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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lingering in the desert? Keep cool the low energy way

Some snowbirds like to stick it out in the desert until the increasing heat thoroughly thaws out their bones before moving north. However, some Spring days can easily reach into the 90s and if you are boondocking, running an air conditioner from your main engine or a generator for hours should not be an option.

There are two effective methods to control your interior heat. One is to buy a roll of heat-reflective, foil backed insulation (available from Home Depot and other building materials or hardware stores) and cut sections to fit your front and side windows that face the sun during midday. Taped up on your windows they will reflect most of the sun's heat. Open the rest of the windows to allow air circulation.

Another method is to install -- if it isn't already installed--a Fan-tastic Vent (photo). This vent and fan operates on very low amperage and can run for hours off your batteries without using much juice. Set to the highest speed, the fan will turnover the air in your rig in minutes. During the hottest part of the day, set to draw the hot air out. During cooler periods in late afternoon, set it to reverse and draw in the cooler outside air.

By monitoring your internal and outside air temperatures, you can close your windows when the outside air is hotter than inside. Then when the outside air cools to below the inside temperature, open all the windows to encourage thorough ventilation replacing the inside hot air.


  1. Some people say using reflective foil in dual pane windows is inviting problems. Any comments out there?

  2. It may not look pretty but I hang a silver tarp (from Harbor Freight) on the sun side of my RV, from the bottom of the solar panels to the ground.. this makes a 10-15 degree difference inside.. I have also considered hanging another tarp from the top of the solar panels to the awning so the roof is also covered..

  3. We use that foil but mainly in the cooler weather at night to keep the bedroom warmer. Not sure why this would be problematic because of dual pane windows (which we have as well).

  4. I've heard the same, but its entirely feasible to tape the Reflectix to the OUTSIDE of your windows while you are stationary.

  5. Years ago I put a reflective windshield cover up against the glass on a car and cracked the windshield. Evidently heat build up was too much on a hot summer day in the SW.
    You need to have a few inches btwn the foil and the glass for heat dissapation.