Your Complete Guide to Buying the Best Camping Air Conditioner!

A camping air conditioner will help keep you cool during summer outings.

Summer is almost here, and it's camping season again! But if you're not looking forward to sweltering in the woods on your next family outing, maybe it's time to look for a camping air conditioner? 

That's right -- there is such a thing, and you can relax outdoors in the woods without scorching, sweating, or suffering from heat exhaustion! 

If you never realized that it's possible to take that glorious AC with you when you go camping, read on. Or if you've considered buying a camping air conditioner but thought they might be too expensive, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Can You Use Small Portable Air Conditioner for Camping?

Although central air conditioning units are all around us and part of modern life, you can't carry it around with you. Or can you? A small portable air conditioner for camping offers more power and better user-interface. Best of all, you can take it with you wherever you go. That includes the woods or local campground.

A portable air conditioner for camping blows steady chilled air within your tent for hours!

Prickly heat and heat rashes are quite common in the summer. And heat exhaustion and sunstroke are no laughing matter. It's crucial to take care of your health when camping. Especially when you're taking young children along. Pregnant women are also more sensitive to heat, so new and expectant moms can really benefit from a camping air conditioner.

The relentless heat of summer can make camping a virtual hell, affecting our daily routine and even causing health problems. You don't have to suffer. 

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What are the Advantages of Carrying a Camping Air Conditioner?

During summers our skin is the most ‘battered’ organ. It's subjected to dust, heat, wear, and tear. The skin continuously handles the heat from the atmosphere and sun's dangerous rays. During the summer, it's the most ignored part of the body. 

Along with sunburn and insect bites, summer heat can result in rashes, flushes, and other problems.

Aside from our skin, there is also the potential for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. According to the CDC, extreme heat leads to over 600 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Heat stroke can result in organ failure, brain damage, and even death. 

Young children, senior citizens, and overweight individuals are also particularly susceptible to heat stroke. The best way to prevent this dangerous condition is to stay cool and hydrated during the heat of summer. 

Camping AC Unit For Every Outing

One life saver is the regular cool breeze from a camping air conditioner. And best of all, you don't have to pay a fortune for this luxury. In fact, if you're camping in hot climates, such as the humid Southeast or the dry and hot Southwest, consider it an investment in your health.

Below are the benefits of a portable cooler:

  • Removes unwanted and uncomfortable heat from tents
  • Improves the overall quality of your vacation by preventing overheating and fatigue.
  • Prevents dehydration and heat strokes.
  • Ensures safer camping holidays
  • Helps prevent sunburn by enticing you back into shelter to cool down
Turn summer camping into a luxury vacation with a camping air conditioner

How to Pick the Best Camping Air Conditioner

If you want to enjoy healthy and memorable outdoor holidays along with relief from heat and stress, then a portable air conditioner is the right tool for you.  Many camping enthusiasts have considered buying a camping air conditioner but aren't sure how to choose the right one. 

So, let's a look at a few factors to consider when you're shopping for the best model.

What to Look for in a Camping Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are similar to built-in air conditioning: They suck in hot and humid air, dehumidify and cool it, and then allow it to flow back into the room.

There are several kinds of camping air conditioners along with portable camping fans available in the market with distinct features.

The two main types of air conditioners are window units and portable air conditioners. 

Factors for Choosing a Tent Air Conditioner

When you're looking for a camping air conditioner, there are a few factors you want to consider. Knowing what you need in advance will help you pin down the right models at the right price point for your budget.

Cooling capacity size

The first think you want to determine is the size, or cooling capacity you'll need. Capacity for camping air conditioners is measured in the same ways as that for central cooling units -- in BTUs (or British Thermal Units). 

To find the right sized unit for your tent, you'll need to know its square footage. Multiply the length of the tent by its width. This gives you a total you can use to determine what kind of capacity you need. 

For indoor use, experts recommend that you plan for 20 BTUs per square foot. Tent condition, because of the lack of insulation, may require more. But it's a starting point you can work with. For example, if you have a 10 by 15 foot family tent, a unit with a 3,000 BTU capacity might work best.

Unit size and weight

Before getting too excited about the idea of camping in the AC, make sure that you have room to pack an air conditioner and that you'll be able to install it. Look at the size and weight of every model on your short list.

Power source

Most commercial campsites provide electrical outlets for each site, even for tent camping. You'll find this convenience at most National Parks and state parks, as well. This means you won't have to run your camping air conditioner with battery power or with a generator. 

However, if you camp at more primitive sites, you may need a model that accommodates an alternative power source.

Type

As stated above, the two most common types of air conditioners for camping are window units and portable models. While you won't need a tent specifically designed for window units, you may find that using a portable model makes more sense for you.


Our Top Choices for Camping Air Conditioner Models


1. Edge Star AP8000W - Portable Air Conditioner

Edge Star camping air conditioner is one of the best portable units and offers efficient operation. The set uses very less energy at about 90 cents a day.

You can connect the vent kit with just three steps. No dangerous chemicals are used, making it safe for everyone. When a smaller area is your concern, go for this super compact cooler. Let’s go through the major features of this camping air conditioner.

EdgeStar Ultra Compact 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Portable AC for Camping Key Features

Let’s look at the main features of this portable cooler:

  • Cool from 150 to 225 square feet based on the heat load
  • You can program it for up 24 hours with the timer
  • There are three fast fans with air blowing directional louvers
  • Dehumidifies up to 50 pints a day
  • Digital thermostat
  • Features a 55-inch max window kit with expandable exhaust pipe of 49 inches 
  • It is adequately mobile with smooth, high-quality rollers

This product seems to be ideal for tiny tents and even bedrooms. You can even open the window. People who need longer duct tubes may have a small issue here.

Pros:

  • Compact and easy to store and carry around
  • 8,000 BTUs
  • Timer efficiently saves energy 
  • Easy to use
  • Manufactured using environmentally friendly materials
  • It is made of RoHS compliant materials with no harmful chemicals
  • Washable pre-filter

Cons:

  • Certain defective units seem to have poor overall quality
  • Temperature on the panel not always accurate
  • The fan might stop abruptly in defective units

2. Tripp Lite - Portable Cooling Air Conditioner

One of the best-rated camping air conditioners, the Tripp Lite features a close-coupled cooling system. This process blows cool air to the needed areas without wasting energy on the whole room.

This means that close-coupled air cooling products are more effective than air conditioners installed at the room's perimeter or outside the room entirely. So, you'll save energy. 

It offers 12,000 BTUs, cooling up to 500 square feet. The control panel is mounted on top, and the LCD readout makes it easy to operate. 

Tripp Lite Portable Cooling Unit Air Conditioner, Stand Alone Spot Air Cooler, AC, 12K BTU (3.5 kW), 120V, 5-15P Plug (SRCOOL12K)

Key Features

  • It is portable and powerful
  • Small size is perfect for small areas
  • No external drainage needed 

This unit is plug and play -- which means all you have to do is plug it in and turn it on.

Pros:

  • Easy to operate
  • Provides more than enough cool air
  • Regular louvered vent for standard rooms
  • Ducted vent to send cool air to most-needed places

Cons:

  • Certain defective units have had bad quality fans
  • Expensive
  • Probably too powerful for most family tents

3. BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner


Black + Decker is a name that inspires confidence, and who better to cool your tent than the brand known for power.

With 8,000 BTUs, it will cool a 100 to 150 square foot family tent to perfect comfort. You'll get steady air flow with a consistent temperature. 

It also comes with a 24-hour timer, LED control display, and a washable filter for cleaner air. 

And it's quiet too, rated at only 75 dB. It comes with a 4-foot, 11-inch exhaust hose and a remote control. So you can control the flow without getting out of your sleeping bag. 

Key Features

  • Small size and weight
  • Quiet operation
  • Perfect capacity for most tents

Pros:

  • Easy to operate
  • Energy efficient
  • Remote control
  • Reasonable price

Cons:

  • Doesn't remove as much humidity as more powerful units
  • You must remove condensation by hand

4. JHS 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner


This tidy looking and affordable unit offers a lot of cooling for a fair price. Rated at 10,000 BTUs, it cools up to 300 square feet. This unit is perfect for larger tents. 

The built in dehumidifier removes over 50 pints of water from your tent atmosphere per day. So, if you camp in muggy locales, like the subtropics, you'll appreciate this unit. 

The programmable thermostat offers from  61 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit for precise comfort control. 

Key Features

  • Remote control and LED display
  • Lots of power for the money
  • Good choice for larger family tents

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Drain hose for condensate
  • Washable filter
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Some buyers say it's loud
  • Manufacturer new to the field

Buying the Best Tent Air Conditioners for 2019

Camping can be a healthy way to de-stress, and having the comforts of home, like AC and airbeds can make it feel like a luxury vacation. ​

With its useful features and cooling capacity, our favorite model is the Edge Star Ultra Compact 8,000 BTU. And best of all, the price is doable for most camping families.

Have you ever taken an air conditioner along when you've been camping? What other luxuries have become must-haves at your campsite? Tell us about them in the comments.

 

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