If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best tent air conditioner is, then we recommend the XPower FM-48 Portable Cooling Misting Fan as the best one.
One of the biggest complaints people have about camping is the unreliable temperatures. Especially in summer, you don’t want to trade the comfortable AC for a sweltering hot tent. Thankfully, tent air conditioner units can effectively cool your temporary home enough to make camping enjoyable- or, at the very least- tolerable during the summer months. Here’s more on the best tent air conditioner for your next trip.
In this article, we’re going to review the following air conditioners:
- MightyKool A 12-Volt Cooler
- XPower FM-48 Portable Cooling Misting Fan
- IcyBreeze Cooler Chill Package
- Arctic Cove MBF0181 18-Volt Bucket Top Misting Fan
- YACHANCE Personal Space Air Cooler
What’s a Tent Air Conditioner?
Tent AC units take many forms. From fans that blow a fine mist to 110V motor models, there’s something for everyone. Of course, there are also throwbacks to pre-AC days in the form of cooler-like air conditioner units that require ice or water to power up.
Some AC units require a cord while others are self-sufficient when it comes to power, either via battery or in some cases, solar energy. A tent AC will cool down your sleeping quarters, though depending on how airtight your tent is, efficiency may not be a top feature.
Advantages to a Tent Air Conditioner
It might seem a bit overkill to purchase a tent air conditioner. After all, sacrificing some creature comforts is just part of camping and enjoying the outdoors. But a tent AC can make camping more comfortable and accessible for everyone.
Comfort for Everyone
Whether it’s kids who complain it’s too hot or your furry friends are panting outside, an in-tent air conditioner can make the tent more comfortable. If it’s hot outside, shade and cool air are vital for keeping people and pets alike from wilting.
Plus, even in warmer climates, temperatures can fluctuate a lot during the day. It may be cool in the mornings but sweltering in the afternoon. Packing an AC unit ensures that you can accommodate the changes in temperature and cool things off if it gets too hot.
If you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems, you may notice your symptoms are worse the hotter it gets. In that case, retreating to the tent might be your only means of comfort. But when it’s hotter inside the tent than it is outside, you’re at a disadvantage.
Add an in-tent AC, and you can relax and recoup inside the tent without sweating due to a limited breeze. Taking frequent breaks indoors is also helpful for those who struggle to adjust to higher altitudes or who are unfamiliar with strenuous physical activities like hiking.
When the morning temperature hovers around 40 and the mid-day temp soars well over 100, we humans have a hard time adjusting. Plus, the changes in temperature can create condensation inside the tent, whether anyone is inside or not.
Having an AC unit on hand helps to cut down on condensation. With fresh air flowing through, you can rejuvenate the stale air inside your tent and maintain a more constant temperature.
What to Look for in a Tent AC Unit
The best tent air conditioner is one that suits your space, your needs, and your power supply. Here’s what to look for when it comes to AC unit features.
Some units use batteries, some cords, and others solar power. Depending on where you plan to camp, you may have to forgo an outlet-dependent model of air conditioner. However, if you know that you won’t stray far from civilization, a corded unit may be just what you need to make camping enjoyable.
On the other hand, you could always pack a portable generator to power your AC and any other necessary devices. This has the added benefit of supporting lights, smartphones, small appliances, and even jump starting your vehicle battery if needed.
Other options include mini portable air conditioners with rechargeable or replaceable batteries. These may not pack the power of a corded model, but they are more convenient and are inherently portable. Finally, some units operate thanks to a motor and gasoline for fuel.
While some air conditioner units claim to be able to cool an entire tent, others are for personal cooling only. Depending on how many occupants you’ll have in the tent, as well as how much insulation the tent has, your cooling needs will vary.
If you travel alone, for example, a personal AC blowing on your face may be enough to keep you comfortable. If the whole family is coming along, however, you may want a higher capacity unit to cool the ambient air.
While most units push cooled air or mist throughout your space, some have additional features. For example, cooler units also keep food and beverages chilled while circulating cold air.
Some units have variable fan speeds, so you can adjust the temperature and keep your belongings from blowing around the tent. Some include light features to help with visibility if you need cool air throughout the night.
Tent Air Conditioner Reviews
If you have space, this toaster-sized MightyKool A 12-Volt Cooler is a practical option for cooling. It doesn’t claim to lower the ambient temperature, but for one or two people or pets, it provides direct cooling with purified water mist.
If you’ll be in an area with power or you camp with a generator, the 10-foot power cord lets you position the unit in a convenient spot. You’ll need to direct toward the people or pets for best results, but the tent cooler unit can produce air that’s anywhere from 10 to 25 degrees cooler than the air outside.
The fan is strong enough to circulate air, and a variable setting allows you to compensate for changing temperatures.
- Plugs into 12-volt outlet or converter
- Uses water to cool
- Temperature/fan settings
- 10-foot-long power cord
- Provides 10 to 25 degree cooler air than ambient temperatures
- Carrying handle
- Doesn’t cool ambient air
- Requires consistent topping off with water
- Requires outlet or generator power
While technically not an AC unit, the XPower FM-48 Portable Cooling Misting Fan uses swamp cooler technology to cool small spaces. It can reduce the temp inside your tent by up to 30 degrees with a 138-Watt induction motor.Three adjustable speeds let you customize the airflow, so you can slow things down when the sun sets. The convenient carrying handle and swivel base mean you can place this fan anywhere and still aim it where you need it.
You can even use this fan outdoors since the motor is sealed an impermeable to weather conditions. At the same time, the unit produces a lot of moisture thanks to the misting function- so it may dampen the interior of your tent depending on the fan speed and square footage of the tent.
- Lowers ambient temperature
- Multiple speed settings
- Swivel stand
- Produces a fine mist for cooling
- Works as a fan without producing mist, too
- Utility-strength fan
- Sealed motor
- Requires outlet or generator power
- Can be a little loud in small spaces
- Puts out a lot of moisture
If you’ve been camping for a long time already, you probable remember the days when an ice chest full of cold beverages was the only way to cool off. But with the IcyBreeze Cooler Chill Package, you can have your chilled beverages and a cool breeze at the same time.The unit holds up to 30 pounds of ice and uses a 3-speed fan to circulate the fresh air. If you’re not using the cooling function, the ice will hold for nearly seven days at temperatures anywhere under 90 degrees.
While block ice and a bit of water achieve the coolest temperatures, the circulation in this unit means the air is continually cooling. But while the fan produces high speeds at three settings, the fact that there’s only one nozzle for the air to exit may mean it will take longer to cool down a tent.
- Battery pack option for portable cooling
- 3-speed fan blows up to 25mph
- Ice lasts up to seven days at temperatures up to 90 degrees
- Dual purpose (holds food/drinks and cools)
- Pull handle for easy maneuvering
- Top cupholders
- Exterior drain
- One air-producing nozzle
- Requires constant power (if not purchasing battery pack model)
Another misting fan that qualifies as an AC unit, the Arctic Cove MBF0181 18-Volt Bucket Top Misting Fan promises up to 2.5 hours of full-strength runtime on one battery charge. On low, you can eek about seven hours out of one charge.Alternatively, you can plug the unit into an outlet or purchase additional rechargeable batteries. Either way, the fan motor can get a little noisy, but it’s a fair tradeoff for the function.
Plus, you can use either a 5-gallon bucket for a water source or plug in a hose. Depending on where you camp, you might find that one option is more feasible than the other. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the square footage of your tent, you may find the mist to be a bit much.
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Use hose or bucket for water source
- Battery or wall power
- Variable fan settings
- Bucket not included
- Replacement batteries can be costly
If you have a small tent area and want a personal-size cooler, the YACHANCE Personal Space Air Cooler might fit the bill. It’s a small cube-shaped unit that accepts water and works like a miniature swamp cooler.The unit includes an evaporative filter that helps trap dust and bacteria, so it may help the air feel fresher inside your tent, too. And while you shouldn’t overfill the tank, it has an indicator light that flashes when it’s low.
LED backlights also provide a bit of light inside your tent, which is fun for kids, too. On the lowest speed, the unit promises to provide six hours of cooling- though you may need to sit right in front of it as it won’t lower the ambient temperature.
- Internal air filter
- Uses USB plug for power
- LED lights
- Speed controls
- Add water and/or ice cubes for cooling
- Up to six hours of cooling per fill
- Can create damp conditions in small areas
- Must be kept level so the water doesn’t spill
- Low capacity for water/ice cubes
When it comes to portable cooling, the XPower FM-48 Portable Cooling Misting Fan gets our vote for the best tent air conditioner unit. Technically, it’s a fan, but the cooling mist feature helps lower the interior temperature of your tent the same way an AC unit does.
It does require a consistent power source, but the tradeoff is that you have strong fan speed and no interruptions to change batteries. Of course, if you need an industrial-strength fan to dry out a wet tent interior, this is a benefit as the fan functions without the mister, too.
The sealed motor is a bonus for durability, and the swivel adjust means you can aim the airflow anywhere you need it- so you can get back to enjoying camping instead of sweating it out.