Is your caravan more like an oven than a happy holiday home?
There’s nothing quite like an Australian summer. We all have memories of roasting away in our vans like a pig on a spit on a hot summer’s night. Fans can help a bit, but when it really gets hot, they tend to just blow around the hot air without helping much.
If you want to create your own personal caravan mini-climate then you’ll need an air conditioner. The beauty of these is that, provided they can run as a reverse cycle unit, they can be used to heat your van in winter.
However, it’s not always easy to find the right type for you. A variety of styles suit different vehicles and lifestyles.
But don’t worry, I’m here to help. Let’s look at several caravan air conditioners with different pros and cons.
Dometic Harrier Lite Air Conditioner
Truma Aventa Comfort Reverse Cycle
Finch Australia HB9000 Under Bunk Aircon
Truma Saphir Comfort Ducted AC
Close Comfort Cool Focus Portable AC
7.8 A (~1.9 kW)
4.2 A (~1.0 kW)
4.2 A (~1.0kW)
4.2 A (~1.0 kW)
?? (~0.3 kW)
28 A (150 ms)
20 A (150 ms)
Personal cooling only
Best Caravan Air Conditioners Australia
Dometic Harrier Lite Air Conditioner
Dometic is a brand leader when it comes to caravan appliances and accessories.
The Harrier Lite is a quiet and efficient rooftop AC. It’s also very light compared to similar air conditioners in its class. Weighing in at just 36kg, it’s almost 10 kilos lighter than the regular Dometic Harrier.
It also offers four blower speeds, unlike most alternatives that just offer three. This is a very easy machine to use with an automatic brightness display and a full-function remote.
If there’s one downside, it’s the cost. Retailing at over $2000, it’s definitely not a cheap unit.
However, it’s worth remembering that Dometic has a strong reputation. Nor do they take your investment for granted because they offer a three-year warranty. That’s longer than all of their rivals. Read more about the Dometic warranty.
All in all, this is a fantastic air conditioner.
Truma Aventa Comfort Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner
Best Rooftop AC
The Truma Aventa comfort is one of the best caravan air conditioners available today.
It costs roughly the same as the Dometic Harrier Lite but it has a couple of significant advantages.
Firstly, it will efficiently circulate air through vehicles up to 7.5m. This makes it more suited to larger caravans than the Harrier Lite. Meanwhile, the cooling power is very strong but also economical.
It’s less in-your-face than several rivals with a slimline structure.
One of this air con’s best features is its sleep function. This enables quiet operation at night so that you can stay cool without being kept up by a whirring compressor or fan. It also comes with a timer so you can easily set the machine to cool your van whenever you want.
Another nice touch is the LED lighting. This allows for ease of use, even in the dark.
The Harrier Lite has an extra year warranty but overall the Aventa comfort is better value for money.
Finch Australia HB9000 Under Bunk Air Conditioner
Best Underbunk Aircon
If you’re not looking to cool your entire van at once, this Finch air con could be for you.
This Australian-based company designs their products specifically for the needs of Ozzies. They believe that the HB9000 is perfect for every weather you’ll encounter down under. It will even work when the temperature drops to just a single degree outside.
One of the obvious benefits is that it’s over $500 cheaper than the two previous air conditioners you’ve seen. However, this comes with a couple of caveats.
It’s less efficient over a larger area than the Truma Aventa Comfort as it is specifically designed to be an under bunk air conditioner. However, it’s quite light at just 27.8kg so this may be ideal.
Bear in mind that the Finch is also less economical than other air conditioners on this list. While you do save money at first, it has a much higher electrical draw.
Truma Saphir Comfort Ducted Air Conditioner
The Truma Saphir Comfort is a high-performance air conditioner with a lot of upsides.
At just 23.5kg it’s significantly lighter than the Dometic Harrier Lite or the Truma Aventa Comfort. If you’re conscious about your weight restrictions but you want an efficient caravan ac, then this might be the best caravan air conditioner for you.
As well as cooling or heating your van, the Saphir Comfort will also dehumidify the air. This makes it a fantastic option if somebody has allergies or you plan on taking a lot of showers.
Meanwhile, it’s very easy to use via remote control or Truma’s own control panel which can be bought separately.
To enjoy the full benefits of this caravan AC you’ll need to buy ducting separately. If you don’t, it’s more effective as an under-bunk air conditioner.
Close Comfort Cool Focus Portable Air Cooler
Best Portable Air Conditioner
So far we’ve looked at fixed air-cons but there is another option.
The Close Comfort Cool Focus AC is one of the best portable air conditioners for caravans.
This caravan aircon won’t cool your entire van but it is effective in a focused area. If you only need to chill your sleeping area, then this will be more than suitable.
If you buy the Close Comfort you’ll save hundreds of dollars. It’s a much cheaper alternative to buying a rooftop or built-in caravan AC. This 17kg unit is light (relatively speaking!) and portable, thanks to the wheels attached to the base.
One of the benefits of being a weaker unit is that it consumes less power - only about 300 watts, which is far lower than the other units on this list.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a reverse-cycle function so it won’t be suitable for the winter months.
What Type Of Air Conditioner Should I Buy?
There are three different types of caravan air conditioners. You’ll need to decide which is most suitable for your vehicle, based on your budget, vehicle weight and space allowances and more.
Check them out below.
Rooftop Air Conditioner
A rooftop air conditioner sits on the roof of the caravan. These are the most efficient at dispersing cool air throughout the entire vehicle.
This type of caravan ac is very commonly used because they’re easy to install and don’t require a lot of space. Usually, they are also reverse-cycle making them perfect for all weathers.
Typically, they come in two sizes at 360x360mm or 400mm x 400mm.
Built-in Air Conditioner
These caravan air conditioners are less powerful than their rooftop equivalents.
As a result, they’re most useful for pop-ups and smaller caravans. If you only want to cool your sleeping area, then you may find it useful too. Usually, they are installed under the main bunk for this purpose.
Under bunk air conditioners have a couple of advantages. As they’re lower to the ground, they cool the air much quicker. They’re also typically quieter.
Portable Air Conditioner
If you’re stuck for space or you can’t bear the thought of forking out thousands of dollars for a caravan appliance, buy a portable AC.
They’re much cheaper and perform a similar function to built-in air conditioners for a much lower price.
The advantage is that you can remove them from your van as often and as easily as you like. However, the main downside is that this type of AC will definitely get in your way at some point.
Another potential issue is that many of them won’t have a reverse-cycle function. Sure, Australia isn’t the coldest country in the world, but it’s nice to have the option on a winter’s night.
What to Consider When Buying A Caravan Air Conditioner
Buying a caravan air conditioner is a big and expensive step. You should consider several points before making your decision. This way you’ll have the AC that suits your camping vehicle best.
Here’s what to consider before making your purchase.
Another aspect to consider when buying a new caravan AC is how the cooling/heating system works.
The best caravan air conditioners in Australia are reverse-cycle units. These use a compressor for cooling and heating. While their heating capacity isn’t particularly powerful, it should be more than enough for most situations.
However, these heaters are less efficient than reverse-cycle units, which is sufficient for most parts of Australia.
Cooling and Heating Capacities
When you’re looking for a new air conditioner, there are two measurements to consider. These are the cooling and heating capacities.
Cooling capacity: This is the AC’s ability to remove heat inside the camping vehicle. It is measured in kilowatts and is typically between 2.0 - 3.0 kW.
Heating capacity: This is the unit’s ability to transfer heat inside the van and is typically between 1.0 - 3.0 kW.
Generally speaking, a 2.0 - 2.5kW unit is best for caravans up to 6m. Any longer and you will want to look at getting either a larger unit or multiple units.
Another important point to consider is the amount of energy the unit will use.
There’s no hiding from the fact that caravan air conditioners are hungry appliances. They will draw anywhere from 1.0 - 2.0 kW.
This is massive compared to your other appliances which will use just a fraction of this. If you’re at a campsite this won’t be an issue because you can just plug into the mains, but don’t even think about powering one of these from your solar panels.
If running them off the grid, you’ll need an appropriately sized generator to keep up with the air con’s power consumption.
After taking your caravan’s specifications into account, think about your personal habits and what you’ll be doing.
How long will you spend in the van while on holiday? How often do you go on holiday during the hottest months? Consider what size unit you will need.
Do you like cooking and showering in your van on a regular basis? If so, your van will get more steamy and humid (see this guide on caravan condensation), and therefore the likes of the Truma Saphir with its dehumidification functions might be more suitable.
How about the number of people in the van?
Maybe there are only a couple of you so a rooftop caravan AC might not be necessary. But if there are four or five in the vehicle then it could be the best option.
I hope that now you have a better understanding of the different types of caravan air-cons that are available for cooling your caravan.
The Truma Aventa Comfort is one of the best rooftop air cons. The combination of its light weight and ability to circulate air through larger camping vehicles makes this a great option.
If you prefer an under-bunk air conditioner, then go for the Finch. Designed by Australians for Australians, it’s much cheaper than its rivals and works very well.
Finally, if you prefer a portable air conditioner, consider the Close Comfort.
The best caravan air conditioner is the one that cools the area you want and meets your budget. Hopefully, one of the above will suit your needs.
If you have any questions about air conditioners please drop a comment below.
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Note that while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, there may sometimes be errors. Check all specifications with the manufacturer before purchasing any product.