I tested 6 products and found that the Shinco 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner was the best portable AC unit for camper trailers.
We’ve all been there: It’s the height of summer, which is the perfect time to hit the road for an extended camping trip. Unfortunately, that can also result in a lot of hot, sticky days and nights in the RV.
A portable AC unit is an excellent investment. You don’t have to spend a ton, but I think it’s worth shelling out a little bit extra for a high-quality unit. When you consider the amount of comfort and convenience that you’re getting in return, a dependable air conditioner is actually a bargain.
1. Shinco Portable Air Conditioner -Best Overall
2. Honeywell Classic Portable Air Conditioner -Most Carefree
3. FRIGIDAIRE Portable Air Conditioner -Most Versatile
4. HAYI Personal Air Cooler -Best Value Option
5. DSF Portable Air Conditioner -Best Technology
6. Pasapair 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner -Best For Families With Small Children
6 Best Portable Air Conditioner For Camper Trailers
1. Shinco Portable AC Unit-Best Overall
The Shinco is suitable for spaces of 250 to 350 square feet, so it’s the ideal size for most camper trailers. Like many of our favorites, it can also function as a dehumidifier and fan.
This unit does its work quickly–you should be able to notice a difference in temperature within just 5 minutes. In addition, the self-evaporation system makes maintenance that much easier, since you won’t have to empty out the tank very often. Unfortunately, it’s also on the noisy side.
2. Honeywell Classic Portable Air Conditioner-Most Carefree
Like the Koldfront model, the Honeywell Classic is easy to install. Its design also allows for simple cleanup, which is great news for those of us who loathe housekeeping chores. The model can also be used as a dehumidifier or simple vent fan.
A dual filtration system helps improve the air quality inside your home away from home, and an energy-saving mode adds to its efficiency. Be forewarned, though, that the unit takes up more space than you might have hoped. It also runs louder than some of the competition.
3. FRIGIDAIRE Portable AC Unit-Most Versatile
If it’s a quiet unit you’re looking for, consider the FRIGIDAIRE Portable AC unit. It runs at just 52 decibels, making it easy to sleep while it’s turned on. Since it can cool up to 350 square feet, it’s suitable for either bedroom or living room use.
The 3-in-1 function ensures that the unit can be used as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier, and a fan. The remote allows you to change both the temperature and the fan speed from a distance. A built-in timer offers convenience, and the antibacterial filter makes this a good choice for allergy sufferers.
We should note that this model, while efficient, is rather difficult to install. First-timers–or anyone who isn’t technically inclined–should probably look elsewhere.
4. HAYI Personal Air Cooler-Best Value Option
This is one of the most reasonably priced options on our list, which makes it perfect for shoppers on a budget. It weighs in at under 2-1/2 pounds, so it’s also extremely portable.
Because this is an evaporative cooling unit, you’ll need to fill it with ice before plugging it into a power socket or USB outlet. It can be set to three different speeds using the touch-screen control panel. Unlike some AC units, it won’t leave a chemical smell behind.
Although the HAYI has many great features, its small size makes it a poor choice for larger rigs. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive enough to justify buying several–perhaps even one for each room of the RV.
5. DSF Portable Air Conditioner-Best Technology
The DSF model can cool spaces up to 500 square feet, so if you have an exceptionally large RV, this could be the one for you. It also works quickly, making it a good choice for camping in hot and humid climates.
With the DSF AC unit, you have a choice between 4 different control methods: touch screen, remote, smartphone app, or Amazon’s Alexa device. There’s also a sleep mode and 24-hour timer, so it’s as convenient as it is technologically advanced. However, note that this isn’t the best fit for bedrooms, as the unit can make loud unexpected whooshing noises from time to time.
6. Pasapair 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner-Best For Families With Small Children
The Pasapair features a child lock function as well as a feature that allows you to close off access to the fan blades, so you won’t have to worry about young children sticking their fingers inside. It’s portable enough to move from one room of the trailer to another, with rolling wheels and a handle to make the job that much easier.
The LED display is easy to read, and the unit also comes with a remote control that allows you to set the mode, temperature, and timer. The 3 modes include air conditioning, fan only, and dehumidification.
If the unit has a drawback, it’s the price, which isn’t as high as some but definitely enough to make it a no-go for some buyers. Also, while it’s a relatively quiet unit, it might not be the best fit for bedroom use.
Types Of Portable Air Conditioning Units
Rooftop AC units are a good choice for smaller rigs, since they’re installed on top of the vehicle rather than inside. They’re also very powerful, cranking out 5,000 to 15,000 BTUs per hour.
The main reason we haven’t included any rooftop models on our list is that they’re notoriously heavy and difficult to install. They also suck up a great deal of energy, which can be problematic if you enjoy boondocking.
Vent-free models are also called swamp coolers or evaporative coolers. They work by releasing evaporated cooled water into the surrounding air. The HAYI is one example of a vent-free unit.
These devices are both portable and affordable. Since they don’t consume a lot of energy, they’re an excellent choice for budget shoppers. Be forewarned, though, that you might need to use a hose to remove the excess water from some larger units.
The most portable AC units for RV use will come equipped with wheels and handles, so they can be moved around within the rig itself. They’re also on the smaller side to make them easier to transport.
Window AC units are installed on the outside of the window. They’re usually easy to install and very efficient. You’re not likely to notice much noise with this type of unit.
Why Buy A Portable AC Unit?
The main reason to purchase a cooling unit for your RV or travel trailer is comfort. Since most families camp in the summer months, the living space can get stuffy and hot. Having cold air will help you enjoy your trip that much more.
Some travel trailers are equipped with AC systems. However, it’s always useful to have a backup, especially if the one in your rig is unreliable or inefficient.
As you may have noticed, most of the AC units we listed have more than one feature. They can be used as ordinary fans, or they can pull moisture out of the air, contributing to better air quality within your camper. This is especially good news for campers who suffer from allergies to mold or mildew.
Ease of Installation
As a rule, portable models are much easier to install than their counterparts. All you need to do is set up the ventilator hose. The ones that come with wheels and handles are even more convenient, since you can use them in multiple rooms.
Many air-conditioning units designed for RV use will consume a ton of energy. The ones we’ve listed won’t drain your RV’s power, and they’re ideal for rigs that don’t have a high electrical load to begin with.
Are there any reasons not to invest in a portable air-conditioning unit? While they’re certainly convenient, they aren’t the best choice in all situations.
For one thing, most of the units on our list are better for small spaces. If you have an exceptionally large RV, they might not deliver as much power as you want.
Additionally, sometimes the unit will send cool air outside while bringing in warm air. This creates an effect that’s exactly the opposite of the one you’re trying to achieve.
You might also have a hard time finding the right spot for the unit. You’ll need to set it up fairly close to an electrical outlet, which may not allow the air to circulate properly.
What To Look For
When searching for a portable AC unit, be on the lookout for the following criteria. This will help you make an informed and wise decision.
The number of BTUs refers to the amount of power the unit is capable of delivering. Most of the models we’ve chosen have BTU outputs of 5,000 to 15,000, making them ideal for smaller spaces. A minimum BTU output of 18,000 is recommended for larger rigs.
Take a look at the unit’s wattage to determine whether your RV will be able to sustain its use over long periods of time. If it will drain the rig’s power supply, it won’t be worth the money you spent.
Light sleepers and families with small children should look for the quietest units on the market. Fortunately, there are many models that fit this criteria.
Ease Of Installation
The easier the unit is to install, the faster you can get it up and running. This is true especially if you’re a first-timer.
Ease of Use
You also want the unit to come with a control panel that’s easy to follow. The best units will also be equipped with remote controls that allow you to change the mode or temperature from the other side of the rig.
The Shinco sits at a good price point and is a great option for cooling down your RV or travel trailer. It offers nice versatility with the ability to function as a dehumidifier and fan. As mentioned above, this unit cools quickly and is an ideal size for most camper trailers.
Best of luck, and happy camping
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