Man outside of tent

How to Choose the Best Tent Air Conditioner

Most tents lack the insulation to keep hot air outside your tent. Staying inside the tent becomes a lot harder since there’s nothing getting the hot air out of the tent. What’s worse? Carrying a cooling device and generator is nearly impossible for campers.

You usually want to pitch your tent in the shade or reschedule your camping trip according to the weather. But if you don’t want the heat to stop you from having fun on your trip you can get an air conditioner instead.  

You can find tent air conditioners for camping that can maintain the temperature inside the tent as you enjoy the outdoors. After all, staying dry, cool, and comfortable is essential when you’re planning to spend a long time inside a tent.

Types of Tent Air Conditioners

Tent air conditioners are excellent for camping trips, outdoor events, or nights when you just want to sleep outdoors. An air conditioner will keep you cool and comfortable so you can tackle humidity and hot temperatures.

Before buying an air conditioner for your tent, you should look at all of your available options. Here are some types of tent air conditioners that you can choose from.

Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners typically have a bad reputation among other ACs as they’re comparatively inefficient. However, a portable air conditioner can still keep your tent cool during warmer weather.

While portable ACs perform up to task, they are bulky and take a lot of space inside the tent. Additionally, these ACs are pretty heavy, and campers will likely struggle to carry them around on their trip.

Window Air Conditioner

Window air conditioners are probably the least invasive ACs to use when cooling your tents. These are also quite effective and generally cool faster and more efficiently than portable ACs.

They take up a small space inside the tent because you will mostly keep them outside. Window ACs are also lighter and much easier to carry than portable air conditioners.

However, window ACs can be a little more complicated to setup. But if you want something that can effectively cool the  many people believe the additional installation steps are worth the results.

Evaporative Air Coolers

Evaporative coolers or swamp coolers work differently than air conditioners. Although these cooling devices are not actually air conditioners, they can provide relief from the unpleasant effects of hot weather.

Unlike refrigerant air conditioners swamp coolers are just a combination of a wet sponge and a fan. The moist pad absorbs heat from the air, and evaporates moisture to produce a cooling effect. Unlike ACs, they work by adding humidity to the air.

Factors to Look for When Purchasing an Air Conditioner

Portable and window tent air conditioners are ideal cooling solutions when you’re camping. But you need to plug it in to work. On the other hand, evaporative coolers can work fine without power, but increase the moisture content in the air.

Air conditioners aren’t a one-size-fits-all. You need to consider various important things before you buy a portable AC for your tent. These factors will affect your camping experience and the efficiency of your tent air conditioner.

Power and Energy

When going on one for your camping activities, you should consider the kind of power you want your AC to run on. In fact, it is one of the first things that a camper should consider.

Most portable air conditioners are powered by batteries that you can recharge. Battery-powered ACs are affordable and convenient, which makes them great for camping.

You can use these ACs to cool your tent throughout the night and replace the batteries in the morning. However, the batteries don’t allow these air conditioners to cool large tents.

In most cases, bringing an electrically-powered AC is not ideal, since finding access to a generator or power supply is next to impossible on camp grounds. You should avoid bringing these cooling solutions unless you’re carrying a power generator.

Cooling Capacity

The weather conditions of your campsite determine the cooling capacity for your tent air conditioner. An AC with a lower cooling capacity won’t make as much a difference in higher temperatures. But if you’re planning to camp in an area with temperatures lower than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you won’t need to worry about cooling as much.

Most tent air conditioners have a cooling unit between 5,000 and 12,000 BTU. A higher number means that the AC has a better equals a better cooling capacity. In simpler terms, a 6,000 BTU AC can cool a larger room compared to a 5,000 BTU AC.


Portable air conditioners aren’t always portable, especially since you’ll be moving your portable AC quite often as a camper. So you should choose a size that you can easily carry around.

Your tent air conditioner should also be small enough, to easily fits inside your tent. After all, you don’t want your portable AC to take up all the space in your tent. Bulky AC options are not advisable due to the space they take up and their weight.

Talking about size, window and portable units offer different degrees of mobility. Window units are typically heavier and need positioning next to the tent.

Additional Features

Many ACs come with adjustable features to enhance your camping experience. You can adjust these features according to what you need at the moment.

These features typically include variable fan speeds, adjustable thermostats, timers, and low-battery indicators. A timer can help you save battery whereas a low-battery indicator will alert you in a timely manner so that you can easily arrange a power replacement.

Additional features are usually not worth the extra cost. ACs with basic settings tend to be the most affordable option and are easier to operate.

Bottom Line

Cooling a tent is never easy, but you can easily pull it off the task with a suitable setup. Portable and window air conditioners are excellent to cool your tent and keeping it dry during hot and humid weather conditions.

Along with budget, keep power, cooling capacity, size, and additional features in mind before making a purchase. Your choice of tent air conditioner also largely depends on your usage and the campsite.

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