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Old 07-24-2017, 10:20 PM   #1
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Effective campsite A/C for under $300

After a sweltering visit to California, I decided it was time to finally install some airconditioning. Being retired, my budget is slim, but I found a workable solution. A small window A/C and a generator. The problem is, often times a small generator wont start an A/C compressor. There's another recent thread that describes using a capacitor across the line to assist with start-up. Anyway, I got a little 1000W Harbor freight gen, used for around $50 (thanks Rally) but new they can be had for around $100. The window A/C unit was $129. Sure, they won't last long, but summer will be over soon and I want to test the entire idea. The A/C unit only draws 4.1A on high and the gen is good for around 10, so I thought it should run it, but would it start it? YUP, it does, success. Since it only draws 4.1A, I could even run it off the inverter, and if I added another solar panel, the net loss from the batteries would be pretty low in full sunlight. It would probably run all day with out depleting the batterys much. Anyway, I tested it by placing it just inside the rear door and letting it run for about 30 minutes, and it lowered the the temp inside around 10degs with an outside temp of around 80degs. I expect that running it longer will improve the performance even more due to the original heat soak of the interior. , It also sucked a ton of water out of the air too, based on how much ran out the back. So, now to remove the rear window, cut a piece of plywood to fit the window and the A/C, then figure out how to mount it so that it's still there after one of the vans regular but unexpected hard landings. I'm thinking of a shelf on both sides, extending the full length of the housing, and a stiff leg from under the shelf to the bumper. Any other ideas on how to mount it?
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Old 07-24-2017, 10:32 PM   #2
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Hey, I know that generator! We bought that when we were camped at Laguna Seca Raceway for the motorcycle races and my Coleman 1850w seized up on us. We "rebuilt it" and got it to last through the night before it failed again. Then we had to go buy that one. That thing probably only had 30 hours on it when you got it.

Been EU2000'ing ever since.
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:54 AM   #3
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I'm planning to do something similar, but will mount to a removable "plate/bracket" that will fit into one of the front door windows. That way I don't make semi-permanent changes (removing window) and van doesn't have a/c mounted for daily driving. I have it fabbed up in my head, but not in hard copy plans yet.

The plan is to store the a/c unit in the cargo area, and then roll front window down and place a/c setup in the window when needed.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:06 AM   #4
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Awesome. I'm definitely interested in knowing how your inverter does with it. I've had a little window unit sitting around for awhile but no van to use it with. I'm thinking of going with a 2000 watt inverter in my next build and a large battery bank.

What size is your battery bank?

Thanks
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:47 AM   #5
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That genny had less than 30 hours.. we only ran it one night!

As for your plywood idea.. I think you'd be better off getting a junkyard no window door and swapping that on. And since your van is white, you could probably even find one color matched!
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Old 07-25-2017, 10:01 AM   #6
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I think using either the driver or passenger window is a great idea since you will be putting it in place when you are parked and removing it when you are driving anyways.
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rallypanam View Post
That genny had less than 30 hours.. we only ran it one night!

As for your plywood idea.. I think you'd be better off getting a junkyard no window door and swapping that on. And since your van is white, you could probably even find one color matched!
Oh shit, that's right! We ran the Coleman Thursday night, "rebuilt" it Friday afternoon and it made it until Saturday morning. Major score for you Jeff
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:21 AM   #8
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The GTRV vans put the household style AC in the drivers rear door by cutting a hole in it. You can find images with a quick search. If you have your spare tire there it may not be an option. Also depending on your layout that might not work.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:21 PM   #9
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GTRV door mount a/c .
and some other ideas here...
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...his-15569.html
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:55 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=rallypanam;As for your plywood idea.. I think you'd be better off getting a junkyard no window door and swapping that on. [/QUOTE]

I thought of that, I even stopped at the local yard right after I bought the A/C. I was looking for some pop out windows, but the van that I saw them on a month prior was gone. As for replacing the entire door, I don't have a place to store a spare door, and I'm a bit afraid of alignment issues as sometimes getting doors to close correctly is a pain. In addition, this is not going to be a full time install. Once fall arrives, I plan to take it out and install a couple pop out windows. I've seen GTRV's with the unit through the bottom of the door, but with my layout it would be in the way of the spare, and it would blow cold air under the bed. So far, I'm loving my little $130 unit, I even hauled it to my boat, where it's sitting in the window keeping the entire salon cool. Anyway, I'm off to deliver a different boat on Thurs, so when I return I'll get it mounted in the door and report back on the results.
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