A quick, easy way to make sure your RV stays cool at the next campsite

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By Nanci Dixon
Whew! It seems that the last several campgrounds my husband and I have stayed at have been closer to solar ovens than cool, shady campsites. It has been so blistering hot under the sun that we haven’t even bothered taking the chairs out. If you think there’s no way to get cool in hot weather, think again. I’ll show you a quick, easy way to make sure your RV stays cool at the next campsite.

Today, before moving campgrounds, I checked out the upcoming campsite map and looked at our spot via Google Earth. Peak temperatures usually hit around late afternoon, so I wanted to be in the shade. More importantly, I wanted to make sure that our RV’s refrigerator was on the shady side too. At 90-plus degrees, the ice maker balks and starts melting the cubes and refreezes overnight into one lump. Not good.

I figured out ahead of time which direction the sun would set and which side would be shaded in the afternoon.

Just to double-check when arriving, I pulled out a compass to find true west. Without getting too scientific, I was assured that we were oriented west. That meant there would be no direct sun on the windshield or the passenger side (refrigerator side) so that the RV stays cool.

So now I am writing this outside with a cool drink in my favorite camping rocker… even at 91 degrees and sunny.

It pays to use Google Earth and put a little effort into orienting yourself and your RV away from the sun, even when shade is hard to come by.

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MELISSA
6 days ago

I am guessing that “orienting west” means you park with the front of your rig facing the setting sun. That would work, because in the Northern Hemisphere (USA) the sun would be shining mainly on the driver’s side of the rig all day long. That would protect the fridge, which is usually on the passenger side. And yes, you can request this sort of thing when making reservations. Google maps is a great tool for previewing parks.

Eileen Brown
8 days ago

Help! What am I not understanding about the “orient my camper west” means no direct sun on the windshield? I would think parking facing west means I WOULD be in full, hot, setting sun on my mh windshield. What am I missing?

Bobkat3080
8 days ago

An app called “Sun Surveyor” gives one an AR view of the sun’s route through the campsite (and the moon’s). I’ve used it for years to place my rig to best use the sun and shade. I have the paid version but only after trying out the free version.

Steve
8 days ago

I have a slightly different method to stay cool. Never RV when or where it is hot! We live at 6,000′ and camp at 7500-9000′ in the Rockies in summer. So, we have rarely used our RV AC for the past 10 years, even in July.

There are also websites and blogs that map out routes to travel that will keep you at a 72 degree average temp year-round. If we were full-timers, I would seriously consider modifying those maps to keep me in the western U.S. and Canada (after Covid) at an average daytime high of 75 and nightime low of 50, with sunny skies, very little rain, and no snow. In other words, winter in southern Arizona, summer in the Colorado mountains, early fall in south-central British Columbia (fruit harvest In the Okanagan!), late fall in northern New Mexico or southern Utah, and spring on the coast of Southern California. We’ve been all those places at those seasons, just not all in the same year. But I would love to try it!

Ken Quick
8 days ago

Thanks, Nanci! My motorhome has solar and although my orientation needs to be different than yours when boondocking, a little planning and a compass does make a world of difference!

dcook
8 days ago

Very smart Nanci! I try to park facing NE when I go boon docking so that the drivers side wall only gets full sun from about 5 pm to sunset. It helps a lot, plus it helps with my shade on the passenger side. Now the passenger side might see a little morning sun but its cool in the morning and appreciated. Thanks for sharing and continuing to share even though their are so many heckler’s out there.

Pat
8 days ago

We have favorite COE campsites that we use frequently for summer weekends. We have driven through every campground and noted the sites that orient our motorhome windshield ENE. That way in the afternoon our passenger side (and fridge) is shaded and the late afternoon sun is not shining directly in our street-side windows. We always use our awnings, too. In Iowa we are usually lucky enough to have several shady, to almost too shady sites, to choose from.

Donald N Wright
8 days ago

Every campground / RV park I have visited assigns a campsite. Somehow, they keep planting shade trees on the north side of the site.

Ken
8 days ago

Oriented West. Our windshield bakes when I park “oriented west” and we have baked facing to South during Yuma’s winters. We’re happy to get any space in a park. But I suppose if we boondocked more, directional would be an option.

T Edwards
8 days ago

I agree with your use of Google maps for nearly barren campgrounds. We moved from the hot summers of Durham to the much cooler Upper Cumberland Plateau upon retirement. So a hot day for us is 80+ degrees. To help us stay cool we head to the mountains and let higher elevation do it’s job. That and we select tree covered campgrounds, for which Google maps can tell us which sites are missing trees. I grew up in the desert SW and hate hot, treeless campgrounds so I avoid them. Mountains, babbling brook and stream, lakes, and tree covered campgrounds. It’s a mobile RV so northern elevations in the summer, heading south as Autumn decends, southern Live Oaks covered campsites in winter, and travelling back North in spring. That’s how we stay cool in our RV.

Bob P
8 days ago

All that would be great if the campground sites were mounted on a lazy Susan. In my experience of camping over 42 years I have never experienced such a feature and it’s for sure when campgrounds are designed the compass orientation was never thought of.

Drew
8 days ago
Reply to  Bob P

+1

pursuits712
5 days ago
Reply to  Bob P

Agree. Hard enough to find a site period.. I would love to be able to customized, but let’s face it: these days it’s take it if you can get it!