Well, I finally did it. I got the roof air plasti-dipped black and installed this past week. It looks great (IMHO) and works even better! I bought a Coleman Polar Cub (9500btu) which is a low profile unit marketed primarily for truck campers. They aren't NEARLY as popular as the taller 13500 units, but I wanted the lower profile and the ability to run it with a Honda 2000 generator. It pulls 11.1 amps/1320 watts. My generator is on the front bumper, and my next project is building some sort of box/bumper for it that will save it from thieves or in the event of a minor accident.
Yes, I know that if they want to steal it, they will. I remove the generator when I need to, but this way I can actually run it while driving down the road. I've experimented with this several times and it works great. I ran a 12/3 extension cord underneath the van, using about 50 zip ties. It is run mostly inside the frame rail and inside fender liners, so it is a permanent install. I sill have a plug in for the roof air at the rear left of the van, so I can hook to shore power OR the generator if I want air conditioning. I chose to make the air conditioner a totally separate circuit from the present AC wiring inside the van, so unfortunately I can't just plug one thing in at a CG hook up. I'll have to plug one cord in for the roof air and another in (my Marinco exterior plug) for the inverter/AC circuits. Not perfect but it is simple, which is good.
The fiberglass on my CCV top is pretty thin (standard Fiberine uninsulated top), so I needed to strengthen it to hold the 95 lb. unit. Derek at CCV assured me that the motors he installs will lift that much without a problem, and so far so good.
Here's the support structure made of birth ply and 2x4s:
I used the same carpet my top is trimmed in, added Reflectix inside the cavities, and secured it to the side rails with L brackets:
Here's the unit mounted:
I ran 12/3 power cable (basically super durable extension cord) from the roof air through the sewn-in sleeve where all my lighting and fan wiring already goes. This enables the power cable to flex just as the other wiring does and never kink. Lowe's sells some pretty impressive 12/3 cable for 1.20/ft. I don't suspect it will ever be a problem and is plenty big enough for the job.
Next I cut a new hole for my Fantastic Fan about 1' ahead of the old hole, now used by the air conditioner. It was hard to swallow cutting another big hole in my roof but I had to do it:
Sorry for the low-light pics here
Here are some better shots of the final product. I had already butchered my cheapo roof rack by cutting a hole in it for the Fantastic Fan, so I just made that cut a much bigger U and it actually finished the look of the top off pretty well I think. It makes the roof air look like less of a big blob on the roof, even though I am getting closer and closer to Roadtrek territory with this thing.
Since this dark blue heat magnet gets so hot inside, I set all this up so I can just fire up the generator and use the roof air with the top raised or lowered anytime we want to cool off. I can see it running in a lot of parking lots while we shop or sightsee on trips. At 1 gal per 8 hours with the Honda, why not?