Each summer in the UK is getting warmer every year, which can only mean that air conditioners are becoming a must-have for caravan and motorhome owners.
Air conditioner units come in a variety of forms, ranging from portable fans to built-in turbo vents, and they all work to make the summer heat more bearable.
Air conditioning units can be expensive depending on the type of installation you prefer. Portable air conditioners are naturally the cheaper option and do work very effectively, though some can create the most noise.
Built-in air conditioners are more expensive and require professional installation, but they are the most effective and durable. It therefore depends on your intentions for installing an air conditioner.
We understand that sleeping in a hot and stuffy caravan or motorhome is very uncomfortable, so here are the best air conditioner units that we have found on the market.
We have included a useful buyer’s guide to help you find the best air conditioner unit for your mobile home and how to set it up, as well as a frequently asked questions section.
Our Top Pick
If you are in a rush, our top pick is the Pro Breeze 4-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner.
This portable air conditioner has it all - an LED display, wireless remote control, timer, adjustable thermostat, and has a Class A Energy Efficiency rating. At 7000 BTU, this air conditioner can cool down a caravan or motorhome quickly to 15 degrees celsius.
What’s more, it comes with window venting kits for an easy installation.
OUR TOP PICK
The Pro Breeze portable air conditioner stands out for its 4 different features - air cooling, dehumidifying, fan, and energy saving sleep modes.
This versatility is great in an air conditioner for a caravan or motorhome, as the dehumidifying feature will work to prevent mould and dampness.
This air conditioner is 7000 BTU and has a Class A Energy Efficiency rating, making it as cost effective as it is cooling effective.
The R290 refrigerant also works to make this a more eco-friendly air conditioner than other competing products.
Upon purchase, two window venting kits are included to utilise the air outside. It doesn’t work in the same way as a regular fan, circulating warm air inside of the caravan or motorhome.
Instead, it generates and cools the air from outside so it is permanently fresh inside. This airflow can be directed in a particular direction or throughout a wider area with the automatic oscillation mode.
- Energy efficient and eco-friendly
- Window venting kits included
- Make sure to consider the height of your window, otherwise you may need another hose
The Inventor Magic 12,000BTU Portable Air Conditioner stands out on the market as it has a 5-in-1 design.
The features include auto, cool, fan, dry, and heat - making it ideal all year round for any temperature.
The fact that it has a heating function is not necessary for an air conditioner setup, but is incredibly useful as it makes the product versatile in both winter and summer.
This air conditioner has a 3 fan speed and is controlled by a wireless remote control and an LED display.
It is fairly heavy weighing 34.4kg, but it does not take up much space - making it an ideal portable unit that can move around to different areas or rooms in a caravan or motorhome.
This means it is also versatile for indoor home usage when you are not currently using your mobile home.
A window kit is included, and the exhaust hose can sit into any standard slider, making the installation straightforward.
In terms of cost efficiency and eco-friendliness, it has a Class A Energy Efficiency rating and an R290 refrigerant.
- 5-in-1 features
- Warming function
- Doesn’t take up space
- Window kit included
- Energy efficient and eco-friendly
- Fairly heavy
If you want an air conditioning unit that doesn’t take up space, this is the fan for you.
The Pro Breeze Tower Fan is elegant and free standing in a slim design, so it has a small footprint and looks visually appealing. It reaches 30 inches in height.
This air conditioner may look small, but it has a 60W power motor and 3 different fan speeds and wind modes, including normal, natural, and sleep mode.
This assures for making those stuffy caravans and motorhomes more comfortable throughout all hours of the day and night.
It is controlled by a control panel and wireless remote, and comes with an automatic 7.5 hour timer.
This fan does not require window ventilation, as it has a 2 metre cable instead - so access to electricity is a must. The oscillation is 70 degrees.
- Sleek and slim design
- Takes up little space
- High power motor and fan speeds
- Easiest for portability
- Cable instead of window ventilation
- 70 degree oscillation is good, but won’t cool an entire motorhome or caravan
Air conditioning units for serious caravan and motorhome owners can be expensive, and some owners may just want a cooling device for the summer months.
The Duronic Wall Mounted Fan is perfect for those wanting an air conditioner that is inexpensive and does the job right.
This fan has a powerful 60W motor to generate cool air fast, which is emphasised by its 5 aerodynamic blades.
This product has learnt from the faults of regular 4 blade fans, as it works to generate more cool air and with less noise.
It also takes up the least amount of space compared to the other products on our list, as it is wall mounted - though this does mean that it is not portable.
The fan head size is 16” and is made of metal and plastic. It features 3 speed settings so control the quality of the air flow, and comes with a timer function that ranges between 30 minutes and 7.5 hours.
- Takes up least amount of space
- 5 blades and 3 speed settings
- Inexpensive and effective
- Cord is short, keep this in mind where your plugs are
The last product on our list is the Olimpia Splendid Portable Air Conditioner. This air conditioner has a 10,000 BTU power and is as easy to use as it is powerful.
It has a 5-in-1 system including auto, sleep, fan, turbo, and dehumidification, making it incredibly versatile in a caravan or motorhome in the warm months.
In terms of energy, it has a Class A Energy Efficiency rating and features R290 refrigerant, making it highly eco-friendly as it has the lowest impact on global warming.
The conditioner unit itself isn’t large, sizing at only 70cm in height and 35cm in width.
It comes with its own window ventilation kit, including a 1.5m exhaust hose.
- Eco-friendly and energy efficient
- Doesn’t take up much space
- Window ventilation kit included
- Powerful and versatile
- 1.5m exhaust hose can not be extended or replaced with a longer hose
Best Air Conditioner Setups For Caravans and Motorhomes Buying Guide
Air Conditioner Benefits
Air conditioner units in caravans or motorhomes aren’t entirely essential if you aren’t serious about your comfort.
If you only use your caravan or motorhome several times a year, there’s a chance that your budget may not justify buying and installing an air conditioner of any kind.
However, air conditioners are there to enhance your mobile home experience. In the summer, whether you are in the UK or a landlocked European country, your caravan or motorhome is going to get very, very warm.
This warmth and stuffiness isn’t comfortable to sleep in, and it’s not always wise to simply leave a window open for safety reasons.
An air conditioner works to generate cool air to make those stuffy summer nights more bearable, which is why some view them as an essential item.
In the colder winter months, you are less likely to use an air conditioner in comparison to a heater. Some air conditioner units come with heater functions, which provides the best of both worlds, but these are rare and often more expensive.
If you can afford to buy both a heater and an air conditioner, then do, but sometimes it’s not always financially viable to buy both.
Air conditioners can also come with dehumidifying functions, which is incredibly beneficial for humid days.
Some caravans or motorhomes, particularly older ones, may be subject to damp and mould if there is not enough circulation and ventilation.
Air conditioners that use window vents are perfect for this, as they generate the air from outside to cool the interior, without reusing the cool air inside. This works to prevent damp and mould, as it is a good form of ventilation.
Things to Consider
Before looking to buy an air conditioner, you must consider your intentions for using one.
If you only use your caravan or motorhome a handful of times in a year, chances are an air conditioner may not be worth the money if it isn’t being used enough.
If you like taking long trips in the summer, perhaps for a week or two, you will most likely benefit more from an air conditioner.
Sometimes sleeping in a stuffy room just isn’t worth it, especially if you are planning on driving your motorhome the next day and you need a good night’s sleep.
Air conditioners can make your sleeping experience much more comfortable. Assuming you spend most of your day time outside and you spend the nights in your mobile home, that is.
In the day, your air conditioner unit can provide you with a cool respite from the heat of outside.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not just the summer months that are warm. With rising global temperatures, sporadic heat waves are expected to pop up randomly within a year in the UK and other European countries.
With this in mind, air conditioners could be considered an essential purchase.
When to Buy an Air Conditioner
If you are on a budget, the best time to buy an air conditioning unit for your caravan or motorhome is in the winter months.
This is because companies will be wanting to get rid of their stock, so these products will be cheaper.
Expect these prices to soar in the warmer months as the demand will be higher.
Types of Air Conditioner for Caravan or Motorhome
There are multiple forms of air conditioner setups for caravans or motorhomes, and all come with their own installation, practicality, and price range.
Portable Air Conditioner
For most caravan or motorhome owners, this is the most popular choice of air conditioning unit.
It’s actually not easy to find a portable air conditioner specifically for a caravan or motorhome, though there are some on the market.
A lot of the time, people buy regular portable air conditioners and take them with them on the road. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to this.
The main advantage of portable air conditioners is in the name: they can be placed pretty much anywhere.
Unlike window air conditioners, portable air conditioners don’t have to rely on a low window for placement.
If your bedroom in your caravan or motorhome is particularly warm in the night, move it there. If the lounge area is warmer in the morning, move it there instead.
This also means they can be used outside of the caravan or motorhome, as they can be used in your own home as well, making them very versatile.
This portability means that the installation is the most minimal of all the air conditioners. You’ll just have to create an exhaust vent to prevent the conditioning unit from reusing the condensed air in the room.
Portable air conditioners cannot be mixed up with air coolers. Air coolers use evaporated water to generate cool air, whilst portable air conditioners use a cooler and a compressant. They also work to maintain humidity levels, which is beneficial for preventing damp or mould.
Their small size is beneficial for portability and for their price. If you are on a budget, portable air conditioners are the most inexpensive units.
Whilst portable air conditioners can technically be placed anywhere, there are a couple of restrictions to consider.
These air conditioners need to be plugged in, so you need to have working electricity in your caravan or motorhome.
The unit needs to be placed near these plugs, so space will need to be made. Also, portable air conditioners will work to prevent humidity by taking in water particles, so you either need to empty this water manually or have the unit near a window with a ventilation system so this can happen automatically.
Portable air conditioners can unfortunately be the noisiest of units, which can be a problem to light sleepers. This is because they do all of their work inside, rather than window air conditioner units that have the noisiest part outside.
Whilst they may be fairly small, these units can actually be really heavy. You will need to consider the surface they will reside on, as a thick carpet will be dented. A thick carpet or uneven surface can also be an obstruction.
Window Air Conditioner
Whilst they may not seem it, window air conditioners are actually straightforward to install.
Most of these units come with a window installation kit upon purchase, so all you need to do is follow the instructions. Hiring a professional will only be a waste of money as you can do it by yourself!
Another advantage that may seem shocking is that these units aren’t too expensive. Obviously this depends on the brand and how powerful the unit is, as well as where you intend to install it.
If you have a large space to cool, then a larger and more powerful unit will be more expensive. However, caravans and motorhomes aren’t always huge, so you don’t need an expensive unit to cool an area!
As inexpensive as they are to buy and install, they are also not expensive to run. These units generally have a high energy efficiency rating. The higher the EER, the better for the environment and cheaper for your pocket!
Some of these units are window mounted, which means they take up no floor space. This is incredibly beneficial for a caravan or motorhome with limited space.
As mentioned in the previous section, window air conditioners aren’t that noisy. This is because the generated noise is situated outside!
The main disadvantage to traditional window air conditioners is that their placement is restricted. They must be located near a window.
Sometimes, the exhaust hoses can be extended or replaced for longer ones, but in some cases this isn’t possible depending on the product.
This also goes for fixed window air conditioner units, as once they are installed, that’s it.
They can block window viewing space and will be ineffective in the cooler winter months (though some come with heating functions).
Turbo vents are really straightforward in the way that they work. They don’t require a condenser or heat exchange like other AC units. Instead, they reside in the ceiling and take the hot air from above and generate that into cool air.
As these reside in the ceiling, they don’t actually require cutting out a new square. Instead, they are intended to replace roof lights. Most of the turbo vents on the market are sized to fit generic roof lights for this reason.
These air conditioners are very easy to control. All it requires is simply the rotation of a control dial. This means you can make a room cooler or warmer within seconds, which is also handy if you are burning a candle or if you have burnt some food to prevent the fire detector from blaring.
Turbo vents are also very affordable to purchase and run. Most turbo vents run on a 12V power, so they can be charged using your leisure battery.
The main disadvantage to turbo vents is the noise. These air conditioners can get very noisy, especially if the blades are moving faster to generate cooler air.
Also, due to the installation of replacing roof lights, these units aren’t portable and will only cool down the room in which the roof light is situated.
If your mobile home has multiple roof lights and you wish to replace them all with turbo vents, this isn’t a problem!
A portable fan is probably the most inexpensive air conditioning unit anyone could buy.
They’re simple and effective, and work just as you want them to. Some can be wall mounted, and others can reside on a desk or table - just make sure it’s near a plug!
Portable fans are probably only the best for those who aren’t serious about air conditioning.
If you are, then a portable fan just won’t do enough. They can be powerful, yes, but only to a certain extent in an area.
Also, you will have to be aware of where the plugs are situated in relation to where you want your fan to reside.
Permanent Air Conditioner
Permanent air conditioning units are for those who are serious about air conditioners.
They can come in either a roof mounted or wall mounted form.
The clue is in the name with these units: they are a permanent feature. With this permanence, the products are generally the most durable and hardcore. This also means that they offer the most functions.
Permanent air conditioners can come in a multitude of forms, including wall mounted, roof mounted to replace a roof light, and also internal units that fit under seats or beds.
This all depends on the layout of your caravan or motorhome! All of these mounting options make for extra storage in your mobile home, as it does not take up floor space.
Permanent air conditioners are best suited for large caravans or motorhomes, as they can cool a large area of space faster than small AC units.
Permanent air conditioners are not cheap. If you are willing to pay a larger price for the purchase and installation, then these units are worth it!
These units can cost hundreds and even thousands including the installation fee. They are also not easy to find on sites such as Amazon as they have very specific requirements, including professional installation.
Speaking of installation, these units require professional installation. If you try to install them yourself, particularly if you are replacing a roof light, there’s a chance you may make mistakes that will increase the cost of replacement and maintenance.
One disadvantage of roof light replacements is that whilst you will benefit from cooler air from above, you will be compromising the natural light and view from the roof light.
As air conditioners aren’t generally used in winter and colder months, this can be a downside if you use your caravan or motorhome in these times.
Permanent air conditioners are not recommended for smaller caravans or motorhomes, as they can cool a large room so quickly, this will be a waste of energy and money.
They are also heavy, which means that the weight distribution on smaller mobile homes will be impacted.
Energy Consumption and Eco-Friendly Value
With constantly soaring global temperatures, the need for air conditioning units in a caravan or motorhome are slowly becoming more of a necessity.
If you have had your mobile home for years, you may notice that summers are becoming increasingly warmer and making your mobile home stuffier. Air conditioners are perfect for combating this, and don’t actually contribute to global warming!
The first thing you need to look for is the EER, the Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the rating, the better for the environment it is, as it does not consume as much energy as lower rated air conditioner units. The highest EER rating is Class A.
Then you will need to consider how to run your air conditioner. Turbo vents can be run by a 12V leisure battery, but this isn’t always the case for other air conditioner units, as they take up more energy which will run out your leisure battery faster.
If you want to be super environmentally friendly, invest in some solar panels to run your air conditioner! This is also much more cost effective in the long run, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size air conditioner do I need for my caravan or motorhome?
This really comes down to personal preference. If you want an air conditioner to cool the majority of your caravan or motorhome, it will inevitably generally be bigger. If you want an air conditioner to cool a specific area, it will be smaller.
If your motorhome or caravan is large, or requires multiple air conditioners for different rooms, this is doable. Generally speaking, mobile homes up to 32 feet in size can work fine with one air conditioner.
Bare in mind which type of air conditioning unit you choose to get, because each design takes up a varying amount of space. Portable air conditioners actually take up the most room, even though it isn’t much room.
Built-in air conditioners take up the least amount of space, particularly if they replace roof lights.
How much does it cost to install air conditioning in my caravan or motorhome?
This depends on the size of the air conditioning unit and the professional’s independent charging fee for installation.
Generally speaking, installation can cost anywhere between several hundred or a thousand pounds.
For window air conditioning units, the ventilation kits come with the purchase of the AC.
These can be installed without a professional, which will just be a waste of money, as the installation process is straightforward and comes with step by step instructions.
How can I run an air conditioner in my caravan or motorhome?
Some air conditioners, such as turbo vents, can be run by a 12V battery. Other air conditioners can technically also be run by a 12V battery, but they take up more energy and will run out your leisure battery faster.
Some air conditioners, such as portable air conditioners or portable fans (whether wall mounted or not), can be run by a plug. For this, aware of the placement of the plug in relation to where you want to place your fan.
One of the most popular ways to run an air conditioner in a caravan or motorhome is by solar panels. This is both eco-friendly and cost effective, and supplies enough energy for the air conditioners to work - especially in the summer months!
Remember that these solar panels will take up energy in non-sunny weather too, so it may be worth considering how to stop the energy going to an air conditioner that is not going to be used in colder months.
What do I do with my air conditioner in the winter?
The majority of people don’t use their air conditioners in winter, especially as caravans and motorhomes will either retain their own heat or will require a heater instead, though sometimes they can be useful in terms of controlling any humidity or dampness.
If you want to take your air conditioner out of your mobile home, or cover it at least, you need to clean any debris and water from it to prevent any freezing. You will need to cut the power source from the AC, whether it is by a solar panel or a plug, to save your money.
The best thing to do is to purchase an air conditioner cover. These covers work to prevent debris or water droplets from entering the unit, which will create damage in the long term.
This is generally why portable air conditioners are the easiest to maintain, as they can be removed and covered the easiest.
Some window, wall mounted, and ceiling air conditioners can be removed, however built-in air conditioners cannot be removed as easily due to the complicated installation.