Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning – They get a lot of questions about the operation of the air conditioning in the van. In this post I will try to cover the most common ones! I’ll explain what I used and why, how the installation went, how the AC battery works, and some real-world power consumption testing.

Most of this post is about my setup with a “traditional” rooftop Coleman unit (120 volt AC power). Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve started recommending some much more energy efficient (battery compatible) 12V DC air conditioner options. In fact, we sell some of the best 12 volt alternatives to standard ceiling air conditioners in our store. In any case, you can skip to this part of this post. We’ve also put together a table comparing different 12V drives so you can see a number of important factors at a glance. We will eventually expand this array with additional products and more “real world” testing.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

I decided to use a standard roof mounted air conditioning unit for my vans for a few simple reasons. The first is that they are fully road tested. These units are “tried and true” as they are installed in almost every RV ever made. They are also reasonably affordable. Finally, it doesn’t get in the way and doesn’t take up interior space or take up space under the van like some alternatives. For those interested in more energy-efficient options, I’ve listed some DC-powered options at the end of this post.

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You buy these systems in two parts: the outside is where most of the magic happens, and inside is the compressor and most of the other parts. Then there’s the “ceiling assembly” which is the part you see and interact with the vents. Since the condenser is outside on the roof, all the condensation water created in the cooling process simply runs through the roof to the ground.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

I used a Coleman Mach 8 “Cub” which has a cooling capacity of 9200 BTU. The Coleman Mach Series is also the lowest profile (lowest height) rooftop units available. Overall I am very happy with this unit. It’s not particularly quiet, but it’s not ridiculously loud either. It has 4 settings. Fan low and fan high – it’s what they sound like – turns on the interior fan, but doesn’t turn on the actual climate system. Then there is low cooling and high cooling which control the operation of the air conditioner. There is a separate control for the thermostat – turn it one way to set it lower (hotter) and the other way to set it lower. The fan runs continuously when the air conditioner is on and the compressor turns on and off as needed to maintain the temperature you set with the thermostat knob.

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Coleman recently introduced a newer and supposedly much quieter rooftop air conditioning unit called the Mach 10 NDQ. I haven’t linked it here because I can’t find it for sale (yet), but I’ve heard it’s being used by RV manufacturers and hopefully it will be available soon (this post was written in July 2019). . It also appears to be a bit more energy efficient and comes with a more sophisticated “roof set” with digital controls.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

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It works great! Even this low BTU unit is powerful enough to cool a van. I generally only use the AC when I’m in hot and humid places like the south or here in Florida in the summer. The rest of the time, the fan and open “t-vent” window in the sliding door keeps things very cool and is used

My van is well insulated with Thinsulate on the walls and ceiling and in warm (but reasonable) conditions the unit only runs the compressor for about 3 minutes and then shuts down for about 10 minutes until it cycles again. That would be in a place like Georgia at night in the summer.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

I put this air conditioner through a pretty extreme stress test in Southwest Florida in June. The van was parked in the driveway in full sun with afternoon temperatures around 97 degrees and humidity around 80%. Weather reports say it “feels like” 112 degrees. During this test (about 4 hours plugged in) the unit came on every few minutes but was able to keep the van temperature at or below 77 degrees and of course the air conditioner drastically reduced the humidity in the van making the temperature of 20 degrees. the difference seems much more significant.

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Installation is actually quite simple. Anyone involved in van conversion should be comfortable punching big holes in a perfect looking van. So there’s that part. In this case, it’s a “standard” 14″ x 14″ square hole. It is “standard” in the sense that almost all roof vents, fans or air conditioning units use the same opening size and shape.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

The first thing I did was build the wooden frame and support system inside the van. This A/C unit is pretty heavy (about 90 pounds), so I wanted to add more rigidity to the van’s metal roof. In my case, the unit is installed just behind the cabin. I knew I needed this frame to line up with the van’s structural ribs where I would attach the roof panels. In other words, the frame had to be the same “height” as these structural pieces. I started by gluing a piece of 1/2 plywood large enough to fill the rectangular shaped area located on this section of the Promaster roof using heavy duty construction adhesive. You can see it in the photo below with the 14″ x 14″ cut out opening.

I then ran a 120 volt AC line from my load center to the AC unit location. I used 12 gauge wire for this, but since this is a 15 amp circuit, technically a 14 gauge would be fine.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

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With the wiring done, I continued to build the bracket for the AC unit by adding two longer brackets directly in front and behind where the 14″ opening would be from the 1″ x 6″ wood. This was glued and screwed to the base. I then used 1 “x 4” to finish the “side” of the opening Again, the combined depth of these framing materials matched the other ceiling joists so that once the ceiling panels were in place they could be attached to the ceiling doors from the van and to this wood frame AC.

So I prepared the ceiling panel for that first (front) part of the ceiling. All the wall and ceiling panels were made from 1/4″ luan plywood that was sanded and primed, which I ended up painting. This ceiling panel had to have a 14″ opening for the AC unit and holes for the lights LEDs that would be installed in this part of the ceiling. So I also had to install the wiring for those LED lights before screwing in the board and Thinsulate insulation. Here you can see the first board installed.

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Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

A good idea is to waterproof the wooden frame that forms the 14-inch opening. I used a liquid eraser for this task.

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At this point, many weeks of work went into the conversion before moving on to the next step. I wanted to finish all the ceiling panels, paint them and finish a few other projects as well before moving on to the AC installation.

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

The next step was to cut a hole in the roof. As a guide, I drilled 4x holes from the inside (one in each corner) of the 14 inch opening. Then he got up on the roof of the van and cut a hole with a jigsaw. It is very important to capture as many metal particles as possible that are created when cutting the van sheet metal. Ideally, have someone run a commercial vacuum right behind the saw while you cut, and then you can use a magnet and vacuum to clean up any remaining shavings. These tend to adhere to the van’s clear paint and rust quickly. Once the hole is cut, be sure to file the edges and then prime the bare metal.

Probably the hardest part of the installation was getting the approximately 90 pound beast onto the roof. To do this we covered the side of the van with a heavy blanket to prevent bodily harm and then my tall friend stood on the ground and guided one side of the back of the unit while I slowly lifted the front to lift it up there. Once the unit was on the roof, we simply lined up the 14 inch hole with the roof unit opening. These come with a sturdy foam seal that looks like this:

Best Rooftops With Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning Heating And Cooling Applications

Inside! The roof assembly is included

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