How to Keep Your Camper Cool Off-Grid

Summer is the prime camping season for much of the country. However, even if you’re not in the desert, it can be unbearably hot while camping. Those who enjoy off-grid camping can be miserable during the summer. So how can you keep your camper cool when off-grid? Let’s dive in and find out!

People and alternative vanlife lifestyle concept. Adult woman drinking and enjoying sea view inside camper van motorhome house comfortably on the sofa. Female traveler people concept life

What Does Off-Grid Camping Mean?

Boondocking and dry camping are terms describing off-grid camping in an RV. These camping styles take place in different locations, but neither involves linking your RV to any connections. If you’re enjoying off-grid camping, you must be entirely self-sufficient for water, waste, and electricity.

Boondocking is often more remote and on public lands. However, you dry camp at established campground sites that don’t offer connections. Both can be excellent ways to save some money while RVing and make it so you don’t have to depend on others.

How Long Can an RV Stay Off-Grid?

How long an RV can stay off-grid can vary depending on the RV and any modifications you made. However, some RVers use their RVs off-grid almost 100% of the time. They make expensive upgrades to their electrical systems, including upgrades to batteries, solar panels, and inverters for powering appliances. Typically, the greatest need for an RV will be how long they can go without dumping their tanks.

While the legalities of dumping gray water vary, it’s illegal almost everywhere to dump black water onto the ground. It’s often best to find an RV dump station to empty tanks. However, some options involve a truck coming to RVs to empty their tanks so they can stay off-grid without moving their rig.

Use these tips on How To Dump Your Tanks When Boondocking to stay mess free!

Interior of RV with windows and door open to keep the camper cool

How Can I Cool My RV Without Electricity?

Cooling an RV can be challenging without electricity, but it’s not impossible. You want to maximize air circulation in your RV. This will prevent air from sitting stagnant in your RV and warming up the inside of your rig. Open windows, doors, and vents in the ceiling to help create air circulation.

How you park your RV can significantly impact your ability to keep it cool. If the wind blows from the front of your rig to the back, you likely won’t have much luck circulating air inside your rig. Ensure you park horizontal to the direction the wind is blowing, if possible.

How to Keep Your Camper Cool Off-Grid

You can do several things to keep your camper cool while camping off-grid. Let’s look at some upgrades, modifications, and tips you can try to help you stay cool in your rig when temperatures rise. 

RV driving in bright summer sun

Use 12V Maxxair Fans

You may not know, but the vent fans the factory installs for your RV are next to useless. They do a terrible job of moving air in or out of your RV. Upgrading your vents to the 12V Maxxair fans is an excellent upgrade that we think is worth the money.

These fans are ideal options because, unlike most stock fans, they have a reverse feature. They can pull in air from the outside or stale air out of your RV. When moving air, it’s no competition. Maxxair fans provide the max results!

Get a Portable Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner is an excellent option, but only if you can use your electrical outlets. These compact units can produce a considerable amount of cold air and keep the temperature down inside your rig. You may need to run a generator to power them unless you have a vast battery bank that you won’t worry about draining due to the massive power some of these units require.

Couple and dog laying in van with doors open on the beach

Camp Near Oceans

There’s a reason why everyone flocks to the beach when the temperatures reach uncomfortable levels. Not only can you swim in the cooler ocean waters and play in the waves, but there are often more winds near the coast, bringing cooler temperatures. 

Florida is one example; Central Florida is often 10 degrees warmer than most cities along its coasts. If you’ve ever been to Florida during the summer months, you’ll appreciate every degree cooler you can get.

There are superb spots to camp along the coast. However, some of our favorite places are where you can camp on the beach. Ensure you’re watching the tides and don’t camp below the high tide line. That might be a bit too near to the ocean.

Stay in Higher Altitudes

If you’ve climbed or driven up a mountain, you’ve experienced how quickly temperatures can drop at high altitudes. Many RVers in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona use elevation to stay cool in their RVs year-round.

During the extreme heat of summer, they’ll head into the mountains, gain thousands of feet in elevation, and enjoy cooler temperatures. However, when the temperatures drop in the mountains, they’ll head down to lower elevations and enjoy the mild winters in these locations. 

Any locations with extreme climbs in elevation will be cooler during the summer, so find a place that fits you best. However, don’t underestimate altitude sickness, and ensure you give your body time to adjust.

RV parked in the mountains with windows and door open

Use Reflectix on Your Windows

Reflectix is a relatively inexpensive material you can easily cut to fit your RV’s windows. This material helps prevent heat from the sun from warming the inside of your RV. These are an excellent option as they are lightweight and easy to store. You can find Reflectix at many big box retailers and online.  

Park in Shade

Parking your RV in the shade is one of the best ways to keep your RV cool. Your RV can quickly become a hotbox in the sun. However, parking in the shade allows you to keep the sun and its intense heat from your RV so you can stay cooler inside.

If you have solar panels, parking in the shade will render them useless. However, you might find that conserving power to make your batteries last longer is worth it.

Is Camping Off-Grid in the Heat Worth It? 

Some places have a short camping season, and you have no choice but to stay in the heat if you want to go camping. Temperatures will drop soon, and we’ll all complain about how cold it is outside. Don’t let a little heat stop you from making memories with your loved ones. Use some of our tips to help keep your RV cool and enjoy off-grid camping.

Where are you traveling this summer?

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