RV-Mini-Split-6-Best-Options-and-How-to-Install-Guide

RV Mini Split: 6 Best Options and How to Install Guide

When you are in your RV, the heat of the day can wreak havoc on your interior comfort. That is if you do not get to find a nice shady spot. Staying cool under these conditions means either opening a window or having a top-rated air conditioning unit.

There are two types of mini-split air conditioning units. One is pure air conditioner and the other is referred to as a heat pump. Within these two options, you have a myriad of brand names, sizes, BTU levels, and so on. Picking the right one for you can be a chore.

To learn more about the mini-split air conditioning option, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about to keep your RV or trailer cool on a hot day. Staying cool can be easy if you install the right equipment.

What Is a Mini-split System?

What-Is-a-Mini-split-System

A mini-split system for an RV contains two components. There is an inside unit and an outside unit. Both are connected by refrigerant pipes and a set of power cables that include neutral, live, and earth connections.

These components come in two options. There is the air conditioning only model and then there is the cool/heat option. The one you get will depend on your camping circumstances. The former model is called an air conditioner while the latter is called a heat pump.

The BTU levels range from 9,000 to 24,000 with some models going as high as 30,000 & 36,000 BTUs. Some of these models are given inverter technology that regulates their operation better than the standard rooftop AC units most RVs have.

The attractive feature of the mini-split is that they lower their BTUs when required. Unlike a rooftop air conditioner that can only turn on or off and produce the same BTUs no matter how cool it is inside your RV.

For example, a 9,000 BTU mini split can go from 4,400 BTUs to 10,500 BTUs depending on the temperature inside your RV. The drawback to this system is that they never shut down but always change their power levels while turned on.

Why Don't RV Manufacturers Use Mini-splits?

There is no real reason why RV makers don't change to this system of cooling their products. Except that there would be major design changes that would need to be made. Those changes could cost the company lots of money.

There is a lot of modification work that needs to be done to connect the two components. Plus, the wiring and piping issues may cause some manufacturers headaches in trying to route the wiring and pipes without disturbing other components and their wiring and piping routes.

Another reason that may be possible is that RV makers use the cheapest parts and components possible. The cost of a mini-split is not going to meet that objective. Many of these units cost well over $1500 depending on size, shape, and so on.

That brings us to another possible reason. There is no room in the RV, in the manufacturers’ eyes, to fit a mini-split system. Space is at a limit and rooftop air conditioners help these RV makers save on interior space.

In addition, the RV makers may have their own reasons why they do not change systems. It could be contractual reasons as well. These companies may be locked into long-term contracts with air conditioning manufacturers.

Mini-split In an RV Pros And Cons

Mini-split-In-an-RV-Pros-And-Cons

Before jumping on this bandwagon, it is important to look at all the positives and negatives of the mini-split system. Even one negative may be a deal-breaker for some RV owners.

Pros:

  • More efficient than a rooftop unit.
  • Cools your RV's interior better than a rooftop unit.
  • Some systems use no ducting which keeps energy loss to a minimum.
  • Can be retro-fitted to work in older RVs trailers.
  • Can be powered by different energy sources.
  • Most come with inverter-ready technology.
  • Has lower noise output than traditional rooftop air conditioning units.
  • Can be mounted just about anywhere, depeding on model, style, and design.
  • Can be cheaper to operate than rooftop air conditioning units.
  • All are run by remote control which can also identify error codes.

Cons:

  • These systems are not cheap to purchase.
  • Installation can be both easy and difficult. Some need professional installation skills to install.
  • Finding the right location can be a problem.
  • The combined weight of the two units is more than one rooftop air conditioning unit.
  • You may not have the space to place both units (depending on the size and model you buy).
  • Lines may not be long enough to fit your placement needs.
  • You cannot hide the components. They are highly visible almost anywhere you put them.
  • These units need a lot of maintenance and attention to run correctly.

Best Mini Split AC For RV

If you go to this link, you will see why it is hard to pick the best mini-split system for your RV. There are just too many brands and options available and someone will get angry that their mini-split system was not chosen.

To get you on the right track, here are 3 brands and models that have been suggested to be the best.

1. Pioneer WYS012-19 Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump

This is a 12,000 BTU mini-split system that cools and heats. it has you covered no matter where the temperature needle goes. If you do it yourself, all the hardware you need, except the wiring, is included in your purchase.

Its galvanized metal and epoxy paint coating helps this unit endure all weather conditions and keep it long-lasting. Some of the features include auto restart and variable speeds.

There is also a silent mode feature that lets you relax without being disturbed by the noise. The drawback to using this mini-split system is that it is quite heavy.

2. Senville SENL-09CD Mini Split AC Heat Pump

Another heat pump that keeps you both warm and cool when you need it. The BTU level only reaches 9,000 but that is enough to cover a space measuring up to 450 square feet.

Also, it has variable speed and a very quiet motor. It is said that the motor is so quiet you will think it was turned off on you. Plus, it is easy to install if you have basic do-it-yourself skills.

There are adjustable louvers and other features that make this mini-split system ideal for most RV types. However, the installation instructions may be a bit too generic.

3. MRCOOL DIY Ductless Heat Pump Split System

This 18,000 BTU mini-split system may be too large for most RVs and trailers. It is rated to cool rooms up to 1500 square feet. Installation can be handled by just about anyone and the unit comes with pre-vacuumed lines and all the hardware you will need.

In addition to that, this unit is wifi enabled and is compatible with Android and iOS devices. There are three operating modes to choose from - sleep, cool, and heat. The remote control will handle all the operation features. All you have to do is push the right buttons.

The drawback to this unit is that it may be more expensive than other options you have.

Mini-split AC For Enclosed Cargo Trailer

Mini-split-AC-Fo-Enclosed-Cargo-Trailer

Regular roof-top air conditioners may not heat the cargo trailer evenly. This is usually the case when your trailer has a true V nose design. The way to get around this issue is to invest in a good mini-split system.

Here are 3 top models you can consider and see if they will meet your needs:

1. YMGI Solar Assist Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump

The rating on this unit is a 32 SEER which means it doesn't need a lot of power to keep running. It is a good mini-split system when you want to go solar. There is a solar panel included in the box but it is not meant for continuous operation.

To run this unit solely on solar, you would have to add more panels and possibly more batteries to store the power you get from the sun. Other than that it is a good cooling unit that has enough features to keep your cargo trailer nice and cool.

2. HotSpot Energy ACDC12C

The special feature that makes this unit stand out is its ability to run off of 12 volt DC power or 220 AC power. Plus, you can hook up a solar panel to it and give yourself another power source to use when your batteries are low.

You would need 3 to 6- 200 watt solar panels to run this mini-split system if you have the room. Also, when the temperatures dip, this system comes with a heat pump function. The average power use is about 544 watts with a peak of 960 watts.

3. Pioneer

The good thing about this brand is that it makes a variety of sizes and power outputs when it makes its mini-split systems. You have lots of choices and can fit your air conditioning to your cargo trailer almost perfectly.

The biggest problem you will have is not deciding which one to buy but where to put the components. The two-component system will need to be placed in ideal locations so the rest of the install goes smoothly.

This brand is popular among DIY people as it comes in a kit and the install is not that difficult to do. they are also inexpensive.

Installing a Mini-split In an RV

The installation of a mini-split system in an RV can be challenging. The modifications needed can have you pulling your hair out depending on the model you buy. Most larger RVs have the space you need to locate the two components but like the smaller ones, the challenge comes in laying the pipe and wiring routes.

The good news is that most kits come with brackets. A base mounting pad for the outdoor component and pre-flared and pre-vacuumed copper lines. Your duty will be to find the right location and the right routes to connect both units.

Some people have cut a small 3-inch hole in the wall of their RVs to accommodate the wiring and the copper lines. Then while some owners place their outside component on their roofs, others place it on the rear bumper or the front storage box on the tongue of their trailer.

The installation will take some forethought as well as some good handyman skills. Some say that many of these units will need professional-level skills but you be the judge of that. Where you locate your components will depend on the type of RV or trailer you own.

One couple who converted an old bus into an RV placed their outside component in one of the many storage compartments found along the lower portion of the bus frame.

The key to installing a mini-split system will be the location and routes. You don't need large holes in your RV for the lines or the wiring. You just have to watch out for the wiring and piping the other RV components need. You do not want to cut them.

Other than that, the installation may take you some time as figuring out the logistics is time-consuming. Especially if you take a wrong turn somewhere. Be flexible and be ready to make route changes when necessary

Mini-split Roof Mount

These units are probably the most popular as they do not take up space on your rear bumper or if you are pulling a trailer, your storage box on your trailer tongue. the roof makes sure that the outside component is out of your way but still within easy reach.

It is a good location when you do not have a large RV or trailer. It will save that space and still make sure you get the cooling power you need. There are many different types of mini-split systems for the roof-mounted position.

You can get single, dual-zone, tri-zone options, and some with ducting or some without ducting. many top brands make these units like- LG, Midea, Cooper and Hunter, Alice, Sophia, OLMO, Victoria, Frigidaire, Samsung, Soleus, Amana, Arctic King, General Electric, Friedrich, Emerson Quiet Kool, and many more.

You are not going to be short-changed if you want a roof mount system. Your hardest decision, in this case, will be deciding which one to go with. They are very practical units to own. Your RV should be much cooler than the traditional air conditioning unit once you install the mini-split system.

Mini-split Compressor on The Roof

This may be a possibility but you would need to buy a compressor that is designed to be installed on the roof of your RV. You only have so much extra height to work with and some low clearance bridges may not make this option practical for many models.

Most mini-split compressors are designed to be placed on your rear bumper. That is because that is the most protected spot on your RV. This location keeps the wind, road debris, dirt, and other elements from damaging the compressor.

Other good locations would be on the side of your RV but this can only be done if you have room. As we noted earlier, one couple placed their compressor underneath their Bus/RV in a storage compartment. You may want to think about that location if you have room.

Rooftop locations are not very protected from road debris, dirt, dust, or even the elements. You may have to think twice about placing one there. Talk to your dealer and see what options they have and any advice they can give you.

They will know the best location for placing your compressor and make sure it runs at optimum capacity.

Some Final Words

Mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps seem to be the new DIY trend for RV owners. These units are effective, efficient as well as powerful. You can cover and cool your RV without too much hassle.

The biggest drawback to these systems is their expense. they are not cheap although you can find many options for under $500. Most cost more than that and you would have to pay for inst6allation if you can’t do it yourself. One labor charge was said to be $600.

This is a good option if you can afford it.

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