Ducted vs. Non-Ducted RV AC
There are two types of air conditioners available for recreational vehicles, ducted and non-ducted. A non-ducted AC will simply blow cool air out of the bottom, through a vent. However, a ducted AC blows the cooled air through a duct system in the RV’s ceiling, distributing cool air throughout.
Non-Ducted RV Air Conditioners
Not every RV has been built with a duct system in the ceiling, and thus, a non-ducted air conditioner would be appropriate. An RV without a duct system could be any type of RV, a small trailer, a truck camper or a Class B van. Any RV with a single room would likely be ductless. Likewise, some large motorhomes have two ductless air conditioners, one for the front and one for the back.
A non-ducted AC would also be the best option if you’re renovating a vintage trailer that doesn’t have an AC at all. Likewise, if you’re doing a van conversion, a non-ducted AC would be the best option. This is because the installation is simplified.
If you are replacing your RV air conditioner, and it already has a non-ducted unit, you’ll need to replace it with the same style.
One downside to a non-ducted AC is it has a “box” that extends down from the ceiling of the RV a few inches; this is where the cool air blows out. This will reduce your headroom, when walking under the unit, and could be an issue for taller people.
One other thing to consider, ductless air conditioners create more humidity inside, and humidity creates a perfect environment for mold. If you have a ductless air conditioner, be sure to clean and air out the bathroom and kitchen regularly to keep both the humidity and any mold under control.
Ducted RV Air Conditioners
A ducted air conditioning system has a network of ducts throughout the ceiling, to distribute the cool air throughout the RV. A ducted RV air conditioner will have multiple ducts, or vents, in the ceiling. These are connected together with sheet metal ducting, similar to a house, or, with flexible, foil furnace duct hose.
The duct system means there is no “box” unit extending down from the ceiling. The ducts inside the RV ceiling that distribute the cool air throughout the ducts, rather than blowing it out from one location. The vents in the ceiling can be opened and closed, to direct the cool air where you need it. For example, you can close the vents in the living room, to force more cool air into the bedroom.
The bottom line is, if you already have an AC system in your RV, you’ll need to replace the air conditioner with the same style of unit.