How To Heat and Cool Your RV With a Ductless Air Conditioner

We talk a lot about mini splits in suburban and urban homes on this site. But, a ductless air conditioner can also do an excellent job heating and cooling an RV. These systems are amazingly versatile – you don’t need one larger enough for an entire home. When it comes to a recreational vehicle, a simple single-zone setup with a light air handler will do the trick.

And, with today’s heat pump technology, you can get a system that can keep your RV warm all winter too – at a fraction of the energy use you’d have with baseboard heaters or other conventional solutions.

Is it a perfect solution? Well, not quite. There’s a hefty upfront installation cost. And, you’ll have to consider the size of the outdoor unit.

But, the upfront price is offset by the energy savings you’ll experience over the years. And, most heat pump units are easy enough to fit on the back or roof without causing a problem.

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about heating and cooling your RV with a ductless mini split air conditioner system.

To do so, I’m drawing 15 years of experience as a product manager for Peirce Phelps, a a national HVAC distributor. I focus on high-efficiency and innovative systems, and work closely with dozens of contractors throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Having overseen thousands of installations, including plenty on recreational vehicles, I know all about the concerns RVers have and how to help them find the best heating and cooling solutions.

You can download our product guide for more information on models that will suit your needs. Or, if you’re here in the mid-Atlantic region, schedule a free consultation with one of our certified installers.


Challenges of Cooling an RV

Cooling an RV comes with a number of challenges that don’t come with adding heating or cooling to a permanent home. We’ll go through what you need to consider. Then we’ll see how mini split ac systems address these issues.

When it comes to cooling an RV, there are several challenges that RVers face. The first is limited space. RVs are designed to be compact and efficient, which means that there is not a lot of room for large air conditioning units.

Secondly, RVs have power limitations, which means that they cannot always support the energy requirements of traditional rooftop units.

Another challenge is the noise factor. Many RVers prefer quiet and peaceful environments, and traditional RV air conditioners can be noisy.

Finally, different climates require different air quality control solutions, which can make it difficult to find the right unit for your needs. This problem is compounded when people like to travel to different parts of the country, which have different climates.

How Mini Split Systems Work Well For RV’s

Now, we’ll see how a ductless heating and AC unit can work in a recreational vehicle:

Limited Space

Ductless air conditioners are a great solution for RVers who are dealing with limited space. These units consist of an indoor unit that is mounted on a wall inside the RV and an outdoor unit that is placed outside the RV.

This means that the RV roof-mounted unit is not necessary, freeing up valuable space inside the RV. Ductless air conditioners can be installed in a variety of locations, including the garage, shed, or even outside the RV.

Power Limitations

Ductless air conditioners are also a high-efficiency solution for RVers dealing with power limitations. These units use less power than traditional rooftop units, making them ideal for RVs that cannot support the energy requirements of larger units. You can also connect them to solar panels.


Ductless air conditioners are known for their quiet operation, which is a major advantage for RVers who prefer a peaceful environment. These units are designed to operate silently, with noise levels typically under 50 decibels.

This makes them an excellent choice for RVers who want to enjoy a good night’s sleep without the loud humming of a traditional RV air conditioner.

Different Climates

Finally, ductless air conditioners are a versatile solution for RVers dealing with different climates. These units can be used to cool the RV in the summer months and provide heat in the winter months.

Additionally, ductless air conditioners can be equipped with a variety of features that help to control the quality of the air inside the RV, including air filters, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers.

Benefits of a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner for an RV

If you’re looking for a more efficient and convenient way to heat and cool your RV, consider investing in a ductless mini-split air conditioner. Here are some of the benefits you can expect:

Energy Efficiency

Ductless mini-split air conditioners are known for their high efficiency. They use less power than traditional air conditioning systems, which can help you save money on your energy bills.

Since you can control the temperature in individual rooms, you don’t have to waste energy cooling or heating areas that aren’t in use.

Cooling Plus Heating

One of the best things about ductless mini-split air conditioners is that they can provide both cooling and heating. This means that you can use your air conditioner year-round, no matter the weather outside.

Whether you’re dealing with sweltering heat or freezing cold, a ductless mini-split can keep you comfortable.

Very Quiet Operation

If you’re tired of loud, clunky air conditioning units disrupting your peace and quiet, a ductless mini-split is a great solution. These units are designed to operate quietly, so you won’t even notice them running in the background.

Easy Installation

Installing a ductless mini-split air conditioner is much easier than installing a traditional system. Since there’s no need to install ductwork, you can have your system up and running in no time.

This makes it a great option for DIY enthusiasts or those who don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on installation.

Uses Minimal Space

Finally, ductless mini-split air conditioners use minimal space, which is a big advantage for RV owners. With a small indoor unit and an outdoor unit that can be mounted on the roof, in a garage or shed, or on the tongue or hauling hitch of your trailer, you won’t have to sacrifice valuable living space to accommodate your air conditioning system.

How A Mini Split Works

A ductless mini-split air conditioner has two main components – the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The indoor unit consists of the evaporator coil, blower, and air handler, while the outdoor unit comprises the compressor, condenser coil, and fan.

Refrigeration Cycle

A mini-split air conditioner uses a vapor compression refrigeration circuit to transfer heat from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air and carries it outside where it is released into the air.

This process is reversed when heating is required. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside air and releases it inside the RV.

Heating and Cooling

A mini-split air conditioner can function as both a cooling and heating system. It is a heat pump, which means it can extract heat from the outside air and transfer it inside to warm up the RV. This feature makes it a versatile option for RVers who travel to different climates throughout the year.

A mini-split air conditioner’s cooling capacity is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), while its energy efficiency is measured in Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the unit is.

The indoor unit has an evaporator coil that has fins to help dissipate heat into the air. A blower pushes the air through the evaporator coil and distributes it into the RV. The outdoor unit has a compressor that compresses the refrigerant, and a fan that draws air over the condenser coil to release the heat into the air.

The refrigerant flows through a suction line from the evaporator coil to the compressor and then through a liquid line to the condenser coil. An inverter is used to control the speed of the compressor motor, which helps to maintain a consistent temperature inside the RV.

What to Look For in a Mini Split AC for RVs

When choosing a ductless mini split air conditioner for your RV, there are several important factors to consider.

Heating and Cooling Capacities

The first thing to consider is the heating and cooling capacities of the unit. This is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) and will determine how effectively the unit can cool or heat your RV.

To choose the right capacity, you’ll need to calculate the square footage of your RV and then consult the Department of Energy’s guidelines for recommended BTUs per square foot.

Single Zone Vs. Multi-Zone

Another consideration is whether to choose a single zone or multi-zone system. A single zone system will have one indoor unit connected to one outdoor unit, while a multi-zone system will have multiple indoor units connected to one outdoor unit. If you have a larger RV or want to cool multiple areas, a multi-zone system may be a better option.

Installing A Ductless RV Air Conditioner

Finally, it’s important to consider the installation process for the mini split air conditioner. Look for a unit that comes with flexible lines and easy-to-follow instructions. You’ll also want to consider where to place the indoor unit, which should be in a central location with good airflow.

Make sure the unit comes with a remote control for easy temperature adjustments and look for a model with an air conditioner filter to ensure good air quality control.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Ductless Air Conditioners for an RV

How many square feet can a ductless air conditioner cool?

A ductless air conditioner’s cooling capacity depends on the model you choose. Generally, a mini-split AC can cool a room or space from 150 to 1,500 square feet. Make sure to choose the right size for your RV’s space to ensure optimal cooling efficiency.

Where do you put a mini split on an RV?

The best place to install a mini-split AC in an RV is in the main living area or bedroom. Typically, it’s mounted on an interior wall near the ceiling, so it can distribute cool air evenly throughout the RV. However, consult an expert to ensure proper placement and installation.

Are you ready to learn more? Get a free consultation to learn more about ductless AC installation professionals in Philadelphia, PA or anywhere in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland.