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man with cooling fan

Mark My Words: Setting thermostat trip point

Editor’s note: This information is provided by the Escapees Club.

Q. I have a 2009 32-foot travel trailer I enjoy about 10 times a year in South Carolina and Georgia. In the summer months, the air conditioner cools it well, but the inside temperature gets too hot before the AC kicks on again. It’s more noticeable at night when I am trying to sleep. Is there a method to maintain a more even temperature by adjusting the existing thermostat, or is there an aftermarket product for this application?   — R. Woodcock

A. Much depends on whether you have a wall-mounted thermostat or if you are using a temperature-control knob on the air conditioner.

If you have a wall-mounted thermostat, the physical location is critical. It must be in the path of return air or general air circulation in order to work properly. All too often, RV thermostats are mounted in poor locations.

Make sure that the thermostat is unobstructed and that ambient air can easily circulate around it. One simple fix is to point a small fan to move air past the thermostat. In most cases, this will help it properly sense the rising temperature and turn the air conditioner back on before a large temperature swing occurs.

It’s also possible to replace the thermostat with a better-quality solid-state unit, but it can be difficult to find thermostats that are compatible with the RV’s systems. Most stock RV thermostats are pretty simple and do not have any adjustable features.

For the simple air conditioning unit with a temperature-control knob, remove the shroud or filter holder on the return air duct, and look for the thermostat sensing bulb. It will look like a thick piece of silver or copper wire.

The end of this sensing bulb needs to be directly in the return air path to operate the thermostat properly. It can easily be bent and moved until it is in a place where the air flows directly over it. This should help the air conditioner cycle properly.

About Mark Nemeth

In 1997, Mark quit his aerospace engineering job and became a full-time RVer. For almost five years he traveled the country while maintaining his website, Mark’s Fulltime RV Adventure ( posting monthly travel logs. Mark now travels part-time and works as the RV Safety Education Director for Escapees RV Club providing technical training at Escapees Boot Camp seminars, as well as assisting in many other areas of the club. He is also technical advisor for Escapees magazine. Learn more about Escapees RV Club at

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