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Old 01-26-2018, 04:16 PM   #1
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How hot is it in the back of a sprinter - to AC or not to AC?

tl;dr -- What are people's experiences with the van AC (no supplemental) in the sprinter with kids or others in the back seats, driving in moderately hot areas? How bad is it, and under what conditions has it gotten uncomfortable?

So, I could have sworn that I saw this discussed elsewhere, but my searches of the forum are not turning up much... Pointers to other recent discussions would be welcome.

So, I've got a RB 150S Sprinter low roof penthouse top on order. I understand that the van AC has limited power and doesn't cool the back of these open vans down very well. In fact, that it gets dang hot back there.

I intend to use it for all seasons, summer climbing trips, winter climbing and skiing. I don't envision chasing down time in a lot of hot weather locations, I drive at night whenever feasible, etc. We don't tend to be AC junkies in general, and it only gets turned on on really hot days in our CR-V. But it happens, if only when getting stuck in Central Valley traffic on the way home on a Sunday afternoon, and particularly with the kids I want to gather a bit of data and think it through a bit.

First world problem: apparently I have to choose between an additional AC unit for the rear (at $4000 or so cost), and a ski storage area.

Corallary: Any thoughts on bringing a fan, or other means of keeping people cool?
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Old 01-26-2018, 05:03 PM   #2
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Roof vents/fans. Almost every van conversion of any make has to one. I prefer 2!


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Old 01-26-2018, 06:03 PM   #3
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I was under the impression that they don't put roof vents in poptops at SMB. We'll have a sliding glass window for the rear window for air as needed, but when it gets hot enough outside, opening the window (or presumably roof vent) just sucks in hotter air, right?
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Old 01-26-2018, 06:23 PM   #4
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Mike,
Can only speak for the econoline vans on this one but there is no way to cool the back of our van without a rear A/C unit. Remember that you're getting a heavily insulated rig. That means when it gets hot it stays hot. The absence of a Maxxfan or similar way to dump heat from the ph top is problematic when the temp rises. For context, we live in hot/humid VA so take that into consideration.

We have found the Danhard A/C invaluable. Especially during long road trips or hot camping days where A/C will make the difference between cranky and relatively well mannered kids. If you go this route, you'll want to consider your battery set up, solar, and will need to carry a generator (we use a Honda 2000) to keep the A/C humming when parked. Even with the A/C on, we use an endless breeze fan (12v) to circulate air.
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Old 01-26-2018, 06:43 PM   #5
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IMO, the biggest contributor to unwanted interior heat is the amount of glass in the van. More glass, more heat. A quality heat rejecting window tint can help offset this however.

Paint color of the van also has some contribution, but I think its a lessor contributor than quantity of glass.


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Old 01-26-2018, 07:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post
IMO, the biggest contributor to unwanted interior heat is the amount of glass in the van. More glass, more heat. A quality heat rejecting window tint can help offset this however.

Paint color of the van also has some contribution, but I think its a lessor contributor than quantity of glass.
I would second BroncoHaulers point regarding the amount of glass and add that a white roof is mandatory in a hot sunny climate. My PH top is painted the burgundy of the van which is insanely hot to the touch on the inside if I'm in the hot sun. Under the solar panels which are raised up and under the white part I Monstalined white around the maxxfan will remain totally cool. It's night and day in comparison. I plan to bed line the rest of the roof white in the near future. Pick the color of van you like looking at but get the the roof somehow in white.

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Old 01-26-2018, 08:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikemike View Post
I was under the impression that they don't put roof vents in poptops at SMB. We'll have a sliding glass window for the rear window for air as needed, but when it gets hot enough outside, opening the window (or presumably roof vent) just sucks in hotter air, right?
My fault Mike, I didn't catch that you were doing a PH. When you said Sprinter I was thinking a higher roof fixed top. It is true that SMB will NOT do a roof vent in a penthouse but some of us have anyway. I've installed a few of them for myself and a couple other folks. They do make a big difference but probably not your first option on a brand new van.

I, like Lee (TLG) above live in the humid south and couldn't live without rear factory air. I would spend the money and have it done since it will be harder to do later. The PH can handle the weight of a roof box (Yakima/Thule) and you can store skis up there. My family of four have taken many long summer trips all over the west and it's still mostly 'rear air' country while driving in my book.

Another consideration, since you don't live in a really humid area, is an Endless Breeze 12v fan for when you are camping. They really work amazingly well and sit well on the sill of any SMB pop top in any window.

https://www.amazon.com/Fan-Tastic-Ve...ze+12+volt+fan

These aren't loud and really move an amazing amount of air for their size. They use very little power as well.

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Old 01-26-2018, 08:03 PM   #8
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If I could put an air conditioner for the rear of my van in for a reasonable price I would do it. Be sure to get either a fantastic fan or max air fan, because it makes a world of difference.
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Old 01-26-2018, 09:32 PM   #9
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If I could put an air conditioner for the rear of my van in for a reasonable price I would do it. Be sure to get either a fantastic fan or max air fan, because it makes a world of difference.
I placed a home window A/C unit in my back door. It cost $125, but the gen to run it was $900. It worked great till I pounded it sensless in Baja, it probably cracked a refrigerant line. If you stick to pavement, it should last many years.
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Old 01-26-2018, 10:46 PM   #10
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Our build is a high top so a bit different. However, I think we'll be using the rooftop AC while driving on hot Montana summer days. I briefly considered the internal AC units but decided I didn't want to sacrifice the internal space. Also, if the rooftop unit ever has major issues down the road it seems like an easier proposition just to remove it and install a new unit. We've also thought after 1-2 years use that if we don't use it much and decide the MAX AIR vent is sufficient I'd remove it and have a custom Manly Marine aluminum boat hatch installed in it's place with a screen. I say custom assuming the cut-out wouldn't work for a standard Lewmar hatch or another MAX AIR vent. But it might.

At any rate I think we WILL use it a bit and we are also designing the electrical system around a lithium set-up IOT run the rooftop unit 2-3 hours while parked in town w/o the engine for our dogs.
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