I don’t know if the question should be can you air condition a tent or should you air condition a tent. Camping is all about getting back to nature, right? That being said…
I Air Conditioned A Tent
I find myself living in Florida now, which is great, but it is hot. Not that Texas was not hot, but Florida has a particular kind of heat due to all of the humidity. A 95 degree day will have a heat index of around 110 degrees. In Texas, you could escape the heat by getting out of the sun, but in Florida there is no escape.
So, what do you do if you have 2 five year old sons and you want to sneak one last camping trip in before school starts? You grab the portable air conditioner and you head out to Mike Roess State Park. An AC unit is not something you typically see on a camping supply list, but let’s see how it works.
The Tent AC Details
First, let’s get down all of the important facts, such as where I was and what I was working with.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park.
One of the first state parks in the state, located in Keystone Heights, FL. It is a well maintained park with huge pines and grasslands. If you are planning a visit, you are mainly going here to relax under the pines and possibly enjoy a swim in the lake. There is also a shallow stream created by a natural spring.
They have sites with full RV connections but, even better, tent only sites with 30 amp electric and water.
Core 4 Person Dome Tent.
I love my instant up tents from Core and this one is about as easy as it gets. It is a great tent if you love looking at the stars because the roof is wide open mesh. That is great when the weather is nice, but in my situation, the only thing holding in the cool air would be the rain fly.
Haier Portable AC.
This is a 12000 BTU portable air conditioner that we use at home just to keep the master bedroom a bit cooler at night. A bit heavy to move around, but you use what you have. Air conditioning a tent is not something I plan to do often. If you do, I would buy something a bit smaller.
Camping With The Tent AC Unit
Now, let’s talk about how it all worked.
Setting Up The Air Conditioner.
This was all incredibly easy to set up, despite the weight of the unit. I have read about people using a typical “window unit” style air conditioner and the process is much more involved.
With a portable unit, all that you need to do is put the unit in the tent, run the exhaust house outside and plug it in. The tent door will seal relatively well around the vent hose, keeping the tent bug free.
How Did The AC Work?
It actually worked great. Although this was a smaller 4 person tent, it had absolutely no insulation and a mesh top covered only by a rain fly. With all that, I was able to cool the tent down to 75 degrees on a 95 degree day. That combined with the de humidification actually made a huge difference.
What I Would Improve.
Insulation would be the big improvement that would need to be made. A few moving blankets thrown over the tent would have worked wonders. They could have been thrown over the tent, under the rain fly, which would have made it easier to cool while still keeping dry.
Putting An Air Conditioner On A Tent
Now comes the big question, should you put an air conditioner on a tent?
Reasons To Use An Air Conditioner
First, let’s look at the reasons to take an air conditioner on your next camping trip. After all, I did it.
An air conditioner can obviously extend the camping season if you live in a warm climate. Not everyone can handle the heat, especially if you have a medical condition or, in my case, small children. I for one would not have take two small kids out camping in the hear if I did not have a way to cool them down.
In addition, you have to consider that air conditioning a tent is no different than air conditioning a pop up camper. Pop up are essentially rolling tents with little to no insulation. A case could actually be made for a tent air conditioner being more efficient because of the smaller size and the ease of insulating it with blankets.
Reasons To NOT Use An Air Conditioner
There are just as many reasons to not use an air conditioner.
The obvious one is that it defeats the purpose of camping. Camping is about getting back to nature and, to be honest with you, if I did not have two small kids I never would have set up this experiment.
A not so obvious reason to not use a tent air conditioner is the environmental impact. You are going to be wasting electricity and if you are a “green” person, a tent AC unit will probably irk you to no end. Sorry.