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Old 05-11-2011, 02:26 PM   #1
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Alternatives to cooling an SMB

I have a 2002 eb-50 w/4k generator with what I believe is the Starcool III (not positive on version though). In the texas heat, its cooling capabilities either don't work very well, or simply can't keep up. I have window screens/reflectors, park in the shade, the whole 9 years, doesn't keep it cool for the wife. I have taken it to sportsmobile several times to make sure its working ok and all the time its "working according to specs", so if thats as good as it gets, its time to either supplement it somehow, or as the wife says, "the van is useless, sell it". So I am looking for a silver bullet that some kind of portable A/C unit or swamp cooler will work and looking for good suggestions that can keep the inside at 75 even if parked in the sun. If you had done something like this and it works, I would appreciate pictures/suggestions as to where to start. Also, how many BTU's does it take to cool an extended van? Gotta save the camper somehow.

Andrew
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Old 05-11-2011, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

From looking at bus body builder specs, it looks like the factory rear AC unit is rated at 25,000 BTU.

I have this, and 99% it does not need to be that large. Usually, the lowest setting is sufficient, but the extra capacity does allow for faster cooling if the van has been parked in the sun. Of course, downside is I cannot run it without the engine running. But the V10 is quieter than most gensets anyways, and sometimes the 0.6 GPH of fuel consumption is worth it.
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Old 05-31-2011, 08:42 PM   #3
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

My Starcool (on shore power) only drops the outside temp by about 20 degrees if I'm in the shade. On really hot days it's worse (105 outside = 90 inside) but with the engine running it will freeze me out and why I opted for it. I was hoping that shore power would kick out some really cold air but it just can't seem to keep up. I rarely camp where power is available but wanted to run it at home before leaving out on a trip. It would be nice to step into a 70 degree van when it's hot out.

I thought about upgrading to the new Danhard but it's an expensive move and I don't know how much better they are compared to the Starcool. BTW Danhard made Starcool so they might be the people to talk to. Of course they might want to sell you a new unit as well
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:04 AM   #4
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

If you're leaving the vehicle and not able to cool it after sitting you might look into a Chilly Dog, or other "dog in vehicle" system (don't know what is current), that will run the van periodically depending on temperature.

You can also coat the top (whatever top) in thick white RV roof material.

Isn't "spec" on the Starcool something like 20 below ambient, s.t. in 100 it would only cool to 80 anyway? I can see where that would cause problems in the "home".
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:24 PM   #5
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Alternatives to cooling an SMB

I have the Danhard system in my 2008. I swore by it...at first. It was cable of even being too cold, so I was happy.. But, spring 2010 I was surprised to find that it wasnt cooling. The local home a/c repair folks who work on my house climbed underneath and found broken hose connection and all refrigerant gone. (It got banged around by rocks that kick up on my dirt road I think.) Well, they got it running again though they had to force one of the 2 condenser fans to free up and start spinning again. (Too much debris, again, kicking up into it.) Well, i never thought it was quite as cool last summer as it used to be. This spring, again, it is hot. I have climbed under and had to clean out the fans as best I can with reaching between the grill and spraying the hose. Got both fans spinning again but, still hot. Tomorrow morning the a/c repair guy is going to try to recharge it and take a look at what might be up again before I head off on a 7 day camping trip tomorrow afternoon with my Dad.
In hindsight, had I known how exposed the condenser (if that is what you call it) is to the road and what is kicked up into it, I would have crafted a cover for it and left it on full time except when running rear a/c (which is rare.) It is an expensive system and I am afraid I may have abused it.
Now, if you live on pavement you probably would be fine with it uncovered.
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:02 PM   #6
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikewTV
I have the Danhard system in my 2008. I swore by it...at first. It was cable of even being too cold, so I was happy.
Is that parked and on shore power without the engine running?
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Old 06-13-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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Alternatives to cooling an SMB

Yes, that is parked and on shore power. The Danhard A/C is in no way linked to the van's A/C. It is enough to cool the van whether the front a\c is on or not, in my opinion. when I am driving I almost always only use the front a\c. The few times I use both are when I have all my dogs in the back of the van and am on a road trip where the van has been parked in the sun and really heated up before the ride. But, after an hour or less I turn the Danhard off and just use dash a\c.
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:30 AM   #8
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

Hey Daveb,

A little update. I am oddly happy to say that my local home A/C service company (who works on my Danhard) found a broken part today. I'm happy because I didn't want to believe this thing had just 'worn out' and stopped being as cold as I remember it being the first year I owned it. Well, a year ago we found a broken metal fitting where the lower pressure line attaches to the exterior condenser. We chalked that up to my living on a dirt road and routinely kicking rocks and stones up under the van. Well, the thing is, even after we had a machine shop create a new fitting for that hose last year - things have never been as cold. And, it loses cooling power after a few weeks. (I don't use the Danhard often so don't always know this has happened.) Well, I took it back in today since the last recharge of Freon lasted a mere week. They did a pressure check and found another leak. In the companion hose that is the higher pressure line (telling you what he told me, as I'm no expert.)
I was explaining to this A/C serviceman how my Ford shop had welded up the housing of the two fans under the van since it jiggles a lot as I drive. It is stable now. Well, he pointed out that these 2 hose fittings go through a second box that is still loosely attached on just the side rail you attach running boards too. He said the hose fittings reach through that housing to where they attach. Every time it jiggles, he thinks it's banging on these fittings and eventually breaking them. He pointed out it likely is NOT kicking up rocks as they are way up in the housing and hard to get at.
SO - they are machining a new fitting for me. In the meantime, I'm going to shop next week to attach new running boards (CYLCEVAN in NJ) and I will ask them to work up a better system of stabilizing the box that is still able to wiggle.

SO I actually see this all as good news because, I think it may mean I can restore the Danhard to the powerhouse of an A/C system it used to be. AND, I tell you this because if you are going to get a Danhard - make sure they attach it firmly under the van (not just with screws on the outboard side) as SMB did mine. (To be fair, mine was one of the first Danhards they installed so - maybe they hadn't worked out the bugs of how to install it yet.)
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:21 PM   #9
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

One of the disadvantages of something "new" to SMB is the customers become a beta tester at times and your van was built close to when they switched over to Danhard. You might want to give them a call so they know what went wrong and changes made to fix the problem. Maybe SMB has made changes to how they do their install but it wouldn't hurt to give them a call. I've found by being proactive with them can help when dealing with other issues that might pop up down the road.


That's what is so great about this forum and thanks for the heads up.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:53 PM   #10
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Re: Alternatives to cooling an SMB

Yes, it had crossed my mind, once it is finally resolved, to call & tell them about it.
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