Are you looking for a tent air conditioner? Choosing the right tent AC can be tricky, even if you’re an experienced camper.
We’re going to take a look at the best camping air conditioner options for you, sharing the pros, cons, and everything you need to know.
Tent AC Types and Prices
There are several different types of tent AC out there, ranging from cheap personal AC coolers to much larger devices designed to keep huge tents cool. These are one type of tent HVAC option. Here are the key types to know about:
|Tent AC Type||Best For||Cost (Range)||Approx Square Feet|
|Personal Evaporative Cooler||Cooling yourself down. Very small and portable.||$20 – $130||10 – 20|
|Large Evaporative Cooler||Cooling whole tent, also suitable for outdoor use.||$140 – $1,700||100 – 1000|
|Window AC||Cooling a tent that has an AC window/flap.||$200 – $1,000||150 – 1000|
|Portable AC||Cooling your tent without an electricity hook-up.||>$250 – $1000||50 – 200+|
Best Tent Air Conditioner Comparison Table
We looked at five of the best tent air conditioners out there, all of which are great options for cooling your tent. Here’s a quick look at how they compare. You can find our full reviews after the comparison table.
|AC Model Name||Photo||Pros||Price|
|Zero Breeze Mark 2||https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0016/9204/1318/t/5/assets/pf-2a19bf60–ZeroBreeze20202100110801_800x3000.png?v=1605686274||CHECK PRICE|
|Black + Decker 7,500 BTU||https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71B%2B31whIHL._AC_SL1500_.jpg||CHECK PRICE|
|TaoTronics (Best Budget Tent AC)||https://www.amazon.com/TaoTronics-TT-AC001-Conditioner-Control-Dehumidifier/dp/B085ZN1NPZ||CHECK PRICe|
|Tripp Lite Portable Air Conditioner||https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/711sxIQjKbL._AC_SL1500_.jpg||CHECK PRICE|
|Emerson Quiet Kool||https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61d2v5-Y7zL._AC_SL1500_.jpg||CHECK PRICE|
Best Tent Air Conditioner Reviews
Zero Breeze Mark 2
The Zero Breeze Mark 2 is the best tent air conditioner out there. You won’t need an electric hook-up to use it, as it has a battery that can be charged using your car cigarette lighter or even with solar energy through a special adaptor.
The Zero Breeze Mark 2 is a great all-round option that’s 60% lighter and almost 50% smaller than traditional portable air conditioners. In just 10 minutes, it can cool the air by 30°F (16°C). Plus, it has a heat dissipation pipe to quickly and easily transfer heat from your tent.
Price: $1,099, or $1,599 with battery
- Works quickly and can drop the internal temperature of your tent by as much as 30°F in 10 minutes.
- Truly portable air conditioner for camping: you can carry this in one hand (though it might feel a bit heavy). As G for Gadget puts it,
Since it is battery powered, you can literally carry it anywhere, even to a remote hill for camping.
- Doesn’t use any water at all, so you don’t need to worry about filling it or being near a water source.
- Really quick and easy to use: simply turn it on.
- Can be recharged by plugging it into a wall socket, using your car’s cigarette lighter, or with solar energy.
- Powerful enough to cool a 115 square foot tent (that’s a 6-person tent).
- Pretty quiet: the 52db noise level is only a little noisier than a home fridge.
- You can buy extra batteries (they’re easily interchangeable) if you want to keep it running for more than 5 hours at a time.
- Includes a remote control so you can easily control it from your sleeping bag or chair.
- Sleek, attractive high-tech design.
- Free shipping to the US and Canada.
- Needs to be recharged after 5 hours – so you can’t leave it running all night. Learn Metrics suggests that you’re not even likely to get that long, saying “Realistically, however, 3 hours is a more appropriate timeframe of how long the battery lasts.” It takes 5 hours to charge, too.
- Expensive, at $1,099 for just the air conditioner, without a battery. However, it’s very effective, so you may well feel it’s worth the money.
- Some reviewers found it too noisy in a small tent.
- Doesn’t cool to a specified temperature. As Future Tech Reviews explains,
unlike other AC models, you won’t find a built-in thermostat that allows you to set or reach a specific temperature.
Black + Decker 7,500 BTU
This tent air conditioner makes a great alternative to the Zero Breeze Mark 2, if you’re looking for something that fits into your budget. It’s easy to move around and has a long hose so you have plenty of options for where to position it in your tent.
The Black + Decker 7,500 BTU portable air conditioner also has a heat option, meaning you could get great use out of it all year round. It’s compact and easy to move and carry, as it has carry handles and 4 castor wheels.
It’ll cool a room up to 350 square feet (that’s a massive tent!) or heat one up to 300 square feet. This AC unit is easy to use and easy to clean: just slide the filter out twice a month, rinse it under running water, then pop it back in.
- Can cool the air down as low as 55°F (12°C) – if you want it that cold in your tent.
- Works fast: an Amazon reviewer who used it in their bedroom explained,
I keep my room at about 70-73 during the day, but I can’t sleep unless it’s a lot colder, like 65-68. As soon as I’m ready for bed, I turn this puppy on and the room gets down to that temperature easily. I’ll honestly never be able to sleep without one again.
- Has a 24-hour timer so you can set it to come on only when you need it.
- Pretty quiet: one Amazon reviewer said it was,
Not as noisy as I thought. The fan is quiet and when the compressor kicks in you turns up the decibels, but doesn’t bother me. Sounds like the AC units in the Las Vegas rooms.
- Comes with a remote so you can control it from the comfort of your sleeping bag.
- Good value option that is less than half the price of the Zero Breeze Mark 2.
- Blue light from the LCD display is quite bright, and might make your tent lighter than you want at night.
- Doesn’t have a battery-powered option, so you’ll need to be camping somewhere with an electrical hookup, or you’ll need a portable power bank – at which point, you’re carrying around a lot of extra equipment.
- Quite heavy: one reviewer explained that,
at 83 pounds, this is one of the heavier portable air conditioners you can get.
TaoTronics (Best Budget Tent AC)
TaoTronics is a great camping air conditioner option if you’re on a budget. It can cool up to 460 square feet and it’s easy to use, with high performance but low noise levels. TaoTronics has a sleep mode as well as a 24-hour timer.
It’s a good option for cooling a larger tent, as it has 4-Way air direction so you can get the air flowing through your tent. Like the Zero Breeze Mark 2 and the Black + Decker 7,500 BTU, it comes with a remote control so you can easily adjust your AC without leaving your chair or sleeping bag.
- Simple, straightforward air conditioning unit that can cool down to 61°F (16°C).
- Includes a dehumidifier option. One Amazon reviewer wrote that,
This A/C removes the excess moisture from the air like a large dehumidifier would do!, I was really surprised when I read the features of this A/C and much more after I used it in a very hot and humid day few days back, I am really happy with the results!
- LCD display is clear and easy to read. The display will also prompt you to clean the filter after 250 hours of run time.
- Budget option that will suit campers who don’t want to spend too much on an AC unit.
- Relatively quiet, with one reviewer saying that,
It would have been nice for a lower fan speed, but the noise level is not bad at all. No rattling, or high pitch sound, just a humming sounds from motor and air being moved.
- Filter is easy to remove and clean (just needs soap and water) – keep in mind that it should be fully dry before replacing it.
- Lots of different modes, such as fan mode, auto mode, and energy saver mode. The AC unit also has 3 different fan speeds.
- Good option if you want a cheap AC unit that you can use at home as well as while camping, as it’ll cool quite a large room.
- Pretty heavy at 73lbs, so it’s not a very portable option.
- Needs to be connected to an electric outlet: there’s no battery. This means it’s only really an option if you have an electric hookup, or if you want to take a power pack on your camping trip.
- A small number of reviewers said that their unit stopped working after a few weeks – though most reviewers were happy and said theirs worked well.
- Some reviewers felt that the instruction manual was hard to understand and that the different modes weren’t clearly explained.
Tripp Lite Portable Air Conditioner
This small portable air conditioning unit is designed for cooling server racks – but you could easily use it in a tent or your own home. It rolls easily and cools the air fast. It doesn’t have a battery, so you’ll need to have an electric hookup or some form of electricity supply for your tent if you want to use this as a camping AC.
The Tripp Lite Portable Air Conditioner is covered by a 2-year limited warranty, and you can get free tech support if you’re having any issues. It uses environmentally-friendly R410a refrigerant, which complies with worldwide standards. As well as cooling, it will dehumidify and filter the air in your tent.
- Adjustable louvers can be moved so that you can direct the cooling where you most want it in your tent.
- Compact air conditioner with a 12 x 20 inch footprint (20 x 50.5 cm), meaning it won’t take up too much space inside your tent.
- Cools the air down quickly and efficiently. One Amazon reviewer used it to cool their garage, saying, “I installed it yesterday when it was 99 degrees outside and in three hours, it was 78 in the garage.”
- Will easily keep your tent around 70 – 72°F (around 21 – 22°C) – easily cool enough to be comfortable.
- Noisier than some alternatives, at around 57dB – which might be annoying if you want to run it in your tent at night time.
- No battery, so you’ll need to camp somewhere with an electric hookup.
- A few reviewers said that they started having problems with the AC unit after around 6 months of use.
- Designed for use in a server room rather than a tent, so some of the features (like remote monitoring) won’t be particularly useful for you.
Emerson Quiet Kool
The Emerson Quiet Kool air conditioner can cool down tents up to 550 square feet, depending on which size unit you opt for. It’s designed using high efficient compressors and motors to keep it as quiet as possible, too.
You get a remote control and roller casters to make this tent AC unit as convenient as possible. It’s easy to change the washable, reusable filter, and there’s a digital panel with a clear blue LED display. You get a 1-2-5 warranty: 1 year for labor, 2 years for parts, and 5 years for the compressor.
- Even the cheapest models should be able to handle cooling a good-sized tent: as one Amazon reviewer put it,
Product details state it is designed for rooms up to 150 sq. ft. (which is about the size of our kitchen), but it could easily handle a room twice that size.
- Materials, fit, and finish of the air conditioner are all high-quality.
- Simple and straightforward to use, with a remote control included for easily changing the settings.
- Weighs 60lbs, which is lighter than some other options.
- Unit will stop once the reservoir of water is full, meaning that you won’t have water leaking on your tent.
- Has several different modes to choose from, including eco mode and sleep mode.
- Some reviewers said it was noisier than they’d have liked – though many others agreed it was quiet in comparison to other air conditioners, and that it was possible to sleep through it.
- Needs to be drained of water periodically (this is collected inside the unit) if it’s operating in humid conditions or if you’re using it heavily.
- Quite a few reviewers found the manual or options difficult to understand, though most felt it wasn’t too hard to figure out the setup process.
- More expensive than some other options.
What are the best features to look for on a camping air conditioner?
When you’re trying to pick the best tent air conditioner for your needs, you want to consider:
How portable is it? How much this matters will depend on the size of your vehicle, how far you’re likely to need to move/carry it from your vehicle to your tent, and so on.
How large a room (tent) can it cool?If you have a huge tent, then you’ll want to look for an air conditioner that can cool a large space.
How quickly does it cool the air? Some air conditioners work more rapidly than others. You might not mind the AC taking a while if you’re going to be outside your tent for a while … but if you plan to pitch your tent and get inside for the night almost immediately, you’ll want it to work fast.
Is the AC unit under warranty (and for how long)? Most manufacturers will offer some kind of warranty so that if your air conditioner stops working during the first year (or sometimes two), you can get it fixed for free. Check the details of the warranty before buying, though.
Is it quiet? If you love camping because it’s so peaceful and calm, then a noisy AC roaring away all night isn’t going to enhance your experience much. While many manufacturers and sellers will promise that their AC unit is “quiet”, it’s well worth reading some reviews to see what customers think.
What’s the difference between an evaporative cooler and an air conditioner?
Some units marketed as air conditioners are actually evaporative coolers. They tend to be cheaper than actual AC units. Instead of using a refrigerant, they add humidity to the air and cool it. If you’re using an evaporative cooler, it’s very important to keep your tent flaps open – otherwise your tent will become incredibly humid.
Is it safe to use a regular AC in a tent?
Yes, it’s safe to use a regular AC to get an air-conditioned tent. You should make sure that you:
- Don’t let the front of the AC unit get wet.
- Use a stand to keep the AC unit off the ground.
- Keep the connection between the AC’s plug and your extension cord off the ground.
- Follow any manufacturer’s instructions – e.g. if the unit needs to be vented out of a window, make sure you have the pipe going out of your tent.
Is it better to use a portable AC or a window AC in a tent?
In general, a window AC unit will cool your tent more effectively than a portable AC. This is because the unit is only partially inside your tent, so the heat can be vented outside.
However, a portable AC for tents will often have many practical benefits while camping. For instance, it will be easier to carry, position, and move, and it won’t require you to buy a tent with an AC window (or cut a window yourself).
How do I modify a window air conditioner for a tent?
While you won’t need to modify the air conditioner unit itself for your tent, you may well need to make modifications to your tent. This could involve cutting vents in your tent (if you haven’t purchased a tent that already has vents), as well as sealing the air conditioner into those vents so that it’s taking warm air from inside the tent and venting it outside.
You may also want to insulate your tent to help keep it cool, by placing a tarp over the top of it, as recommended by The Florida Explorer.
What size air conditioner do I need for a tent AC unit?
The size of air conditioner you’ll need depends on the size of your tent. For a small one-person tent, you might simply want a personal evaporative cooler, rather than a true AC unit.
If you have a medium-sized tent, most portable AC units will work fine. Look for one that will cool a room of a similar square footage to your tent.
For a very large tent, you may prefer to use a window AC. A good-sized portable AC for camping is likely to work well too. Again, look for one that will cool a tent of a similar square footage to yours.
How can I help my tent AC perform better?
No AC is going to work well if your tent is in blazing sunlight. To help your air conditioning to perform as well as possible, make sure that you take steps to keep your tent cool. You should:
- Pitch your tent somewhere that’s in the shade for as much of the day as possible.
- If possible, don’t put your tent up until the sun has gone down in the evening. That way, your tent won’t be trapping heat all day long.
- Place a blanket or groundsheet under your tent so that it doesn’t absorb so much heat from the ground.
- Clean the AC filter regularly, as specified by the manufacturer.
Having a tent air conditioner might make camping far more enjoyable. All the tent AC units above are great choices. Pick whichever one suits your needs best, and enjoy your camping air conditioner on your next trip.