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Can I Use a Portable Air Conditioner In Your Tent?



Camping, a great activity that puts you back in touch with your family and nature. Over my lifetime, I’ve attempted many different locations and many kinds of camping. However, one issue always arises.


With only the tent to protect us from the outdoor elements, sometimes sleeping can be a sticky and hot situation. We need a method to improve the overall conditions and temperatures inside our tent, day or night.


Can I go camping with a portable air conditioner?

This question seems like a simple issue. However, there are many factors to consider. These factors include:

  • the size of your tent

  • the temperatures where you’ll be camping

  • type of camping

  • space in your tent

  • cost of the air conditioner

  • power concerns and availability


Each of these items plays a specific role in what style of portable air conditioner you should bring with you on your next family camping trip.


The overall size of your tent is a primary concern.

Tent air conditioners come in three different design methods:

  • Ice Cooler Chest with fans

  • Evaporative fans

  • Portable Household Air Conditioners.


The size of your tent will determine which model of portable air conditioner will work best on your camping Adventure.


Another essential item that will determine what type of air conditioner you bring will be if your site has electricity. All of these air conditioners require power. However, some of them can be run off battery power, while others need a landline to the campgrounds power supply.


With smaller tents, you can get away with personal evaporative air conditioners or an ice chest air conditioner.


With larger tents, you’ll need an air conditioner with a higher BTU rating. Typically a 5000 BTU-rated air conditioner will work great for larger family tents. The style of air conditioner will typically be a portable household air conditioner.


Temperatures at your campsite also play a factor in your choice.

If you’re looking just to remove humidity or you want to create a breeze throughout your tent, an ice chest cooler or evaporative fans may be the right choice for you. These work better in dry, warm areas and can help to keep you cool. Keep in mind that these are not full-fledged air conditioners, and they will not give you the feeling that a household unit will provide.


Camping in extreme heat or direct sunlight will require an air conditioner to remove humidity and provide Cooling. These are your actual household portable air conditioners.


What type of camping determines your air conditioner.

Not all air conditioners are light and portable. If you’re hiking and need a little relief from the heat, then you want a portable evaporative air conditioner. These units can be run off battery power or from an electrical hook-up. These conditioners are small, lightweight, and portable. However, you will not get the cooling capacity that you get in larger household models.


If you’re camping off the grid, for instance, you will not have access to power. Unless you bring a generator, this removes the portable household air conditioner. Here you might want to consider an ice chest air conditioner or an evaporative conditioner. Both of these units can be operated on battery power.


Destination camping or Resort Camping

This camping style offers you many of the amenities of the home, including power at your site. Here you can easily use the portable household unit to keep you cool and comfortable no matter the temperatures.


Remember, these household units are not really that portable. They are big, bulky, and heavy. They are not something you want to be dragging around the woods or on the trail, but they will work great at your destination campsite. They are also not rated for outdoor use. While they may be portable they still need to be stored and used in a weatherproof environment.


The available space inside your tent is also a concern.

If you’re camping in a small Dome Tent where space is tight, you may not have room for the larger household models. Here the personal evaporative fan models will work best. While they don’t offer you the cooling capacity of household units, they will provide some relief on those hot sticky nights.


Cost is always a factor.

As with any piece of camping equipment, you will pay the price for the right quality equipment. Choosing the correct air conditioner for your camping Style is a great way to get some added benefit from this piece of equipment.


For instance, while household portable air conditioners tend to be priced between $300 and $500. You can get some additional use by using them at home, in your office, or even in your RV.


The other models, the chest air conditioner and the personal evaporative air conditioner, can be found at a lower price. However, you do have a reduced coolant capacity, so you need to consider this.


The ice chest cooler air conditioner is still in the $200 range, but you can also use it as a cooler for your beverages during your trip.



Will your new air conditioner require power?

As we stated before, power is always a concern when camping. The portable ice chest air conditioners and personal evaporative air conditioners can both be run on battery power, so that the need for a direct hook-up at your campsite is not always necessary.


Keep in mind that the batteries will discharge, and you will need to recharge them at some point.


If you’re camping at a campground, then confirm that you have power at your site. This power allows you to choose any of the methods to cool your tent and keep you comfortable during the night. It also provides you a method to recharge any batteries that you will be using.


Remember, if you plan on using your AC on power, bring ample extension cords and even a power strip so you can use multiple items without having to change chords back and forth.


It seems simple, but the power strip is almost essential. Be sure to plug this power strip into the ground fault Outlet at your RV’s power post. This outlet will add security during rain and wet weather and help keep you safe.


With all of this information, you now have some idea what you’re looking at when it comes to air conditioning your tent. Remember the three basic styles of tent air conditioners: ice chest air conditioners, personal evaporative fan air conditioners, and portable household air conditioners.



Ice Chest Air Conditioners

The ice chest air conditioner is the right choice and very simple to operate. You simply fill the chest with ice and turn the fan on. It blows cool air by circulating it through the compartment’s interior and blowing it out into your tent. You will need to keep the ice full and change it frequently, depending on your weather conditions.


This Innovative idea also allows you to store your beverages or food items within the ice chest. Remember to keep your personal items to a minimum as you need as much ice as possible to maintain a constant temperature being provided to your tent by this unit.



Evaporator fan air conditioners and personal evaporative fan air conditioners

These air conditioners all operate on the same function. You add water to them, and then they blow Mist throughout your tent, cooling the air and certainly making your skin feel cooler. These units work best in hot, dry areas. These are the locations where you will see the best results.



Personal household portable air conditioners.

These units are just what you’d use at your house. The place here is that you can multitask with them. In addition to tent camping, you can use them in your office house or RV to cool a room and keep you comfortable no matter where you are.


The downside to these units is they specifically need a power hookup. Batteries aren’t really an option. Remember, these are proper air conditioners. They remove humidity from the air and also cool the air by running it through a refrigerated coil. These units will also collect the water they have taken from the air, so you will either need to drain them with a hose outside your tent.


In the end, the type of camping, the size and style of your tent, and the climate will all help you determine the best kind of tent air conditioner that will work best for you. Take some time and review those critical components so that you can make the right choice.


We are Family Tents Pro, and we want you to feel comfortable on your first or next camping adventure. These air conditioners can help make your trip even better with a great night’s sleep.


We have more helpful information available for you to view on our website at www.familytentspro.com. Here you will find useful product reviews, top lists, and educational articles. Also, we may earn a small commission should you purchase through any of our affiliate links.

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