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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sooo me and my gf are going be getting a HR 159 WB soon, as our first van. We’re going to be building it out ourselves, and we’re really excited. We have a big Doberman who gets hot super easily. We obviously aren’t going to be leaving her in the van for long periods of time alone, basically as minimal as possible. but we will be living in the van full time for a while at first, and we live in San Diego, CA. We also want to travel in warmer climates elsewhere. So we want to make sure it’s cool enough so that is safe for our dog.

Roof ac’s are okay but they’re not very low key at all, and seem to take a lot of energy. (If anyone has any experience with low energy, low profile roof ac’s please let me know!) Widow ac would work, but I just REALLY don’t like the look of a huge unit hanging out of the van.

Mini splits look really cool, but what I’m wondering if any one has any experience with venting the fan part of a mini split out through a vent on the side of the van? Like placing the fan inside a sealed cabinet then venting that out through the outside through a vent that we’ve added. Not quite sure if this is even possible, but I’ve never seen it, so any input would be greatly appreciated! :) or if anyone has any overall ac recommendations, tips, advice, etc. that would be awesome.

Thanks a bunch! Found this forum a few months back and there’s loads of information that’s super useful. 🙃
 

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Van rear air conditioning is a great path, and really a requirement for that kind of concept and weather.

There are of course various levels of air conditioning around, but for really hot weather, it can take 13 - 15k BTU models to keep up.

The reason is that the "rating" is based on a 90 F exterior temperature, and as the temperatures rise into the 110 - 120 F region, the effective BTU rating falls rather dramatically. Unfortunately, modern, low ozone depleting refrigerants are more susceptible to this problem than the older versions, so it has to be accounted for by increasing the BTU rating.

Plan for the air conditioner to consume roughly 1 kW-hr of battery power for each hour of use. In approximate terms this is equivalent to 1 each, 100 amp-hr LiFe battery capacity for each run time hour. (on average) 4 batteries is a good practical system size, although I am in the middle of an 8 pack system project right now.

If it were me I would look at ways to mount the outside unit on the back door or similar if possible. Usually they have to be lower than the evaporator portion for fluid flow reasons.
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Mini splits are very large, keep that in mind. I used a window unit mounted internally, but there are also DC systems which are basically small mini splits that you can use as well. I think a mini-split is just very large for a van where space matters. I also don't like roof ACs and they were not an option since I wanted to be able to park in the garage at work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mini splits are very large, keep that in mind. I used a window unit mounted internally, but there are also DC systems which are basically small mini splits that you can use as well. I think a mini-split is just very large for a van where space matters. I also don't like roof ACs and they were not an option since I wanted to be able to park in the garage at work.
How exactly did you set it up? Do you have some pictures of your setup so I can get a better idea of how you did yours?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mini splits are very large, keep that in mind. I used a window unit mounted internally, but there are also DC systems which are basically small mini splits that you can use as well. I think a mini-split is just very large for a van where space matters. I also don't like roof ACs and they were not an option since I wanted to be able to park in the garage at work.
Also, can you tell me what model you went with? And about how much energy it uses, how you adequately power it, etc. ? Thanks man!
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Also, can you tell me what model you went with? And about how much energy it uses, how you adequately power it, etc. ? Thanks man!
The setup is that I installed it in an insulated wall about 16 inches in front of the rear doors, I installed a roof vent above it to exhaust the hot air and a window in the door to draw in fresh air.

It is a generic $150 manual control 5000 BTU window unit. fridgidaire, but any model would work.

It draws about 40 amps while running. I have a 600 AH lithium battery pack with a victron 3000VA inverter. I can run it about 14 hours continuous, but don't because there would be no way to recharge the batteries.

It is adequate only because my entire van is insulted to approximately r10 or better. Parked in the sun I can keep it mid 70 when it is 100 out. In the shade I can keep it a little cooler. Normally I only use it for a few hours in the evening.

The problem with running the AC off batteries is not the amount of energy storage, but rather that you have to charge the batteries back up. You can do this by plugging in in about 5 hours at 120 amps, or 8-10 hours of driving at about 60 amps, but solar will not get it done. because I normally only use it a few hours a day I do ok with solar if I drive a little, or just solar for a couple of days before I need to charge.

There are pictures of the set up in my build thread, I have some testing results in other threads as well. I ran a torture test last summer starting with everything at 98 degrees and in the sun. It takes a while to cool it down. But typically I drive some and the dash air cools it down and then I can use the window unit to hold the already cool temp.
 
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