You likely already know the dangers of going on those road trips without the necessary cooling and heating equipment. Extreme weather can instantly turn a potential adventure of a lifetime into one of your worst nightmares.
Whether it’s scorching hot afternoons or freezing cold nights, it quickly makes you wish you never went on the trip in the first place.
The good news is that nearly every Recreational Vehicle (RV) owner understands these challenges and always takes precautions to prevent adverse consequences. Very few RVs head into the jungle without a proper heating solution and air conditioning strategy.
Unfortunately, though, most RVers are still using separate appliances for heating and air conditioning. We believe you stand to gain even more value from an RV heater and air conditioner combo.
Read on to find out why and learn how to pick the best RV air conditioner heater combo to solve your HVAC problems in one go.
What’s an RV AC Heat Pump Combo?
The rest of this guide focuses on determining the right air conditioner + heater combo for your specific application. What are some of the things you need to know?
RV AC heater combos are generally RV air conditioners with a built-in heating component. The pump function turns the air conditioner into an all-year HVAC appliance that allows RVers to camp even in relatively cold conditions.
In most cases, these are heat pumps that merely reverse the working mechanism of an AC. the standard RV air conditioners work by extracting the heat from the air inside the RV and dumping it outside, leaving the climate inside the RV cool and comfortable.
A heat pump works in reverse. It extracts warmth from the air outside and dumps it inside the RV, thus raising the RV temperatures.
RV AC Heat Pump Combo Types
Rooftop RV air conditioner + heater combos are the most common type of RV cooling and heating solution. However, other options such as window air conditioners and portable units are also common.
Rooftop RV Combos
What makes rooftop RV air conditioner + heater combos arguably the best option for RV cooling and heating is that they are designed specifically for recreational vehicles. They often boast the highest capacity of RV air conditioners in the market and, more importantly, don’t require space inside your RV. Ceiling mounted control panels are the standard. However, direct wiring to the RV thermostat is also an option.
Most people who don’t buy a rooftop model often turn to portable units. Here, the most significant advantage is flexibility. Portable air conditioners can be moved from one application to the next without any problems. You can use them in your bedroom today and pack them on the RV in the morning.
Also, there’s no installation involved. Simply plug and go. Given that installation costs can be high for some RV AC types, a portable unit can come in handy.
Window air conditioners with heaters are also fairly common. RV owners love them because they don’t take up any space inside the RV as they’re often installed outside one of the windows.
They also tend to be very powerful. Sizing, however, presents a significant challenge. You must find a model that perfectly matches your RV window.
Ducted vs. Non-Ducted and Low-Profile vs. Full-Height Combos
There are two other ways to categorize RV air conditioner + heater combos – ducted vs. non-ducted and low-profile vs. full height.
Ducted vs. Non-Ducted
A ducted AC/heater system wires directly into the rest of your RV HVAC system and utilizes the existing ductwork to deliver conditioned or heated air throughout the RV.
Non-ducted systems don’t integrate with the rest of the RV HVAC system. Instead, they function by blowing conditioner/heated air out of the appliance itself. A fan inside the combo unit helps blow the cool or warm air throughout the home.
Ducted units move air better and are typically less noisy than their non-ducted counterparts. However, non-ducted units are less expensive and easier to install.
Low-Profile vs. Full-Height
Rooftop air conditioner/heater combos can be low-profile or full-height. Low-profile units are more compact, more streamlined, lighter, and more aerodynamic. They’re designed purposely to reduce drag and the total weight of the RV when you’re driving.
In the end, you can save a bit on fuel compared to full-height units. They’re mostly used in tall motorhomes. However, they are noisier. The Domestic Penguin II is one such unit.
Full-height models are much less noisy. Unfortunately, they’re only applicable in shorter rigs when most campers today use taller RVs.
Considerations When Buying an RV AC Heat Pump Combo
Once you understand the different categorizations of RV air conditioners and heaters, the next step is to learn the most important factors when choosing one or your home. We recommend prioritizing three things;
Cooling Capacity (in BTU)
Although the specific amount of cooling power you need will depend on several issues, including the conditions inside the RV, the rule of thumb is to buy a 5,000 to 7,000 BTU unit for smaller RVs between 100 and 299 square meters.
For medium-sized RVs between 300 and 549 square feet, consider an 8,000 BTU to 12,000 BTU unit. The largest RVs measure between 550 and 1,000 square feet. For these, you need a unit between 14,000 BTU and 18,000 BTU.
Presence (and Size) of Heat Pump
Integrated heat pumps are a critical consideration for RV users who camp throughout the year. You’ll need supplemental heat to beat the chilly weather towards the end of the year and for the first few months of the year. Additionally, consider the size of the heat pump. Since most heat pumps add just as much heat as they’d remove in AC mode, the sizing recommendations above apply.
Does it have an Air Purifier?
Although almost all air conditioners and heat pumps have integrated filters to remove unwanted airborne particles, some models go one step ahead to incorporate advanced filtration systems for complete air filtration. The first sign that an RV air conditioner + heater combo also functions as a dehumidifier is HEPA filters.
All air conditioner/heater combos make noise to a degree. But the level of noise varies from one unit to the next. Ideally, you want to find the quietest combo unit possible. Ratings between 40 dB and 60 dB are considered standard. The lower, the better. If you can find a good unit rated below 40 decibels, it would be even better.
Two things are vital here. First, how much power does the unit consume? On average, a 7,000 BTU air conditioner consumes 1,700 watts of electricity at startup and 600 watts per hour when running. The figures rise as BTU capacities increase. For a 15,000 BTU unit, expect to draw 3,500 watts at startup and 1,500 watts per hour when running the unit. A kilowatt (1,000 watts) of electricity costs about $0.13 currently. Additionally, consider whether the voltage rating matches the rating on your RV. Otherwise, you may need to create a new power outlet.
Ease of Installation
Many RV users opt for portable air conditioner/heater combos because of the ease of installation. Portable units don’t require much installation work. However, all the other options require some installation, with ducted models the most difficult to install. You often need an RV HVAC professional for the installation, which can add to costs.
Other factors to consider when shopping for an air conditioner + heater combo for your recreational vehicle are the unit’s physical size, insulation strength, and clearance height. Some models add as little as 25 cm to the clearance height, while others add 40 cm or more.
Maintaining your RV AC Heat Pump Combo
The quality of maintenance determines the effectiveness and longevity of an RV air conditioner + heater combo.
- Make sure to wipe the coils regularly with a regular household cleaner
- Straighten the fins every few days using a specialized coil fin comb
- Refill the fan motor ports for ball-bearing AC/heater combos and the shaft for sleeve models
- Cover your RV when it’s not in use to protect the AC/heater from weather damage
How long does an RV air conditioner + heater combo last? Most models can last five years or more, while others last even a decade. It depends on the type of combo and how well you care for it.
What size RV air conditioner + heater combo do I need? For a medium-sized RV, you need an 8,000 to 12,000 BTU combo unit.
Why is my RV air conditioner not blowing cool air? There’s likely a blockage. Often, it’s clogged condenser coils or a dirty filter. However, it could also point to a problem with the evaporator and motor fins.
Can I run my RV air conditioner or battery alone? Technically, it’s possible to run the appliance on battery alone. Unfortunately, batteries have limited power and tend to run out pretty fast.
Best RV Air Conditioner Heater Combo – Reviews
1. Domestic Air Conditioner B59186.xx1c0 Brisk Air II Heat Pump
- BEST-IN-CLASS PERFORMANCE: With superior air flow, cooling capacity, and weight, the Brisk II Air Conditioner sets the standard for RV rooftop air conditioners. Its smart design and improved materials ensure top-notch performance in any climate, making it ideal for use in extreme conditions.
- IMPROVED COOLING/HEATING AND REDUCED WEIGHT: The Brisk II features larger air openings that promote superior air flow with heating and cooling capacity, while the EPP foam housing both reduces weight and improves cooling performance. The result is an air conditioner that delivers exceptional cooling power while minimizing its impact on your RV's weight.|
- DURABLE AND LONG-LASTING: The Brisk II is built to last, with a custom wrap-around shroud and carbon steel base that add strength, protection, and durability. Its components have undergone rigorous vibration tests lasting up to 30 hours to ensure they can withstand even the bumpiest rides.
- QUIET AND VIBRATION-FREE OPERATION: Enjoy peaceful and quiet RV living with the Brisk II's dampening brackets that reduce noise and vibration. Its motor, compressor, and evaporator are bracketed together for vibration-free operation, while copper lines and dual rubber bushings minimize noise and vibration.
- YEAR-ROUND COMFORT: With its cooling and heating functions, the Brisk II ensures year-round comfort for you and your family. The optional heater function is ideal for cool evenings, while the multispeed blower allows you to adjust according to your cooling or heating needs. And with its standard 14 in./35.5 cm roof vent openings, installation is a breeze.
One of the best air conditioner heater combos you can buy today is the Brisk II from Domestic. It’s a 15,000 BTU air conditioner + heater combo designed with intelligent controls and improved materials to maximize airflow and performance.
Its large air openings promote superior airflow and cooling capacity, while the EPP foam housing reduces weight while contributing to better cooling.
You’re guaranteed at least 15% more airflow and cooling capacity. The unit also boasts a small carbon footprint, improved energy efficiency, and a more compact physical size to improve fit and finish. It’s also very robust. The internal components, such as the carbon steel base, are very durable, having undergone vibration tests lasting 30+ hours.
The optional heating function comes in handy during the colder nights or the winter season for those who love cold-season camping. Multi-speed blowers ensure that the cool or heated air reaches every corner of the RV.
Also, Domestic has taken great care to reduce operating noise. The motor, compressor, and evaporator are bracketed together for vibration-free operation.
The cooling capacity is rated 4392 watts, while the heating capacity is rated 2822 watts. It uses an environment-friendly 410a refrigerant.
- Powerful performance, up to 15,000 BTU
- EPP foam housing reduces weight
- It fits standard 14-inch roof vent openings
- Cooling and heating function for all-year comfort
- Required inside ceiling assembly sold separately
2. Coleman 48204C866 March 15+ A/C Unit Air Conditioner/Heater
- Cool/Heat Capacity: 15,000
- Delivered BTU Heating Output: 5,600
- Electrical Rating: 115V AC, 60HZ, 1 Phase
- 1/3 HP fan motor
- Exterior Shroud Dimensions: 13.8" H x 26.1" W x 38" L
Coleman also makes very good conditioners and RV heaters. The model 48204C866 is the way to go if you’re interested in a combo unit that combines air conditioning and heating functions.
Now charged with the eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant, this air conditioner heater combo boasts a strong airflow thanks to the 1/3 Horsepower fan motor, one of the largest in the RV AC industry. It can deliver up to 320 CFM.
The streamlined shape enhances airflow and boosts cooling efficiency. It also features a sealed shaft to protect against damage from the elements. You can choose the ducted option or a non-ducted installation. Whichever the case, you’re guaranteed a powerful airflow to keep you and your crew comfortable. The option heating function makes it an all-year appliance.
It’s also an incredibly reliable unit. The all-copper tubing and gas-flux brazed joints guarantee a long life top performance. The motor is mounted directly to the bulkhead to prevent distortion of the blower wheel’s angle while ensuring free turning action.
The unit is backed by a 2-year labor and parts warranty. Be sure to send your warranty card after the unit is installed to claim the warranty
- 15,000 BTU heating and cooling
- Powerful, two-speed fan, up to 320 CFM
- Easy installation into 14 x 14-inch roof vent
- A quiet, distortion-free motor assembly
- Large evaporator and condenser coils
- Ceiling assembly sold separately
- Optional heat strip sold separately
3. ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air 13,500 BTU Roof Top AC
- 13,500 BTUs, 115 Volt AC power
- Rigid, metal constructed base pan
- Premium, thick, watertight vent opening gasket with six dense foam support pads
- Three fan speeds Installs in standard 14.25" x 14.25" vent opening
- Optional plug-in heat strip available
At 13,500 BTU, the ASA Electronics ACM135 Advent Air dehumidifier is slightly smaller than the first two units on this list. This makes it a good choice for smaller RVs or more temperate climates.
However, you’ll also notice that it’s also more affordable and slightly more compact than the other two. It comes in an attractive white finish with black accents that make it stand out right away.
It boasts a rigid metal construction base, guaranteeing many years of reliable service. The premium, extra-thick water seal gasket also stands out. Removable, washable filters ensure that every ounce of air coming out of the unit is clean and healthy. It has three airspeeds – low, medium, and high. You also get a Fan-On control option.
This air conditioner plugs into a standard 115V power outlet and draws 3,000 watts (which we think is a tad high). However, it installs with ease in a standard 14.25 x 14.25 vent opening. An optional heat strip is available separately.
A 2-year warranty backs each purchase. It’s important to confirm your warranty with the manufacturer before you install the unit.
- Durable, rigid, metallic construction
- Premium, extra-thick water seal gaskets
- Three fan speeds with Fan-On control
- 2-year parts warranty
- Heat strip sold separately
4. Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS012A-19 Wall Mount Ductless Inverter+ Mini Split
- Save money all year-round with a highly efficient ductless mini split inverter+ heat pump system
- Ultra-silent and beautifully built: perfect for home or light commercial use
- Use for both cooling and heating at 12000 BTU/hour with 20 SEER and 10.5 HSPF efficiency
- Comes with every needed component in the box including an easy-install 16ft copper piping kit
- Free tech support and a 5 year coverage on the parts and compressor
The final three products on this list aren’t bespoke units designed specifically for RVs. However, they are robust air conditioner + dehumidifier combos that work well in RV settings too.
This first one, the Pioneer WYS012A-19, is a ductless mini-split you’ve probably come across. It’s considered one of the best mini-split units thanks to the high capacity and even higher efficiency.
The 12,000 BTU combo (other capacities are available from 9,000 to 36,000) comes with all the parts required for full installation. These include an indoor air handler, outdoor condenser, standard installation kit (including a wall bracket), and remote control device. It’s a variable-speed compressor unit that automatically self-adjusts to deliver the most comfortable climate.
The unit boasts four operating modes – cooling, heating, dehumidification, and ventilation. Better still, it has an automatic switchover mode that automatically switches between modes based on an in-built computer system to keep your RV cool and cozy. A timer function allows you to program the heating and air conditioning.
You’ll love several other things about the combo, including the Night Mode, Auto-Restart function, and wireless internet control. The wireless function allows for intelligent control via a smartphone app.
- Powerful 12,000 BTU operation
- Highly efficient at 19.5 SEER, 10 HSPF
- Wi-Fi control via smartphone app
- Complete, 16-foot installation kit included
- 5-year parts and compressor warranty
- Outdoor brackets sold separately
- Requires professional installation
5. Frigidaire 8,000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner with Supplemental Heat
- For a room up to 350 sq. ft. with dehumidification up to 1.5 pints per hour
- Exterior dimensios: 22-5/8"W x 23-5/16"D x 15-3/8" H | Window opening: Max. 36"H
- Slide-out chasis offers window or wall installation (Window mounting kit included)
- Multi-speed electronic controls with 24-hr. on/off timer and full-function remote control
- 8,000 BTU cooling capacity / 7,000 BTU heat pump / 3,500 BTU supplemental heating capacity
- Supplemental Heating Option: With our supplemental heating capability, you can be comfortable no matter regardless of the temperature outside - you have both heating and cooling solutions
- Capture dust from the air and keep your air conditioner working efficiently with our easy-to-clean washable filter.
- Please refer user manual pg12 for trouble shooting steps
Window air conditioners also work very well in RVs, and we believe the model FFRH0822R1 from Frigidaire would be a good choice. It’s an 8,000 BTU air conditioner with a 7,000 BTU heating component.
These ratings make it ideal for up to 350 square feet. It also doubles as a dehumidifier, removing up to 1.5 pins per day. If you tend to camp in damp areas, this is another feature that can prove valuable.
It has three cooling speeds, three fan speeds, and one heat speed. Combine those seven with the dehumidifier setting, and you have an eight-way comfort control design that promises the utmost comfort wherever it’s used.
The combo unit’s key features include the energy-conserving low-power startup technology and a quiet operation that keeps you comfortable without noise. An auto-restart function resumes operations at the previous settings in case of a power interruption. Meanwhile, an Auto—Cool Mode automatically adjusts the fan to keep you cozy without additional effort on your part.
The window AC + heater combo arrives with an extra-long 6.5-foot, 3-prong power cable for flexibility and works best in 22 5/8 x 23 5/16 x 15 3/8 windows, up to 36 inches high. It’s backed by a 1-year labor and parts warranty and a 4-year sealed-system warranty.
- Powerful 8,000 BTU AC + heater combo
- Features a 1.5 pint/day dehumidifier
- Convenient remote control
- Slide-out chassis allows window or wall installation
- Washable air filters remove airborne particles
- 5-year sealed system warranty
- No app control
- Requires professional installation
6. Black and Decker Portable Air Conditioner, 12,000 BTU with Heat
- Portable AC: Use this personal air conditioner & heater (16.5” x 14.06” x 27.09) in rooms up to 550 sq. ft. Stay cool summer & warm in winter with this BLACK+DECKER air conditioning and heater in one.
- 4-in-1: Our 7000 BTU DOE (12000 BTU ASHRAE 128) AC and heater is also a dehumidifier & fan. This portable air conditioner (57.6 lbs.) has a remote control & top mounted control panel with LED display.
- Great Features: Set the right temperature with this ac portable air conditioner. Our portable air conditioner and heater also has a slide-out washable filter, auto water evaporation, & 24-hour timer.
- Easy Mobility: Thanks to casters on the bottom and side handles on both sides of the small air conditioner, this air cooler & heater and fan combo can be moved from room to room without any hassle.
- Installation Kit: When it comes to fans that blow cold air, this indoor ac unit includes an easy-to-install window kit. A large, vented airflow outlet ushers in cool air.
Let’s round up with a portable air conditioner + heater combo from Black + Decker. You’re likely familiar with Black and Decker’s reputation. It’s one of the biggest names in home appliances mainly because their products do what they’re intended to do – and effectively. The BPACT12HWT air conditioner heater combo is testimony to this legacy.
It’s a powerful 12,000 BTU appliance designed for areas up to 250 square feet. It’s also a compact design at only 17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1 inches, meaning it doesn’t take up too much space on the floor.
The sleek, modern design fits unobtrusively in bedrooms, kitchens, living spaces, and, yes, even RVs. On top of the air conditioner and heater functions, it also functions as a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the targeted area.
Key features of this combo include the 24-hour timer for programmed cooling and heating, a Sleep Mode for perfectly comfortable nights, and three fan levels. Built-in reusable air filters eliminate any airborne particles while the remote control option increases user convenience.
The window installation kit is included as well as the required drain hose. It’s a 4-foot, 11-inch hose. Every purchase is backed by a 1-year parts/labor warranty and a 5-year compressor/sealed-system warranty.
- Powerful, 12,000 BTU AC + Heater
- Doubles as a dehumidifier and fan
- Valuable mobility, with handles and caster wheels
- 5-year sealed system warranty
- A tad complex to install
If you’re an RV-enthusiast who enjoys an all-year campaign, finding an air conditioner + heater combo to address your cooling and heating needs in extreme weather can be a wise choice. Combo units save you from buying two separate appliances, potentially saving a few hundred dollars.
Moreover, a combo unit takes less space and makes maintenance a little easier. Just make sure you get a unit powerful enough to fully address your cooling and heating needs.