Once spring finally gets here, trailer and RV owners alike get the itch to dig their vehicle out of storage and take it on a nice, weekend-long joyride. If you’re in the same camp with your teardrop trailer, you might love the spring. After all, it’s warm during the day, but you’re not in your trailer then. At night, the temperatures dip down low enough that you’re nice and comfy as you settle in for a night of sleep in your teardrop.
It’s a different story in the summertime. The temperatures soar both day and night, giving you little if any relief from the warmth. During the summer, the inside of your teardrop trailer is like an oven. Sure, you can rig up a small oscillating fan or two, but this only seems to shift the warm air from one corner of your vehicle to another.
There’s got to be something more you can do, right? There is. If your teardrop doesn’t already come with one, you might be interested in adding an air conditioning system to your vehicle. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about teardrop AC, including sizing, pricing, power requirements, weight distribution, and maintenance.
Let’s get started.
Do Teardrop Trailers Come with Air Conditioners?
Since teardrop trailers are supposed to be lightweight and tiny, most of them don’t come equipped with air conditioners right off the bat. If you do enough digging, some teardrop companies do offer AC as an extra amenity. This will cost you, but hey, on those hot summer days and nights, you’ll be glad you have it.
On this blog, I’ve talked about several teardrop trailer brands with optional air conditioning. I will discuss them again now.
The first is the TOPO Series from Escapod.
This teardrop costs $16,500 as a baseline. Measuring five feet by eight feet with a 2×2-inch frame, the TOPO Series trailer is small, small enough that the kitchen expands outdoors. The AC is a compact portable unit that runs on 5,000 BTUs. You get all the ports you need for quick and easy setup.
Another teardrop with optional air conditioning is the Small-Fry from Peewee Campers.
This trailer has a total height of 59 inches (from the roof vent top to the ground), a total width of 64 inches (from one outside fender to another), and a total length of 10 feet, six inches (from the rear to the trailer’s tongue). Its box height is 44 inches and its exterior box is 4×6 feet.
The air conditioner that you can buy for the Small-Fry goes in the trailer’s front wall. The unit weighs 41 pounds and runs on 5,000 BTUs. It will come out near the tongue.
According to their FAQs, you can add air conditioning to your Tiny Camper teardrop from Camp-Inn as well.
Their AC is more like a window unit, in that it fits within the body of your teardrop in a wooden compartment. It comes with a drain pan. There’s also a plumbed drain pipe that goes all the way out through the teardrop from the cabin. This way, there’s no condensation buildup, which can lead to mold, mildew, and other vehicular damage. The other perk of this setup is that when you do a lot of dish-washing or it rains, the drain pan passes all that water out through your air conditioner’s external vent area.
What Size AC Unit Is Supported in a Teardrop Trailer?
If your teardrop trailer air conditioner is running on at least 5,000 BTUs (which seems to be standard), then it should sufficiently cool 100 square feet, sometimes 150 square feet. Let’s look at a 5,000-BTU air conditioner on Amazon to get an idea of the sizing. This one is a Frigidaire Window-Mounted Mini-Compact.
It’s 12 inches tall, 15 ¼ inches deep, and 16 inches wide. Its Energy Efficiency Ratio is 11.1. The unit has air direction controls that let you move the air two ways. There are also fans with two speeds, two cool speed settings, and mechanical rotary controls. This air conditioner is powered by an electrical outlet that runs on 115 volts.
That’s just one example to give you a good idea of the dimensions of a 5,000-BTU air conditioner. For teardrop trailers, many manufacturers favor ClimateRight. This company produces portable heating and air conditioning units for trailers like your teardrop. They also make humidifiers, aroma diffusers, and air cleaners.
For a teardrop, your ClimateRight AC unit would likely be the CR5000ACH. This is a 5,000-BTU air conditioner. It too runs on 115 volts like the Frigidaire we used as an example.
It has a dual air hose system that allows for simple and fast installation through the trailer wall. You get a three-speed fan, automated on/off timers, and a sleep mode. This unit can also double as a dehumidifier; it even has heating settings. If your teardrop is at least 1,200 square feet, this is the air conditioner for you.
Here are some specs:
- Produces 55 decibels of noise when running
- Has a nylon mesh air filter that can be taken out and replaced
- Uses R410a refrigerant
- Assembles via a flange kit and a quick-connect hose
- Weighs 63.6 pounds
- Measures 19 inches deep, 15 inches wide, and 15 inches tall
- The control panel has an IR remote control sensor and a digital temperature display
- The thermostat is also digital and includes an infrared remote control
- Uses 11.3 heating amps when in operation and 1,300 heating watts
- Uses 6.2 cooling amps when in operation and 700 cooling watts
If your trailer is even smaller than that, ClimateRight also makes a 2,500-BTU version of their air conditioner called the CR2500ACH. This is a mini air conditioner and heater. You get all the same features you do with the CR5000ACH but in a more convenient tiny size. This unit is only meant for spaces of at least 400 square feet.
Here are some specs:
- Also produces noise at 55 decibels when running
- Has the same nylon mesh air filter
- Includes the flange kit and quick-connect hose as well
- Uses the same refrigerant, R410a
- Weighs 55.6 pounds
- Measures 19 inches deep, 15 inches wide, and 13.5 inches high
- Has the same control panel and digital thermostat
- Uses 7.8 heating amps when operating and 900 heating watts
- Uses 4.3 cooling amps when operating and 480 cooling watts
How Much Does It Cost to Add Air Conditioning to Your Teardrop Trailer?
By this point, you might be seriously considering getting an air conditioning unit for your teardrop trailer if yours is lacking one. You have to ask though, how much is it going to cost you?
You’ll spend between $450 and $650 for an air conditioner on average.
The ClimateRight CR2500ACH costs $449 while the Peewee Campers Small-Fry air conditioner is $450. For bigger units, the price goes up. The CR5000ACH is priced at $549, for instance. The Escapod TOPO Series air conditioner is $650.
Remember, these are just the prices for the air conditioning unit. This does not include the cost of the teardrop trailer itself or any other amenities you might add. Also, ClimateRight is the only company with units that can heat and cool a trailer. All other air conditioners offered from the other teardrop brands are just that, air conditioners.
Can You Install the AC Unit Yourself or Should You Let a Pro Do It?
Whether you install your teardrop trailer air conditioner yourself or let a professional do it is mostly up to you. We say mostly because it depends on what kind of air conditioner you buy. If it’s the AC unit for the TOPO Series teardrop, then it sounds like you’ll be the one in charge of setting it up.
The Tiny Camper from Camp-Inn, on the other hand, should be installed for you. Any ClimateRight air conditioner does not come pre-installed. You’ll have to do it yourself. According to the brand, to install your ClimateRight AC unit, all you have to do is move your outflow hose and air intake hose assembly by porting it through the teardrop trailer.
All the parts required for installation, including quick-connect flanges, hoses, and an assembly kit, do come with the purchase of your ClimateRight unit. Once you set up your air conditioner, you just plug it into a generator or outlet that runs on 110 volts. You’re all set!
If you’re not comfortable with installing your air conditioner on your own, you can always contact a technician to do the job. This will cost you extra, but at least you can ensure your AC is set up the right way the first time.
Weight Distribution in Your Teardrop: Does an Air Conditioner Change It?
Most air conditioners for teardrop trailers weigh between 40 and 65 pounds. While that may not sound like a lot, you have to consider the weight of the trailer you’re working with. For instance, the Small-Fry from Peewee Campers has a dry weight of about 350 pounds. Its tongue weight is 35 pounds. That’s an incredibly lightweight vehicle.
What happens when you add even 40 extra pounds to a trailer that doesn’t even hit the 400-pound mark? The weight distribution can shift. While it depends where you install the air conditioning unit, you have to make sure that one side of the trailer isn’t heavier than all the others. Otherwise, you risk causing damage to the teardrop.
If you do have an AC unit installed in your trailer, we recommend traveling a little more lightly. You want to cut back at least 40 to 65 pounds. Alternately, you can balance the weight on the side of the trailer opposite the one with the air conditioning unit.
Even if you do this, traveling light is still a good idea. Why is this? In addition to the weight distribution of your teardrop, you also want to be sure you don’t exceed its weight capacity. This tells you the max amount of weight your trailer can handle. You can typically find this information in your owner’s manual. If not, we recommend you reach out to your trailer manufacturer and ask.
Don’t be surprised if the weight capacity is pretty low for a teardrop trailer. Give or take a few pounds, you should always follow the weight capacity to the letter. Failing to do so could cause the trailer to come loose from its hitch. A teardrop trailer might not look like it can do much damage, but a 350-pound casing of metal rolling along at 30 or even 40 miles per hour is going to destroy vehicles and anything else nearby.
Teardrop Trailer Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips
You’ve got your teardrop air conditioner all rigged up and ready for summertime humidity. As you use the unit now and over the future warm seasons, you need to make sure you’re taking good care of it.
Regular maintenance is key to the longevity of your air conditioner. Otherwise, the unit could prematurely break. Getting replacement parts is not cheap, by the way.
Here’s a breakdown of parts replacement costs for a ClimateRight air conditioner:
- $19.99 for a brand new wireless remote control
- $24.99 for a replacement hose flange kit
- $14.99 for a fresh unit flange kit
- $24.99 for a hose kit specific to the CR5000ACH
- $19.99 for a replacement interior finishing kit
- $9.99 for a fresh flange cap kit
- $24.99 per replacement air filter
- $49.99 for a new wired remote thermostat
All said, those replacement costs tally up to $190. At that point, you’re nearly halfway to buying a new air conditioner. Now, hopefully, you can see why regular air conditioner maintenance is so necessary.
Here are some maintenance tips and steps to follow regularly:
- Make sure your generator is the appropriate wattage for your air conditioner. It should be somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 watts if your AC runs on 5,000 BTUs.
- If your air conditioner has foam filters, you can’t leave these in forever. At least monthly, take them out, clean them with water and soap, let them dry, and then put them back.
- Every year, or even twice a year, pay for a professional air conditioner technician to come out and inspect your AC unit. They can diagnose any issues that could cause issues now or down the road.
- Speaking of, if your air conditioning isn’t running optimally, it’s better to fix the issue right away. Most of the time, it will only get worse if you ignore it. Some trouble that starts off small can later spell the end of your air conditioner.
- With the right setup, your air conditioner should not have any water pooling in or around it. Make sure you look for signs of leaks often. Water damage in a trailer is one of the worst things that can happen. It rots wood, warps metal, and corrodes and rusts important components. In short, your vehicle is no longer safe to use.
- If your air conditioner comes with a cover, then put it on when the unit is not in use. This is especially important if your AC is installed outdoors. Make sure you clean the cover every now and again so it’s not filthy.
- Know that trailer air conditioners don’t last forever. Is yours having some serious problems? The costs to repair it could be higher than what you paid for the AC unit in the first place. At that point, it’s just time to get a new one.
Teardrop trailers can have functioning heaters and air conditioners despite not being very large. Sometimes these units are included. In other instances, you have to buy them separately as an amenity.
Most teardrop trailer air conditioners run on 5,000 BTUs. This should be enough to adequately cool the inside of your vehicle. The costs vary from $400 to more than $600. The unit may come pre-installed, but most of the time, you’ll have to take care of setup yourself.
To keep your trailer AC unit running over several hot summers, make sure you add the above maintenance steps to your teardrop care routine. Good luck!