How to Select 12V Portable Air Conditioners for My Camper Trailer?

DC air conditioner trailer camper
DC air conditioner trailer camper
The Smallest 12V Portable Air Conditioner for Caravan / Camping / Camper Trailer


When you go outing with your lovely trailer or caravan, especially in summer, thoughts turn to chill out. For those without home power and off the grid, a portable 12-volt air conditioner can be an inexpensive and energy-efficient alternative for cooling drive cab or bedroom.

To find the proper A/C for your space, determine the square footage of the room you want to cool by multiplying the room’s length by its width. Proper air conditioner sizing starts with determining the square footage of your room by multiplying your floor’s length by its width. Next, compare your room size to the window air conditioner’s British thermal unit (BTU) rating. A BTU rating indicates the amount of heat an A/C can remove from a room.


The magic formula for your portable air conditioner size calculator.
  • According to The U.S. Department of Energy, here is how you calculate an air conditioner size:

“… for an air conditioner generally needs 20 BTU for each square foot…” That is, 1 Sq ft = 20Btu.


Customer Reviews & User Experience of Choosing RIGID Battery-driven Micro DC Aircons



RIGID 12-volt Micro DC Aircon

R290 Micro Air Conditioner

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  • Product Model:  DV1910E-AC
  • Capacity: 450W (1,535Btu)

5.0 out of 5 stars Works Great, Works Even Better With Mods  — Joseph S. from the United States.

This is the smallest air conditioner that I have ever seen and works great especially if you like to experiment. The manual was very detailed and explains what all of the controls do and various technical details I found helpful. When I first got mine, I put a probe in the output and it was outputting about 53-52 degrees of air in a 75-degree room.

Over the last year, I have added various mods to it that have gotten it even colder. There are two white wires that are tied together that control the compressor on or off, this will let you add a remote or thermostat so you can have the compressor on or leave it in fan-only mode.

I use a remote unit with 2 relays so I can turn the fans on/off and the compressor on/off I added voltage controllers to slow down the blower fan and speed up the exhaust fans. I run the exhaust fans on the condenser at 12.5 volts to get more heat out of the system and I turned the blower motor down to 10 volts while leaving the rest of the system including the compressor at 12 volts.

I also turned the little blue potentiometer to speed up the compressor to the maximum speed I can hear the compressor running healthily at. I backed it off once the compressor started sounding like it was being overworked. R-134A refrigerant, which is what this air conditioner uses and is the same stuff as in your car A/C, gets colder the faster you run the compressor.

It runs a little warm at first but once it removes the humidity from the air, it starts getting really cold. With the mods, mine starts at around 47 degrees and drops to 44 after it removes the humidity from the air in 71-75 degree air. I can run this thing for hours and it puts out cold air while dehumidifying the air too!

Make sure your 12-volt power supply can handle at least 15 amps, I ran it on a 10-amp adapter at first and the starting current for the compressor would trip it until it got running. I also recommend putting a filter over the air intake for the evaporator, I am using a filter designed for a computer fan just resting on it.

I also added a hose to drain the condensate from the pan into a bottle so I don’t get water everywhere, a 1/4″ ID hose will fit on the nozzle. I am not sure how well this will cool a room but it works extremely well as a spot cooler to blow on you or cool a tiny space. The air coming out of it is very cold and the blower still blows strong even down at 10 volts.

I love this thing and it’s fun to experiment with! I bought this in July 2021 and as of April 2022, it is still running great and hasn’t lost its charge. It comes pre-charged from the factory and I did not need to do anything to charge it.

12V DC Air Conditioning Units


RIGID 12-volt Micro DC Aircon (Cool & Heat)

Micro DC Aircon-Cool & Heat

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  • Product Model:  DV1910E-AC/H
  • Cooling: 450W (1,534Btu)
  • Heating: 300W (1,023Btu, PTC heater)

5.0 out of 5 stars Got the performance I expected  — Randy T. from the United States.

Final update on the build using your AC/Heat unit. I changed the manual switch out using relays to control the heat and cool function. This is all controlled by a thermostat inside the trailer. Took it out to the desert last month to test it. Stayed very comfortable inside. Here is a picture of the final build. The unit is behind the vent on the side of the trailer.

Attached are the 12v relays purchased for the build. Relays are controlled by a battery-powered Honeywell Thermostat.

12v relays

I utilized the existing relay for the heat mode. The fan is controlled manually or automatically by the thermostat. The thermostat has heat and cool settings. Here is the picture of the setup:
micro dc aircon DV1910E-AC set up


Here are more pictures of the 12V Micro DC Aircon DV1910E-AC/H (Cool & Heat) installed.

Ductwork is behind the bulkhead that separates the cabin from the outside elements. The A/C unit sits above and the water tank is behind the bulkhead. The blue duct is the return the silver wrapped is the distribution ductwork. Picture of the two vents and thermostat inside the cabin bulkhead.

12V DC Air Conditioning Units

  1. To know more about RIGID DC Air Conditioning products, Click here!
  2. If you need large cooling powers A/C, Twin-cylinder compressor A/C units are the answer!



Selecting a 12V portable air conditioner for a camper trailer requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Power consumption: Look for a 12V portable air conditioner that is designed to work with your camper’s electrical system and battery. Make sure the air conditioner’s power consumption is within the range that your battery can support.
  2. Cooling capacity: Consider the size of your camper and the number of people who will be using it. Choose an air conditioner with the right cooling capacity to ensure that it can keep the interior of your camper comfortable.
  3. Noise level: Portable air conditioners can generate significant noise, especially when run on high. Choose an air conditioner that is designed to operate quietly, so that it won’t disturb your peace and quiet while camping.
  4. Portability: Look for a 12V portable air conditioner that is lightweight, compact, and easy to move around. A portable air conditioner that can be easily transported from one location to another will be more convenient to use when camping.
  5. Energy efficiency: Consider the energy efficiency of the air conditioner, as this will impact your camper’s battery life and fuel consumption. Look for an air conditioner that is designed to use minimal energy, so that it won’t drain your battery or use up your fuel supply too quickly.
  6. Price: Portable air conditioners can range in price from relatively inexpensive to quite expensive. Consider your budget and choose an air conditioner that offers the best combination of features and price for your needs.
  7. Maintenance and support: Consider the maintenance requirements of the air conditioner and the level of support offered by the manufacturer. Choose an air conditioner that is easy to maintain and has a good reputation for reliability and durability.

By considering these factors, you can find a 12V portable air conditioner that will keep your camper comfortable and cool, and help you enjoy your camping trips to the fullest.

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