5 Best RV Air Conditioners In 2021 (15,000 BTU Rooftop)

RVs can get incredibly hot in the summer. All interior aside, an RV is basically a metal box. When you park it in the sun, the metal box will easily heat up in much the same way as metal containers in the docks.

RV air conditioners are a part of essential equipment for all RVs. They can have a powerful cooling effect, good reliability, and they can be lightweight. Obviously, they can also be too weak to properly cool an RV during the summer heatwave, they can be less reliable, and heavy.

Here’s the thing:

When buying an RV air conditioner you really have to be careful to sieve the ‘bad’ RV AC units out. That’s why LearnMetrics has prepared a selection of the best air conditioners for RVs and campers where we have done just that (you will find the list further on).

RV air conditioners are fairly easy to use: they usually have manual control.

When choosing the best RV AC units, you have to primarily look at 3 specific factors, namely:

  1. Strong cooling effect (measured in BTU/hr). Air conditioner has to be strong enough to adequately cool down the entire RV, even during heatwaves. That means they have to have at least 12,000 BTU/hr of cooling output.
  2. Reliability. Traditional tried-and-tested RV air conditioner brands are the best. Dometic and Coleman are the two best RV AC unit brands with a long and successful track-record for reliability.
  3. Weight. RV air conditioners can easily weigh 150 lbs and more. If you regularly use your RV, you can easily make 1000 miles per year. Lightweight air conditioners below 100 lbs will somewhat reduce gas consumption.

Before we look at the list of the best 5 RV air conditioners in 2021, let’s get a little insight into these 3 key factors for buying an AC unit for an RV:

What Size AC Do I Need For My RV?

Nobody wants to buy an RV air conditioner that doesn’t adequately reduce the temperature. Summer is the season for RVs, and the beautiful thing about summer are the high temperatures. If you’re not sweating in an RV with an inadequate cooling system, that is.

Having a strong (but not too strong) air conditioner for RV is essential. The cooling effect of every RV AC unit is given in BTUs per hour (if you look at the specification sheet, that is usually the No. 1 spec).

The question to answer is this: how many BTUs should an RV air conditioner have? For a great majority of RVs, you should use this rule of thumb when it comes to the size of an AC unit:

  • 10,000 BTUs. Too weak to properly cool down an RV in the summer heat.
  • 15,000 BTUs. Just right, even for heatwaves.
  • 20,000 BTUs. Overkill; electricity and unit costs are unnecessarily high.

In short, 15,000 BTUs is more than enough for pretty much all RV sizes.

Reliability: Which RV Air Conditioner Brands Are The Best?

The worst thing is installing a rooftop RV air conditioner that you have to continually fix. Those ones usually give out when you need them the most – during the summer heatwave.

If you’re buying an air conditioner for an RV, you should buy a quality and reliable unit to avoid future problems. How to figure out which RV air conditioners are reliable?

The brand is the best indication of reliability. Newer brands don’t have the necessary track-record to say “Yes, this AC unit will last for 4+ years”.

Established brands that have been in business for 20+ years have a track-record. Of those, the most successful and best RV air conditioner brands are Dometic and Coleman. The majority of RV owners have either a Dometic or Coleman AC unit simply because they are the most reliable ones.

How long do RV air conditioners last?

Between 3 and 5 years, depending on the use and, obviously, the quality of the unit. Dometic and Coleman units are known for their 5-year lifespans. RV AC units from less established brands will last closer to 3 years.

Lightweight vs Heavyweight AC Units

RV trips are usually long. You can drive for more than 1000 miles before you arrive at your destination. Every pound you take with you will add to the gasoline bill.

If you have an option, you should invest in a lightweight RV AC unit. You can reduce the weight of a rooftop AC unit up to 100 lbs or so.

Here’s a rule of thumb as far as the weight of RV units go:

  • Lightweight: Below 100 lbs.
  • Heavyweight: Above 100 lbs.

Another advantage of lightweight air conditioners is an easier installation. Lifting a 100+ lbs unit up on the rooftop of an RV or camper is harder than with a below 100 lbs unit.

Secondary Factors When Buying An RV Air Conditioner

In addition to BTUs, reliability, and weight, you should also look into:

  • Electrical requirements. 115 V / 60 Hz is the standard; all RVs support that.
  • Optional heating. RV ACs like Coleman Mach 15 can also provide a heating function, in addition to the cooling effect. Mach 15, for example, can generate 5,600 BTU/hr of heating output. This comes especially handy during colder summer nights or using an RV in the winter.

With all of this in mind, let’s look at the best RV air conditioners currently on the market. Below you will also find a short review of all RV AC units:

Best RV Air Conditioners In 2021 (Comparison)

    1. Best RV Air Conditioner In 2021: Dometic Brisk II
    2. Best RV AC Unit With 5,600 BTU Heating: Coleman Mach 15
    3. Best Small RV Air Conditioner: Airxcel Mach 3 Plus
    4. Most Powerful RV Air Conditioner: Furrion CHILL
    5. Cheapest RV AC Unit: Advent ACM150
RV AC Unit: #1 Dometic Brisk II #2 Coleman Mach 15 #3 Airxcel Mach 3 Plus #4 Furrion CHILL #5 Advent ACM150
Photo:
Cooling Output: 15,000 BTU/hr 15,000 BTU/hr 13,500 BTU/hr 15,500 BTU/hr 15,000 BTU/hr
Electrical Req: 115 V / 60 Hz 115 V / 60 Hz 115 V / 60 Hz 115 V / 60 Hz 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 85 lbs 90 lbs 90 lbs 106 lbs 68 lbs
Dimensions: 29.18″ x 27.23″ x 12.7″ 42″ x 28″ x 16″ 41″ x 28″ x 16″ 36″ x 30″ x 26″ 33.46″ x 25.6″ x 15″
Price: $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars 4.6 out of 5 stars 4.6 out of 5 stars 4.4 out of 5 stars 3.9 out of 5 stars
Availability: Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

1. Dometic Brisk II Review (Best RV Air Conditioner In 2021)

Dometic Brisk II
Cooling Output: 15,000 BTU/hr
Electrical Requirements: 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 85 lbs
Dimensions: 29.18″ x 27.23″ x 12.7″
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

Dometic Brisk II is the quintessential RV air conditioner. It’s pretty much perfect in all the right ways:

  1. Has perfect 15,000 BTU/hr cooling output. Adequate and appropriate for all RV sizes.
  2. Reliable. It’s made by Dometic, probably the best RV air conditioner producer with a successful 20-year track-record for reliability.
  3. It’s lightweight. Dometic Brisk II weighs less than 100 lbs – 85 lbs, to be exact.

Dometic is one of the best known Swedish companies. What is Ikea for affordable furniture, Dometic is for RV air conditioners. The Brisk II (model B59516.XX1C0) is their top-of-the-line flagship model.

It has a characteristic Scandinavian minimalistic design and is available in Polar White as well as in Black color.

Dometic Brisk II is well-engineered; you can see that improvement in high maximum airflow and overall best performance. The Brisk II also includes the dampening brackets that reduce noise levels and vibrations this 15,000 BTU RV air conditioner produces.

With 29.18″ x 27.23″ x 12.7″ dimensions, it will fit on the rooftop of any RV or camper. You also have the 115 V / 60 Hz electrical requirements all RVs can provide.

Perfect in every way, the Dometic Brisk II is the most popular and best RV air conditioner model, available at a moderate price point:

Pros
  • Exactly 15,000 BTU/hr cooling effect; not too big, not too small, just right
  • Lightweight; weighs only 85 lbs and reduces the gasoline usage
  • Minimalistic Scandinavian design with 2 color options
  • Comes with noise and vibration-reducing dampening brackets
  • Made by Dometic; one of the most reliable Swedish RV AC unit producers
  • Due to its moderate price, it’s extremely popular and a best-seller
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide additional heating functionality due to a lack of heat pump

2. Coleman Mach 15 Review (Best RV AC Unit With Heat Pump)

Coleman Mach 8
Cooling Output: 15,000 BTU/hr
Electrical Requirements: 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 90 lbs
Dimensions: 42″ x 28″ x 16″
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Coleman is, alongside Dometic, one of the two best RV air conditioner brands. Their Mach 15 model is generally considered one of the safest investments if you’re looking for an AC unit for an RV.

The same as Dometic Brisk II, the Coleman Mach 15 (model 08-0080) provides the optimum 15,000 BTU of cooling effect. As you know, 10,000 BTUs would be too weak, 20,000 BTUs is overkill, 15,000 BTUs is just right.

As for electrical requirements: The fan motor is powered by 1/3 HP that is wired with a 115 V / 60 Hz grid (1 phase current). Every RV has that; you don’t have to worry about electrical incompatibilities.

Coleman Mach 15 is especially popular because it has something that a lot of RV air conditioners lack: the heating function. Mach 15 is basically a heat pump. If you want to reduce the temperature inside the RV, you can turn on 15,000 BTUs of cooling power.

If, however, you are camping somewhere where it gets a bit chilly at night, you can turn on a heating function that provides up to 5,600 BTUs of heating effect. That alone makes the Coleman Mach 15 the best RV heat pump, capable of working as an air conditioner as well as a heater.

All in all, Coleman Mach 15 is a perfect all-season RV air conditioner. The air conditioning is used in the summer, the heating can be used on cold nights and even in the dead of winter:

Pros
  • Best AC with heat pump
  • Can produce 15,000 BTU of a cooling effect as well as 5,600 BTU of heating effect (dual function)
  • Lightweight enough (90 lbs)
  • Can produce very high 320 CFM airflow
  • Reputable Coleman brand; guaranteed reliability
Cons
  • Higher price point due to dual (cooling + heating) effect

3. Airxcel Mach 3 Plus Review (Best Small RV Air Conditioner)

Airxcel Mach 3 Plus
Cooling Output: 15,000 BTU/hr
Electrical Requirements: 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 85 lbs
Dimensions: 29.18″ x 27.23″ x 12.7″
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Dometic and Coleman are the 2 best RV air conditioner brands. Airxcel is a Coleman-owned brand, and Coleman knows their RV AC engineering. In short, Airxcel, backed by Coleman, is one of the more reputable brands.

Their best unit is the Airxcel Mach 3 Plus (model 08-0079). It is designed in a similar fashion to Coleman Mach 15 with one major difference: it’s a little less powerful.

With 13,500 BTU of cooling power, this is the best air conditioner for small RVs. A 15,000+ BTU air conditioner would surely be overkill for smaller RV units. The 13,500 BTU is driven by 13.1 cooling amps, 115 VAC 1-phase current.

For cold nights, you can switch to the heating effect. The Airxcel Mach 3 Plus is capable of working as a 5,600 BTU/hr heater. In essence, it is a heat pump, not a cooling-only AC unit.

With a little less power and a little less weight (85 lbs) than Coleman Mach 15, the Airxcel Mach 3 Plus also costs a little less. All in all, it’s a reliable little RV air conditioner with heating option:

Pros
  • With 13,500 BTUs, it’s the best RV air conditioner for small RVs
  • Has heating option with 5,600 BTU/hr heating output (useful on cold nights)
  • Reputable Airxcel brand, backed by Coleman engineers
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • Not appropriate for big RVs or campers

4. Furrion CHILL Review (Most Powerful RV Air Conditioner)

Furrion CHILL
Cooling Output: 15,500 BTU/hr
Electrical Requirements: 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 106 lbs
Dimensions: 36″ x 30″ x 26″
Price: $$$$
Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Furrion CHILL is your basic RV AC unit with manual control. The bigger 15,500 BTU model is more appropriate for bigger RVs because it has more cooling power.

The good thing about a big RV air conditioner like Furrion CHILL is the dual-fan system. Most AC units have a single fan; with two fans, the Furrion CHILL can distribute the air more homogeneously throughout the RV or camper. The dual-fan usually also has better energy-efficiency; up to 25% higher than single fan units.

A bigger unit also means that you’re driving around with more weight. The drawback with Furrion CHILL is the 106 lbs weight. This, sadly, can’t be avoided.

Furrion CHILL consist of two units:

  1. Air conditioner on the rooftop (FACR15SA-PS model).
  2. Air distribution box in the RV (FACT11MA-PS model).

The Furrion CHILL also has dual compatibility with a ducted or ductless system.

All in all, Furrion CHILL is not a Dometic or Coleman unit but it has 2 fans, good energy-efficiency and a more powerful 15,500 BTU output:

Pros
  • Very powerful with 15,500 BTU cooling output (appropriate for larger RVs)
  • 2 RV fans instead of 1; better energy-efficiency and distribution throughout the RV
  • Easy bolt-on installation
Cons
  • 106 weight (it’s not considered a lightweight unit)
  • Not a reputable Dometic or Coleman brand

5. Advent ACM150 Review (Cheapest RV AC Unit)

Advent ACM150
Cooling Output: 15,000 BTU/hr
Electrical Requirements: 115 V / 60 Hz
Weight: 68 lbs
Dimensions: 33.46″ x 25.6″ x 15″
Price: $$$$
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Top RV air conditioners can easily cost up to $1,000. While Coleman and Dometic units cost about $900, Advent, a lesser-known brand offers a cheaper RV model with a price tag of less than $700.

Advent ACM150 offers a budget-friendly option of a 15,000 BTU air conditioner for RVs. It has 6 dense foam support pads that reduce the vibrations of the metal base pan on the rooftop.

The best part, apart from the cheap price, is the low weight of the Advent ACM150. The whole unit weighs only 68 lbs; it’s the lightest 15,000 BTU unit.

Nonetheless, the Advent brand is not exactly Dometic. Reliability-wise it might be questionable.

All in all, the lesser-known brand might be a problem for some RV owners. The price and the weight of the device, however, are quite impressive:

Pros
  • Lightweight (68 lbs)
  • Available at a very low price point for an RV air conditioner
  • Has foam support for vibration-reduction
Cons
  • Reliability might be questionable
  • Not a Coleman or Dometic unit

If you have any questions about RV air conditioners, you can pose them in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “5 Best RV Air Conditioners In 2021 (15,000 BTU Rooftop)”

  1. One of the most important factors was left out. What is the db noise level when these AC’s are run on high?
    I don’t care who makes it or how heavy it is if it’s too noisy.

    Reply
    • Hello Donald, that’s true. We will try looking into the quietest RV air conditioners; going rank them by noise levels (dB in specifications).

      Reply
  2. I read about some “soft start” units that have a lesser current draw on startup. Are any of the units recommended equipped with that feature?

    Reply
    • Hello Frank, a good question. None of these units is a soft start RV air conditioner; this is a rather new trend and there are practically no soft start RV air conditioners just out of the box. Every RV AC can be turned into a soft start RV AC with a ‘soft start capacitor’. This is an RV AC add-on that reduced the initial current draw for all your RV electric equipment. One of the best well-known of these soft start capacitors is the SoftstartRV (you can check it here) which is more than capable to reduce the initial compressor draw of 15,000 BTU RV air conditioners.

      Soft start RV air conditioners are basically the ones that come shipped with the SoftstartRV included. So, if you’re looking for a new RV AC, you can get any one of them and just install the SoftstartRV (it’s surprisingly easy, actually) or just install a SoftstartRV on your existing RV AC. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  3. Glad to jump on your post. I am about to change my air conditioning system of my Winnebago. I am thinking of converting most of the electrical appliances to solar panels, but I am confused which one will work better with solar panels. After reading your post, I think Coleman Mach 15 Review will be suitable for this purpose. Can you please give your valuable suggestion on this ?

    Reply
    • Hello there, the true question here is if it’s possible to run an RV air conditioner on solar panels. RV AC is the most power-hungry unit in most RV; the perfect RV AC to run on solar panels would be the one with the lowest running wattage. Obviously, Coleman and Dometic are the best two brands you want to choose an RV AC from.

      Now, Coleman Mach 15 has a 1580W running wattage (14.8 amps). For comparison, Dometic Brisk II has 2,800W running wattage. From this viewpoint, it’s clear that Coleman Mach 15 is a suitable choice of RV AC that works well with solar panels. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  4. Appreciate your efforts on writing such a valuable post. In my opinion, for better performance and making the RV fuel efficient, solar panels are much needed. While deciding on the best air conditioner it would be much better if you install a solar panel too.

    Reply

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