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What Is the Best Mini Split AC for RV?
Mini split air conditioning systems are a convenient and cost-effective way to control your house, shed, or garage climate. However, these are not the only places where you can install one. If you own an RV, you can also install a mini split and keep the inside of your trailer cool and comfortable.
Learn about the best mini split AC options for RVs, how to choose the right capacity, and which are the most critical installation factors and challenges.
Challenges of Air Conditioning in RVs
If you enjoy using your recreational vehicle (RV) often or live in it on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, you’ve probably considered other air conditioning options.
Typical modern-production RVs come with two forms of air conditioning: a standard dashboard AC system, similar to a passenger car, and a default roof-mounted unit for the rest of the interior.
However, unlike passenger car air conditioning, the roof-mounted AC unit does not run on battery and engine power, as it would draw too much energy. Instead, they use their own power source, fed using a dedicated propane generator.
These AC systems are highly inefficient. They can only remove warm air from the inside without introducing cool air to keep the indoor temperature controlled. For instance, if it’s hot outside and you want to keep the inside of your RV cool with the default unit, you’d have to run it constantly, potentially spending hundreds of dollars worth of propane in the process.
Benefits of Using a Mini Split AC in Your RV
Unlike standard RV air conditioning systems, an AC system such as an LG mini split offers numerous advantages:
More cooling power
Mini split systems set to cooling mode are designed to remove heat from the interior and introduce cool air inside simultaneously. They are much more efficient at keeping the interior temperature of your RV consistent, even in hot summers.
Mini splits are well-known for being less noisy than alternative HVAC options, operating on average at around 32dB. The decreased noise levels are a significant advantage in smaller enclosed spaces such as the inside of an RV.
Traditional RV AC systems require propane generators to run. A mini split system can be powered with any generator, and the higher the SEER rating, the less electrical energy it needs for the same cooling capacity. You can even supplement or replace the generators with rechargeable battery arrays and solar panels, significantly decreasing operating costs.
Offers more features
Depending on the model you purchase, your mini split may either feature a cooling mode only or both cooling and heating (heat pumps). Many mini splits also provide air quality control with a built-in dehumidifying mode, which other RV AC options lack.Top-Rated Gree Mini Split for Your RV
How to Choose the Right Mini Split System for Your RV
The best practices for choosing a mini split system for your RV are similar to the recommendations for a home: select the right capacity for each zone and look for the best efficiency ratings. However, RVs are a non-standard environment for installing mini split AC systems, with additional information and factors to consider.
Mini split AC systems are available in either single-zone (1 indoor unit) or multi-zone (2+ indoor units) configurations. In standard households, each zone is typically assigned to a specific room or area of the house, such as the living room, bedroom, kitchen, garage, etc.
Despite the relatively limited amount of space in an RV, zoning remains essential, as the size and configuration of your vehicle determine how many zones you have and how many indoor units you need.
Smaller motorized RVs, such as Class C and Class B RVs, can be adequately climate-controlled with a properly sized single-zone system. In contrast, larger vehicles, such as Class A motorized RVs or large non-motorized units, may need a multi-zone system.
The most common RV multi-zone configuration is a dual-zone setup, with one indoor unit inside the bedroom (in the rear) and another in the primary living area (in the front). Some extra-large RVs like RV buses may require a tri-zone setup, one for each third of the vehicle behind the driving cabin.
Although RVs with properly configured air conditioning can be very comfortable, they do not feature the same level of insulation as a standard household. They also have a high heat gain due to the large windscreen and additional windows around the vehicle. Because of this, using the Department of Energy’s rule for estimating HVAC capacity (20 BTU per square foot) will not suffice.
To compensate for the relative lack of insulation in your RV, use double the amount instead: 40 BTU per square foot of living space. For example, most Class A RVs feature approximately 300 square feet of living space, meaning that the ideal mini split capacity for such a vehicle is 12,000 BTU.
Like with home mini splits, your local environment can play an additional role in choosing the right capacity. Depending on the climates you intend to travel to and the average exterior temperatures, you may select your system’s total capacity accordingly. For example, if you live in an area with hot summers exceeding 90°F, add another 30% to the total needed capacity.
When choosing a mini split system for your RV, you must verify that the unit’s nominal voltage is compatible with your RV’s power supply. Unlike the average American household, which has access to standard U.S. mains electricity (120/240 V), the average RV usually only features 120 V power, whether supplied by a generator, solar panels, or batteries.
Most RVs feature 120 V plugs for powering the appliances and power outlets found outside of the driving cabins. You can only connect mini splits rated at 110-120 V into 120 V plugs. If your system requires 208-240 V power, it will not function when plugged into the RV’s 120 V outlet, limiting you to power outlets at campsites and similar areas.
However, some RV models may feature 240 V power, allowing you to use a broader range of mini splits (and many other household appliances).
Find out what voltage your RV’s power system uses and pay close attention to the voltage rating of your mini split system. If you’re in doubt, follow this reference guide:
- 120 V power outlet: Powers 110-120 V mini splits. 208-230 V mini splits will not function
- 240 V power outlet: Powers 208-230 V mini splits. Do not plug a 110-120V appliance into a 240 V power outlet! Doing so will result in overvoltage, almost certainly destroying your mini split and presenting a severe fire hazard.
AC Only or Heat Pump?
Depending on your local environment and weather conditions, consider whether you need only cooling or both cooling and heating. A mini split capable of performing both is recommended if you use your RV year-round, travel to snowy or mountainous regions, or stay in areas with cold winters.
When shopping for mini split heat pumps, remember to look for the unit’s Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) rating, the heating equivalent of a SEER rating. The federal minimum HSPF for all mini splits sold on the U.S. market is 7.7. However, high-efficiency units may receive an Energy Star label if their HSPF rating is at least 8.5.
Top 4 Mini Split ACs for RVs Today
Here is our selection of the four best mini split air conditioning systems for RVs today. Each is suitable for different applications, whether you need a single- or multi-zone system, cooling only, or cooling and heating.
1. Best Single-Zone Mini Split for Large RVs: Gree Vireo GEN3 12,000 BTU
The Gree Vireo GEN3 is the latest generation of Gree Vireo heat pump split systems. This Gree unit is one of the world’s most efficient mini split air conditioners, packed with numerous convenience and durability features to enhance its year-round performance.
One of the primary features of this Gree mini split is its extreme operating temperature range. It provides functional heating with outdoor temperatures as low as -22°F and efficient cooling at up to 122°F outside. With the built-in Gree “I Feel” mode, the Vireo’s internal sensors can detect the current ambient temperature and automatically adjust its own thermostat and airflow settings.
Other convenience features include a 7-speed fan, an automatic cleaning mode, a programmable sleep mode for maximum noise reduction, and connectivity with popular voice home assistants (Google Home, Amazon Alexa).
Additionally, this mini split system includes a 25-foot, 0.25" x 0.5" line set, requiring minimal modifications to your RV’s interior configuration.
- Capacity: 12,000 BTU
- Nominal voltage: 115 V
- Cooling efficiency: SEER 25
- Heating efficiency: HSPF 10.2
- Energy Star rated: Yes
2. Best Single-Zone Mini Split for Small RVs: Boreal BRISA Single-Zone 9,000 BTU
If you need a mini split system for a Class B, a Class C, or any other small to medium-sized RVs, the single-zone Boreal BRISA is one of the best choices available on today’s market.
This reasonably priced single-zone heat pump features high-efficiency cooling and heating suitable for RVs with 200-250 ft² of living space. Its compact dimensions allow it to fit inside even the smallest areas and respect the minimum recommended clearance around the indoor unit (8" vertically, 4" horizontally). Additionally, its total system weight of 82.6 lbs. won’t excessively weigh your RV down, preserving your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
The Boreal BRISA’s multifunction remote control features an adjustable fan speed, a Dry mode, adjustable airflow swing angle, and a Turbo button for quick cooling or heating.
- Capacity: 9,000 BTU
- Nominal voltage: 115 V
- Cooling efficiency: SEER 17
- Heating efficiency: HSPF 9
- Energy Star rated: No
3. Best Single-Zone Mini Split for 240 V RVs: Mitsubishi M-Series MZ-GL12NA 12,000 BTU
This single-zone wall-mounted Mitsubishi AC system is ideal for small to medium RVs equipped with a 240 V power supply. It employs the latest technologies to provide maximum cooling and heating efficiency, no matter the outdoor temperatures.
The indoor unit features automatic restarting and cooling/heating changeover, and the included remote control allows you to set it to any of the five fan speeds. Its new Nano Platinum filter system provides improved air filtering capabilities, trapping bacteria, odors, allergens, and other contaminants more effectively, providing you with maximum indoor air quality at all times.
The outdoor unit features Blue Fin anti-corrosion coating, giving it a long service life and letting it function optimally even in harsh weather conditions.
- Capacity: 12,000 BTU
- Nominal voltage: 230 V
- Cooling efficiency: SEER 23.1
- Heating efficiency: HSPF 12.5
- Energy Star rated: Yes
4. Best Dual-Zone Mini Split for 240 V RVs: Gree Multi21+ Dual-Zone LIVO 30,000 BTU
The Gree Multi21+ LIVO possesses many of the same technologies and features found in other Gree products, allowing you to benefit from high cooling and heating efficiency even in a high-capacity, multi-zone system. It employs the eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant, featuring 40% more cooling capacity than previous-generation R-22 refrigerants.
This Gree 30,000 BTU air conditioner is a dual-zone system with a total capacity of 30,000 BTU, ideal for large and extra-large RVs. It comes with two remote controls (one per zone) and is compatible with the Gree Wi-Fi Kit for additional connectivity.
This version of the Gree Multi21+ LIVO features an ultra-low maximum sound output of 59 dB, backlit displays, and a programmable sleep mode, making it suitable for use even at night.
- Capacity: 30,000 BTU
- Nominal voltage: 230 V
- Cooling efficiency: SEER 21
- Heating efficiency: HSPF 11.5
- Energy Star rated: Yes
Outfit Your RV with the Best Mini Split Air Conditioners from ComfortUp
At ComfortUp, our objective is to ensure your complete comfort through the most advanced HVAC technology available on today’s market. We carry a selection of single-zone and multi-zone split AC systems made by the world’s top HVAC manufacturers: Boreal, Gree, LG, Mitsubishi Electric, and Rheem.
Besides offering the best selection of mini split ACs and heat pumps, ComfortUp aims to provide the best value and top-notch customer service. For us, comfort begins with the shopping experience; this is why we strive to be your #1 source for all your ductless air conditioning needs. Call us today at (855) 337-0001 for more information or message us using our contact form.