Installing Air Conditioning in Our RV

We’ve been living on our off grid property for almost two years now while we develop our debt-free home, in a travel trailer, and we finally caved and bought an RV air conditioner. Despite living at a Northern latitude, it’s downright hot, and we’re done suffering!

When we first bought this trailer, we were aware that it didn’t have an air conditioner. We thought “We’ll be so far north – what could we possible need one for?”

Come to find out, our property has been ridiculously hot the past couple of years. We’re not talking 80 degrees hot (although 80 in the sun here is pretty unbearable), we’re talking 100+.

We even had an epic winter this past season, getting four feet of snow in a snowstorm and seeing temperatures as low as -118F on our property.

Last summer, we were gone most of the day (every day) seeking cooler activities such as working from an air conditioned coffee shop or foraging for fruit.

This year, because we hope to break ground on our house within the next couple of weeks (yes, it’s officially happening folks, mark our words) we decided that we don’t need to suffer.

Investing in Ourselves

Last year, we actually caved and bought an air conditioning unit from Target, but as it was already September, we challenged ourselves not to use it since money was tight.

We survived, and back to Target it went.

This year, while we understood that a proper RV air conditioner for our travel trailer would run us hundreds of dollars, we figured it was an investment worth making as it would open up so many doors of opportunities for us.

For one, we could work in the heat of the day and return to an air conditioned home.

Second, we would spend less time on the road trying to find cool areas to hide out in. Time on the road equals burning fuel and eating out.

Third, just knowing we had a cool place to retreat to meant we would likely work harder since we knew we could end the heat when we wanted to.

The Dometic Penguin II RV Air Conditioner

We’ll elaborate more on this later, but we decided to go with the Dometic Penguin II.

While we could have saved money with a different unit (like not for an RV), we decided to spend the money to put the AC where it should rightly go – on the roof. We also wanted one that was low profile since our RV is parked in an RV garage.

Installing it was pretty simple – watch the video to see it and to see the problems we DID encounter.

rv air conditioner dometic penguin ii

Running the Air Conditioner – Solar or Generator?

While we should soon have a large enough solar array to run the air conditioner, for now, we’re running it off our generator.

Does this burn fuel? Yep. But it’s totally worth it.

We’ve been running it for maybe two to four hours a day, but if it allows us to stay home, it really does save us money and allow us to be more productive.

Here’s to Comfort While Developing a Property

We’ve learned that we can only do without creature comforts for so long, so we have no regrets getting an air conditioner.

We can do almost anything for a month, even six months, but when we’re going on two full years of living in our RV, it’s time for upgrades!

Even once our house is dried-in this winter, we’ll likely spend a bit more time in the RV to get the house (or portions of the house) livable.

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.


  1. Danielle says

    Welcome to RV A/C. I could not live without mine since we are full timers in Phoenix. I would love for it to be 80 to 90 degrees outside but we are hitting 105 to 115 so A/C is essential. We just had the second one put in our bedroom but we only run that during the extreme heat of the day. Be careful about the A/C freezing up. This happened to us yesterday as I didn’t realize we needed to leave a window cracked for the airflow to the RV A/C. Congrats on the comforts of a real home! Love all of your posts and very happy for your next steps of completing your house!

  2. Lou says

    Will you need to add anything to the two water tanks at the top of your property to help keep the water clean and safe to drink. I am curious if you have thought about that water becoming stagnant or not safe to drink after being stored in those tanks for so long. Keep up the good work I have been following your progress for a few months, actually just stumbled across your videos a few months ago.


  3. Larry Schweitzer says

    I lived in an RV on a construction site while working on a dam. Nights were usually tolerable, no electricity and cooked on an open fire. Shower water from a windmill, solar heated in a black barrel, lifted with a backhoe. Worked fine. Some evenings went to a little town tavern for a beer and snooker.


    The best two working partners that I have ever seen. I really like how you justify your spending as a future investment. Alyssa stated you are are the best Tool (person) so take good care of yourself. (A/C).

    The other key word you use is “opportunity”, most people do not see their opportunity until it has passed. I really enjoy seeing your progress on your homestead. Your videos are inspiring.


  5. Trevor Stephen Tong says

    I have been following your various videos for the last few weeks with great enthusiasm and enjoyment, and cannot wait till the next instalment arrives, in my eyes it’s a journey I would have loved to have taken in my youth but I live in a country with too many people and not the vast empty spaces.
    I’m a ex. Paratrooper, who was injured out of the British army and confined to only lying on a bed, day in, day out.
    So through your videos I am living my dream through your eyes and endurances, I wish you both health and happiness in the years to come, stay true and complete the course.
    With kind regards.

  6. Catherine says

    I’m soooo glad that you are going to be comfortable. I’ve been following you since the beginning and I really love it each time my mailbox has a post from you! You are super!!! Wishing you all the best each and every day. Oh yes! Kitty will be much happier in the coolness as well. He’s so precious!

  7. JB says

    Rest is necessary to work productively. You can’t sleep if you are hot. It’s ok to have an A/C unit, no matter what the “purists” say….. who are they anyway? This is your journey and I say good job!

  8. Colleen says

    Love your YouTube videos! I’ve looked at how you are doing the rock grizzly(btw brilliant idea!). Your property looks like it kinda drops off toward the front of your clearing, have you thought of placing the grizzly so the large stones fill in the drop off. Your fill dirt drops behind and the giant rocks are providing fill at the front drop? (Unless you already have a plan for those big buggers). You two are an inspiration for those of us that chose safety over self sufficiency. I have nothing but admiration for you, and love watching the videos! Thank you.

  9. wk3 says

    Air conditioning: excellent decision. You have certainly earned its comfort.

    The first time it replaces use of emergency health services, you will be money well ahead.

  10. Jim says

    I noticed that the video did not show what you did to waterproof the air conditioner to the roof. Maybe it’s not required but I would think one might have to caulk, use a flange, gasket, etc. I know you have the RV in a shelter but if you sell the RV or use it to camp after the house is built, it might be an issue. Also, you have that board for support. Do you have to waterproof that as well or paint it? I suppose you could stain and polyurethane it for a nice woodsy roof look. 🙂

  11. D. Norrod says

    Good for you on keeping yourself well and going. I totally get it. My very best to you both. You two are doing an enormus task and are working so hard. Amazing endurance and positive attitude.

  12. Bruce & Sally Cameron says

    Please keep us informed. We have a travel trailer off-grid in northern Minnesota. We are trying to learn from you.
    All the best, Bruce

  13. Alan Hays says

    Thanks for all the great posts, guys! I have a 25-acre family farm in Central Louisiana, and heat is a year-round issue. And I always find that just knowing I can retreat to the AC when the 12 o’clock whistle blows (we still have one in this little town)in the middle of the day, keeps me going a little bit farther. So I agree, it’s well worth the money! We’re RV’ers as well, and have had good luck with Dometic over the years (the AC; not so much the refrigerators). Keep up the good work!

  14. Dave stead says

    I have recently discovered your blogs . I enjoy both of your energy ! I have just built a net zero home for a customer it was not difficult and refreshing. This opened my awareness to living off the grid . Yes l use a laser level almost every day and wish I had AC in my fith wheel . When you do decide to build your new home look at air barrier R values.

  15. Jerry Baker says

    At an advanced age, I’m re-living my youth through your videos. Thanks for the opportunity. It’s nice to see young folks solving the problems of new construct without relying on paid professionals, for labor and smarts.
    Some jobs are too large for a couple of nubees to tackle on their own, but you all aren’t leaving much undone.
    I look forward to each installment.

  16. Al says

    Be sure to check out that your inverter is big enough to run the A/C. A 3000w inverter (your goPower) won’t start a compressor in a 13kbtu A/C unit (your AC unit). Been there done that

    • Jesse says

      We only run the A/C off the gen. Our batts wired at 12v aren’t capable of that kind of load. Not worth the risk. Cheers!

      • Al says

        You can connect different panels together, ask gopower, the phone will go silent then they will say, “yea but”.

        From the net: FYI

        Connect only in series panels of the same brand and of the same current
        Connect only in series panels of the different brands and of the same current-this is your second option if for whatever reason you cannot find the same brand panels

        Connect in parallel panels of the same brand and of the same voltage

        Connect in parallel panels of different brands and of the same voltage-this is your second option if for whatever reason you cannot find the same brand panels

        Connecting different solar panels with the same array is not recommended since either the voltage or the current might get reduced. Therefore if you are planning to use dissimilar panels, try to pick the ones with similar voltage and current.

  17. Don Hamon says

    Hey guys,
    My wife and I are retired and 3 years ago decided to move from Dallas metroplex to a small southeast Texas coastal community. We purchased a small off grid home with detached 1500 sf shop/garage that is serviced by co-op electric.
    We have watched you two work tirelessly to achieve your dream and enjoy your post when they come out.
    Recently we have noticed some individuals posting some crude and rude videos trying to either defame or discourage you. We just want you to know your videos, your attitudes and your thoughts you share are not offensive. Just listen to your friends and each other and don’t worry about the critics.
    We’ll be praying for y’all. Hang in there.

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