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The Best Cooling Options for Custom Camper Vans

Embarking on a journey in your custom camper van through the stunning landscapes of Arizona is an adventure like no other. With the desert sun beating down, ensuring your comfort on the road becomes paramount.

As Arizona’s fastest-growing custom camper van builder, Papago Vans is dedicated to providing you with the perfect cooling solution tailored to your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of camper van cooling options, exploring the benefits and considerations of each unit – the Dometic RTX2000 AC unit, the Maxx Air Fan, and the Fresair S8 swamp cooler – to help you make an informed decision for your van life adventures.

Understanding How Each Cooling Unit Works

Dometic RTX2000 camper van air conditioning unit
The best cooling unit for a custom campervan

Dometic RTX2000 AC Unit

The Dometic RTX2000 AC unit is the gold standard in camper van air conditioning, offering powerful cooling capabilities even in the sweltering Arizona heat. Operating on the principles of refrigeration, this unit circulates refrigerant through a compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator coils to remove heat from the air inside the van.

Pros: The Dometic RTX2000 provides rapid and efficient cooling, ensuring your comfort in the most extreme temperatures. Its precise temperature control and quiet operation make it a favorite among luxury camper van enthusiasts.

Cons: While highly effective, the Dometic RTX2000 requires a reliable power source, which means you will need one of our larger Lithium Battery Packages to stay off-grid for days at a time. Additionally, installation can be complex and may add weight to your camper van.

Maxx Air Fan camper van air conditioning unit
The most energy-efficient cooling unit for a custom campervan

Maxx Air Fan

The Maxx Air Fan takes a different approach to cooling, focusing on ventilation and airflow rather than traditional air conditioning. This roof-mounted fan draws in fresh air while expelling stale air from the van, creating a continuous flow of air through the vehicle.

Pros: With its low power consumption, the Maxx Air Fan is perfect for off-grid adventures in Arizona’s remote landscapes. It helps improve indoor air quality by continuously circulating fresh air and can be operated manually or with a remote control.

Cons: While effective at providing airflow and ventilation, the Maxx Air Fan does not offer traditional cooling and will be ineffective during Arizona’s summers, so plan to travel out of state during the hotter months!

Fresair S8 Swamp Cooler

camper van air interior with conditioning unit

The Fresair S8 swamp cooler offers a unique cooling solution for camper vans, harnessing the power of evaporative cooling to combat desert heat. This system draws warm air through water-saturated pads, cooling it through evaporation before circulating it into the van.

Pros: Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, the Fresair S8 is ideal for eco-conscious travelers exploring Arizona’s natural wonders. Its effectiveness is enhanced in dry climates, making it a popular choice for desert adventures.

Cons: While efficient in dry climates, the effectiveness of the Fresair S8 may be limited in humid environments which will be a problem if you plan to travel the country and find yourself in humid locations. It also requires a constant water supply, which may pose challenges during extended journeys.

Choosing the Right Cooling Unit for Your Arizona Conversion Van

El Capitan Build Tier

Luxury Comfort with the Dometic RTX2000 AC Unit

If luxury comfort is your priority and you crave rapid cooling even in the desert heat, the Dometic RTX2000 AC unit is the perfect choice for your Arizona conversion van. Its powerful cooling capabilities and precise temperature control ensure you stay comfortable on the road.

Off-Grid Adventures with the Maxx Air Fan

For off-grid adventures and sustainability-minded travelers, the Maxx Air Fan offers the perfect solution. With its low power consumption and continuous ventilation, it’s ideal for exploring Arizona’s remote landscapes while minimizing your environmental impact.

Efficient Cooling with the Fresair S8 Swamp Cooler

If you plan to traverse the arid deserts of Arizona, the Fresair S8 swamp cooler provides efficient cooling while conserving energy. Its evaporative cooling technology is most effective in dry climates, making it a popular choice for desert dwellers seeking eco-friendly solutions.

Papago Vans Builder Tip

For camper van owners seeking enhanced ventilation and cooling performance, combining any of these options with a Maxxair Fan can provide optimal comfort and versatility. This feature is available in our higher build tiers (Olympus and El Capitan). If you choose only the MaxxAir Fan, then we suggest installing two fans together to further enhance airflow and ventilation inside the camper van, providing even distribution of fresh outdoor air and exhaust of stale indoor air. This feature is available in our lower build tiers (Rainier and Zion).


When it comes to cooling solutions for custom camper van builds, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each option has its pros and cons, and the choice depends on factors such as climate, power source, installation preferences, and desired comfort levels. Whether you prioritize powerful cooling performance, lesser battery consumption,  or efficient ventilation, there’s a cooling solution to suit your custom camper van build. Once you have your cooling unit decided, let us move on to the next step and figure out what insulation to use in your van.

Ultimately, if you are looking for the most comfortable and efficient cooling option without worrying about when and where your cooling unit will work properly for you, the Dometic RTX 2000 paired with a MaxxAir Fan to vent out the hot air is the best option to go with in your custom Papago Van. 

Ready to make your campervan dreams a reality? Contact Papago Vans today and let us be your custom van builder!