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Old 05-22-2021, 05:16 AM   #1
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Combating the Summer Heat

Hey all. Wondering if anyone has any tips for keeping a bus cool during the summer? I bought mine partially renovated and it only has insulation in the walls. Unfortunately at this point it's too late to do any major renovations. I've tried playing around with AC units and fans, but the heat still seems very difficult to combat. Most of the heat seems to come through the windows and the roof. I've seen other skoolies with insulation paint on the roof but am a bit hesitant as I feel it probably wouldn't help a whole lot. Anyway, just wondering if there's other alternatives I can try out there. Thanks for any advice you can provide!!
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Old 05-22-2021, 05:31 AM   #2
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A layer of paint is much too thin (1/30" at best) to provide any significant insulating effect, claims of "insulating ceramic beads" notwithstanding. All paint can do is to reflect the direct sunlight that will heat a vehicle much hotter than the ambient air temperature (the worst I've measured in my bus was 135F when it was 95F outside), and any white paint will be as effective as any other white paint. In other words, don't waste your money on Tropi-Cool unless you want it for its purported waterproofing benefits (which may also be fictional).

All you can do is 1) park your bus in the shade, and 2) cover up as much of the uninsulated parts of your bus (like the windows, the front etc.) with temporary insulation as you can.
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Old 05-22-2021, 06:24 AM   #3
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Agreed with the post above. I also installed a generator and air conditioning. Before that, I opened the windows and used a box fan.
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Old 05-22-2021, 10:44 AM   #4
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Some friends of mine live off-grid in S.Oregon in their non-mobile bus. They put in a window A/C unit, but said it didn't do much. Then a friend helped them set up a tarp 1-2 feet over the roof for shade. That helped a lot, they said. It was still hot in July/August, but not sweltering inside.
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Old 05-22-2021, 02:01 PM   #5
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We just take it up in the mountains where its cool.
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Old 05-22-2021, 03:03 PM   #6
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you can buy or make magnetic edge screen to cover your open windows and doors and a real good fan for airflow.
save your A/C for when done?
i aint really the one to give advice for this because i was raised a texas cattle farm boy.
joined the marine corp and went to the desert for years and since 96 have been a steamfitter, welder, boilermaker since.
i live in leather jackets and long sleeve shirts in 130 degree plus rooms.
in the summer once you get saturated it feels like A/C when you walk outside and in the winter its constantly pull your winter gear when you walk in and have to put it back on just to go to the porta john or lunch or whatever?
gotta see the faces of the delivery people in the summer when we order pizza to a central plant and open the doors and its hotter in there then it is outside?
they are in tank tops and shorts and we are full leathers or longsleeve and squishing our socks out or changing them and boots at lunch?
get some airflow going and get sweaty
wear gloves and safety glasses for anything you do.
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Old 05-23-2021, 05:02 AM   #7
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One option that may not be totally out of thr question would be a full rooftop deck. Where white paints do their best to reflect the heat away, a deck can put your bus in perpetual shade on top. For the rest, hanging a tarp from the deck and/or painting it all white may be pretty effective.

Windows are definitely going to be terrible for keeping any cool air in provided by an AC. There is always the option of sealing over them completely, but then you can’t open them at nights where the added cool breeze is desired.

People like to joke about moving the bus with the weather, to avoid hot environments. I guess that’s technically an option.

You could set up a water sprinkler to mist on the bus when it’s really hot. Obviously that has its drawbacks, but is a serious option if your water comes out the tap at <70 degrees.

As far as fans go, evaporative coolers are effective ways to get a drop by tens of degrees without quite the power draw of a full AC unit.
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Old 05-23-2021, 11:13 AM   #8
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A tarp awning to keep the sun off the side of the bus could help. Makes for a nice outdoor area to work in too.
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Old 05-23-2021, 11:29 AM   #9
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I saved my rooftop A/C unit as it is only 6 years old. We upgraded to a 19seer variable speed Bosch unit. I had the A/C company put my old unit onto a trailer I had sitting around. I will duct this into the bus if it gets too unbearable to work on when the temps hit 110. Of Course, at that point the metal interior will be closer to 175

I also have a 2 ton portable A/C unit but doubt it will counteract the intense heat load.
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Old 05-23-2021, 02:51 PM   #10
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Don't know about Tropicool being the best or some miracle but I do know my inner bus ceiling is never is HOT to the touch anymore since I put 3 coats of Tropicool on it.
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Old 05-26-2021, 09:27 PM   #11
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From what I’ve heard, Tropicool performs pretty close to the level of other white paint. The main benefit being that nothing sticks to it, so it won’t be as susceptible to getting dirty over time, which would darken its color and cause it to absorb more heat as it ages.

The downside to tropicool is, well, also that nothing sticks to it. So if, at any point in the future, you have to repair a mounting bracket on your roof, you might have a tough time sealing it properly because the sealants will peel off.

So pick your poison.
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Old 05-26-2021, 11:27 PM   #12
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That's some good stuff above. It certainly helps to keep the steel cooler.

We had plenty of sunny UV & IR heat coming through the glass, even with factory tint on all passenger windows.
We added removable window clings to half of some in the back, (by Velemax) which blocks 100% UV & IR rays.
Also darkened the tint on some others, as well.
Made insulated wool curtains for the front.
Added tint to the drivers slider and the winshield, which blocks 38% of infrared heat, 84% of UV rays, and is 50% light blocking. Drivers paradise.(F@$k da po-lease).
Redundant A/Cs w/ well cleaned/combed cooling fins.
We always try to park in the shade and wear only what we must.

The glass didn't seem like a "down the road" project. Why work hot? (Florida)
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Old 05-29-2021, 11:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
A layer of paint is much too thin (1/30" at best) to provide any significant insulating effect, claims of "insulating ceramic beads" notwithstanding. All paint can do is to reflect the direct sunlight that will heat a vehicle much hotter than the ambient air temperature (the worst I've measured in my bus was 135F when it was 95F outside), and any white paint will be as effective as any other white paint. In other words, don't waste your money on Tropi-Cool unless you want it for its purported waterproofing benefits (which may also be fictional).

All you can do is 1) park your bus in the shade, and 2) cover up as much of the uninsulated parts of your bus (like the windows, the front etc.) with temporary insulation as you can.

I agree about Tropicool. However, not all whites are created equal, check the reflective index/properties of any paint that you are considering. BTW, if its 135 in the bus, you are doing a ppoor job of ventilating the bus. Even pulling that 95 degree air in and blowing the 135 air out will bring down that 135 degrees down.



If you have sufficient electricity, suck in that cool night air all night and turn off the fan when the sun comes up. This will cool down all of the materials in the bus and take advantage of what ever thermal mass you have and allow the materials to soak up some of the heat during the early part of the day and delay the need for cooling a little later in the day. If you are parked you may want to consider adding some temporary thermal mass inside of the bus. Anything heavy will work although large containers of water is commonly used because of the ease of filling the containers and dumping them when ready to move. Turn the fan back on once it is cooler outside than inside. Reverse this cycle to heat in the winter if it gets warm enough outside.

The ancient pharaohs of Egypt used to have slaves haul massive stones out into the desert every night to cool down and then bring them back into the structure every morning to absorb heat to keep the structure cool. Same thing except we move the air instead of the stone.


Actually there is a lot more that you can do, but I don't have the time or desire to detail them. Passive ventilation and cooling techniques have been developed all over the world for thousands of years. Its only been in the last half of the last century that we have become dependent on insulation, hydrocarbons, and electricity. A lot of the older people that are still around had no air conditioning when they were young. Ask them what to do. And yeah, a lot of us grew up in shacks with metal roofs. Wall paper was our caulk/foam/air seal and it covered the cracks and made the boards look prettier than paint did.



The RV/tiny home, aka the tepee, used by many American tribes, used a flap/door and a flap at the top of the tepee to control ventilation. Of course they positioned their RV/tiny home to take advantage of wind, sun, and shade.
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Old 05-30-2021, 05:54 AM   #14
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BTW, if its 135 in the bus, you are doing a poor job of ventilating the bus. Even pulling that 95 degree air in and blowing the 135 air out will bring down that 135 degrees down.
To clarify my statement, the roof of my bus measured 135F with an infrared thermometer, measured from inside before I put in the ceiling insulation and ceiling paneling. The air inside the bus was not that hot because I had the windows open and a fan on. With the insulation in place (and windows, doors and hatches open - the arrangement I'm basically building my bus around), my ceiling now measures only a few degrees above the ambient air temperature with the bus out in direct sunlight.
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Old 05-30-2021, 06:43 AM   #15
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i used a 16 inch 12 volt radiator fan with a reversible dc speed control i mounted on a piece of plywood on hinges. i can unlatch the plywood swing it open then open my hatch. since its reversible (as most rad fans are) i can suck air out or in. all this was just shy of 50 dollars on ebay. best fan i found for the hatch
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Old 05-30-2021, 06:44 AM   #16
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on high it can replace all the air in a minute in a 71 passenger bluebird
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Old 05-30-2021, 06:45 AM   #17
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works really great on taco tuesday
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Old 05-30-2021, 10:27 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mmoore6856 View Post
i used a 16 inch 12 volt radiator fan with a reversible dc speed control i mounted on a piece of plywood on hinges. i can unlatch the plywood swing it open then open my hatch. since its reversible (as most rad fans are) i can suck air out or in. all this was just shy of 50 dollars on ebay. best fan i found for the hatch



Sounds like a good idea. Cheap and reliable. How is the noise?
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Old 05-30-2021, 10:46 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bus'n it View Post
I saved my rooftop A/C unit as it is only 6 years old. We upgraded to a 19seer variable speed Bosch unit. I had the A/C company put my old unit onto a trailer I had sitting around. I will duct this into the bus if it gets too unbearable to work on when the temps hit 110. Of Course, at that point the metal interior will be closer to 175

I also have a 2 ton portable A/C unit but doubt it will counteract the intense heat load.
For the record, those rooftop A/C units are called "self contained units" (because the evaporator and condenser are in the same box, like a window unit)


Are you going to put a generator on the trailer?


I'm wondering if anyone here has taken the original bus system, combined it all into 1 box using a small gas engine to drive the compressor?
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Old 05-30-2021, 05:00 PM   #20
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Sounds like a good idea. Cheap and reliable. How is the noise?
on high it sounds like a rad fan is a bit noisy but does clear paint or weld fumes quickly after you dial it down to 75% or less it is as quiet as a box fan
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