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5 Things You Need to Know About RV Camping in Hot Weather

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Nick and Amber Urmston camping in hot weather in their Keystone Avalanche fifth wheel

July 2023 was the world’s hottest month ever recorded. Even without official records, if you spent any time camping in hot weather, you likely noticed the high temps all on your own. 

RVing in the heat can be enjoyable and hassle-free with a little know-how and a few tips to keep your motorhome or camper running smoothly. Here are five things you need to know about camping in hot weather, no matter where in the country you’re traveling.

1. Pay attention to RV shore power and RV ACs when camping in hot weather

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll be fine camping in hot weather because you’ll just switch on your RV air conditioners and stay nice and chilly indoors. The wrong set-up at the RV park and/or a lack of planning before your trip can spell trouble for your RV’s AC units.

Every time you plug into an RV park pedestal, you should always use an energy management system. Some RVs come equipped with EMS units that are (or can be) hard-wired into the RV electrical system. If you don’t have an EMS installed, these portable energy management systems (RV EMS) are recommended because they evaluate the RV park’s electrical connections and can prevent potentially disastrous damage. Lots of RV campgrounds have functional electrical but this isn’t guaranteed so you’ll want to keep this in mind every time you book a campsite. 

The next thing to consider is how much power you need to run the RV air conditioner(s) in your RV. If you only have 30-amp service at the RV park or campground, you’ll only be able to run one AC in your RV – even if there are two ACs installed.

In any RV, the amount of RV shore power required to run both ACs is increased. Not only will you end up tripping RV breakers, but you run the risk of damaging the RV AC units if you’re not hooked up to the recommended RV shore power connection. In order to run both ACs simultaneously, you’ll need to be hooked up to a 50-amp receptacle. The good news is, most campgrounds do offer those 50-amp receptacles. 

Before any trip, be sure your motorhome or camper AC units are in good working order. Clean out the filters to avoid clogs and keep them running at optimal conditions. If you need routine RV AC maintenance or RV AC repairs, you can call a qualified RV service pro. These experts can even come to your RV location so you can skip the hassle of making an appointment at an RV dealership.

2. RV refrigerators aren't as efficient in extreme temperatures

Your RV fridge operates differently from a residential refrigerator. On a very basic level, your RV refrigerator is called an absorption fridge. An RV-type refrigerator works via a refrigerant that absorbs the heat from inside the fridge body and then expels that heat into the environment. If the environment is already extremely hot, expelling that heat becomes harder. 

Many RVers find that their RV refrigerators struggle to maintain a proper internal temperature during hot weather and extreme temperatures. To help remedy this, some RVers may install small fans that can help circulate the hot air in both the interior and exterior portion of the RV refrigerator. 

There are other things you can do to keep the outside temperatures from impacting your RV refrigerator performance:

    • When possible, park so that the sun will not beam directly on the side of your RV where the fridge is located. 
    • Make sure your RV refrigerator vents are not obstructed and clear any debris from the exterior portion of the RV fridge.
    • Keep a thermometer inside the RV fridge at all times.
    • To keep food safe inside an RV refrigerator, the temperature should be between 34 and 43 degrees F.
    • When opening the fridge, grab items quickly to reduce the amount of time the door is open. 

Each minute that an RV-type refrigerator is open, it takes an hour to recover to the original temperature!

Don't forget to check your RV spare tire before camping in hot weather
Master Certified RV Inspectors check RV tires and RV water heater and RV refrigerator before camping in hot weather

3. Tankless RV water heaters are affected by groundwater temperatures

There are several different manufacturers of RV tankless water heaters including Girard, Truma, Aqua-Hot, Furrion, and Suburban (to name a few). These tankless RV water heaters are also known as on-demand RV water heaters or instant-hot RV water heaters.

In general, RV tankless water heaters work best when used with a consistent RV water pressure and by setting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature for showering. This number should be set to a comfortable temperature without the use of any cold water as that causes the water temperature to be inconsistent. 

If higher or lower temperatures are required, the temperature at the thermostat can be increased or decreased temporarily. After washing RV dishes or using the RV washer, the temperature can then be reset to a comfortable temperature for showering without the mixing of cold water.

It’s important to note that the temperature of the water coming from the RV city water connection affects the overall performance of the RV water heater. For example, in the summer when the groundwater temperature is significantly higher, the tankless RV water heater struggles to maintain a consistent temperature. This is especially true across the southern United States during the summer months so be mindful of this when camping in hot weather.

4. Small changes can make a big difference when camping in hot weather

Even if your ACs, refrigerators and water heaters are working well while camping in hot weather, you may still find yourself… well, pretty sweaty and uncomfortable. 

Luckily, there are some small changes you can make in order to keep yourself and your motorhome or camper cooler when camping in hot weather.

    • Start by correctly positioning your RV at your campsite. The more shade you can get, the better.
    • Make use of shades or temporary coverings in your windows and doors. Block any harsh sunlight from heating up your RV interior. 
    • Use your RV cooktop and RV oven as little as possible by RV meal prepping at home before the trip. If you hate the thought of standing over a grill in 90-degree weather, it might just be time to go out to a restaurant for dinner. It’s always a great idea to support local small businesses in the area.
    • Make small investments to your rig to help lessen the heat’s effects, such as vent covers and more energy-efficient LED lights that emit less heat than traditional bulbs.

5. RV driving and RV storage considerations for hot weather

Beyond thinking about how the high temperatures can impact your RV while you’re parked at the campground, also think about how those same temps can impact your driving experience. 

During extreme heat, your RV may not perform the same on the road and the drive may put more strain on your RV systems. It’s more important than ever to be sure that your RV is in top shape by checking your tires, filters and fluids before you hit the road. 

When storing an RV in hot weather, it’s important to think about both the temperature and humidity in the area as well. In humid climates, use dehumidifiers to help lower the temperature and humidity levels in the interior of your motorhome or camper. 

If your recreational vehicle is stored in a dry and hot environment, you might have to raise the humidity levels within the RV. This is to prevent the wood and other finishes from becoming overly dry, which can lead to cracking.

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