Whether you’re doing regular RVing or are boondocking, it’s good to know how to cool a camper without electricity. These 11 ways will keep you cool for less $.

The summers can get pretty hot around here and the RV turns into a sauna. Without an air conditioner, our only option is to get creative. Here’s a quick run down of 11 ways we cool a camper without electricity (there’s more detail on each of these points in the rest of the post):

  1. Orientation of the RV
  2. Pick A Shading Camping Spot
  3. Cover the Windows
  4. Open The Awning
  5. Ventilation
  6. Refrigerator Vent
  7. Cover the Shower Skylight
  8. Always Have Tarps
  9. Switch to LED Lights
  10. Cook Your Food Outside

Imagine all the fun stuff one can do with the kids in the great outdoors! Nature walks, catching bugs, swimming, bike rides, fishing, and the list goes on and on.

When camping in high temperatures, it’s always convenient if your RV has a fully functional air conditioning system if the heat outside gets too extreme to bear.  

Otherwise, the summer heat might prevent you from having all the fun you want.

But whether you are just going on an adventure or embracing a full RV life, we all know how RVs can heat up easily under the sun.

So if you’re trying to avoid electricity costs at the campground or you simply just want to go green and conserve energy, these tips are for you.

Keep in mind that if you do only one or two of things mentioned in this post, you won’t see a lot of cooling effect. But if you can apply most or all of these tips, you’ll notice a big difference.

So without further ado, here’s how to cool a camper without electricity.

1. Orientation Of The RV In The Camp Site

The exterior walls of most RVs are quite thin and barely any insulation. This your RV will heat up very quickly in the sun and conversely, it would cool off quite quickly in the cold.

Many camp sites are tight and you don’t have of options for parking your RV in different orientations. But if you can choose, try to make sure that the broad side of the RV is not facing the sun all day.

The broad side of your RV has more surface area than the front or the back. Which means a lot more sunlight will hit the broad side and your RV will heat up faster.

Your RV will still get warm if the broad side is not facing the sun, but it will be slower to heat up.

This tip on its own won’t keep your RV cool, but combined with the rest of the tips on this page you’ll be asking for a sweater!

2. Avoid Using Heat-Generating Appliances In Your RV

First things first, you have to know your RV very well. 

Every time you buy or rent an RV, there is an RV orientation and walk-though provided to the buyer or user. Its main purpose is to guide you how to safely and correctly use and maintain the RV.

It should be able to assist you in operating everything you see inside the unit. It covers water systems, electricity, appliances, air conditioning system, heater, fuel, and whatever questions you might have about the RV.

Why is this important in keeping your camper cool without using electricity? 

Because if you know your camper well enough, you’d know what not to use to avoid extra heat from building up inside your RV.

For example, instead of using the dishwasher, you can manually wash the dishes and avoid added heat inside the RV.

Another good example is using the campground’s amenities or available appliances if you are staying at an RV park.

3. Pick A Shaded Camping Spot

Well, this is a dead giveaway. If you want to keep your camper cool, then stay away from direct sunlight. 

And since my kids love to swim, we usually look for a shaded spot near the water.

Obviously, the more you expose your RV to the sun, the more it will catch the heat and it’ll feel like you’re inside the oven in no time.

You can’t beat the heat if you’re directly under it, right?

4. Cover the Windows

I remember this one trip when we went out swimming early in the morning, only to come back to a very hot RV by noon.

All because we forgot to cover the windows!

But whether you are inside the RV or enjoying outdoor activities, it’s always good to cover the windows most especially during midday.

As much as possible, use solar shields as they reflect solar heat instead of letting your RV absorb it.

This will help keep the heat off your RV.

So the next time you’re enjoying outside, you won’t have to comb back to an oven-like RV.

5. Open The Awning

How To Cool A Camper Without Electricity - Open An Awning
How To Cool A Camper Without Electricity – Open An Awning

Another good way to keep your RV cooler is by opening the awning.

Awnings keep the sun from shining through the windows. 

Not only does it make the temperature inside the RV cooler, but it also helps prevent furniture and carpets from discoloring.

And while you’re at it, you might as well use your ceiling vent to increase the airflow inside the RV. This also helps keep the air fresh and eliminates unwanted odor.

6. Ventilation

Unless you’re camping spot is surrounded by trees, you will have at least one side of your RV that is in direction sunlight. The air on that side of the RV will be warmer than the side in the shade.

This will also cause a temperature difference inside your RV. The side in the sun will be warmer.

So an easy trick is to open the windows on the shady side of the RV. Because of the temperature difference the cool air will flow into the RV and the warm air will flow out.

7. Refrigerator Vent

Refrigerators generate heat, that’s why it’s important to give it enough space to breathe.

Not giving your refrigerator enough ventilation will cause damage and will lead it to consuming more energy.

With that said, the importance of having a refrigerator vent should not be underestimated.

It helps vent out the heat from the fridge engine, and thereby helps keep your RV cooler.

8. Cover the Shower Skylight

Shower skylights are like windows. The only difference is that they’re mounted on the ceiling.

While skylights add natural light to your RV, it can become an issue in the summer because it allows so much heat to build up inside your shower. 

This heat can eventually spill over and heat up the rest of your RV.

Covering your shower skylight is then as important as covering the windows.

In some forums, I see some people say they painted their skylights white to reduce the temperature in the shower.

However, in my case, I think it’s a better idea to cover the skylight with solar shields during summer. 

That way, when colder season comes and you need all the heat you can get, you can just remove the cover to allow as much heat as you can inside the RV. This is a great way to conserve energy during the winter, too.

9. Always Have Tarps

If you’re going to leave your RV for a long time while you are out and about, consider covering your RV with a tarp.

And I’m not talking about the traditional blue tarp here.

I’m referring to reflective tarps that will help protect your RV from the damaging effects of direct sunlight.

Besides helping keep your camper cooler, these tarps also help shield the roof from the UV rays that can cause discoloration and cracking, among others.

10. Switch to LED Lights

Incandescent bulbs generate so much heat and can add up to the heat build up in the camper. 

LED lights definitely operate much cooler than regular incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

This is not to say that LED lights do not produce heat. LED lights do get hot. 

But the significant difference here is that the heat generated is dissipated by the heat sink found in the base of the bulb itself. 

Also, LED lights are more efficient than incandescent bulbs and reduce carbon print. 

Another good thing to note about LED lights is that they do not attract bugs!

All things considered, switching to LED lights is absolutely a great idea.

11. Cook Your Food Outside

How To Cool A Camper Without Electricity - Cook Outside
How To Cool A Camper Without Electricity – Cook Outside

Cooking inside the camper will increase the temperature inside the RV in no time. 

Since the purpose of your summer trip is to enjoy the great outdoors, make the most out of it and cook your food outside.

Apart from keeping the RV cooler, it can also be a fun activity for the family.