Can You Use An Air Conditioner In A Tent? (Keep Cool While Camping)

Yes, you can use an air conditioner in a tent if you have the right tent and modifications. You will also need to close off the tent to keep the cold in. There are some safety concerns you should be aware of as well.

While it is doable to use an air conditioner in a tent, there are several things to consider. Because the AC must be able to run within the tent as well as constantly, it needs to be strong enough to do so.

If you want to keep the tent cool, it usually necessitates modifications, such as insulation and airtightness.

There are also certain safety concerns that need consideration when using an AC in a tent.

Let’s go over some of the things you might want to consider if you plan on using an air conditioner in your tent.

How to choose the right AC for your tent

Many people are surprised to learn that you can use an air conditioner in a tent.

There is no one specific product made to be used as a tent air conditioner, but they can be easily adapted to be used in some camping situations.

Tent air conditioners

Let’s take a look at different products you can use to keep your tent cool in a campground.

Some people might tell you that you can’t use an air conditioner in a tent. But that’s not entirely true!

There are several different types of air conditioners on the market you can use in a tent, as long as you make a few modifications to your tent.

Evaporative cooler for tent

The least expensive approach to cool your tent is with an evaporative air cooler, which can be had for less than $50.

Evaporative coolers use the natural process of evaporation to lower air temperature.

They are also relatively safe as they don’t rely on potentially dangerous chemicals, but just water. Their main downside is their limited cooling power.

However, don’t expect them to perform miracles and should always be utilized carefully inside a tent; otherwise, the water vapor will have to escape somewhere else, or the tent will become wet and moldy.

There are a few methods to make an evaporative cooler work with your tent:

  • When the cooler is operating, you must draw outside air into it – so leave the cooler outside the tent. Then utilize one of the tents’ ports to funnel in the chilly air.
  • If you have an evaporative cooler inside the tent, it will not function (unless you have a fresh air intake setup).
  • You must open vents on the other side, or the top of the tent. The effectiveness of the device depends on whether you turn over the air within the tent.
  • When the cooler is operating, the tent should inflate slightly (i.e. like a balloon). To achieve this, adjust the vents in your tent. Start by closing all of the vents. Then begin opening them until you just barely notice any inflation – this is the ideal amount of venting for your tent.

Portable air conditioners for a tent

A slightly better approach, if you’re willing to pay a bit more for it, portable air conditioner. The portable ac unit is more effective than the evaporative cooler, but it is also more expensive.

Portable air conditioners may be taken with you while tent camping since the majority of them are light enough to be easily carried.

Portable ac units can be used with batteries (not for a long period of time) or if you have access to electricity, the more affordable corded version will perform equally well.

  • The disadvantage is that the smaller units (those we are looking for) usually have a BTU of less than 3000. Due to the low cooling capacity, certain modifications must be made to the tent itself in order for them to function effectively and safely.
  • If you pick corded versions, the price isn’t that intimidating, however, battery powered air conditioners are considerably more costly due to the high cost of the batteries.
  • A portable camping air conditioner may be used in a tent with a large enough window to accommodate the exhaust hose (usually 6-8 inches in diameter).
  • Portable acs are ideal for warm, humid weather since they suck humidity out of the air.
  • Your tent doesn’t need to have an AC port fitted, which you need for a window-mounted AC.
  • Cool air is pushed into the tent using a fan, and hot air is blown out of the tent window through an exhaust hose.

Window mounted air conditioner for tent camping

Due to their small size, campers discovered that window air conditioners are the most cost-effective and powerful devices that may be converted to operate in a tent.

The small size of the window air conditioner device means that it may be taken anywhere (and in some cases, even smaller than the portable alternatives).

The fact that they do not require a lot of accessories to function makes them an extremely dependable choice.

The price shouldn’t daunt anyone, as a $150 investment should get you a highly efficient device that can deliver up to 8000 BTU, more than enough for an 8 person tent.

  • The disadvantage with window mounted air conditioners is that your tent will need to be modified to fit properly.
  • Another disadvantage is that there are no battery-operated versions, so you’ll have to rely on the grid or bring your own camping generator if you don’t have access to the grid.
  • Another disadvantage is that they can be quite noisy.
  • When it comes to camping, the most powerful cooling choice is a window-mounted air conditioner.
  • When camping, window ac is the most difficult type of air conditioner to install.

Tips on using an AC in a tent safely and effectively

You should improve the insulation of the tent

  • If your tent has no insulation values, the cooled air will rapidly escape.
  • A one-layer space blanket (½ inch thick) will improve the insulation value by 100 times, even if you add one layer of an insulating space blanket. This should help to keep the cool air in for a long period of time.

Pick a shaded spot

  • If you place the tent in direct sunlight, the tent will become extremely hot and the AC will need to work much harder to achieve a lower temperature.

In addition, pitching the tent in a shaded location with a portable air conditioner is an excellent idea.

You’ll be virtually safe from the sun’s heat if you do this and add extra insulation.

Camping generators for AC

  • A portable camping trip generator can easily handle the power demand problem. You might believe they’re too noisy and large, but they’re considerably quieter than you’d expect.

If it’s being run via a camping generator, you need to make sure that the generator is not too close to the camping tent that toxic fumes can get inside.

Air conditioner size for tent

  • For each square foot of space, an air conditioner requires 20 BTU on average.

But other considerations, such as the ceiling height, and insulation will also come into play when trying to decide on the size of air conditioner you need for tent camping.

To be safe you should choose a little bigger AC unit than the tent space you are trying to cool.

Keep the air conditioner in a safe location in your tent

  • When you sleep, be sure to keep your electrical equipment as far away from you as feasible. This will reduce the chance of touching moving components or other hazardous elements while you’re sleeping.
  • If you’re using a camping generator to power your AC, be wary of the generator’s proximity to the camping tent. Toxic fumes can enter the tent if the generator is too close.
  • Make sure the surface is free of water before you set up the device. It’s great if the equipment may sit on a stand, even if it’s a homemade solution. Any cables should ideally be kept off the ground if feasible.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when using any sort of electrical equipment.

Best tent air conditioner summary

A camping air conditioner is a great way to cool down while camping, but there are some things to consider before buying one. Choose the right size and make sure your tent is properly insulated for the best results.

Consider how much time and effort you want to put into setting up your air conditioner tent. If you opt for the quick and easy method, a small evaporative cooler is your best bet.

It will take considerably longer to install a window air conditioner if you don’t mind fiddling around with the settings, but you will be rewarded with a more powerful cooling effect.

Consider the locations where you most often camp and the options for a power source there. This should work with the electricity that your camping AC requires to operate.

A large air conditioning unit is not going to be easy to try and stow in your car with everything else when you’re heading out for a camping or hiking trip. The lightest ACs are evaporative coolers, while the largest are window-mounted ACs.

For the greatest cooling effect, choose a shaded place to put your tent.

If you’re using a generator, be sure it’s placed in an appropriate spot and not too close to the tent.

Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using any electrical equipment, especially when camping.

Enjoy your cool tent!