Air Conditioning

December 5, 2015

Air conditioning while camping. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there are a few constraints to keeping your canvas camper a cool 72 degrees – namely power (and lots of it).

1.21 Gigawatts

OK, so you don’t need a flux capacitor and tube of uranium to power an RV air conditioner, but sometimes it feels that way. Technically, most RV air conditioners (including in a small popup camper) require 30-amp electrical service for power. This is different than most residential power outlets and is why you typically require an electrical hookup campground to use the air conditioner.

Generators and A/C

Your camper’s battery will not power an A/C. Not even for a second. It won’t even turn on.

You will typically need to generate at least 2,800 watts with a portable generator in order to power the air conditioner. Turn off the generator and your A/C will shut down too. Some generators like the Honda EU3000 will generate thus much (or more) from a single generator. Some smaller generators can be chained together to create the necessary wattage.

Perhaps it’s better just to camp in a cool, shaded location not needing air conditioning. With the help of a roof vent fan, an extended awning, and all of the windows unzipped on your popup, it can keep surprisingly cool, even with temperatures into the 80s or even 90s.

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I've been camping regularly since I was a kid, from quick Cub/Boy Scout trips to week-long backpacking trips and everything else in-between. We got a popup camper when our kids were 1 and 3 years old to enjoy more time outdoors together alongside a few conveniences like heat and running water. Since then, we've spent over 75 nights together as a family in our popup camper. I've learned a lot about the intricacies of a popup tent camper during this time and love to share those lessons here for the benefit of others.