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RV skirting in the summer does a lot to keep your RV cool, support your air conditioning system, and reduce the natural heat exchange beneath the RV. As an added layer of bottom insulation, the reduction in heat exchange takes a load off your A/C.
Sure, your power is taken care of at a campground hook-up, but you should always try to reduce the overall strain on your A/C. It becomes even more beneficial when you’re off the grid or boondocking for a time.
Some people associate skirting with winter protection only, but it’s arguably just as efficient, perhaps even more so, throughout the sweltering heat of long summer months. Plus, good RV skirting fits like a glove, and it’s not a huge pain to set up and take down when needed.
How Do I Keep My RV Cool In The Hot Summer?
You can keep your RV cool in the hot summer by slapping an RV skirt on there and enjoying the many benefits it provides. Sure, you can do things like adding silver bubble insulation on the windows, always park in the shade, and do all your cooking outside.
However, the only thing that’s probably better at keeping your RV cool is the air conditioner. Considering how well an RV skirt accommodates the A/C, there’s really no reason not to have one on yours.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to put a skirt on their RV? Next thing you know, all of your RV friends will want to enjoy the “coolest” RV in the park.
You do have to install it correctly, according to the instructions. RV skirting is a lot like insulation, where a missed spot can reduce the effectiveness. You won’t have much to worry about since RV skirts are surprisingly easy to maintain and install.
Of course, a good combination of things is a safe bet in this scenario. An RV skirt does a lot on its own, but when you combine it with other cooling mechanisms, you get more bang for your buck.
How Hot Can An RV Get In The Sun?
An untended RV can get pretty hot in the sun. A study conducted by Arizona State University concluded that a vehicle left in the sun will reach 116°F in an hour, and one parked in the shade will reach over 100°F in an hour. It’s not a huge mental leap to switch out a car for an RV.
It’s also worth considering where the RV is parked. If you’re in a parking lot, you’re likely surrounded by asphalt or cement, which gets wicked hot in full sunlight, even on a balmy, spring day. It’s not so bad when parked over grass or even in the shade, but it will still get hot, given the time.
It brings to mind those prison break movies where the prisoners had to spend time “in the hole,” which was little more than a tin shack in the hot sun.
If you’re a pet owner, RVs get hot enough that it’s a legitimate concern. You should never leave your RV without the A/C on, even if it’s decent outside.
What Are The Benefits Of Skirting RVs In The Summer?
The benefits of skirting your RV in the summer are numerous, and not all of it is about the heat. Unfortunately, RV skirting is vastly underrated in the summer.
- Creates an additional, insulative layer
- Reduces strain on your A/C by preventing heat exchange
- Stabilizes the interior temperature
- Keeps the pests away
- It looks nice, is convenient, and is relatively easy to install
If nothing else, the temperature stability it brings to your RV and the reduced strain on your A/C are more than worth the expense.
RV Skirting in Summer Reduces the Strain on the Air Conditioner
This is the big one. Replacing A/C units in an RV can get expensive, depending on what brand of air conditioning unit is sitting on your rooftop or under the bench and its size. If you start thinking about everything in terms of “finite time,” it lends a sense of urgency to preventative maintenance routines.
You don’t want your air conditioner to give up the ghost in the middle of July. When you crank your motorhome up or hitch your travel trailer for the first time, that fancy new A/C is essentially on a timer. Preventative maintenance helps extend that timeframe, and an RV skirt is a form of preventative maintenance.
That’s what makes an RV skirt so valuable. It’s the primary reason for you to add RV skirting for summer vacationing. Less strain on the A/C means that it’ll last longer, need less maintenance, and even need less power to keep your rig comfortable.
RV Skirting Stabilizes the Interior Temperature
That part about the RV skirt reducing strain on your A/C unit plays right into this idea. That cool pocket of air that forms below the underbelly of your RV keeps your floor cool. Hot air rises above cool air. If you have a cool floor, there’s no hot air rising.
Since your A/C isn’t engaged in full-blown warfare with heat from beneath the camper, it runs in a normal fashion, with the air inside the RV remaining stable.
If you’re going to boondock, learn what size and type of RV generator you’ll need in our Travel Trailer Pro article, “What Size Generator Will Run A Travel Trailer A/C?“
Does RV Skirting Need to Be Insulated?
Fortunately, RV skirting doesn’t need to be insulated. It creates its own insulation by trapping air beneath the RV. The air itself becomes your new best friend as it repulses air from without.
Think about it in terms of air pumps. If you were to reverse the process and try to push air into the pump, you couldn’t force the air in. The power of that air pocket within the air pump is enough to withstand a giant, powerful lungs.
As long as the integrity of the skirting material isn’t compromised, it will hold. The same concept is at play here. The cooler air beneath the RV is trapped, resisting any additional incursions from the much hotter air, pouring off that asphalt hot top or dirt outside of the skirt.
What Can I Use Instead of RV Skirting?
There are several materials you can use instead of pre-made RV skirting, but none of them are quite as effective. They also come with their own set of problems or potential problems as well.
1. Aluminum Panels
Aluminum offers some advantages over other types of skirting since it’s not a fantastic conductor, and its reflective qualities certainly contribute to that. However, aluminum can still get hot when it sits out in the sun. It’s a little pricier than some of the other skirting options out there, and the best type to use is the corrugated version.
For those who plan on sitting in place for quite a while, standard plywood skirting is useful, though not on par with typical RV skirting. One advantage wood has is it doesn’t absorb heat from the sun, plus it’s affordable and not that heavy.
Its disadvantages are assembly and disassembly. Plus, where to put all those wooden panels when it’s time to take them down?
If you decide to use wood for RV skirting for summer or any other season, you may want to slap on a few coats of weather sealant to prevent rotting.
3. Foam Board
Foam boards are good insulators on their own and don’t need anything additional. They’re lightweight, easy to install, and affordable. Their light weight is also their disadvantage. RVers have to lock them down tight because the slightest breeze is capable of sending them flying away.
4. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass insulation isn’t for everyone. The fiberglass spines can easily get caught in the skin, and they itch fiercely. Also, this “fluffy cotton-like” insulation absorbs water like a sponge, so you’ll need to wrap it in something that’s waterproof.
5. Hay Bales
Believe it or not, hay bales are useful for more than just feeding livestock. They work as a fantastic insulator for the bottom of your RV. Unfortunately, they’re also animal magnets. You’ll find yourself working triple time to keep the critters out.
Another issue is the overall payoff. Specifically, hay bales don’t have much of a lifespan. Even if you can keep the bugs and critters away, you may get a few trips out of the hay bales at best. Hay is an organic grass that eventually rots in direct sunlight and moisture. That’s why farmers keep them inside.
AirSkirts have been around for some time now and is a great technology. It’s highly durable (PVC material) and is quick to pull out from your exterior bays and install under your RV.
Your RV may resemble a hovercraft when the AirSkirts tubes are in place, but it’s a highly effective system that keeps the air under your RV sealed against the outside temperatures.
The kit comes with air pumps and 22” or 34” diameter inflatable skirt tubes. Even though they come in pieces, when placed correctly (the manual and YouTube videos show you how), the tubes create a firm seal around your RV. The air valves are heavy-duty and military-grade.
Why Don’t More People Use RV Skirting in the Summer?
More people don’t use RV skirting in the summer for a lot of reasons. Mainly because it’s a pain in the rear. Not because it’s difficult to assemble and install (it’s not) but because it’s an additional step in the RV setup process.
Let’s be honest. After driving all day, all you want to do is set up quickly and rest.
RV skirting materials can eat up a lot of storage space. When space is at a premium, hard decisions have to be made on what comes with and what stays home.
Many don’t use them because they associate RV skirting with winter, not summer, not realizing the benefits of using an RV skirt during the hot summer months.
A lot of RVers, especially those new to the lifestyle, spend a lot more time engaging in other methods of cooling, such as parking in the shade, shielding the windows, or just setting the A/C into overdrive.
Why AirSkirts Make Sense In The Summer
It makes sense to look at AirSkirts and immediately associate it with the summer heat because of trapped air. Perhaps that’s why AirSkirts present such an immediate appeal.
Plus, AirSkirts are far more advanced than traditional RV skirting. An AirSkirt tube is very lightweight in comparison. It’s far easier to set up quickly and disassemble when you’re ready to move on. It’s just as effective at saving energy and reducing the strain on A/C units as traditional RV skirting methods.
Even better, AirSkirts are far easier to store away when not in use. There’s a ton of appeal in that because RV storage space is often a priority, especially when traveling with large families and/or pets. The storage bag keeps all the tubes, hoses, and air pump together without taking up too much storage space.
For much more information about AirSkirts, check out our article called AirSkirt Inflatable RV Skirting for Winter and Summer.
Interested in learning more about AirSkirts?
Final Thoughts on RV Skirting in the Summer
RV skirting in the summer is an excellent idea, especially if you do a lot of camping and traveling throughout the hottest months of the year. Sure, it can be pretty time-consuming putting it up, but it’s more than worth the effort if you’ll be in one place for a time.
RV skirting, especially if you go with AirSkirts, stabilizes the internal temperature of your RV, keeps bugs and other critters out, reduces the immense strain on your air conditioner, and is relatively simple to install.
They come in all different sizes and are available for any type of RV. If you’re looking for excellent insulation support (especially if you spend a lot of time in your RV), you owe it to yourself to give it a try and cut your A/C some slack.
1. AirSkirt Inflatable RV Skirting for Winter and Summer
2. RV Skirting for Winter – DIY or Brand Name?
3. RV Window Insulation Tips for Summer and Winter
4. 10 Best 4 Season Travel Trailer Brands (Great For Summer Heat Too!)
About The Author:
Thomas Godwin is a full-time freelance writer with a BFA in Creative Writing, a U.S. Marine, and an avid outdoorsman.
When he’s not writing, he’s raising chickens and Appleyard ducks. Thomas also constructs teardrop campers (attempting to anyway) and kayaks the Blackwater River with his wife, two daughters, and his Dobermans.