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Discussion Starter #1
We currently have no AC in our van for when we are camping. So far it has not been an issue. But we started talking about what ifs and how we could shoehorn a window or portable AC into our van for use when we have shore power. Our search turned up some small portable units that might work.

Haier
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We did stumble across interesting option - an Indel B SW Cube. It is available in 12v if you wanted to try and run it from battery. I could not find a dealer here in the US for it.
 

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I bought one of those portable AC units to use in a small cabin. It was too loud to sleep with it in the same room. I shudder to think what it would be like in the back of a PM.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone could design a ductless mini-split with the compressor outside? That is what I now use in my cabin and it uses very little electricity and is, more importantly, quiet enough for sleeping.

I am curious why you would not consider the old tried and true RV air conditioner that is mounted on the roof? With shore power, that is doable.
https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-B59516-XX1C0-Brisk-Polar-Conditioner/dp/B00VZ547WG/ref=zg_bs_3147787011_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5SRSDTY3A7RX5BKWCWE1
 

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I bought one of those portable AC units to use in a small cabin. It was too loud to sleep with it in the same room. I shudder to think what it would be like in the back of a PM.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone could design a ductless mini-split with the compressor outside? That is what I now use in my cabin and it uses very little electricity and is, more importantly, quiet enough for sleeping.

I am curious why you would not consider the old tried and true RV air conditioner that is mounted on the roof? With shore power, that is doable.
https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-B59516-XX1C0-Brisk-Polar-Conditioner/dp/B00VZ547WG/ref=zg_bs_3147787011_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5SRSDTY3A7RX5BKWCWE1
Hi,
Small outside AC units:


http://www.buildagreenrv.com/35-mile-per-gallon-tear-drop-trailer-rig/

https://climateright.com/air-conditioning-heating-1/heating-cooling-products.html

I was trying to find a small AC for the PM that could run a while on battery a while back and noted the above links.
One thing I noticed about some of them is that there SEER ratings were not very good - not very efficient.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I bought one of those portable AC units to use in a small cabin. It was too loud to sleep with it in the same room. I shudder to think what it would be like in the back of a PM.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone could design a ductless mini-split with the compressor outside? That is what I now use in my cabin and it uses very little electricity and is, more importantly, quiet enough for sleeping.

I am curious why you would not consider the old tried and true RV air conditioner that is mounted on the roof? With shore power, that is doable.
https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-B595...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5SRSDTY3A7RX5BKWCWE1
I was wondering how noisy those portables would be. Are they worse than a regular room ac?

As for the traditional unit, I don't want to put anymore holes in my roof and do not want to increase my van height any more. I also try to avoid any significant weight higher in the van. And 15000 btu/hr is the amount I used to cool my house. 3000 to 5000 should be enough to cool the van at night.
 

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I tried a single hose 8000btu portable AC in my insulated 159wb. They simply don't work. Exhaust hose radiates HOT. Air is constantly replaced and cold air is only directly in front of vent. 90F and high humidity in Madison WI last summer could not reduce inside below 82F.

AC from batteries is currently a nice idea with a ways to go. Getting an occasional night's sleep with an idling gasser is not problematic. About 1/2 gallon/hour.
Mini splits look promising. Look forward to some PM installs. HD has 9K btu unit for $750.
 

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To answer an earlier question: Yes, the portable AC is louder than a window unit. Too loud for sleeping, though I did have one inside while I was working on the insulation in the hot summer. Those plastic tubes for air handling are a pain. I gave the **** thing away.


Oddly, though everyone raves about the Fantastic Fan, I rarely use mine and am considering repurposing the hole with a low profile AC since I do have shore power at my place in Florida.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
AC from batteries is currently a nice idea with a ways to go. Getting an occasional night's sleep with an idling gasser is not problematic. About 1/2 gallon/hour. .
This does not seem like an unreasonable option as long as its only a once in a while thing.
 

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I have looked at and talked to many this last year while camping, about roof top AC and it seems to be the way to go to me. It is mostly outside, which is good, tit has a long development history, is not super pricy ($700), is easy to install in a normal vent opening, and those who have it find it is effective. If I lived in the south or planned a long trip there during the warmer months I’d do it. Every campground (State, county, private, and national) there seems to have AC and I found you pay for it even if you don’t plan to plug in. I am on the fence as we tend to boon dock in the West and move to enjoy the best climate summer and winter. I have needed it about 5 nights along the Gulf coast. My Espar diesel heater however has been used 25 or 30 evenings and mornings (no overnight yet) so the $900 for that will eventually pay off.
 
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CT state campgrounds don't have AC (electricity, not air conditioning) except for one or two handicapped spots. In our travels, so far we have not missed AC (air conditioning). I could see how it would be desirable in many locations, tho.

I was hoping Phranc would jump in. He started with a house AC mounted in the bed/couch. Didn't work well. He upgraded to a 14,000BTU portable unit that he seems satisfied with.

Calling all Phrancs... calling all Phrancs...
 

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That climate right one looks interesting.

If Indel does end up selling the SW Cube in the US maybe it will work with your battery?
Hi,
I guess the Indel would be a candidate.

Indel says it provides 950watts (3250 BTU/hr) cooling while drawing 35 amps in the 12 volt version, or about (12.5 volts*35 amps) = 438 watts.

This implies a COP (basically efficiency) of 950 watts/438 watts = 2.17, or an EER of 7.4 -- not to great given that the best EERs these days are up around 20.
Nice that it works right off 12 volts, and does not require any van modifications.


Some people have used this Frigidare http://www.frigidaire.com/Home-Comfort/Air-Conditioning/Window-Mounted-AC/FFRA0511R1/

Its a 5000 BTU/hr window AC that is pretty quiet, compact, and dirt cheap.

I pulls 4 amps and 115 VAC for 460 watts, so it produces (5000/3250) = 1.53 times as much cooling as the Indel Cube on about the same power input.
It has an EER of 11.1.

So, while its not super efficient, its pretty good, and appears to be quite a bit more efficient than the Indel unit. The challenge is getting it adapted to the van. There are some YouTube videos on how people have managed to do this -- some are not so bad.
One bad thing is that it has to run off the inverter, and if the inverter efficiency is 90%, than that would drop the effective EER by about 10%.

I do think that for a well insulated van with reflective treatments on the windows, that 5000 BTU/hr would do the job in a lot of conditions, and that it might only run a fraction of the time under moderately hot conditions.

If I allow my 220 AH batteries to drain down to a 20% SOC, I get 176 AH or (176 AH)(12.5 volts) = 2200 Watt-hrs available. That would run the Fridgeadaire 50% of the time for (2200 Watt-hrs)/(460/2) = 9.5 hours (assuming I don't use any electricity for anything else :)
I guess that's enough to be useful, but not great.

If we could find a small AC with an EER of 20, it would make the whole thing work for a battery powered AC.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Lots of great info Gary. Thanks.

For this summer our plan is to head west, use our fan and windows and if necessary open the back doors with a large screen if it gets that hot. Have the option of just running the van AC.

If it gets unbearable I will come back to this thread and get some AC.
 

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CT state campgrounds don't have AC (electricity, not air conditioning) except for one or two handicapped spots. In our travels, so far we have not missed AC (air conditioning). I could see how it would be desirable in many locations, tho.

I was hoping Phranc would jump in. He started with a house AC mounted in the bed/couch. Didn't work well. He upgraded to a 14,000BTU portable unit that he seems satisfied with.

Calling all Phrancs... calling all Phrancs...
As a tent camper most places I stayed had no AC electrical power hook up. I have been surprised at how many places we have stayed with the van have had power at every site.

14,000 seems like overkill for this tiny box - unless he is trying to cool it during the day in full sun.
 

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I've looked into split systems a few times - the link above is 220VAC only, there are nearly as efficient systems in 120VAC available but the newest technology ones are all 220VAC still.

I've not found any that miniaturize the outdoor unit as it's one-size-fit-all whether its 7500 or 18000 Btus. The linked compressor unit is 31.5" wide and 13.675" deep, requires 4 inch airspace behind it so 17.5"~ extension from door panel. I'd sure envision a reinforced bumper mount and permanently closing the drivers side door to handle it's size and 82 pounds weight, a plus to that is not having to have flexible freon lines fabricated to handle the few times the door would be opened/closed as the soft copper lines would work harden and kink/tear easily. Oh, then there is the pesky vehicle license plate that needs to be moved somewhere appropriate.

If we could find who makes a down-sized outdoor compressor unit that has a 1-meter flex line set to get into the vehicle... I'll admit I nabbed a 220V inverter cheap off eBay just for a situation like this for my Airstream trailer but the above AND 120V for the Promaster it'd be an easy purchase!
 

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This https://www.ecomfort.com/Mitsubishi-MZ-FH09NA/p56553.html mini split has a SEER rating of 30.5 (couldn't find an EER rating). This is the most efficient AC I have found, though a cradle attached to one of the rear doors would have to be fabricated for our application.

It heats, too.
Specs show Energy Efficiency Ratio is 16.1 for the 9,000 BTU/hr model. The standard power requirement is 560 watts.

Because the unit has a built-in inverter to vary the compressor speed, and hence its capacity, the SEER is much higher by comparison to standard air conditioners.

I've been using a 5,000 BTU/hr A/C in my van for over 10 years and at night it cycles on and off quite a bit -- meaning my cooling requirements are much lower than 5,000. And that's for an uninsulated window van -- it doesn't take much cooling at night. If my A/C could slow down and run at reduce capacity, then running off batteries (was my original long-term goal) would have been more practical.


For what it's worth, at Tampa RV Supershow we saw a Roadtrek/Hymer ProMaster Class B van that used an 11,000 BTU/hr Energy Efficient roof-mounted A/C. That particular van had 2 Lithium 200-Amp-hour batteries that could run the A/C for about 3-1/2 hours. If that A/C could be reduced in capacity to about 3,000 BTU/hr (either in size and or by slowing down) I'd expect it to run all night on the available 400-Ah lithium battery bank.

I personally like small window units because of their compact size, low weight, and really low cost. Some of the new 5,000 BTU/hr are up to 12 EER requiring about 420 Watts of power -- which should be even less at night. If I wasn't looking to upgrade my van soon, I'd upgrade A/C to newer model and add at least 6,000 Watt-hours of AGM batteries.
 

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Chance - can you share your window A/C set up? where/how do you have your unit installed? How do you ensure air is best circulated? I am definitely leaning towards the window A/C. For cost and I don't have roof space for a "real" A/C. I am also considering a portable unit as I only need to bring the temps down to ~75-80 degrees to keep my dog cool at the floor level.

I have a roof vent/fan in the back to suck out the warmest air, and the A/C will be near the front, behind the drivers side. I'll have a well insulated van with windows with reflective material. The front windows (in the cab) will also have reflective material and I'll have a barrier consisting of black out curtains with a few layers of insul-bright sewn in the curtains.
 

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We did stumble across interesting option - an Indel B SW Cube. It is available in 12v if you wanted to try and run it from battery. I could not find a dealer here in the US for it.
I have that one, picked it up from here: https://www.btrac.com/ Fine folks to work with.

It works, but as mentioned above, it doesn't have the most powerful cooling levels at ~3500btu. So it works, but... sorta.

I did give it a real stress test when I drove through the SW desert in late June last year. It doesn't do so well when its over 100F all day and no shade. I was parked in SE Utah for 4 hours in the afternoon, 105F ambient temp with no breeze, had the van idling with the cab AC on max, and the Cube AC on max (and with 640w of solar it was just barely drawing down the batteries). It still got up to 95F inside. Sit inside awhile, it felt hot, but coming in from outside it did feel good.

Our primary purpose for the Cube AC will be (and has been) to keep our dogs cool when crated in the back of the van. Partly to assist while driving, but mostly while parked at agility events. Partition off the back half of the van, and let the Cube AC run, powered mostly by the solar. My house electrical is fully powered from the solar, no charging from the engine, and it was basically built around the idea of using this 12v AC unit.

It is also rather slick that it is portable. Last fall I disconnected the air exchange hoses (and capped them) and then pulled the Cube AC from the van. Presto, more storage room. In another couple months I'll put it back in.
 

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Yet another split system .... cheaper at $900, SACHS 15 SEER 4000-12000 inverter Btu, 120VAC.... 32" wide outdoor box and metal freon lines that they claim are detachable to 'move' unit. I'd label that as a impulse buy, if it's $900 and free shipping it's likely pretty, umnn... well not high quality.

https://climateright.com/mini-split...ater.html#product_tabs_product-specifications.

Those folks have cheaper outdoor units where they duct indoors cold & return air hoses outside to the noisemaker unit... 2500 & 5000Btu 19" x 15" x 15".. 2500 is 4.3A cool, 900W heat at 7.8A draw .. 5000 is 6.2A cool, 1300W heat at 11.3A draw... at fifteen inches that might be modifiable enough to hang under the cargo floor but it's still not transportation industry tough.

Their website conveniently glosses over lots of things and there were some pretty bad reviews - they are not industrial designs and several years back they had warnings about voiding warranties if operated in a moving vehicle, if interested check all the details...

I'm still looking.
 
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