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Old 03-15-2021, 07:07 PM   #1
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A/c on full time rig?

Hey all! We have an 02 Chevy bluebird, 25ft in length. Once we are done with the build well be living in it full time. We live in central Florida and have 2 dogs so well definitely be needing to have a/c on for them all the time. Has anyone successfully accomplished this? We plan on solar panels as well as shore power but when we travel and dont have access to shore power, how do-able will this be from just solar energy? How many panels, wattage, batteries will we need to accomplish this?

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Old 03-15-2021, 07:25 PM   #2
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Fortunately, your bus is not too big.

The better insulated it is, the less cooling/heating needs to be done to it.

Definitely using a reflective and cooling roof sealant will help tremendously.

Windows being darkened to reduce solar heating.

If you're planning on using a regular house ac unit, a mini-split might be a good choice.

Per how big your a/c unit, solar, battery bank and inverter need to be is all in the math.

There are a lot of examples of how to calculate all this on the web in written and video form. If you are not interested in determining this yourself, you might want to contact a mobile solar specialist and have them review your needs and calculate how much of what you need.

Remember, if you are going to run your a/c a lot, you then have to add in all your other a/c devices that will run at the same time.

Anything is possible with enough room to pack all the gear you need and money to pay for it.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-15-2021, 07:41 PM   #3
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Welcome to the site.

Once how much solar power is needed/required/determined based on your selected appliances, consider a generator as well for those days that the sun is not brite in the sky.

Electrical additions and the engineering required to achieve a safe working setup is one of, if not the biggest challenges in doing a conversion.
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Old 03-15-2021, 09:40 PM   #4
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In full sun, solar A/C is not too difficult. Its during overcast and night time that things like AC and heat become truly difficult / expensive.
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Old 03-17-2021, 09:49 PM   #5
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Looking at Kaz's registry pic of his snow covered bus, it doesn't seem he's too worried about a/c. Ha.

You could run your generator while traveling??
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Old 03-18-2021, 06:56 AM   #6
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You'll not be able to run AC 24 hours a day on solar. Generators are your friend.
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:31 AM   #7
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insulation is truly key.. if you want to off-grid with A/C you'll want to fully gut, spray foam, and likely end up with somewhat of a cave for a bus unless you want a bit of a procedure everytime you leave the dogs..



the other problem as mentioned is that you are working with 2 opposing forces.. you need lots of sun to power your solar panels, yet parking under trees in the shade is your biggest ally for cooling the inside of the bus.. both are mutually exclusive.. sun makes lots of heat, shade doesnt make any electricity.



1. bus walls / ceilings have crappy insulation.. if your bus ghas factory A/C for the road your insulation may be better but still not good.. so youll want to insulate it well.



2. bus windows are terrible insulators.. you'll likely either have to give up natural light and reduce the number of windows or be prepared to make insulating panels that attach to the inside of the windows (not drapes or curtains).. RV windows are somewhat better than school bus windows.


3. build a partition to block off the driver area.. the windshield, driver window and front door are areas of huge heat gain even when the bus is turned off.



4. install some type of remote monitoring system and be ready to park in an area which has cellular service.. in broad daylight it wont take long to kill your dogs if the A/C or power were to fail while you are away.. you'll want to know rather quickly..



5. my thoiughts would be more to give up on "being green" and park the bus in nice shady areas and run a generator or have large battery banks that you have charged up either via solar / alternator or generator.. in the shade your A/C works Much less hard. and a failure of some system part will give you lots more time before the heat builds inside and injurs your dogs..
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Old 03-21-2021, 06:33 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for all of that info!
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Old 03-21-2021, 06:59 PM   #9
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Our dogs try to lay on the coolest floor area when it is hot. Heat exchanger from a cold floor is a lot better then cold air. For dogs you would save a lot of energy if you can create a cool floor using a water chiller and circulate water thru the floor where the dogs lay. That sucks the heat out of them. A 35 lbs dog generates about 20 watt of heat in rest mode.. so with proper heat exchange and heat pump that would take only 5 to 10 watts of electrical power..

I use a water cooled vest that is normally used in tanks and helicopters.. things that are hard to hvac..

For dogs there are water cooled pads.. low power chillers are on ebay..

Good luck

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Old 03-25-2021, 08:19 AM   #10
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They don't regularly issue U.S. Army Tankers water-cooled vests, though there are sometimes oddball items in the inventory system that units can special-order. I've never seen one.

On the old M1A1, they used to issue us air-cooled vests that you'd hook up to the NBC blower. It would blow warm air on your body, which was better than nothing but not by much. Unfortunately, the NBC blower had a tendency to catch fire, so lots of crews didn't use it on a regular basis. In Iraq in the humid areas near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, summer temperatures were 110-120, with occasional heatwaves to the high 120s. The tanks were about 10 degrees warmer from all the hydraulics and solar radiation with very little air movement, and the crews wore flame-retardant coveralls with either a thin "spall" vest or full body armor plus a helmet. The main thing you could do was drink lots and lots of water.

It was similar to this, but looked very slightly different:
https://www.sportsmansguide.com/prod...drab?a=1711995

A cooler of ice also helped when you could get it. I love arm immersion in ice water up to the bicep; it can cool your core body temperature down in under a minute and make you feel wonderfully refreshed. You could do the same by putting an ice cold cloth around your neck over your carotid artery, but that always gave me a splitting headache and the cloth also warmed up pretty fast.

The M1A2 has air conditioning, but it is mostly designed to keep the electronics from overheating rather than crew comfort. It is still hot, but not nearly as bad - the numbers I've seen claim that it can keep the crew compartment under 95 degrees in the desert. I haven't seen the air-cooled vests issued for the M1A2.

I'm curious what kind of vest you have. Have any more information on it? Is there an NSN (National Stock Number)? It would be 13-digits in the format XXXX-XX-XXX-XXXX? Is it something like this?
http://www.defensetech.org/archives/004401/
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Old 03-25-2021, 11:36 AM   #11
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Biscuit, it is exactly like the one in the article..I had to modify the quick connect / disconnects. But these are working great for me behind the large window in Dory. They were cheap on ebay,. Like $12 or $15 a piece.

Reading your article it seems I spoke out of place about tanks and helicopters..just a humvee thing? Not sure why tankers / copters did not have them or do? Seems simple enough,. If you are driving / flying a multimillion dollar piece of equipment with control about life and death you keep your people coolheaded at all times..

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Old 03-25-2021, 12:56 PM   #12
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I think mini split A/C is considered a lower power draw compared to RV roof A/C units, and you can achieve more cooling capacity per AMP draw of electricity.

Inverter mini splits are sometimes inherently "soft start" requiring less of a starting wattage compared to running wattage. People install soft start systems to get "bigger" A/Cs or 2 roof A/C units to be powered by a smaller generator. Typically people like soft start so that they can get by on a 30 AMP service instead of 50 AMP or even get by with only having access to a 15 AMP household outlet because they are driveway surfing. This soft start concept also helps when trying to run only from batteries which may or may not be simultaneously being recharged by solar at a different rate, but the load requirement from an A/C running all day outstrips the other electricity requirements so much that most people don't even try to run A/C without a generator.

The people on youtube installing a mini split on a bus typically do some bracket fabrication that is stronger than the equipment designed to just bolt to a stationary sticks and bricks house.

Trying to ensure that you have off-grid solar only A/C on a bus equivalent to the reliability of an on-grid sticks and bricks home is not really practical and not done in most of the builds I've seen online. Does being safe for a dog mean ensuring a consistent 70F temperature in the bus? Or is a higher temperature safe enough? Maybe a solution with 1 "under powered" A/C unit and then generator or shore hookup only A/C for actual comfortable temps.

Seems to me that the only thing a skoolie builder can do is to put as much A/C capacity as affordable and then make do with what you did by employing other tricks like cold mats or just ventilating instead of air conditioning, taking dogs with you, boarding etc...

The only time online I've seen a fully off grid powerful A/C is with a combination of ductless mini split and a nissan leaf battery pack and a roof entirely filled with solar panels front to back. Also, it seems to be VERY insulated, as well as an owner builder who comprehended and performed the complicated electrical combination of solar, electric car battery voltage, controllers, inverters, DC voltage converters, and wiring; The guy even put in a fire suppression setup in the electrical bays.


They call it "Broccoli Bus 6"; 12 minute mark for discussion of battery. 18 minute mark shows where they installed the outside mini-split unit.

That video did not go into the cost of that electrical setup. It's got to be expensive >$10k. But they still require fuel while stationary to cook and probably for the dryer but they run washer and dryer on their self generated electricity.

Personally, I've run a portable "construction" type generator (my motorhome's generator broke) to power a class C motorhome A/C for a few hours at a time. For example, parking and eating at a restaurant and leaving a dog inside. And going down the road, I either run windows open or van front A/C full blast. It's fine for people and pets although not actually as comfortable as fully air conditioned would be.

There was a netflix documentary expedition happiness where they had a dog and the dog ended up with doggie medical issues and their dog got overheated while they journeyed... They even talked about how when they took a break with a hotel room and hotel A/C that their dog wasn't used to it and had "acclimated" to being warm.

So, essentially, if you have to ask.... it's probably not do-able. I've seen 1 example online of it being done. That's it! Otherwise, it's much more typical to use a generator for mobile cooling.

Even the $1 Million + mobile mansions built on a Prevost platform just have a "quiet" diesel generator on board and don't bother with anything else.

Money is probably better spent making a generator installation quieter and less obnoxious for neighbors or yourself than extensive solar and battery array.

Going down the road generally one would run their generator in order to have house A/C. Opinions are split as to whether or not that is bad for generator longevity. But it'll definitely kill your gas mileage!
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Old 03-25-2021, 08:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
Biscuit, it is exactly like the one in the article..I had to modify the quick connect / disconnects. But these are working great for me behind the large window in Dory. They were cheap on ebay,. Like $12 or $15 a piece.

Reading your article it seems I spoke out of place about tanks and helicopters..just a humvee thing? Not sure why tankers / copters did not have them or do? Seems simple enough,. If you are driving / flying a multimillion dollar piece of equipment with control about life and death you keep your people coolheaded at all times..

Johan
I did some research and apparently they did allow units to order the water-cooled vests for tankers, but it was not standard equipment. Soldier equipment that is NOT issued through the Central Issue Facility is usually lost to the unit when Soldiers PCS to their next duty station or ETS from the Army. Some of this, unsurprisingly, ends up at Military Surplus stores or sold on eBay.
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Old 03-26-2021, 06:17 AM   #14
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Why do you need Air Conditioning for dogs? Did no dogs survive in Florida before air conditioning was invented a few decades ago?



Unless you have an Alaskan Malumute, a Burmese Mountain Dog, or some other cold-weather breed, they should be fine if you can lower the temperature inside to the outside ambient temperature, get some airflow, and ensure they have lots of water. In other words, some really good fans should work if you are on solar-only. I haven't used the MAXXAIR, but something like it would probably work well.


https://www.amazon.com/Maxxair-00070.../dp/B003ZOF09Y
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Old 03-26-2021, 06:55 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Biscuitsjam View Post
Why do you need Air Conditioning for dogs? Did no dogs survive in Florida before air conditioning was invented a few decades ago?



Unless you have an Alaskan Malumute, a Burmese Mountain Dog, or some other cold-weather breed, they should be fine if you can lower the temperature inside to the outside ambient temperature, get some airflow, and ensure they have lots of water. In other words, some really good fans should work if you are on solar-only. I haven't used the MAXXAIR, but something like it would probably work well.


https://www.amazon.com/Maxxair-00070.../dp/B003ZOF09Y

alot of people before A/C made it a point to growup extra shade trees. amnd to have shaded outdoor areas for dogs to lay down.. in the northern areas basements and sunken rooms were a great place.. in florida the floors are tiled and of course cooler.. (not much carpet).. a bus is a metal tube.. the floors will never be cool as the natural ground is.. if there is great shade that helps.. but think of sitting in your car in the summertime even with all the windows down its still much warmer than the outside..



a bus takes away all of the natural cooling methods available.. unless people own land for dogs to run i really havent figured out why full timers would keep them. but thats not my call..



a bus is still a metal tube even insuklated and ventilated still a metal tube..
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Old 03-26-2021, 10:51 AM   #16
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I've been deep-cold camping with two dogs. (hot weather camping sucks!)


I heard that they loose/gain more heat through the floor they lay on than through the air. They don't have blood vessels in their skin like we do for cooling.


I always brought a mat for them to sleep on. The lab (with that short hair) liked to sleep under my coat, but the small sheppard (with the 3-layer, water-shedding super-fur) would have none of that!


My sis had a lab/chow/wolf mix that preferred to sleep outside in the NC mountain winters (her fur was thicker, single layer). It would be 15F outside, and she would curl up in a little ball on the ice in the middle of the driveway, with as small a "footprint" touching the ice as possible.


I think JoeBlack has is right. Cooling pads would be better than A/C.



I used to bring those pups with me everywhere. In the summers when it would reach the upper 90s (with high humidity) I would strive to find shade to park, sometimes a 5 min walk from where I was going (it still is a habit of mine), and leave the windows all the way down. They were used to the "truck" being their home. The lab usually hung near, but the Sheppard liked to go on exploration adventures. Both loved to dumpster dive (my Lab once got in a 8' high dumpster with the doors closed, and the top open!) Occasionally I would have to come back a few hours later, when the Sheppard went on longer expeditions.


But when it got the hottest, they usually avoided the blacktop and stayed in the truck. They were hot, yes, but OK. Still "peppy" and happy. If they are laying there panting and have lost their "pep", then heat-stroke is near!
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Old 03-26-2021, 11:50 AM   #17
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Different people have way different standards for how they treat their own dogs.

Different people have much different standards on the appropriateness of having an opinion about how other people should treat dogs in their care.

Yes, people can and do without reliable 100% functional off grid A/C.
They let dogs exist in temperature no worse than the current outdoor temp with fans and venting.
They use a cooling mat.
They take the dog with them.
They don't live in extreme hot or cold.
They find shore power consistently.
They just don't have a dog.

I'm fascinated by the idea that you could have an unplugged box be totally energy independent but be just like a regular house as well as be mobile.

I think people fantasize and idealize a situation where you can park your vehicle in a hot parking lot on a hot day and magically return to a perfectly cooled vehicle. All that without leaving it running a generator or leaving the motor running.

Imagine a comfortable nap in your "car" at lunchtime outside your office on a scorching hot day. Or at the theme park when taking a break.

Imagine how awesome it would be to have your home steps away and accessible to you fully climate controlled in a situation where most people just had their car parked nearby.

Every outing would be amazing.
Now imagine you could park that motorized home next to your actual sticks and bricks mansion.
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Old 03-26-2021, 04:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
They call it "Broccoli Bus 6"; 12 minute mark for discussion of battery. 18 minute mark shows where they installed the outside mini-split unit.
I'm one of those folks trying to run A/C on solar, so far the limit has been the batteries. During sun the panels will pretty easily get the batteries to full from zero while powering everything, but during night I just don't have the capacity.

I'm about to do a full system upgrade: new inverter, new battery bank, doubling up on panels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
That video did not go into the cost of that electrical setup. It's got to be expensive >$10k. But they still require fuel while stationary to cook and probably for the dryer but they run washer and dryer on their self generated electricity.
Its not just what he did, but the way he did it was likely fairly expensive. Since my fourth iteration of electrical, his bus has been the bus I've been using as the benchmark to beat. 2500W+ of PV, 21kWh of battery, 18000 BTU split IIRC. The leaf batteries is what really drives the capabilities there imo.

Post upgrade I'm looking at 6200W PV, 43kWh of battery, inverter that can deliver 6000W continuous. 9000 BTU split has been enough for A/C so far.

I think for dogs, a white roof + two Maxxair Maxxfans at the opposing ends of the bus (one pulling air in one pushing air out) on thermostat is likely to be enough. A/C on solar is fairly easy in full sun with 2000W+ of panels. A/C on battery power is highly expensive, although not as much as it was a year ago.
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Old 03-26-2021, 05:53 PM   #19
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theres also more and more 12 / 24 volt A/C units coming out so you can eliminate the step up of DC to AC and voltage up.. these units operate on actual 12 or 24 volt DC motors as opposed to simply having built in inverters.. ive been doing quite a bit of research on some of them pretty heavily this past couple weeks.. some are splits and some are all-in-one rooftop style so you dont need to be an A/C tech to instal them.
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Old 03-26-2021, 06:58 PM   #20
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Are there any links on the web that you can share regarding these DC units
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