As summer rolls around, the adventures heat up and so does the weather. Rather than sweat in insufferable conditions or avoid hot weather fun, you can get a portable air conditioner for camping in a tent, campervan, or RV.
Camping air conditioners have come a long way recently. The best ones provide many hours of cooling relief in a small, portable package so your summer fun doesn’t have to stop. Better yet, some portable ACs for camping use a battery pack that lets you break free from a corded power supply.
Finding the best camping tent air conditioners can be challenging. But you can sit back and relax because we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. After reading this, you’ll have the confidence to get the camping air conditioner that fits your needs.
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In this article, we’ll cover:
- The best camping tent air conditioners
- Alternative camping air conditioners and evaporative coolers
- Products you may want to avoid spending money on
- What you should look for in a portable air conditioner
The Best Camping Air Conditioners
Let’s kick things off with what we’re all here for: the best camping air conditioners for a tent, campervan, or RV. After this summary, keep reading to understand why these are our top choices, see what the other portable tent air conditioner options are, and what you should look for in your camping air conditioner.
You can also check out our post on the best camping tents with AC ports to dial up the comfort.
Here are the best portable air conditioners for camping:
|Category||Air Conditioner||Why We Like It||Price Level||Buy Now|
|Best Overall AC||Zero Breeze Mark 2||Incredible cooling power in a lightweight, compact device with available removable battery||$$$$||Check Price|
|Top Runner-Up AC||BougeRV Portable Air Conditioner||Great portable camping AC that comes from a brand with an extensive camping gear line||$$$$||Check Price|
|Up and Coming||EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable AC||Impressive BTU rating, second-generation design showing promise, from company with excellent power stations||$$$$||Check Price|
|Best Budget AC||BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner||Air conditioner that offers powerful cooling capability and has a somewhat portable design||$$||Check Price|
|Best Personal Cooler||Evapolar evaCHILL Portable Evaporative Conditioner||Affordable, compact evaporative cooler with minuscule power draw||$||Check Price|
|Best Large Cooler||BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler||Larger evap cooler that keeps cost low and power needs to a minimum||$$||Check Price|
|Best DC-Powered Large Cooler||IcyBreeze Air Cooler||12-volt ice-based cooler that pushes cold water across a built-in fan||$$$||Check Price|
|Best Rooftop AC||RecPro RV Air Conditioner||Extremely powerful rooftop unit for your RV, campervan, or overlanding rig||$$$$||Check Price|
Tent Air Conditioning: What To Expect
The best camping AC units are highly-specialized and ultra-compact products that didn’t exist before now. They’ve done an amazing job at squishing a lot of complicated gear into a tiny package, all while keeping power usage to a minimum. They are amazing feats of technology, but it comes at a price.
The truly portable camping air conditioner units are expensive.
For the models we recommend, including the Zero Breeze and BougeRV, the cost is worth it. They use as little power as possible and fit an incredible amount of technology into a tiny package. There’s no substitute for these two top models.
But we understand that spending this much money isn’t always necessary. And thankfully, there are more affordable options that can provide some tent camping temperature control. Just understand that you’re either going to have to go with:
- (a) a cheaper unit designed for household use that requires a significant electrical supply and is much larger, or
- (b) an evaporator cooler that uses little electricity but doesn’t provide as much cooling power.
For more information on how to use any portable air conditioner, check out our other post on how to power a portable air conditioner.
Now let’s dive into the details of the entire lineup of camping air conditioners and air coolers.
Best Overall AC: Zero Breeze Mark 2
The best camping tent air conditioner is the Zero Breeze Mark 2 portable air conditioner. It delivers a powerful, portable air conditioning unit in an extremely well-designed and versatile system. And best of all, it comes with a removable and rechargeable power source.
Why we love it
Ultimate Portability: Compact package with attached battery to take anywhere.
Cooling ability: 2,300 BTU cooling power rapidly lowers temperatures of small spaces in minutes.
Charging flexibility: If you need to recharge, you can use a 12V car outlet, 12V or 24V DC charger, 21V-27V solar panels, or 110V household outlet. You can also purchase additional battery packs for non-stop cooling.
Where it could improve
Ventilation required: All air conditioners need to ventilate the excess heat.
Price: Even if you buy the battery-free version, it’s likely to be one of the most expensive items in your camping gear because it’s an extremely innovative, miniaturized electronic device that didn’t exist before this company invented it.
Where to buy the Zero Breeze Mark 2
Best Alternative AC: BougeRV Portable Air Conditioner
Another excellent choice is the BougeRV Portable Air Conditioner. It also features a compact design that you can bring almost anywhere, plus the BougeRV AC unit has a slightly higher BTU rating. It’s downside is that it always requires an external power supply, but if you have a power station or RV electrical system, it could be a great choice.
Why we love it
Camping AC: Portable package with powerful cooling capabilities rated at 2,899 BTUs.
Solid Reputation: BougeRV produces many camping-focused electronics with great reviews.
Where it could improve
Power source: No available battery means you will always be tethered to another power source (DC or AC).
Price: As a highly-specialized miniature AC unit made for camping with limited power, it comes with a premium price tag.
Where to buy the BougeRV Air Conditioner
Up and Coming: EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable AC
As another extremely portable air conditioner, the ECOFLOW Wave 2 is an attractive way to cool down while away from power. Like the Zero Breeze, it has an available battery so you don’t have to worry about any other power supply. It’s also a stronger 5,100 BTU unit that provides more cooling power.
Why we love it
Powerful: Runs at ~500W to dish out a class-leading 5,100 BTU of cooling
Battery-powered: Has an available battery to make it a self-sufficient air conditioner
Reputable Company: ECOFLOW makes many portable power stations with extremely high customer satisfaction
Where it could improve
New model: This model is very new and doesn’t have a lot of feedback or real-world use quite yet
More power means more energy: 5,100 BTUs sounds awesome, but it requires about double the energy as the 250W Zero Breeze or BougeRV ACs
Where to buy the ECOFLOW Air Conditioner
Best Budget AC: BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner
If you have access to a 110V with unlimited supply, you can save money and get a more powerful air conditioner for camping by getting this portable AC unit. It’s rated at a massive 14,000 BTUs and can cool up to 700 sq ft. When you want a serious portable air conditioner for camping, this should be at the top of your list.
Why we love it
Serious cooling power: 14,000 BTUs can easily cool down a space up to 700 sq. ft.
Portable stand-up unit: Better than any window-mounted unit and slightly more portable for use around the campsite.
Available heat pump: You can also use this for those cool nights when you want to crank up the temperature without worrying about a fire.
Where it could improve
Power draw: Designed to use on a regular 110V outlet, not practical for off-grid purposes.
Bulky size: Going to take a little more space to pack your camping gear.
Where to buy the BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner
Best Personal Cooler: Evapolar evaCHILL Portable Evaporative Conditioner
The price of tent air conditioners might shock you, but the evaChill evaporative cooler is a more affordable product to provide an air-conditioned tent or RV. Although it doesn’t use a true AC compressor, it’s a well-designed cheap air cooler great for camping. And it’s easy to power this small device.
Why we love it
Affordable: Can’t beat the price point and value of the evaCHILL air cooler.
Compact unit: Designed to take and fit anywhere, with ease.
Low power draw: Use a battery bank, USB charger, or household outlet to power its minuscule 7.5W draw.
Where it could improve
Cooling power: As an evaporative cooler, its cooling power is limited.
Requires power source: With no internal battery, the evaCHILL must connect to a USB power source like a small battery bank.
Where to buy the Evapolar evaCHILL
Best Large Cooler: BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler
Another affordable solution is the BALKO Evaporative Cooler. It can work with water or the four included ice packs to get an extra cooling boost. You need an AC inverter or electric outlet around, but it only pulls 60W, making it an ideal compromise for those with some electrical power but no desire to spend the big bucks of the premium camping air conditioners.
Why we love it
Affordable: Much cheaper than the compressor-based air conditioners for camping.
Ice-pack cooling boost: If you can manage to keep them cold, you can get an extra boost of cooling power.
Low power draw: A portable power station or off-grid electrical system can easily handle the 110V 60W draw (~0.5A)
Where it could improve
Cooling power: Like the evaCHILL, this device is not a true air conditioner and only provides limited cooling power.
Requires AC power source: You’ll need a 110V outlet around to power the BALKO air cooler, such as an AC inverter or portable power station.
Where to buy the BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler
Best DC-Power Large Cooler: IcyBreeze Air Cooler
This camping air cooler is different than most. It relies on you packing the cooler full of ice, then it pushes that melted ice water across a fan and duct system. The IcyBreeze Air Cooler provides hours of moderate cooling power with a very little power draw on 12-volt DC or 110-volt AC. It’s similar to an evaporative cooler (swap cooler) but it doesn’t use evaporation. It just uses the cold ice water as the cooling mechanism.
Why we love it
DC power: Unlike our other large air cooler, this one can use 12-volt power or an integrated battery.
Ice-based system: Keeps power needs low and can provide hours of cooling.
Works in high humidity: Evaporative coolers don’t work well in humid environments, this one does.
Where it could improve
Not the most powerful: Since this doesn’t use compressors or evaporation, it’s not the most powerful cooler.
Requires constant ice supply: If the water inside the cooler isn’t cold, this won’t help at all.
Where to buy the IcyBreeze Air Cooler
Check the price of the IcyBreeze Air Cooler on the manufacturer’s website. Or click here to read all the fine details.
Best Rooftop AC: RecPro RV Air Conditioner
If you want to install a powerful rooftop air conditioner on your RV or camper, the RecPro RV Air Conditioner is our favorite choice. Although it can’t be used in a tent and isn’t as portable, it can bring a high level of comfort to many portable camping vehicles, campervans, and RVs. This version with a heat pump functions as an air conditioner and heater for year-round comfort.
Why we love it
Powerful cooling: Rated at 15,000 BTUs to cool up to 835 sq. ft. in your campervan or RV.
Features: Remote operated with many different modes, including added heat pump.
Design: Durable construction with excellent features including a remote, available in black and white.
Where it could improve
Portability: The unit must be rooftop mounted and cannot be moved around.
Power source: Requires 110V power at 1,500W, great for those using shore power but challenging for off-grid applications.
Where to buy RecPro RV Air Conditioner
Zero Breeze Mark 2: Best Overall Camping Tent Air Conditioner
The best air conditioner for camping is the Zero Breeze Mark 2. We recommend this unit without reservation. It is an excellent solution for the vast majority of campers looking for an incredible portable solution to air conditioning.
The overall design of the Mark 2 surpasses all other camping AC solutions by combining a powerful, removable battery with an advanced compressor on a lightweight, portable platform. It is a revolutionary device that is paving the path forward for the camping air conditioner industry.
Zero Breeze first came on the market in 2016, designed by a camping enthusiast who saw a need with no solution. Since then, the company has listened to customers, enhanced the design, and released the Zero Breeze Mark 2 (second generation improved design) as the ultimate portable air conditioner.
This device comes from a reputable company that is focused on delivering the best tent camping air conditioners. They offer a wide array of adapters and add-ons that work flawlessly with the Mark 2 in almost any camping situation.
The Mark 2 is easy to use and most people can get their unit running without a problem. But if anything comes up, a dedicated team of customer support experts is available to help you out.
I’m not going to lie to you, this little device probably costs more than you think. But it’s legitimately worth every penny. There is no other camping air conditioning solution that has the power, capability, portability, and reputation of the Zero Breeze Mark 2.
And it’s built to last. You’re not buying something you have to keep dumping money into. Pay for it once, charge it before you go, and you’re set for a long time. Zero Breeze warranty is there to provide additional confidence.
This is a revolution in camping. And it’s up to you to join the new game and be able to camp in cool comfort instead of avoiding the heat. Imagine sitting on a deserted beach camping in Baja California Mexico after everyone else turned north because the weather got too hot.
If you want to save money and have an external power supply already, the Zero Breeze Basic without a battery is a great choice.
The Mark 2 air conditioner is rated at 2,300 BTUs, which can provide up to 30 degrees of cooling in 10 minutes. It has four different modes to find the right balance between cooling power and energy consumption, and it’s packed with additional features, such as:
- IPX4 waterproof rating protects it from accidental splashes and spills
- Intuitive display and controls with available remote
- Can pair with a variety of Zero Breeze products to fit your needs
Buy the Zero Breeze Mark 2 air conditioner for camping.
The Mark 2 Difference
There are many great things about the Zero Breeze Mark 2 that make it the best camping air conditioner. But above everything else, what sets it apart from the crowd is the battery-powered design, perfect for tents, campervans, portable gazebos, and anything away from it all. It is a true off-grid air conditioner.
Each battery provides up to six hours of cooling. You can make it last longer by turning the unit off when your space is at a comfortable temperature. If you want more cooling time, you can buy additional batteries or connect the camping air conditioner to a power bank or outlet.
The batteries, like most camping electronics, aren’t cheap. If you have an existing power supply, you can purchase the Zero Breeze Basic without a battery.
With the Zero Breeze air conditioner for camping, you can use it wherever you want, then let it charge by the outlet when not in use. Or if you purchase an extra battery, you can keep a battery charging by the outlet while you use the AC unit elsewhere.
The Mark 2 is also different from many portable air conditioners because it can run or charge on nearly any power source with an adapter produced by Zero Breeze. Most other air conditioners provide very little flexibility, often requiring either a 110V or 24V power source.
Once you get your air conditioner, don’t forget to grab one of the best 12-volt camping fridges to ditch the cooler.
But Zero Breeze understands that campers have all sorts of different power supplies. You can run or charge your Mark 2 air conditioner off of:
- Power station: Use nearly any portable power station through a variety of DC or AC solutions.
- 12V or 24V electrical system: You can connect the Mark 2 directly to 12V and 24V off-grid systems with Zero Breeze adapters.
- Solar panels: Connect directly to any solar panel array running at 21V to 27V since the Mark 2 battery incorporates an MPPT solar charger!
- 110V or 220V outlet: If you are near a common household outlet, either off-grid or on shore power, you can use it.
Where others limit you to a specific power source or force you to build a DIY solution, Zero Breeze understands that campers have all sorts of power supplies and meet everyone’s needs with a well-designed and affordable adapter.
Zero Breeze offers customized solutions for other portable power stations from popular brands like Goal Zero, Ecoflow, and Bluetti.
To get everything you need to know about the electrical needs of the Zero Breeze Mark 2, you can check out the post on how to power a portable air conditioner. It goes over our recommendations for how many Zero Breeze batteries to get (just one!) and how to extend the use time while saving money.
Getting the Most from a Mark 2 Camping AC Unit
The Mark 2 is easy to use. Simply charge the battery, connect the hoses, and you’re ready to dish out crisp, cool air no matter where you are.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this is a nearly shoebox-sized air conditioner that’s running off a battery. If you expect it to perform like a giant window unit, you’re going to be disappointed.
We recommend using it in a small, shaded environment to get the most out of it. Clam Shell portable gazebos for camping are a great solution, but nearly any covered tent system will work. Check out out post covering 39 of the best camp canopy options.
And whenever you use it in an enclosed space, take advantage of the included ventilation hoses.
The most critical one is the exhaust vent, which pushes the hot air outside and is essential to air conditioning of any type. Using the fresh air intake will also help the portable AC unit run most effectively.
Zero Breeze Mark 2 Technical Details
|Voltage:||24V or 12V/110V with adapter|
|Battery:||840Wh (Up to 6 hours)|
|Weight:||16.5 lbs with battery, 12 lbs without|
|Warranty:||30-day money-back guarantee and 1-year warranty|
|Features:||Four cooling modes, IPX4 waterproof rated, 24V micro compressor, window slider; available adapters, remote control, and extra batteries|
|Runs off:||Included (optional) battery or any 12V/24V/110V system|
Buy Zero Breeze Mark 2
Click here to buy the Zero Breeze Mark 2 directly from the manufacturer. You can split the cost into interest-free payments to make it easy to get the Mark 2 before your next camping adventure.
BougeRV Tent Air Conditioner: Runner Up
Another excellent choice is the BougeRV tent air conditioner. It is a powerful and portable air conditioner that can cool down tents, small RVs, and campervans. We love its overall design that can easily be part of your camping gear and provide many hours of refreshing air.
The BougeRV AC unit beats the Zero Breeze Mark 2 in total cooling capacity. It is rated at 2,899 BTUs, about 600 BTUs more than the Zero Breeze AC, giving it the ability to cool a space up to 54 sq. ft.
Despite this slightly more powerful compressor, we rank the BougeRV AC lower due to its power supply limitations. It does not have a built-in or attached battery.
For those who only want to use their camping air conditioner close to another power source, such as a portable power station or campground outlet, the BougeRV air conditioner is still an excellent option.
Did you know that you can find electrical outlets at most campgrounds? While we typically prefer dispersed camping (aka wild camping or boondocking), we chose to stay at an established campground when visiting the awe-inspiring Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
How To Power the BougeRV AC Unit
There are two options you can use to power the BougeRV portable AC unit: a 110V household outlet or a 24V DC system.
For those camping close to a 110V outlet, just plug in one end of the included BougeRV 110V adapter to the air conditioner and the other end into the outlet. You can also use the 110V AC outlet on any portable power station, like this amazing EF ECOFLOW River that’s quickly taking over the camping world.
But for off-grid solutions, the 24V DC power is the more efficient choice to avoid AC conversion energy loss. If you have a campervan electronic system or other off-grid solution, the 24V DC is what you should go for and BougeRV includes a 24V adapter.
If your portable power station or off-grid electrical system is 12V, you will need to purchase a 12V to 24V adapter, which BougeRV does not offer, unlike Zero Breeze.
BougeRV Portability and Features
The BougeRV is another highly-portable design made with a carrying handle and only weighs 23.2 lbs. Nearly anyone can easily carry around this portable air conditioner.
To install the ventilation hoses, purchase the BougeRV EVA Foam Board.
BougeRV offers a wide selection of camping equipment, including portable power stations, solar panels, and camping refrigerators. Their products have high ratings, including customer service satisfaction.
At the end of the day, both the BougeRV camping air conditioner is an incredible products. While Zero Breeze does come out ahead when put in direct comparison as it is lighter, includes the window vent, is waterproof rated, and focuses almost entirely on AC units, you really can’t go wrong with either choice.
BougeRV Air Conditioner Technical Details
|Voltage:||24V or 110V-220V with included adapter|
|Features:||Four modes (Strong, Regular, Sleep, Fan), Panasonic compressor, low-amp draw, <50 dB|
|Runs off:||Any 110V-220V outlet or 24V DC system|
Buy BougeRV Air Conditioner
To add a rush of cold air to your next camping trip, buy the Bouge RV Portable Air Conditioner.
EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner
When an industry starts to grow, great things can happen. And our hopes are set pretty high with the EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner. Coming from a company with a reputable lineup of portable power stations and solar-charged backup solutions, it seems like ECOFLOW should be able to hit the power-hungry portable air conditioner product right on the money.
And in many ways, it has.
With a very impressive 5,100 BTU rating, an available battery pack with an estimated runtime of up to 8 hours, and an included heat pump for two-way temperature control, the EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable AC seems to be one of the best camping air conditioners on the market.
Let’s take a close look at ECOFLOW’s newly-updated portable AC unit.
Second-Generation Model: Taking Steps in the Right Direction
Like the Zero Breeze Mark 2, the ECOFLOW Wave 2 is a second-generation update removing shortfalls in the original design. We understand that creating an innovative electrical device is challenging and like to see the ECOFLOW went back to the drawing board.
The product has been heavily reshaped and updated its available power sources for more solar-friendly use, especially at a higher voltage. The ECOFLOW Wave 2 can charge its battery with DC power ranging anywhere from 11V to 60V. That’s amazing.
It’s also stepped up the battery capacity and the estimate running time. With the available eco mode, the Wave 2 is now estimated to run for up to 8 hours. That’s seriously impressive since it has a ~500W draw with 5,100 BTUs.
ECOFLOW Wave 2 Concerns: DC Power & Charging Limitations
With a more powerful compressor, it makes sense that the Wave 2 is larger than the other portable AC units. This is still designed for truly portable off-grid camping use, but if space is really tight, it might pose a bit more of a challenge compared to the Zero Breeze of BougeRV solutions.
But our most serious concern is about a specific power limitation. To use DC power, such as solar panels, you MUST get the version with the battery and the battery must be connected to the Wave 2 AC unit to charge.
That might not be a big issue for many people, but Zero Breeze offers a lot more flexibility since every battery has an MPPT charger built-in. You can charge it anywhere without the AC unit itself. And both the Zero Breeze and BougeRV units can use DC input directly to actually power the compressor.
ECOFLOW Coming Out Hot This Year
Despite some of the limitations, the ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner shows promise. It’s a more powerful AC unit with a robust battery pack and comes from a company with serious off-grid power knowledge.
ECOFLOW is releasing three very innovative products this year that step away from the core power station line. The Wave 2 AC, the ECOFLOW Blade robotic lawnmower, and the ECOFLOW Glacier battery-powered fridge/freezer/ice-maker.
That’s a lot to handle. For devices demanding such a high price tag, we hope ECOFLOW products can live up to the hype and level that other products deliver.
Since they’re all so new, it might be wise to wait for the ECOFLOW Wave 2 AC Unit to gain a wider reputation before dropping your cash on it.
ECOFLOW Wave 2 Air Conditioner Technical Details
|Power:||550W AC / 495W DC|
|Voltage:||11V-60V DC or 110V-240V AC|
|Battery:||1159Wh (Up to 8 hours)|
|Weight:||49.2 lbs with battery, 32.0 lbs without|
|Warranty:||30-day money-back guarantee and 1-year warranty|
|Features:||Heating and cooling capabilities, wide DC input voltage, more powerful BTU rating|
|Runs off:||Included (optional) battery or any 100V-240V system (battery charges off 11V-60V DC power)|
Where to Buy the ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable AC
BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner: Best Budget Air Conditioner
If you want a powerful air conditioner that is a bit more friendly on your wallet, this can be a perfect air conditioner for camping.
Coming from BLACK+DECKER, this is one of the highest-rated products we have ever seen. It’s also very well priced and offers an extremely powerful 14,000 BTUs worth of cooling capability.
Want to see for yourself? Check out the BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner Amazon listing.
Full-Featured Air Conditioning Unit
Many of us are used to the amazing simplicity of our household air conditioners controlled with an automatic thermostat. And this BLACK+DECKER AC is just about as close as it gets to replicating that.
It has a remote that keeps everything at your fingertips as you relax at your campsite. You can easily adjust the temperature setting and it will automatically take over.
You can hit the timer button to make sure you don’t burn through too much power, or use the sleep setting to doze off with confidence.
And if you want the best of both worlds, you can also pay just a little bit more to get the same BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner with a Heat Pump built in. It brings a bit of warmth to the table on those chilly evenings and nights.
When it comes to features, this air conditioner will make camping a much more comfortable experience.
Why Isn’t This Our Top Option for Camping AC?
For many campers, electrical energy is in short supply. And that’s where the BLACK+DECKER AC unit falls short. For other campers with limited electricity, this won’t cut it.
This air conditioner uses 115V outlets and reportedly runs at around 1,365W, putting it just under 12 amps draw. That can eat through an off-grid battery backup pretty quickly. It’s about equal to 120 amps on a 12V DC system.
To read more details on how to power this portable air conditioner, read this post. It has more thorough calculations and all sorts of off-grid solutions that can help, even when an outlet isn’t nearby.
This unit is more compact than most household options and much better designed for campground use than a window unit, but it still measures 17.1 x 28.1 x 13.8 inches. Make sure to make some extra room in your camping rig.
If you have the energy supply and space, this BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner is a great camping solution. Just don’t be surprised if your neighbors never want to leave.
BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner Technical Specifications
|Warranty:||1-year parts/labor, 5-year compressor|
|Features:||Timer, sleep mode, R32 refrigerant, three fan levels, remote, included window kit|
|Runs off:||A 115V outlet with a lot of power supply|
Where To Buy the BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner
Head over to the BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner Amazon listing to get the best price and fast shipping.
Evapolar evaCHILL Portable Air Cooler: Best Personal Cooler
In case you haven’t noticed, portable air conditioners are not cheap. And while we can’t recommend many of the cheaper portable air conditioners (listed below), the evaCHILL is an awesome solution that barely dents your wallet.
It is an extremely small and lightweight device that can be powered by a small USB power bank, such as this Anker Portable Charger.
It’s essentially the size of a volleyball and uses no more power than a small fan. And best of all, the evaCHILL is a fraction of the price of the other portable air conditioners.
To see exact tips on how to power the evaCHILL, head over to this post. We include our top recommendations for portable chargers along with estimates for how long they’ll keep the evaCHILL running.
Another great thing is that you can bring the Evapolar device in your luggage a lot easier. It might be a great thing to have if you visit the stunning Bacalar Lagoon in southern Mexico during the summer.
See the current low price of the evaCHILL portable air cooler.
Why Is the evaCHILL So Cheap?
Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it is. The main difference, and the reason why the evaCHILL is so affordable, is because it is NOT a true air conditioner that uses a compressor.
Instead, the evaCHILL is an evaporative cooler. You might know this technology by the household name, swamp cooler. These devices force air over a water-soaked element. As the water evaporates, it cools the air and sends it out.
This cooling solution is not as powerful as true air conditioners, but it can lower the air temperature significantly without needing a major power supply. In general, it’s a great way to bring along extra cooling power on your next tent camping trip.
Since it relies on evaporation, the the evaCHILL isn’t as effective in high humidity areas, but it can still help out.
evaCHILL Compared to Other Evap Coolers
We like the evaCHILL more than the alternatives because of its extremely compact size and it comes from Evapolar, a brand that is dedicated to this device and similar units. Plus, it comes with a 14-day no-hassle return and a full 1-year warranty.
The evaCHILL has many satisfied customers that are impressed with its cooling ability. Some of the negative feedback focuses on its limited cooling ability. But if you understand it’s not an air conditioner, we think it’s worth it.
evaCHILL Air Cooler Technical Specifications
|Features:||Four fan levels, one-touch control, runs at 25 dB|
|Runs off:||Any USB outlet|
Where To Buy the Evapolar evaCHILL Air Cooler
Head over to the evaCHILL Amazon listing to get the best price.
BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler: Best Large Cooler
If you want to stick to a tight budget but need a larger device, this BALKO Evaporative Cooler is worth checking out. It does require a 110V outlet, but since it only draws 60W, you can use almost any AC inverter or portable power station to power it.
For many campers with limited electrical power, this evap air cooler is a great choice. Combine it with the incredibly popular and affordable Jackery Power Station, and you have constant cool air coming your way. It’s the perfect excuse to pull the trigger on that power station purchase you’ve been considering.
How Does It Work?
The BALKO air cooler uses a 0.8-gallon (3-liter) water tank and a powerful three-speed fan to help cool you down. When you crank on the fan, it forces air over a water-soaked membrane, evaporating into the air and cooling it.
BALKO Standing Out From the Crowd
There’s no shortage of evaporative coolers on the market. But we’ve scoured the reviews and taken a good look at the many top competitors. While it can be difficult to find the gems, we are confident in this BALKO unit.
This unique device features a double-tank design to ensure the membrane stays fully soaked. Other units stop working once the edge dries up, while this one will keep you nice and cool.
It also has a relatively compact design, measuring 12 x 10 x 23 inches, making it pretty easy to add to your camping trip. And it comes with a remote that works from up to 20 ft away.
By adding to this your gear, you’ll have a great camping air cooler to use at your convenience with little concern for power. You also get to keep cash in your pocket to use for your adventures when compared to the other portable air conditioners for camping.
BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler Technical Specifications
|Cooling:||BTU not specified, cools up to 250 sq ft|
|Features:||Three fan levels, remote, 70-degree oscillation, timer, smart energy use|
|Runs off:||110V outlet|
Where To Buy the BALKO Evaporative Air Cooler
Buy the BALKO Evaporative Cooler on Amazon and get it in your hands before your next camping trip.
IcyBreeze Air Cooler: Best DC-Powered Large Cooler
If you have seen some of the DIY air cooler options, then you’re likely familiar with this type of air cooler. If not, how it works is that it uses a cooler full of ice and a fan to blow ice-chilled air out. It’s not the most advanced system, but this one is as fancy as you get for the technology.
The best part of the IcyBreeze Air Cooler is that it can use 12-volt DC or 11-volt AC power, plus the brand offers integrated batteries so you can use it anywhere you want. Simply attached the battery of nearly any power source, throw in a bag of ice, and you’ll get some cool air going.
If you can get your hands on a constant supply of ice and want a very low-powered solution, this is a good bet. It also outperforms any evaporative coolers (aka swamp coolers) in humid environments because this just uses the melted ice water – not a filter that evaporates water near a fan. It’s an entirely different way to cool the air.
The IcyBreeze Air Conditioner comes with a 12-volt power cord as the default energy source for the system. It is connected to a cigarette outlet connector, but if you have a different 12-volt system (like a camper 12-volt), then you can simply snip off the cigarette outlet and use whatever connector is right for you.
Another excellent way to power this is by purchasing the 10 aH or 6 aH battery available directly from IcyBreeze. The large 10 aH battery can last up to 6.5 hours on low fan setting, and the 6 aH one can go for about 4 hours. This integrated system is nice and makes things very easy. It might be worth looking at other power stations or even a portable battery bank with a similar capacity to save some money though.
You can also purchase an AC adapter if you have a standard 110-volt to 220-volt outlet you want to use. This is better for those who are camping at a campground with an outlet, using a generator, or don’t mind having their AC inverter on. However, if you have a lot of electrical power, I recommend considering other options. The best thing about this is that it uses a little power. It’s not the most powerful cooler on the market, by far.
Who IcyBreeze Is Best For
This one isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have a constant supply of ice and have a lot of electricity available, you can find better options without spending too much more money.
But if you only want a little cooler air when you have ice around and like the idea of using the battery packs or the 12-volt DC power, then this could be right for you.
Keep your expectations reasonable though. This is NOT an air conditioner. It is a very basic system that forces chilled water across the front of a fan. Yes, it will provide cooler air if there is nicely chilled water inside. But as soon as that water warms up, so will any air flowing out of it.
The IcyBreeze Air Cooler is best for those who are considering a swap cooler, but are either in a very humid place (making swap coolers useless) or need a DC-powered solution. If you fall into that category and have ice available, this could do the trick.
IcyBreeze Air Cooler Technical Specifications
|Cooling:||BTU not specified, can blow air at 35 F less than air temps|
|Voltage:||12V or 110/220V|
|Battery:||10 aH or 6 aH available|
|Weight:||16 lbs (without ice)|
|Features:||Three fan levels, abundant power options, unique ice-based air cooler|
|Runs off:||12V or 110/220V supply, available battery packs|
Where To Buy the IcyBreeze Air Cooler
Buy the IcyBreeze Air Cooler directly from the manufacturer to get the lifetime warranty and best price.
EnjoyCool Portable Air Conditioner Review
We work hard to provide you with high-quality recommendations. In this case, we found quite a few contenders that simply don’t stack up to our standards.
Founded in 2021, the EnjoyCool brand is taking on Zero Breeze with an incredibly similar product. We love that it has an equally portable design, including an attached battery, and seems to be an excellent solution for a portable tent camping air conditioner.
But the information about the product and company is extremely limited, with almost no reviews on the product. Plus, we found about twenty different listings for this exact product all over Amazon, many with wildly different prices, reviews, and information.
For these reasons, we can’t recommend buying the EnjoyCool Portable Air Conditioner at this time. Perhaps in the future, the brand will provide more detailed information, showcase an ability to stand behind what it sells, and establish a better reputation.
EENOUR QN750 Portable Air Conditioner Review
With a 2,900 BTU rating, 24V or 110V power input, and 22 lbs. weight, the EENOUR portable air conditioner is strikingly similar to the BougeRV camping air conditioner. And just like the BougeRV, the EENOUR falls short by not offering a battery pack.
But the customer reviews for the EENOUR QN750 are far from ideal. Many were unable to get the device to function properly, with limited cool air coming out and the device generating far too much heat.
Camping air conditioners are expensive. They should work flawlessly right out of the box and for many months or years after. We see these reviews are seriously problematic.
Additionally, it is difficult to find any company information for EENOUR away from Amazon, which seems to be their exclusive distributor. EENOUR has a wide range of metal detectors and heat presses with many high reviews, but the air conditioner does not have the same reputation.
For these reasons, we can’t recommend the EENOUR QN750 Portable Air Conditioner at this time.
Emerson Quiet Kool EAP02 Camping Portable Air Conditioner Review
What we like about this unit is that Emerson Quiet Kool is an established air conditioning brand. The company has many household air conditioner units for sale at major retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowes.
But don’t be too fooled by the name. It is not the same as Emerson Electric Co., which filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Emerson Quiet Kool in relation to space heaters.
Nonetheless, the Emerson Quiet Kool EAP02 Camping Portable Air Conditioner seems to be an attractive tent air conditioner, similar to the BougeRV unit. It has a compact design meant to be powered by an external power source.
Yet like some of the others we looked into, there are few available details for the Emerson Quiet Kool AC for camping, with almost no information about available accessories or support. It seems to be exclusively sold online and has subpar reviews.
Although the price tag is appealing and we’d like to provide another option, we can’t recommend the Emerson Quiet Kool Portable Air Conditioner at this time. It simply doesn’t have the reputation to support spending hundreds of dollars on it.
Best Rooftop Air Conditioner: RecPro RV Air Conditioner
This post focuses on portable air conditioners that work in tents, campervans, and RVs. But if you have a campervan, RV, or overlanding rig, and your goal is to only provide air conditioning inside that space, then this rooftop option is worth knowing about.
After reviewing many rooftop air conditioning units for campervans and RVs, our top choice is the RecPro RV Air Conditioner with Heat Pump. It provides incredible 15,000 BTU cooling power, has a well-constructed design, and hits an excellent price point. Plus, it can keep you warm on cool nights as well, although it has limited function in freezing temperatures.
We also like that RecPro is a trusted brand in the RV market, with an extensive selection of RV-focused electronics, appliances, and components. While they aren’t solely dedicated to air conditioners, they seem to understand what RVers need and deliver high-quality products.
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RecPro offers other air conditioning models that we have no problem recommending. You can save some money by getting a unit without the heat pump, or you can spend a little more for a low-profile unit if you find it necessary.
Powering the RecPro RV Air Conditioner
To dish out 15,000 BTUs of cooling capability, the RecPro and other similar rooftop RV AC models consume quite a bit of energy. For the most part, they are exclusively designed to use 110V-120V AC power. The RecPro specifications say 115V.
If you plan on staying near shore power or any type of AC outlet, then this isn’t a concern and the rooftop unit could be an ideal solution. It’ll keep you comfortable inside your RV, as long as you’re hooked up to that glorious grid.
But if you are going off-grid, think twice before getting a rooftop unit instead of the smaller portable air conditioners.
The RecPro specifications say it runs at 1,500W with a maximum current of 15.5A. At 10 hours of full-power usage, it will burn through 15kWh of energy. Even if you could achieve the impossible 100% efficiency, this is equal to 1,250Ah at 12V, or 625Ah at 24V!
Unless you have at least 500Ah and are running at 24V, we recommend going with a smaller, portable AC instead of any rooftop unit.
RecPro also offers a 12V system, but it has limited availability and reviews, so we don’t recommend it at this time. Nomadic Cooling makes high-quality DC air conditioners, but the extreme price is hard to justify over most 110V units.
RecPro RV Air Conditioner Features
The RecPro RV AC is a stand-out in the market with many incredible features that make it easy to use, including temperature setting. It also comes with a remote control to select from the many different functions: cooling, dehumidifying, sleep, timer, and more.
On its highest fan speed, the unit is still quieter than many others, measured at 59.1 dB. The exterior noise is a little louder at 72 dB.
It is a direct replacement for 14″x14″ fans, so you might not even have to cut any of your roof out. The minimum roof thickness is 1″ and the standard package can accommodate a roof up to 3 3/8″ thick. RecPro offers a thick roof kit if needed.
When it comes down to it, the RecPro RV Air Conditioner has everything you need.
RecPro RV Air Conditioner Technical Specifications
|Features:||Incredible selection of features and capabilities with remote control|
|Runs off:||AC outlet only|
Where To Buy the RecPro RV Air Conditioner
Things to Look For in a Portable Air Conditioner for Camping
Buying an air conditioner unit is no small investment, but it can be worth every penny, as long as you get the right one. By knowing what to look for, you can separate high-quality camping air conditioners from the ones that are not worth the money.
The main features you should consider when evaluating portable air conditioners are:
- Cooling ability
- Power needs
- Company Reputation
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Air conditioners need to tackle their main task without fail. This is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs, the same rating used for grills and stoves. For air conditioners, it shows how much heat they can remove.
Home-based air conditioner units can have 10,000 BTUs or more, but those require too much energy for most camping purposes. If you do have unlimited electricity, go with the portable BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner for camping. It provides a whopping 14,000 BTUs.
To keep power needs down, most camping air conditioners have between 2,500 to 3,000 BTUs. This provides enough power to cool an area that’s approximately 50 sq. ft., ideal for a midsize tent or Clam shell portable gazebo for camping.
One crucial thing to understand about any air conditioner is that they work by removing heat from the air, which means by design, they need somewhere to put this excess heat. This is a major reason why household air conditioning units are placed outside.
When it comes to tent air conditioners for camping, they use a ventilation hose for this purpose. To allow the AC to function, you must use this ventilation hose so it can push the heat outside.
Solar power, portable power stations, and off-grid electrical systems have come a long way in the last decade or two. They’re now an excellent way to keep cameras, lights, and other essentials charged up.
But unless you’re staying at campgrounds, power is still in short supply. The best camping air conditioners understand this limitation.
Battery-powered units are ideal since they let you charge up at home and use the device worry-free while camping. But having the ability to charge from car outlets, portable power stations, or 12V/24V systems can also be extremely useful.
You can also read our complete guide to powering portable AC units for more details.
On the other hand, you can find “top 10” lists of so-called camping air conditioners that rely on 110V or even 220V household outlets. Some even put window AC units in their lists. Even if you have these outlets in a camping rig, they are inefficient compared to 12V/24V systems because of the loss from converting to AC power.
It’s worth avoiding 110V or 220V systems for camping air conditioners, unless you only want to use it while connected to shore power at a campground. If that’s the case, we recommend the BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner.
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Gathering, transporting, and dealing with camping gear can be one of the most difficult, but rewarding parts of camping. Some people choose to go with the bare minimum, while others like to bring everything to ensure comfort.
Finding the right balance for your needs is part of camping. But for those who want a portable air conditioner to use while camping in tents, RVs, and vans, portability is always a top concern.
Some air conditioners take this into account and provide a compact, lightweight package that anyone can get from the garage to the campsite. These are the ones this list focuses on.
It’s also a major reason these are so expensive. They’ve transformed bulky devices into something nearly the size of a shoebox. It is an incredible feat, but it comes with the price tag that is common among miniature electronics, especially ones so innovative.
Whenever you part with hard-earned cash, you should have the confidence that you’re buying from a company that stands behind its products. Buying a cheaper knock-off unit usually results in poor performance and early failure.
We look for a variety of factors to ensure our recommendations come from the best companies around, including:
- Return policy
- Warranty coverage
- Headquarters location
- Customer reviews
- Overall design and experience
Simply put, we ensure that if you break out the credit card, it’s going to be worth the cost. Portable air conditioners are not inexpensive, but they can be a valuable addition to your camping gear, if you buy from the right company.
The last aspect that’s part of our rating system for portable camping air conditioners are the features. The camping AC should be able to meet your needs and come with convenient features to make using them easy and hassle-free.
Some portable tent air conditioners only have one setting, on or off. This means that they will quickly eat through any battery power and can waste precious resources while camping, unless you dutifully monitor them.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
The best portable ACs for tents have multiple settings, including things like boost power for rapid cooling, sleep mode to get you comfortably through the night, and standard mode for constant cooling. These might seem like a small part of the design, but they make the AC unit for camping easy to use and it helps prevent excessive battery use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Air Conditioners for Camping
Best Tent Camping Air Conditioners: Wrap Up
When it comes down to it, there’s nothing better than the Zero Breeze Mark 2 portable air conditioner. Its built-in battery, high-quality construction, and powerful cooling capabilities will make it your best friend on those scorching days.
The BougeRV Portable Air Conditioner is a great alternative if you don’t mind that it doesn’t have an attachable battery bank and needs a DIY adapter to work with a 12V system. Or if you have access to a 110V outlet, save some cash and ramp up the BTUs with the BLACK+DECKER Air Conditioner.
If you want to go with something much lighter on the wallet, then the Evapolar evaCHILL Portable Evaporative Conditioner is the right choice. It gives you a bit of a portable evaporative cooler and only needs a little bit of power to do so. The BALKO Evaporative Cooler is similar, but offers a larger device for more cooling.
Finally, if you want to bring cold air into your campervan, overlanding rig, or small RV with a rooftop mounted unit, the RecPro RV Air Conditioner is the best choice.
Now that you know what camping air conditioner you’ll get, don’t forget to read about how to power a portable air conditioner. You’ll also want to pick up a camping tent with AC ports so you can properly ventilate your AC.
No matter what you choose, don’t let the summer heat stop your adventures.