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Discussion Starter #1
Hello forum,
I'm thinking of buying a ProMaster over the Sprinter for transporting wine for my family business.

Does anybody know who does "reefer" conversions here in the states? (California) I have not had much luck finding them as easily as the sprinter or even the Nissan NV.

I don't need it to be that cold, so I might even be able to get away with installing an RV ac unit. Has anybody done that yet?

Thanks for any info!
This seems like a great van package
 

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I don't need it to be that cold, so I might even be able to get away with installing an RV ac unit. Has anybody done that yet?

Thanks for any info!
This seems like a great van package
Welcome.

Regarding using a standard roof-mounted RV AC, it shouldn't be a problem as it has already been done on Pro-Master and Ducato vans. However, when you say not needing it to be that cold, what temperature range are you thinking about? Common RV AC are 13,500 and 15,000 BTU/hour, but that's based on a standard rating. As the inside temperature is lowered, the capacity will reduce from the standard rating. On the other hand I'd expect a well-insulated van without any windows (I'm assuming that) should require little cooling capacity provided you don't leave doors open a lot or place warm product (wine bottles) inside. I have experience with large cold rooms and freezers and know that product load and open doors can easily exceed closed room loads.

By the way, I'd ask the Sprinter "reefer" suppliers if they have equipment for the ProMaster. Some of the larger reefer equipment I've noticed on trucks and vans appear generic for the most part. Much will depend on whether unit has to be powered from van's engine, generator, or self contained.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Temperature consistency is even more important than getting really cold for wine. If I can keep the van and cargo at 65 that would be fine.

It appears that there are no "pre-fab" fiberglass insulation kits here for the ProMaster yet, and those run about 7k. The same engine driven reefer unit that the Sprinter builds use can also be installed for about $7500. Carrier 30s I believe.

I'm thinking an RV style 13,000 BTU 115v AC unit and a 3,000 watt inverter would do the trick. Some home depot foam insulation and plywood panels could keep the total build under 3k I think.

anybody do anything like this? Or see potential pitfalls?
 

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anybody do anything like this? Or see potential pitfalls?
Haven't done anything that small or on a mobile platform, but I'm confident that with proper engineering it can be made to work.

Possible pitfalls to avoid from my perspective:

Having enough insulation to allow 13500 BTU/hour AC to keep up.

Selecting an AC with as low starting current as possible.

Selecting an inverter with high instantaneous current capacity.

Installing a large house battery to smooth demand on alternator.

Installing an isolator system for the second house battery.


I would try to use enough insulation to reduce "average" cooling load, and would then look for small roof-mounted AC provided it lowers compressor lock-rotor amps. Over sizing the AC will make it cycle more often and will pull more start-up current. I've seen RV air conditioners that draw up to 80 AMPS or higher during start-up. And that's hard to start with an inverter unless very high capacity.
 

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There are also smaller roof-mounted ACs like the Coleman Mach 8 Cub that is rated at 9200 BTU/hour nominal that should be less expensive than a direct current AC. It's rated current is just under 12 AMPS at 115 Volts, which would mean pulling about 130 AMPS or higher from the house 12 Volt battery to feed an inverter. If the AC ran all the time it would likely make it hard for the vehicle's alternator to keep up. And to my previous concern, I found specs that even this smaller AC draws 58.4 AMPS during start-up. It's momentary but the inverter must be able to handle the surge.

A small generator like an Onan 2800 could run an air conditioner, but may use more gas in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great info guys, thanks!

Yeah, I thought about going the generator route as well. A bit more research to do....
 
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