Keeping an RV Cool without Air Conditioning

Living full or part time in an RV can save a small fortune over expensive rent costs in the big city. The RV is the unsung hero of the tiny house movement, pre dating it by the better part of a century.

But unlike tiny timber houses, an RV’s most crippling weakness is its R value. In the summer, it heats up like a solar oven.

Now the easy solution is to flip on the AC and let it run, at great expense, all day. But the far more satisfying solution is to use the natural position of the sun and the shade to constantly pump in cool air by way of a cheap fan. A diagram illustrates how to set this up.


rv cooling in the summer no air conditioning

  1. Close and shade all windows facing the sun, then open a window on the shaded side.
  2. Place the fan so it blows air in. I prop mine on a bucket to ge t it at the right height.
  3. Open a roof hatch to give the air somewhere to escape.

You’ll want to move the fan and redo the windows once during the day as the sun moves from one side of the RV to the other.

Other Tricks to Reduce Heat Gain

If possible, do your cooking outside. I use a crock pot and a bread machine which can both be plugged into the exterior outlet and set on a table.

Your cab might have curtains you can draw to block it off. The cab is full of glass, making it the hottest place in summer and the coldest in winter.  In summer, keep the driver’s and passenger side windows open a bit so it doesn’t get over 100 degrees in there.