Battery-Operated Air Conditioners for Camping: Stay Cool Anywhere

Battery Operated Air Conditioners for Camping

Sweltering heat can turn any camping adventure into a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now you can stay cool anywhere with the power of battery-operated air conditioners for camping.

These innovative devices pack the cooling relief you need in a self-powered package ready for adventure. Before you buy one of the best battery-powered AC units, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. There are some downsides and important things to know before using them.

After reading this, you’ll know all you need to know about the top options for battery air conditioners.

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Max Cooling
EcoFlow Wave 2 portable AC
EcoFlow Wave 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Impressive BTU rating
  • Reputable electronics company
  • Buy Now
    More Details
    Zero Breeze Mark 2 portable air conditioner
    Zero Breeze Mark 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Incredible cooling power
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Buy Now
    More Details

    The Quick Rundown: Battery-Powered AC

    The market for battery-operated air conditioners for camping is still in its infancy. There are two options that come from reputable brands, including the Zero Breeze Mark 2 and the EcoFlow Wave 2. Both units are portable air conditioners with batteries and are specifically designed for outdoor use.

    There are a few other camping air conditioners, such as the affordable BougeRV AC unit, but they don’t have batteries. You can read more about the full lineup of camping air conditioners here, and you can power portable air conditioners with other ways besides a battery (such as a power station).

    The EcoFlow Wave 2 comes from a brand leading the way in portable energy solutions and has a growing lineup of camping accessories. The EcoFlow Portable Air Conditioner provides 5,100 BTU cooling power and has a battery that can last up to 8 hours. At this time, it’s the most powerful battery-powered AC unit. It also includes the ability to be used as a heater. For many people, the EcoFlow Wave 2 is the best battery-operated camping air conditioner.

    On the other hand, the Zero Breeze Mark 2 comes from a company dedicated to camping air conditioners. This Zero Breeze Air Conditioner provides 2,300 BTU cooling power and a battery that can provide up to 6 hours of relief. It is a less powerful unit that is made to cool smaller spaces. The benefit of that is that it requires less energy to recharge the batteries, which can be important for solar charging or other off-grid needs.

    Both can be attractive battery-operated air conditioners for camping. Here’s a full specification comparison of these two AC units. Right after this table, we’ll dive into the details so you can see which is right for your needs.

    FeatureEcoFlow Wave 2Zero Breeze Mark 2
    Cooling Power5,100 BTU2,300 BTU
    Cooling AreaUp to 107 sq ft (10 m2)Up to 40 sq ft (3.7 m2)
    Battery Size1,159Wh 840Wh
    Max Battery RuntimeUp to 8 hoursUp to 6 hours
    Power Consumption550W AC / 495W DC240W
    Solar InputOnly charges batteryCan power AC unit
    Heating Power600W AC / 540W DCNone
    Waterproof IPX4IPX4
    Noise Level44-56dB52dB
    Weight49 lbs with battery, 32 lbs without (22.3, 14.5 kg)28.5 lbs with battery, 16.5 lbs without (13, 7.5 kg)
    Dimensions20.4 x 11.7 x 13.2 in (518 x 297 x 336 mm)20 x 10  x 11 in (508 x 254 x 279 mm)
    EcoFlow Wave 2 Battery Powered Air Conditioner

    EcoFlow Wave 2 Battery-Powered AC

    With the most cooling power, an impressive battery pack, and the ability to do double-duty as a heater in cold weather, the EcoFlow Wave 2 is hard to beat. When it comes to a portable air conditioner for camping, this little beast packs a powerful punch.

    Cooling Ability and Time

    5,100 BTUs can give you the relief needed for camping in comfort. Climb into your tent or small RV, crank this on, and you’ll be able to sleep without sweat. No more suffering all night long.

    The battery pack is an impressive 1,159Wh, using lithium ion (NMC) chemistry. If it was a 12V system, this would be about 96.6Ah. That’s a pretty serious battery. Some small campervans use that size battery to power their entire rig.

    This translates to a very long runtime for the EcoFlow Wave 2, up to 8 hours when used on a low setting. Can you imagine an entire night of comfortable rest while camping? 

    The Wave 2 portable air conditioner has a maximum energy use of 495W when on DC power, like its battery pack. On full blast in the warmest conditions, the battery might last less than 3 hours. Your environment and settings will determine how close to 8 hours of use you can get from one battery.

    Impressive Features

    Besides the powerful cooling from this battery AC unit, there’s a variety of other impressive features, such as:

    • Heating ability
    • App connectivity
    • Low noise level
    • Eco-conscious coolant

    To start with, the EcoFlow Wave 2 can flip the switch and use its compressor to add heat instead of remove it. So when the camping temperatures start to go the other direction, you can pull out the Wave 2 for camp heating too.

    The EcoFlow app connectivity is another nice touch. You can control and monitor the unit from the comfort of your bed, no getting up to hassle with the device. Change the temperature, fan settings, and check the battery level. The same app works with the EcoFlow power stations, so it’s a nice ecosystem if you have matching products.

    It also has a sophisticated sound-dampening system to make sure you can sleep like a baby. It runs at just 44dB in sleep mode, which is less than many refrigerators. Even at full blast, 56dB is not enough to disrupt a conversation.

    And the cooling liquid used is R290. This comes with no ozone emissions and lower global warming potential when compared to other options. It’s considered a more clean and green coolant.

    EcoFlow Excellence

    Not only is this particular product amazing, it comes from a company that is absolutely crushing portable power. 

    EcoFlow portable power stations have taken an industry-leading position, offering the best options with amazing capabilities, flawless manufacturing, superior customer service, and incredible warranty coverage.

    Now that it has started to venture into other camping accessories, you get to benefit from EcoFlow’s battery and portable power expertise. They’ve released this air conditioner, a portable fridge, and even a robotic mower. 

    Everything You Need

    The EcoFlow Wave 2 comes with all you need in one box. The main battery-powered AC unit, the battery itself, the charging cable, and all of the vent hoses you need. It also includes a window vent board so you can install the vent hoses easily.

    With just one click of a button, you can get your battery-operated air conditioner for camping and never look back. Forget avoiding heat waves. You’ll be able to explore when others are hiding at home.

    Max Cooling
    EcoFlow Wave 2 portable AC
    EcoFlow Wave 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Impressive BTU rating
  • Reputable electronics company
  • Buy Now
    The Zero Breeze Mark 2 Air Conditioner with battery pack

    Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery-Operated Air Conditioner

    Now let’s continue the in-depth review of battery-powered AC units with the underdog. The specs show that Zero Breeze provides 2,300 BTU of cooling power and up to 6 hours of battery runtime, both less than the EcoFlow Portable AC.

    But there are some major benefits to having these lower specifications.

    Benefits of Low-Powered Portable AC Unit

    BTU rating is directly related to energy consumption. Home air conditioners often have over 20,000 BTU ratings, some even close to 50,000. But you simply cannot power those on a battery that you’d want to bring camping. It’s just too much energy.

    The Zero Breeze AC may have less BTU than EcoFlow, but this means it also uses less energy. It only consumes 240W at maximum, less than half the energy use of EcoFlow.

    This means that if you are relying on an off-grid recharging source, like solar panels or a portable power station, the Zero Breeze battery will be easier to recharge. You only need about 300W of solar to run it continuously in peak sunlight. Or you can use 500W of solar panels to recharge the Mark 2’s battery in about 2 hours.

    Another major difference is that since Zero Breeze is lower-powered, you can run it directly with solar panels. The EcoFlow doesn’t allow that because it needs a more stable source.

    This low power draw is attractive, although it limits its cooling power.

    The Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Air Conditioner with an extra battery pack

    Cooling Space

    The downside is that 2,300 BTUs of cooling means that you’re limited to about 40 sq ft (3.7 m2) of maximum cooling space, which just isn’t a lot of room.

    It will still function in a larger space. But it may not change the entire room’s temperature to what you want. To get the most out of the Zero Breeze Air Conditioner, you can keep it nearby and use it at night. This same advice applies to the EcoFlow unit too, even though it is slightly more powerful.

    A great way to use this battery-operated air conditioner for camping is to put it outside of your tent or camping rig. Then funnel the cold air vent hose directly into your sleeping area. By blasting it directly at yourself and keeping the hot unit outside, you can feel the air conditioning while camping. We’ll review more about how to use battery-powered AC units further below.

    Zero Breeze Expertise

    Very few companies can manage high-quality expertise across many different product lines. Specialist companies, like Zero Breeze, funnel all of their efforts into a specific idea, using their passion to create industry-leading products and ideas.

    There’s no doubting Zero Breeze’s expertise in the portable air conditioning category. Started in 2016, it came onto the scene to specifically deal with the lack of options. And it’s successfully established itself as the leading brand.

    The battery-operated Zero Breeze Air Conditioner is the result of years of hard work and dedication. And in its wake, there are countless satisfied customers. It even has people geared up with excitement for its upcoming product launches. 

    Extreme Portability

    With an ultra-light package, the Zero Breeze is made for adventures. You don’t have to lug around a heavy device. Even with the battery attached, it weighs less than 30 pounds (13 kg) so you can grab it with one hand and go wherever you need the battery-powered air conditioner. It weighs 20 lbs (9 kg) less than the EcoFlow AC unit.

    And it’s well-sized for camping and RV travel, where space is at a premium. Measuring 20 x 10  x 11 in (508 x 254 x 279 mm), it’s smaller than most carry-on luggage bags. It’s not a struggle to find a little space to stuff this away in.

    Last, but certainly not least, the battery pack is the start of the portability show. With this battery-operated air conditioner for camping, you don’t have to sweat it out anymore. Get a good night of sleep, enjoy an evening without heat, or just blow ice-cold air on your body throughout the day. 

    Low Power
    Zero Breeze Mark 2 portable air conditioner
    Zero Breeze Mark 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Incredible cooling power
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Buy Now
    The ECOFLOW Wave 2 air conditioner for camping

    How to Use Battery AC Units

    Now that we’ve gone into the details for the best battery air conditioners for camping, let’s quickly review how to use these battery AC units.

    Setting It Up

    There are some crucial aspects to using any air conditioner, but you don’t have to think about them as much as you do with these portable ones. Air conditioning doesn’t just magically reduce air temperature. It actually moves the heat elsewhere.

    And that’s why every air conditioner must have proper ventilation. The heat it removes has to have somewhere to escape, outside the area you want to cool.

    All air conditioners also create moisture. Condensation is a natural part of the cooling process and needs to be handled.

    When you’re ready to use your battery-powered air conditioner, you have two options:

    1. Use the unit inside: If you place the actual AC unit inside the area you want to cool, you’ll need to use a ventilation hose to exhaust the hot air and to bring in fresh air. Two tubes will need to go out through your window.
    2. Place the unit outside: By placing the battery air conditioner outside of your tent or RV, you can simply route one hose – the cold air hose – from the unit into the area you want to cool. If possible, this is generally an easier way to go. And since both EcoFlow and Zero Breeze offer app connectivity, it’s pretty easy to do.

    Make sure to follow any other setup instructions your specific AC unit has.

    The Zero Breeze Mark 2 Portable Air Conditioner using the ElecHive power station as a battery

    More Time: Recharging the Battery

    If you want to extend the amount of time you can use the battery-powered unit for, you can get more batteries or figure out a way to recharge it.

    The easiest solution is to get an extra battery pack. That will immediately double your runtime. It’s also pretty expensive and doesn’t allow you to create more energy when you’re off-grid.

    For times when you need more power and you aren’t near an outlet, you can recharge your battery air conditioner while camping with:

    • Your vehicle’s 12V outlet
    • Up to 400W of solar panels
    • Any portable power station or solar generator

    Using your vehicle’s outlet can be great while you’re driving, but not a good solution when camped stationary. It’s using your vehicle’s engine as a massive generator, with very poor efficiency. It will take a very long time to charge.

    The better option is to get solar power of some sort.

    You can just get solar panels and use them to recharge the batteries directly since both the EcoFlow and Zero Breeze units offer direct DC input. The catch is twofold: (1) you must match the voltage requirements, which can be tough, and (2) you don’t have power if the sun isn’t shining.

    To eliminate those problems, use a portable power station with solar panels, which is also called a solar generator. There are many options to choose from, with EcoFlow offering some extremely attractive options. Zero Breeze also recently unveiled the ElecHive power station.

    These can use solar panels or other charging sources to bring more power anywhere. They have a built-in battery plus many outlets, including an AC inverter to provide a normal 110V/120V household outlet.

    When to Use It

    The sun’s warmth and the afternoon heat can be downright brutal. And while your 20,000 BTU home air conditioner might be able to take that on, any battery air conditioner will have a much more difficult time.

    Many people choose to make the most from battery AC units while camping during the night. Then you aren’t fighting an uphill battle quite so much. It cools down your small sleeping space without fighting sunlight.

    If you do want to use it during the day, use it in a well-insulated shaded area for the best results. If that’s not possible, sit as close to the air conditioner as you can. It will blow cold air over you and may help cool the general area a little.

    Zero Breeze Mark 2 Extra with two batteries and the hoses and cables included.

    Maintenance and Care

    The maintenance for these is pretty minimal. But there are a couple of concerns. First is the air filter. These move a lot of air and you want it to be able to move freely. If your AC unit has one, cleaning the air filter regularly is a great way to make sure this happens.

    If the filter gets clogged, it won’t be able to cool well. You’ll also likely get buildup in areas that aren’t so easy to clean.

    You also may need to check and drain a small internal water tank. The water drip line handles most of the condensation build-up, but EcoFlow has included an internal reservoir so that you don’t always have water dripping out. Make sure to drain that after each use. If you don’t, it could develop mold or mildew, spill into delicate electrical connections, and cause many problems.

    Check the user manual to make sure you follow all of the maintenance tips for your battery-powered air conditioner. Camping can put a lot of stress on these units with the dust, dirt, sand, and water that may be present.

    Troubleshooting and Support

    If you use them properly and keep them maintained, the best battery AC units should last many years. But sometimes problems come up.

    If that’s the case, make sure to check out the user manual to see if you can uncover the problem and find a solution. There are a variety of problem lights and signals that indicate specific problems, from low power to other more complicated issues.

    If you can’t figure it out, don’t hesitate to reach out to customer support. Both of these brands have exceptional reputations for this service and will help you out however they can. Since it can be hard to get service while camping, it’s a good idea to test your air conditioner before your adventure.

    Also, don’t forget to register your device to make sure you get the full warranty coverage.

    There’s nothing worse than having problems a few months into ownership, realizing you can’t find the receipt or proof of purchase, and being denied warranty coverage. Register it at purchase so you don’t have to prove those details later on.

    Max Cooling
    EcoFlow Wave 2 portable AC
    EcoFlow Wave 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Impressive BTU rating
  • Reputable electronics company
  • Buy Now
    Low Power
    Zero Breeze Mark 2 portable air conditioner
    Zero Breeze Mark 2
  • Integrated battery
  • Incredible cooling power
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Buy Now

    The Final Verdict

    This head-to-head competition is fierce. The bottom line is that the EcoFlow Portable Air Conditioner is more powerful, but the Zero Breeze Air Conditioner offers easier recharging and solar power use. Many people will prefer the superior cooling power of EcoFlow, but Zero Breeze comes out ahead for low-power needs.

    Ready to step up your camping food game? Check out the Best Camping Fridges to never worry about ice again.

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