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Should You Get 2 Air Conditioners for Your RV

Imagine this: It’s mid-July, and the weather report calls for another 90-degree scorcher. The moisture is relentless and you have cleared your calendar for a long summer weekend in your motorhome.

But with the heat that sets in, it’s hard not to imagine the worst: trying to sleep in a sweaty, undercooled motorhome with picky kids. Let’s be honest this entire situation sounds pretty miserable.

Should you be concerned about the air conditioning of your motorhome? Will air conditioning be strong enough?

Here you will find everything you need to know to keep your motorhome cool in the summer and whether air conditioning is sufficient.

What is a BTU?

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Distances are measured in miles and feet, electricity is measured in watts and amperes and the air conditioning performance is measured in BTUs.

A BTU (British thermal unit) measures the amount of heat that an air conditioner can take out of the room. Simply put, the more BTUs your air conditioner has, the more powerful it is. In mobile homes, the performance of air conditioning systems ranges from 11,000 BTU to 15,000 BTU, and most RVs come standard with 13,500 BTU air conditioners.

In some cases, BTUs of your AC won’t matter though. Consider humidity in certain locations, an air conditioner will condition the air but humidity will still exist resulting in that sticky feeling. You may want to use a portable evaporative cooler, or what’s better known as a swamp cooler. As long as you have your RV setup with enough airflow with your AC and swamp cooler, this combination may be better depending on your location.

A Rule to Live By

If you are considering buying a motorhome but are concerned about how cool the air temperature is, there is a simple rule of thumb: the length of the RV. Up to 32 feet, most motorhomes with air conditioning are sufficient. More than that, and you’ll probably need two.

There are two reasons for this: size and airflow.

The size of the RV is an obvious factor in the decision to need two air conditioners. The more space you need to cool, the more air conditioning you will need. In addition, larger motorhomes tend to be less cavernous and segmented, including spaces separated by doors that restrict the flow of cold air. If your motorhome has a number of different rooms, you should consider a second air conditioner.


The color of your RV is an often overlooked factor in deciding whether you need a second air conditioner or not. Check with your local motorhome dealer-there is a reason why most motorhomes you see are white, beige or a light brown. They reflect the sun’s rays, which absorb much less heat and result in a cooler RV.

This does not mean that dark-colored mobile homes are rare. In fact, they are becoming more and more popular. Giving an RV a full coat can be expensive, which is why many entry-level motorhomes are white, the color of unpainted fiberglass. But the high-end models have a color that is usually dark.

And the darker your motorhome is, the more likely you will need a second air conditioner.


If your idea of a remote travel trip to the Grand Canyon goes up, you don’t need a location in your decision to consider whether you are buying a second air conditioner.

But if you sell your house and move into a motorhome full-time, you’ll need one. If you’ve ever been to the Southwest in the summer, you know it gets very hot. A second air conditioning unit can be enormously practical if you plan to travel, even if you don’t use it all the time.