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Can You Use RV Air Conditioning While Driving?

Published on February 27th, 2019 by Jim Harmer

If you have concerns about using your RV air conditioning while driving, you have come to the right place.

Can you use RV air conditioning while driving? RV air conditioning can be used while driving. This includes both the rooftop air conditioner and dashboard air conditioner. However, depending on what source of energy you use, you may only be able to use the dashboard air conditioner.

While it is true that you are able to use air conditioning while driving your RV, there are a few things you should know concerning your RV’s air conditioning.

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Using RV Air Conditioning While Driving:

Being the one thing in your RV designed to keep it cool, the AC is very important, especially during those summer months. Nobody wants to have a sweaty ride to their campsite or back.

Dash Air Conditioning

There are fewer questions regarding the dash air conditioning in an RV. Many people automatically assume that you can use your dash air conditioning, which is true.

The dash air conditioning includes the vents that run in front of the driver and passenger seat of an RV. This blows air to cool just like any other car’s dash air conditioning. The question of whether to use a rooftop air conditioner is more commonly asked.

Rooftop Air Conditioning

Rooftop air conditioning is the air conditioning that covers most of your RV. Aside from the driver and passenger side, the rooftop air conditioning covers all the lounging areas including the table area, couch area, bed area, and whatever is included in your personal RV.

Becuase the rooftop air conditioning is responsible for a larger area, it requires much more power in comparison to the dash air conditioning.

The Rooftop air conditioning can be used while driving very easily. However, there are some things to take into account with its use.

Rooftop Air Conditioning Considerations

I believe that before you do something, you should know what you are getting into. The same goes for RV air conditioning.

Some things to know about your rooftop air conditioning are:

  1. It uses up your gas. While using your rooftop air conditioner, you are consuming more gas than you would without. Although, there is an option of just not using it. There is not too dramatic of a difference in gas mileage.
  2. Using only dash air conditioning will not cool down your RV. This is an important point because many people consider just cutting out the use of rooftop air conditioning. This is a possibility. However, when you are using the rest of the RV, you will find that the dash air conditioning doesn’t do that much.

For me, the option is simple, rooftop air conditioning should be used while driving your RV. It is perfectly safe to use and will cool you down for a possibly long trip.

Air conditioners are more than permitted to use during your drive. It is also important to know what power source your air conditioning is using.

Different Generators Used for Your RV Air Conditioning:

A common source of energy used for your RV air conditioning is a generator. Generators are quite simple to use and will save you from sweating in the summer heat.

Note: Generators are also a handy item to have in your home. If the power goes out, having a generator around will really help you.

The three types of generators that are most commonly used (especially with rooftop air conditioning) are:

  • An RV generator. The RV generator is often below what is seen, close to the driver’s door. If your dash air conditioning is not doing the trick, you just have to flick a switch to start it.
  • Medium Inverter Generator. If your RV does not have an RV generator, you will have to use another generator. The generator should have at least 2,800 watts.
  • 2 Small Inverter Generators. Because medium inverter generators are extremely heavy and hard to move around, a common solution is getting two smaller generators. This will give the same amount of power and is surprisingly cheaper.

These are just some simple generators that will help to achieve your purpose of cooling your RV. However, there are other ways to help you cool down your RV without the air conditioning.

Tips on Keeping Your RV Cool:

In the summer months, it feels like we would do just about anything to cool down while sitting in an blazing hot RV. Next time you feel like that, here are some ways you can cool down your RV.

  • Use RV floor insulation covers. With the engine running underneath your floors, there is a lot of heat coming up to your feet. Covering your floor with insulation covers will help cool down your RV and take away the heat coming from under your RV.
  • Close window covers. Close your blinds and put up a curtain or cover. Especially with such a small space, this makes a big difference.
  • Turn on the AC before starting your trip. It is beneficial to have your RV cooled down before heading out. This way, when you start to go, the air conditioner will work better.
  • Park in the shade. Again, with the sun’s extreme influence on the temperature of your RV, it is important to stay away from it. It will help you out with the temperature of your RV.
  • Grill and cook outside. This may seem annoying because there are so many great tools inside of your RV to cook with. However, turning on cooking appliances will increase the RV temperature.
  • Go somewhere cooler. If you are taking a trip in the summer, it may as well be to someplace cool. The cooler the place you go to, the easier it will be for you to cool your RV.

Although your air conditioner is definitely capable of cooling down your RV, sometimes it is good to give it a break.

Take these precautions, and you will find the need to use your air conditioning less often.

Precautions to Take as an RV Driver:

Especially if this is your first time driving an RV, you will find it a very different experience from your average car. However, I have a few tips for you to feel more confident on your first drive.

Before you even start the RV, there are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are the doors closed and latched?
  • Are there any jacks up?
  • Are the steps folded and ready for travel?
  • Are all interior cabinets closed?
  • Is the refridgerator closed and latched?
  • Is the RV overloaded?

Once you start up the RV, there are a few things to remember while driving:

  • Defensive Driving. Your RV is not capable of stopping very fast. It does not move directions very easily. Increase your following traffic rule. Do not stay too close behind someone.
  • Mirror Usage. Learn how to use your mirrors. RV’s have very large blind spots. Especially when changing lanes, exercise caution in knowing you cannot see everything.
  • Steep hills. Slow down, change to a lower gear and watch the temperature gauge. RV’s will often overheat going up a steep terrain.
  • Turning. You need more space to turn. You have to go farther ahead before turning in order for the rear of the RV to catch up.
  • Road placement. Keep an eye out to make sure that you are on the center lane. If you have to be a bit out on the right, that is okay.

These tips will all allow you to have a better and safer driving experience on the RV. If you have never driven an RV before, just practice. You will get used to the feeling of an RV.

Related Questions:

Can you run your RV fridge while driving?You can drive your RV with the fridge on. Depending on your power source, there are some related dangers. Using propane is often discouraged because of the possibility of fire. There is also the option of using a generator.

Can you use the oven in an RV while driving?If you RV has an oven, it is not suggested to use your oven. Some other alternatives are using foods that do not require baking or using an appliance like an instant pot. Although you are not allowed to use your oven, there are other ways to cook.

About the Author:

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