DIY UNDER-VAN

AIR CONDITIONER

Is a solar powered air conditioner possible?

In one word: ummmm...

WINDOW UNIT AC UNDER A VAN

The roof is covered with solar panels, so a roof-top AC was out of the question. ProAir makes an undercarriage air conditioner for the Roadtrek, but you have to buy the whole van to get it. The marine industry sells some really great machines, but even the smallest one is well over a thousand dollars. Out of reasonable options, I figured I'd convert a small window unit and build an undercarriage air conditioner myself. It needs to be very low amp because compressors surge during startup causing their draw to exceed the operating range of the inverter.  A "soft-start" would eliminate this problem, but they cost more than the window unit itself. I've got problems to solve.  Let's see what happens.  

Frigidaire FFRE0533Q1FFRE0533S1

The most energy efficient air conditioner that I could find at the time of purchase was the Frigidaire FFRE0533Q1 5,000 BTU 115V.  It draws 3.9 amps on cool.  I haven't a clue what the startup amps are, and I don't have the type of voltmeter that measures it, so I don't know yet if it will trip the inverter. Interestingly enough, in the past few weeks I have noticed the FFRE0533S1, which advertises itself as "Low power start-up" and 3.8 amp cooling.  It likely has a larger capacitor to jumpstart the compressor, or it could be an electronic ramp-up similar to a softstart... I just don't know.  Buyer's regret on my Q1 model? We shall see...

more to come

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