Do Pop Up Campers Have Air Conditioning? Does It Actually Work?

Pop up campers are the best upgrade to tent camping. They have real beds, and some have sinks, stoves, and even toilets! But do pop up campers have air conditioning? And if so, does it even work with those thin canvas walls? 

The answer is a surprising yes – it actually can work and keeps the pop up camper nice and comfortable, even in the heat of summer. 

In this article we’re covering: 

  • 5 brands of pop up campers with air conditioning
  • The types of air conditioners you can use in a pop up camper
  • How much pop up camper air conditioners cost
  • Pros and cons of using an AC in a pop up
  • How to help keep your pop up cool with and without AC

And more! Let’s get started. 

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Do Pop Up Campers Come With Air Conditioning? 

Some pop up campers come with air conditioners pre-installed from the factory, but many don’t. It all depends on the model, brand, and size of pop up camper.

If you’re in the market for a pop up camper and you like to camp in an area that gets hot during the summer, finding one with an air conditioner shouldn’t be too hard… But you can always purchase one without and install your own or use a portable air conditioner. 

Many pop up camper manufacturers have the option to upgrade and add an AC. Or you can find used models that already have one installed!

Here are 5 pop up camper brands that come with optional air conditioning. 

If you just want to know which ones are best, check out our post on the best pop up camper air conditioners here.

Do Air Conditioners Actually Work in a Pop Up Camper? 

Surprisingly, yes, air conditioners do work in pop up campers. However, there is little to no insulation in a pop up camper, so the AC will need to run constantly to keep it cool on hot days. 

Since most pop up campers are made with canvas walls, there is little material to hold in the cold air. So, while an AC will work to cool it down, it will need to run frequently, especially during the heat of the day. 

Types of Air Conditioners for Pop Up Campers

There are two main types of air conditioners you can use in a pop up camper. Portable air conditioners and roof mounted RV air conditioners. Let’s take a closer look at each kind. 

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners for pop up campers are a popular and efficient way to keep your tent camper cool in the heat. 

These are stand-alone units on wheels that plug into a power outlet and have a large venting hose that vents out through a window. Portable ACs come in different size and strength capacities, and many have 3 functions: cool, dehumidify, and fan. 

Pros and Cons of Portable AC in a Pop Up Camper


  • Efficiently works to cool down the space
  • Doesn’t require any alteration or installation
  • Many different sizes and prices to fit any budget


  • They take up floor space, which is precious in a small camper like a pop up. 
  • They can be loud. 
  • Needs to be vented out a window. 

Roof Mounted Air Conditioners

Roof mounted air conditioners are the standard AC unit you see on most larger RVs like motorhomes and camper trailers. These units are made specifically for RVs, so they’re very efficient and they mount to the roof very securely. 

Once a roof mounted AC is installed, you never have to worry about it. Just turn it on when you need it and it’ll do it’s thing!

A single rooftop AC has plenty of power to cool down your entire pop up camper. 

Pros and Cons of Roof Mounted Air Conditioners on Pop Up Campers


  • Doesn’t take up any floor space. 
  • Efficiently cools down the entire space. 
  • Quieter than portable units.


  • Unless you already have one, it will require cutting a hole in the roof of your pop up camper and running electricity to it.
  • Typically more expensive than portable RV air conditioners.
  • May need to add roof reinforcements or braces to support the weight of the AC. 

Window Unit Air Conditioners

If you have a hard-sided pop up camper, you may be able to consider a window unit AC. These air conditioners cost less than the other types of ACs, but they do need something sturdy to mount to. This article focuses primarily on pop up tent campers, but we did want to give good ol’ window units a mention.

Pros and Cons of a Window AC in a Pop Up


  • Less expensive than other types of AC.
  • Doesn’t take up floor space.


  • Needs to be installed in a rigid area, so you may need to add a board to a wall or window, and will require bracing from outside.
  • Can be a pain to set up and take down.

Pros of Air Conditioning in a Pop Up Camper

Camping in a pop up camper can be incredibly comfortable. It’s like all the benefits of tent camping – only with a real bed, amenities, and even AC! Here are the pros of air conditioning in a pop up camper. 

  • You’ll sleep better in the dog days of summer with an AC in your pop up. 
  • Your camper will become a cool retreat during the hottest parts of the day instead of a sweltering tent oven.

Cons of Air Conditioning in a Pop Up Camper

Although air conditioning can make your pop up camper experience more comfortable, there are a couple downsides to be aware of. 

  • Power consumption: you will need to be at a campsite with a power pedestal strong enough to handle the power draw of the AC. Alternatively, you’ll have to run a generator the entire time your AC is on, which can get noisy. 
  • Noise: while some people (like myself) love to sleep to the lull of an air conditioner, some people don’t like the noise. And since you’re in a tent camper, it will likely be heard outside your camper as well. 
  • Cost: if you don’t already have an air conditioner in your pop up, you can expect to shell out a decent chunk of change to purchase one.

How Much Do Air Conditioners Cost for a Pop Up Camper?

The price of air conditioners for a pop up camper varies. Roof-mounted RV AC units cost the most, and portable air conditioners are much more affordable. In general, you can expect to spend anywhere between $275 to $2,000 depending on the AC type.

Rooftop RV AC Unit Prices

Rooftop RV AC units vary in price between around $600 to $2,000, depending on the model and size. 

However, there may be other costs associated with roof mounted ACs. If your pop up camper isn’t set up for one, you will likely need to have it professionally installed. This installation can cost hundreds to over $1,000 or more. 

Portable Air Conditioner Prices

Portable air conditioners are much more affordable. We highly recommend going with this option if you’re looking for an AC for your pop up camper.

Portable air conditioners vary in price between around $275 to upwards of $650. The range in price depends on the size or BTU rating of the AC, with the more expensive ones being able to cool a larger area. 

Tips to Help Your Pop Up Air Conditioner Run More Effectively 

As we mentioned earlier in the article, air conditioners do work in pop up campers… but these campers aren’t very insulated, so your AC will have to work harder than it would in another type of camper. 

Here are some tips to help your pop up camper AC work more effectively. 

  • Park your pop up camper in the shade. 
  • Keep your windows completely zipped up. 
  • Minimize opening the door. 
  • Cook outside. 
  • Use your awning for extra shade on the exterior. 
  • Use a fan to circulate air inside your camper. 
  • Insulate the canvas walls of your camper with a material like Reflectix. 
  • Clean the AC filter regularly. 

Related: RV AC Not Cooling? Troubleshooting and Repair Tips

How to Keep a Pop Up Camper Cool Without AC

If, after all of this, you decide that maybe an air conditioner isn’t the best choice for you… How do you keep a pop up camper cool without AC? 

You have a few options! Here are some tips to keep a pop up camper cool without an air conditioner. 

  • Park your pop up camper in the shade. 
  • Park your pop up camper near open water, if possible – the breeze from the water is cooler. 
  • Circulation is key – unzip all those windows for maximum air flow. 
  • Use 12v fans or battery powered fans to circulate air inside the camper. 
  • Use an awning to shade the side of your pop up camper. 

Conclusion: Is an AC In a Pop Up Camper Worth It?

So… Is an AC in a pop up camper worth it? Yes, we think so… But that’s up to each individual to decide for themselves. There’s nothing worse than a bad night’s sleep when you’re camping because you were too hot and sticky… And for a small investment, a portable air conditioner could solve that problem for many camping seasons to come. 

Yeah, it might be a little noisy, and it might be a little bulky too. But your entire family will thank you when the pop up is a respite from the heat! Happy camping 🙂 

RVing Headquarters Team

RVing Headquarters is operated by long-time RV enthusiasts with over 8 years of RV industry expertise and full-time and part-time RV ownership experience. From motorhomes to trailers and campervans, we've done it all. Our Mission: to inspire, educate, and entertain anyone who is interested in the RV lifestyle.

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