The best portable air conditioners for camping and caravans

Camping is undoubtedly a fun way to get closer to nature and rest from the noisy and busy environment of the city. However, before spending a night under the stars, listening to the sounds of nature as you cosy up in your sleeping bag, there are also things you should consider, especially in warm places, and that is keeping your body cool. Using a portable air conditioner for camping is a great help.

Why would anyone use a portable air conditioner for camping?

Although you can indeed survive without an air conditioner just like you can survive without a tent, why would you want to? If you use a tent, you can go camping in areas that might be cold or rainy. Similarly, if you take a portable air conditioner, you can go camping in very hot or humid locations and still get a good night's sleep.

Some hard-core campers baulk at using a portable air conditioner while in the "great outdoors." Still, I'm sure our ancestors withdrew when trailers started taking gas barbecues camping in the '50s or when sleeping bags became ubiquitous in the early 1900s.

The fact is that camping evolves with technology and increases accessibility by lowering the threshold of what campers need to endure. Imagine taking your wife or fussy kids camping and not having to hear them whine about the heat in the tent. It's a game changer.

In addition, keeping your body cool during camping is not just a matter of comfort, but health and safety. Doing so will prevent the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, and other life-threatening problems.

What is the best portable camping air conditioner?

Although there are a lot of portable air conditioners on the market, it's not easy to choose which ones are worth your money. Some of these companies promote their ACs as specific camping air conditioners.

Most of these products are evaporative air conditioners. They need to be filled with water and then aim to blow air over them so the atmosphere becomes even more humid and gives you a coolish feeling. These have been referred to as "swamp coolers" and are rubbish. Examples are the Chillwell, Evapolar, Nexgadget, Arcticair, and Evachill.

Companies sell their products with highly slick marketing operations but are ineffective as they don't produce cool air. What's worse is that these companies don't market their web stores, instead they pay to advertise their own fake review websites that cast their products in a positive light.

Often, these fake review sites can be spotted easily as there are slight misspellings like or (notice the subtle missing "r"). These companies tend to rebrand once their reputation is in tatters every few years so that they can sucker in a new batch of victims.

Finding honest and bonafide companies can be a challenge, which leads us to the second category of portable air conditioners, which are driven by a compressor. Examples of these are the Zero Breeze, the Neoamico, and the Coolzy. These products have an internal compressor that circulates refrigerant gas internally while simultaneously moving air over the cooling elements. The result is actually cool air. We class these as "real" air conditioners. So which one is best?

The issues with the Zero Breeze and the Neoamico are their expensive price ($645 and $1500, respectively), their noisy operation, and their ineffective airflow system design. That's to say; they allow the cool air to mix with the surrounding air; thus, the user never really feels like they're benefiting from the cool air.

The Coolzy boasts proprietary technology that keeps the cool air stream from blending with the warm air around it, making it the best of the three. As a result, you benefit from the actual cool air. The Coolzy is also 20% quieter and, at 45dB, is the only product that can claim to be a silent portable air conditioner. Lastly, the Coolzy uses less power, which means it runs for longer while you're out in the great outdoors.

What is the best portable air conditioner for a caravan?

For all the reasons outlined above, the Coolzy is again the standout. That's because it's light, uses very little energy, can run on almost any inverter, and produces cool air without increasing humidity. It's a multi-award-winning design that was developed at the University of Western Australia (a very hot city) and tested in Australia's hottest and most inhospitable environments (Marble Bar is listed as the Guinness Book Record holder for Australia's hottest town). It has a 2-year warranty and a global support network.

It's also a popular portable caravan air conditioner because it runs on very little power and can operate for hours on a battery (so long as you use an inverter). A user would need a 12v car battery (or lithium-ion) and connect an inverter. The inverter converts the 12v to either 240v (or 110v for the USA) and then the aircon can be plugged in. The cool thing is that a Coolzy can operate on either a pure sine wave inverter or a modified sine wave inverter without any trouble.

There are already camping air conditioners available (for instance, the Zero Breeze), but they don't do an excellent job. Either they produce very little cool air, or they are extremely noisy, expensive, and unreliable. None of those things is a Coolzy. Due to its extraordinarily high coefficient of performance, a Coolzy consumes the least energy of any portable (at 340 watts) and produces the most cooling per watt (1100 watts). Coolzy is the quietest portable on the market (at 45dB). If it isn't already obvious, I love my Coolzy.

Toby Osmond

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