By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Summertime, and the livin’ may be easy. But if you’re dry camping, it isn’t always easy to stay cool. We can no longer claim to be “boondocking purists,” in the sense that now (cough, cough) we own and carry a portable generator on our travels.
Still, it’s not always necessary to fire up the “Yamaha Chorus” to run the air conditioner when Sol climbs high in the sky. A few tips may make it possible for you to keep the a/c off and still stay comfortable.
Shade is the dry camper’s best friend. Using shade has to be balanced against keeping sun on the solar panels, and too many encroaching trees can spoil air currents if you run a wind turbine. But making your own shade through the use of awnings and RV orientation won’t mess up either solar panels or wind chargers.
By presenting the least amount of rig sidewall to the sun, Sol has less chance to overheat your rig. Pointing the nose or the tail of your RV to the south can provide the least heat-seeking profile. Rolling out the awning helps, and we’ve found that hanging a shade cloth from the awning roller (with the use of S hooks) brings even more heat relief.
How reflective is your RV roof? Most rigs come with EPDM rubber topside — but too often that can become darkened (and more heat-absorbing) with age. Keep your roof clean.
Inside the rig, block out therms with the use insulated aluminum foil cut to fit your windows. Sold by the foot at some hardware stores, the stuff cuts with scissors and is easy to work with. We use an indelible marker to note which window which heat shield belongs to, and they store easily under the bed or often behind a couch.
Refrigerated a/c units aren’t the only mechanical ways of keeping the heat down. Low-voltage evaporative coolers designed for RVs work great when in hot, dry areas. They use little power and pump chilled, moist air into the rig. Just be sure to open a window at a point distant from the cooler so the humidified air can exit your rig.
A powered roof vent can really help to keep your cool. Hot inside? Power it up to pull the air out of the RV. Cool morning? Switch the rotation and pull the cooler outside air into the rig.