A swamp cooler is one of the options we are going to talk about to help you cool down your RV during hot weather.
Depending on the season and the location where you are RVing, a good cooling system is sometimes necessary, providing to your comfort.
Many RVers choose the option of equipping their RV with a regular air conditioner. In bigger rigs, it is not rare to see two AC units installed, one at the front and the other at the back. This is not really what we call 'green' RVing.
These units are very power hungry compared to a swamp cooler for example. If you are camping with an electrical hook up service, there will be no limit using the AC. You just have to pay the bill.
A swamp cooler would be a better alternative, certainly while boondocking i.e. dry camping without being hooked up.
Some people will use a generator to get the air conditioner running.
This can be the best solution for a RVer using a recreational vehicle on short vacations only.
For the full timer however, eliminating the conventional air conditioner is in my opinion the best solution.
The reason is that there are other alternatives to cool off your RV with lower use of electricity.
Let's have a look:
If you plan to keep your RV for a long period of time and use it regularly, the option of having double pane windows is worth considering.
It will have the double benefit of cutting the cold in the fall and winter as well as the heat in very hot summers.
The same is true with interior window shades. Pleated shades for example have this double benefit, depending on the season, of insulating against heat or cold. Mini blinds do not have that property.
A large awning or smaller ones on each window will cut the sun and keep the recreational vehicle cooler as well.
Every RV is going to have at least one vent with a fan. However some are more efficient than others and it is the case with one very popular model among RVers called Fan-tastic vent
They are quiet, run on 12 volt with low amp draw (1.86 amp on low) and have variable speeds. One or two units can be sufficient to cool your rig without an air conditioner.
They are ideal for the 'boondockers' having solar panels that will replenish the power draw.
Other 12 volt portable fans can be installed in different locations to give extra help if needed. The air conditioner via the inverter would use a lot more energy.
The swamp cooler belongs to the evaporative cooler type. It works on the principle that warm air is pulled into the cooler, goes through a wet filter where it picks up moisture which evaporates and cools the air.
This method works better in dry weather i.e. hot air with low humidity of the desert. If the humidity is higher (60 % plus), it will still work but the difference in degrees of temperature between the air in and out will be lower.
As an example, at 20 % humidity, air coming from outside at 75 F (24 C) will come out of the cooler at 59 F (15 C) which is appreciable, a 16 degree F (9 C) cooling effect. At 60 % humidity, it will come out at 68 F (20 C) instead of 59 F (15 C) a 9 degree F (5 C) difference only .
You realize that the cooling effect is not as great but still worthwhile. Many factors affect the cooling effect: the relative humidity, the temperature, how big is the RV and how well insulated it is.
These swamp coolers come as DC or AC models. With solar panels , DC units make more sense.
Thinking conservation of energy again, a DC or 12-volt unit with a high capacity fan and low power draw ( about 4.2 amp at low setting, high 13.9 amps) is ideal for every RVer and mostly 'boondockers'.
You may consume an average of 50 Ah daily if you run it 10 hours a day in the 100 F temperature of the desert. They cost around $700, a lot less than the traditional RV air conditioner and they make a lot of sense.
One swamp cooler is specifically designed to be used in an RV and is called TurboKool RV Evaporative Air (Swamp) Cooler from Bachman enterprises.
It comes with a water reservoir to fill up automatically the cooler which also washes out dust , pollen and impurities in the air. You can run a line to bring water to the reservoir.
Be aware that you would use between 10 to 15 gallons of water to run the Turbo Kool all day long. Also, there is no mean to flush out the residues or mineral build up accumulated in the unit.
With heavy usage, it has to be disassemble and clean out every month. It is the ideal solution to cool down a smaller RV up to 27 feet with one cooler well located. For bigger rigs, you would need more than one Turbo Kool.
Another company which offers an evaporative swamp cooler is Southwest solar in Tucson.
Their units are designed to cool down houses, workshops etc... but the smaller models called Solar Chill Stainless Steel Evaporative coolers (XP 14", XP 18") can be adapted to be used in a RV.
It seems to outperform a little bit the Turbo Kool in terms of cooling effect by a few degrees but requires a bit more water to run (15 gallons being frugal). The installation on the roof of the RV is a bit more complicated since it needs custom made adapters but nothing is impossible.
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