How to Install a Window Air Conditioner in a Pop Up Camper

How to Install a Window Air Conditioner in a Pop Up Camper

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Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine

Do you wonder how to install a window air conditioner in a pop up camper?

One of the most important aspects of enjoying a weekend of camping is having an air conditioner. A pop up camper will quickly become a hot box if you try to spend any amount of time without an air conditioner. However, because of how pop up campers work, they can’t have a permanent air conditioner installed on them. 

To thoroughly enjoy your pop up camper, you should learn how to install a window air conditioner inside of it. Window air conditioners can easily be installed and removed each time you set up and break down your camper. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to install and remove a window air conditioner in your pop up camper. We’ll also look at the best types of window air conditioners and what you can do to help yours last as long as possible. Let’s dive in! 

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Is a Window AC the Best Option for a Pop Up Camper? 

A window air conditioner for your pop up camper isn’t just one of the best options, it’s one of the only options. Outside of a window AC, you really only have two other options: a portable air conditioner or a rooftop unit. 

Portable air conditioners are the easiest air conditioners to install and they operate similarly to a dehumidifier. You can have it sitting anywhere inside your camper and all you need to do to operate it is plug it in and turn it on. Most portable air conditioners also have a flexible hose coming out of the back that needs to be vented to the outside. 

A roof-top air conditioner is another popular option for campers of every sort, but they don’t usually come installed on pop up campers. Installing one yourself is hard work and rooftop air conditioners are much pricier than window air conditioners. 

That brings us back to window air conditioners. They are the cheapest option and require basically the same amount of work that a rooftop air conditioner requires. Let’s take a look at how to install one if that’s the route you decide to go. 

How to Install a Window Air Conditioner on Your Pop Up Camper 

Let’s take a look at how to install your window air conditioner in your pop up camper. In order to complete this project, you’re going to need some tools. 

Tools You’ll Need to Put a Window Air Condition in a Pop Up Camper

  • Utility knife or another sharp work knife 
  • Tape Measurer 
  • 2x4s 
  • Saw to cut wood 
  • Drill 
  • Screws 
  • Drill bit 

Choose Your Air Conditioner 

In order to begin your project, you first need to choose the right air conditioner for your camper. Pop up campers are notoriously small so you won’t need a large air conditioner. In fact, many people either purchase the cheapest or smallest window AC that they can get their hands on. Other people keep their eyes open for a used or free one and take anything they can find. 

In general, most any window air conditioner is going to be big enough to cool down your camper. Smaller air conditioners are actually a better option for your camper because you’ll have to build a bracket to support it. 

Choose Your Location 

After you have your air conditioner, you’ll have to pick where you want it. Your options when it comes to the location are fairly open. Some people like to have their air conditioner in the solid part of the camper while others prefer the fabric, tent portion. Another aspect that people look at is whether they want it high up or down low. 

Higher air conditioners are slightly more efficient because cold air naturally falls down, rather than floating up. Having your air conditioner up high will provide a more natural cooling feeling for your camper. However, you might find it more difficult to support your air conditioner based on how high up it is. 

Cut Your AC Hole

Once you’ve picked your location, it’s time to cut the hole that the AC will sit in. If you decide to install the AC in a section made of fabric, cutting the hole is easy. Make sure that the fabric is pulled tight so that you cut a hole the exact size that you need. Use a tape measurer to measure the size of the window AC. Make sure that you measure the backside of the air conditioner that will be sticking out rather than the front that’s inside the camper. 

You’ll want to cut the hole as exactly as you can so that your air conditioner fills it and leaves little to no gaps anywhere. Once you have your hole marked, use a utility knife to cut out the insert where the air conditioner will reside. 

If you opt to install the air conditioner into the solid portion of the camper, you’ll follow most of the same steps as above. Measure your AC and mark your hole where you want it to be installed. Use a Sawzall to cut your hole to the exact dimensions of the air conditioner. While cutting the hole is more difficult, the advantage of putting your AC in the solid section of your camper is that there will be added stability. You’ll still need to build a bracket for the air conditioner, but the bracket won’t be the only support system. 

Build Your AC Bracket 

Once you have your location selected and your hole cut, it’s time for the toughest part of the installation – building your support bracket. This is the most essential part of the installation, as your bracket will be the only thing that keeps your air conditioner from falling out of its location. 

Your bracket should be made out of wood or metal, but wood will be easier to work with. Use treated wood so that the wood doesn’t rot and wither if it happens to get rained on or if there’s humidity. Treated wood is meant to withstand outdoor elements whereas untreated wood is meant for indoor use. 

Your bracket should consist of a solid base that supports the air conditioner on the back and both of its sides. The more difficult part of building the bracket is figuring out where to attach the bracket to the camper. If you install your air conditioner up high on your camper, you can build a bracket that attaches to your roof. 

If you install your AC down low, the bottom of your camper should have a solid structure that you can attach to your bracket. Another option that will make building your bracket easier is to install your air conditioner at the front of your camper so that the back end sticks out next to your propane tanks. Your propane tanks have their own bracket and support system that they sit on. Installing your air conditioner next to them means that they can sit on the same bracket and you won’t have to build your own. 

The downside of this is that it isn’t the most optimal spot for cold air distribution. A better option is to put it where you want it and put your carpenter hat on to build your own bracket. No matter which route you decide to go, the main thing is that your bracket is solidly supported. Your bracket can only provide the same amount of support that it has itself. 

Make Sure It’s Tilted Backward 

After you’ve built your bracket, cut your hole, and put your AC in its place, there are a few final touches to make sure that it operates properly. For starters, make sure that it’s tilting backward and not forward. Your air conditioner will produce condensation runoff in the form of water. If your air conditioner is tilting forward or is perfectly level, there’s a good chance that the water will end up inside your camper. 

Tilting your air conditioner slightly backward ensures that you won’t wake up in a flooded living room. 

Make Sure Your AC is Close to an Outlet 

Another thing to keep in mind when you select your location for the AC is that it needs to be close to an electrical outlet. Your window air conditioner should have a standard three-prong cord on it. As long as you install it within reach of an outlet, you should have no difficulty operating it. Just make sure that you don’t use an extension cord to operate your air conditioner as this is a fire hazard. 

Seal the Area Around the Air Conditioner 

With your air conditioner successfully installed and ready to roll, the final step is to seal the area around it. It won’t do you a whole lot of good if all the cold air it produces gets blown right back out of the camper. You can use foam insulation pieces, insulation, the sides of the air conditioner, or even sunshade aluminum foil to seal the areas around the air conditioner. 

Keep in mind that you’ll have to remove the AC anytime you are towing your camper or moving it up and down so you don’t want to use anything permanent as a sealant. Once your AC is sealed, supported, tilted the right way, and plugged in, turn it on and perform a practice run. If everything is working as it should, congratulations on your new air conditioner! 

Pros of a Window AC in a Pop Up Camper

Window ACs in pop up campers are a great option for a number of reasons.

  • Window AC’s are usually cheaper than portable air conditioners and rooftop units. 
  • Window AC’s are more efficient or just as efficient as any other option available. 
  • Window AC’s take up very little inside space because the bulk of the unit is outside. Portable air conditioners take up the interior space of an already small camper. 
  • Window AC’s are quieter while they’re operating than either of the other two options. 
  • Window AC’s provide large amounts of cooling in a hurry and are one of the most powerful options for a camper. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a window air conditioner a good idea for a pop up camper?

Yes. This is about the only good option for cooling your pop up camper.

What are the benefits of putting a window air conditioner in a pop up camper?

One of the biggest benefits is that a window air conditioner can cool your pop up camper in a hurry.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, how to install a window air conditioner in a pop up camper. Nobody wants to spend their evenings sweating while they’re trying to sleep. The only around this in the heat of summer is to install an air conditioner. Whether you only camp one weekend a year or live in your camper year-round, a window AC in your pop up camper will greatly increase your enjoyment level. 

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