Is this the holy grail of RV/van Air Conditioners? DC Airco

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keightley

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So I found these air conditioners mentioned in another web board in my impossible attempt to find an air conditioner that I can install on my van that can be run on solar or a very quiet small generator while I am away from "home" at work and yet be somewhat inconspicuous.  I have a dog that I need to keep cool in these 100 degree temperatures here in Utah.  And putting her in doggie day care every day is the same price as renting an apartment.  Furthermore, it is  impossible to someone to trade dog sitting duties 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, for pay let alone my labor such as yard work or kid sitting.  It is already too hard to find someone reliable to doggie sit on Fridays for cash when I work a 16 hour days!

Anyway... I digress.  Referring to below, what do you all think of this rooftop A/C?  The company is DC Airco and they are based out of the Netherlands.  They sell their rooftop air conditioners all over the world. They are used in a variety of applications including people movers, electric vehicles, rolling stock (i.e. metro, subways, trains), military, defense and rescue, underground mining chambers, earth moving equipment, and industrial road vehicles.  

Here is the text from their brochure on DC Powered Air Conditioners for Truck/Automotive:

This revolutionary system utilizes 12 or 24 volt dc starting or auxiliary batteries to drive an amazing powerful air conditioning unit – without running the engine! No other company can provide such cooling power without excessive battery drain. Many cab manufacturers use DC Airco products to run directly off the alternator to replace an engine system.  (And perhaps a solar power system?)

Unique technology: The DC Airco 37 cc rotary compressor is extremely efficient and powerful. The Air Conditioner is specially designed to work with the compressor. All DC Airco units have a soft start. No excessive startup currents. This unique technology has been developed and tested in Europe. DC Airco units are prefilled with R134a coolant which meets all ozone protection requirements. 

Battery Power Monitor: Never worry about excessive battery drain. DC Airco products comes standard with low voltage cut out switch, to prevent discharging the battery below its required voltage to start your engine. (or drain my rv batteries that run all things electrical?)

Easy of Installation: It’s easy to install. Any qualified mechanic can install a DC Airco. DC Airco Rooftops are fully self contained - just connect the wires to a full battery and they start cooling.

DC 9000 Rooftop:  DC Airco Type 9000 is used for cooling medium size cabs like vans, RV’s and US made truck cabs. DC 9000 is also used to cool down vans and all kind of vehicle bodies. DC 9000 is a very powerful dc air conditioner introduced in 2003, and used in US, Australia and Europe to cool truck cabs while driving or resting. The DC 9000 uses less than 1 horsepower from the alternator/engine compared with 30-50HP of an engine system including fans. The unit is designed to run on the normal starter batteries. (or RV batteries apart of a solar power system?)

Stats on the DC 9000 Rooftop 12 volt
Cooling output:  9000 BTU/h, 2650 watts
Max Consumption: 600 watts, 50 amps
Hourly night consumption 50% duty cycle: 300 watt, 25 amps

Stats on the DC 9000 Rooftop 24 volt
Cooling output:  9000 BTU/h, 3000 watts

Max Consumption: 600 watts, 25 amps
Hourly night consumption 50% duty cycle: 300 watt, 12.5 amps

Here are some other interesting claims from their website.

Environmentally Friendly Air Conditioning
  • Low carbon foot print
  • Low energy use compared to CO2
  • Low operational cost
  • Factory pressure tested with Hydrogen (leak free)
  • Uses refigerrant gas with minimal environmetal impact
Why our customers select DC Airco Air Conditioning Units for their professional applications:
  • >50% lower fuel/energy consumption
  • No start up peak-soft starting
  • No need of an expensive inverter to powered it.
  • DC unit keeps on cooling in case of power failure/engine off
  • Quality manufacturing since 1997 with extensive testing procedures
  • Easy mount, fully factory assembled charged and tested 
  • Low maintenance and low whole life cost
  • Stock and custom made units
  • Worldwide deliveries
 

tx2sturgis

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Better have a big bank of batteries and a huge solar array.
 

lenny flank

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It might work just fine----if you haul around several hundred pounds of batteries and cover your entire roof with solar panels.

:)

There's just no good way to run an AC (or a good heater) from solar. You pretty much need either a generator or shore power.
 

highdesertranger

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they are deceiving with the energy use. if you run it at night like they say 50% duty cycle at 25 amps per hour in 8 hours that is 200 amp hours. using the 50% rule for your batteries you would need 400 ah of battery minimum. but here's the kicker you want to run it during the hot part of the day in 100 degree weather. the duty cycle is going to be 100% so now you need to double your ah to 400 ah then double your battery capacity 800 ah. now you could add solar to keep that down some but you will need lots of solar. do you have room for the solar? Jim in Denver needs to chime in he runs an AC off of solar. highdesertranger
 

jonsun

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I think they mean 25a total for the night and 50a total for the day. Meaning 75a in 24hrs
 

IGBT

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bardo said:
I think they mean 25a total for the night and 50a total for the day. Meaning 75a in 24hrs

No, HDR is right.   They are pretty clear with the wattage and the numbers make sense for a 9000 BTU unit (they are actually pretty GOOD numbers!)

600 watts per hour when running at 100% duty cycle (continuous).   For 12V that is 600W divided by 12V which is 50 amps per hour of continuous use.

At night if you have it come on half the time, 50% duty cycle you would use half the power per hour or 300 watts per hour.  300 watts divided by 12V is 25 amps per hour.

It uses the same amount of power as our 6000 BTU window unit and yet supposedly has 50% more cooling capacity.  Really good if the numbers are true.

How much is it?

We get at least 600 watts coming in from our 1080 watts of panels by 9:30am.  We peak around 900 watts coming in and don't fall below 600 watts coming in until after 4:30pm.   That is a decent chunk of time where you could run the A/C purely off solar and still actually charge the batteries a little bit.   Hey, interestingly enough, that is exactly what we have been doing all of June and July in this 95 degree weather!
 

jonsun

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but here's the thing they're probably ridiculously expensive and not widely used so probably difficult to service. since you're talking about running the generator it makes WAY more sense to get a regular RV roof AC. They're about $500. Forget the fancy gen start stuff and just let it run with the AC on low or med whatever is needed. It will kick itself on/off. You're talking under $1000 for all of it.

If you build one of these it will quiet the whole thing down pretty good
 

Scott7022

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While I see the upgrade from the 120AC units and the soft start function it is, as Highdesertranger pointed out it is still a power pig. AC is always going to be until we find a better solution. This being said a little quiet Honda, and reasonable solar array, would keep a set of batteries reasonably happy. If they are saying 75 amp hours a day then to hell with buying a unit, If proven I'm investing in the company. This would be the Holy Grail and The Life Of Brian directors cut outtakes all in one!
 

jimindenver

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I like thet numbers, 9000 BTU for just 600w. My roof system could cover it IF I had not needed to take the Air conditioner off to make room for panels to run a air conditioner. lol I also don't have heavy enough wiring and from what I can tell it cost nearly two grand. ouch. Very cool if you have room for the panel and batteries.

To run it off the panel at peak you would need 800 watts mounted flat at least. I would want at least 6 6 volt batteries to run it at night and another 800 watts of solar to recharge them while the first 800 watts of solar runs it during the day. Better bring a generator because one cloudy day is going to put you way behind.

I want to mention that once you start getting into power systems that big that you start not caring about the loss a inverter creates. Yes my inverter may have sucked up hundreds of Ah's this year but my solar has produced nearly 40,000 Ah's.
 

IGBT

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jimindenver said:
I like thet numbers, 9000 BTU for just 600w. My roof system could cover it IF I had not needed to take the Air conditioner off to make room for panels to run a air conditioner. lol I also don't have heavy enough wiring and from what I can tell it cost nearly two grand. ouch. Very cool if you have room for the panel and batteries.

To run it off the panel at peak you would need 800 watts mounted flat at least. I would want at least 6 6 volt batteries to run it at night and another 800 watts of solar to recharge them while the first 800 watts of solar runs it during the day. Better bring a generator because one cloudy day is going to put you way behind.

I want to mention that once you start getting into power systems that big that you start not caring about the loss a inverter creates. Yes my inverter may have sucked up hundreds of Ah's this year but my solar has produced nearly 40,000 Ah's.

The thing is, 1600 watts of panels is really cheap nowadays.  Like $1000.   $2000 of Lifeline would run it at night at 50% duty cycle.   On cloudy days it is usually not nearly as hot (usually) and you will still get 400 watts from your 1600 watt array.  If you ran it for 25% duty cycle on cloudy days it still probably would keep the interior a similar temp.

$3,000 to never need to buy gasoline or hear a generator again?

If I were building a van and wanted to do it, I could easily fit 1600 watts by utilizing a double folding system with awning type supports. No stealth of course but on BLM land does that really matter? Two 270 watt panels on top of the van plus four 270 watt panels hinged at the side which have arms that connect like an awning to the sides of the van (two on each side). All of them would fold over onto the top of the van when traveling and add about 4 inches total to the height while you are going down the road. 6x270 = 1620 watts.
 

itsmeagain

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keightley[font=Verdana, Arial, sans-serif] --[/font]

I hate to be the grumpy gus here but, I implore you to take a moment and re-think your strategy.

I realize you seem very set on your plan, and I can tell you've hashed out this argument before by the way you went into detail about the doggy daycare, but if you take anything away from this thread, please understand this, which is very important:

No system is going to be 100% reliable, 100% of the time.  Ever.

I don't care if Bob, HDR, SternWake, jimindenver, and ten other top guys design, finance, and personally install the system on your van.

These systems can be wonderful tools to tap into renewable energy, but they are just as susceptible to faults as any other hardware we use in our lives, and environmental factors like, lets say, sitting parked in direct sunlight in 100+ degree weather in Utah for 16 hours straight, can and will affect performance and reliability.

Add to this your possible inexperience with battery maintenance, and you'll quickly realize that there is a huge gamble involved here.

Please have no doubts..  You will be putting your precious doggy's life on the line, each and every time you leave him (or her) in the van and head to work.

It doesn't take a scorching hot day.   It doesn't take more than about 15 minutes.

If God forbid the system fails and you loose your pet, you'll have to continue on with your life knowing that animal died in the most horrific and agonizing way possible, and it was 100% preventable.

If that ever happened, you'd likely give your eye teeth to go back in time and leap at the chance to find your pet a new, loving home. After all, 16 hours alone in a van every day doesn't sound like a lot of fun =(

I hope you take the time to consider this and not just gloss over this post.
Good Luck, and please take good care of that pup.
 

jonsun

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absolutely but In her other thread she asked about temp monitoring and there are solutions. She can also regularly get out to check on the pup.
 

itsmeagain

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bardo said:
absolutely but In her other thread she asked about temp monitoring and there are solutions. She can also regularly get out to check on the pup.

It's good that she has her mind on contingency plans.

That said, there was a recent case of a K9 officer who's heat alarm didn't go off when his A/C system died.   When he went out to do one of his regular checks as you mentioned, the dog was already dead.

Where I live, we take dogs in cars very, very seriously. Like I said, we get temps like 100+ as well..  and it doesnt take much longer than 15-20 minutes.  

Do you really think she's running out to the van every 15-20 mins?
 

highdesertranger

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I don't know if I should be flattered or what, but that is beside the point. the point is mechanical systems fail and so do electronic gizmos. in fact it is not a matter of it might fail but when, because sooner or later it will fail. I am also not trying to discourage you, but as a dog owner I want you to be very sure about what you are doing. highdesertranger
 

jonsun

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maybe. if she has a decently insulated van she can probably go a couple hours before the temp acclimates. And then the dog can stand that for a few hours before death. So I'd say it's pretty alight.
 

itsmeagain

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highdesertranger said:
I don't know if I should be flattered or what,

Sure I'd consider you a very knowledgeable, trustworthy source, as are a number of other posters on this forum but I didn't want to list like 10 names that would be ridiculous.   Don't let it get to your head or I'll instantly start quietly judging you from across the country while I swirl my bourbon rocks.


gsfish said:
Pets certainly do complicate life.

Well said!  It's like a triangle...  Vandwelling / Pet Ownership / Occupation     You can do two easy, but all three, and someone's gonna suffer.

I've seen plenty examples of dude sprawled out on his van's sofa smoking a joint with his dog dusty napping in the driver seat, windows down, fans on 24/7...

It's just when you have to button up the van and leave it on auto pilot for hours+ that things get complicated..   that is, unless you teach the animal how to troubleshoot and fix any solar or a/c issues.    Then you'd be on to something!   The van would be all fixed up by the time you got off work.


I dunno, I just couldn't roll the dice with my dogs life on a heat alarm.
I'd rather find him a nice family with a 2000 sqft house on the beach.  It would kill me..  but it wouldn't kill him, and that's the point.
 

tx2sturgis

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itsmeagain said:
It's like a triangle...  Vandwelling / Pet Ownership / Occupation     You can do two easy, but all three, and someone's gonna suffer.

{snip}

I'd rather find him a nice family with a 2000 sqft house on the beach.  It would kill me..  but it wouldn't kill him, and that's the point.

Well said!

and...

Again....well said.
 

jimindenver

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I saw one price of the 9000 BTU unit at just below $1900. There is also a 4400 BTU unit.
 

Gideon33w

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Not all problems have a viable solution. That is the issue you are running into here. I understand what you want. You just can't have it. Find a compromise which works for you (such as a thermoelectrically cooled dog house) and start making progress on a solution which is actually possible. I'm really not trying to be terse but you keep dodging the fact that we keep knocking down your ideas for good reasons. You can't keep your vehicle cool the way you want without producing huge amounts of energy. You can't ensure reliability enough to risk your dogs life. Something like a cooled dog house is simply your best bet. Heck, you can split your thermoelectric cooling system in half so that if one goes down you still have 50% cooling. It's not a perfect solution but it accomplishes the goal and comes with a built in fail safe. Add a water jacket or similar thermal mass and even if the system completely failed you would have enough cooled thermal mass to keep it from becoming deadly for the pooch.
 

keightley

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Holy moly you all. What a buzz kill you all are! If we can put a man on the moon, why cannot my dog be comfortable in a locked van that is air conditioned without the engine running for at least four hours alone? And as far as back up plans... yeah, I got that figured out. There are temperature alarms and power alarms. There is also video monitoring. There is remote vital monitoring that can monitor the temperature, pulse, and respiration of my dog. And last but not least, there are the physical checks I can do. At minimum I can do it every four hours. But if necessary I can do it every two.

I may not know much about air conditioning and solar, but the one thing I am good at is risk mitigation and contingency planning. It is what I do professionally. Life is a risk period. I mean... who knows... my dog and I could one day be sleeping in my van parked on a quiet street and a drunk driver could smash into us killing us. Lightening could also strike my van harming both me and my dog. I bet the chance of us both dying in the van due to carbon monoxide poisoning is much higher than living in an apartment.

So, I am not going to give up my dog to anther person, period. She is the only thing that make my life even remotely bearable. I am not going to spend $500 to $1000 on doggie day care. Moving to another state that is more "affordable" is not the solution either. A more "affordable" place to live in my experience has ultimately mean less income. I am not going to give up on the idea of living in a van. I am willing to compromise on many things with this lifestyle change but safety for my dog and myself will not be one of them. So I will spend the money that I have to and make the van as safe as possible for both of us.

Now can we just all focus on finding a solution to the problem instead of focusing on how the problem is unsolvable? I cannot be the only person in the world that has faced this same exact issue. If you all help me come up with an elegant solution for me, you have done the community a huge service! My late father had an awesome saying and it is one among many that I try and follow... "If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. So go make problems elsewhere or choose to be the solution." Another good saying to live to... "If you don't have something nice to say, do not say anything at all".

Cheers,
Keightley
 
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