Need help deciding AC/Evap in off grid setup

Discussion in 'Heating / Cooling Systems' started by lexalotacus, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. lexalotacus

    lexalotacus New Member

    Apr 29, 2017
    EDIT: sorry if I put this in the wrong forum, Im NEW!!!

    Hey everyone!
    Brand new camper owner here just had a few questions for you guys. A little background first.. I just recently got my first camper.. a 1996 starcraft venture 1706 (trying to set it up to be COMPLETELY SOLAR/PROPANE POWERED AND OFF GRID). Looking forward to taking around most of north america over the next few years. This year ill be doing a lot of trips in Utah and Colorado and wanted to see if anyone could shed some insight on this since I'm a noob!

    So my first big thing is that I get HOT in the summer and it greatly affects my mood and energy level as well as my ability to sleep well. The big thing here is that I have 2 ways to run AC or a swamp cooler; either solar or propane (NOTE: I cannot use those dinky 5 gallon bucket burner DIY coolers.. those arent enough for me by far). I would LOVE to find a small AC unit that runs on propane but I've searched all over google and couldn't find anything.

    The reason I want AC over evap is so I can run it in more humid climates (I want to travel up the coast, etc).. However, if it's impossible to run AC off grid without investing a million dollars in solar then I'd settle for a swamp cooler but I dont want to pay $650 for a TurboKool even though they are really cool.. So anyways I was just hoping to find someone on here that overheats like me and has a small PUP that had a solution to off grid cooling etc etc.

    Would love to hear from you guys! Thanks so much!
  2. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    I'm no expert, but I would think you would need an awful amount of battery storage in order too run an ac unit of of batteries.. Also think you would need more solar panels then you could possibly fit on the roof of a pup... I know it's not what you want to hear, but maybe a couple dc fans and open up all the windows in the pup would give a better result..
  3. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    X2 on solar not cutting it for AC.

    If you really want to be cool, you need AC. You might as well go generator shopping.
    theseus and DiamondGirl like this.
  4. lexalotacus

    lexalotacus New Member

    Apr 29, 2017
    Well, I think I might get a quiet little gas generator and run a small AC off that. I was hoping for a more long term off grid solution but it just doesnt seem possible at this point. I was really hoping there would be some sort of propane cooling technology out :/
  5. Carlsbad

    Carlsbad Member

    Aug 19, 2014
    By a Yamaha generator and run it on propane.
  6. SteveP

    SteveP Active Member

    May 21, 2015
    Look at the absorption fridge in your camper and upscale that to what would be required to cool your mostly uninsulated popup and you'll see why absorption technology will not cool your camper. There may be some new tech out there I'm not aware of but lp fuel cell tech is still prohibitively expensive.

    An evap system would probably work at night in Utah and Colorado but I have no idea how to size it. I grew up with an evap home system and when the humidity gets over 50% you're just adding more water vapor to the air.

    Bite the bullet and buy a 3000 watt inverter generator.
  7. Sneezer

    Sneezer Active Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    For a good cooling solution in a camper you will need a generator. Too much power is needed for other solutions. I have seen battery generator units before that will run fridges and the like for days, but they are tremendously heavy and once you factor in a top shelf extensive solar array to top them off it gets prohibitively expensive.

    I built a tent AC unit a couple years ago that runs off 12V. It uses an old heater core from a truck which works as a heat exchanger, and a bilge pump. I put frozen jugs in a cooler with some water and ice. Bilge pump circulates the cold water through the heater core. I have a 3" exhaust fan that pulls air through the core and exhausts it. I can cool a tent down pretty well with it, and just using it at night it will last a couple days off a truck battery.

    I think the 1706 is one of the smaller boxes, right? How many people camping with you? Maybe if you got pugs for the bunks, installed reflectix and kept the other bunk closed off you might be able to rely on a cooler like mine at night. Having cold air blowing on you makes a difference. When I used it for summer camping I would fire it up about 30 min before I went to bed, and just before I went to sleep I would shut it off and rely on a 12V fan. If I got too hot in the middle of the night I could reach over and flip it back on and I would have it chilled down pretty quick. Bear in mind this is all in a small 3 man sized tent though.

    Anything you can do to keep the sun off the camper will help. Pool noodles on the bunk tops with pugs strapped down above that will help. Reflectix in all sun facing windows, or rely on awnings. On mine there is a marked difference between the shaded side and the unshaded side. This last trip my awning broke and I could not use it, and there was a huge difference in the effectiveness of my AC in the afternoon. I have this idea to build a frame to further shade the roof when deployed, but I haven't gotten around to fleshing that out quite yet.
  8. yetavon

    yetavon everything is better around a campfire.

    Mar 11, 2010
    Sure you can do this....but the battery bank would out weigh and cost as much as your complete rig.
    Generators can be made to run on propane, but I understand there is a decrease in overall output on propane.
  9. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I think a generator is the only way to go and most cost effective. There was something on you tube where someone was trying to use his AC on battery. However It kind of looked like he was parked on a solar farm. With solar panels every where you can see.
    My mom suffered from heat stroke once on a camping trip with me as she also is hyper sensitive to heat. I have since adjusted my camping trips to power only sites when I camp with her. As much as I love off grid camping her life is more important to me and heat is nothing to tangle with if your sensitive. So be careful, carry water with you, keep cool packs on hand and get inside if you start to feel sick. Insulate the popup with reflectix and gizmos to help hold the cool air in, as something you will realize is canvas breaths far too well.
  10. nhcaveman

    nhcaveman Barrington, NH

    Mar 25, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I like this one here, great reviews, reasonable price, quiet. I like it because I already carry plenty of propane which I'd prefer yo use, I'd rather not carry gasoline around. But at the same time it's nice to have that option if I had to run on gas. Also it fits into your : (trying to set it up to be COMPLETELY SOLAR/PROPANE POWERED AND OFF GRID) plans

  11. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2016
    King George, Virginia
    We camp alot OFF-GRID here on the East side of the US and very seldom could use the Air Conditioner. Most everywhere on the East side has Generator Run time restrictions at the Public palces. No where have we found where we could run our generator after 8PM at night at Public Camp grounds including Natl Forest etc....

    Out West you get to do alot of DISPERSED camping and I guess you run anything out that way...

    Check with the places you are presently going to be camping and find out the rules first hand... Just passing this along so one won't invest a bunch of money into things and not be able to use because of the local restrictions... Have camped in a few Texas locations being Texhoma and a few small public camp grounds. We really fell in love with the Wichita Mtns Wildlife Refuge at Medicine park near Lawton Okla... Here again they have Generator run time restrictions...

    We beefed up our battery setup and run a low wattage PSW Power Inverter to run the 120VAC items we want to use when camping off-grid... This does not include the higw wattage Air conditioner or Microwave... Everything else is pretty much the same as camping at Electric Sites for us but this requires us to recharge our Battery Bank the next morning. We hookup our 2KW Generator to the trailer and allow the on-board Power Converter to charge our batteries back up for the next day/night run off the batteries...

    Note we are running a 120VA fan here at the picnic table to keep the mosquitoes off of us haha...

    Roy's Image Camp Doris at Wichita Mtns Wildlife refuge

    Roy Ken
  12. Az Brittany Guy

    Az Brittany Guy New Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    If its going to be that hot, i dont's my policy. [:D]
  13. Yak

    Yak Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2009

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