RV air conditioners are a niche product and something that has sent many consumers into a frenzy. That’s due in part to the sparse selection of products, which means sometimes you have to think outside the box depending on your needs. That’s especially true when you’re trying to find the quietest RV air conditioners, something our team of experts found out firsthand.
- The Quietest Air Conditioners for RVs
- How to find a Quiet AC Unit for your RV
The Quietest Air Conditioners for RVs
Coleman-Mach 10 NDQ
- Style: Rooftop
- BTU: 13,500
- Heat: No
- Dimensions: 38”L x 11.8”H x 26.2”W
- Weight: 80 lbs.
- Warranty: 2 years
Dometic Blizzard NXT
- Style: Rooftop
- BTU: 15,000
- Heat: Yes
- Dimensions: 30”D x 40”W x 14”H
- Weight: 82 lbs.
- Warranty: 2 years
- Style: Portable
- BTU: 5,000
- Heat: No
- Dimensions: 17”W x 15.5”D x 31”H
- Weight: 62 lbs.
- Warranty: 1/3 years
Coleman-Mach 8 Plus
- Style: Rooftop
- BTU: 13,500
- Heat: No
- Dimensions: 41.1”L x 28.4”W x 8.25”H
- Weight: 90 lbs.
- Warranty: 2 years
DeLonghi Pinguino PACEX390
- Style: Portable
- BTU: 8,600
- Heat: No
- Dimensions: 34.4”H x 20”W x 18”D
- Weight: 83 lbs.
- Warranty: 2 years
Most professionals and consumers consider any air conditioner below 60 decibels “quiet” although everyone’s hearing is different, and what’s loud to one person may not be to another. With that in mind, we chose a mix of systems that won’t disturb you, whether you’re slumbering in an RV or trying to cool down in a travel trailer.
#1 Coleman-Mach 10 NDQ Air Conditioner
The Best Non-Ducted Quiet RV AC Unit
The first RV air conditioner to make our list is a lock considering it’s designed with noise-reduction in mind. The Coleman-Mach 45203-8793 is from the company’s Quiet Series but still has all the features you’d expect from a Mach 10 system.
The Quiet Series air conditioners will allow you to enjoy the cool interior of your RV without distracting noises coming from overhead. While the company doesn’t provide much detail on what goes into this system, they utilize operational noise reduction techniques to bring the decibel levels down. That means you can carry on conversations without shouting or listen to music without disturbing others at a campsite.
As for the tech specs, this is the Mach 10 NDQ edition. It’s geared towards non-ducted installations and rated at 13,500 BTU with an airflow rate of 265 CFM. This rooftop AC unit has a low profile as well, measuring 38”L x 11.8”H x 26.2”W, and is relatively lightweight at 80 pounds. This variant doesn’t come with any extras, so keep that in mind unless you are just picking it up to replace your current system.
Owners of recreational vehicles seem to love the Quiet Series from Coleman-Mach, and we feel it has a respectable price tag for what it brings to the table. If the Mach 10 45203-8793 isn’t your cup of tea, the Mach 15 and Mach 3 Plus are options in this class as well. This air conditioner is backed by a 2-year guarantee and available with a black or white textured shroud.
#2 Dometic Blizzard NXT AC with Heat Pump
The Best Quiet Rooftop Air Conditioner with Heat
In our Dometic RV air conditioner review, we uncovered several quiet systems from the company across their various lineups. That said, their NXT series air conditioners are the quietest of the bunch, and the Dometic H551916AXX1J0 is a rooftop air conditioner you can use regardless of the temperatures outdoors.
At 15,000 BTU, this air conditioner can keep you cool on the hottest of days. The cooling capacity and airflow has increased 15% of the last generation, and it's durable thanks to a shroud and base pan made from high-impact polypropylene that’s been injection-molded. While it has plenty of power and a built-in heat pump, the real draw is the noise-reducing tech.
Dometic bracketed the motor, compressor, and evaporator together on NXT series AC units. This reduces operating noise and vibrations along with dual rubber bushings. A carbon steel base adds durability, while EPP foam used in the housing helps reduce the weight and cut down on noise along with heavy-duty sheet metal.
This rooftop air conditioner is in the premium class, and while it’s expensive, it’s well worth your time if you need a high-powered unit with heat. You’ll also want to keep the size of this unit in mind considering it’s around 14.5” tall. There is a cheaper 13,500 variant of this system, and there are models without heat as well.
#3 Whynter ARC-12S Portable Air Conditioner
A Quiet Portable System from Whynter
Portable AC units can range anywhere from 5,000 to 14,000 BTU or more, but the larger the system, the more space it requires. Whynter managed to pack a lot into a small package with the ARC-12S, and it’s the best option for smaller RVs and trailers that need a portable system.
Like most portable air conditioners, the ARC-12S is a 3-in-1 unit that can cool the air, dehumidify it or work as a simple fan to circulate air. Unlike a traditional rooftop system, this air conditioner can filter the air through a pre-filter and carbon filter. It also has an easy to read digital display on the front with a handful of controls.
From the control panel, you can set a timer, adjust the temperature, or choose a mode. This system has three speeds and a rating of 5,000 BTU by the updated standards. That’s good enough to handle areas up to 400 square feet, although it’s not nearly as powerful as a rooftop unit at only 188 CFM. Other features to note include a remote control, an LCDI plug, and an auto-start feature in case of power interruptions.
At only 62 pounds, this portable AC unit is lighter than similar models and leaves a small footprint behind. It’s a little tall at 31” high, but only 17” wide, so it’s skinny. It’s one of the quieter portable systems around with a decibel rating of 52dBA and has a self-evaporative system to help remove condensation. This air conditioner comes with a protective cover and a window kit with a flexible hose.
While there are smaller systems from Whynter, the ARC-12S is efficient, lightweight, and full of useful features. We also like the fact there’s a 3-year warranty on the compressor, as that’s usually the first thing to go. There’s no significant downside to this air conditioner, aside from the fact there are dual-hose units with a comparable price.
#4 Coleman-Mach 8 Plus Low-Profile Air Conditioner
A Quiet Low-Profile System from Coleman
Our Second air conditioner from Coleman is a bit different from the first. While it doesn’t have quite the same attention to detail when it comes to noise reduction, this low-profile AC unit has plenty of pop and a built-in condensate pump.
One look at this air conditioner lets you know it’s different from other models on the market today. To say the Coleman-Mach 47223B876 is streamlined would be a bit of an understatement. This system measures 41.1”L x 28.4”W and fits into any standard RV roof opening. It’s only 8.25” tall, however, with large vents running around the back and wrapping around the sides of the unit.
This aerodynamic rooftop air conditioner won’t get caught on an underpass, and it’s quieter than comparable systems that are larger. While not the company’s most powerful unit at 13,500 BTU, it’s able to deliver full cooling power at both speeds. The airflow rate is listed at 300 CFM, and a molded one-piece fiberglass helps get the weight down to 90 pounds.
The Coleman-Mach 47223B876 is competitively priced for its size but is considerably shorter than other 13,500 BTU rooftop systems. We like the overall style of this unit, and the condensate pump is a bonus if you’ve dealt with pooled up water on the roof of your RV in the past.
#5 De’Longhi Pinguino Deluxe Portable AC
The Best Portable Air Conditioner for Large RVs
De’Longhi has a knack for making sleek appliances with a modern design, and that extends to their portable air conditioners as well. The De’Longhi Pinguino certainly fits that bill, and it’s designed for large spaces that need to be cool and quiet.
While this system is a stunner from a design standpoint, the real draw is the tech inside. The company utilizes Arctic Whisper technology to keep the noise to a minimum, which results in a noise reduction of up to 4dB compared to the competition. Quiet Mode produces 50% less noise, and while we don’t have a reliable decibel rating, consumers tend to agree.
Another highlight of the De’Longhi Pinguino is their Eco Real Feel system with Cool Surround. When combined with the smart Bluetooth remote, it can automatically measure the temperature and humidity in a room to ensure you stay comfortable regardless of the conditions outside of your RV. It can act as a dehumidifier as well and has a port in the back with a 5” hose for venting.
This is one of the larger portable systems at 83 pounds, and it measures 34.4”H x 20”W x 18”D. It’s easy to move around, however, and has more than enough power for larger recreational vehicles. By current DOE standards, this system is rated at 8,600 BTU and can cool areas up to 700 square feet in size. This unit comes with a 2-year warranty, window kit, dust cover, and an accessory bag.
De’Longhi designed an incredibly smart system with the Pinguino PACEX390. It’s highly efficient and capable of using up to 30% less energy and has more features than other models like the monitoring remote and motorized louvers. This system will look just as good inside of your RV as it will in your home, but it may be overkill if you need something smaller or don’t want all the high-tech features.
How to find a Quiet AC Unit for your RV
Noise. Some people can't fall asleep without some measure of background noise, while others can be awoken at the slightest sound. If you fall into the latter category, an air conditioner system may be your worst nightmare as they aren't exactly known for being silent.
When you need supplemental cooling in a smaller area like a recreational vehicle or trailer, things can become challenging. Noise is amplified in these types of spaces, and your options are limited compare to residential units. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find the right system for your recreational vehicle.
RV, Camper, or Trailer?
While the focus of our guide is RVs, you can install an RV air conditioner on other types of vehicles. It's not uncommon to find overhead units on caravans and fifth-wheel trailers along with campers. If it can be towed behind a truck, you can cool it, although some systems are louder than others.
When considering a type of air conditioner for an RV or camper, the first thing to consider before noise levels are the physical dimensions. A rooftop unit that’s too large can do more harm than good, and even the best portable system will need to be stored when not in use. Consider your usage as well, and how often you plan on using an air conditioner in your RV or caravan.
Rooftop vs. Portable Air Conditioners
While there are a half-dozen types of air conditioners that will “work” in an RV or motorhome, only two types are really built for them. That would be rooftop AC units and portable systems, each with its own strength and weaknesses.
Rooftop air conditioners will provide more power and free up more floor space by design. These units can be ducted to distribute air throughout a recreational vehicle as well but come with a premium price tag. You also have to consider additional accessories with these units like installation kits, thermostats, and ceiling assemblies.
With portable air conditioners, there are more options to choose from instead of only 4-5 manufacturers with extremely similar systems. There are also more features like timers, dehumidifiers, and even Wi-Fi if you have a connected motorhome. On the downside, a portable system will only provide cool air to one part of your RV, and they can take up valuable storage space inside.
Air Conditioner Sizes
When dealing with HVAC equipment, heating and cooling power are measured through British Thermal Units or BTUs. It’s a rating you’ll find on every widow air conditioner and central HVAC unit, but you’ll also find them on portable AC systems and rooftop models.
An air conditioner rated at 14,000 BTU will have more cooling power than one listed at 8,000 BTU, but cooling an RV is different than cooling your home. If you’re going with a rooftop model, they only come in certain sizes, which you can look at as small, medium, and large to simplify things. The largest is 15,000 BTU units, while 13,500 and 10,000 BTU models make up the mid-range. There are a handful of models rated around 8,000 BTU as well.
The selection is larger with portable systems, although most top out at around 12,000 BTU. Those units can be quite large, so ones suitable for recreational vehicles are typically between 5,000 to 8,000 BTU. If you’d like to learn more about BTUs and how they are measured, we have you covered.
Consumers looking for a quiet air conditioner should obviously take the noise level into account. Unfortunately, that’s a specification that’s not always easy to find on rooftop or portable systems. In our research, finding a reliable rating was hit or miss with brands, both big and small, across the board.
If you do find a system with a rating, the decibel scale is easy to understand. Lower numbers are better, and many people consider noises over 65dBA to be mildly annoying. A typical conversation can be around 55 to 60 decibels, while a motorcycle is well over 80.
We have seen several large rooftop AC units for recreational vehicles in that range, although many clock in at under 60 decibels. Budget-friendly portable air conditioners can be just as noisy, however, especially if they are poorly designed.
Features on air conditioners built for RVs vary depending on the type of system you choose. Manufacturers tout build quality and design with rooftop models, but things are more clear cut with portable air conditioners.
Whether you want an AC unit with a 24-hour timer, a remote, or a built-in air filter, there are plenty of options with portable systems. Many have multiple modes or smart features, but everything is included in the price. In other words, what you see is what you’ll get.
Things are different with rooftop air conditioners as many listings are vague as to what’s included. That has led to many poor reviews on otherwise solid models. Most high-tech features with rooftop models come from additional accessories, which can include multi-zone thermostats, heat strips, and high-tech ceiling assemblies.
Air Conditioner Warranties
We’re not going to spend much time here as warranties are fairly straightforward with both portable and rooftop AC units. Most companies provide 2-year warranties on their systems, with the exception of a few manufacturers with tiered guarantees for the compressor or other parts.
If you’re concerned about the length of the warranty, look for a well-built system that uses high-quality parts. We also recommend checking into replacement parts for rooftop models, as there are an abundance of parts that can extend the lifespan of your unit. Extended warranties are also an option given the price of these systems.
As you can see, finding a quiet air conditioner for any RV can be simple if you follow our tips and remember to keep sizing in mind. A solid AC system will make your journey more enjoyable and is a worthwhile investment that will keep your family cool for years to come.