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Old 07-09-2024, 12:44 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 15
A/C help please

I am extremely new to this skoolie thing and I’m at the point where I need to get an AC installed that will work while driving as well as when parked, mostly off grid.
I have read into other forums about inverters and running off generators, but still don’t quite understand as it gets a bit complicated for me

What is the absolute easiest way to get cold running AC (I am in FLORIDA) That will cool our area while driving and when we are off grid staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot, for example?

We have a five window Thomas bus
The front AC works fine. We just don’t have anything hooked up in the back as the old system was taken out.

We will be using mostly over summers and maybe once a month for short trips during the school year.

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Old 07-09-2024, 01:38 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,127
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
im guessing you have a van based bus that has a dashboard A/C?


with this already in place.. I would probably go with a minisplit and an extra large alternator (or a generator set up to run down the road). having parked and good road A/C as the same is difficult as good road A/C is engine driven and of course good parked A/C is electric..



you havent mentioned how you plan to set your bus up for being parked. , if its going to be mainly shore power or if you want to be able to have enough solar to stay cool in the sun parked or are planning on a generator for times boondocking at walmart? or are you wanting batteries to do all the work when boondocked? (nearly silent)..



since you have a front system for the road your rear doesnt need to be as big as if it were a lone setup..



so running an invert to power a minisplit is wherre you use the 12 Volt vehicle electrical system to convert into 120 volt AC (household) to run the minisplit and any other household devices.. of course this requires that you have to charge-up your 12 volt cehicle system, either with a big alternator, or with solar... and with solar it would have toi make enough power to run your minisplit (generally 1000-1200 watts)..


running a generator, it burns fuel (gasoline typically) and creates household current directly.. at the number of watts its built for.. ie mine is a 2200 watt generator and is rated to give me 2200 watts of household power continuously..



of course since it burns fuel it will need to be mounted outside of the bus.. ie in an under bus enclosure.. and get enough airflow to keep it cool, as well as carry cans of fuel safely to fill it ..


there are also generators (like onan) built to be permanently installed in an RV (expensive)... but they do work...



I personally dont camp alot in my DEV bus.. however when I do.. I have enough batteries that my portable 12000 BTU A/C can keep me cool all night.. (at night it doesnt take much power as no sunlight).. when im driving i have dual compressor, front / mid /rear engine driven bus A/C that keeps me in the low-mid 70s even when i travel to texas / florida / mississippi in the summer...



yes its completely separate but its what works the best..
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Old 07-09-2024, 08:08 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 15
im guessing you have a van based bus that has a dashboard A/C?
Yes Sir. I have dashboard ac on a gmc Savana 3500 base.

with this already in place.. I would probably go with a minisplit and an extra large alternator (or a generator set up to run down the road). having parked and good road A/C as the same is difficult as good road A/C is engine driven and of course good parked A/C is electric..

I see a lot of good things about the mini-splits. Are you saying that the split would run off of a generator while driving? Would an inverter work while driving? The only reason I am trying to be prepared for off grid scenarios is because it seems like skoolies are not accepted at a lot of places where I would be able to plug-in such as an RV resort or campground? That was my thinking on making sure my family and I don’t get stuck in a tough situation and therefore are able to get that AC going even in a parking lot. All this is new to me and we haven’t even taken it out yet as we are still working on it bit by bit
I am open to understanding more about how it would run while I am driving and then perhaps either a generator, inverter, or batteries (I don’t really understand that one) when parked (say in a parking lot).
I will definitely listen to your advice if you give me a good direction to go in on the easiest set up etc as I cannot find anyone in south Florida who is handy enough to help me get these things set up.



since you have a front system for the road your rear doesnt need to be as big as if it were a lone setup..

Understood!


so running an invert to power a minisplit is wherre you use the 12 Volt vehicle electrical system to convert into 120 volt AC (household) to run the minisplit and any other household devices.. of course this requires that you have to charge-up your 12 volt cehicle system, either with a big alternator, or with solar... and with solar it would have toi make enough power to run your minisplit (generally 1000-1200 watts)..

All the numbers is where I got totally lost. I need to find someone down here in South Florida, who can hook up my electrical capabilities because I don’t really understand any of this!


running a generator, it burns fuel (gasoline typically) and creates household current directly.. at the number of watts its built for.. ie mine is a 2200 watt generator and is rated to give me 2200 watts of household power continuously..



of course since it burns fuel it will need to be mounted outside of the bus.. ie in an under bus enclosure.. and get enough airflow to keep it cool, as well as carry cans of fuel safely to fill it ..




there are also generators (like onan) built to be permanently installed in an RV (expensive)... but they do work...



I really appreciate your thorough reply and I’m still a bit confused as it seems like there are several options so I just wanna get it narrowed down and as simplistic as possible.
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Old 07-10-2024, 07:10 AM   #4
Bus Geek
 
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Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
ill let others chime in about electrical systems and what you might need..


A/C is my thing.. but i dont live / camp in my busses much so off-gridding setups arent my forte' . in my DEV bus (mobile office) I simply installed a big alternator and lots of batteries.. and sometimes carry a harbor freight portable generator.
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Old 07-10-2024, 07:54 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Ok awesome. Thank you!
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Old 07-10-2024, 09:52 AM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
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Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Bummer.

[For anyone reading this thread who is about to rip out their AC, this is exactly why we caution you to think twice, or three times before doing that.]

There's no easy or simple solution to replacing the rear A/C that was removed. Those units are super powerful for chilling the back of the bus while driving.

Mini splits are much smaller yet still require a huge amount of juice to run. Like Cadillackid said, an onboard generator (or a massive battery bank) is required.

My 12K minisplit takes about 16 amps at 120 volts AC to run. I have onboard A/C, so I don't need to use it while driving. I use either shore power or a generator with the minisplit when parked.

Let's use a three hour drive in Florida heat as an example. If I tried to run my minisplit on battery, the minisplit would use about 160 battery amps per hour, or about 600 amp-hours of battery for the outbound leg. That's a thousand dollars worth of batteries on Amazon, plus wiring, inverter.

Then on the trip back I would have needed to recharge those batteries to use the minisplit again.

Solar? There's not enough room on the roof of your bus for the panels you'd need. Maybe run a generator three or four hours in the evening to recharge them? Or have an onboard charger if you have access to shore power.

Do some searching in this forum. There's a lot of discussion on this topic, and some solutions proposed, like Cadillackid suggested. I think I read elsewhere in this forum someone had successfully upsized their alternator for the electrical power while driving.
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Old 07-10-2024, 10:11 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 15
Ok thank you. I will try to find someone down here in south Florida who can physically come into the bus and give me my best option.
The existing air unit blew cold but began to have a slew of issues. Motor almost clear flew out because of some old lining. Replacement parts hard to find as carrier no longer exists. One tiny part was $200 so I figured Better to start from scratch.
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Old 07-10-2024, 01:58 PM   #8
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,127
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by marinetanker504 View Post
Ok thank you. I will try to find someone down here in south Florida who can physically come into the bus and give me my best option.
The existing air unit blew cold but began to have a slew of issues. Motor almost clear flew out because of some old lining. Replacement parts hard to find as carrier no longer exists. One tiny part was $200 so I figured Better to start from scratch.

carrier parts are still readily available.. the compressors under the hood are standard Sanden style (with a tie-in they often use the GM compressor)..



fan motors for the indoor units are all over the place.. i have a couple in my garage I keep for spares.. they are the same for the carrier, Trans/AIR, and MCC units.. the outside condensing units are standard.. you can replace a broken carrier outdoor coil with a standard CS2 style condenser.. the fans on the outside condensers are typically standard SPAL 12 volt cooling fans.. (I buy them at my local JEGS or SUMMIT.. )..



TxV valves are standard and still widely available.. carrier used standard barrier or reduced diameter barrier hoses which are still available from coldhose.. as are the fittings....



put it back together, fix whats wrong and you'll be set
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Old 07-10-2024, 03:15 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 15
Let me please ask you a question.
the unit that existed is already gone, but all of the original hoses, including the fan underneath the bus and hook ups are still intact and on the bus. Hypothetically, would I be able to buy a newer unit like the carrier that existed and they use the same, or some of the same hoses and hook ups that already exist but with a new unit?
I have attached a picture of the older units so you can see exactly where it Was hooked up and where the new unit would potentially go to replace it. I can also snap a couple photos of the hoses that were coming out of the back of the bus area for reference?
And would this be a unit? I could potentially get at an RV store or superstore because I’m having a lot of trouble finding people who will come work on the bus?
I know a lot of this may seem elementary, but you guys are giving me a lot to work with and I really appreciate your time

Are there any specific ceiling units that you would recommend as a brand to replace the carrier?
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Old 07-10-2024, 03:17 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2024
Posts: 15
Here is a picture of the unit that existed before that I want to see if I can replace
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2020.jpg  
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Old 07-10-2024, 06:56 PM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 1,473
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
You might can find those parts by searching skoolie forums for people who have ripped them out and now have them sitting in their back yard.
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Old Yesterday, 07:30 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,127
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by marinetanker504 View Post
Here is a picture of the unit that existed before that I want to see if I can replace



thats a shuttleair type unit.. do you have 2 compressors under the hood or when you pulled the rear unit did you bypass the old lines and install a front radiator mounted condenser to run the dashboard A/C? (I think you mentioned your dashboard system works).



did you still have the underbody condenser or did you pull that too?



trying to get an idea of whether you had 2 100% separate systems or a Tie-in?



alot of van-based busses used the central dash air system to powerr the rear one, with T-lines off of the liquid and suciuon.. and either a really large condenser in front of the radiator, or one under the bus ..



others hadd 2 compressors under the hood and the rear system is 100% separate with its own under-bus condenser.. and the dash system has a radiator mounted condenser (like a car)..


im not sure what your evaporator was.. (its one of their newer generation units which were the nice ones.. ).. EM-14 if I had to guess..


https://www.transarctic.com/media/do...2yfsaw7jak.pdf


to re-buy a complete new condenser and evaporator will be a few grand.. (thats why I tell people domnt throw them away.. you might wantto put it back).. they have low resale value as most people have no idea how to install them.. but they are pricey to get new.. all of them are.. and many of these places refuse to sell to the public.. (they want to install them and charge lots of $$)..


finding take-offs is the cheapest method.. put it out there on various skoolie forums and sites that you are looking for the evaporator and condenser units intact from a shuttle or Van-chassis bus..



or frankly put, buy another bus and sell the one you have if you havent converted it yet..



first step though is to find out what kind of setup you have / had as far as whether it was a complete dual (with 2 compressors) or a Tie-in.. it matters in finding what parts are compatible..
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Old Yesterday, 08:46 AM   #13
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
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I asked TransAir or someone about a bulkhead evaporator assembly, and if I remember correctly-- they asked me $5500-- which I am sure was full retail...

AP Air "might" have some type of unit that would be cheaper.
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Old Yesterday, 07:55 PM   #14
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,127
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by PorchDog View Post
I asked TransAir or someone about a bulkhead evaporator assembly, and if I remember correctly-- they asked me $5500-- which I am sure was full retail...

AP Air "might" have some type of unit that would be cheaper.

they are generally around 1000-1300 online.. plus you need the cover.. I dont think you can put one in a shuttle style bus. it would be way overkill for that small bus and fitment would be an issue
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