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Thursday, October 28, 2010

RV Air Condtioner Alternative

I have an 1978 GMC van that was converted to a camper by the original owner back in the 80's. We travel everywhere with our dogs and in the summer having the dogs in a hot van is a big issue. We can run the van's dash air conditioning when the engine is running, but how do we keep cool when we are stopped somewhere? My thoughts so far are pointing me towards a bumper-mounted generator powering a window A/C unit to keep the van cool when we can't take the dogs indoors like in a restaurant. I was wondering if you had any alternative ideas? Nick (Charleston, SC)

Nick, if I were to recommend a generator installation, it would obviously have to be an approved installation which would eliminate mounting it on the bumper. RV generators must be mounted inside a specifically constructed box to a rigid set of parameters. It is indeed doable in a van if you have the room, however, it can become costly when you consider the installation of a 120-volt AC system in addition. 

I think your best bet would be a 12-volt evaporative cooler (swamp cooler), instead of an air conditioner. Roof mounted, the evaporative cooler is lightweight and is powered by the 12-volt battery system. It would be the perfect alternative to installing a generator and small roof air conditioner and the associated AC electrical system. Though I've not installed this particular brand before, here's one that would certainly qualify as a potential consideration.

The downside is that an evaporative-type cooler works best in low humidity areas. It's less effective the higher the humidity, but still, it remains a viable alternative to keeping your dogs safe.

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