Keeping your Cool in the Summer in your Motorhome or Caravan

Posted on by David Burley

Keep Cool in your motorhome and caravan

Well the heatwave is here, people are wilting and so are the flowers !

The traditional summer holiday is quickly approaching and here are some tips and information on keeping cool in your motorhome / caravan.

Why do motorhomes and caravans get so hot ?
It’s all down to the amount of insulation with some of the more budget vehicles being less insulated vs more expensive counterparts. Couple this with many windows / windscreen and cab windows and you get a magnifying glass effect with heat building and building.

How do we keep cool then ?
Starting at the budget end / tips section of our article, you can pull up your sunshade blinds, open rooflights to create some air movement. If you don’t have blinds then you can purchase either Internal Blinds or External thermal blinds which can block out the sun as well as provide much needed insulation. External thermal blinds are better at this and reduce condensation much better than the internal versions.

So now you are sitting in a nicely insulated and dark area  but you are still hot, then the next phase is to add assisted air flow. This could be something akin to a fan like the Endless breeze fan which is a portable 12v fan which produces an amazing amount of airflow for a small device. Up from this is either a Fiamma Turbo Kit which is portable but also has special bracket arrangement allowing it to be hung from an existing roof vent.

If something more permanent is better suited for you then the Fiamma Turbovent or Fantastic fan provide power fan systems actually built into a rooflight with extraction capabilities, thermostats and speed controls.

If you are intending to holiday abroad in the Summer or want more comfort especially at night to remove humidity etc then you really need an air conditioner for your motorhome or caravan.

Air conditioners for motorhomes come in two main types, under bench air conditioners and roof mounted air conditioners.

hb2500_9100100010_d101The underbench models are much harder to install retrospectively as the ac unit needs to be mounted usually under a seat or similar but then venting pipework has to be constructed and run throughout the vehicle, this is obviously hard to do in a van that is built whereas at time of construction it can easily be added. As such underbench conditioners are much less popular for aftermarket purposes.

Roof mounted versions are available from a variety of manufactuers i.e. Dometic air conditioners, Teleco Air Conditioners. Dometic have two main ranges of air con, the Freshjet and the Freshlight. The latter model being an innovative idea where instead of losing an existing 40 x 40cm rooflight and its associated natural light the air conditioner itself has a window built in.  Dometic-FreshJet-Motorhome-Air-Conditioner

Freshlight air conditioners from Dometic are considerably more costly as a result of this however and also cannot be installed in a standard 40 x 40cm space as they require 60 x 40cm area and so the installation can be more complex if your van does not have a rooflight of this size.

Most people opt for swapping a 40cm x 40cm rooflight and have an air conditioner in its place.

Most air conditioners normally operate solely on 230v i.e. only when you have mains hookup or a generator available. They can be made to operate from 12v battery supply with the caveat of needing multiple leisure batteries and the use of an inverter kit which bumps up the price of the system considerably and the ampere draw of the system precludes you from using it for long durations anyway.

When purchasing an air conditioner for your motorhome or caravan don’t skimp i.e. don’t try and purchase a model for a small vehicle as you won’t be impressed with the performance and money saved now will simply means arguments down the line when the system doesn’t cool the vehicle sufficiently.

Some air conditioners also have a feature called soft start, this facility prevents continental low amp mains supplies being tripped by the consumption power of the air conditioner compressor by starting the system in a different fashion which stages the current pull.

So there you have it, don’t get hot under the collar this summer in your van when a bit of preparation in advance can help you keep cool 🙂

About David Burley


David lives & breathes motorhomes, an ex Fulltimer who has years of experience living in a motorhome and now drawing on his Royal Navy Technical engineering background for installation work.

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