Choosing the Right Tiny House Air Conditioner

When it comes to living in a tiny home, there’s a lot to take into consideration. It’s not always easy to create a comfortable environment when you have such a limited amount of space to work with. One important factor when it comes to your comfort is the temperature. As we summer quickly approaches we are wondering, “what are our cooling options?” Here are some examples of systems to consider for your next tiny house air conditioner.

Ceiling, Window, Floor and Desk Fans

tiny house air conditioner - fanAs the budget-friendly tiny house air conditioner option, fans have proven their worth for decades when it comes to cooling off an environment. They can do the same for your tiny home. For ceiling fans, don’t forget to set the direction your fan blades to rotate counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. The fans location can also make a huge difference in how effective it is.

Whether you’re looking to install a ceiling fan inside your tiny house, place a box fan in the window, or simply get a desktop fan to put on the counter, the cool breeze will help to cool your tiny home off by a few degrees.

Roof Vent Fans

If you vent your house properly, you can sometimes get away with not even needing a tiny house air conditioner. Since heat naturally rises, an RV style roof vent can help to keep your tiny home cool. The question is, how many should you install?

If you’ve made a mistake while building your tiny house, RV vent fans can easily be installed via a tiny hole you cut in the roof. Just be careful during the installation process because if it’s not sealed properly, you’ll cause leaks in your tiny home. Another thing to take into consideration is running electricity to power your RV vent fan.

Another great thing about roof vent fans is that they use minimal power when operated at night. Simply open up a few windows, turn on the fan, and the cold night air will get pulled into your tiny house as the hot air gets pushed out through the roof.

You don’t see these fans as often in tiny houses, but you would be hard pressed to find an RV without one, and for good reason.

Window AC Units

tiny house air conditioner - windowWhen it comes to installing an AC unit in your small home, the most affordable option of cooling would be to install a window unit. Not surprisingly, it seems to be the most popular as well. It’s easy to retrofit a tiny home with a window unit, and you can pick one up for as little as a few hundred bucks.

When you’re going to pick one up, I highly suggest choosing to purchase a window unit that is Energy Star Qualified.

Roof Mounted AC Units

If your tiny home happens to live on wheels, you may want to consider installing an RV-style or roof mounted unit. The benefit to this style is that, unlike other traditional units, complete roof mounted systems can be used for both air conditioning as well as heating.

They provide a perfect “out of sight, out of mind” setup and can even be used with a small ductwork system….within reason of course. Although one of the downsides of roof mounted AC units is that they need to be installed on a flat surface. So this would only work for specific tiny houses.


Mini-splitstiny house air conditioner - mini-split are the most aesthetically pleasing and most common units available.  They operate just like your unit at home where the condenser is located outside and the fan on the inside which lends to extremely quiet running. The other beautiful thing is that they can be mounted anywhere, and the pipes can be run through the wall. These units have a premium feel to them when comparing them to a more traditional window unit.

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners

If you ever been to a hotel where the AC unit sat on the floor just below the bedroom window then you have seen a packaged terminal air conditioner. These self-contained units provide both air conditioning and heating but at a major cost. Not only do they use more energy than the cooling systems mentioned above and also require a four foot hole to be framed out around to have them properly installed. These are probably less than ideal with the amount of space that you will lose.

When it comes to finding a tiny home cooling system, there are a lot of options on the market to choose from. Remember to do your due diligence and research. Afterward, I’m sure you will undoubtedly find the setup that’s perfect for not only your budget but your tiny home too.

What kind of cooling system do you use in your tiny home? Let us know in the comments below.

Special thanks to our friends at Supreme Air LLC in Baltimore for consulting on this article.

7 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Tiny House Air Conditioner

  1. Karen said:

    My son is an HVAC professional so I had free first hand information on deciding upon the cooling and heating needs for my tiny house.
    I researched various models for output, efficiency, design, price and warranty and ended up going with the 15k btu Pioneer Mini Split. I ordered it from and was very pleased with the entire process. We installed it yesterday! My tiny house is just under 400sq ft.
    Most sites will give a size chart to determine the BTUs needed to properly heat and cool your tiny house.
    The mini splits are much more aesthetically pleasing and quiet in my opinion and range in price from $695 on up.

    • Eric said:

      Helpful reply Karen. Hope your A/C serves you well this summer.

  2. Dave said:

    I installed a Pioneer 9000 btu mini split system in our new tiny house. It’s quiet with remote easy to install. As it comes precharged with Freon. My a/c tech had it running in 30 minutes. Unit cost $750 tech $100. Good deal. Need a good unit for South Florida summers.

  3. Liz said:

    I hate the thought of cutting a hole in the side of my house for an AC unit for fear of leaks. I’m thinking of getting one of the indoor units that plug in and you can roll them from room to room if you need to. They seem to be about equivalent to window units without the ugliness (sorry but I’ve never liked them even when I had one). With having wheels they are also easier to move for a small single person like myself. Has anyone used these in their tiny house? What was your experience like?

  4. Oley George said:

    One thing to think about is efficiency. I read an article Year’s ago about fans. That I assume are still true. Ceiling fans are far more efficient to run than box or window fans. They are quieter And last longer. I disagree with the reverse mode. I have never found it to work. Only in theory. Moving air will feel cooler

  5. Cynthia said:

    Many of the window units also have the option for switching the unit to provide heat. I do not currently have a tiny house but I do have a big “window” a/c that cools my main living space. The unit provides both heat and a/c quite effectively. It was purchased about 7 years ago, so I’m certain there are more efficient models available and, of course. There are similar smaller units on the market and readily available.

  6. Pat Gingrich said:

    Should the compressor/outdoor unit of a minisplit be installed on the loft side (tongue side, the “back” of the THOW), or is that too noisy in the sleeping area? Is it a mistake to install it under the front window, at the other end of the house from the loft? Thanks

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