We all know how hot caravans and motorhomes can get, particularly in the summer months.
Often caravans are built with thermoplastic housing, which will mean they retain a lot more heat. This is great for the winter, but when the weather starts to get a bit warmer you might feel like you’re living in a human pressure cooker.
That’s where an air conditioner setup can be a godsend. These handy systems can be installed effectively and easily into the housing of your caravan, quickly being able to deliver cool and fresh air right through your stuffy and small space.
However, choosing the right air conditioning unit for you and your family isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There will be a few different factors that you’ll need to consider.
The first will be how much power your air conditioner consumes and what types of battery that your camper van has. If your battery is not equipped for a high power outage, then the chances are that you’ll simply not have the juice available to keep your fan powered for the long term. You’ll also have to avoid high discharge rates that could damage your caravan’s battery.
The other thing you’ll have to think about it how heavy the overall unit is. A heavy air conditioning unit will not only be harder for you to install even with the correct ladder to get to the caravan roof but they might displace the weight of your caravan. This will increase the risk of flipping the van when you’re out on the road, which you want to avoid at all costs.
If you are caravanning in the UK during the summer, you might not feel the need to invest in a fan system, although sometimes British temperatures can get very hot. One of the reasons you certainly will want to have an air conditioner is if you are touring places like the south of France, which can reach temperatures of up to 30-degrees.
To sum up, a fan system will make your holiday a lot more comfortable and enjoyable, giving you the option of cooling you down when you’re driving and having the window open might not be an option.
So, what are the best air conditioner setups for your caravan and motorhome? What features and materials should your fan system be made out of in order to cool down the entirety of your camper van? What is the right weight of fan system for your caravan? How much should you be paying for a decent fan system?
Well, four-wheeled holidaymakers will no longer have to worry about these things, as we’ve got a comprehensive list of some of the best air conditioner setups for caravans and motorhomes currently available on the market today.
Then we’re following that up with a buyer’s guide that will help you decide between the good and the not-so-good fan systems, ensuring that you choose the right air conditioner for both your caravan and your style of holiday making.
We’ll also include the link to numerous user testimonies that will be very important for judging the quality and reliability of your model.
Finally, we’ll round up our article with some frequently asked questions that will hopefully address some of the nagging anxieties you might have about buying a new fan system.
This isn’t a small purchase, we understand that, so it is important that you have all the bases covered before splashing out.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get stuck into our list of the best air conditioner setups for caravans and motorhomes!
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List Of Best Air Conditioners For Caravans & Motorhomes
Our first model of air conditioner is manufactured by a brand that we have such faith in that they appear twice on this list, constructing premium fan systems for roll-out caravan awnings and motorhome awnings.
This is a relatively powerful unit that will need an accompanying battery to be able to keep it running for a long time – introducing the Fiamma Turbo Vent.
This fan will certainly increase the amount of ventilation in your motorhome, drawing out the hot air in your caravan through the ceiling and pulling the cooler air from outside through the floor vents. This is designed for perfect installation in your roof unit, coming in a size that will fit most motorhome roofs.
One of the things that you’ll want to avoid is making a new cut in the ceiling of your roof. Luckily, this unit has been designed just to replace the roof light or the ceiling window in your caravan. You won’t have to spend more time and money having to modify the shell of your caravan to accommodate this new air conditioner.
This is also great if you have a kitchen unit where you might have burned some toast or overcooked your eggs, as it will give you the ability to jettison the smoke quickly from the inside of your caravan.
Getting rid of noxious smells from such an enclosed environment will be very important, avoiding any odours getting trapped in the fabric of your sofa.
- Rapid ventilation – this unit can disperse a lot of smoke or toxic smells very quickly, removing the very real danger of them becoming trapped in the fabric of your sofa. This is one of the main problems of having all your amenities in one small space.
- It will not take up too much room in your roof unit, ideally, you shouldn’t have to make any alterations to the shell of your caravan.
- Less power used – these fans are not designed to guzzle power, so you should be able to run them off your caravan’s leisure battery. This fan will draw around 36 watts of power when pushed to full speed.
- The interface is very easy to use, all you have to do is toggle a simple switch on the corner of your fan to increase or decrease the fan speed.
- The price – considering the range of options available with this unit, then it is incredible value for money. It won’t take up space and once it’s installed you simply won’t have to worry about it.
- The noise – as with most roof-mounted or portable fan units, you can expect a high degree of noise coming from your fan unit. However, this will only pose a problem if you are running it at night while you try and sleep.
- The installation – this will require a little bit more effort to install, but we would recommend it, as it will save you a lot more space and be easy to use once mounted.
This next chimney fan is very similar to the last model, once again made by Fiamma, it comes in a wonderful construction that is easy to install and use, saving you on power and space.
This unit will also produce far less noise than the first one, making it the perfect option if you are taking your first summer holiday with a young family – introducing the Chimney Turbo Ven 160.
This unit weighs only 15kg, so it won’t add dramatically to the overall payload of your caravan, which is a common issue for a lot of roof-mounted air conditioners.
This can be fitted in snugly to most ceiling windows or roof light fittings, which is perfect if you don’t fancy doing any more additional DIY on your caravan.
This one is made for quick ventilation, able to draw smoke out of your caravan, which will be important for protecting you and your family from some of the most toxic elements that can become concentrated in such a small space. With the flick of a switch, your smoke and fumes will be gone within five minutes.
This ventilator will cool the temperature of your caravan super-fast, drawing up cool air from the ventilation system in the floor and circulating it through your campervan, ejecting all the hot air out through the ceiling unit.
You can install this one in their ceiling light in a way that won’t make it conspicuous and will ultimately save on space.
- This unit quickly ventilates your caravan, removing any harmful odours that might have accumulated in your kitchen or if you suffer from a gas leak and you want to protect any small children.
- This roof-mounted air conditioner will save you on space, with a quick installation, you’ll have it up and running in no time at all.
- This fan has another simple switch system, you have just a few settings to choose from, but these should be more than enough to keep your van cool even in the most extreme summer temperatures.
- This fan won’t consume too much power – you can run it at a minimum of 12v, which is very important if you have a lot of appliances and want to conserve as much power as possible.
- This unit has been designed to reduce the amount of noise in your unit, so you can run it during the night for a cool and soundless night’s sleep.
- This is a bigger unit which will require a much more complicated setup, which might not appeal to a senior user who will not have the mobility to install it in their roof mounting.
- This is slightly pricer than the previous fan, so if you are working to a budget, you might prefer to get the cheaper option.
Next up, we have something a little different than a fan-mounted unit: a portable fan that won’t require any intensive installation, with a two-box setup, you can simply hang it out of the window for great cold/hot air transfer.
This will be able to reduce the inside temperature of your caravan by at least 6 or 7 degrees – introducing the LamiNox Mistralvan 2240 air conditioner.
This unit operates using very nifty technology, simply exchanging the cool air from outside your caravan with the warm and humid air that is on the inside.
This is a great little fan if you don’t fancy the added manual labour that comes with a ceiling-mounted unit. It works in much the same way as a three-way refrigerator that you might have in your caravan.
Setting up one of these units is very simple, all you have to do is hang one box on the outside of your camper van and have the other one operating inside.
It provides a very simple exchange of temperatures, making it the more natural option on this list, avoiding any of the artificial smells you get with some of the ceiling fans.
This unit is also a lot cheaper than some of the ceiling fans, which can often run into the thousands.
You can expect to spend a lot less on one of these units, which will be very handy if you’re a family and have already spent enough money on your camping equipment and decorating the interior of your van.
- Easy installation – this won’t require a tenth of the effort that you’ll have to put in with some of the ceiling mount units, making it the fan of choice for senior holidaymakers who want something that they can install without the risk of injury.
- The price – this will be a lot cheaper than some of the other units on this list by some significant margin. So if you don’t fancy spending thousands of an air conditioner that you might not use much, then we’d recommend this fan.
- This operates on a very simple principle of drawing clean air inside the camper van, while expelling humid air from inside.
- This unit will drop the temperature by upwards of 7 degrees, which can make a big difference between a comfortable and uncomfortable holidaying experience and will really make those summer months in your caravan much more enjoyable.
- This unit is very portable – this unit is quite easy to transition between camper vans or even between your kitchen at home and your camper van. You can mount this one near the window of your home kitchen if you want to get the maximum usage out of it.
- You won’t have much control over the temperature of your camper van with this unit, as it will simply reduce it by around 6 or 7 degrees, with little flexibility.
- The outside portion of this unit will drip condensation onto the ground, so you might have to be more aware of spillages, especially if you have neighbours.
Next up, we have another air conditioner manufactured by Fiamma, with many positive reviews that are a testament to the quality and ingenuity with which this air conditioner has been designed.
It will drain less power from your leisure battery and comes at a very low price for ceiling units – introducing the Fiamma Turbo Kit 2009.
This unit is ideal for its space-saving properties, it can be easily fixed using two handy brackets to the ceiling window of your camper van. This makes it ideal for use in a few different models or if you anticipate going on longer holidays with more than one van.
This is one of the most versatile units on this list, using the telescopic hangers, you can either clip this horizontally to the roof light or vertically to the side window. This is perfect if you don’t have a roof option available or you don’t want to obstruct the natural light that filters in through your caravan.
This is an extremely thin and lightweight unit, perfect for portability. If you decide that you don’t like your fan hanging from the roof light then you can easily dismount it and hang it from the side window.
This will draw air rapidly through your fan unit, meaning a quick dispersal of smoke and air, especially useful if you have a kitchen system.
- The weight and design – this fan unit has been specifically designed for versatility and ease of use. You can mount it on the side or in the ceiling window, both will reduce the temperature of your ceiling to great effect.
- This is a great unit to have for senior users who might not have the mobility to handle, transport and install a heavy unit. The telescopic hangers make the installation much easier too.
- The price – this is one of the cheapest ceiling mounts on this list, so if you want to save space and have a quick ventilation system, then you’ll want to opt for this unit.
- The rapid ventilation – this will be able to reduce the amount of smoke in your kitchen areas within minutes, so if you burn the toast and don’t want it to get into the fibres of your furniture, this is a great unit to have.
- The power – this fan utilizes very little energy from your leisure battery, meaning that you can run multiple appliances at once without worrying about flooding the battery, which could damage it permanently.
- Some users have complained that the performance of this unit is much weaker than some of the more expensive models.
- You might have to unhook the bracket of your ceiling unit to accommodate this fan, which could result in a gust of wind in your caravan that you are unable to control. This might be a problem if you have young children that are particularly sensitive to chills.
Our final fan unit is probably the most technologically advanced of all the options on this list, with an impressive amount of functions that can be operated by remote control, it is heavy-duty and designed for ceiling or wall mounting.
If you have the cash to spare and want the premium features from your ceiling fan, then this is the unit for you – introducing the Caravan Roof Vent Fan.
There are two modes with this unit, that being exhaust and blowing modes. If you opt for blowing mode, then you’ll have 6 speeds to choose from that you can adapt for the weather outside, including heavy rain.
There is also a silent running option that will allow you to keep the environment cool at night when you and your family are trying to sleep.
There are so many inventive features on this fan that we don’t know where to start. One such feature is a rain detector that will automatically close your fan when it detects a certain level of rainfall.
When it detects that the heat is over 50-degrees, then the fan with automatically turn on, delivering that cool air when you need it the most.
This is designed for a much thicker roof of around 120mm, as it is a heavy-duty unit. It is very energy efficient, using very little of your leisure battery’s power, meaning that you won’t have to worry about it burning out during your camping trip.
This fan also comes with a remote control, so you can operate all its amazing settings from the comfort of your sofa.
- The settings – there are so many wind speed settings on this fan that you’ll be able to regulate the temperature of your caravan to within a few degrees. It has an extractor option that will be ideal for removing any smoke or steam emitted from your kitchen unit.
- If you are planning on making a cross-European trip, then we would certainly recommend using this fan for cooling down your environment during the summer months.
- This fan has a silent mode that you can use at night to keep you cool without disturbing the kids. Often the summer seasons can get very hot in the evening, so it is best to have a fan that can give you an undisturbed night’s sleep.
- Remote capabilities – you can set this to blow or exhaust from the driver’s seat of your caravan, which is great if you’re on a solo camping adventure and your vehicle has heated up and you don’t have anywhere to pull over.
- This air conditioner will not drain too much of your power in your leisure battery, meaning that you can rest easy knowing that it won’t cut out completely during your journey.
- The weight – this is probably the bulkiest unit on this least, which will definitely be a turn-off for seniors who do not want to risk injuring themselves while installing this.
- The price – this is a very expensive unit, considering the range of options that it has. If you want a fan that will simply reduce the temperature of your camper by a few degrees and want a simple air conditioner with a few easy-to-use settings.
Buying your new air conditioner is never easy, especially the ones that come with all the bells and whistles, you might be forgiven for not knowing which one is the best for your camping needs.
However, knowing the style of camping that you’re planning on doing will be crucial in finding out what is the best option for you.
Choosing between the roof or wall-mounted air conditioners and ones that are free-standing and portable will be the first hurdle that you have to overcome.
The portable units are much easier to install and move from one place to the other, although they do take up a lot more space in the interior of your caravan.
However, the fans mounted in the wall or the ceiling will save you precious space, which is a rare commodity in a camper van as it is!
Although these fans are more challenging when it comes to installation, you might need to make sure that you have the tools and space in your window ceiling before you purchase one of these.
The Pros and Cons of Portable Air Conditioners
One of the best aspects of these types of air conditioners is how lightweight and easy to install they are.
As we’ve seen above, all you need is an open window, mounting the outer box to the exterior of your camper to allow the warm air inside to be transferred outside, with a small amount of condensation.
Portable fan units are also far cheaper than the ceiling-mounted units. You can expect to save yourself a few hundred pounds by opting for a portable unit.
However, one of the downsides of a portable unit is that you will need the window open when using it, which will not be great for those rare days when it is rainy and humid.
You might have to also consider if you have any neighbours as the sound from the outside fan could be a cause for complaint.
The Pros and Cons of Roof-Mounted Air Conditioning
The best position for your roof-mounted air conditioner will all depend on the layout of your caravan. These units will save you on floor space, but they might take up a significant amount of ceiling space.
One of the plus points of the wall or ceiling mounted fan is that they will save you on floor space. This is very important for caravan, as floor space is in short supply here.
With the larger units, you might have to sacrifice some degree of internal lighting if you want to mount your fan on the ceiling window.
This is one of the main concerns for users who want to buy a ceiling fan: the loss of light. A caravan is darker than your average living space anyway, so reducing the light further might result in lower visibility and detract from the overall ambience of your four-wheeled holiday home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Power Will An Air Conditioner Consume?
A lot of these fans have very low power consumption, most of them being specifically designed to be used with a leisure battery.
A lot of these units can provide up to 1700 watts of cooling capacity, with some of the more expensive models giving you up to 2200 watts of cooling capacity.
The wall-mounted units will generally consume a lot more power than the portable units, as they operate at a much higher speed, especially the ones that have more features and a higher maximum setting.
You’ll have to be wary about running your fan at the same time as some of the other appliances in your kitchen or you run the risk of tripping the entire system. You might want to see how the fan unit corresponds with the power supply in your campsite, as very often the two will not match up.
How Much Will You Have To Spend On An Air Conditioner?
As we’ve seen above, the ceiling-mounted units are generally more costly than the portable units, this is because the ceiling units tend to have a lot more power and settings options. For a decent wall-mounted unit, you’ll probably be looking to pay anywhere between a few hundred and possibly even a thousand pounds.
The portable units are much cheaper, as they have less power and don’t require additional installation. The only downside is that they might not be as powerful as the ceiling units, often requiring a lot lower voltage.
Again, this is the power-saving option, which might be more suitable for casual campers.
Our Final Say
You can find plenty of basic air conditioners out there that are very cheap and will overall reduce the temperature of your caravan by a few degrees. This is all it takes to make you feel comfortable inside your caravan.
However, if you are someone who sees themselves going on longer trips across the country and even into Europe, then you’ll probably need to consider something that will be able to cope with dramatic fluctuations in temperature. These units are often a little more heavy-duty, which may injure your wallet.
We hope that our article has given you more than just a glimpse into what makes a great air conditioner and helped you narrow down which unit might be the most suited to your style of camping.