|Sometimes a fan just doesn’t cut it…..|
I slept out most of last summer. The van made me feel like Hansel and Gretel being stuffed in the old witch’s oven. Inside it was often 90 degrees or more. Add some humidity and it was all but impossible to sleep. An air conditioner was needed for this year.
There are various ways to do it. Many DIYs (do it yourselfers) opt to cut a hole in the side of the van, remove a back window, etc. This detracts from the stealth somewhat. I wanted a solution that did not dramatically change the outside stealthy appearance, did not detract from usable space, and would still cool the inside. Cost was another consideration. I had also made up my mind not to cut holes in the roof to add a roof mounted air conditioner. Here is what seemed to fit all the requirements.
I purchased a 9000 BTU portable air conditioner (yes, it does use real freon!) from Amazon. It is a Sunpentown and had mixed reviews. One of the complaints was noise… Well, boo hoo… All air conditioners make noise! Overall, this model was pretty well rated (after filtering out some bullsh** reviews) so I decided to give it a try. I was surprised by how quiet it is, especially on low. It definitely gets cold.
The spot chosen to locate the portable air conditioner was from the bulkhead doorway to the area between the seats. Since my van came without a bulkhead wall or door, I had made them last year using wood. The modifications were easier when dealing with lumber. I cut the door in half making both halves open and close independently. The air conditioner was secured with boards, bungees, you name it. I tested for movement in all three axis and it appears pretty secure…
The air outlet is the grill at the bottom. Above it are the pushbuttons to control all the functions. The unit also came with a remote control.
The best part is that as you can see the air conditioner (which also has a heat function) takes up zero room space. It does block part of the bulkhead passage. I’m too big to crawl through there anyway so it’s no big deal. One advantage of locating the machine between the seats is that there are 2x4s under the a/c that also keep the AGM batteries separated. They used to shift a little. There is still storage space available between the driver’s and passenger’s seats.
Here is the view from the driver’s seat. There is an exhaust hose to attach to the hole that you see. I don’t like the hose that came with the air conditioner so I’ll probably get some plastic dryer duct and do something creative. If you’re running just the fan function, you don’t need the hose anyway.
I only plan to use the Sunpentown A/C when in non-stealth situations such as boondocking by the river (using the generator) or camping at a campground or other place with shore power. That being the case, I can just run the exhaust tube out a window and it doesn’t matter who sees it.
At the very bottom you can see a black dot. That’s by where the drain is located. Fortunately, there is a hole in the floor where I used to run a drain tube for an ice cooler. It will be easy to route a hose and keep the machine emptied. These models can get full of water under very humid conditions. It won’t be a problem now.
The greyish blackout curtain covers the air conditioner leaving just a pregnant bulge. I can put the Luggable Loo (camping toilet) in front of it and pile some more stuff up. Nobody will notice the A/C even when looking in a window.
Have a good one! Thanks for visiting.