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Possible replacement for the A/C

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techntrek View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Possible replacement for the A/C
    Posted: 23 Sep 2010 at 11:36am
Lots of complaints on the noise, compressor freezing up, with the standard 'pod A/C.  Its noise level is definitely one of my biggest complaints, and it has way too much cooling power for the small air space and high insulation that the 'pods have.
 
Just floating one possible replacement here.  Its not a drop-in solution, but what I like about this is the compressor is variable based on the fan speed (uses inverter tech inside).  You can set it on low in the morning and run it all day, using only 300 watts and at only 28 db of sound (3000 btu).  Even on high its only 34 db and 900 watts (9000 btu).  It would require some work to get it mounted properly and it might not stand up to the vibrations of road use.  Still interesting to consider!
 
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2010 at 2:03pm
I like it.  It seems to be a scaled down version of my heat pump setup at home - the compressor is remote (outside) with the air handler/fan (inside).  It should be a lot less noisy inside the Pod. 
 
I could see moving the battery(s)* and mounting the compressor there.  @ 7 amps, a Honda EU2000 or equiv. should handle it with ease.
 
*and switching from the standard lead/acid so they could be mounted inside a storage compartment or unused cavity in the Pod. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2010 at 2:56pm
I wasn't sure about mounting, but I think that is a great location.  Then the interior unit could be placed on the front wall of the 'pod, mounted perfectly horizontal like it expects to be.  Refridgerant lines would go right out the front wall and down a foot or two.  Might not be the best place for other models, but it would be great for the 171.
 
From what I've read on the solar electric forum where I read about it, it has such a soft start that I think you could use a 1000 watt genset w/o a problem.  Heck, you could use a 500 watt genset if you kept it on the low speed.  That's what some of the off-grid guys are doing - they turn it on low in the morning before it gets hot, running it from excess solar capacity during the day, and come home to a cool room.  Some are even cooling smaller houses up to 1200 sq. ft.  The idea being its easier to keep it cool with 3000 btu than come home and then force it cool with 15,000 btu.
 
At 2.5 amps @ 120 volts you could run it for 2 hours from one fully charged 100 amp battery.  Taking advantage of the Peukert effect you could get about 5 hours from 2 batteries paralleled together.  You could get an entire comfortable night from 3 batteries - no genset, no noise.  Recharging the batteries the next day is a problem, but its still an interesting possibility.
 
One more thing about this unit - it comes as A/C only, or heat pump.  I think its only a few hundred more for the heat pump option.  Every camper furnace I've ever heard is almost as loud as the 'pod's A/C.  With this you could camp in the spring and fall and have nearly silent heat (if you have hookups). 
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2010 at 3:46pm
We are thinking alike.  I don't think it would be all that bad to install.  The same setup would work on the RP173.  It would just be a matter of drilling a couple of holes in the floor to run some soft drawn copper lines and power out to the compressor (it would likely need a drain where the condenser is located - probably in the "fan unit".
 
With the 2/3 battery setup, at least the generator could only be run long enough to charge the batteries during a "good" time of day.  Solar, while I like the idea, wouldn't work for me as I like shaded campsites.  The voltage drop would likely be too great to place the solar panels any real distance from the camper.
 
I think I would tend to go with the heat pump.  RV furnaces seem to be propane and battery "hogs".
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2010 at 12:30pm

I posted some questions on the forum where I found this, asking about effects of vibration and if anyone had tried a mobile application.  I also found out that the heat pump version qualifies for the 30% tax credit (through the end of this year), and I'm considering one of these for a hard to heat/cool room on the first floor of my house.  We keep the A/C lower than we need for the rest of the floor just to keep this room comfortable, with one of these we could jack that temperature up 7 degrees (and down that amount in the winter) and just keep the one room comfy.  It would pay for itself.  Here's the link for the heat pump version:  http://www.sanyohvac.com/products.php?id=09KHS71

Not saying anyone should, but if you bought one of these for the 'pod you could get the tax credit for that too.  The credit is supposed to be for HVAC installed in a primary residence, which is why you shouldn't.  I'm sure nobody here does any creative accounting.  Ermm
 
David, many people on that forum did self-installs.  Some followed the rules and had an HVAC guy come out and evacuate the lines and do a check-out (necessary if you want warranty coverage).  But one guy who did beta testing of this unit and so has contacts at Sanyo says, they said, its used all over the world in places where that is impossible.  They hook it up and open the valves then start it up (the condenser comes with all necessary R-410).  With only a foot or two of lines needed on the 'pod I think it would be entirely unnecessary since there's little air in there to begin with.  Maybe air the lines out on a very dry day before hooking up but that's it.  Maybe wait for a dry day when a low pressure system is overhead to get your pressure down a little, and go to the top of a mountain for even more pressure drop.  That would be stretching it!  One interesting thing about this unit is apparently there is a procedure that will suck all the R-410 back into the condenser, then you can close the valves and unhook.
 
If anyone is interested, here's a link to that discussion.  Its 18 pages long.  This is probably the best solar power forum I've found, with test engineers as regular members and a good atmosphere (like here Wink)   http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/showthread.php?t=5104
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2010 at 1:39pm
That last link above is for the original thread, still a must-read if you are at all interested in the unit.  The moderator over there moved my questions about using this in an RV to a new thread, here:  http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/showthread.php?t=9287
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Sep 2010 at 10:25pm

Well, good news.  I measured the area on the tongue between the LPG tank and the front wall of the 'pod, and the condenser will fit with room to spare in that area, with the battery removed.  It should ride completely on the frame without hanging over more than an inch or so in either direction.  It will stick above the level of the tank so aesthetically it won't be completely hidden by the tank, but it shouldn't be horrible.  The condenser is 75 pounds, about 25 pounds more than the battery it would displace.  About 80% of that extra weight would be on the hitch, so that adds about 20 pounds to the hitch weight.  Not a big deal.   

The inside unit would fit on the inside of the front wall, but it will stick out considerably (~7 inches depth).  I think it will fit much better above the stove in the kitchenette.  That also would put that 20 pounds of weight over the axle, so no extra weight on the hitch.  The refrigerant and drain lines could be run down the wall through the back edge of the counter, then down through the floor and up to the front.

There is no weight dis/advantage to removing the original A/C.  Its above the axle, so none of the weight was on the hitch.  I also think the total weight is about the same as the new A/C, about 100 pounds give or take, so the towed weight is the same.  

So that leaves the final question, what to do with the battery.  As David said, I could switch to an AGM battery and stick it inside.  I might do that, but I'm also thinking of putting the existing battery at the front of the tongue.  I removed the factory jack and replaced it with a swing-up jack so that spot is currently empty - and has 3 heavy-duty bolts that thread nicely into the frame.  One downside is the weight - a full 50 pounds 100% on the hitch.  Assuming the hitch weight is already about 300 (181 dry + 31 [90% of LP tank plus gas] + 60 [80% of the condenser] + my own junk inside), that puts me right at my max.  Now I do have a weight distribution hitch, so in my case its not a big deal since my final hitch weight would be below 350.  Anyone else considering this might have to go with the AGM and move the battery inside.  Another downside to putting the battery up front is it will hang over somewhat.  I'll have to check again but I think I can turn the battery sideways so it hangs over less.

So, that leaves two things.  Powering the A/C when off-grid is one (that is part of the appeal of this model, the ability to run it on low @ less than 300 watts per hour, I think enough btu's to keep you comfortable).  I have 16 deep-cycle batteries in my home's backup system so I can borrow from there, but I need a decent sine wave inverter still.  So the final question - do I do it?  I can offset some of the cost by selling the current A/C, and it seems its otherwise "doable".  Anyone else want to be the Guinea Pig before I try it?Tongue

Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2010 at 9:38am
"Do I do it?"   Well, that depends.  How much camping do you do?  How much is a good night's sleep worth to you?  (I really hated the @#$%^%&* A/C in the Pod - it woke me up every time it kicked on - and I'm hearing impaired in both ears!).  Funny, I have a Dometic in the Coleman - the fans run continuously and only the compressor cycles.  It seems overall much more quiet and the change in sound db isn't enough to wake me, when the compressor cycles on.
 
Payback - dollars and cents: It doesn't seem to make "sense to spend the dollars".  The price of the unit plus a decent inverter...I'm thinking close to 2K (minus whatever you can sell the old one for).  We pay a flat fee for an electric/full hook up site, regardless of how much of the utilities we use.  Or we can pay less for a "primitive" site - again how much and what type of camping do you like?
 
On the other hand, if you are considering one for your home, you could always "try" it in the Pod first, see what you think and then make your determination from there.  Of course, if decided you liked it, you could then purchase a "permanent unit " for the Pod, as you had probably claimed the tax credit on the first one Wink.  Please understand that I am not a "tax professional" and am not qualified to give tax advise.  Offer void where prohibited.  Your milage may vary.  Professional driver on a closed course.
 
What about the hole in the roof of the Pod...Skylight?  LOL 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rpodcamper.com Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2010 at 10:08am
What is strange thast in over 1 1/2 years of owning the camper We have only used the A/C Unit on time and that was only during the day.  We camp off the grid most of the time and run battery power.  I have toyed with the idea of pulling the AC Unit and having a skylight built and installed but I would want one that could open.  We just recently found some 12 Volt fans at Walmart on clearance that I'm going to mount in the rpod.  Ran 5 days non stop before it killed the battery while sitting in the driveway.  need to do some real testing on them with a meter but that was just a quick test.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2010 at 11:25am
David, you must have had the A/C from the first batch, with no wall control.  Later models allowed you to leave the fan "on", which we do now (someone did figure out how to make the older A/C do the same).  The compressor kicking on still wakes me up half the time, vibrating the whole 'pod like a drum.  So from a sleep quality standpoint there is no question.
 
From a $ standpoint, the best option is to leave things as they are, no real "payback" is possible.  We spend minimum 20 or so days per year in it, and up to 30, so added comfort for a whole month out of the year is an argument for doing it.
 
I do think I'll order one for the house first so I can play with the pieces on the 'pod and see how it operates in real life up on the wall of my house.
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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