While these cooling tips are valid for all RV’s, I’ll be focusing on off-grid camping and boondocking. Those of us that frequent regular campgrounds with all their amenities have it much easier.
It is always difficult to stay cool in the Heat of Summer or warm when the temperature drops. The best we can strive for is a comfortable experience anytime we’re in our RV. But what do you do in a small van or Class B RV?
Before we talk about lifestyle changes, we have to discuss the structural composition of the vehicle. Unfortunately, many factory-built RV’s are still manufactured with little insulation, but with a custom van conversion we can add as much as we feel is necessary. The transfer of heat is a major concern, yet can be addressed with a variety of thermal insulation products.
There is no general agreement on the total required R-value, but remember that any insulation is better then none and that these smaller vehicles, with their frequently opened windows and doors, cannot prevent interior heat gain for long.
So, we have to look at small changes in our lifestyle and a few modifications, to make our trip as comfortable as can be expected.
Upon deciding where to go on your next trip, consider following the sun. That means visiting the northern regions in summer, where cooler temperatures reign and slowly move southwards when winter approaches.
Wherever you choose to go, when you arrive at your new campsite, always take a moment to determine how to park your vehicle to reduce the sun’s impact on the interior’s temperatures. A little shade makes a huge difference, yet with roof-top solar ever more popular, shade may be your enemy on extended trips.
To avoid the sun’s rays, park with the rear of your vehicle pointing south, and the exposed front windshield facing away from the sun. Or find a coastline or lake shore location to take advantage of an onshore breeze.
An awning can provide a wonderful opportunity for outdoor activities, while limiting direct exposure of the RV. Stealthy vans may have to do without it, but you can always bring a tarp or some residential shade fabric and create your own.
Don’t forget to cover your front windshield with a reflective cover or appropriate shades and hang a thermal cabin curtain to keep your living area private and fully protected.
In my opinion, probably the most influential in lowering the internal temps of your rig. Optimize natural convection by opening windows on the shady side; cooler air can enter and leave through your roof vent. The induced air flow along your skin makes you feel cooler. The fixed windows in the new European-style vans, make that impossible, yet at the same rime, create the opportunity to improve convection by installing a floor vent (Are Floor Vents The Solution For A Hot Problem?), that allows for cooler air to be drawn in from underneath the vehicle. Install a roof fan and open up your van after sundown.
It works by releasing heat, that can build up in your van/RV. Proper ventilation with the aid of an extra, temperature regulated computer fan, will make it run more efficient.
Skylights can enhance your life in an RV, by allowing extra light to enter the vehicle, but they will quickly heat up your interior too. Always cover them up during the dog days of summer.
Plan for activities outside the vehicle, during the warmer parts of the day. Cooking inside, can add a lot of heat and humidity. Lithium batteries allow me to operate a portable induction cook plate outside.
What About Winter?
Your RV can be as hot as a tin roof, but a little ingenuity can bring a lot of relief and make for a more enjoyable trip, particularly while boondocking in some of the most remote natural areas this country has to offer.