How to insulate a tent for AC: 3 ways to efficiently air condition your tent while camping
Everything you need to know to insulate your tent for air conditioning
Insulating your tent for your AC unit should be one of the first things you do. Air conditioning an uninsulated tent creates two problems. Firstly, it will cost you more money as the unit is continuously trying to condition air that is leaking in, while conditioned air leaks out. Secondly, this continuous air movement means that your conditioned air is going to waste. When you have leaks in your tent, the conditioned air will be pushed out while new, unconditioned air leaks in.
Insulating your tent for AC is a reasonably cheap and easy task. You’ll only need a few things, some of which you likely already have around your home.
So let’s get into how to insulate a tent for AC…
How to insulate a tent for AC
Why insulate your tent for AC?
Most tents have virtually no insulative elements against heat and humidity. In summer months, the sun beating down on your tent will heat it up extremely quickly. On top of this, many summer tents include a mesh roof, which will make your AC have to work harder and produce less effective results as it tries to condition air that is continuously escaping and being replaced.
When your tent is insulated properly, your AC can work properly, allowing you to chill out and sleep comfortably in even the hottest temperatures.
Different ways to insulate your tent for AC
1. Reflective tarps
The first port of call when insulating your tent for AC should be covering your tent (and rainfly) with a reflective tarp. Insulation is especially important if your tent features a mesh ceiling.
Reflective tarps help to reflect the sun’s UV rays away from your tent, keeping your tent colder and darker.
Besides its heat repelling capabilities, a reflective tarp is also waterproof and windproof, further protecting you and your tent from the elements.
Depending upon how often you plan to go camping in the summer, there are varying options price-wise (though none are costly).
If you want something long-lasting and easy to attach to your tent, then a heavy-duty reflective tarp will be your best bet. Heavy-duty reflective tarps usually come with metal grommets to allow you to secure the tarp down.
To install a reflective tarp on your tent, you need to place it over the top of your tent or rainfly with the reflective surface facing upwards.
Some good tarp options are:
The Bearhard reflective tarp is an easy, ready to go option. It comes with metal grommets and stakes to secure the tarp down, so you don’t need to worry about buying anything extra to make this tarp work for you.
It measures 83” x 59” (approx 5×7 foot) and weighs 22oz, comes with a storage bag, and is made up of a three-ply construction featuring non-woven fabric, polyester mesh, and aluminized mylar.
The Arcturus tarp is another fantastic option and measures roughly the same as the Bearhard at 82” x 60”. It’s lighter than the Bearhard, however, coming in at circa 16oz, so if weight is a factor for you, then this is the perfect option. It also comes with metal grommets and a storage bag but is not supplied with stakes for securing down.
A cheaper but less hardy option is to use basic thermal blankets made for your body. Their reflective capabilities are as good as the heavy-duty tarps but will require you to do some altering. They don’t come with metal grommets nor stakes, so you will need to find a way to attach the blankets down securely.
2. Pool noodles
Pool noodles are a fantastic way to block and insulate any “minor leaks” in your tent. Small openings can severely diminish the effectiveness of your AC unit. Preventing these minor leaks is a cheap and easy way to enhance the impact of your air conditioner quickly.
3. Duct tape
Duct tape is another excellent way to block any leaks in your tent or to hold any insulating materials you have added. You can use the duct tape to tightly seal around the AC port and any other openings that can leak air.
If you implement the ideas listed above, your tent will be much better insulated than if you leave it as is. While no tent can ever be perfectly insulated, these steps will make a noticeable difference in the effectiveness of your AC. Allowing you to sleep cooler and comfier.
Want to use a window AC unit to air condition your tent? Check out our guide on the best tents with an AC port.