Monday, April 12, 2010

Air Conditioning!!

Living Room
Originally uploaded by Camp At Work
Today topsy-turveyed some of my notes from last week. The high we were calling for today was 70. My outdoor probe recorded 75F, which should have been fine. However, inside reached 85 around 12:30. The thermometer on top of the black battery box read 89.

I got up around 1 and began the air conditoner install. The rubber grommet I had didn't work for attaching the hose, so I will have to shop around for one. What I did in the meantime was to prop the air conditioner up on a metal basket I have and place a water bottle underneat the drain plug. After an hour, I have yet to see any water form to drip down, so I don't know how often I would have to empty it, if at all.

At this point, the air conditioner has been running for slightly over an hour and performed 4 cycles of running the compressor. The last cycle was one I forced by turning the temp from 76 down to 60. The compressor runs for a 1-3 minutes than shuts off, after which the fan runs. The first cycle took the wattage up to 500. However the second and third cycles slowly worked their way up to 1000W before the compressor turned off. The fourth cycle went up to 750W before shutting off. Checking my watt-meter, it ran for 1hr 21m and pulled .41Kw.

The duct hose will need some insulation wrapped around it. I moved my temp probe to the duct and when the compressor runs, the hose reachs around 120F. Additionally, the glue on my foil tape seems to break down. Parts of the tape that I would press snugly against the aluminum would peel back later. The first time I noticed this, it was letting the hot air out directly into the cab of the van. I thought this was supposed to be a high-heat tape. I guess 120F is too high of heat for something made to go over furnace ducts.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Van Upgrades and Spring Heat

As you saw in the last post, I have been doing a lot of work on the van.

  • Pulled out all the seats in the back
  • Placed insulation on the floors and walls
  • Put down a wooden floor
  • Added a roof vent with a built in 12V exhaust fan.  
  • Added 4x 175Ah deep-cycle batteries in 24V array (2 parallel banks in a series circuit)
  • Added a 180W 24V solar panel
  • Added a Xantrec C35 24V charge controller
  • Added a 24V 1500W inverter
  • Added a 24V to 12V converter
  • I have replaced the air mattress with a foam mattress
All this expensive stuff is going to seriously reset my equipment cost breakdown.  I hope to be updating that soon once I tabulate all my receipts.  All in all, I expect I easily crossed a $2000 mark.

Now, with all these improvements, I plan on being able to be "generator free" this summer.  I have also purchased a Frigidaire 5200 BTU AC that will consume < 500W when running.  It also has an energy saver mode that will kick off the compressor and operate a fan.  I am very excited to see how everything works together.

The downside: This week, I did not have either air conditioner in the van.  Temperatures Mon-Wed peaked in the 90Fs, and according my thermometer and others, reached 100F over the parking lot.

The upside: The insulation and exhaust are definitely doing their trick.  Previously the van would heat up approximately 20F more than the outside.  If it was 60-70 outside, I would get 80-90 inside.  It was a tin oven.  For this week, it was hot but understandably so.  Monday: temperatures outside showed reaching 97F on my thermometer.  Inside the van peaked around 92F.   On Tuesday, the situation worsened.  At the peak (around 1-2PM), the temperature outside reached 100F while inside went to 102F.  Unbearable even with the fans blowing all the air around.  Today however, was somewhat nicer.  The temp still made it up to 98F outside, but inside stayed about the same or a 1-3 degrees less.  It was hot, but the humidity went down to 26%.  Normally, it is 35% inside the van.  The lower humidity made it bearable, even comfortable inside.

Another downside of running fans is that you have to be careful how you sleep.  If your mouth is slightly open, it will dry out from all the air rushing around.

Now that the major work is done, I will be able to leave the van stationary again, prolonging the vehicle's life and reducing my gas expenses.  Currently, it sits around 127k miles, which isn't much for a '93, especially with the truck engine inside it.

Remodeling photos on Flickr

Over the last couple weeks, we have done some serious remodeling to the mobile apartment.  The van seats have been ripped out, insulation has been added, new flooring is in place, and a nice paint job has taken place.  Additionally, a solar panel and battery box combo have been installed.

Check out the remodel on Flickr.