It’s summertime and the heat is on. This is when most people do their traveling and exploring, and rightfully so. Summer is the time to explore all those beautiful places that are too snowy or cold the rest of the year for RV living.
Unfortunately, summer is also the time when staying cool while boondocking and relying on solar power can get complicated.
Yes, you have unlimited sun, but you also can have sweltering heat that may have you running for the RV park where you can plug in and run a powerful fan or AC without draining your batteries. Don’t do it yet! There are ways to stay cool RVing with only your solar power.
These tips are for those looking to boondock or disperse camp. They are also for the people who don’t have or choose not to run generators and opt for total electrical independence by running on only solar power.
1. Find the right portable fan
A fan is crucial for staying cool during the day and also sleeping at night, but most fan motors can drain batteries quickly. Thankfully, there’s one that uses minimal power and still moves a good volume of air. The O2 Cool fan fits this bill and it doesn’t drain the bank either.
This fan can run on D batteries if you need it to or you can plug it into your inverter and it’ll run with a low amp draw because of the patented fan blade design. This fan is a must-have for hot days, especially if you have pets.
2. Install a fantastic roof fan
This roof fan gets installed right into your RV roof vent. It runs off your 12-volt system and is also super efficient so you don’t have to worry about the batteries being drained during the day or middle of the night.
These fans are really helpful for staying cool when you’re parked somewhere where you don’t want to keep your windows open all the way. Just keep one or two windows cracked or another vent open and run the fan. This will cause a negative pressure drawing air into the rig and then exhausting it.
At night, switch it to “reverse” mode and it will take the cooler outside air and push it into the RV with a positive pressure. These fans can be a little pricey but are well worth it as air movement is the key to keeping a space cool.
3. Use your awning and screen
The obvious benefit of an awning is that it will create a nice shaded area for you to sit outside and enjoy a breeze on a hot day, but there is another added bonus that everyone might not realize. By shading a side of your RV you are helping prevent it from heating up inside as quickly.
This means that you can park in the sun to ensure your roof-mounted solar panels are getting charged while still keeping part of your RV shaded. Add a screen to the awning and you can capture even more shade time.
4. Take advantage of shade WHILE keeping your solar panels charged
Ultimately, being able to park in full shade from sun up to sun down is the best way to keep your RV cool in hot summer weather. Unfortunately, it is not the best for charging your solar panels if they are permanently mounted to your roof.
The straightforward solution is to make your solar panels movable and this way you can take advantage of the shade while still drawing power from the sun. Read here for more details on this DIY solution.
5. Make sure your screens are intact
The last thing you want to have to do on a hot summer day is close your windows because the bugs are getting in. Before heading out check all your screens and make sure that they are intact. If there are any holes follow this simple DIY window screen repair tip to fix them.
And if you’re full-timing or going to be out in the wilderness for a while, bring along some extra screen and a screen roller to make repairs on the road and ensure you’re getting a maximum breeze through your rig.
6. Have these things on hand before heading out in the summer
Here are some extra things that are always recommended for staying cool and safe while boondocking in the summer.
Carry around some 5-gallon jugs of water to have on hand for drinking. You can never drink enough water in the summer heat and these are easy to fill at any water filling station or any potable water source. The last thing you want to do is have to leave an awesome boondocking spot because you’ve run out of water.
A quality cooler
There are times when your RV fridge may just not keep up with the heat while boondocking. Follow this DIY tip to maximize your fridge’s efficiency in the heat, but also have a quality cooler on hand full of ice to store anything that will go bad if your fridge starts to lose it’s cool (i.e. milk, yogurt, meat, beer).
An insulated water bottle
There are some quality water bottles out there now that will keep your water or beverage cold in any weather. Invest in one and you’ll be thankful when you have ice cold water to drink.
A positive attitude about the heat
You’ve waited all year for the summer heat to be here so now try to sit back, relax and enjoy it. Don’t overexert yourself in the middle of the summer heat. Take a nap in your hammock in the shade, find a swimming hole, whatever it takes to be able to enjoy the sun because in no time you will be shoveling snow again dreaming about these hot summer days.
Follow these tips and you’ll find that it’s possible to rely on solar power to stay cool while RVing in the summer heat. However, always use caution when heading out into the wilderness in extremely hot weather and be prepared to get to a place where you can cool off if it gets to be too much, especially if you have animals along for the ride. Stay cool and travel on.