A weekend spent camping by the lake with the sun beating down on your face as you lounge on a floaty or kick back on the dock is tough to compete with. No worries, no job, no responsibility, and your favorite beverage in hand (beer)…
The one downside that accompanies camping in the summertime is the inevitable temperature inside the tent that begins when the morning sun peaks its head. It starts as soon as the sun hits your tent and within a handful of minutes your tent is an oven.
Even if you do find a spot in the shade, a tent in the sun is more like an oven when the temperature gets above 80. Believe it or not, there are tent air conditioners designed to make the brutal mornings and scorching days a bit more tolerable.
The Best Tent Air Conditioners
We put together a list of the best and highest rated tent air conditioners for your next outdoor adventure.
Home Labs Window Mounted AC
Home Labs window mounted tent air conditioner unit is a heavy duty AC unit that fits into a 12 x 16 inch cutout. It weighs just over 36 pounds, in other words, that window mounting this unit is going to involve careful planning and a little DIY magic.
This AC unit has 7 speeds, dual direction airflow, and adjustable fan settings. This translates into cooling down a 150 square foot space in under 10 minutes
The AC filter on can be taken out and washed by hand with warm water and dish soap. The unit comes with all the necessary parts and pieces for a smooth install.
- 5000 BTU
- 10-minute cool time
- Reusable filter
- 36.5 pounds
- Venting from side to side
- Heavy duty window-mounted air conditioner with 5000 BTUs of cooling power to chill indoor spaces up to 150 square feet; an essential summer addition to bedrooms, living rooms, dorm rooms or small apartments
- Electric window AC system comes with filter, support brackets, leaf guards, window seal foam, and even a handy non-drip installation guide. Be sure to plug the conveniently extra-long, 6 ft, 3-prong power cord directly into wall outlet (do not use with extension cords)
- Quiet mini compact air conditioner features 7 temp settings for cooling flexibility, two-way air direction control and adjustable high or low fan speeds to quickly and powerfully reduce hot temperatures in small rooms in just 15 minutes or less
- Includes reusable washable filter that can be easily cleaned with warm water and dish soap, or vacuum cleaned with dustbuster (if hand washing, please allow to filter dry thoroughly before re-installing). Clean filter regularly to enjoy optimum cooling power
Opolar Battery Operated Fan
The Opolar Battery Operated Fan is a small and compact alternative to the large and obtrusive corded AC unit. It has three variable settings that can be adjusted to control the airflow.
Weighing in at 7.5 ounces and standing no more than 4 inches tall it fits into a backpack or daypack with ease. It comes with a 2200mAh battery that lasts 1.4 hours on the high setting and 7.4 hours on medium.
The Lithium battery has a charging light that moves from red to green on a full charge. For a small fan, this little guy can move air around at a decent clip while holding a charge on medium for over 7 hours.
- 3 speeds
- Quickly recharges
- 1 hour on high
- Rare charging issues
- Can’t charge while using
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V Show Evaporative Cooler
The V Show Evaporative cooler is a fan that uses cold water to create a cooling mist. Lowering the surrounding temperature in a small space by 12 degrees Fahrenheit.
It acts as a humidifier and you can add your favorite essential oil to give a little flavor to your air. The misting fan uses 420 ml of water which will give you 4-6 hours of a cooling mist.
The best part about evaporative coolers is that don’t require much preparation or setup. All that you have to do is add water and roll it into place.
- 3 speeds
- Just add water
- Difficult instructions
- Small water opening
- Can’t charge while using
- 【Evaporative Air Cooler & Swamp Cooler】Based on the natural water evaporative technology,you add water&ice cube in the water container, the fan blows out cooling wind to cool you down instantly.
- 【Air Humidifier】Features large water tank,continuously spraying mist for 3-6 hours. Drop your favorite essential oil into water,blows out cooling moist air,keeps your skin moisture and purify for better air.
- 【Quiet Cooling Fan】3 wind speeds opintions ,the maximal fan rotating speed arrives to 3m/s,manual up-down to adjust blowing direction in 120 degree ,creat your own personal cooling zone.
- 【Save On Electric Bill】Low Energy Consumption same as the power consumption of a light bulb,uses no freon,much cheaper than running a freon air conditioner in Hot Summer Days.
Koldfront Portable Air Conditioner
If you have a large tent and need it cooled down on a commercial level you found the right cooler. The Koldfront is an 8,800 BTU air conditioner unit that can cool down a space of 500 square feet.
It comes with a control panel that has 3 adjustable speeds, a sleep function, and a remote control. This air cooler has a self-draining capability, this means that in most climates the excess water will evaporate.
Any and all portable air conditioning units are going to require hose ventilation outside of the tent. This can be accomplished by running it through the tent and out the door.
- Cools up to 500 feet
- Extremely cool
- Ventilation hose required
- Coil freezes up
- SKU: PAC1402W
- Finish: White
- Manufactured By: Koldfront
- Cooling Area: 500 sq. ft.
Frigidaire Compact Window AC Unit
The second window mounted unit that made the list. This unit weighs in at 41 pounds so if you have your heart set on window mounting this unit the tent and AC system needs some customization.
This is a 5000 BTU mini-compact air conditioner that uses a conventional 120 volt power supply. It will easily cool a 150 square foot space, meanwhile, eliminating 1.1 pints of humidity per hour.
The controls are all localized to the unit (no remote). It has 2 fan speeds, 2 cool speeds, and a 2-way air direction. The mesh filter is washable with slide out access that reduces bacteria, funky smells, and other airborne particles.
- Cools up to 150² feet
- Low power startup
- Requires tent customization
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Benefits of Tent Air Conditioners
First and foremost is that cool breeze that you get to enjoy while everyone else is sweating through their sleeping bags. Nobody likes to sweat profusely while trying to get an afternoon nap in.
Trying to fall asleep while the tents 105° is about as comfortable as chewing on glass. No more sleepless nights when you have a mechanical source of cold and refreshing air.
After a long day of hiking, exploring, and adventuring there is nothing better than having a cool place to rest and relax. Not only is heat stroke and heat exhaustion a concern, but it’s also always nice to know you have a cool place to hide from the heat.
Last, but not least, you will be the only person with a cold place to chill out when the afternoon sun pounds away.
Advantages of tent air conditioners
- Keeps you cool
- Prevents heat stroke/exhaustion
- Easier to sleep
- Fewer sweat stains
- Makes you the campground king
5 Types of Tent Air Conditioners
The options for the type of tent air conditioners to choose from is still fairly limited. You basically have a few choices… Fans, Ice cooler fans, evaporator units, and powered AC units.
1. Powered AC Units
Powered air conditioning units have a leg up on the competition for the simple fact they are much more efficient at cooling. Along with significant cooling, these units also remove heat and humidity from the space.
They require a constant 120-volt power feed and this is not easy to come by at every camping site. Most of them are relatively quiet, however, you won’t be able to hear the sounds of nature around you… Kind of a bummer.
2. Window mounted air conditioners
Window mounted units are small, compact, and as the name suggests, they fit inside of a window. You can get fancy with a tent made for it or go the DIY route and literally mount it to a cutout in the tent.
One alternative to rigging up a window AC unit is to rest it on the ground and use the door as ventilation rather than butchering tent fabric.
3. Room/portable air conditioners
This is a portable unit that isn’t necessarily designed to only be used inside a tent. They sit inside the tent and yes they take up valuable square footage. They also have a venting hose that can run out any window, or the easier option, out of the doorway.
Side Note: Ventilation is usually required for powered air conditioning units and takes a little customization and more time to set up.
Fans are a tried and true method of cooling down a tent and come in all shapes and sizes. With battery technology today a small camping fan can last up to 8 hours.
One of the nice things about the smaller camping fans is they charge with the standard 12V adapter found in most cars. If you get super hot, a damp rag on the face and forehead will keep you cool.
5. Ice cooler fans
Ice cooler fans are battery operated cooling units that are filled with ice. It can be a bucker, a cooler, any type of container that will hold ice essentially.
You have a fan that blows air through the ice and out of a hole in the side to cool the exterior space. It does a decent job of cooling a small space down for a short period of time. The one big downside is you have to keep refilling the ice and charging the batteries.
Tent Air Conditioner Buying Guide
When considering an air conditioner for your tent, there are a few aspects that you need to understand. We put together a few factors to keep an eye on when looking for an air conditioner for camping.
Tent air conditioning units in the 5000, 6000, and 8000 BTU range.
A good rule of thumb is that a 5000 BTU air conditioner will comfortably cool a 150 square foot space.
Use an air conditioner that is too powerful for a small area and you will end up cold, damp, and miserable. On the other hand, use a tent air conditioner that is too small and you’re going to wonder why you went through all the hassle to bring it in the first place.
Side Note: As long as your not camping in a multi-room tent or trying to cool down an enormous space the maximum BTU is not a concern for 99.9% of campers.
Your surrounding climate is going to determine which style of AC you need and if you need any at all.
If you’re a casual camper who only camps occasionally then a fan or an ice box cooler is your best bet. They are both relatively inexpensive and cool a space effectively with limitations.
If you camp during extremely hot and humid times of the year and heat is an ongoing issue consider looking into getting set up with a powered AC unit for your tent. See if it fits into your budget and that you have an actual need for it, the last thing you need is something else collecting dust in the garage.
Depending on what type of tent air conditioner you choose, the setup process can be easy or quite involved. Fans are ready out of the box, while an powered AC unit requires a power source and venting (depending on the style).
Powered AC units require a constant power source to be connected to the unit and power can be a challenge to find, depending on where you camp. They also require you to vent the air outside the tent which means you may have to modify your tent.
A battery operated fan only takes charging the battery and hitting a switch. It won’t cool the air, however, it will keep the fresh air flowing.
Setting up and breaking down a campsite are the two most annoying parts of camping. Adding a massive amount of weight just for a couple of cool days inside your tent may is not the right choice for everyone.
How easily you can move it around is huge, chances are you already have enough camping gear and adding another 50-pound unit is a chore, especially if you rarely use it.
Portability is a concern when we’re talking about room or window ac units. Fans and ice boxes are smaller and more lightweight than their counterparts.
Air conditioners, in general, consume quite a bit of power, in fact, heating and cooling account for 48% of the annual energy consumption in homes in the US (source). That being said, a portable generator will only work for a night or two running a portable AC unit until it needs a new charge.
The best way to power a portable camping air conditioning unit is going to be house power. In other words, the power that is provided by the campsite that you can use with a cord and plug. The next best option is going to be a portable generator, however, unless you have the means to recharge it regularly it will only last for a 2 days max.
Venting is only a concern when using an AC powered cooling unit that has condensation runoff. Without ventilation, the inside of your tent will be covered in sweat from the humid air.
Think of ventilation as the exhaust for your air conditioner.
Side Note: If your tent does not come with a hole for ventilation, one has to be cut in. If you’re against butchering your tent you can use the front door for ventilation.
Warranty information is easy to find, assuming the warranty is worth more than the paper it’s written on. You have to be careful with the fine print that’s included in warranties. Not all warranties are created equal.
If there is a warranty, practice your due-diligence and verify that the juice is worth the squeeze.
Which air conditioner is right for you?
Air conditioning is a modern day luxury that should not be overlooked. The days of cringing as you climb into your tent with anticipation of a heat wave hitting you in the face are over.
Finding the best tent air conditioner for your camping gear is not as simple as finding the most powerful unit that will blow your hair back. You need a unit that will cool down your space to a temperature that is comfortable.
It’s not always possible to pack a ton of gear while you’re camping, but camping in comfort is worth its weight in gold. The romantic notion of camping wears off as soon as the temperature blows past boiling.
Keep cool and camp on.