s a dream of yours then here are some other guides that you may find helpful: