Do you know how to stay cool and comfortable in the Southern California desert during summer months? Can you pull it off in an RV with no air conditioning?
One of the concerns I always had about RVing was exposure to extreme weather. In Nevada, we had arctic wind storms that came all the way down from Alaska. Then, in Arizona, I weathered below freezing temperatures and even hail. Now, my Southern California spot is approaching triple-digit summer temperatures.
The good news is that most RVs come standard with built-in furnaces and air conditioning units. If you are always plugged in at a campground and don’t mind high energy bills, this is the easiest way to regulate temperatures in your RV. For everyone else, particularly those powering their RVs on solar, we have to find more creative ways of staying cool in the summer.
1. Condition Yourself
Hopefully, you aren’t reading this article because your air conditioning just went out. Ideally, you still have some time to plan ahead. Try to conduct all your experimenting when you actually have access to shore power and can run the air conditioning if it gets too hot. That said, I got all my practice in with no air conditioning. I never had central air in Jamaica and refused to install it in my Georgia home. In fact, during these six years of living in America, I never lived anywhere with central air. Consequently, I am well-conditioned to the no-AC life.
2. Dress for the Weather
Some locations have fairly constant temperatures, so dressing for the weather is easy. In the desert, things are a little more complicated. You can have nights in the Fahrenheit 40s and days in the Fahrenheit 80s. Because of this, dressing for the weather might mean changing your outfit a few times per day. Ideally, you should be wearing cotton for warm temperatures and thermals for cold weather. Be sure to dress your bed and sofa for the weather as well. Those nice fluffy and fleece blankets can generate heat even if you sleep on top of them instead.
3. Take Cold Showers
When I first started RVing, it was at the tail end of summer in the Nevada desert. I remembering sharing with my friend that I had never turned on the water heater because the water coming out of the pipes were always hot anyway. Ditching the water heater during the summer also prevents that warmth from the plumbing and heater from building up in your tiny home. In addition to this, take as many actually cold showers as you can and prepare to shower more often. If you have to conserve water, consider a military shower. We call this a tidy in Jamaica.
4. Stay Hydrated
You can alleviate many of the symptoms of heat exposure by drinking as much cold water as your body can handle. I recommend using a tumbler to keep your drink cool. I bought mine as a test product from my store. It keeps ice (even with water added) for about 24 hours, even in Fahrenheit-90s weather. If FJ Cruiser decor isn’t quite your thing, I can create a custom order that says anything you’d like it to. I’ve also heard great things about the ones made by Yeti. One account manager for a client I work with described hers as the one office supply she couldn’t live without in Utah.
5. Block the Sun
One of the best ways to regulate temperatures inside your home is to plan your routine around the sun. This will depend on how you park your RV. If possible, try to park your RV so that the side with the most windows does not face South. When you have no control over the angle your RV is parked at, there are still options available to you:
- Park in the shade whenever possible.
- When booking or choosing your spot, park next to a taller or longer rig that will help to block some of the sunshine.
- Use solar panels on the roof to absorb the energy and put it to use.
- Use your awning to provide shade so that the sun hits the awning instead of the side of your RV.
- Close the windows and blinds or use Reflectix on the side of the RV pelted by the sun throughout the day.
6. Use a Fan
Most RVs have a 12-volt fan mounted in or near the bathroom to get the moisture out after the steamy showers you should be ditching for the summer. Turning these on can help to circulate air throughout the RV. Be sure to open at least one window so the air can pass through. If your RV fan does not work well or you don’t have one, consider purchasing a fan. I’ve been a big fan of Lasko since Jamaica, so I bought this one for use in my office in Georgia. It works extremely well, but it was a little noisy. If you like the idea of a wearable fan, I can personally recommend this one, which I have had for more than a year. It is rechargeable, flexible, quiet and has cool LED light features.
7. Get a Swamp Cooler
I promised myself that if it got too hot in the desert, I would consider a swamp cooler. I’m specifying the desert because swamp coolers are not ideal for most other locations. I had this one on my wish list for a long time because it only uses about 95 watts and can cool up to 500 SF. The only reason I didn’t get it is the size. There are just not a lot of places to put something that big in 160 SF of space. Instead, I bought a handmade one from Etsy. I won’t recommend the one I have because I think it’s overpriced for what it does, but it was tiny and it works so that suited me just fine. You can make your own handmaid version with a few 12V fans, a cooler, ice and some YouTube videos.
8. Use Solar
When you put the sun’s energy to use, it changes the way you think about sunshine. Even if you haven’t installed solar panels on your home, there are other ways to make use of the sun. I have not yet installed my big solar system, but I do have a small solar generator and use several other solar products. These are the ones I have that are currently thriving in this summer sunshine:
- Renogy Phoenix solar generator
- Renogy solar panel
- Sunflair solar oven
- Solar-powered LED lights
- Solar-powered lantern
- Solar string lights
Have you ever weathered high temperatures with no air conditioning or while off-grid? How did you stay comfortable and cool? Tell me all about it in the comments below.
The products I recommended will either take you to my store or they are part of the Amazon Affiliate network. This means that I may receive a small commission for orders placed via those links. Happy camping!