Best AC for Van Life in 2023: Chill Out Anywhere!

Best AC unit for van life - 2023

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As temperatures soar, many aspiring explorers are trying to figure out the smartest way to keep their vehicles cool. Van lifers and RV’ers alike know that space is often limited when it comes to vehicle air conditioning systems. For some folks, a rooftop fan is enough, but for those who travel in hotter climates or with pets, an AC unit is a must.

Fortunately, several top-tier rooftop air conditioners are designed for precisely this purpose. With high-power cooling capabilities and minimal profile components, these AC units can make any vehicle interior a refreshing oasis of comfort no matter where life takes you!

Here at life in utopia, we are all about getting outdoors; van air conditioners are not an excuse for us to stay in our van when it is hot outside. Get out there and explore our big, wonderful world, knowing you can always comfortably cool down later.

So, if you’re looking for the best air conditioners for van life, check out our top picks and see which is our favorite!

What Type of AC Unit Do You Need?

There is no more need to use your portable air conditioner anymore. When deciding what type of 12-volt (battery power) AC unit you need for your van, it is crucial to consider both the size of the van and the climate conditions you will be driving in.

The larger the van, typically, the more significant the AC unit required. Additionally, a more robust and efficient 12-volt unit may be necessary if you are traveling in climates with high temperatures. Knowing this information is crucial for picking out a rooftop air conditioner to meet your van life needs.

An important factor to remember is the size of your battery bank and how you recharge your batteries. If you have solar power, you will be ahead of the game. Nothing is worse than enjoying your AC; it shuts down, and you are out of power.

Researching AC Units

Dometic and nomadic cooling systems are worth considering when researching a good AC unit. Both are trusted and reliable brands with good track records for keeping your van or RV cool.

If a Nomadic unit does not fit within your budget for this project, then the Dometic, Off Indel, or even the Mabru also has some options that may appeal to you.

Taking the time to research different AC units properly can help you find something that fits your budget and meets your home’s needs.

Nomadic Cooloing X3 12V
Nomadic Cooloing X3 12V

Nomadic Cooling X3 12V ($4,185)

Yes, that is correct; this unit costs over $4k dollars before it is even installed. Venturing off on road trips can be exciting and arduous, with one of the most challenging parts being uncomfortable sleeping in the sweltering heat.

The Nomadic Cooling X3 12V is here to change that! This powerful air conditioning unit can cool a medium-sized van or RV using 12 volts of electricity. Additionally, the meager power consumption makes it perfect for those wanting to conserve energy while they travel.

Its silent running and innovative air circulation design allow you to sleep comfortably without cranking the generator late at night. The Nomadic Cooling X3 12V has all the necessary mounting brackets, making it easy for anybody to install. Get yours and start your own adventure today!


  • X3 Model – 12V
  • Current Eco Mode: 50A
  • Current Max Mode: 110A
  • Rated Power (W): 1,320
  • Rated Cooling Capacity (BTU): 11,830
  • Refridgerant R134a
  • Refrigerant Oil: POE68
  • Refrigerant Quantity(g): 600 ±30
  • Speed Range: 1,000-3,000 RPM
  • Weight: 57.3 lbs
  • Outdoor Size (IN): 31.33 × 31.5 × 7.36
  • Power Cord Specification (IN): 2 AWG

Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX 12V

Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX 12V ($2,400)

Thanks to its advanced engineering, the Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX 12V is a superior RV air conditioning system. Its lightweight yet durable construction makes it easy to install and maintain, while its powerful compressor provides quiet, efficient cooling.

Its thermostat control fine-tunes the temperature to any degree of accuracy, enabling it to easily tackle the toughest environment. Moreover, the built-in filter keeps the air inside your camper or RV free of dust and dander.

Not only that, but all these features come at an unbeatable price point compared to other models. With all this in mind, it’s not hard to see why the Dometic CoolAir 2000 RTX 12V is a great choice for any RV owner looking for a reliable air conditioning system for their rig.


  • 15 1/2″ x 19″ approximate internal opening
  • Up to 12 hours of running time
  • Very quiet (<70dBa)
  • Turbo cooling operating mode for quick cooling
  • All A/C components integrated into the roof unit
  • ADR compliant
  • High cooling capacity: 2000 W (6,824 BTU)
  • Highly efficient: only 19A power consumption in Eco mode
  • Suitable for ambient temperatures of 41 °F to 126 °F
  • 70.56 lbs

Best AC for Van Life - 2023
Best AC for Van Life - 2023

OFF Indel B Plein-Aircon 12V 4092 BTU ($2,995)

With the OFF Indel B Plein-Aircon 12V Camper Van Air Conditioner, users can kiss those old-fashioned generators goodbye and enjoy cool temperatures and comfortable humidity levels while camping, RV’ing, or vanning without having to rely on an external power source.

Unlike other campervan air conditioners available today, this product allows consumers to maintain their freedom while venturing into the wild. Truly revolutionary in its design, the OFF Indel B Plein-Aircon can cool cabins up to 19 feet long and can be powered solely by batteries, making it unmatched in convenience.


  • Compressor: Single direct-current compressor
  • 12V DC (110V-230V optional smart power supply)
  • R134A
  • 1200 Watts (4,092 BTU)
  • 16 amp/h (auto) – 42 amp/h (max)
  • Two air intakes (front/rear)
  • Three + auto fan speeds
  • 350m3/h airflow
  • Very low starting current
  • Soft Start function
  • Interior interchangeable filters
  • Outdoor unit dimensions (HxWxD): 9.7 x 26.4 x 31.5 inches
  • Roof cut-out dimensions (WxWxD): 15.8 x 15.8 inches
  • 55.77 lbs

OFF Indel B Plein-Aircon 1

OFF Indel B Plein-Aircon 2

Mabru 12V AC 12000 BTU ($2,599)

Looking to cool off during the summer? Consider investing in the Mabru 12V air conditioner 12000 BTU. This AC unit offers powerful cooling and can adjust the temperature from cold air to hot.

The multi-cool feature lets you personalize your cooling experience with a button, giving you total control over the desired temperature. The unit is also designed for quiet operation, so you don’t have to worry about bothersome noise disrupting your lullaby.

Lastly, its energy-efficient design makes it an ideal choice for anyone considering reducing their energy consumption.


  • 12000BTU Cooling capacity
  • 2200m3/h Fan air volume
  • 600m3/h Evaporative cooler air volume
  • HFC-134a/650g Refrigerant
  • 38.19 in x 33.78 in x 5.91 in
  • Min Hole size: 12.6 in x 25.2 in
  • 33 dB
  • Three working cooling modes: manual, automatic, and ECO.

Installing the AC Unit

Following the instructions that come with an AC unit can be a tricky endeavor, but it is doable with the right tools, supplies, and general know-how. Before starting the installation process, make sure to take a few moments to read through all of the instructions carefully.

This will help ensure that no steps are overlooked and that universal safety protocols are followed. Gather all necessary supplies and materials as detailed in the instructions, ensuring no gaps in materials or tools are needed for a successful installation.

Going step-by-step through the installation process will ensure a smooth experience and ensure a properly functioning AC unit throughout its lifespan.

Test the AC Unit

You’ll want to make sure your new AC unit is working properly. Perform some tests before hitting the road, just in case rework needs to be done. Also, do not test in cold weather; AC units should not be run in cooler air temperatures. A good rule of thumb is not to operate it when outside temperatures are 60 or below.

When it’s hot outside, you want to ensure your air conditioning unit is in top shape and ready to go. Nothing is more frustrating than coming home after a long day in the heat to find out your AC isn’t working properly.

To avoid that nightmare scenario, run a test on the unit each summer before temperatures become unbearably hot. Check that everything is set up correctly, all filters are clean and undamaged, and no strange noises or odors are coming from the unit while it is running.

An important step in testing an AC unit is checking its efficiency levels; this will tell you if its performance needs to be improved with maintenance or repair. Taking time for a tune-up now can help make sure your air conditioner runs properly when you need it later on.

Enjoy Your Cool, Comfortable Van!

If you’re planning a road trip or want to get out of the city and relax, nothing compares to your own vehicle’s comfort. Installing an air conditioning unit will make your dream getaway even more enjoyable.

You can easily find AC units that fit vans and RVs; installation is usually a breeze. This nice addition lets you properly manage air circulation within your space while also controlling humidity levels – perfect for those hot summer days!

With an AC unit in your van or RV, you’ll enjoy off-grid adventures or on-shore power with all the comforts of the home.


Installing rooftop AC units into your van is now more accessible than ever. With a few simple steps, you can ensure that you’ll have the perfect temperature to enjoy your journey no matter where you travel. Any of the above van air conditioning units will fit the bill. Make sure you have the proper size unit to keep your van cool.

Although it might seem intimidating initially, people of all skill levels can successfully install their own AC units with the right directions and parts. You will enjoy a comfortable temperature during your road trips and the satisfaction of installing it yourself!

So, now you know the best campervan air conditioners available to you on the market today. Just remember to size it correctly, considering your living space, battery bank, and solar power specs. You and your family will be a bunch of happy campers staying cool indoors and avoiding the summer heat.

So why wait? If you want to spend all that money, go out and buy any of the Nomadic Cooling AC units today. Otherwise, go with our choice of the best air conditioner, the Dometic RTX 2000. The open road is calling – go forth and stay cool out there!

Our Dometic RTX 2000 van ac unit (painted black)
Our Dometic RTX 2000 van AC unit painted black

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