Air conditioning

Aug 4, 2004
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We are considering installing air conditioning in our caravan as we will be spending a lot of time in it in hopefully warmer climates. We want one that not only cools the air in summer but in the cooler months warms the air, is very quiet, lightweight and good quality.

At present looking at the Dometic but having no experience of air conditioners in caravans we would appreciate some comments regarding their installation and effectiveness in a caravan. What other makes are there out there that are good?
 
Jul 12, 2005
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This is the reply I got from swift when I asked about having the dometic retro fitted to my van

We would recommend that you contact your nearest Swift Group Dealer, with the details of your caravan, including the serial number. Your dealer will then be able to establish whether the roof is strong enough to take the weight of the unit. If the supports are in place, the item can be fitted, however we advise you to consider the following issues.

In most cases we recommend that the unit is fitted in place of an omnivent, or rooflight. This can however cause problems, as this may affect the amount of ventilation that is available in the caravan, and is regulated by current legislation.

The air conditioning unit will also require an electrical supply, both a 12 and 240 volt supply.

The fitting of this item may also affect your payload, as this will be an additional item, which will be fitted to your caravan.

Your dealer will be able to advise you on all of the issues listed above, but I hope that this information will be of use to you and help you to make an informed decision about the fitting of an Air Conditioning Unit.

Any damage caused as a result of the fitting of the unit will not be covered by your warranty.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Ian,

Look at some of the mobile units avilable from DIY stores. These can be quite effective provided the condenser coil air flow is piped outside. . They can be positioned to suit you usage of the van, and best of all you can use them at home in the hot weather. Avoid the evaporative cooler types which simply humidify the air.

Oh I almost forgot - they are also much cheaper!
 
Nov 6, 2005
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The domestic mobile type of cooler are quite heavy and need to rest (without operation) for 24 hours after transportation - not exactly convenient for touring.

Truma and Glaciation make units which can be fitted at low level in a bedbox, much better for stability, but air distribution trunking can be difficult to plan.

All air-con units can be noisy during operation, some roof-mounted types are likely to generate complaints from nearby pitches!
 
Jun 7, 2005
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Ian

I bought my Landranger with one of the Dometic roof mounted ones fitted, I have to say it does everything you want (including heating) and I am very pleased with it. They are noisey though and I dont think running them at night would go down well, apart from the neighbours complaining you would have to be a very deep sleeper not to be disturbed by the noise in the van. We find the best way is to have the unit running to keep the van cool during the day and into early evening, then when you retire for the night the van is at a nice temperature.
 
Apr 13, 2005
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Hi Ian, we had airconditioning fitted in our coachman laser and found it to be almost useless due to the size of the van. the system is very limited in duty due to the amount of power available to run it on site and as such it is almost incapable of cooling anything over 20 foot long. we also found as others have pointed out that the unit was noisy when you tried to sleep with it on, even on low fan.

In my opinion airconditioning in caravans is something that will never work, and i think i'm qualified to comment as i'm a fully qualified refrigeration / airconditioning service engineer, in order for the system to be fully effective it would have to sized to suit the vans dimensions and from my calculations for an a/c unit to work effectively in a 27 foot van like mine it would have to be 4.5 kw in duty, this would obviously trip your hook up immediately so is not possible.

I have looked at the under bed type unit available and although far more suitable due to the weight being so much lower you will have problems with the duct work layout and due to this duct work you will lose a large amount of the units duty within the ducting making the unit less effective. The ideal situation would be for caravans to be fitted with "heat pump" airconditioners which reverse the cycle to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer, these are very efficient heating systems but due to hook up restrictions you would only be able to fit them to small vans. Untill dometic and the other manufacturers catch on to the inverter technology and lower the consumption then i would leave a/c well alone unless your van is smaller than 20 foot.
 
Aug 4, 2004
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Thanks for the informative replies. As per Sparkes though, I woudl not be interested in a 12v a/c as it just would not be practicable. Certainly re-considering.
 
Dec 16, 2003
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Living in hot climates abroad as a youngster we only had Air Con in work places at home going in and out of cool to hot was found not to be good and madr it harder to "aclimatise" numerous times a day.

Carravaning in sweltering hot european sites we always run the blown air system at night, the cooler ground air replaces the rising hot air and we find the constantly changeing air makes for a good nights sleep and even in the hot days it makes a difference.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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We use a large oscillating floor fan cut down to desk size aimed at the ceiling, the curve of which directs the breeze around the interior of the 'van. Cheap, quiet, three speeds, can be used in the awning and can be stowed in the car roof box when not required - or in the garage during winter.

Mike E
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Ian, we had airconditioning fitted in our coachman laser and found it to be almost useless due to the size of the van. the system is very limited in duty due to the amount of power available to run it on site and as such it is almost incapable of cooling anything over 20 foot long. we also found as others have pointed out that the unit was noisy when you tried to sleep with it on, even on low fan.

In my opinion airconditioning in caravans is something that will never work, and i think i'm qualified to comment as i'm a fully qualified refrigeration / airconditioning service engineer, in order for the system to be fully effective it would have to sized to suit the vans dimensions and from my calculations for an a/c unit to work effectively in a 27 foot van like mine it would have to be 4.5 kw in duty, this would obviously trip your hook up immediately so is not possible.

I have looked at the under bed type unit available and although far more suitable due to the weight being so much lower you will have problems with the duct work layout and due to this duct work you will lose a large amount of the units duty within the ducting making the unit less effective. The ideal situation would be for caravans to be fitted with "heat pump" airconditioners which reverse the cycle to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer, these are very efficient heating systems but due to hook up restrictions you would only be able to fit them to small vans. Untill dometic and the other manufacturers catch on to the inverter technology and lower the consumption then i would leave a/c well alone unless your van is smaller than 20 foot.
Hello Icemaker,

I agree with your comments regarding power consumption, and the size of the caravan, but there is a compromise which can produce some useful benefit for the user. You will need as much power as you describe if you intend to drop the temperature of the whole caravan, but with controllable outlets you can direct the chilled air to the occupied area of the caravan. Sometimes a cooled localise airflow is all that is require.

I do not understand your reference to inverter technology. How can this help with AC?

I agree with most of what you say, There are a coupe of riders though:, with the ducted system, you do have some control over the distribution, so you can bias it toward the area of occupation. , and noise will aways be an issue. I do not follow the logic or your final statement
 
Mar 14, 2005
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The domestic mobile type of cooler are quite heavy and need to rest (without operation) for 24 hours after transportation - not exactly convenient for touring.

Truma and Glaciation make units which can be fitted at low level in a bedbox, much better for stability, but air distribution trunking can be difficult to plan.

All air-con units can be noisy during operation, some roof-mounted types are likely to generate complaints from nearby pitches!
Hekko Roger,

Yes the mobile units do need to rested if they have been have been turned over or laid down, but providing they have been kept upright, they will be fine.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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We considered having a/c fitted, as we always take the dogs with us and need to have a comfortable climate for them, but after exploring the effectiveness weighed aginst cost and noise etc decided against it.

We use a tower fan, they take up relatively small floor area, there are no accessible blades to cause injury, it has 3 speeds and a "breeze" facilty and is quiet in operation.

We have found it ideal for our needs, and the dogs are much more settled when it is running, allowing them,and us a good nights sleep.
 
Jun 7, 2005
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Hi Ian, we had airconditioning fitted in our coachman laser and found it to be almost useless due to the size of the van. the system is very limited in duty due to the amount of power available to run it on site and as such it is almost incapable of cooling anything over 20 foot long. we also found as others have pointed out that the unit was noisy when you tried to sleep with it on, even on low fan.

In my opinion airconditioning in caravans is something that will never work, and i think i'm qualified to comment as i'm a fully qualified refrigeration / airconditioning service engineer, in order for the system to be fully effective it would have to sized to suit the vans dimensions and from my calculations for an a/c unit to work effectively in a 27 foot van like mine it would have to be 4.5 kw in duty, this would obviously trip your hook up immediately so is not possible.

I have looked at the under bed type unit available and although far more suitable due to the weight being so much lower you will have problems with the duct work layout and due to this duct work you will lose a large amount of the units duty within the ducting making the unit less effective. The ideal situation would be for caravans to be fitted with "heat pump" airconditioners which reverse the cycle to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer, these are very efficient heating systems but due to hook up restrictions you would only be able to fit them to small vans. Untill dometic and the other manufacturers catch on to the inverter technology and lower the consumption then i would leave a/c well alone unless your van is smaller than 20 foot.
Whilst I agree with you that air con in a caravan is never going to be as efficient as we are generally used to in office/ home environments. I can honestly say that I would not be without mine whan we are in either southern France or Spain.I find it works as well as you can reasonably expect given the limitations we are faced with,and I have never had it trip the electrics on any site.
 
Aug 4, 2004
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I am sure that the Americans or Australins would have come up with effective a/c in their caravans. Perhaps an imported un it would be better than a local one.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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A friend, who has just returned from a long trip around America, tells me that the larger American vans often have two A/C units fitted.

The mains hook up though, starts as low as 30amps and goes up to 60amps.

Can you imagine the C.C. fitting 60amp hook up over here? I think not.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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A friend, who has just returned from a long trip around America, tells me that the larger American vans often have two A/C units fitted.

The mains hook up though, starts as low as 30amps and goes up to 60amps.

Can you imagine the C.C. fitting 60amp hook up over here? I think not.
Hello Clarky,

Just a note re american units, don't forget that the power in the US is 110/120V ac, so thier current is twice as much as ours for the same wattage. Its still rather irrelivant as it would take 30A at 230V to match thier capacity.
 
Jul 20, 2018
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Hi not sure how old this post is . I fitted a Houghton Belaire 2000 on our narrowboat. Its a reverse cycle air heat pump and cost £900. It works very well and weighs about 30 kg , it requires 240v power only NO 12v is required . It is rated at 2kw heating and 2kw cooling . Being a heat pump it does NOT consume huge amouamountsmnts of power 800w max on start up and when running considerable less around 400w. It requires 400mm x 400mm aperture in the roof and is very easy to fit. . The unit comes with a remote control and can be programmed to switch on and off automatically it can be set to dehumidify cool or heat. With regards the efficiency of aircon in caravans and motorhomes if you go to Australia you will not find a unit that does not have it fitted . Modern airconditioners are a very worthwhile addition and do not need huge amounts of power to run them . Oh and its not noisy by the way. We live aboard so have full size fridge a freezer large screen tv satelite ....all mod cons and we run happily on a 16a supply.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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........this topic is so old that the OP has been reincarnated in another life as Buckman who now also posts on this forum.
I think he likes his gadgets so perhaps he could let us know how many caravans he has had since his original posting 13 odd years ago and whether he fitted any air conditioning?

I believe Sparkes who gave the first reply to Surfer all those years ago is also now known to us by a more familiar name ;)
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Gafferbill said:
........this topic is so old that the OP has been reincarnated in another life as Buckman who now also posts on this forum.
I think he likes his gadgets so perhaps he could let us know how many caravans he has had since his original posting 13 odd years ago and whether he fitted any air conditioning?

I believe Sparkes who gave the first reply to Surfer all those years ago is also now known to us by a more familiar name ;)
Close but no cigar Bill. ?
The Sparkes may have been another forum user with the same name as mine, sadly now deceased.
When I joined the moddying team the two existing moderators were anonymous, Mod 1 and Mod 2.
I agreed to join the team only on condition that the anonymity ended because I.M.O it cased more problems than it solved.
Sparkes had only recently died at the time, so I chose Parksy because I didn't want to cause upset or to usurp the memory of the deceased. ;)
 

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