Air Conditioning |

Apr 17, 2023

How to Choose the Best RV Air Conditioner for Your Rig


Rooftop air conditioners can make your RV excursion much more enjoyable, keeping you cool and comfortable. Find out how to choose one that works for your vehicle and stay fresh on your next adventure.

Many people know that the size of their RV is a factor in what type of rooftop air conditioner is best for their rig. But it goes beyond that — where you plan to travel and your personal preferences can also influence your RV AC purchase. 

Understanding RV rooftop air conditioner sizes

The biggest consideration when purchasing any type of air conditioner is ensuring that you get the right size, and that doesn't change when you're shopping for roof-mounted RV AC units. But size doesn't directly mean the measurement of the unit's height, length, and width — although obviously you do want something that fits your RV appropriately. 

In this case, you want to look at the BTU output of a unit, as this is what will help you understand its cooling performance. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it's a measurement for energy. It takes 1 BTU to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree F, for example. 

RV size is an important consideration

But not all other things are equal. The biggest factor in determining how powerful your RV AC unit needs to be is the size of your recreational vehicle. It takes more power and energy to cool a larger space.  

A small rooftop AC unit installed in a large travel trailer or fifth wheel can take too long to cool the entire space — and it might never get the job fully done. Buy too small of a unit and it could run constantly, creating an unnecessary draw on your power resources. It can also cause the RV AC to freeze up. 

On the other hand, if you have a small camper van, you don't need the biggest rooftop air conditioner you can find. It's overkill, which means you might waste money on the purchase. Plus, if you go too large, the power draw can be too much for your RV.  

Getting an RV AC unit that's appropriately-sized for you rig can save you money in the long fun. This website offers a guide to calculate the cubic feet of your RV, then translate that to the specific BTU cooling capacity you need: RV Air Conditioner Size Calculator

Furrion offers a wide range of RV AC units to meet your needs, including 14.5k BTU and 15.5k BTU options. 

Where you travel can be a factor

If you're planning to stick to milder climates and only want an AC unit to keep your interior slightly cooler or as cool as the exterior, you might not need a powerful appliance. But if you're planning to head to warmer climates, such as parking your RV near the Grand Canyon or exploring the Everglades in Florida, you may want a more powerful AC on the roof. 

When it comes to air conditioners for RVs that will be used in climates with 100 degree F or greater temperatures, make sure you look for the true cooling capacity rating. Many AC manufacturers claim a standard 13.5k or 15k BTU, but there are differences in their true cooling capacity. If you're traveling in warmer environments, you want the unit with the highest possible true cooling capacity. 

Furrion Chill® has up to 50% greater cooling capacity than leading competitors, which means you can cool faster and to lower temperatures.  Our comparative test shows that Furrion Chill cools an RV from 100 degrees F to 70 degrees F up to 30% faster than competitive products. 

Speaking of the Everglades, humidity is definitely another factor to consider. If you live or travel to very humid areas, you may need a more powerful air conditioner unit to help keep the moisture and mugginess out of the air. 

Furrion RV AC unit

Furrion Chill automatically maintains the correct level of moisture in your air and can produce up to 25% dryer air than leading competitors. This creates a higher airflow cooling effect in summer and increases comfort. 

Manual, single-zone, or multizone: Which do you choose?

Manual control means you turn the AC unit on and off to control how cool it tries to get the RV interior. Manual RV ACs may not have a thermostat, so you might have to turn the unit on and off according to your personal preference. In a smaller RV, manual control is typically enough to meet basic comfort needs, in part because you're usually near the switch. Check out the Furrion Chill Manual control bundle for more information.  

A single-zone unit with a thermostat lets you control the climate in a single space. Single zone RV air conditioning units typically include functions such as automatic restart and shutoff, so you don't have to constantly fiddle with the unit to keep the interior of your camper at a certain temperature. Check out the Furrion Chill Electric control bundle for more information. 

Furrion Chill Multi-Zone Wall Thermostat

Furrion Chill Multi-Zone Wall Thermostat

For larger RVs or more luxurious comfort options, you might invest in a multizone system. This lets you control more than one RV AC with a single thermostat. The Furrion CHILL Multi Zone controller, for example, is compatible with all sizes of rooftop units. Pairing it with a thermostat lets you control the AC for the bedroom, living room, and garage areas in your RV from one location.

Other factors to consider for the best RV AC

Efficiency: The more efficient an RV AC unit is, the more air-cooling power you get. AC efficiency is measured in EER ratings; the higher the rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. For example, Furrion's 14.5k BTU AC uses the same or less power than many 13.5k BTU ACs. This means the AC doesn't need to run for as long to get the same cooling job done, saving on energy draw.  The Furrion Chill is up to 40% more efficient than competitors

Furrion Chill RV air conditioner airflow diagram

Furrion Chill is built for efficiency, delivering superior cooling performance whilst using less electricity.

Durability and Reliability: The Furrion Chill is engineered to minimize drag from air resistance while in motion and has a sporty design. Dampeners reduce vibration and result in quieter operation, and VibrationSmart™ technology ensures your unit holds up to all the rigors of the road. A retrofit design makes it easy to replace industry competitors with Furrion units, which come with 2-year warranties. Check out the Furrion Chill Conversion Kit bundle for more information. 

A Quiet RV Air Conditioner: The Furrion Chill operates at 60dB, making it the quietest model in the market. Plus, dual fans create more comfort with quieter, more efficient operation because they don't have to work as hard. With dual-fan technology, Furrion Chill products can operate up to 50% quieter than single-fan systems. 

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