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MattGlamperGear
Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthorneUpdated: July 9, 2023

With temperatures reaching the extremes, having a reliable cooling system in your RV is essential. Gone are the days of relying on bulky, power-hungry AC units that can barely keep up with the sweltering summer heat. Say hello to the future of RV cooling—RV mini-split systems.

Installing a mini split AC unit in your RV has many benefits. First and foremost, it’s all about efficiency. These mini splits are designed to cool or heat specific zones in your RV, meaning you can avoid wasting energy by cooling or heating areas that aren’t in use. Plus, since they have separate indoor and outdoor units, you can say goodbye to noisy compressors outside your window. We all love some peace and quiet when we’re in the great outdoors.

And let’s not forget about the cost savings! You can kiss those sky-high electric bills goodbye with a mini split AC system. These units are incredibly energy-efficient, using up to 50% less power than traditional RV air conditioners.

Now that we’ve piqued your interest, you might be wondering how to choose the perfect RV mini split for your needs or maybe even how to install one. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

RV mini split systems: what they are and how they work.

Mini Split AC Mounted Near Door of Camper

RV mini-split systems have completely changed how we stay cool on the road. These small and efficient AC units have revolutionized how we keep our recreational vehicles comfortable, no matter where our adventures take us. Specifically designed to meet the unique needs of RVs, a mini split AC consists of two main components: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit.

Typically, the indoor unit of an RV mini split is installed within the vehicle’s living space, while the outdoor unit is mounted on the exterior. These two components are connected by refrigerant lines, enabling the transfer of heat and cool air between them.

The outdoor unit contains a compressor and a fan, working together to cool the refrigerant and expel hot air outside. In contrast, the indoor unit houses an evaporator coil and a fan, which blow cool air into the RV.

The installation options for RV mini splits are also quite versatile. These units can be mounted on ceilings, walls, or even tucked away under cabinets, maximizing space and providing flexibility in terms of placement. This ensures efficient and even cooling throughout the entire RV, creating a comfortable environment no matter where you are.

RV mini splits are a game-changer for campers and travelers, providing efficient, versatile, and cost-effective air conditioning for their travel trailers. With their ability to adjust to varying cooling demands, optimize energy usage, and save space, it’s no wonder that mini splits have become a popular choice for RV owners seeking comfort on their journeys.

Benefits of installing an RV mini split: efficiency, versatility, and cost savings.

When it comes to installing RV mini-split ACs, there are a plethora of benefits that make it a worthwhile investment. Let’s dive into three key advantages— efficiency, versatility, and cost savings.

Efficiency.

First and foremost, one of the major perks of having an RV mini-split is its efficiency. These compact AC units are designed to provide optimal cooling while consuming minimal power. They are engineered to be energy-efficient, keeping your power usage in check. You can enjoy a comfortable temperature without worrying about draining your energy reserves. It’s like having the best of both worlds – staying cool without sacrificing your power supply.

Versatility.

RV mini splits offer incredible versatility. With a dual-zone mini-split system, you can independently control the temperature in different areas of your RV. Imagine having a separate thermostat for your bedroom and the living area. This means you can customize your comfort levels to suit your preferences, regardless of where you are inside your cozy home on wheels. You can create a cool space to relax during the day or a comfortable, warm environment during chilly nights. It’s all about having the flexibility to adapt to your preferences.

Cost savings.

Installing an RV mini split can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. Traditional air conditioning units are less efficient and may result in higher power consumption and costly energy bills. However, you can expect lower power consumption with the energy-efficient design of mini split air conditioners. That potentially means putting some extra cash in your pocket, which you can save or use for your next adventure on the road. It’s a win-win situation – staying comfortable while being mindful of your financial resources.

Determining the right size and capacity for your RV: BTU calculations and load calculations.

Mini Split Mounted on Back Wall of Travel Trailer

When determining the right size and capacity for your RV mini split, there are a couple of essential calculations to consider. These calculations will help ensure that your mini split system effectively cools or heats your RV without wasting energy or overpowering your space.

BTU (British Thermal Unit) calculations consider the size of your RV, insulation levels, and the number of occupants to determine the cooling or heating capacity needed.

For example, for a medium-sized RV with average insulation and two occupants, a BTU calculation may recommend a mini-split system with a cooling capacity of around 10,000 BTUs.

On the other hand, load calculations consider various external factors such as outdoor temperature, sun exposure, and the number and size of windows in your RV. These calculations help determine the cooling or heating load your RV experiences throughout the day. This information is essential because it allows you to choose a mini-split system that adequately handles your RV’s cooling or heating needs.

Many mini-split manufacturers provide sizing calculators to make these calculations easier on their websites. These calculators consider your RV’s specific conditions and requirements, enabling you to choose the size and capacity for your mini-split system.

Taking the time to accurately determine your RV mini split’s right size and capacity is crucial in maximizing efficiency and comfort. By understanding and utilizing BTU and load calculations, you can ensure that your mini-split system will provide optimal cooling or heating for your RV, no matter the conditions.

Installation process and considerations for RV mini split systems: DIY vs. professional installation.

RV Bumper Mounted Mini Split

There are two options when installing RV mini split AC systems: DIY or professional installation. Each option has pros and cons, and understanding them can help you make an informed decision.

DIY installation.

If you’re a handy person who loves taking on projects, you can install a mini-split system independently. It can be a rewarding experience and potentially save you money. However, installing an RV mini split requires technical knowledge and skills. You’ll need to be comfortable working with electrical wiring and refrigerant lines. It’s crucial to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.

For the most part, you can install the inside unit on any wall where you can find the studs. As for the outside unit, most travel trailer owners mount them to either the rear bumper, the tongue of the trailer, or under the folding stairs.

Professional installation.

On the other hand, if you’re not confident in your DIY abilities or prefer to leave it to the professionals, hiring a certified HVAC technician to install a mini-split is a wise choice. They have the expertise and experience to handle all aspects of the installation process, from electrical connections to refrigerant charging. While professional installation may come with a higher upfront cost, generally around $700 – $1,000, it provides peace of mind knowing that the job is done correctly and safely.

Maintaining and troubleshooting your RV mini split: cleaning, air filter replacements, and common issues.

Maintaining and troubleshooting your RV mini-split system is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. Regular cleaning and filter replacements are essential for keeping your unit running smoothly. Neglecting these maintenance tasks can lead to reduced efficiency and potential breakdowns.

When cleaning your RV mini split, start by turning off the power to the unit and removing any dirt or debris from the outdoor unit. Use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently clean the coils. Inspect the indoor unit and clean any dust or dirt on the filters or vents. Additionally, make sure to clean or replace the air filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing the system to work harder and consume more energy.

Our friend John noticed a decreased cooling power and looked at the air filter. To his surprise, it was clogged with dust and debris. After cleaning and vacuuming the filter, the unit produced cool air. John realized that neglecting regular maintenance could have resulted in a costly repair or a complete system replacement.

In terms of troubleshooting common issues, pay attention to unusual sounds, odd smells, or changes in the airflow. Check for loose connections, leaks, or visible damage if you notice something unusual. If you’re unsure how to address the problem, it’s best to consult a professional technician specializing in RV mini-split systems. They have the expertise to diagnose and resolve any issues accurately.

By maintaining and troubleshooting your RV mini split regularly, you can ensure optimal performance, energy efficiency, and comfortable living space throughout your travels. Don’t underestimate the power of these simple maintenance tasks in keeping your RV mini split in top shape!

RV mini-split accessories and upgrades: wi-fi control, heat pump functionality, and zoning options.

When it comes to optimizing your RV’s comfort and convenience, accessories and upgrades can take your mini split system to the next level. Let’s explore some options available to enhance your RV mini-split experience.

One popular accessory is the addition of Wi-Fi control. This feature lets you conveniently adjust and monitor your mini-split system from your smartphone or tablet. Whether inside your RV or relaxing outside, you can easily control the temperature and set timers to create a comfortable environment, no matter the weather.

Another valuable upgrade is the heat pump functionality. This feature allows your mini split system to cool and heat your RV. By flipping a switch, you can seamlessly transition from cooling mode in the summer to heating mode in the winter. This versatility is particularly useful for those who enjoy RVing year-round or in colder climates.

Zoning options allow you to independently control the temperature in different areas or zones of your RV. This feature is especially beneficial for larger RVs or those with multiple occupants, as it allows everyone to set their desired temperature and ensure personalized comfort.

With these accessories and upgrades, you can tailor your RV mini split system to your specific needs and preferences. Whether it’s the convenience of Wi-Fi control, the versatility of heat pump functionality, or the customizable comfort of zoning options, these enhancements will take your RVing experience to new heights.

Top brands and models for RV mini split systems: reviews, ratings, and recommendations.

When choosing the best brands and models for RV mini split systems, there are a few key factors to consider. Reliability, performance, and customer reviews are crucial in determining which brand is worth your investment.

Senville LETO Series Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump.

The Senville LETO Series Mini Split System is convenient and efficient for your RV. This 4-in-1 system boasts air conditioning, a built-in heat pump, a dehumidifier, a fan, and a turbo function. Thanks to its Alexa integration, you can control it from anywhere using voice commands or an app. With energy savings of up to 40%, it’s not only a quality choice but also an economical one.

Pioneer Diamante Series Ductless Mini-Split.

The Pioneer Diamante Series Ductless Mini-Split offers high efficiency and versatility for your RV. This system provides both cooling and heating with a 9000 BTU/hour capacity, boasting a 20 SEER and 10.5 HSPF efficiency. The Diamante series offers a range of capacities from 9,000 to 36,000 BTU/hour, making it suitable for campers of any size. The complete system set includes an indoor fan coil section, outdoor condenser section, wireless remote controller, and a 16 ft line set with other installation accessories.

MRCOOL 4th Gen Ductless Mini-Split System.

The MRCOOL 4th Gen Ductless Mini Split System is a game-changer in RV climate control. This powerful system, capable of heating and cooling an area up to 750 sq. ft. (more than enough for any size RV or travel trailer), boasts an impressive Energy Star certified 22 SEER efficiency rating. Its standout feature is the DIY installation, thanks to the pre-charged 25 ft. line set. Besides, it offers multiple operating modes and a handy Follow Me function for temperature adjustments based on the remote’s location. Best of all, you can operate this system remotely via the Smart HVAC app on your smartphone.

FAQs about RV mini-split systems.

We get a lot of questions about RV mini split systems, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision.

Can I put a mini-split in an RV?

Of course! Many RVers do so already, however, make sure to check the dimensions of your RV before purchasing one, as mini-split systems come in different sizes. Before buying, you’ll want to ensure you have the wall space and a place to mount the outdoor unit.

Is a mini split more efficient than an RV air conditioner?

Yes, mini-splits are generally more efficient than RV air conditioners. We’ve seen mini-splits offer up to 22 SEER efficiency ratings, whereas traditional RV A/C units rarely exceed 14 SEER. SEER is the ratio of cooling output divided by electricity used and is a good indicator of energy efficiency.

How much does it cost to install a mini-split in an RV?

Many factors go into the cost of a mini-split system, such as size, brand, accessories/upgrades, and labor. Generally speaking, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 for a complete installation. That includes the cost of the unit, line set, and labor.

Can a mini-split be used for heating?

Yes! Many mini-split systems come with heat pump functionality, allowing them to cool and heat your RV. This is great for those who enjoy year-round RVing or those in colder climates. Plus, many models come with fan-only mode, allowing you to circulate the air in your RV even when it’s not cooling or heating.

What is a ductless RV air conditioner?

Ductless units are placed in various locations, such as the top of an RV, under a bench, or inside a window or wall opening. They push cool air out of the AC through one or multiple vents, which are usually adjustable and easy to open or close. This helps to direct the air into specific areas of the RV.

Stay cool this summer with a mini-split system for your RV or travel trailer.

With their efficiency, versatility, and cost-saving potential, these units offer a practical and convenient solution for staying cool during your travels.

The benefits are undeniable whether you choose a DIY installation or opt for professional help.

Determining the right size and capacity for your RV can ensure optimal cooling performance without wasting energy. And once your mini split is up and running, regular maintenance and troubleshooting will keep it running smoothly for years.

Don’t forget to consider accessories and upgrades, such as Wi-Fi control or heat pump functionality, further to enhance the comfort and efficiency of your unit.

Trust us, once you experience the comfort and convenience of an RV mini split, you’ll wonder how you ever traveled without one.

MattGlamperGear

Matt Johnson


Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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