AC Units in RVs

For many years, traditional rooftop AC units, such as the Dometic, have been widely used in RVs, however, there are several reasons why an RV mini-split AC unit is  the superior choice. This article will discuss 5 advantages of using RV mini-split air conditioners over traditional rooftop AC units. The benefits of the mini split AC in RVs are significant when compared to rooftop units.

The first difference you might notice is that the bulky outside unit on the ceiling has disappeared, leaving more space for solar panels and skylights. Most mini splits not only offer cooling power via a vacuum pump but installing a mini split significantly reduces power consumption. Most mini-split systems also offer dual zone mini split AC options with remote control capabilities. They can be used to produce both cool and warm air for 4-season use.

It's important to understand the difference between the old-fashioned roof-mounted AC and mini splits. You've undoubtedly seen and enjoyed the benefits of a mini-split system if you've traveled in Europe or Asia. They’re often mounted up high near the ceiling inside a hotel room and are one square foot around by 4 feet long with a narrow opening in front with adjustable blades that open and close when operating to direct the air conditioning upwards or downwards.

Mini-Split system diagram.

What is a Mini-Split AC Unit?

Mini-splits, also known as ductless mini splits or ductless air conditioners, are  compact and versatile air conditioning systems that provide efficient cooling and heating without the need for ductwork. They consists of two main components: an outdoor condenser unit and one or more indoor air handling units. The outdoor condenser unit houses the compressor, condenser coil, and fan responsible for dissipating cool air or heat. It is typically installed outside the building or RV, either on the ground or mounted on a wall or roof. The condenser unit connects to the indoor units through refrigerant lines, power cables, and a condensate drain line.

The indoor air handling units, also known as evaporator units, are responsible for distributing cooled or heated air into the living space. These units are compact and designed to be mounted on walls, suspended from ceilings, or even recessed into the structure. They contain an evaporator coil, a fan, and air filters that help clean and circulate the air. Mini split AC units utilize a refrigeration cycle to transfer heat from the indoor space to the outdoors, providing cooling during hot weather. The refrigerant, a chemical compound with excellent heat transfer properties, absorbs heat from the indoor air as it passes over the evaporator coil. The heat absorbed by the refrigerant is then transported to the outdoor condenser unit, where it is released into the outside air.

In addition to cooling, many Mini-Split AC units offer heat pump functionality, allowing them to reverse the refrigeration cycle and provide heating during cold weather. By reversing the flow of refrigerant, the outdoor unit absorbs heat from the outside air and transfers it to the indoor units, where it is released into the living space.This heating mode makes Mini Split AC units suitable for year-round use, providing both cooling and heating capabilities. One of the significant advantages ofMini Split AC units is their flexibility. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, which rely on ductwork to distribute air throughout a building, Mini Split AC units do not require ducts. Instead, they use refrigerant lines to connect the indoor and outdoor units, making installation easier and more adaptable to different building layouts. This ductless design also eliminates the energy losses and air leakage associated with ductwork, improving overall energy efficiency.

Mini-splits are compact and offer a flexible air conditioning system that provides efficient cooling and heating without the need for ductwork. Its ductless design, zonal control, and year-round functionality make it an excellent choice for various applications, including recreational vehicles. Mini-split systems can be powered by batteries or shore power  If it's a smaller RV or camper van with just one main living area, then one indoor unit is quite adequate. If it's larger with several rooms and enough space, such as a fifth wheel that needs more cooling or heating, then two units or more can be installed.

The 5 Benefits of a Mini Split AC System In an RV

Mini Split air conditioning systems have gained popularity in recent years due to their numerous advantages over traditional HVAC systems. This holds true not only for residential and commercial spaces but also for recreational vehicles (RVs). The compact size, energy efficiency, flexible cooling, and heating capabilities, space-saving design, quiet operation, and personalized climate control make Mini Split ACs an excellent choice for RV owners.

1. Energy Efficiency

One of the primary advantages of mini splits is their exceptional energy efficiency. The standard for measuring energy is known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which is the measurement of the cooling output versus the input power of an air conditioner. The higher the ratio, the greater the efficiency and the lower the power consumption.

Traditional RV air conditioning systems rely on large, central units that consume much more energy. The inside unit has an efficiency rating from 20 to 35 SEER2, so they use far less energy than standard rooftop RV ACs, which average about 8-9 SEER2. Many  mini-split ACs are Energy Star certified, which adds up to robust efficiency ratings.. This is most valuable for off-grid users who rely on solar power and lithium batteries for generating and storing power because a  mini-split is highly efficient and saves electric energy. According to Energy Star Ratings, mini-splits use 60% less energy for heating and 30% less energy for cooling versus other air conditioners, versus other air conditioners.

Many mini-splits reduce battery power requirements by utilizing inverter technology. Inverter-driven compressors adjust the cooling or heating capacity of the unit according to the demand, allowing for precise temperature control and reduced energy consumption. The mini-split in an RV begins by pulling air from outside and then cools or heats the air through refrigerant pipes. A professionally installed outside condenser and line set not only provides energy-efficient operation that can significantly extend the battery life of the RV, but it also minimizes the strain on power sources of a small or large RV, making mini splits an ideal choice for off-grid camping or boondocking.

2. Flexible Cooling & Heating

Mini Split ACs provide unparalleled flexibility when it comes to cooling and heating your RV. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, which only offer centralized cooling or heating, mini splits can be installed with multiple indoor units, each independently controlled, allowing you to create personalized comfort zones within your RV. This zonal cooling and heating not only enhance comfort but also helps save energy by avoiding unnecessary cooling or heating of unoccupied spaces. For example, you can stay cool in the living area during the day while keeping the bedroom slightly warmer. Additionally, mini splits often come with heat pump functionality, enabling them to provide both cooling and heating with high efficiency, making them suitable for year-round use regardless of the weather conditions. Another advantage of mini split AC units is their space-saving design. You can install a mini split system flush mounted on the side of the RV, reducing the need for a rooftop unit and decreasing the overall height of RV units.

3. Space-Saving Design

RV owners are well aware of the limited space available inside their vehicles. A mini split indoor unit is designed with space efficiency in mind. These systems consist of a compact outdoor condenser unit and a sleek indoor air handling unit, which can be mounted on walls and recessed into the RV's structure. This space-saving design eliminates the need for bulky ductwork, which takes up valuable storage or living space in traditional HVAC systems. By opting for mini-split ACs, you can make the most of your RV's interior space without compromising on comfort or style.

4. Quiet Operation

Another advantage of the mini- split air conditioner, especially appreciated in the confined spaces of an RV, is their its quiet operation. Traditional RV air conditioning systems often produce a loud noise, which can be disruptive and affect your overall comfort. In contrast, mini splits utilize advanced technologies to minimize operational noise. The absence of noisy ductwork, combined with the use of quiet compressors and optimized fan design, ensures a peaceful and relaxing environment inside the RV. The quiet operation of these advanced technology air conditioners allows you to enjoy conversations, watch movies, or sleep without any disturbance, enhancing the overall RV experience.

5. Personalized Climate Control

With mini- split AC systems, you have complete control over the climate inside your RV. These systems offer a range of features that allow you to customize your comfort level. Most mini split air conditioners come with programmable thermostats, enabling you to set different temperature schedules throughout the day or week. Some models even offer advanced features like Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to control the temperature remotely using a smartphone app. Remember, these air conditioners also have heat pumps, so they can quickly and easily take off the chill on cold days. This personalized climate, and variable speed control ensures that you can create the perfect indoor environment to suit your preferences, whether traveling during a hot summer day or chilly winter nights.

Living Vehicle's mini-split AC system exterior.


In conclusion, mini split air conditioners offer many advantages, making them a superior choice for RV owners. Their energy efficiency, flexible cooling, and heating capabilities, space-saving design, quiet operation, and personalized climate control contribute to a comfortable, energy efficient energy-efficient, and enjoyable experience while exploring this magnificent world.