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Old 04-05-2017, 11:39 PM   #1
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Unhappy Possible Dream Crusher- Need Help w/ A/C & Solar Please!

Let me begin by saying I'm new here, so I am sorry if this question is very repetitive. I've done a little searching and can't seem to find the answer.

So I am looking to get into the skoolie game (emphasis on looking). I am planning out a budget and possibilities right now before pulling the trigger (it's been a long time dream of mine).

After doing some research, I am doubting I'm going to be able to pull this off.. for one reason... A/C. See, I live in south Texas, and am going to be living in the bus full-time with the majority of the time being here, so no A/C is not an option. (Energy consumption for everything else will be very little.. I'm trying to make things as minimal as possible.)

I want the bus to be off-grid and on solar powered only. I would also like for the solar cost to be around $2k (definitely not exceeding $3k) in order to fit my budget.

So what are my options here (if any)? What kind of A/C units should I be looking for? How effective will they be and what is the cost? And what kind of solar should I be looking for? And what is that cost? (Side Note: I would also not like to kill the batteries by letting them drop too low daily.)

Anything helps! This is pretty much the only hurdle between me and living my dream. Thank you guys, very nice community y'all have here! Hope to soon be apart of it!

(Forgot to mention a few things that would affect the A/C. I am planning on getting a large school bus, around 77 passengers. I am re-insulated the walls, floors, and ceiling. All windows will remain and be unblocked, but the back 5 feet will be a separate storage room.)
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:51 AM   #2
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if your running ac its best to be on shore power. solar and air conditioning don't like each other. if you dream of being off grid you would need to nix the ac and move with the seasons.
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Old 04-06-2017, 06:30 AM   #3
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As superdave said, running AC from solar is "difficult". In this case, difficult translates to expensive. It can be done but requires a massive solar array and a massive battery bank - preferably lithium. Depending on your AC needs, the solar/battery cost could easily exceed $30k. In that scenario, a generator and fuel to run the AC often becomes much more palatable.

You've probably already considered it but are their options other than AC (if you must stay in the area)? Good insulation, shade (some sort of whole bus awning/shade thing), and air movement (fans) can help immensely. No doubt that a hot/humid night without AC in Houston would be a tough thing for me (but I move to higher ground when that happens).
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:32 AM   #4
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Most months would be bearable, but the summer months would be impossible without A/C. I can't leave either because I'm still in college here. I may still go through with the project, but only use it on the weekends to travel to cooler places.

Would something like this (3600W generator) power my A/C on top of other needs? https://www.steadypower.com/products...ckage-%28RV%29
Are generators reliable as the only power source? Or would I also need some solar?
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Old 04-06-2017, 11:56 AM   #5
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AIr-conditioning takes energy... 3600 watts could probably run a couple of soft-start camper-top units, and definitely could run a couple 110 volt mini split units..

one of the reasons I NEVER camp is because of my wish for A/C and heat... and it seems at skoolie events generators are frowned upon.. out in the sticks anyones best guess..

you COULD look for a bus that has a built in separate diesel engine that runs electricity and A/C... run that on the worst days and nights and solar for the rest...

Off-Grid Living usually means sacrifice or big $$$.. alas why im such an On-Grid person.. not that it cant be done but its not super easy..

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Old 04-06-2017, 02:15 PM   #6
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Depending on the size of the bus and how much you are willing to compromise to make your dreams come true, perhaps a good insulation job, a small A/C and a very small generator. It could work if you are far enough out that none complains about the noise. If you design your bus right, lets say you build some sort of walled off bedroom in the back section of the bus and had a small window type AC, maybe running that off of a genny would work to keep the sleeping section at temp or something so you are not trying to cool a whole bus, I don't know just throwing stuff out there. There are tons of ways to make a dream come true if you think it out and want it bad enough.
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
... and it seems at skoolie events generators are frowned upon..
This is quite unfortunate
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Old 04-06-2017, 03:00 PM   #8
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I'll be using genny power in my bus.
Hip factor means nothing to me!
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Old 04-06-2017, 03:59 PM   #9
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I am a little more positive about solar and AC. On my 5 window bus I have space for 900 watt. So a full size could be 2500 watt or more
I think the $ 30K mentioned is about someone else doing it for you.
In my last thread with Elfie we picked up a Chevy Volt battery that holds 16 Kwh, for long life 12 kwh. I paid $ 900. see images.
3000 watt solar can cost less then $1500. weight less then 400 LBS
4 mppt Charge controller at about $ 150 / each
Wire and frames / material can all be had from the scrapyard.
your labor free.
A cheap new split 9000 btu is about $ 400.
A used one $ 150

A nice new silent generator is also not cheap but a used harbor freight one is about $35

I think it depends where you are coming from and yes if you require to keep your bus in a 105 F environment and the inside on 65F with 6 cloudy days in a row then you will have a problem.
Everything has its limitation so very good insulation, get rid of windows etc. is all required.

If you believe you can do it then you can and solar is very cheap and very very pleasant.

Later J
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevydude01 View Post
Depending on the size of the bus and how much you are willing to compromise to make your dreams come true, perhaps a good insulation job, a small A/C and a very small generator. It could work if you are far enough out that none complains about the noise. If you design your bus right, lets say you build some sort of walled off bedroom in the back section of the bus and had a small window type AC, maybe running that off of a genny would work to keep the sleeping section at temp or something so you are not trying to cool a whole bus,
It'll probably take a combination of compromises, and this one is a good suggestion. If only a portion of the bus is A/C sanctuary that'll be easier in terms of equipment (dollars) than A/C cooling the whole bus. Good insulation, thermal mass, and air infiltration/exfiltration will be important too. Sunlight shining through windows = massive heat gain, glass has terrible insulating value, and school bus windows aren't going to have any significant sealing against air leakage, so think long and hard about keeping those. Maybe the remainder of the bus can be kept bearable with fans and shade.
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