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Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:50 am

I have an idea (altho it probably isn't a new idea) about AC-ing my van for going down the road AND camping.
What I am thinking, if it would work, is to get a stand alone room air conditioner, an AC inverter and maybe a little larger alternator.
The Air Conditioner pulls 880 watts and 8 amps, cools 200 sq. feet. The invertor is 1000 watt and then just for a little over kill bump up to a 100 amp alternator. I may also consider a different battery. (? not sure ?)
I have a little Honda 1000 watt generator for camping as well.
I could use the invertor for the AC going down the road and the gen for when parked.
The Air conditioner is a little over $300.00. Invertors are about $100.00. And I need to buy an alternator and battery anyway.
I was going to put in a regular automotive AC (Vintage, Southern, Nostalgic, etc.) but not only are they more expensive but, a bit of a pain to put in.
So what do you think?? Is this doable or am i barking up the wrong tree?
Chaz
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:02 pm

I've considered this, as well, perhaps adding an additional independent alternator or AC generator motor to the accessory drive.
The slick way to do this would be to use an RV roof-top A/C because the heat exchange takes place outdoors in the wind. A quick search produced this:
https://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-air-conditioners/low-profile-rv-air-conditioner.htm
Coleman Mach unit at 8" high and 90 lbs, running from about $700 to just over a grand....
Obviously, the home window units are a better bang for the buck, but the condenser end of the unit, which is normally outside the window would require some kind of insulated fresh air ducting if the unit is inside and it may just not be worth the trouble.
There is a guy that built a snub-nose model a truck locally that he placed a window unit forward, under the cab and ran it with on-board generated electricity like you describe and he says it works well. In our vans, anything ducted to the underside behind the engine is likely to be to hot for effective heat exchange and would also be subject to underside road grime, weather, rocks, rain snow etc.....
I've been intrigued by the idea of doing all air-to-liquid heat disposal (radiators, coolers, etc) with roof-mounted units, but I'm sure the looks would be a disaster....
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:42 pm

I have a 1977 GMC tour bus (think: Greyhound) that is converted to a motor coach. It has two of those units on it. They work well but they too are a bit unsightly on top of a van, even an 8''er. Plus there is about a 3'' drop in the inside. I tried to convince myself but....just couldn't. Smile
I have been looking more into my idea and checking numbers and it seems better with a 2000 watt convertor. I'm still not sure as I'm no electrician but, in theory it works, Smile I'd like to see what the guy with the snub nose did. Sounds interesting.
Hopefully someone who understands this better or better yet, someone who has did it, will chime in. Smile
Thanks Don.
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m1dadio
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Location : Victoria B.C.
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Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by m1dadio on Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:07 pm




I like it

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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:10 pm

LOL. Nope. Smile
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uante

Number of posts : 1194
Location : Tempe, Arizona
Age : 55
Registration date : 2014-01-26

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by uante on Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:41 pm

I had a vintage air conditioning system up into a '58 Apache Pickup and I didn't like it at all. It was very expensive and never worked well...kept cycling on and off dragging on the engine and wasn't really all that cold. After several attempts to work the bugs out, I tired of the truck in general and sold it.

For my van I considered this swap cooler contraption. The video certainly does a good job of selling you on it, but I never got around to going the next step with it. Anyone ever try something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpxyKnLTGGI&index=10&list=FL3rU68XT138h1FrncoiJZ1Q
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1385
Location : New Jersey
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Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Vantasia on Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:43 pm

Look at these vids on youtube. You can make a camping 12Volt AC unit from an ice chest or bucket that should be fine for sleeping in hot weather!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITtlxjvLQis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxSLbpAwibg
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Vantasia

Number of posts : 1385
Location : New Jersey
Age : 63
Registration date : 2013-08-18

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Vantasia on Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:48 pm

uante wrote:I had a vintage air conditioning system up into a '58 Apache Pickup and I didn't like it at all. It was very expensive and never worked well...kept cycling on and off dragging on the engine and wasn't really all that cold. After several attempts to work the bugs out, I tired of the truck in general and sold it.

For my van I considered this swap cooler contraption. The video certainly does a good job of selling you on it, but I never got around to going the next step with it. Anyone ever try something like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpxyKnLTGGI&index=10&list=FL3rU68XT138h1FrncoiJZ1Q

Looks like it should work!
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:10 pm

Those look like fun but, my girlfriend is a "princess". Smile lol
I think I'd rather go the other route that I was thinking.
One thing else I have been looking at is an electric compressor instead of one that runs off the engine. That would solve the fabbing in of the compressor (a pain in the butt) but obviously not the under dash unit. I'm guessing I could do an inverter from 120 v. down to 12v. and wire it, and the two fans (condesor, evaporator, etc) to run it off a gen or a "pole" when stopped.
Anyone ever use an electric air conditioner compressor? Know where I could find out about doing so??
Thanks.
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:33 pm

The thing that makes the window unit kinda cool is also the biggest challenge..... That is that it's completely self contained and one end of it is the condenser (heat expelling) end that belongs outdoors....Auto A/C is essentially what would be called a "Split Unit" in household AC terminology, meaning that the condenser coils are outdoors with a fan removing the heat and the indoor cooling unit is connected by two hoses and has it's own fan.....The rooftop RV units are a single unit package, just like the window air....I have seen homeless camper vans with a window AC permanently installed in place of a rear door window and am reasonably certain it would work great.....If you don't want scoops, ports or louvers in the body, the only available ports are going to be the rear window openings, through the floor, or through the wheel wells..... I'm not crazy about using the roof for anything, but heat rises, so the top is the most effective place to dispose of heat....
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Vantasia

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Location : New Jersey
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Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Vantasia on Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:34 am

Skulptorchaz wrote:Those look like fun but, my girlfriend is a "princess". Smile lol
I think I'd rather go the other route that I was thinking.
One thing else I have been looking at is an electric compressor instead of one that runs off the engine. That would solve the fabbing in of the compressor (a pain in the butt) but obviously not the under dash unit. I'm guessing I could do an inverter from 120 v. down to 12v. and wire it, and the two fans (condesor, evaporator, etc) to run it off a gen or a "pole" when stopped.
Anyone ever use an electric air conditioner compressor? Know where I could find out about doing so??
Thanks.

Half the fun of driving around in an old vehicle in hot weather without AC is to relive the experience of people living back in the 1960's when only rich people with big cars had AC in them! Really makes it a time machine....
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:08 am

Smile LOL
No way I could convince my girlfriend of that. Smile
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:16 am

When discussing climate control on one of these hoodless vans, It's important to consider that we have the heat of the engine, radiator and exhaust manifolds in the middle of the interior envelope, with a tin "diving bell" over it.....Heat rises, yet the only ventilation to these heat-producing parts is out the bottom.
Air conditioning is primarily a system that collects interior heat on the interior coils and expels it outdoors from the condenser through heat-to-liquid exchange.
It is a lot to ask of an AC system to gather and expel all the radiant heat coming from the doghouse.
The first order of business in creating an effective interior cooling system is to
1) move as much of the drivetrain's heat outside the box as is physically possible and
2) insulate the doghouse and floor to keep the rest of that heat from radiating up into the interior.....
Those "ice chest" coolers are intriguing..... The more sophisticated ones use a submerged condensor with a fan blowing across an evaporator coil, getting extended use from the ice water after the ice melts. most also blow across a wetted medium for "evaporative cooling" effect. The Achilles Heel of these systems is that once the water has absorbed heat to the point of being warm, the effectiveness is done! They are completely self contained though and would probably work long enough to get your sweetie too far from home to complain and then you buy more ice...

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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:06 pm

I have #'s 1 and 2 covered - Ceramic insulating paint (think Lizard Skin) on both sides, and insulation on both sides, of the dog house. I am also running electric fans and have them set to stay on after the engine is shut off to blow the heat out.
Actually, I have the entire interior painted with ceramic paint and will be insulating and carpeting as well. I just need to figure out a good, "cool" (no pun intended. Smile ) way to do it. I was hoping I wasn't going to have to "re-invent the mouse trap" but, I may have to. I would just like to be able to use it on the road AND camping. I know it can sound like a daunting task but, if it hasn't been done, I'm sure it can be................somehow.
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Seth G
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Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Seth G on Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:56 pm

One thing to consider is that compressors can have problems running off of inverter if the inverter isn't a true sinewave type with extra momentary load capability for when it starts up. Ran into this on a boat once, dorm style fridge, inverter was big enough, sometimes the compressor would start, sometimes it wouldn't.
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:56 pm

Thanks Seth. The AC takes 880 watts and I think I will go with a 2000 watt inverter. I like over kill. Smile I was wondering about the true sine wave aspect. I'll contact the manufacturer to see if it needs it. I understand some do, some don't.
I can get 1 105 amp Alternator for about a buck and a half. it puts out 76 amps at 2000rpm (of the actual alternator, not the motor). That should do some powering! Smile
I "THINK" it will all work. But I am still checking with some people.
Thanks!!
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Seth G
Vintage-Vans Listings Manager
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Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Seth G on Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:11 pm

That's the thing to do, either they say it will or won't. The common modified sine wave inverters can have problems starting and running compressors
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:29 pm

I'm not an electrician, but I believe that house-voltage electric motors have a boost capacitor for start-up called a "starter"......On a window AC, I would expect start up load to be part of the published specs....
Been thinking about where a window air could be hidden and vented effectively without consuming too much space.... I'm thinking that a van with back door windows could have pop-out windows that are concealed on the inside by a three inch raised door skin over the entire door, including the windows..... The window AC would be mounted on the rear floor and draw fresh air from one door skin (and window) and exhaust through the other.....
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:46 pm

My electrician friend says whatever the rated amps are, I need to just about double it for when it kicks on. It is a short almost instantaneous surge but it will pop breakers or fuses if they are not rated high enough.
This is a "stand alone" AC. It sits on the floor and you just route the drain and hot air hose out somewhere. I think I will route them out the back corner of the dog house and have a vent pipe going down and back. When not it use, I will have a "door" to cover the hole.
With the inverter, on cold days, I can also have a small home heater in the back for people or camping. Kind of win/win...............IF it works! Smile Smile
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:56 pm

Here is a window unit 5000 BTU cools 150 square feet, MSRP $169... Has low voltage start-up (whatever that means) draws 4 amps/ 450 watts.......

http://www.frigidaire.com/Home-Comfort/Air-Conditioning/Window-Mounted-AC/FFRA0511R1/
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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:52 pm

The one I want just sits on the floor. There is no way I would stick one "out of the van". The one I am talking about just plumbs the heat out of a 5'' hose which will go out in the dog house.
Thanks Don.
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AzDon

Number of posts : 321
Location : Lake Havasu Az
Age : 61
Registration date : 2014-01-20

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by AzDon on Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:34 pm

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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:43 pm

Yup, something like that one. I was looking at an 800 watt that would do 200 sq. feet, but I'm still looking.
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Timcoke1

Number of posts : 19
Location : Cincinnati ohio
Registration date : 2014-12-06

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Timcoke1 on Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:54 pm

I am currently working on installing an 8000 btu portable with a 1500 watt inverter ... i am venting the hot air out the floor hole above the master cylinder.. that is a 4 inch hole ... I had to reduce from the 5 inch hose to a 4 inch elbow... that I fit through the opening....
this weekend was the first time it was warm enough for the air conditioner to kick on... and it worked.
https://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-MF08CESWW-Portable-Conditioner-Control/dp/B00B2BSXS2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487724373&sr=8-1&keywords=8000+btu+air+conditioner+portable

I will publish photos to show how it looks.... it sits behind the drivers seat..

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Skulptorchaz

Number of posts : 227
Location : So. East Indiana
Registration date : 2015-05-08

Re: Air Conditioning idea - could it work?

Post by Skulptorchaz on Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:09 pm

Thanks Tim!!!! This is just what I had in mind. I really look forward to how it works out.
I was going to fab a vent out the side of the doghouse with a vent hood facing down and back.
What inverter did you use? I found one at Best Buy that I might buy. It's. 3000 watt.
Thanks again for the info!
Chaz

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