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6 RV Hacks for Keeping Cool in Extreme Heat
6 RV Hacks for Keeping Cool in Extreme Heat

6 RV Hacks for Keeping Cool in Extreme Heat

Summer is upon us and with it comes plenty of sunshine and high temperatures! Depending on where your travel plans take you, the weather can be mild or maddening. Ours was the latter as work led us to Las Vegas for a few months, June thru September. This is one of the hottest locations in our nation this time of year. Temperatures soared to 120 degrees some days, so you can rest assure that the tactics used to keep our RV and others in this location cool and comfortable are tried and true!

Stay in the Shade
One of the most efficient ways to keep cool in an RV is having ample shade over the roof. Simply choosing to park under a tree can mean less strain on the air conditioner and less out-of-pocket expenses to keep it powered. If the environment provides little or no shade some form of overhead shelter like a canopy helps.

Our neighbor's custom-made canopy (shown below) was tied down with plenty of rope and weight, reportedly withstanding winds of 40 mph. The open dome was a bit shorter than the length of his rig as it was used on a previous trailer, but even then, it allowed plenty of airflow between two AC units and kept the cabin below 80 degrees during skyrocketing outside temperatures.

Some park tenants took advantage of side shade, as well. Awnings were extended as long as wind permitted and additional screen sunblockers were attached for outside enjoyment.

Shield the Windows
One of the most vulnerable, exposed areas to the sun is windows. Curtains and blinds only go so far. Providing additional barriers from the sun like reflective insulation to all windows helps immensely. We chose to situate the reflective insulation sheets over the windows to prevent heat from entering the glass.

We coupled that with window shades for added protection and a more esthetic, pleasing appearance. Besides the windows, Levi climbed on the roof and used more painter’s tape to secure another reflective sheet over our shower skylight.

Keep Cool Air Circulating
Wind always brings relief on a warm day. The same holds true in a closed space. If air circulation is not present, air becomes stagnant. Cool air settles to the ground and warm air rises. In an effort to keep cool air in motion, we set a few fans throughout the living space.

With several days of temperatures over 110 degrees, it was difficult for our roof top air conditioner to keep our 26 foot motorhome below 90 degrees. In fact, the compressor died just two days into our stay. After a new unit was installed, we were still having trouble keeping the inside at a comfortable temperature, especially for our pets. We ended up purchasing a portable AC which helped immensely.

Cook Outside
We made great use of our propane grill and electric burner. Any meals that required a heat source were prepared outside. No need to generate extra heat causing the AC to work harder and occupants to feel uncomfortably warm.

One thing we became mindful of during meal preparations was the constant opening and closing of the RV door. As my dad use to say, “Close the door. We aren’t air conditioning the world.” After assembling all the necessary materials and ingredients, Levi or I would brave the outside heat in an effort to fill our grumbling tummies. I think food always tastes better prepared outside, anyways. We tried not to enter the RV until the meal was complete and ready to serve.

Keep Drinking Water Hose Off the Ground
This next tidbit may not apply to all situations, but in our case, it did. RV parks are not created equally. Some sit on dirt and grass, others on gravel. Our site pad was asphalt and if you’ve ever stayed in Las Vegas for an extended amount of time, you learn an oddball fact that it is very possible to cook an egg on the sidewalk and in a parking lot.

Think of how hot that can get; now think of the RV’s drinking water hose. This attachment can get extremely hot and weathered quickly. Also, every time we’d turn the kitchen faucet on for a glass of water, it would come out very warm and take up to 5 minutes of running to cool down. What a waste of water!

The remedy was simple. We placed cardboard and styrofoam under the hose (actually all hoses and cords, just for the sake of it). Other RVers used anything from wood blocks to swimming noodles for elevation and insulation.

Insulate Other Areas of the RV
Our motto this summer was “Keep the cool air in and the warm air out.” We added a few more modifications to the inside and outside. We attached our custom-made skirt to keep the underbelly cool and shaded. (It works just as well in the winter months keeping the floor and storage compartments warm.)

Cupboards containing food or electronics would warm up rather quickly so we’d either keep them open for better circulation and/or applied reflective insulation to the top and back walls of the compartment as shown below. These sections received quite a bit of heat as they were closest to the outside walls of the RV.

Any gaps exposing outside air were closed off. Filters were placed in the floor heating vents to slow the flow of warm air coming in and blankets were shoved under the bed as that area is open to basement compartments.

With these strategies,we were able to keep our motorhome between 75 and 80 during the day and there were several instances where only one AC was used. Of course, in less extreme temperatures, many of these modifications are unnecessary, but in the RVing world when location and weather can change overnight, it’s always good to have a Plan B and C.

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Levi and Natalie Henley


Levi and Natalie Henley

Levi and Natalie Henley are a full time RVing couple.  Together with their three cats and dog, they travel around the country in their 2011 Sunstar Itasca seeking work camping gigs.  They share their adventures, seasonal job experiences, and travel tips on their website, HenleysHappyTrails.com.