Camping, Backpacking & Hiking Gear

The Best Tent Air Conditioner for Cool Camping

best tent air conditioner
Bertie
Written by Bertie

If the sun hits your tent, it can quickly become like an oven. And even if you’re in the shade, if the air temperature is super hot, you may think there can be no escape from the insufferable heat. But all is not lost!

This article will run you through some of the best options in order to effectively cool your tent. While you may be looking for the best tent air conditioner, these are pretty much a myth. (In order for an air conditioning unit to function correctly, it really needs a sealed environment. Which a tent is not! Although we have looked at a specific DIY option which you can find below). 

Our top pick for keeping your tent cool is actually a fan to improve air circulation. The Odoland Portable Ceiling Fan also doubles up as a light and can massively improve a hot summer camping experience. If you’re set on “air con” then your best bet for a tent is to pick a “swamp cooler”.

Here is a view of my top five picks for tent air conditioners and fans:

Specs

This is a fan and light combo product. The fan has 4-inch blades that are made using military-grade materials. A set of 18 ultra-bright low-powered LED bulbs power the light on this device. The device has dimensions of 6.25 x 6.25 x 7.25 inches.

A set of two D batteries can power the fan for 30 hours on its highest mode and 50 hours on its lowest setting. Continuous use of the light will last up to 37 hours, and when used together (fan at low speed), the power should last for 16 hours.

The Verdict

The Odoland portable lantern and fan is one of the easiest and most convenient devices to have on hand when you’re out camping. This incredible device is actually a powerful light and fan combo—two essentials that are virtually impossible to go camping without.

You won’t even need an air conditioner when you use the highly efficient fan that has a set of 4-inch, exclusively-designed blades to help generate a powerful yet silent airflow. This fan is capable of moving the air efficiently in your tent and it can even keep large tents well-ventilated and comfortable.

The fact that it also features a set of 18 LED super-bright bulbs is a major bonus. It’s much easier to carry one portable device with you on a camping trip instead of having to lug a light and fan separately.

Both the fan and light are incredibly power-efficient and can be run for hours using two D batteries. The power breakdown works in the following way:

  • Only using the light will allow it to run for 37 hours.
  • Only using the fan will allow it to run for 30 hours at high speed and 50 hours at low speed.
  • Using both the light and fan at low speed will allow you to run the device for 16 hours.

You will also be incredibly impressed by the design of this model as it’s built to be used in a multitude of ways. You can either hang it as a fan or lamp, or you can make the device stand as well. All these options are designed to make your camping experience highly comfortable.

In Summary

As we previously mentioned (and will go into great detail in our value section below), there is no such thing as an air conditioner for tents. The best you can hope for in terms of ventilation when you go camping (and remember, this is camping, not glamping) is to opt for a ceiling fan. 

Our top pick for the best way to cool your camp is a genuinely handy product because it couples two vital camping essentials into one nifty bundle. Armed with a powerful fan and light, your camping experience in the summer will be short of “light” and “breezy”. 

Specs

This is an evaporative cooler that’s compatible with an 18-volt lithium-ion battery as well as Ryobi 18-volt One+ batteries. It is also compatible with a 5-gallon bucket that’s sold separately. 

The device has a runtime of 2.5 hours on a high setting and 7 hours on a low setting.

It has dimensions of 15 x 12 x 13 inches and weighs 7.6 pounds.

The Verdict

Since you came here looking for air conditioners, we present to you a product that works just as well without actually being your typical air conditioner. The Arctic Cove Bucket Top Misting Fan is a type of evaporative cooler.

This means that it works by harnessing the power of evaporation in order to effectively cool the temperature of the air in the nearby surroundings. The water droplets produced by the mist are immediately vaporized into the air with the help of the cooler and this influx of cool water in the air helps reduce the temperature in your tent.

To make sure you have a continuous supply of cool air, you have the option of plugging this cooler into a 5-gallon bucket that’s sold separately. The dual-purpose foot design used in this model allows you to effortlessly find a location to place the cooler.

It has an excellent runtime, thanks to the use of 18-volt lithium-ion batteries, allowing you to enjoy usage of up to 7 hours when operated on the lowest setting. If you already use Ryobi power tools, this device is ideal as you can use your rechargeable 18-volt One+ batteries to get even more runtime.

In Summary

You may not be able to fit an authentic air conditioner into your camping tent, but with the Arctic Cove Bucket Top Misting Fan you’ll at least have the next best thing on hand. This swamp cooler/evaporative cooler will offer you instant relief from the heat and it is extremely easy to carry around thanks to its portable build.

Specs

This is an indoor cooler that comes with a detachable water tank. It has three variable fan speeds, an ice compartment, a low water alarm, remote, and timer. It uses an active carbon filter and has a water tank size of 2.6 gallons.

The device weighs 18.5 pounds and has dimensions of 15.7 x 13.5 x 31.5 inches. 

The Verdict

The Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler is a three-in-one cooling system that sports an evaporative air cooler, fan, and humidifier, all in one nifty device. 

You can run the fan on this cooler to reduce the temperature in any given indoor space, but there is more to be done if you want an even greater cooling effect. Just add some water and ice to the water tank and the evaporative cooling system kicks into high gear to further cool your space.

This device has been known to offer the best performance in environments where humidity is less than 50 percent. Using a 2.6-gallon water tank, you can easily power the evaporative cooler for several hours. 

The tank is detachable in case you want to clean it from time to time. Keep in mind that the fan is quite loud when working, so it’s ideal for grow tents where noise doesn't matter.

Despite being a powerful model, it uses relatively low energy—but you will need access to electricity. It is also environmentally safe as it does not use a compressor or harmful refrigerants.

In Summary

We have awarded this product the best air conditioner for grow tents because it works well in small spaces and helps with humidity levels. Grow tents are also not usually found in high humidity regions, and this is the precise ecosystem that this cooler thrives in. 

best tent air conditioner

Specs

This is a 120-volt cooler that has dimensions of 11.8 x 19.8 x 30.63 inches and weighs 73.9 pounds. It pumps out 12,000 BTU of cooling into your space, and it has a NEMA 5-15P plug that can detect power leakages and interruptions.

The Verdict

You will notice that this device is ideally used to cool down servers in an IT department, but since we’re being creative about using air conditioners for tents, we realized that this bad boy would work well in base camp conditions because of its extremely sturdy build quality.

It is a powerful 12,000 BTU model that can deliver 3.5KW of cooling in your space. It uses an environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant in order to add greater cooling capacity without harming the environment.

You have the option of remotely managing this system by registering with the optional scrollnet network module.

It comes with a two-year warranty from the manufacturers.

In Summary

This is an air conditioner used in IT departments, meaning that it’s extremely well-built and safe. With this in mind, it makes sense that you will want to have an air conditioner of this quality when you are setting up in a base camp.

Specs

This is a 115-volt cooler that operates at 60 Hz. The 8,000 BTU version can effectively regulate the temperature of a room with dimensions measuring 10 x 12 feet. The adjustable fan speed can lower the temperature to 64 degrees Fahrenheit on the lowest setting.

The product dimensions are 16.5 x 11.5 x 26 inches, and it weighs 52.9 pounds. The length of the hose is 4 feet and 11 inches. 

The Verdict

You may not be able to fit an air conditioner in your camping tent, but if you want a model that can be used on large event tents and grow tents, then the Black and Decker Portable Air conditioner is the best model for your needs.

This device can be used to cool large spaces effectively as it comes in various power options based on your requirements. The model we have selected here is the 8,000 BTU variant, but you can also choose from the following options:

  • 10,000 BTU.
  • 12,000 BTU.
  • 12,000 BTU with heat.
  • 14,000 BTU.
  • 14,000 BTU with heat.

You will notice that this product has been brilliantly designed, using a vertical motion system to offer a steady and dominating flow of air into a room, thereby efficiently regulating the temperature. 

It has a slide-out filter system that can be easily removed in order to clean the device from time to time. All the features are displayed on an LED display screen.

You will find a remote control, installation kit, exhaust hose, and a manual included in this purchase.

Some users have managed to use this model for their camping tent, but it requires some adjustment. You’ll need to set it up outside the tent and use customized hoses to pipe cold air in and exhaust warm air out. As long as you have access to electricity, it’s very much an option if you hate the heat. 

In Summary

If you’re in need of an air conditioner specifically for large tents, and not a fan or cooler used in camping tents, then this model is the perfect fit for your needs. 

You will need to make some alterations in order to correctly regulate the temperature using this model. It is tough to contain the airflow in a tent, but it’s certainly possible if you desperately need the air to be maintained in grow tents or large event tents.

Choosing the Best Air Conditioner for Camping

The best way to keep your tent cool is through ventilation—this will allow the hot air inside the tent to escape and be replaced with fresh air. Choose a tent with good ventilation, and open up these vents to allow airflow which will prevent trapped heat.

Your next option is a device to help keep your tent ventilated and cool. Choosing the right cooling device for your camping experience comes down to a wide range of factors.

Fans and Coolers vs Air Conditioners

We’ve already mentioned a couple of times in this article why we’re examining camping fans and coolers when the article is about the best tent air conditioners. This is where we’ll really dive into this conflict and explain why air conditioners just don’t work for tents.

Camping air conditioners, just like that Big Foot you spotted in Yellowstone National Park, are just a glorious myth. It would be great to be able to have an air conditioner around when we’re camping, wouldn’t it? What a great way to top off the experience of being out in nature! 

Sadly though, the dynamics of air conditioning just don’t work with camping tents. For the air inside a room to be cooled by an AC, it needs to be a closed-off space. Tents, however, are ventilated, and it is impossible to cool the air in the tent when new air keeps flowing right through every passing second.

You can place an air-conditioner in your tent, but the fact of the matter is, they just won’t be able to cool your tent any better than a camping fan. What makes matters even worse is that these camping air conditioners are far more expensive and require much more power than fans and coolers without providing much difference in the performance.

As this article is about tents and not camping, however, we recognize that there are different kinds of tents and some of them, like grow tents and event tents, do require air conditioning. If this is your situation, we would recommend using the BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner.

This is a great device but it cannot be expected to cool a ventilated tent on its own. It will require you to work on the set up process a bit in order to make the air conditioner more effective. 

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDDdUzro71U

Types

Although there are no air conditioners available for camping, there are other options available to cool you during the summer season.

Fan

Standing and hanging camping fans are available for your selection in a wide range of sizes and power options. Both will do the job, but a standing fan will take up more floor space and require flat ground.

A hanging fan is more versatile than a standing fan because they can be hung from the ceiling or any nearby hooks. Most tents have hanging loops right at the center of the canopy, and this is where this device would ideally be placed.

Battery-operated camping fans allow you to sustain regular airflow during your camping endeavor without having to worry about the power supply. 

These are ideal when you’re backpacking or hitchhiking and you’re unsure about your next destination and the availability of power in the location. Just carrying a healthy supply of batteries is enough to power these devices for numerous hours.

Most camping fans that are battery-powered tend to be highly power-efficient, much like our top model — the Odoland Portable Ceiling Fan. However, you may also find solar-powered and USB rechargeable options also useful.

Evaporative Cooler

Also known as swamp coolers, these devices cool the air using water. By drawing warm air in and moving it through evaporative cooler pads, moisture is added to cool the air. A blower then pushes the cooler air back into the environment.

These devices are ideal for camping as they are affordable, efficient, and bring a steady stream of fresh air into the tent. However, they work best in hot, dry conditions, and are not ideal in humid climates. This is because they add moisture to dry air, so humid air is more difficult to cool.

They also run on power, but not nearly as much as an air conditioning unit. One major drawback of this type, though, is that they are only useful if your campsite has an established power hook-up section. 

Size

The next major factor you’d want to consider when picking a camping fan or cooler is the size of the device and the size of the space you’d want to keep cool.

Size of Tent

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a large tent will require a larger fan or a more powerful cooler. Most camping fans are perfect for two to three people, so you will have to look for special models if you’re planning on picking up a device to cool a family tent (usually accommodates six to eight people).

Also make sure there’s room in your tent to accommodate the model you select.

Size of Device

Camping fans and coolers come in varying sizes based on your needs, and it is important to consider the size of the device you want to carry when you’re camping.

If you’re going to be backpacking during your journey, it doesn’t make sense to carry a large model with you as you’ll have to lug the device around in your backpack. If you’re driving to and from the camping spot, you can easily transport a cooler or fan.

Climates

It is important to consider the climates and seasons in which you’re most likely to go camping. Fans usually work for all seasons and climates, whereas swamp coolers are best used in dry, hot climates.

Price

Backpackers are often working on a shoe-string budget, while families who camp like to splurge a little to keep their kids comfy during camping season. The ideal price of a fan or cooler, therefore, is quite subjective based on the type of camper you are.

In general though, the following pointers should help you determine how much you should spend on your device:

  • The size of the fan and the mode of power being utilized by the fan will change the price drastically. Larger the fan, the larger the price tag. The greater the powering options, greater the bill that goes to your accountant.
  • A cooler is a larger investment, not only in the beginning, but also as it requires power to work. However, it will be more effective in cooling your tent.
  • The price you pay should be relative to your needs. If you’re a year-long camper, it makes sense to invest in a quality fan or cooler.

Important Considerations

There are just a couple more things worth considering when you’re picking your cooling device:

  • Noise levels: You don’t want to pick up a device to help you sleep well during summer months, only to be kept awake by the sound of the fan or cooler itself. Coolers tend to be much louder than fans, so make sure to check the noise levels of your selection before finalizing it.
  • Power: Depending on where you will be camping, you may or may not have a power supply nearby. This will, of course, affect which type of device you can use. If you will be visiting specialized camping sites with electricity sources, you will be able to use a cooler. If you’re more likely to be camping off the grid, a battery-powered fan is your best option. 

Keeping Camping Breezy

Camping is an experience that tests your preparation, your understanding of the elements, and your love for nature.

You don’t want to carry too many luxuries or amenities with you in order to keep the experience authentic. A camping fan or even swamp cooler will work far better than lugging an air conditioner around as you can still take in the fresh air from your surroundings.

Our top pick is the Odoland Portable Ceiling Fan, and it’s undoubtedly the best way to cool your tent, especially if you’re in a small group. This incredible device also doubles up as a powerful light to help you drop some pounds in your overall gear. 

Considering everything we’ve discussed in this review, we only have one question for you now. Would you rather have an air conditioner with you that doesn’t work or a fan that also works as a light?

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About the author

Bertie

Bertie

I’m Bertie and I’ve been enjoying the wilderness for as long as I can remember. I get out camping, hiking and backpacking whenever I can. And when I can’t, I enjoy writing about outdoor-related stuff!

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