Product shot of the Zero Breeze Mark 2

Portable Air Conditioner For Camper Vans: Ultimate Guide (2023)

Updated on: June 2024

Comfort is one of the essential aspects of van life. You won’t want to spend any time in your van if you are not comfortable there, which will only make the experience not so great.

Although living in a van has certain disadvantages to living in a house, being comfy shouldn’t be one of them! Sleeping better will make any lengthy travel that much better, and keeping your van cool is a must if you have pets or children.

Staying cool and comfy with a well-insulated van and a fan. We emphasize to new van lifers the importance of having a fan for their comfort and how it helps to remove any fumes when cooking inside.

Nothing beats parking beneath a beautiful shady tree, of course! Nobody wants to be trapped in a sticky, hot, and sweaty mess, so you shouldn’t have to!

You may also want to consider a portable air con for campervan if a fan or a shady parking spot doesn’t work. AC unit is always a good idea, especially if you’re going to places that are extremely hot regularly.

There are a variety of strategies to keep cool in your van. Check out some ideas below that may work with your budget and space limitations.

cut hole in van roof fro air conditioner


Product shot of the Zero Breeze Mark 2

There are three primary types of air conditioners that you can find for your camper van.

  • Portable Air Conditioners
  • Roof Air Conditioners
  • Window Air Conditioners

Portable Air Conditioners

If you know, you’ll need it from time to time. A portable air conditioner is an excellent alternative. These may be kept in storage when not used and then used as needed to cool the air within the van.

Some are pretty huge, taking up a lot of room, but smaller options are available. It’s unnecessary to have a large air conditioning unit to cool down a small space. The best portable air conditioner in this space are The Zero Breeze Mark II Portable Air Conditioner and the EcoFlow Wave Portable Air Conditioner is a perfect choice. It’s tiny but just as good as a traditional air conditioner.

The Zero Breeze portable air conditioner is currently on sale until the end of June 2024 at Zero Breeze

Roof Air Conditioner

Most campervan air conditioners are mounted on the roof. They blow conditioned air down into the vehicle from the ceiling.

Dometic Ibis MK4 Installed on Van roof

These fans can be effective in a camper van. They pull air down, which lets the cold air sink.

The downside of these air conditioning units is that they are not very efficient and use a lot of energy. These kinds of air conditioners can only be used while they are connected to shore power.

Some vehicles that have a powerful solar array may be able to power a unit like this, but most camper vans cannot.

The Dometic Ibis MK4 Reverse Cycle Roof Top Air Conditioner is a great option for people who want to stay cool in their RV. This model is very popular and often chosen by people who enjoy camping and road trips.

These air conditioners work well in small areas, like camper vans. If you stay in RV Parks most of the time, it is a good idea to put one of these on top of your van.

Mother's Day US
What a window Air Conditioners look like

Window Air Conditioner

Window air conditioners can be installed in buildings or vans. People have been installing them in vans for a long time because they work well. They are strong machines that can cool down a lot of space.

A little space like a van is great for a window unit and the cooling capacity. It will keep the area pleasant with the cold air following.

The major disadvantage of this design is that it was not intended to be installed in a campervan. It will need a specific layout, and you’ll almost certainly have to build your whole design around it.

There must be some space available to install an air conditioner in a van conversion. The area may be at the rear of the vehicle or somewhere else. A window air conditioner can be placed in the front of the van to send cold air into the living area.

How to Install Portable Air Conditoner in Caravan

There are different types of portable air conditioners. Some are easy to install, and others may need professional help. It all depends on the model you choose.

When you are choosing a portable air conditioner, it is important to think about how much power it will use. If you have solar panels, then you can usually still use the air conditioner.

You also need to think about how much heat your unit will produce. Even the small ones can produce a lot of heat, and if it’s installed in a small space like a van, it might make the area uncomfortable.

You should also ensure that you have enough space to work when installing your air conditioner. If you don’t have much space, consider using a window kit unit that can be installed without taking up a lot of room.

Check Price Here

Other Options For Keeping Cool In A Camper Van

If you don’t want to use the previously mentioned methods, there are other ways to keep your van cool. You may be used to air-conditioned rooms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t survive without them. The following solutions might assist you in creating a more pleasant environment for your van.

Ceiling Vent Fan

It’s great to have air conditioning, but you won’t always be able to turn them on. If you plan to spend a lot of time in a camper van, you’ll need to think of other options to cool the air inside your van. You can use fans or open the windows to let in cooler air.

One way to improve ventilation in your van is to install a ceiling fan. This is a common practice among people who have converted vans into RVs.

The Maxxair air deluxe is a good, inexpensive option. I decided to install it in our camper van. It also comes with a handy remote control for easy use.

You can always have air moving in your van with a fan like this. You can choose to either pull air in or push it out. This will create ventilation and cool down the vehicle effectively.

In the summer, we use our fan almost every day, and when the heat gets too much, I use it. Even though it’s sweltering outside, because of my sliding back window and me, I can generate a pleasant cool breeze that blows through my van.

If you’re converting a camper van, you’ll need a fan on the ceiling. It’s one of the simplest things to do, it will quickly be something you use every day.

Even if you have an air conditioner, you won’t be able to use it all of the time. You’ll need other methods to keep cool. This fan is a great option because it uses very little electricity and it is functional. A solar battery bank can keep it running for a long time.

Read more about how to install a maxxair fan.

MaxxAir Fan Dulux installed

12 volt Standard Fan

Using a basic fan to keep cool in your camper van may be the simplest option. This may be as efficient as using a normal ceiling fan.

Insattled 2 x Caframo Sirocco Fan

Clip-on style fans are helpful that you only have a restricted area to use a fan. These fans may be attached to any surface and provide a refreshing breeze throughout the van. 

Some of these fans run on power from a  USB, which uses minimal power. These are ideal for solar since they can keep you staying cool without draining your batteries.

The Caframo Sirocco fan is a fantastic option for a more solid design that connects to your 12V system. Although it is rather pricey, it is simple to install and requires little electricity while keeping a small profile and not using too much room.

Esky Air Conditioner

Although it isn’t technically an air conditioner, this cooling system is a popular choice for getting some relief from the summer heat. Several companies produce them, and you can even construct your own if you have the skills.

The internal ductwork of an air conditioner is cooled by a water and ice system. The ice cools down the internal ductwork, and then a fan blows air through the duct system, cooling it down as it goes.

This is a multi-purpose solution since it allows you to keep food and beverages cold while also cooling the air for a more enjoyable living space.

A potential issue with this is damp air blowing into your vehicle. This would be an issue, and it might be the source of mould or mildew. You’ll want to make sure that the air coming out of the cooler is totally dry to avoid issues like this.

If you want to save money while still achieving the same results, you could build one yourself. However, make sure it blows dry air rather than damp, humid air.

Vented Windows

Opening a window is also a simple approach to get some fresh air into your van. These van windows generally either slide or have a crank on them or vents that pump out air.

They’re also helpful in keeping pests out and maintaining a good airflow inside your vehicle. They have screens on them so that insects can’t get in, but the air can flow through them and create a pleasant draught within the van.

These two things are frequently used in camper van conversion to provide a more pleasant living environment between a fan and a window. Both are essential in the process, and they go great together.

When it comes to installing a fan and a window, it’s crucial to consider airflow when designing your camper van conversion layout. Install them so that they generate wind throughout the van.

For example, my roof fan is positioned near the van’s front end, and my vented window is located toward the back. When I turn on my fan and suck the air out of the van through the rear window, it draws air into the van through the back window, resulting in a draft that I can feel almost everywhere throughout my van.

My first recommendation is to install at least one tiny window in a van to keep the living area cooler.

Campervan parked under tress and almost night

Finding Some Shade

The most important thing to do is find a shaded place to park when you’re camping. When it comes to staying cool, seeking out shady spots to park your camper van is probably the easiest method there is.

Finding shade is not always an option, and if you rely on the sun for charging your battery bank.

If you park your vehicle in shaded locations when you don’t need to charge your battery bank, it will help keep your van cooler.

On a warm day, it isn’t easy to cool down your van when it’s parked in the direct rays of the sun. The heat will seep in, and it will be more challenging to cool down no matter how effectively you insulated your vehicle.

How Not To Keep Cool In A Camper Van

It is very important to keep blowing air into your van. You must choose an option that doesn’t create humid air.

An example of a misting fan would be the Arctic Air. This might be a good solution for some situations, but I don’t recommend it for a camper van. The fan cools and humidifies an area by using water, which you don’t want to do in a van’s interior.

Some people use evaporative coolers in their vans. These coolers release humid air, which is not a good choice to use in a vehicle.

When looking for a solution to make your camper van more comfortable, focus on finding ways to create cool and dry air in the small space. These solutions will work best in a confined area.

Use code “SAVE50” at checkout for $50 off


It seems like having air conditioning in a camper van would be a great idea. But when you’re living in a van, you can’t always stay in places where there is electricity. So you’ll need to find other ways to keep cool.

Another option is to use a portable air conditioner. This can help you stay cool during the summer months. Portable air conditioners, vents, and windows can help make the heat more bearable.

If you don’t have an air conditioner in your van, don’t worry. You can try using one of the alternatives and see how it works for you. On hot days and nights, I’ve been able to stay cool without using an air conditioner.

We use our windows and fan to create a draft of fresh air that makes me feel more comfortable.

People in front of Bridge

Wade & Dani

Hi! We’re Wade and Dani, We’re currently travelling around Australia in our 2017 Mercedes Sprinter Camper van and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow long on our Instagram