Best Portable Tent Air Conditioners for Camping

Looking for the best tent air conditioner? Well, you’ve arrived at the correct place! Camping in fun and comfortable (for the most part), but anyone who has been camping in summer knows how hot it can get. In fact, a tent air conditioner is a vital piece of equipment when camping in hot climates.

Although there is hundreds of camping ACs on the market, only a small portion of them are ideal for safe camping. In this article we investigate which air conditioners are best for your specific requirements. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Best Portable Tent Air Conditioner

  1. hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
  2. Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted
  3. Alrocket Mini Portable Air Conditioner Fan 
  4. IcyBreeze Cooler Chill Package
  5. Arctic Cove MBF0181 18-Volt Bucket Top Misting Fan

How to find the best tent air conditioner for camping?

Before deciding on the best rated camping air conditioners, we must look at the following factors:

Price – It goes without saying, but you want to get the best tent air conditioner for the money. The total price of your camping trip can quickly add up, especially as camping equipment can be quite expensive. At the end of the end it will come down to your individual budget. It’s also important to mention that a higher price does not always mean higher quality. All products in this review represent value for money.

Weight – If you need to travel light, then you’ll want the best portable ac units for camping. On the other hand, if you are driving then the weight may not be so much of an issue, and you can focus on other factors like price and quality, instead of getting a portable camper ac.

Power – If you’ve got a big tent, you will want tent camping air conditioners that are powerful enough to keep the whole tent cool. In fact, with camping tents having poor insulation, the performance of air conditioners can be reduced 50%. As such, you may want the most powerful tent air conditioner for camping in summer.

Build quality – Like with all camping equipment, you don’t want to be let down when it matters. Imagine camping on a humid summer day, and then your AC stops working, or decreases in power. As such, be sure to buy a quality AC that is built to last.

How to determine the right cooling-capacity for camping?

To keep your tent cool, you need to consider the type of tent you have and the power of portable outdoor air conditioner that you need. You can measure the cooling capacity of tent ac units by using something known as the “British Thermal Unit (BTS)”. This measures how many thermal units the AC can output in an hour.

As a general guide, your AC should have 30 BTUs for every square foot that you want to keep cool. Let’s do a quick example using a 10,000 BTU AC.

10,000/30 = 333 square feet.

This simple equation has shown that a 10,000 BTU rated AC has the cooling-capacity to cool a tent that covers 333 square feet, which will be enough to keep a large tent cool during summer.

You should also consider that direct sunlight will affect these results. If you have direct sunlight beaming down on your tent all day long, a 10,000 BTU may not be enough. It simply won’t be able to keep up with the constant heat. As such, you need to either erect your tent in the shade or use a space cover.

Sometimes a powerful tent air conditioner may not work. Here’s how to ensure your AC works effectively:

  • Use insulation (space cover)
  • Try not to use a battery operated camping air conditioner as they may not have enough power
  • Erect your tent in the shade
  • Make sure there are no gaps around where the AC is installed
  • Use a camping generator to have power in remote locations

How to adjust a standard AC into a camping AC?

There are very little options when it comes to camping aircon. It is up to us campers to adjust standard ACs into camping ACs. With no mounting kits available on the outdoor market, we are left with just a few solutions:

Inside mounting

You can mount an AC on the inside on your tent, although we don’t recommend you do this as an AC is a large unit that takes up valuable tent space.

Outside the tent

To use a tent AC outside of your tent, your tent needs a hole in the side. While some tents already have a cut-out section for an AC mount, you may need to do it yourself. It will require some good cutting and sewing skills, so buy a ready-made AC tent if you’re not skilled in that department.

This is one of the best and most efficient ways to stay cool in summer. You will also need a small prop to hold the camping air conditioner unit off the ground. The ac for tent should also be angled at the place you want to keep the coolest. You may not want the tent air conditioner kit aimed at your sleeping area or where you will be seated, as this can be overboard.

On the rooftop

It would be great if we could hang a tent ac unit from the ceiling, but this almost impossible to do. Even a portable camping air conditioner is just too heavy for the power needed to cool your tent. The only alternative is to use a ceiling tent fan, but they aren’t the best for cooling a large tent.

Keep your tent cool with insulation

The fabric of a tent is not ideal for keeping your tent well insulated and cool. Direct sunlight will damage how cool your AC will be able to keep the tent. Ever woken up inside a tent on a hot summer morning? It’s a bit like being a roast potato.

So, how to insulate a tent to stay cool in summer? We recommend using a space blanket over the tent, which will allow your tent to feel the full benefits of the air conditioners for tents. This aluminum sheet will be effective in blocking the sun when you can’t set-up in the shade, so be sure to pack one in your camping bag.

How to get the most from your AC?

Generally, you don’t want your camping tent air conditioner  be forced to work hard. While your AC will be able to keep your tent cool on its own, there are ways to help it to do its job.

Blocking the sunlight is a great way to do this. Try and find a shaded area to erect your tent, so that it isn’t receiving direct sunlight.  You don’t want your AC fighting against a powerful sun.

To trap the cold air inside your tent, you need to make sure that there aren’t any gaps for the air to leak out. It doesn’t have to be airtight. You just need to allow the air to circulate without immediately leaking from the hole.

Lastly, you should check to see if you can wash the filter. Dirty filters won’t perform as well as should they do. In fact, you will lose precious BTU power.

FAQ

Can a portable AC be used inside a tent?

Sure. Nothing is stopping you from using camping tent air conditioner units inside a tent. You just need to ensure that the AC can operate as intended by evacuating the hot air from air conditioned tents.

Do solar-powered air conditioners work?

Yes, solar-powered ACs for camping work well. You just need to ensure you have enough starting wattage to get it going. For example, portable tent air conditioning units may say they run on 300 Watts, but it actually may need 600 Watts to start up. You need a solar-power system that will be able to cope with the required power.

Should I rent a camping AC instead of buying one?

We recommend buying affordable air conditioning for tents. However, you may be able to rent an AC that is adaptable for your tent. Be warned, you will likely to be charged extra for accessories. You may also want to consider how often you will use the outdoor air conditioner. If you will be going camping more than once over the next few years, then buying will be the better option.

Will Coleman make a portable ac for camping?

We hope so! They are one of the top camping companies in the world, so it would be great if they did. We will keep this guide updated, so be sure to stay tuned for any new releases of a coleman tent air conditioner.

Do I need a tent with an AC hole?

No, you don’t need a tent with an AC hole. Companies charge hundreds of dollars for what is basically just a small hole. If you’re able to do some basic DIY, making your own hole can be done in about an hour. If you’re not confident about making your own, then yes you should buy a tent with air conditioner hole.

Verdict

So, you now know the best tent air conditioners for camping. We would recommend the hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner or the Frigidaire FFRE0533S1, depending on the size of tent you have. This guide will regularly updated with the latest and best portable camping air conditioners. Each of the 5 portable ac units for tent camping in this review has been chosen because of their high-quality.

You could have the best camping AC in the world, but you should follow the advice in this guide to stay cool during summer. An air conditioned tent can be a real trip-saver! There is no reason to suffer from the heat while camping – you just need to create a flow of cool air through your tent.

If you want to cool an industrial tent, we would recommend getting the advice of a trained HVAC engineer who will be able to recommend an appropriate tent cooling system.