The Best Camping Air Conditioners in 2020


Camping can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, as you distance yourself from the bustle of the daily, urban life. But for many, myself included, camping does not mean that you have to constantly tolerate the harsh conditions of the outdoors. Some technology can still be your friend. A camping air conditioner will surely turn your outdoors vacation into a really enjoyable event.

While nature has a calming influence, it’s not that easy to fall asleep in a hot, stuffy tent. And you will definitely need a good and deep sleep for the next day’s activities. Getting a portable AC unit is a perfect solution to improve the conditions inside the tent.

With that in mind, I have conducted a huge research to find out what are this year’s best air conditioners. There are several types of camping air conditioners, and I managed to find the very best under each category. Every item on the list is also linked to its Amazon page, where you can see more reviews as well as the current prices.

Before we get to the list of recommendations, I will explain a few things and characteristics that you need to keep in mind while you decide what camping air conditioner you should get.

 

Top Camping Air Conditioners – Overview

PreviewTitleFeaturesMore Details
LG LW8016ER 8,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Air Conditioner• 3 cooling speeds
• 3 fan speeds
• Easily installed
Keystone Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Follow Me LCD Remote Control• “Follow Me” feature
• Lights turn off
• Small and lightweight
Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E Window-Mounted Air Conditioner• 5000 BTU
• Auto-restart option
• Small and lightweight
Haier ESAQ406P Serenity Series• Quiet operation
• Energy save mode
• Filter indicator
Whirlpool Energy Star Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Remote Control• 8000 BTU power level
• Full LCD display
• Dehumidifier
Black + Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner• Stands on wheels
• Fully programmable
• Fan and dehumidifier
Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner for Camping• Small and easily portable
• 11000 BTU
• LED/Bluetooth/USB
Koldfront PAC1402W Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan• Cools 500 square feet
• Sleep mode
• “Follow Me” feature
Honeywell MO08CESWK Compact Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan• Quiet operation
• Energy-saving timer
• Stands on wheels
Arctic Cove MBF0181 18-Volt Bucket Top Misting Fan• Produces a cool mist
• Can run up to 7 hours
• Very portable
Lifesmart EZcool Duo Port Indoor/Outdoor Portable Air Cooler• Has water filters and air filters
• Two cooling ducts
• Extremely lightweight
Uninex SAC1800 Indoor/Outdoor KOOLZONE Mobile Spot Cooler• Dehumidifier
• Requires no space inside the tent
• Stands on wheels

 

Things to Consider Before You Get a Camping Air Conditioner

Electricity Source

First and foremost, you need to know whether or not your campsite provides electrical power. And while many public sites do, the voltage of their hook-ups is not always the same.

The hook-ups usually allow 5-16 amps. Therefore, your AC needs to be suitable with the power source of your chosen campsite. Otherwise you might fry it, or worse – make the entire site go dark by overloading the local electric network.

Remember that you will also need an extension cable to connect to the electricity source. Alternatively, you can choose purchasing a 12V battery as a back-up or as a recharging source.

 

Noise

While air conditioners can guarantee a pleasant night of sleep, some campers may wonder about the noise levels of these units. While the natural environment may somewhat dampen the sounds of a working AC unit, your noise-related concerns are justified.

So when you choose a camping air conditioner, pay attention to the dBA, or decibel level. Choose a model with less than 60 dBA, to ensure that the AC does not disturb you or your camping neighbors. Units over 70 dBA are problematic and should be avoided if you cherish your sleep and comfort.

 

Portability

You also need to consider the weight of the AC unit. If you own a pickup track, then I guess that bringing a heavy 80 lbs. unit should not be a problem. If you don’t have a track, then stick to smaller models. All in all, you need to ask yourself just how much weight you can comfortably transport to the camp’s location.

As you can see now, portability is an important factor to consider. While an air conditioner makes your stay more comfortable, carrying a heavy unit can reduce that comfort.

 

AC Power in BTUs

BTUs (British Thermal Units) are a measurement unit that indicates the energy used by any appliance that is tasked with warming or cooling down the enclosed space around that appliance. So naturally, high BTU numbers mean that the unit is more powerful, and can effectively cool a bigger space. Also keep in mind that a tent is a small space, and it needs a cool temperature that stays on the same, constant level.

Therefore, if you have a portable AC unit of, let’s say, 15,000 BTUs on one hand, and a 2-person tent on the other hand, then your unit does not fit well the space. It will cool the space down quickly, and then shut down. Then the temperature crosses the desired level, and the cycle repeats: quick work, then the shutdown. This repetitive on/off cycle will reduce the appliance’s lifespan, since it does not function correctly within the allocated space. As you can see, the BTU output should match the tent size.

 

Tent Dimensions

More on the subject of the tent’s size. As you know, tents are usually labeled as X-person tents (2- person, 6- person, and so on). However, that number does not leave room for large appliances, such as the AC unit, or even large backpacks and other equipment.

So be sure you know exactly what the footage of your tent is and how much of this space you will have to allocate for the AC. Keep in mind that for a really comfortable camping, each group member needs 30 square feet.

The number of people inside the tent also influences the AC unit’s selection. More people equals more body heat that the air conditioner will need to overcome in order to keep the tent cool.

The following table will hopefully clarify the relation between the tent dimensions and the AC power.

Ventilation and Air Flow

Your AC will require a suitable ventilation and air flow to function within the tent. Different types of camping ACs have different demands:

  • Spot coolers/portable ACs need a small exit for their tube.
  • Window type ACs need large openings, since they have one half inside and one half outside the tent.
  • 12V air conditioners that are operated by a battery don’t need an additional exit point, your tent’s entrance and windows are more than enough.

Thankfully, more and more tents are produced with openings for AC units. Here is a list of the best tents with air conditioner ports that you can find on Amazon.

I should also mention that exposing the tent to the sun adds more work for the AC unit. Try placing the tent in the shade.

 

Budget

For disclosure, a camping air conditioner is currently regarded as a luxury appliance. Therefore, the prices will not be too cheap. They usually range from moderate to expensive. Then again, if you reached this article, then you already decided on getting a camping air conditioner, because you understand and appreciate its importance. Always keep in mind that the most expensive model is not necessary the best; assess the product according to the previously mentioned parameters.

 

Best Camping Air Conditioners by Type

The recent years saw a rise in various types of camping AC models. I will go through every type, mention its advantages and what units are considered the best in every category.

Best Window Camping Air Conditioners

These AC units operate at 500 BTU and can cool down a space of about 100-150 square feet. This is ideal for a small room – or a tent. They demand a permanent ventilation opening in your tent, so either create one or get a tent with the suitable ventilation spot.

 

  1. LG LW8016ER 8,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

This is a truly high-performing AC unit that can turn any heated space into a comfort zone. LG are widely known for their reliable air conditioners, and this pick is just one out of a series of excellent window ACs. I chose to suggest the 8,000 BTU model, but if you click the link – you can find similar units with other power levels.

This air conditioner is packed with features and settings, all controlled with a remote. These include:

  • 3 cooling speeds
  • 3 fan speeds
  • 24 hour timer that allows you to build a daily schedule for the air conditioner
  • Energy saver mode
  • Auto reset – if the power goes out and returns, the air conditioner will continue working as it was previously set

The unit also reduces the humidity in your room or tent, making your stay even more comfortable. It can dehumidify as much as 2.2 pints of water vapor in an hour.

The unit can be easily installed. Plus, it’s protected with LG’s patented anti-corrosion coating, so you can safely take it to camping, and it will serve you for years to come.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Keystone Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Follow Me LCD Remote Control

This AC unit fits perfectly in a small space that needs to be cooled. It can be placed in any opening and has enough power to turn a 150 square feet area into a pleasant and cool haven.

The unit is fully controlled by a remote with a backlist screen. Thanks to the “Follow Me” feature, the air conditioner makes sure that the temperature remains the same in the area around the remote and yourself. Another useful feature is the ability to turn off the lights on the air conditioner’s face, making the tent completely dark.

The unit is small and relatively lightweight, yet it has a high energy efficiency. Therefore, you can significantly cut costs as you transport and use it.

In addition, like the previously recommended unit, Keystone Window-Mounted Air Conditioner remembers its settings. When the power goes out and then comes back, the unit auto-restarts from the same point.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

This minimilastically designed air conditioner is the hottest selling product on Amazon, and rightfully so. It’s very affordable and easy to install, making it a welcome addition to any tent or RV.

The power level is low, around 5000 BTU, which makes it ideal for small spaces (up to 150 square feet). It can work with bigger areas, but just not as effectively. This AC unit is small and has a window mounting kit, allowing you a quick and effortless installation. In addition, its weight is mere 28 lbs., so you can take it with you anywhere, and easily mount and dismount from any opening.

The Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E Window-Mounted Air Conditioner has two cool speeds and two fans, which help making a quick adjustment to any temperature. 2 sets of grills help to spread the cool air evenly. Both sets can be moved horizontally and vertically, allowing you to get the air flow exactly where you need it. The settings are manually controlled with rotary controls.

Despite the light weight, the entire unit is very durable, and its motor is highly powerful. The energy efficiency is also high, so your power resources are not drained. Like other units mentioned in this article, this model is also supplied with an auto-restart option.

Add to all that a dehumidifying feature, washable filters, and a convenient noise level, and you’ve got yourself a highly recommended window air conditioner that you can take on your camping journey.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Haier ESAQ406P Serenity Series

With power level of 6000 BTU and airflow of 200 CFM, this unit is more than enough to cool down an area of 200 square feet in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the design that includes horizontally and vertically moving fins, the cool air will be evenly distributed throughout your tent or room.

Another advantage of the units from this series is their quiet operation, 9 db lower than the competition. The U-shaped evaporator makes sure that the cool air flows inside the space, while the noise is pushed outside the window. So you will have no problem falling asleep while this tremendous machine keeps everything chill.

Notice that due to its dimensions, Haier ESAQ406P can’t be installed in every window, so measure your tent or RV’s openings before purchasing.

The unit comes packed with several additional functions:

  • A dehumidifying feature that removes about 1.5 pints of moisture per one hour
  • Sleep mode that ensures a steady temperature during the entire night
  • Fan mode – the air flows without the assistance of the compressor
  • Energy save mode – very useful if you need to preserve your power resources
  • Time function
  • Filter indicator – reminds you to clean the filter after 240 hours of use

Haier ESAQ406P has definitely earned its right place on the list of the best window camping air conditioners.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Whirlpool Energy Star Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Remote Control

This highly rated air conditioner is suitable for tents and rooms up to 300 square feet, which it can quickly cool down thanks to the 8000 BTU power level. Like many other effective air conditioners, this one also has 2 sets of grills that help to achieve the perfect chilled climate inside your resting area.

I should mention that it’s a heavier and bulkier unit than the other recommendations, so you will need to have the appropriate transportation in order to bring it to the campsite. Nonetheless, the Whirlpool Energy Star has a very high energy efficiency rating (12.1) and comes with 3 cooling and fan speeds, ensuring that it can deal with any weather without becoming a burden on your power resources. I think that it’s a very good trade-off.

Some additional features include:

  • Full LCD display of all functions and settings
  • Energy saver mode
  • Timer
  • Sleep mode
  • Dehumidifier – removes about 1.8 pints per hour

Click here for more reviews.

 

Best Small Portable Camping Air Conditioners

These units are stronger than the aforementioned window models, their 12000 BTU output can keep an area of 400 square feet chilly. They usually have wheels, so despite their size they can be rolled around. And while they also need ventilation, it’s just for a small hose and not an entire window in the tent’s wall. Additionally, they can remove a lot of humidity from the air, functioning as dehumidifiers.

 

  1. Black + Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner

This model is considered the top technology of portable AC units. It quickly creates a pleasant, chilled atmosphere in an area of up to 350 square feet. Its most unique feature, which cannot be found in other camping air conditioners, is that it battles both the heat and the cold. You will feel comfortably cool in the summer and warmed up in the winter.

The unit is completely portable, as it stands on 4 caster wheels and can be also carried around using the side handles. It’s also easily maintainable, the filter slides out and can be quickly rinsed. Keep the filter clean, and the Black + Decker BPACT14HWT model will provide you with a strong and consistent airflow.

The model also comes with a remote control (with LED display), especially designed for a simple yet precise use. You can program your air conditioner to match your sleep and rest patterns, which such functions as a sleep mode and 24 hours timer.

This air conditioner also functions as a fan and a dehumidifier. The noise levels are comfortable enough for the unit of this capacity.

All things considered, this first item on the list of portable air conditioners can be the ones you’re looking for. And it’s not only for camping, you can place it anywhere in the house.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Zero Breeze Z19-B Portable Air Conditioner for Camping

 

This item is definitely among the best camping air conditioners on the market, a true camper’s dream. The Zero Breeze Z19-B is small, light and easily portable, you can simply pick it up by its handle and take it anywhere you wish.

The unit includes smart batteries that function for five hours, which means that they will need to be changed and re-charged only twice a day. Even if you set the unit on the highest setting, a battery will still provide power for 2.5 hours – this is how efficient this air conditioner is! You can also opt for a fully electric version of this product, although it costs significantly higher.

With AC power of 11000 BTU, this is probably the strongest model for its relatively small dimensions. It also works as a dehumidifier and a fan. But that’s not all! The Zero Breeze Z19-B has LED lighting, Bluetooth music player and a charging station with USB ports. It’s simply a perfect companion to any camping trip or other outdoors activity.

The product comes with a 1-year warranty as well as 30-day money back guarantee. It’s a really great choice if you are looking for a convenient and long-lasting portable AC.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Koldfront PAC1402W Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan

This unique air conditioning machine is a personal favorite. No heat can stand in its way! With 14,000 BTU, the Koldfront’s air conditioner work efficiently to cool down an impressive area of 500 square feet. In addition, the built-in dehumidifier completes the cooling function by removing at least 4.5 pint of humidity in an hour.

The unit also comes with louvers that ensure automatic and equal distribution of the chilled air. In addition, it has a sleep mode feature that increases the temperature by 2 degrees per hour. This way, you will comfortably sleep throughout the night, and the cold will not bother you during the night time.

The Koldfront PAC1402W Portable Air Conditioner is operated by a remote control, which has the advanced “Follow Me” option. The AC unit knows where the remote (and you) is and makes sure the temperature reaches a desirable level in that particular spot.

And finally, it can be effortlessly transported as it smoothly rolls around on 4 sturdy wheels. All in all, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a reliable portable AC unit.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Honeywell MO08CESWK Compact Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan

This is a nice and compact unit that packs a punch with a strong airflow! It’s also very versatile, you can take it to camping, but also have it for the indoor use. It can cool rooms and areas up to 350 square feet.

Please notice that Honeywell MO08CESWK depends on an external power source, so you can mostly take it to an RV site or a campsite with hook-ups. However, it makes up for that minor limitation by being lightweight (around 43 lbs.) and having smooth wheels for additional portability. It’s also very efficient and can cool any tent in a few moments.

This air conditioner also comes with an effective dehumidifier that takes out around 44 pints of water vapor in 24 hours. You can operate and adjust with functions of Honeywell MO08CESWK with a comfortable remote control.

Another advantage is its quiet operation, around 50-53 db, which is no louder than a normal human talk. Add an energy-saving timer and easily washable filter, and you have an excellent AC unit for camping.

Click here for more reviews.

 

  1. Arctic Cove MBF0181 18-Volt Bucket Top Misting Fan

OK, this one is not an actual air conditioner, but it’s a great portable air cooler, so it has definitely earned its spot on this list. Imagine facing a hot and stuffy night – and then turning this little beast on. It produces a cool mist that completely refreshes everyone in the tent and creates a pleasant atmosphere. Arctic Cove MBF0181 does not need a cord, it’s easily portable and anyone can afford it.

The misting fan can run for 2.5 to 7 hours, depending on the power setting. You can charge it from one or several batteries, or from an electric hook-up at the campsite. And as a water source, you can either connect a hose or fill a 5 gallon bucket.

The downside of this model is its noise level, which can be somewhat high. But it’s well compensated by the awesome relief from the heat. Also notice that the bucket is not included, so you have to bring the bucket and the water with you, adding to the total weight. Despite these minor inconveniences, this is a highly recommended solution for the heat inside your tent.

Click here for more reviews.

Here is a video review of this misting fan:

Best 12V Portable Camping Air Conditioners

These are the smallest and least powerful AC units, so they are mostly good for small places, like a 1-person or 2-person tent or shelter (and as you know, shelter is very important for survival). They are powered by a battery and distribute cold from the ice or water that you put inside them.

There are many 12V models available on the market, but I can wholeheartedly recommend just one. The rest have better counterparts under the previous “Portable Camping Air Conditioners” category.

 

Lifesmart EZcool Duo Port Indoor/Outdoor Portable Air Cooler

This air cooler is perfectly designed for any outdoor activity, be it camping, tailgating, sailing a boat or just sitting on your porch or patio. Powered by 12V voltage, its energy consumption is minimal, less than a 60W electrical bulb. Despite the lower power usage, the LifeSmart EZcool Air Cooler covers up to 500 square feet of space.

The cooling system is automated and does not require much maintenance. 1 gallon of water is enough for over 7 hours of operation. There is also no need for cleaning or chemically treating the cooler, as its water filters and air filters protect the cooler’s systems and rarely require to be replaced.

The air cooler works by mixing water and air, and is proven to efficiently and quickly produce cool air in almost every climate. No chemical refrigerants are involved in the process, making it a unique, patented unit that you can fully rely on when going on a camping trip.

You can change and extend the cooled area by moving the two cooling ducts in all directions. This makes the LifeSmart EZcool Air Cooler a more preferred AC unit to regular one-duct products.

The operation is truly simple – just fill with water, choose a fan speed, and you’re set. This AC unit is extremely lightweight, you can carry it anywhere by its handle.

This made-in-the-USA model comes with 1 year warranty, and is completely safe around pets and children.

Click here for more reviews.

 

Best Camping Spot Coolers

Spot coolers are the most powerful type of portable air conditioners, performing at 15000 BTU. Due to their size, they resemble the units installed in a house. They usually serve garage owners or in a workshop, but if you can transport them, a spot cooler will make your camping trip a very pleasant experience.

Not all spot coolers are suitable for camping, but I found one that is highly recommended by several avid campers.

 

Uninex SAC1800 Indoor/Outdoor KOOLZONE Mobile Spot Cooler

This is a quite unique AC unit. You can place it just outside your tent, and it will pump cooled air for everyone to enjoy. Therefore, it requires no space inside the tent, leaving more space for the people. It’s ideally designed for smaller tents and comes with industrial grade cooling system.

In addition, this model is supplied with a dehumidifier, which is always a huge plus. Do notice that in some climates you will need to drain the condensation once in a while.

Despite its seemingly bulky design, this spot cooler is more or less quiet, with a noise level of 60 – 62 db. Uninex SAC1800 weighs 58 lbs., but it’s also set on sturdy wheels, making it completely portable.

What’s also great about this spot coolers is that you can also use it for other activities, such as parties and celebrations, and not just camping. Which means it will always serve you, even when you don’t plan to leave your yard.

Click here for more reviews.

 

Related Questions

Can I supplement AC’s functioning by insulating the tent? The tent’s original design is probably already insulated well enough, so you don’t need to change it. A better solution is either getting a tent that suits your AC better, or getting an AC that efficiently functions within your tent’s space.

What tent comes prepared with an opening for the AC? Since camping air conditioners are becoming trendier, some tents are already produced with special vents for air conditioners. As mentioned earlier, Amazon has a list of tents that come with air conditioner port.

If the weather is cold, what are the ways to keep the tent warm? Your tent can be heated with a few suitable types of electric heaters, as well as a wood stove, hot water bottles or heated stones. I have posted a detailed article about the best ways to heat a tent, feel free to read it.

Alex Rejba

Alex is a seasoned survivalist, with a passion to all things related to prepping, hiking and living off the grid.

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