Caravan Air Conditioning – How To Keep Your Van Cool

Caravan Cooling Techniques

Summers are getting hotter each year. Being comfortable when you’re on the road can really make a difference to the quality of your holiday. Caravan air conditioning, extra insulation, improved ventilation, awnings and fans are all options to consider when planning to stay cool. Some are simple and inexpensive, but can still make a big difference to the comfort factor.

Late winter and early spring is a good time to start thinking about any repairs, installations or upgrades that you want completed  on your caravan before the warmer camping season arrives.

Caravan 12 Volt Fan

Air flow can make a huge difference during hot nights. One of the most inexpensive ways of keeping cool is to instal a 12 volt fan, which can provide good relief from heat in small or medium sized vans. Twelve volt fans don’t use much energy and cost between $100 and $200, depending on the brand.

Make sure to check the noise level of the fan before purchasing, or check caravan forums for brand recommendations.  You don’t want to fix one problem and end up with a noisy appliance that prevents you from sleeping.

Caravan Insulation

Caravans heat up quickly in the hot sun. New caravans are generally well insulated, but older model caravans can have poor insulation. It is possible to retrofit insulation in the walls and/or the roof in older caravans, but this is generally a big and expensive job.

If you have an older caravan with poor insulation, and improving the insulation of your van is not an option, consider other heat reduction options, like fans or air conditioning.

If you are purchasing an older caravan and are concerned about heat, consider buying a pop-top, which lets the hot air out through the roof.

Types Of Caravan Air Conditioning

If you’re not used to traveling in hot weather or you’re traveling in northern Australia, caravan air conditioning is worth considering.

Caravan air conditioning systems can be installed on the roof of your caravan or they can be built into the cabin area. Caravan air conditioning units are purpose built for caravans and are different to household air conditioners. They are designed to be waterproof and all brackets and mountings are made to withstand vibrations.

Roof Top Caravan Air Conditioning

Roof top air conditioning is quick and easy to install. The advantage of this type of unit is:

  • Easy installation
  • No impact on storage space

Roof mounted caravan air conditioners are designed to have minimal impact on wind resistance.

Roof mounted units are also considered to be very effective at cooling, because cold air sinks and so drops quickly to the living space of the van, where you will feel it.

In-Built Caravan Air Conditioning

Roof mounted caravan air conditioning units don’t work on all vans, particularly if you have a pop top caravan or a camper trailer. For these situations an in-built air conditioning unit can be installed underneath the bed or inside a cupboard. The only drawback is loss of storage space.

Emu Caravans recently installed a ducted reverse cycle heating and cooling system to a caravan in our caravan repairs workshop in Melbourne. You can find out more on our video.

The cooling system is a 2.4kw system and we regard it as the best on the market.


When calculating how effective an air conditioner will be in your caravan, you need to take into consideration how well you van is insulated. Most air conditioner manufacturers will assume that a caravan is insulated when they calculate the effectiveness of their product. Remember that a canvas roof area will be less effective at retaining cool air.


Other Caravan Cooling Methods

Other methods to consider when trying to stay cool in summer, include:

  • Installing a caravan awning.
  • Replacing incandescent and halogen light globes with LED or fluorescent.
  • Repairing peeling paint on the roof of your van and replacing with quality insulating paint.
  • Using high quality tinted window film to insulate caravan windows.

Other tips to keep your cool while camping include making sure you open windows and provide good cross ventilation in your van; seek shade protection; and take advantage of the warm weather and cook outside.

To find out more about modifying a caravan to install air conditioning contact our Melbourne caravan repair centre. Air conditioning installations are a regular part of the many caravan modifications and repairs we do.

About Emu Caravan Repairs Melbourne

We are a caravan repairs centre located in Ferntree Gully, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. We service customers across Melbourne and Victoria.

We are experts in all types of caravan modifications and we also offer a free onsite caravan insurance repair quotes within a 30 km radius of Ferntree Gully.

2 thoughts on “Caravan Air Conditioning – How To Keep Your Van Cool

  1. Robyn Rodriguez
    January 17, 2020

    We own a pop top and are not happy with the air conditioner that sits in a shelf cavity area. I have read your information and it seems we need to look at a storage air conditioner. Just curious before we come to talk to you, is there a ball park figure you could guide us with? I think it is a 16 feet Prince Coronet pop top.

    • January 20, 2020

      Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for your comment and enquiry. We’re super busy coming back from the holiday break, but we’ll respond to you very soon. Please call us if more urgent: (03) 9752 2988 and ask for Luke.