Best AC Units for Van Life

Best AC Units for Van Life

6 min read

Comfort is an essential factor when living in your van. If you’re uncomfortable in your home on wheels, you probably won’t be spending much time in it. Being comfortable in your camper van will give you a better sleep while making your trip much memorable.

Therefore, favorable temperatures in your van aren’t something that you can overlook. While a fan can help keep your van cool when the temperatures outside start rising, sometimes it’s not going to be enough, which is why many people opt for AC units, especially when traveling to hot places.

Now, there are various air conditioning units for camper vans. Your best option will depend on where you are going and how much your budget is. If you are thinking of buying an AC unit for van life, you have come to the right place.

Here are my favorite AC units for campers:

  1. Dometic Brisk 13,500 BTU
  2. Dometic Brisk 15,000 BTU
  3. Coleman Mach 15+
  4. Dometic Penguin II
  5. ICON Brisk Dometic Duo

I’ll explain everything you’ll need to know within this article.

 

Things to Consider When Buying an AC for Your Van

1. Ease of installation and maintenance

Some people aren’t good with manuals. It’s why they prefer easy-to-use equipment. Opt for units that come with mounting brackets and fittings as they are convenient. Additionally, ensure that you’ll not have a hard time caring for it.

 

2. Dehumidifier functions

This is essential for people living in areas that experience high humidity. These options will help you keep the air inside light and breathable.

 

3. Heating options

Once the temperature drops, you’ll not be comfortable in cool air. Therefore, you’ll need heat. Thankfully, there are AC units that can give both cool and warm air when need be. Consider whether a unit has a heat pump feature as it offers heat functions.

 

4. BTUs power

Generally, units with high BTUs cool temperatures fast and adequately.

 

5. Design of the AC

There are two kinds of AC designs; ducted and non-ducted. Ducted systems are often lightweight as they don’t have a control unit. They can be installed on the rooftop and work perfectly. They’re most suitable for RVs that have ducts already.

Non-ducted models are usually placed on the RV’s top and include a condenser, blower, and compressor. They are less dusty and can cool different locations of the RV. Vans that don’t have a duct in place will benefit from this design.

 

1. Dometic Brisk 13,500 BTU

Style: Rooftop

Voltage: 110 Volts

Dimensions: 29.18 x 27.23 x 12.7 Inches

While you want air to remain cool in your van, you don’t want a unit that makes too much noise when operating. Thankfully, that is not anything you’ll worry about with this model. It operates silently, plus it’s a strong and light model.

I love this model, as it is easy to install. Plus, it requires low maintenance. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option with high performance, this can be your best bet. Compared to other units, this system gives users an increase of 15% of airflow.

You’ll be impressed by the dampening brackets that are designed to reduce vibration. So whether you’re using it during the day or night, you’re assured of comfort. Also, note that an AC unit may be affordable but not cheap. And no one wants to buy a new one after every few years.

It’s why you should get yourself this durable model that will serve you for years. It works well for both ducted and non-ducted applications.

Although many standard AC units break down only after 4 hours of extreme testing, this model will still be strong even after 30 hours. It is among the toughest durable units offering high performance in all environments.

Pros:

  • quiet operation
  • easy to install
  • low maintenance
  • durable

Cons:

  • pricey

 

Click here to get it on Amazon.

 

2. Dometic Brisk 15,000 BTU

Style: Rooftop

Voltage: 115 Volts

Dimensions: 29.18 x 27.23 x 12.7 Inches

Weight: 74 Pounds

Nothing beats a powerful AC unit that can cool your entire van during the whole trip. That is what this model offers its users.

It is made for a non-ducted system, but can also work perfectly for a ducted one. If you are converting an old school bus or outfitting a new one, your best option will be a ductless system as it’ll be easier and faster.

But, with RVs that already have a duct system in place, you’ll only need to connect this unit to it and use your thermostat to control temperatures.

Its black color allows it to blend perfectly with all vans. When looking at an air conditioning unit, you should always check its heat pump as it’s the integral thing needed for temperature regulation in your van.

While there are cheaper A/C models without heat pumps, bear in mind that sacrificing this means sacrificing your comfort. One thing I love about this model is its powerful heat pump. Therefore, you are assured of comfortable temperatures in your van all year round.

Plus, it features durable construction and is lightweight hence suits all road kinds. You’ll also appreciate its quiet operation as it is designed to be as vibration-free as possible.

Pros:

  • reliable
  • durable
  • lightweight
  • compact
  • quiet operation

Cons:

  • pricey

 

Click here to get it on Amazon.

 

3. Coleman Mach 15+

Style: Rooftop

Voltage: 120 Volts

Dimensions: 42 x 28 x 16 Inches

Weight: 90 Pounds

It’s a powerful rooftop air conditioner for camper vans. It is easy to use, easy to install, and features a cooling capacity of 15000 BTUs. If you want to cool down your camper van within a few minutes, this will be the best model.

However, it can only be used for vans with electrical hookups. While it is a bit highly-priced, you’ll be getting a durable and excellent conditioner. Additionally, you’ll save some power with this model since it automatically turns off once the desired temperature is achieved.

As it’s powerful, it only needs to operate for some minutes at a time. Also, note that it comes in black if you want to match it to your camper van. Again, this unit comes with clear instructions on how to install which simplifies things for you.

Coleman Mach 15 works well for both ducted and non-ducted systems only that for the non-ducted, you’ll be better off with a heat strip. For campers looking for quality and durability, you’ll not regret purchasing this model.

I should also mention that this unit has a streamlined shape. As such, it promotes the flow of air and cooling efficiency for this model. With a strong airflow, you can count on Coleman to provide cool temperatures in your van throughout.

Pros:

  • easy to install
  • works for ducted and non-ducted systems
  • durable
  • efficient airflow

Cons:

  • can only be used in vans with electrical hookups

 

Click here to get it on Amazon.

 

4. Dometic Penguin II

Style: Rooftop

Dimensions: 29 x 40 x 9.5 Inches

Weight: 99 Pounds

You may not recognize the word Dometic, but there are high chances that you’ve used their products before. It was established in the 1920s and since then, they have been making quality and durable AC units for van life.

Now, this unit is not different. It is a premium low-profile AC that will cool down temperatures in your home on wheels, which will help you enjoy your trip. Unlike other rooftop air conditioners that are easily damaged, this wouldn’t be your worry with this model.

This roof-mounted system can be used for both duct and ductless installations for RV vehicles. You’ll be getting a model with a sleek design and lightweight as it uses EPF foam. Additionally, users can relax knowing that they have a strong system as it has a rib reinforced base pan.

You’ll also not worry about dragging on the move as this AC has a streamlined rooftop that’s designed aerodynamically to reduce drag. You’ll have an incredible cooling experience with this system. Plus, you’ll also save the environment a great deal as the unit includes R410A refrigerant.

Pros:

  • perfect for duct and ductless installations
  • low-profile design
  • made by highly-trusted brand
  • reduces drag

Cons:

  • on the heavier side

Click here to get it on Amazon.

 

5. ICON Brisk Dometic Duo

Style: Rooftop

Dimensions: 35.6 x 29.8 x 13 Inches

Weight: 12 Pounds

All shrouds aren’t created equally. It is why you should be careful with the one you are buying. This model by Dometic is designed to fit all old-style brisk air units from the company. You’ll be getting a long-lasting product thanks to its high-impact UV-resistant material.

With this shroud, you’ll forget about buying another one soon as it is very durable. You’ll also be getting a limited lifetime warranty with this system. Should it malfunction at any time, you can use your warranty to get compensated.

Pros:

  • budget-friendly
  • lightweight
  • easy to install

Cons:

  • a bit bulky

 

Click here to get it on Amazon.

 

Victoria Miller

I'm the founder of NTT. I live in Miami, Florida, and enjoy learning everything there is to know about tiny spaces.