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Topic: Portable Air Conditioners

Posted By: jetrier on 02/29/08 10:04am

Does anyone use a Portable Air Conditioner in their van? What is your experience with them? Would you recommend them?

I'm not talking about a permanently mounted roof or window unit, but a portable one that usually vents out with a hose. I like the idea of occasionally bringing one along for those really hot trips. Most of the time I don't want to bring it and appreciate the portability of some of these models.

One unit that seems interesting is the Amcor APC2000E because it says it doesn't need to be vented at all. If anyone uses one, I'd like to know how well it works. I can't imagine many BTUs are needed to cool a B, but not venting the hot air makes me wonder how well it would work.


2006 Chevy Express with a Sportsmobile Poptop, DIY inside and DIY gear trailer



Posted By: ARcruiser on 02/29/08 10:36am

I don't see how that could possibly work within the confines of a van... my guess is it's intended use is to cool off a 'spot' in an office environment - and letting the building's primary HVAC system deal with the heat output from this 'personal cooler'.

I am considering a portable a/c for my van. Positive reviews are hard to find, but it looks like dual hose models are 'sposed to perfrom much better than single hose versions.

I'm looking at something like this Royal Sovereign ARP-1200EX at Costco.

.....or a window unit in the back door. [emoticon]


2 Big Cruisers, The Little Man, and Bailey / ARcruiser's Class B's (the first 8)
Rig #8 Under Construction! / Here's the Project Thread - I'm actually working on it again!



Posted By: Hit The Road Jack on 02/29/08 10:59am

The only unit I would even consider is this one

Never skimp on the BTU's for a C[emoticon][emoticon]L van in a H[emoticon]T summer.

Finding a suitable generator to power/start this for dry camping is another issue.


Posted By: ARcruiser on 02/29/08 11:27am

I have no experience first hand, but have spent many an hour 'too-late-at-night' looking at these things.

From what I have read, it looks like single hose models effectively yield about half the stated btu's.... a 14,000 btu single hose portable air conditioner will effectively cool similarly to a 7,000 btu window unit.

Dual hose models supposedly do better.

If I go this route, Costco looks like a good source due to their liberal return policy. I don't like takin' stuff back, and don't do so very often, but will if it doesn't cool as I think it should.

Hopefully, in a few months, I'll be able to give a first hand account.


Posted By: bananadanna on 02/29/08 12:09pm

This topic has been explored several times.

The portable hose models don't seem to be able to dehumidify enough for non-desert areas.
Did the Fergie bus make use of one?

You could mount a fixed house a/c inside the van if you were able to provide the generous and elaborate venting needed. No great reports that I know of.

You could mount a window a/c in a back door, either replacing a window or cutting a panel. Reasonably common for the non-roofers.

If you cut an access door on a sidewall you could slide the a/c out in camp. I considered this; the window a/c would sit on an inside shelf on extension slides. Probably slide it out and slip a foam gasket collar to seal the access door. Could be good to get the cooling into the center of the van. Could substitute a screen for the cooler summer weather.

Finally, really good searching might turn up a real "window mount" unit. My Sprinter has large trapezoidal cab windows. I found a small, squarish casement a/c that just made it. Seemed like a fair amount of trouble to make an open-window support-bracket-and-gasket. The unit was heavy. A clever bracket&gasket would help.

My favorite window a/c was a low-profile LG model. I think this was it:
slim line a/c
The specs showed it low enough to just fit my Peninsula window slider. Looked like an extra inch of access height could be gained if you bothered to take the inside cowling off. (In other words, it's skinnier where a house window sash would close on it. That would make it easier to drop onto a pair of brackets from outside the van. Better than from inside on your knees.)

We live in New England and love the mountains and prefer 50's over 90's for our active biking and hiking. Just don't need to vacation in a summer desert or swamp. Lots of long and short vacations in southern climes---just not while its too hot! I would have definitely installed a/c if I lived in FL.


Dan
02 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 long tall home brew conversion



Posted By: gerrym51 on 02/29/08 12:27pm

i researched this amcor unit last year. it only gives 1000 btu and
has to be pointed at you. it does not need vent hose but does vent out
its backside and will vent hot air.

not practical.

gerry








jetrier wrote:

Does anyone use a Portable Air Conditioner in their van? What is your experience with them? Would you recommend them?

I'm not talking about a permanently mounted roof or window unit, but a portable one that usually vents out with a hose. I like the idea of occasionally bringing one along for those really hot trips. Most of the time I don't want to bring it and appreciate the portability of some of these models.

One unit that seems interesting is the Amcor APC2000E because it says it doesn't need to be vented at all. If anyone uses one, I'd like to know how well it works. I can't imagine many BTUs are needed to cool a B, but not venting the hot air makes me wonder how well it would work.



Posted By: jetrier on 02/29/08 01:41pm

Thanks for all of the replies.

bananadanna: Thanks for the options to ponder. I think I have to abandon hope on the overly simple non-venting solution. (BTW, I love your DIY Sprinter and the pictures and steps you have posted in the past. Inspirational)

gerrym51: "not practical" may sum it up best for the Amcor APC2000E. I was being overly hopeful that a non-venting model would even work.

ARcruiser: Since you have the SMB poptop and are thinking part-time A/C as well, have you ever considered just setting a window unit in the poptop? With the way the windows unzip, it may not be ideal, but I wonder if a small window unit like the one linked in bananadanna's post would work. A shelf could be built to raise it up off the bed level (maybe a foot higher) so that the bottom part of the window could still be half zipped up. The unit's hot air would have to blow out the screen. It could be at the foot of the bed. It would certainly make it easier to cool the upper deck and the cool air could then fall down to the passenger compartment.

I have to think of all of the pros and cons on that one.... screen damage? falling unit? strained back? [emoticon]


Posted By: ARcruiser on 02/29/08 01:49pm

I have to think of all of the pros and cons on that one.... screen damage? falling unit? strained back?

....and intake air. The unit has to get air thru the condenser from somewhere.

That's the downfall of single hose portable units. A large part of the air used across the condenser comes from inside the room (or vehicle) and is exhausted out the single hose. Negative pressure causes the unit to draw hot air into the room from cracks, crevices, etc. (or thru dash vents, etc in a vehicle). So, cooled air that you'd like to keep is used to cool the condenser and is exhausted.

Dual hose models are supposed to draw air in via one hose, cool across the condenser and exhaust the heated air out the other hose.

Clear as mud? [emoticon]


Posted By: ARcruiser on 02/29/08 02:06pm

This Topic, Coach Air Conditioning in Pleasure Way Traverse may also prove to be helpful...

it fully illustrates how much I waffle on this issue. [emoticon]

I can, at this point, say with certainty that I'm either:

1. using a dual hose portable

2. using a window unit in the rear door - where the glass should be (see the picture below of CaptGEB's installation) I do like the idea of using an inexpensive unit AND not having to cut another hole in the van

3. using a window unit in the lower portion of the rear door - cutting a hole in the door (see linked thread for lotsa pics)

....maybe

[image]


Posted By: diyvanner on 02/29/08 02:49pm

I bought a nice little 6000 BTU window air conditioner at a close out price last fall. Only protrudes inside about 3 inches. It's also portable in that I've carried it back and forth to the van looking for a place to put it. [emoticon] Thought about modifiying the dog house but I already put a trash bin there which works pretty good. Wish someone here could get a little creative as it would sure me a lot of time. [emoticon]


diyVanner



Posted By: jetrier on 02/29/08 03:14pm

Wow, you have some real experience on the topic. Nice job on the Traverse A/C Replacement.

I would really prefer not to permanently mount one, but I can see that if you did a lot of camping in hot conditions it would be more convenient.

I think whatever I do I am going to have to be prepared to return it if it does not work out.


Posted By: bananadanna on 02/29/08 03:21pm

OK, half a foot of snow due tonight---good a/c planning weather.

I think I'd only be interested in a seasonal a/c.
Agree with ARcruiser about those extra holes.
Dislike having to struggle with mounting an a/c each time.

Your pix inspired me!

How about mounting a window a/c on some heavy hinges inside the rear door?
Open the passenger side door, swing the a/c "door" into place.
Since most people would not have the entire clearance you'd mount the a/c in a half-door and seal the rest with a lightweight foam/ply panel.


Posted By: newroadtrekowner on 02/29/08 03:28pm

FYI: for a roof hatch/sunroof set up

http://www.cruisair.com/carry.html


Posted By: SooperDaddy on 02/29/08 07:12pm

Only the dual hose systems are efficient, and cool sufficiently to be considered. The single hose systems that I tryed were terrible at cooling! One was rated to cool 700-800 sq ft, in 90 degree weather is cooled the room "down" to 90! The couple of dual systems were much colder and cooled the room sizes as advertised! In one case, the same room listed above was cooled to 76 degrees! Some have terrible warranties, 90 days parts only. Others had one year parts and labor. Home Depot and Lowes had great selections and prices. P.S., ignore the claims of "Library Quiet" and "whisper Quiet"! NOT!


My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data, and are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes, should not be constituted as related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, religious, spiritual, or practical advice. After all it's FREE! Amen. ">



Posted By: My Roadtrek on 02/29/08 07:23pm

One thing to remember is that you are driving a metal box, and that box can really heat up, especially when it's hot out. Just put you hand on one of the wheel wells from the inside after a long drive. It takes a lot longer to cool down a Class B after it has been driven for some distance, than it does for one that has been sitting for a day. Opening the hood (disconnect hood light), and spraying the underside of the chassis, with water, after you stop for the day, will help the cooling process, but don't expect much from any of the AC units in cooling the van down after being driven for hours in 90+ heat.


Posted By: robandjeanne on 03/01/08 12:11am

I have a VW Eurovan Camper EVC (triangle pop top) that has an outside luggage area above the passenger compartment where I plan to sit a 5KBTU window AC. I'll replace the front zippered in window with a canvas cowling that ducts the cool air into the camper. Some other clever people on the Eurovan list have done this, and 5 KBTU works even in Texas. You have to lug it up and down however (which is why it's nice that a small 5 KBTU works).

If I could find a real low profile AC (I think the LG is still over 10 inches tall) I'd probably leave it mounted on the luggage area for the summer season. Since the back door is a hatchback, mounting it there wasn't an option on the EVC, but that or a side slide mount is what I'd do with a big van. I thnink Fergus' stand alone AC only cooled enough when the sun went down.


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/01/08 02:45am

This thread contained pictures of jeffnick's portable ac installation. Here's the pictures:

[image]

[image]

I don't remember where I found this Dodge picture....

[image]

Tent Camping?

[image]

This is txinterpretations installation...
[image]

I like the option that Safari Condo has offered...

[image]

[image]


Posted By: SooperDaddy on 03/01/08 10:03am

American ingenuity at it's very best!


Posted By: jetrier on 03/01/08 04:22pm

ARcruiser: Thanks for all of your help. Let me know if I can answer any more questions on the SMB bed or if you need pics on any of it.

I like jeffnick's installation for flexible cooling. I see he even has portable cots. That's a lot like our van. It's only a part-time camper.

But those permanent installs look really solid and take up no valuable floor space. Really impressive.

robandjeanne: Regarding your idea of I'll replacing the front zippered window with a canvas cowling that ducts the cool air into the camper with the AC on the outside luggage area above the passenger compartment... that's kinda what I was trying to describe in one of my earlier posts... without having to modify my window. I think the higher up you get the AC, the better. That's why those roof AC installs are so good. All of the cold air falls anyway, so if you can cool the poptop, the cabin will eventually get it, too.

robandjeanne, do you have any pics of that VW temporary-AC-cabin-roof solution? Maybe you can use some of the ideas or buy some parts from these AC Boot folks.

OK, so my wife catches me researching these AC ideas and she basically says don't bother. I was really surprised. Her theory is that going in and out of the AC'ed van will just make us want to stay in the AC too much while camping and that the kids won't want to leave it. I see her point because sometimes the shock of the heat and humidity makes it seem too oppressive and, after all, we are out there to enjoy the outdoors. My argument is for when it's so hot you can't sleep at night. Then a small AC would be really nice just to get everyone settled for the night.


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/01/08 07:58pm

Thanks for the link to the AC Boot!

I thought the thing in my picture was some kinda home-made set up....
I didn't know it was an actual product.

As of today I'm still seriously thinking about the window a/c in the left rear door - in place of the glass. I hate the way it looks but it's one of the least expensive / most effective options... as I see it.
Aside from exterior looks the only other downside I see is loss of light from that one window to the interior. Plusses, as you have mentioned, also include not having it take up any interior room and it's positioned rather high for better cooling.

The decision would be simpler if my window weren't fixed, meaning it's glued in. A friend suggested a heat gun may soften the stuff up enough to get the window out without breaking it - I may try it.

I did buy a 6,000 btu unit last fall when Lowes had 'em marked down...


Posted By: Hit The Road Jack on 03/02/08 06:05am

ARcruiser wrote:

Thanks for the link to the AC Boot!

I thought the thing in my picture was some kinda home-made set up....
I didn't know it was an actual product.

As of today I'm still seriously thinking about the window a/c in the left rear door - in place of the glass. I hate the way it looks but it's one of the least expensive / most effective options... as I see it.
Aside from exterior looks the only other downside I see is loss of light from that one window to the interior. Plusses, as you have mentioned, also include not having it take up any interior room and it's positioned rather high for better cooling.

The decision would be simpler if my window weren't fixed, meaning it's glued in. A friend suggested a heat gun may soften the stuff up enough to get the window out without breaking it - I may try it.

I did buy a 6,000 btu unit last fall when Lowes had 'em marked down...


Wayne and others!

I am really impressed with this type unit and will probably use one of the BTU capacities available for my next conversion.

Anyone know the generator requirement needed to power it?..[emoticon]


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/02/08 09:06am

Actually, I had considered those also.

I ran across the idea in an Airstream Forum. It's a lot more practical for a trailer because they can put the condenser on the tongue.

In a van, I envisioned the condenser on a hitch mounted platform - but it would not be removable due to the charged lines.


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/02/08 09:40am

Oops... I forgot another option. It's similar to Sportsmobile's Starcool System.

Danhard, specifically the 70-2030. The 10 MB catalog dl is here.

Terry had one in his Dodge....

[image]

* This post was edited 03/02/08 09:53am by ARcruiser *


Posted By: Hit The Road Jack on 03/02/08 10:04am

ARcruiser wrote:

Actually, I had considered those also.

I ran across the idea in an Airstream Forum. It's a lot more practical for a trailer because they can put the condenser on the tongue.

In a van, I envisioned the condenser on a hitch mounted platform - but it would not be removable due to the charged lines.


Due to its relatively thin profile 36.01 W x 16.02 D x 33.03 H I'm checking on other compressor placement versions for possible under chassis horizontal mount.

This unit is 13" deep


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/02/08 10:13am

and, of course, another one of my considerations is $$$$.

The Danhard is less expensive than the Starcool, but I think it's still around $1500 - $2000 (I don't have a clue where I got that price - did I imagine it?).

and the split mini systems are approaching $1000....

the window units are around $150 or less. [emoticon]


Posted By: Hit The Road Jack on 03/02/08 10:34am

ARcruiser wrote:

and, of course, another one of my considerations is $$$$.

The Danhard is less expensive than the Starcool, but I think it's still around $1500 - $2000 (I don't have a clue where I got that price - did I imagine it?).

and the split mini systems are approaching $1000....

the window units are around $150 or less. [emoticon]


Wayne, let's not forget 'Stealth' mode...[emoticon]


Posted By: Long_for_the_road on 03/02/08 02:05pm

swampy

We're going to try this this summer. It has both a swamp cooler function - or uses a cold water bath (ice chest).

I really don't know how well this will work - I will post the results either way - but we only need marginal cooling after dark (after we've shutdown from a days drive)

We don't have a generator, and are often in a Walmart or truckstop camping when enroute, so we're going to try this. (but don't mind buying $10 or $20 of ice, if it allows us to sleep well on these rare occasions)

Shane


'99 Ford Extended van (converted)



Posted By: jetrier on 03/02/08 05:44pm

Here's the $40 version of the swampy: Kooleraire.

The reviews I found on other sites were not very favorable as you might expect. Of course, they have great reviews on their own site, but on Amazon, they get hammered


Posted By: Long_for_the_road on 03/02/08 07:13pm

I'd never seen the KoolerAire before. And, yeah, it got hammered in those reviews.

From an engineering point of view, I would expect the type we're getting to transfer heat (cold) faster than the simplier and cheaper KoolerAire design - but there are still limits to trying to do cooling from an ice bath. (but without shore power, a generator, or a very large battery bank - that seems like our best shot) We have a 100 qt cooler, and will fill it with ice every night if we need to.

It may be a dismal failure. We'll try it in the driveway when we get it - and we'll see. I'll post the results either way.

Shane


Posted By: Atlee on 03/02/08 10:10pm

ARcruiser wrote:

Oops... I forgot another option. It's similar to Sportsmobile's Starcool System.

Danhard, specifically the 70-2030. The 10 MB catalog dl is here.

Terry had one in his Dodge....



I looked at the SMB site. Under cooling options, they talk about the StarCool system. However, on the options price sheet, they only list the DanHard, and no StarCool. Also, the listed price for the DanHard fm SMB is several bills over $2k


Erroll, Mary, Duffy the Dachshund (RIP)
www.thetravelingkoala.blogspot.com
2017 Jayco Jay Flight 23RB
2014 F150 Supercab 4x4 w/ 8' box, Ecoboost & HD Pkg

And Blue Ox WDH/Sway Control


Posted By: FLSTFI on 03/02/08 10:56pm

The SMB pricing sheet dated 10/1/07 lists the Starcool at $2756


Posted By: Atlee on 03/03/08 09:57am

FLSTFI wrote:

The SMB pricing sheet dated 10/1/07 lists the Starcool at $2756


The SMB pricing sheet dated 12/20/07 only lists a DanHard 110V AC Inside mount, for $2,658. On the same line for the Danhard, is this note. "Will also run on 15A service & portable Honda generator."

The 12/20/07 pricing sheet doesn't mention StarCool at all. Has SMB stopped using the StarCool?


Posted By: ARcruiser on 03/03/08 10:47am

Makes me wonder if SMB has always used Danhard components?

Anyways, I just got off the phone with a really nice fellow at Danhard. The components for the 70-2030 system are $2322.72.... price does not include hoses or refrigerant.

They usually sell to commercial customers who make up their own lines custom to their particular installation.

We talked about the unappealing look of a window unit, but that I might could stand a bunch of 'ugly' for $2200 plus.... he said his Dad had done a van with a window unit in the back door years ago - worked quite well for the price.


Posted By: dogcomestoo on 03/03/08 04:02pm

I looked at the SMB sprinter options and they list the Danhard. So now the sprinters can be stealthy. Hurray!!!


Posted By: DesrtDrmr on 03/12/08 12:27am

I'm not technical at all, so forgive my ignorance if this doesn't fit. I saw a portable a/c today in the Cabela's catalog. It uses batteries or 12volt and is 79.95. It says it will run for 24 hours, and I THINK you put ice in it.
It was called an 02 Cool Box. This wont take you there, but you can look at Cabelas.com and plug this into the search engine. I wish there had been one of these when we camped in a TENT. [emoticon]
02 Cool Box™ Portable/Rechargeable Air Conditioner
$79.99


2007 Roadtrek 190 Popular


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