9 Best RV Air Conditioners To Keep You Cool

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Quick Glance - My Recommendations

Coleman 48204C866 Mach 15+ A/C Unit

Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866

Best Overall Choice

Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...

Zero Breeze Mark 2

Best Portable RV AC

Pioneer® 9,000 BTU Under-Bench RV Heat Pump...

Pioneer 9,000 BTU

Achievement or Award

RV camping is a lot of fun — if you can keep your RV from turning into a mobile sauna in the summer sun.

A sufficiently strong RV air conditioner solves the problem, but these units can be very expensive.

How can you avoid wasting all that money on an air conditioner that isn’t up to snuff?

I’ll help you! I tested and reviewed the best RV air conditioners on the market to help you find one that fits your RV or trailer to a tee.

How We Review & Rank Our Product List

At Air Conditioner Lab, our team follows a similar process when evaluating all products reviews before formulating our final lists for readers.

We begin by gathering data sources directly from brands, e-commerce platforms, online retailers and press releases.

These are then added to a master file we use to compare features specifications from all humidifier models. You can access this Humidifier Sheet Here.

Next, we narrow down all the products on the market by evaluating user reviews, ratings and feedback from a wide variety of online and in-person sources.

Our team then discusses and co-ordinates our first hand experiences using these products, as well as gather independent opinions and feedback through Youtube and customer reviews.

9 Best Rooftop ACs For RV Comfort

1 - Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866

5.0

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value For Money

5.0

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Who Is Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866 Best For?

This Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866 rooftop RV air conditioner is the ideal choice for owners of large RVs or for those who simply enjoy ultra-strong cooling.

Pros
  • Better cooling capacity than other units I reviewed
  • Easy to install with clear instructions
  • Quiet for its type and power
  • Good value for money
  • Two-piece shroud makes maintenance easier
CONS
  • Really heavy
  • High-ish power draw

Unbridled power always has its own charm.

Those looking for a strong RV air conditioner to create a localized ice age certainly won’t be disappointed with the Coleman Mach 15+.

Boasting 15,000 BTU of cooling capacity, this is one of the most powerful RV AC units on the market.

Although some, like the RecPro, match its BTU rating, Coleman has an ace up its sleeve with this AC.

I seriously felt like I was in a home with central air conditioning, not an RV.

The Mach 15+ features a ⅓ HP fan motor. This powerhouse creates a very strong 320-CFM airflow that can chill down even the biggest RVs.

During my tests, the Mach 15+ easily cooled down an entire 40-foot motor home (with sub-par insulation) — without me even turning it to the highest setting.

In nearly 110°F weather, this RV air conditioner allowed me to lounge in temperatures in the low 70s.

Still, as the late Billy Mayes said, there's more! The Mach 15+ can supply you with heat as well if you purchase the optional heater assembly.

With a 5,600 BTU heat output, it’s not quite enough to keep you warm in the heart of winter, but it takes the bite out of the autumn chill.

Installation is straightforward, thanks to the clear instructions.

Coleman has included a pre-assembled insulation gasket on the bottom, so you can drop the Mach 15+ in place over the 14”x14” roof opening.

Just note that the plenum (indoor ceiling assembly), freeze sensor, and other mounting hardware are sold separately.

On the plus side, this unit has a two-piece shroud that makes maintenance and cleaning simpler.

Still, the hardest part of the installation is getting this thing up on the roof.

This is the second-heaviest unit on my list behind the other Coleman. Guess the heft runs in the family.

Once you do get the Mach 15+ up on the roof, it’s a decently quiet operator.

RV rooftop air conditioners are always a bit loud, but this guy is on the quieter side of average.

The Mach 15+ is a bit power-hungry, with an average 15 amp power draw and 1,800W energy consumption.

Yet, if you’re planning a trip to the Sahara, this beast can keep you cool.

Feature

Details

BTUs

15000

Noise Level

-

Dimensions (H x L x D)

13.8 x 38 x 26.1 inches

Weight

90 lbs


2 - Zero Breeze Mark 2

4.8

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value For Money

4.5

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Who Is Zero Breeze Mark 2 Best For?

This Zero Breeze Mark 2 compact portable AC provides excellent spot cooling by the bed or in your RV’s cabin if you don’t mind the premium price.

Pros
  • Compact form factor
  • Strong spot cooling performance
  • A lot of options for powering the AC
  • Simple on-unit and remote controls
  • Powerful dehumidification
CONS
  • Really expensive
  • Needs an optional Power Dock to use all power options

The blatant false advertising with this unit is appalling.

Running it doesn’t result in zero breeze — it produces a good strong airflow for such a compact machine.

With its 2,300 BTU cooling capacity, it would be easy to dismiss the Zero Breeze as a weak, poorly performing portable AC unit.

Although it is technically the weakest unit on my list, that would ignore its designed purpose.

Instead of being meant to cool down the entire RV, the Zero Breeze is a personal spot air conditioner.

In this role, its low BTU rating is actually more than enough.

With its dual-hose design, the Zero Breeze provides efficient cooling in small spaces. It’s great for supplementing a low-power rooftop unit, for example.

During my tests, however, it did effectively cool down a small two-person camping trailer.

A big advantage the Zero Breeze has over other units I reviewed is that it’s battery-powered.

That allows it to run without drawing electricity from your RV — even while the vehicle is moving.

The battery lasts around 8 hours on the low setting (4 hours on high), so it can keep blowing through the night.

If the battery runs out, you can also power the Zero Breeze with a power bank, solar panels, or even your RV’s cigarette lighter outlet.

All these options are nice, although I found the required setup somewhat convoluted at times.

Also, some power options need the separately sold Power Dock to work.

The Zero Breeze is a compact unit that lets you position it freely around your RV for ideal airflow.

It's surprisingly heavy with the battery attached (around 30 pounds), so you may not want to put it on the most rickety table, though.

Usability is straightforward through the top panel or with the included remote control. I found the window panel easy to rig up, so installation won’t take long.

As a nice touch, the AC has strong dehumidification (so I recommend setting up a drain line).

The Zero Breeze is very expensive, though, costing more than most of the rooftop units on my list.

That said, those who can stomach the price get to enjoy efficient, highly portable spot cooling.

Feature

Details

BTUs

2300

Noise Level

52 dBa

Dimensions (H x L x D)

11 x 20 x 10 inches

Weight

16.5 lbs


3 - Pioneer 9,000 BTU

4.8

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value For Money

4.5

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Who is Pioneer 9,000 BTU AC/Heat Pump Best For?

This under-bench Pioneer 9,000 BTU AC/Heat Pump RV air conditioning unit is a good pick for out-of-sight cooling in small to medium-sized RVs.

Pros
  • Good heating and cooling performance in small and medium RVs
  • Quiet operation lets you sleep in peace
  • Good energy efficiency saves you money and avoids overloading your RV
  • Full 4-in-1 functionality with simple controls
CONS
  • Somewhat involved installation
  • User manual could be clearer

Out of sight, out of mind. That’s not the official marketing slogan for Pioneer’s under-beach air conditioner and heater, but it might as well be.

Once you have this machine set up, it’ll keep you cool and warm without bothering you unnecessarily.

This unit has a 9,000-BTU cooling capacity, giving it a roughly 350 square feet coverage area.

Despite the output vent consisting of three small, circular holes, I found the airflow surprisingly strong.

This under-bench unit has plenty of cooling power in small to medium-sized RVs and trailers.

In my big-ish trailer, it dropped the interior space temperature by 20 degrees in 20 minutes. A degree a minute is respectable!

This unit can do a decent job even in bigger RVs with good insulation.

I recommend keeping it in a tad smaller ones, though, to maximize its cooling chops.

The integrated heat pump isn’t bad, either. With nearly freezing temperatures outside, the Pioneer kept my trailer at 65°F.

It shouldn’t be your sole winter heater, but it’s a welcome companion for fall RV camping.

I was pretty shocked by this unit’s quiet operation.

At maximum power, I measured only 50 dB of noise, and even that gets muffled somewhat after installation, making this the quietest unit on my list.

Speaking of installation, this unit is a different beast than rooftop ones since you need to cut multiple holes for the intake, exhaust, and drain line.

The intake hole is the most difficult, as the AC “breathes” through the bottom. I suggest rigging up a splash guard to keep wet roads from soaking the AC.

Once the unit is installed, its four operation modes (AC, fan, dehumidifier, heater) are very easy to control, either with the wall thermostat or remote control.

With an EER rating of 8.5 and 8.8 amp power draw, the Pioneer has low power consumption.

Just remember to plug in both the 110V AC and 12V DC plugs for it to work.

The instruction manual isn't that clear about it, and it took me a minute to figure out why my AC wouldn't turn on.

This Pioneer 9,000 BTU unit is an excellent choice for undisruptive, reliable cooling in medium RVs.

Feature

Details

BTUs

9000

Noise Level

-

Dimensions (H x L x D)

28.75 x 15.5 x 12.75 inches

Weight

61 lbs


4 - Frigidaire FFRA051WAE

4.7

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

Current Progress
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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value For Money

4.5

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Who Is Frigidaire FFRA051WAE Best For?

This Frigidaire FFRA051WAE window air conditioner is a well-performing and budget-friendly option for medium-sized RVs with openable windows.

Pros
  • Very affordably priced
  • Efficiently cools small to medium-sized RVs
  • Energy-efficient performance
  • Simple and sturdy construction
CONS
  • Not a set-it-and-forget-it solution
  • May be insufficient for big and poorly insulated RVs

Window AC units are typically for house use, but they can also be mounted to an RV's side or rear windows.

Frigidaire FFRA051WAE offers RV owners an affordable and lightweight yet fairly powerful cooling solution.

The Frigidaire’s 5,000-BTU cooling capacity gives it a rated maximum coverage area of 150 square feet.

However, I’ve come to find this little beast punches well above its rating.

During my tests, this window air conditioner has made even 300-square-foot areas cool, if not cold.

Despite its relatively low power (although still higher than Zero Breeze's), this model can perform decently even in large, well-insulated RVs.

That said, it really shines in medium-sized RVs and trailers.

With an 11 EER rating, this AC rocks the best energy efficiency out of any unit on my list. It plugs into a regular 115V outlet and draws only around 5 amps.

With an average energy consumption of around 450W, you can run this unit in your RV safely and affordably.

Speaking of which, this is by far the cheapest AC I’ve reviewed here.

If you’re looking for an RV air conditioner on a budget, this model’s affordable price is hard to resist.

The Frigidaire is a very basic and utilitarian machine — in the best possible way.

It has two simple turn knobs for choosing between high and low AC or fan settings and for setting the temperature.

There's no digital thermostat, so I recommend buying a separate one to monitor the temperature.

Thanks to its low weight, the Frigidaire is simple to install — in theory.

In practice, it’s a bit tricky to set up as RV window frames aren’t as thick or sturdy as house windows.

It’s a good idea to support the unit with a wall bracket.

Once you figure it out, the Frigidaire is easy to mount. That's good, too, because you must take it down and set it back up often.

Don't leave it in the window and start driving; it will fall at the first pothole.

Frigidaire FFRA051WAE shows you don’t need to invest in an expensive special RV air conditioner to keep your camper cool.

This window unit makes a value proposition that’s hard to beat.

Feature

Details

BTUs

5,000

Noise Level

52-55 dBa

Dimensions (H x L x D)

12 x 16 x 13 inches

Weight

35.3 lbs


5 - Furrion FACR14SA-PS

4.6

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

4.3

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Value For Money

4.5

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Who Is Furrion FACR14SA-PS Best For?

This Furrion FACR14SA-PS is a good choice for RV owners seeking a rooftop AC unit that’s both reasonably priced and reasonably powerful.

Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Enough cooling power for even bigger RVs
  • Washable filter saves you money
  • Straightforward installation
  • More attractive design than most
CONS
  • Tends to freeze when set to very low temps
  • Loud

So, you’re shopping for RV air conditioners on a budget but would like a more permanent solution than the Frigidaire window model.

It sounds like the price/power value of Furrion FACR14SA-PS is right up your alley.

This 14,500 BTU Furrion machine provides performance on par with the 15,000 BTU ColemanRecPro, and Dometic models.

Although that trio, strictly speaking, has a higher cooling capacity, in practice, you will barely notice that 500 BTU difference.

Case in point, a single one of these Furrion units was enough to keep a 32-foot RV cool. I’m certain it can adequately cool an even bigger camper.

Another value-adding point about the Furrion is that it features a washable filter.

It might seem like a small thing, but simply rinsing the filter instead of buying a whole new one can save you a decent wad of cash.

As with the other rooftop AC units, the Furrion has a pre-installed insulation gasket.

You just need to haul it up on your RV’s roof and set it in place for easy installation.

You should get one or two additional pairs of hands to lift the thing up, though.

The Furrion isn’t quite as heavy as the 15,000-BTU Coleman, but you still get plenty of AC for your money.

In line with Coleman and Dometic, this AC doesn't include the indoor ceiling assembly.

Fortunately, the plenum isn't pricier than other manufacturers', so the total costs are still lower.

Drawing around 14-15 amps of power, the Furrion energy efficiency is mediocre.

It's also somewhat loud, but that's a sacrifice we make with budget units.

Furrion does have one design flaw. Due to the plenum not allowing sufficient airflow, the AC tends to freeze up if you set it to 63°F or lower.

You can resolve this with a plenum from a different manufacturer or by drilling a few extra ventilation holes in the Furrion one, as I did.

Then again, you’ll rarely have to set the AC that low (unless you’re secretly a polar bear).

Overall, Furrion is comparable to rooftop AC units that cost several hundred dollars more.

For its price, it does an excellent job of providing cool air for your camper.

Feature

Details

BTUs

14,500

Noise Level

-

Dimensions (H x L x D)

14 x 35 x 28 inches

Weight

88.18 lbs


6 - RecPro RP-AC3800

4.5

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value For Money

4.5

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Who Is RecPro RP-AC3800 Best For?

This RecPro RP-AC3800 premium rooftop RV AC unit will satisfy demanding glampers with its strong performance and extra goodies.

Pros
  • Good heating and top-notch cooling performance, even in a large RV
  • Electronic controls with a remote and digital thermostat
  • Easy installation with included ceiling assembly
  • Quiet operation for a rooftop unit
CONS
  • Can’t be installed in a ducted configuration
  • Short remote range and limited use angles

You need the latest bells and whistles for a truly luxurious glamping experience.

RecPro RP-AC3800 lets you relax in your RV in comfort, no matter the weather outside.

In terms of cooling power, the RecPro rivals the best of them. Like the Coleman, it carries a 15,000 BTU rating.

The RecPro’s cooling capacity isn’t quite on par with its Coleman competitor, but that’s a bar virtually no machine reaches.

Nonetheless, even this AC’s lowest setting was too cool for me in a 21-foot RV.

It goes without saying that it will perform more than adequately in much bigger campers.

Unlike the Coleman, though, this model comes standard with a built-in heat pump. 

It’s a supplementary one and won’t be enough on its own in the middle of winter, but you’ll be glad it’s there during chilly fall nights.

In a break from all other rooftop units I reviewed, RecPro supplies not only the insulation gasket but also the plenum with the unit.

It’s a welcome addition that makes for easy installation since you can be sure all the parts are compatible.

In addition, the RecPro is the only rooftop RV AC here with a remote control.

Granted, the remote range is fairly short, and it only works from one direction. Nonetheless, I was happy to have it.

Since it has a remote control feature, the RecPro has electronic controls.

That means it has a digital thermostat and a display showing the current temperature. It takes the guesswork out of cooling your AC.

Thanks to the electronic controls, you also get a programmable timer and a sleep mode that raises the indoor temperature overnight by a couple of degrees.

This useful feature can help you save energy and sleep better.

As a final highlight, the unit is quieter than even the Coleman.

About the downsides, well, this unit only supports ductless installation.

The supplied insulation gasket is also pretty hard, so you may need to buy a separate one if your RV has a curved roof.

Some primitive camping fans might scoff at the RecPro for making your RVing too luxurious.

But to each their own — if you like camping in comfort, this machine won’t disappoint.

Feature

Details

BTUs

13,500

Noise Level

59.7 dBa

Dimensions (H x L x D)

8.81 x 44.16 x 33.5 inches

Weight

99 lbs


7 - Dometic FreshJet 3

4.4

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value For Money

3.8

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Who Is Dometic FreshJet 3 JJX3579MWHAS Best For?

Dometic FreshJet 3 JJX3579MWHAS is the best RV AC unit for those looking for a lightweight machine that’s easy to lift up and install on your RV’s roof.

Pros
  • Lightweight and compact rooftop AC
  • Simple and quick installation
  • Stronger cooling than the weight would imply
  • Low-ish noise levels due to vibration dampening
  • Draws less power than comparable ACs
CONS
  • Possible packaging and delivery issues
  • Pricey

Does the thought of wrangling a heavy and cumbersome AC into its place on your RV's roof fill you with dread?

Worry no more — Dometic FreshJet 3 low weight makes installing a rooftop RV air conditioner about as easy as it can get.

Frankly, this unit is shockingly lightweight and compact for its cooling capacity.

FreshJet 3 weighs less than 70 pounds, making it the lightest rooftop AC unit on my list.

Being so light and small, it’s much easier to lift it on top of your RV and position it correctly than the Coleman or RecPro.

You also get the pre-installed sealing gasket, so mounting this machine onto your RV is a breeze comparatively.

As is tradition, though, you’ll have to buy the ceiling plenum separately.

The compact form factor doesn’t compromise the FreshJet 3’s cooling ability.

Its 15,000 BTU rating is on par with the Coleman and RecPro units. In terms of airflow, this Dometic beats the very strong Coleman marginally.

Those numbers turn into reality quite well, too. Despite the stronger airflow, it's not quite on the level of the 15K BTU Coleman.

Nonetheless, this AC brought the temperature in a 38-foot RV down to 72°F, all on its own.

The FreshJet 3 draws less power than its strong competitors. I measured a max draw of 13 amps, so the unit shouldn’t overload your RV’s power supply.

This unit performed admirably in the noise department as well. The actual indoor decibel level is about the same as RecPro.

Still, the FreshJet 3 has nice rubber feet that reduce vibration, which reduces certain types of noise.

The biggest issue with this unit isn’t how it works — it’s the packaging.

My AC arrived in pristine condition, but I’ve seen people complaining about banged-up boxes and broken units.

The blame lies mostly on careless delivery personnel, although more cushioning in the box would be welcome.

I’ve also seen some reports that people are getting the black or white unit seemingly at random.

Fortunately, the color has no impact whatsoever on the unit’s performance.

Delivery problems aside, Dometic FreshJet 3 is a reliable rooftop RV air conditioner that won’t take long to install.

Feature

Details

BTUs

15,000

Noise Level

39 dB

Dimensions (H x L x D)

‎29.5 x 27.5 x 14 inches

Weight

61 lbs


8 - Dometic Brisk II

4.3

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value For Money

4.0

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Who Is Dometic Brisk II B57975.XX1C0 Best For?

Dometic Brisk II is an excellent small RV air conditioner for small to medium-sized RVs and campers.

Pros
  • Plenty of cooling power from small to medium RVs
  • Compact form factor and reasonably low weight
  • Very low power draw avoids overloading your RV
  • Good value for money
CONS
  • Suffers from some packing and delivery problems

If your RV is on the smaller side, it may be a waste of money to buy a turbocharged 15,000 BTU rooftop RV air conditioner.

Dometic Brisk II B57915.XX1C0 provides plenty of cold air for smaller RVs at a lower price point.

The Dometic Brisk II rooftop AC has a 13,500 BTU cooling capacity, squarely matching the Coleman Mach 8 unit.

It definitely has what it takes to chill down RVs up to medium size. In a 26-foot RV, the Brisk II kept the living space cool using only the medium setting.

I was even able to achieve livable temperatures in a 36-foot RV, but I am naturally chilly and don’t mind a bit higher temps.

Heat-averse owners of big RVs may want to look elsewhere.

Although the Brisk II isn’t as light as its FreshJet 3 sibling, it still upholds the Dometic tradition of making light RV ACs.

This unit weighs less than 80 pounds and has the most compact form factor out of any rooftop machine here.

Combine that with the pre-attached sealing gasket, and the Brisk II is about as easy to install as its brother with the higher BTU rating.

Once again, though, you’ll have to buy the plenum separately.

In terms of noise, the Brisk II is about as average as you can get. It’s louder than the other Dometic, but it’s not obnoxious.

It certainly didn’t bother me during my tests.

This unit really shines in terms of power consumption.

Among the rooftop models, the Brisk II is the most energy-efficient RV air conditioner, with a 12.4-amp power draw on average.

The Achilles’ heel here is packaging, as with the other Dometic.

There was nothing wrong with my test machine, but it’s not hard to find people with complaints about cracked shrouds and busted connection points.

Fortunately, the unit comes with a decent two-year warranty.

Even if a clumsy delivery person happens to break your AC, the manufacturer is ready to make things right.

The Dometic Brisk II serves up much of the same as the FreshJet 3 sibling, just for smaller RVs.

If you're looking for efficient cooling for medium RVs, this small RV rooftop air conditioner makes a great value proposition.

Feature

Details

BTUs

13,500

Noise Level

58.2 dB

Dimensions (H x L x D)

12.7 x 29.18 x 27.23 inches

Weight

72 lbs


9 - Coleman Airxcel Mach 8 Plus

4.3

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value For Money

4.0

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Who Is Coleman Airxcel Mach 8 Plus Best For?

This Coleman Airxcel Mach 8 Plus unit is tailor-made for owners of medium-sized but tall RVs who don’t want to add a lot of extra height to the vehicle.

Pros
  • Good cooling performance in up to medium-sized RVs
  • Very slim profile doesn’t add much height
  • The compressor itself has a relatively low noise level
  • Sturdy and well-built frame
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Vulnerable to vibration due to heavy weight

It can be challenging to find a good rooftop air conditioner for an RV with a high roof — adding extra height might prevent you from driving under bridges, for example.

Coleman Airxcel Mach 8 Plus is a low-profile RV AC that resolves your problem.

This is the slimmest RV AC unit on my list. It’s only roughly 8.5 inches tall, so you won’t have to worry about excess height.

Sure, the unit is at the same time longer than the others. But hey, Coleman had to fit the air conditioning components somewhere!

Those components do a good job, too. With a 13,500 BTU rating, the Mach 8 Plus is on the same line in terms of power as the Dometic Brisk II.

It generates a 300-cfm air flow, which isn’t as strong as the other Coleman or FreshJet 3, but it’s not even trying to be.

The Mach 8 Plus packs plenty of punch for medium-sized RVs, cooling the indoor air quickly and efficiently.

With the standard pre-attached bottom insulation gasket, installation is as straightforward as the other rooftop units.

The biggest issue is the weight, as this is the heaviest RV air conditioned I’ve reviewed here.

On the plus side, you won’t have to hit the gym after hauling this thing up to the roof.

The energy efficiency of the Mach 8 Plus is middle-of-the-road.

I measured a maximum power drain of 15 amps — not on the level of the Dometics, but it beats its Mach 15+ sibling and the RecPro.

The noise level of the compressor itself isn't that loud, but due to its weight, the Mach 8 Plus tends to rattle unless very tightly installed.

That also makes it vulnerable to component damage stemming from vibration.

You can reduce the risk of damage by installing additional vibration dampening between the roof and the unit. However, that adds a bit to its height.

That’s not a huge problem, though, since Mach 8 Plus is so slim. For medium-sized but tall RVs, it offers plenty of cooling without adding much height.

Feature

Details

BTUs

13,500

Noise Level

-

Dimensions (H x L x D)

-

Weight

90 lbs


RV Air Conditioners Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

BTUs

Weight

Price

Coleman 48204C866 Mach 15+ A/C Unit

Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866

5.0

15000

90 lbs

Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...

Zero Breeze Mark 2

4.8

2300

16.5 lbs

Pioneer® 9,000 BTU Under-Bench RV Heat Pump...

Pioneer 9,000 BTU

4.8

9000

61 lbs

Frigidaire FFRA051WAE Window-Mounted Room Air...

Frigidaire FFRA051WAE

4.7

5,000

35.3 lbs

Furrion 14.5 BTU Rooftop Air Conditioner -...

Furrion FACR14SA-PS

4.6

14,500

88.18 lbs

RecPro RV Air Conditioner 15K Non-Ducted |...

RecPro RP-AC3800

4.5

13,500

99 lbs

Dometic 9600028600 FreshJet 3 Series Standard...

Dometic

FreshJet 3

4.0

15,000

61 lbs

Dometic Brisk II | 13.5K BTU Air Conditioner...

Dometic Brisk II

4.3

13,500

72 lbs

Airxcel 08-0214 472038876 Mach 8 Plus 13.5...

Coleman Airxcel Mach 8 Plus

4.3

13,500

90 lbs


Considerations When Buying An Air Conditioner For Your RV

I won't sugarcoat it — RV air conditioners are generally expensive.

Because of the significant investment, you should choose your RV AC unit very carefully to ensure the air conditioner can keep your vehicle at a comfortable temperature.

I've broken down the most important considerations to remember to help you find the right RV air conditioner.

Match The Power To Your RV’s Size (BTU)

Pay attention to the BTU rating of each RC air conditioner and choose one that’s a close match to the size of your RV.

The cooling capacity of RV air conditioning units is measured in British thermal units (BTU).

The basic gist of this rating system is very simple — the higher the BTU rating, the larger the area in square feet the unit can cool.[1]

RVs typically range in size between 150-450 square feet, so a 15,000 BTU air conditioner capable of covering 750-800 square feet should have more than enough power for even the biggest recreational vehicles.

However, RVs are typically more poorly insulated than houses, so it's not a bad idea to have more power than necessary.

coleman rv air conditioner

Consider The Size And Weight

I recommend measuring your RV's available roof space and checking how much weight the roof can carry before purchasing an RV air conditioner.

Most RV air conditioners, especially rooftop units, tend to be big and heavy.

For example, the rooftop models on my list range from around 65 pounds to 90 pounds.

If you're unsure how much weight your RV roof can take, choose a lighter and more compact unit, like one of the Dometics.

Don’t Overload Your System - Keep An Eye On Amps

Double-check how many amps of power your chosen RV air conditioner draws at maximum to avoid tripping your RV’s electrical system.

Most RVs come with a 30-amp and 120-volt electrical system that can supply a maximum of 3,600 watts of power.

The system is generally further divided into 15-amp circuits to prevent overloading and potential electrical fires.[2]

If you plug an RV air conditioner drawing more than 15 amps into a 15A circuit, it will trip the circuit breaker.

To avoid constantly tripping electricals and potential hazards, choose a unit with a maximum power draw of 13 amps or less, if possible.

Save Money With Low Energy Consumption (EER)

I advise looking for RV air conditioners with an EER rating of 9 or above, or for units with the lowest possible wattage.

The energy efficiency of both regular and RV air conditioners can be described with the energy efficiency ratio (EER).

Put simply, the higher the EER score, the more energy-efficient the AC unit is.

Generally, any AC unit with an EER rating of 9 or higher is reasonably energy efficient and can save you money on electricity bills.

However, not all RV air conditioners, especially rooftop units, have a calculated EER score.

In these cases, check how many watts the unit needs to function and choose the lowest possible power consumption.

Spare Everyone’s Ears With A Low-Noise Unit (DB)

Look for RV air conditioners with noise levels below 55 dB to keep the unit from becoming distractingly loud.

Even the best RV air conditioners tend to be a bit noisy.

At 55 dB, your RV AC unit will make less noise than a regular conversation and will allow you to sleep in peace.[3]

Note that rooftop ACs make more noise outside than inside the RV.

Pay attention to the reported outside noise level as well to avoid annoying your camping neighbors.

Look For A Unit With Simple Installation

Try to find a unit with a pre-attached bottom insulation gasket and an included plenum, if possible.

RV air conditioners require a gasket that seals the roof opening and prevents cool and hot air leakage through the connecting surface.

Attaching the gaskets can be a bit of a pain, but all roof units on my list come with one pre-assembled.

It’s also a good idea to try to find a unit that comes with the inside ceiling plenum, like RecPro. That ensures your plenum will fit your RV air conditioner.

Set Your Budget In Advance

I recommend determining your budget before you start shopping so you can focus on units you can afford.

As I said, RV air conditioners can be expensive. For example, the units on my list range from around $170 to nearly $2,000.

Choosing how much you can afford to pay allows you to disregard RV AC units that are too expensive and find the one with the best features.

Note that most rooftop ACs don’t include the indoor ceiling assembly necessary to operate them.

Set aside an additional $100-$200 for the plenum when drafting your budget.

Other Considerations

In addition to those I’ve mentioned above, there are smaller but still important things to consider when choosing an RV air conditioner unit.

Here are some of the key factors:

  • Power Source:
    RV AC units often run on either a generator or shore power (electricity supplied by the campground). Make sure your unit is compatible with the available power supply.
  • Heating:
    You won’t need it during the summer heat, but if you do a lot of camping in the fall, having your RV AC work as a heater as well can help you stay warm.
  • Warranty:
    Air conditioners can break, especially when they’re as heavy as RV ones. A multi-year warranty can save you the cost of a new unit if something breaks with your RV air conditioner.
  • Remote:
    Top RV air conditioners and portable units often come with a remote. It’s a nice thing to have if you need to adjust the AC in the middle of the night.
  • Ducted or Ductless System:
    Ducted air conditioners distribute cold and warm air more efficiently, but not all units work with ducted ventilation systems. If you need a ducted AC, ensure your unit isn't ductless-only.

Different Types Of RV Cooling Units Explained

The best RV AC units typically fall into one of four categories — rooftop, under-bench, portable, and window.

Here’s my breakdown of the main differences between each type.

Rooftop

Rooftop air conditioners are what most people think of as RV air conditioners.

They mount to your RV’s roof and blow air inside through either ductless or ducted systems.

Rooftop ACs are generally the most powerful and readily available options. However, they are typically loud and can be very power-hungry.

Under-Bench

An under-bench unit is designed to be placed inside a hollow bench, a cabinet, or some other kind of enclosure.

They typically have a lower power consumption and noise level than rooftop ACs, but they’re also often less powerful and can be challenging to install.

Portable

Portable AC units come in many shapes and sizes, from compact spot ACs (like Zero Breeze Mark II) to bigger 15,000 BTU units.

They can be more affordable and convenient when you don’t need a permanent AC solution for your RV.

However, they are also less powerful and take up some valuable indoor space.

Window

Window ACs are primarily designed for houses, but some of them can also be mounted to RV windows.

Window units are often the cheapest option and can provide plenty of cooling for the price.

That said, some of them are challenging (or impossible) to attach to RVs, and you'll have to take them down before driving.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How Often Should I Maintain My RV Air Conditioner?

You should clean your RV AC and its air filters at least twice a year, preferably in spring and fall. To keep your AC in tip-top condition, a quarterly proper maintenance routine is recommended.

Can I Run My RV Air Conditioner on Battery Power?

Yes, you can run an RV air conditioner on a battery if you have the appropriate connectors and the battery supplies enough power. However, strong ACs can suck batteries dry very quickly.

How Many Batteries Do I Need to Run My RV AC?

You can run a smaller RV air conditioner with a single 12-volt battery. However, the number of batteries depends entirely on your AC’s power, the battery capacity, and the outdoor temperature.

Can I Heat My RV With The Air Conditioning Unit As Well?

Yes, you can heat an RV with an AC equipped with a heating unit. Some ACs feature a heat pump as a standard feature, while others can accommodate an after-market heating element.

Which RV AC Unit Should You Buy?

You now know all the basic information you need to make an educated RV air conditioner purchase.

Armed with my buyer’s guide, you’re ready to hit the shops and buy the best RV air conditioner for your needs.

If you’d still like a recommendation, though, my top pick for the best RV rooftop air conditioner is the Coleman Mach 15+.

It might be heavy, but it provides extreme cooling power for even the biggest RVs at a reasonable cost.

My #1 Recommendation
Coleman Mach 15+ 48204C866

  • Better cooling capacity than other units I reviewed
  • Easy to install with clear instructions
  • Quiet for its type and power
  • Good value for money
  • Two-piece shroud makes maintenance easier

References: 

  1. https://www.calculator.net/btu-calculator.html
  2. https://www.gorving.com/tips-inspiration/how-tos/rv-living-30-amps
  3. https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/decibel-levels
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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