Camper Beast

Houghton AC Install: Be Quiet

The Runaway Roses install a Houghton 13.5K low-profile air conditioner with the hopes of quieting the noise, fitting into their garage, and unloading their camper inside. After quite the ramp-up, the results are in. It’s a squeaker.

Houghton Air Conditioner RV Install And Test With Camper

Air conditioners are a perennial hot topic in the truck camper world. Why? Because they’re big, tall, heavy, expensive, loud, power hogs, and absolutely necessary on a hot summer day. Yes, there are notable exceptions to these air conditioning challenges, but the great majority of AC units installed on truck campers are guilty as charged. Oh, and they raise a rig’s center of gravity, cast shadows on solar panels, and intrude from the ceiling to catch hairdoos from tall and handsome magazine publishers. It happens.

Most of us have campers that are designed for a rooftop air conditioner. Staying within that product category, there’s really nothing you’re going to do to completely solve the problems outlined above.

What you can do is get a rooftop air conditioner that improves on a few of the stated issues. For example, RecPro’s Houghton RP-AC3400 13.5K BTU air conditioner has a low 9-inch exterior height, has a maximum amp draw of 14 amps, with a manufacturer-claimed 56 dB maximum noise level. It’s still big, tall, heavy, expensive, and a power hog, but it’s better on most counts compared to the majority of air conditioner units out there. We’ve also heard positive reports from camper manufacturers installing Houghton air conditioners, and consumers who have them installed.

Air Conditioner Going In

Speaking of which, the Runaway Roses produced a video showcasing their installation of a RecPro Houghton air conditioner on a Northern Lite truck camper. From experience, installing an air conditioner is both straightforward and quite challenging. From an on-paper point of view, it’s a simple swap-out; remove the old air conditioner and put the new one in its place. In practice, getting the old air conditioner off the roof and lowering it onto the ground is a feat. Then lifting the new air conditioner onto the roof might give you visions of the Egyptians building the pyramids. These units are big, heavy, and awkward. Make a plan.

Ironically, the Runaway Roses researched the process and found a YouTube video detailing the installation. Now we’re watching their video about what they saw on another video. Evidently, this is the moment we live in. If it didn’t happen on YouTube, did it really happen? I bet there’s a video about that.

Sound Check 1 and 2

When the Runaway Roses used their phone to measure the sound level of their factory-installed air conditioner, the unit was 76dB on low and 80dB on high.

Dometic Air Conditioner Decibels

To put these numbers in perspective, a washing machine or dishwasher is around 70dB, and a vacuum cleaner or garbage disposal is around 80dB. That’s why so many of us hate running air conditioners in our campers. We might as well stick a vacuum cleaner on the ceiling for the sheer volume of noise they create. In mid-2020, Angela and I spent a month stuck in Florida in our camper running our air conditioner and nearly went out of our minds. Maybe we did.

Decibels Houghton

After installing the Houghton air conditioner, the Runaway Roses repeated their measurements. The Houghton air conditioner was 57dB on low and 69dB on high. A normal conversation is around 60dB and, again, a washing machine or dishwasher is around 70dB. In the video, it’s clear that the Houghton is significantly quieter than their old air conditioner, and they are thrilled at the difference. Yes, you can still hear the unit running, but the Runaway Roses can comfortably talk over it.

Three-Eighths Success

Houghton Air Conditioner Height

The end of the video reveals another important benefit of the new Houghton air conditioner for the Runaway Roses; they can now drive the truck and camper into their garage, and unload the camper. It’s a squeaker on both the ceiling clearance and clenched butt cheek fronts, but it works. Just don’t sneeze, read a text, or scratch your nose during this process. It’s that close. I had visions of the trash compactor scene from Star Wars watching their unloading unfold.

Northern Lite Backing Into Garage New Air Conditioner

I want to thank the Runaway Roses for making an awesome video with multiple Camper Beast worthy points. After a ten year run, our Coleman Mach days may be coming to an end. Of course, now I’m looking at the new 48-volt version of the RecPro Houghton unit wondering if that would give us the same advantages with less power draw. It’s great to see progress happening on the rooftop air conditioner front. The time of ceiling mounting vacuum cleaners is finally coming to an end.

Follow the Runaway Roses on YouTube and Facebook.


Truck Camper Chooser
To Top