There is no doubt that taking to the road under a bright blue sky and blazing sun, is pretty much a dream come true. But, there is a downside, especially when you are parked up or trying to sleep – it can get really, really hot! Which is why we thought we’d give you our top tips for keeping cool in your campervan.
So, without further ado…
How to keep cool in your campervan
First things first – keep out the heat!
- Shut the curtains (or close the blinds) on the side of the vehicle that is facing the sun.
- If possible, park your campervan where you can get some shade – under a tree would be ideal.
- Orient your vehicle so that you don’t get the full force of the sun in through your windows, especially at mid day.
- Only open the windows that are in the shade; otherwise you will just be letting in hot air and adding to your problems.
- Keep your skylights open – hot air rises.
- If you have them, use thermal screens to reflect the sun and stop it heating your interior. We only had a silver reflector screen for our windscreen, (none for the side windows) so we improvised…
This is what we did…
We bought cheap fold-out ‘car windscreen’ silver screens and made templates of our side windows from thin cardboard. Then we placed our template on the cheap screens and cut around to make ‘custom’ screens for our windows. Brilliant!
Our homemade screens keep out the sun and give us more privacy at night too. They are a really cheap, effective solution, and easy to replace when needed as well. When they’re not in use they fold flat and can just be popped away in a cupboard.
Tip: Remember it is not a good idea to position the back of your fridge/vents in full sun. The hotter it gets the harder your fridge has to work to keep cool.
Looking after yourself in hot weather – don’t get dehydrated!
- To check if you are getting enough liquids, take a look at the colour of your wee: dark yellow or Amber means you are dehydrated and need to up your intake of liquids.
- The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are.
- Aside from the colour of your urine, watch out for these other symptoms of dehydration: headaches, feeling dizzy, rapid heartbeat, and a dry mouth.
- If you are drinking alcohol in hot weather, remember that it will dehydrate you, so be sure to drink soft drinks or water too.
It isn’t just humans that can get dehydrated – your dog can too…
Signs that your dog is dehydrated, include:
- Panting, and breathing in short fast breaths.
- A dry nose and mouth with gums that feel sticky.
- Tiredness and lack of activity.
- Slow responses.
Besides the obvious of keeping fresh water available, you might like to check out our article on dog accessories for your campervan canine. The article features two great products: a gel cooling mat, and a dog cooling coat, both of which will help your four-legged friend stay cool in your campervan and outdoors too!
“What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”
– Jane Austen
More tips for keeping cool in your campervan
- Cook outside if possible – you don’t need any more heat or steam indoors – this is where a barbeque comes into its own.
- If you have an awning make good use of the mesh ventilation panels and ensure you have through draft. (If you haven’t got an awning and are thinking of buying one, you might like to read our article on drive away awnings.)
- Utilise any shade. Ideally, you will be parked under a big leafy tree, but if not, put up a parasol/umbrella, it will create shade from the sun and make sitting outdoors a lot more comfy.
- Still too hot – fill your washing up bowl from the cold water tap, and put your feet in it! It will cool you down in no time.
- If your campsite offers free freezing of ice blocks – take advantage of this. Wrap the frozen ice block in a tea towel and use it to cool yourself down, it is ideal for helping you to get to sleep on hot sticky nights.
- Talking of sleeping – ditch the duvet and just use a thin cotton sheet to cover you instead.
We’ve covered our tips for keeping cool in a campervan – but what if you need a little more help?
Well, we’ve been looking around at what you can buy to stop you from melting in the heat. Read on and see what we found out…
Portable air conditioner for a campervan – is there such a thing?
Now, a portable air conditioner sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what we thought! But we’ve searched high and low for one that’s small enough to use in a campervan and at the time of writing this article we haven’t found one. Most are either large roof-mounted units that are very expensive and require major work to fit them. Or units that are designed for home use. Even the smallest of these are still large, bulky and noisy – not really practical for use in a campervan!
So what are the alternatives?
Well, we’ve found two super portable and affordable cooling solutions that might be worth considering.
Firstly, there is this…
Portable air cooler:
Take a look at this portable air cooler – note the word cooler and not conditioner. This is not an air conditioner, it simply uses cold water to help cool the air blowing out of the unit. (Ice cubes can be added to the water for a better cooling effect.) The unit will also work without water, just like a conventional fan.
The unit is USB powered (lead included). It has a three-speed fan, low, medium and high. There are also seven LED mood lighting colours to choose from!
- Width 14.7cm
- Height 16.4cm
- Depth 16.8cm
There are many versions of this type of portable air cooler on Amazon and the general opinion is that they actually do work. (Note that it’s important that the filters are allowed to dry out completely when it’s not in use to prevent them from going mouldy.)
If you’re looking for an alternative to a portable air conditioner, then surely this might be worth considering?
And secondly, a…
Wireless USB clip-on fan:
This powerful, portable clip-on fan offers some practical solutions for use in a campervan. It’s compact (20cm x 15cm x 10cm), quiet (just 40dB) and lightweight (500 grams).
The fan is powered by two 2500 mAh rechargeable batteries which are included. On a full charge (which takes between 4-6 hours) the batteries last a whopping 32 hours on the minimum setting and 6 hours on the maximum setting.
Charging is via a USB lead, (which is included) this also enables the fan to be used as an emergency phone charger.
The fan can be placed on any flat surface. It also has an integrated clamp so can be clamped to pretty much anything inside or outside of the campervan. Combine this with the 360-degree rotating head and you should have no problem finding the perfect position for this little guy to keep you cool.
Have a read through the Amazon reviews for this fan and I’m sure that you’ll understand why we thought it would be ideal for use in a campervan.
If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, what about this…
Campervan roof fan:
For a more permanent solution to keeping your campervan cool in the summer, how about a roof skylight fan like this Fiamma roof fan? The roof fan can be fitted in the main living area or toilet compartment of the vehicle.
The roof fan uses a five-speed 12v fan to draw in fresh air from the outside and remove warm air and/or odours from inside the vehicle. It has a built-in thermostat that can be automatically or manually controlled, and to prevent insects the unit is fitted with two robust mosquito nets.
- Exterior dimensions: 460mm x 460mm.
- Cut-out dimensions: 390mm x 390mm
- Roof thickness: 30mm – 45mm
- Height above roof: 85mm
- Airflow: 14 – 28 cubic metres per minute
- Power: 1.1A – 1.8A
- Weight: 4.3kg
- 1 x Fiamma crank roof hood
- 1 x Dekalin tube of sealant
If you are going to be doing a lot of travel in warmer climes, then this roof fan may be the perfect solution for keeping cool in your campervan!
Right, so that just about sums up our exploration of how to keep cool in your campervan…
Lots of tried and tested tips, and some new ones that we are going to put to good use ourselves. Now, we just need good weather so we can give them a try! 🙂
See you on the road!
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
– Sam Keen