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How to Replace RV AC Unit

When it comes to enjoying the comforts of a recreational vehicle (RV), having a reliable air conditioning (AC) unit is crucial, especially during hot summer months.

However, over time, AC units can wear out or become inefficient, requiring replacement.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of replacing an RV AC unit step by step.

Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or a beginner, this article will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to tackle this task successfully.

Understanding the Importance of a Well-Functioning RV AC Unit

Your RV AC unit plays a vital role in ensuring your comfort and well-being during your travels.

It helps maintain a pleasant temperature inside your RV, allowing you to escape the sweltering heat outside.

Additionally, a functioning AC unit can help prevent damage to your RV’s interior, such as warping of wood or cracking of vinyl surfaces due to excessive heat and humidity.

Signs That Your RV AC Unit Needs Replacement

Before diving into the replacement process, it’s essential to identify if your RV AC unit truly needs replacing.

Look out for the following signs:

  1. Insufficient Cooling: If your AC unit is struggling to cool your RV or isn’t cooling at all, it may be time for a replacement.
  2. Strange Noises: Unusual or excessive noise coming from the AC unit could indicate internal damage or worn-out components.
  3. Frequent Breakdowns: If your AC unit requires constant repairs and still fails to function optimally, a replacement might be more cost-effective.
  4. Inefficient Operation: If your AC unit consumes more energy than usual or fails to cool your RV efficiently, it may be nearing the end of its lifespan.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before starting the replacement process, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat-head)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Socket set
  • Voltage tester
  • Caulking gun
  • Butyl tape
  • Roof sealant
  • Replacement RV AC unit

Preparing for the Replacement

  1. Safety First: Before working on your RV’s AC unit, ensure the power supply is disconnected. Switch off the circuit breaker for the AC unit or unplug it from the power source.
  2. Clear the Workspace: Remove any obstacles or debris from the area surrounding the AC unit to ensure a safe and clutter-free work environment.
  3. Refer to the Manufacturer’s Instructions: Familiarize yourself with the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer of your RV AC unit. These instructions may include model-specific steps or precautions.

Removing the Old RV AC Unit

  1. Access the Interior: Start by removing the interior cover of your RV’s AC unit. Typically, this involves removing a few screws or releasing clips. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.
  2. Disconnect Electrical Connections: Identify the electrical connections leading to the AC unit and disconnect them. Take note of the wiring configuration to facilitate the installation of the new unit.
  3. Remove Mounting Hardware: Locate and remove the mounting hardware securing the AC unit to the RV’s roof. This may involve unscrewing bolts or releasing brackets.
  4. Lift and Remove the Old Unit: With the mounting hardware removed, carefully lift the old AC unit off the roof and set it aside. Be cautious of its weight and ensure you have assistance if needed.

Choosing a Suitable Replacement AC Unit

  1. Consider BTU Rating: The British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating determines the cooling capacity of an AC unit. Calculate the appropriate BTU rating for your RV based on its size and insulation. This information is often available in the RV’s owner’s manual or through online resources.
  2. Measure Compatibility: Ensure the replacement AC unit’s dimensions match the opening left by the old unit. Measure the length, width, and height of the opening and compare them to the specifications provided by the manufacturer.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Look for AC units with an ENERGY STAR® certification. These units are designed to be more energy-efficient, resulting in cost savings over time.

Installing the New RV AC Unit

  1. Prepare the Mounting Area: Thoroughly clean the mounting area on your RV’s roof to remove any debris, old caulk, or adhesive residue. Use a mild cleaner and a soft cloth or brush to avoid damaging the roof.
  2. Apply Butyl Tape: Cut strips of butyl tape and apply them around the perimeter of the opening, ensuring complete coverage. This tape will provide a waterproof seal between the new AC unit and the roof.
  3. Position the New AC Unit: Lift the new AC unit onto the roof and carefully position it over the opening. Ensure it aligns properly with the mounting holes or brackets.
  4. Secure the New Unit: Insert and tighten the mounting bolts or brackets to secure the new AC unit in place. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate torque specifications.
  5. Reconnect Electrical Connections: Connect the electrical wiring to the new AC unit, following the wiring configuration you noted during the removal process.
  6. Seal the Roof: Apply roof sealant around the base of the new AC unit to prevent water leaks. Use a caulking gun for precise application.
  7. Replace the Interior Cover: Place the interior cover back onto the AC unit, securing it with screws or clips.

Testing and Troubleshooting

  1. Restore Power: Turn on the circuit breaker or plug in the RV’s power source to restore power to the AC unit.
  2. Test the Cooling Function: Set the thermostat to a desired temperature and verify that the new AC unit cools the RV effectively.
  3. Check for Proper Airflow: Ensure that air is flowing correctly through the vents and that there are no obstructions.
  4. Troubleshooting: If any issues arise, consult the troubleshooting section of the AC unit’s manual or seek professional assistance.

Maintenance Tips for Your RV AC Unit

To prolong the lifespan and efficiency of your RV AC unit, consider the following maintenance tips:

  • Clean or replace air filters regularly.
  • Inspect and clean the AC unit’s condenser coils.
  • Check and tighten electrical connections periodically.
  • Remove debris and obstructions from the AC unit’s exterior.
  • Have your AC unit professionally serviced at least once a year.


Can I replace my RV AC unit myself?

Yes, you can replace your RV AC unit yourself by following the proper steps and safety precautions outlined in this guide. However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s always best to seek professional assistance.

How long does it take to replace an RV AC unit?

The duration of the replacement process can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the installation and your familiarity with the task. On average, it may take a few hours to complete the replacement.

Do I need any specialized knowledge or skills?

While replacing an RV AC unit doesn’t require specialized knowledge, it does require basic electrical and mechanical skills. It’s important to follow instructions carefully and take necessary safety precautions.

Where can I purchase a replacement RV AC unit?

You can purchase replacement RV AC units from various sources, including RV dealerships, specialized RV parts stores, and online retailers. Ensure you choose a reputable supplier that offers quality products.

Are there any safety precautions I should take?

Absolutely. Before working on your RV’s AC unit, always disconnect the power supply to avoid electrical shocks. Additionally, use proper lifting techniques when handling heavy objects, and consider wearing protective gloves and eyewear.

What are the common mistakes to avoid during the replacement process?

Some common mistakes to avoid include improper wiring connections, insufficient sealing, and mismatched dimensions. Always double-check your work and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent these errors.


A well-functioning RV AC unit is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable RVing experience.

By following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide, you can confidently replace your RV AC unit and ensure a cool and refreshing environment wherever your adventures take you.

Remember to prioritize safety, consult manufacturer instructions, and seek professional help if needed.