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A Beginner’s Guide To HVACs For RVs

Last year saw record numbers of people becoming proud RV owners, with more than 40,000 vehicles shipped in June 2020 alone. If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, you may be wondering where to start with some of the terminology and information on offer. This guide to HVACs is designed to give you the confidence to run and maintain these essentials so that you can brave winter chills and keep your cool in the summer with ease.

What’s an HVAC?

Your RV’s HVAC is the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system, similar to what you may have at home. Part of the joy of RV ownership is the freedom it gives you to travel and explore: 90% of RV owners take three or more mini-breaks per year in all sorts of weather conditions, so it’s important to be able to keep the temperature to your liking. This leaves you feeling relaxed and comfortable enough to take in the views and make memories with your family in style.

Keeping Your Cool

Since 2020 saw one of the hottest summers on record, you may be most concerned with the air conditioning in your new RV. The unit for this is likely to be stored in a rooftop box, which maximizes space inside your vehicle. Air conditioning power is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). The higher the rating, the more powerful the air conditioning. Put simply, the system picks up hot air in the RV and passes it via refrigerants – chemical coolants – which take the heat from it. The process converts gases to liquids and vice versa, so it’s crucial that you clean the unit regularly to reduce the risk of mold building up inside. While you may find it helpful to fit a hygrometer to measure humidity (another factor for causing mold), your RV will already be fitted with a digital or analog thermometer. Some can be zoned so that the temperature in different parts of the RV can be controlled independently.

Winter adventures

Since many RV owners love to hit the road come rain or shine, spending three or four weeks a year in their vehicle, RVs are also equipped with heating and insulation to cope with colder weather. The warm air will either be produced by a heat pump, which uses electricity, or a furnace, which runs on propane. Your heat pump is likely to be located in the rooftop AC box. If you are camping somewhere with power, it can be a good idea to plug in and use your heat pump to save on propane, but in extreme cold, the furnace tends to be a more effective and efficient way to keep your RV cozy and warm.

Looking after your HVAC

While Coach-Net is always ready to help its members, with a little maintenance you can ensure that your RV is always as ready for adventures as you are. Use a handheld vacuum to clean dust from your HVAC’s vents regularly. For the AC unit, check for signs of fluid leakage, and ensure that you clean the filters regularly too. If your RV has a propane furnace, ensure that you have a carbon monoxide detector fitted in your vehicle and that the batteries are up to date. Finally, on the occasions when you are carrying out rooftop maintenance, keep an eye on the condition of the plastic casing in which the AC unit sits.

Owning an RV opens the door to all sorts of trips, but it can feel a little daunting as you get to grips with how best to take care of it.  Systems like your RV’s HVAC are there to make your journeys more comfortable, so it’s important to learn how to control the settings to your preferences, and to maintain the system so it can continue to look after you. Now, you’re free to explore – whatever the weather.

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