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Old 07-27-2013, 08:47 PM   #1
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Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

First entry from a longtime lurker and finally van owner. We just picked up a '03 7.3L Diesel E-350. It's basically an empty cargo van with a few options including factory installed floor, wall and ceiling insulation and upholstery (how insulated? I don't know).

My head is filled with endless ideas (especially after browsing this forum) and I'm sure this van will be a never ending project. We're working on a limited budget and will be moving slowly one step at a time.

One of the priorities is overnight air conditioning. We do a lot of boating on the Colorado River near Blythe, CA and mid summer nighttime temps can be in the high 80's to 90's even. We either have tow the boat back to town and get a hotel (sucks), suffer and sweat in a tent all night(sucks), or just don't go to the river (also sucks). I've read a lot of the posts related to portable AC units and portable generators, and I'm guessing that is the solution we will end up going with. Getting to my question - on of the other options installed in the van is rear AC/Heater. Is there anyway to run the rear AC using a portable generator (Honda eu2000) instead of running the vehicle (which is not an option all night)? I think I already know the answer but I wanted to check with the experts. It would be nice to utilize an existing feature and not have to add the expense or take up valuable space with a portable AC. Is that my only choice for an easy affordable solution?

I think some of you may have run portable AC with a Honda eu2000. How many hours can you get on a single tank of gas while running AC?

Thanks a lot for any input. I'm sure I'll have many other questions about many other things. Hopefully posting some cool photos too.

Here's one from the drive home after picking it up.

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Old 07-27-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

If you're talking the standard air that is supplied with the vehicle, probably not. Most systems are tied to the front stock system that requires the vehicle to be running. It would require a separate compressor like the Starcool or Danhard systems. Even if it could be done, I wouldn't really want to interfere with the stock system. There are a few here that have used
portable AC's and a small 2kw generator with reasonable results. It involves routing the condensation and exhaust outside as needed. You should be able to search for the posts. There has been a few other designs as well.

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=11118
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Old 07-28-2013, 11:28 AM   #3
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

That's what I thought. Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:17 PM   #4
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

There might be a conceptual way to do it, but on factory-installed stuff it's highly integrated. I just don't know how you'd run the thing without adding more equipment and complication than some other solution.

Those Honda and Yamaha gennies run a long time, but YMMV depending on the load. They have a econo mode that allows the gennie to back off and save fuel, but it doesn't work well with all loads.

The rated output is probably in the specs somewhere; you'd have to compare it to the draw of whatever A/C you're considering. But with A/C it's probably tight; the Yamaha 2000 will run 10 hrs at 1/4 load; the "rated" output (always lower than the max) is 1600 W. A 12k BTU A/C might draw 11 amps minimum so it's getting close; I guess it would depend on how often A/C cycled on and off.
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Old 07-28-2013, 09:58 PM   #5
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

Yep, what he said. The Honda 2000 is rated about the same. As far as I know they are very similar in every way. A Honda (or Yamaha) 2000 WILL NOT run the typical RV roof air, which is a 13500 btu, but it will run the rarer 9500 models just fine (which I have and it works great with the Honda). I have yet to run it over night so I can't answer that question.

Hindsight being 20/20 I would mount a residential window unit LOW in the rear door if I had to do it again. Much cheaper. Assuming of course your floorplan allows you to do this. The old school rear window setup is hideous but I have seen them mounted low in the rear doors about where the license plate is and they look much better. The thickness of the door at that point also hides the protrusion of the unit (they are 1 to 1.5' thick). I am giving you this idea based on a friend of mine's recent Westy setup. He has just mounted a small window unit in his VW van and it gets that thing TOO cold to even stay in. I couldn't believe how well it works, and he lives in Atlanta. Most window units will run fine off a 2000 watt generator, maybe even a 1000. I think his pulls about 600 watts.

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Old 07-29-2013, 09:06 AM   #6
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty
Hindsight being 20/20 I would mount a residential window unit LOW in the rear door if I had to do it again. Much cheaper. Assuming of course your floorplan allows you to do this. The old school rear window setup is hideous but I have seen them mounted low in the rear doors about where the license plate is and they look much better. The thickness of the door at that point also hides the protrusion of the unit (they are 1 to 1.5' thick). I am giving you this idea based on a friend of mine's recent Westy setup. He has just mounted a small window unit in his VW van and it gets that thing TOO cold to even stay in. I couldn't believe how well it works, and he lives in Atlanta. Most window units will run fine off a 2000 watt generator, maybe even a 1000. I think his pulls about 600 watts.

That's where GTRV mounts their AC units (rear door, low), and they don't look too bad IMO.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:59 AM   #7
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

An outfit called Arctic Air makes a portable AC for small airplanes that would probably work. It will only set you back $4600, or the price of about 46 Wal-Mart 5000 BTU window units. (Or one Honda generator and 36 Wal-Mart 5000 BTU window units. Or one Honda generator, enough gas to run it for 30 years, and 20 Wal-Mart 5000 BTU window units).

http://www.arcticaircooler.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=80

They also make slightly more reasonably priced ice units. I used to own a Cirrus SR22 (single engine airplane) with no AC and I have one of their ice units. It was useful because you really only needed it for ground operations which lasted 15 minutes or so on a bad day.

I like the idea of a portable AC -- only about three or four times as expensive as a window AC, and they work pretty well as long as you find a place to vent them. I'd be happier if someone made a two-hose unit in the 5000-7000 BTU range, 'cause the two hose units are far more efficient than the single hose ones.
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:05 AM   #8
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

Here's the brand of AC unit that SoCal Teardrops uses for their AC option. Note, they install the unit outside teardrop, and then route cold air and return air ducts to and from the teardrop.

http://www.climaterightair.com/cr-5000-ac


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Old 07-29-2013, 11:53 AM   #9
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

Thanks for all the feedback guys. Lots of options out there, and I know this has been discussed extensively in other threads too.

Climateright looks interesting. I like the fact that everything stays outside the van.

Given my limited budget, limited time, and the fact that we will only need A/C 2-3 months per year, I think portable genny + portable A/C is the solution for us. Plus I can use the extra A/C unit in my house (which doesn't have central air). Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing an opportunity to utilize my onboard rear A/C. It's been suggested to me that I use the Van's onboard rear A/C for a few minutes to cool the inside first. Then fire up the portable A/C once the temperature inside has dropped. Good tip!
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Old 07-29-2013, 12:31 PM   #10
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Re: Rear Air Conditioner + Portable Generator

Seems like a read about somebody who DID use the OEM rear A/C in their van. I think they had a remote start for the van engine so they could start and stop the whole thing from bed. I don't like the idea of idling the van while sleeping but this person didn't mind IIRC.
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