Rooftop AC vs Portable AC


Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
Southeastern PA
Since you said in you previous post that you intend to camp mostly in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota, I would go with the portable AC if any.


2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
Northern Virginia
A rooftop ac cools better not to mention takes way less counter space, but if your camping primarily in the cooler states you can get away with the portable unit.


Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
A rooftop on popup is generally 13.5k btu. Most portables are not that big. Usually 8k to 10k.

I used a 8k portable in a hardside popup. It would not cool below outside temp in direct sun. With reflective bunk and window covers, it would cool 10 to 15 degrees below outside in direct sun. Add a shade tree and it did well.


Super Active Member
Aug 8, 2015
I have an 8k BTU portable. On its own it is worthless for cooling the pup. Last summer I had a power issue and only had the portable running for one day. I was in full shade in TX weather during summer and it did not cool at all. This was with full reflectix in the windows and my awning out as well. I wasn't able to cool the camper back down until I got the rooftop unit running again.


Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
Humidity makes a big difference.
If you're going to TX or VA, get rooftop. If you're in the drier states Steve mentions, you don't need your AC to work nearly as hard and can probably get by with less.


Super Active Member
Jul 7, 2018
There's really no comparison. A rooftop unit, even the smallest, puts out 13,500 btu and in Florida,
on the beach, in July, when temps during the day were 90 and humidity over 90%, it got WAY too
cold in the p'up, that I had to turn it off several times. 2 of the days we were there, it rained all day
and night so we spent quite a bit more time indoors than we had planned. Had I used a portable,
that would've made for a miserable trip.


Super Active Member
Sep 28, 2011
Santa Clarita, California
Depends on where you live. I do not have rooftop AC because I live in California which is unnecessary to have A/C at coastal areas even in the summer. But if I want to camp in the desert in the summer I would need AC but I usually do not go outside the coastal areas in the summer. If I do, then portable AC would be the best for me. I do not want to carry dead weight (AC) where it is not needed. I used to have rooftop A/C on my first 2 popups when I lived in the Southern states and A/C was absolute need there. I brought my 2nd popup in California and the AC was a dead weight because I actually never used the it.

as for you, you can keep portable A/C in garage for those times when you do not need it.

also if you looking for a portable AC, get the one with 15,000 or higher BTU!