New Option for Vandweller A/C: Portable Mini-Split

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debit.servus

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I discovered the other day a PORTABLE mini-split air conditioner. If you need to know why this is a big deal, split A/C units are fundamentally the most efficient form of A/C, and until now have not been available in a portable form. Window A/Cs are hard to stealthify, Mini-Splits are costly and need permanent installation, and Rooftop RV A/Cs are overkill for a van. 

http://www.forestair.ca/en/serie-mini-anglais 

This is a portable mini-split A/C that’s 8,000 BTUs & under a grand. I presume the price on the page is in  CAD ($900 +? tax), which at today’s exchange rate it’s about $700 US. It can be assembled yourself and the refrigerant hoses are a good length, flexible and look to be quick connect. All you need is a 3-4 inch hole for the hose run. Unfortunately it’s only sold in Canada for now, but that doesn’t stop us Americans from owning it. You’ll need to ship it to a friend or mailing address in Canada, then find a way to receive it. 
 

debit.servus

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Like any other air conditioner it will need a generator to run provided you don't have at least 1.5 kW of solar panels on the roof that charges a minimum 400 AH battery bank to run the A/C unit from solar power only.
 

Sunny1

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debit.servus said:
I discovered the other day a PORTABLE mini-split air conditioner. If you need to know why this is a big deal, split A/C units are fundamentally the most efficient form of A/C, and until now have not been available in a portable form. Window A/Cs are hard to stealthify, Mini-Splits are costly and need permanent installation, and Rooftop RV A/Cs are overkill for a van. 

http://www.forestair.ca/en/serie-mini-anglais 

This is a portable mini-split A/C that’s 8,000 BTUs & under a grand. I presume the price on the page is in  CAD ($900 +? tax), which at today’s exchange rate it’s about $700 US. It can be assembled yourself and the refrigerant hoses are a good length, flexible and look to be quick connect. All you need is a 3-4 inch hole for the hose run. Unfortunately it’s only sold in Canada for now, but that doesn’t stop us Americans from owning it. You’ll need to ship it to a friend or mailing address in Canada, then find a way to receive it. 

Thank you for that link!  I have been checking mini splits on Amazon, and the outside units are way too big and heavy for a Transit Connect.  Hope these make it to the States soon.
 

MrNoodly

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debit.servus said:
...Window A/Cs are hard to stealthify...
Um, the part that hangs outside is no more stealthy than a conventional window unit. Throw in a generator to power it and the lack of stealth is even greater.
 

ZoNiE

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I have seen these in Europe. I don't think the hoses are removable. That is good and bad. The good is you don't have to evac and charge it. The bad thing is you need a notched door or window to run the hoses out. You you cannot simply put the whole thing through a small hole. You could notch the back door of a van for that.

I wish someone would make a mini split where you could lay down the condensing unit...
 

tripper

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I'm running a 5,000 BTU Frigidaire window AC on a single 100 AH lithium battery thru a 1000 watt inverter and powered by 915 watts of panels. The AC itself is only pulling 350-400 watts (30 amps or so). There are ways to stealthily install a window AC, I see a few on YouTube. The Frigidaire cost me $120. It will keep approx. a 7' x 7' x 6' area cool in 100+ heat.
 

B and C

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Walmart now sells these and a Rollicool. Either one is underrated or the other is overrated. They both seem to be from the same MFG just badged different.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/RolliCoo...RT9Y5L67_Jyv8NgCVOhMaydtHcyt1gIBoCMgIQAvD_BwE

They come as two seperate units and are plugged together once positioned/installed. They can be taken apart again too. Just need to be stored connected so the 410 refrigerant doesn't leak. Sounds like a 3" hole to run the connection through.
 

jeffw36

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Sunny1 said:
Thank you for that link!  I have been checking mini splits on Amazon, and the outside units are way too big and heavy for a Transit Connect.  Hope these make it to the States soon.

new egg has them but they call them rolli cool about $500 US
 

Gr8ful

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I pulled up the WalMart link & they show 2 used ones for $419, I know Amazon sells used or bad packaging but not Walmart. May be a sign of returns? Too big for my rig. I'm going with the 5000 watt Frigidair.
 

maki2

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Here is what the company has to say about disconnecting the two parts to prevent coolant loss.


As long as you wait the requisite 10 minutes, there is no coolant loss.

Make SURE your unit has been off and the power plug disconnected for at least 10 minutes before disconnecting the coolant lines.

The coolant line will actually depressurize after ~3.5 minutes but it is recommended to wait at least 10. The line is under EXTREMELY high pressure. Disconnecting the line while under pressure can result in severe injury due to the pressurized lines.

The amount of coolant loss when disconnected is negligible when following the directions in the owners manual.
 

maki2

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another important piece of information....the outside unit is not all that weather proof!


Question:
Can the outside unit be left out all year around?
Answer:
We recommend bringing the unit inside during the snowy/winter months to protect the outside unit from being damaged by the moisture!
 

maki2

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It think this was the most valuable of the reviews and do note that the exterior unit is not quiet, only the interior unit is lower than 40 db:

Loses refrigerant charge very easy!! When it worked it was decent.
November 9, 2018
Had this unit for a little under two years. I never really set the digital thermostat below 75 degrees so when it worked it worked great for me. The indoor unit is acceptable in noise but the outdoor unit is really loud.

The indoor unit will pool up in water if the indoor unit is not higher than the outdoor unit. If the indoor is lower than the outdoor, you will have frequently drain the indoor unit from the large hose in the back. Also, if you ever take the indoor unit apart, there is a tray where water collects. Inside the tray is a foam filter and it has a tendency to get clogged which also will prevent water from draining.

After one year I noticed a loss in performance where it took significantly longer for the air conditioner to get to temperature. After a year and a half, I get the E7 code like other reviewers got. Out of warranty :(!!!!!! The error code (E7) reviewers are getting (if the indoor unit's two filters are clean) I concluded for me is caused by low refrigerant. E7 in the manual is Compressor Overheat and what cools the compressor is the refrigerant and outdoor unit fan. The air conditioner only takes 19 ounces of R410a, so it doesn't take that much refrigerant loss to cause the machine to lose performance. What causes the loss of refrigerant is anyone's guess. What I'm thinking are possible causes are: shipping and handling, multiple removing and attaching the unit's hose, small leaks from where the hose connects (the latch system in my opinion is sketchy).

The AC unit is rechargeable (there is an access port in the outdoor unit), however it uses R410a which by US law only EPA certified technicians (HVAC) can service and buy that type of refrigerant. If you do get a HVAC repairman to fix it, it will probably cost more than half the price of this unit so its probably not worth it.
 

debit.servus

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Even with these limitations, the ForestAir would be on top of my list If I were to go back to a van. The fact that the condensor (hot) & evaporator (cold) side are not attached to each other allows for multiple installation options. A vandweller converted a window unit into a mini-split and put the condensor under the floor, this is one possible option. Even if I you have to make a hatch on the body or floor just in case I had to uninstall it without disconnecting the lines, I think it's a great option compared to the alternatives. A couple of vandwellers have stealthified window A/C by installing them behind a rear door spare tire carrier, you could do this with easily and without awkward interior placement of the cold vents with a portable mini-split.

My next rig is a 40' dog-nose Skoolie with bulletproof drivetrain because I'm going everywhere from the drive-in to the Dalton. Can't really be stealth and quiet with a Skoolie!

Now to install a aspirated, quiet & accessable portable generator to run it...
 

Trebor English

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debit.servus said:
dog-nose Skoolie

Would that be a short flat nose bus like a pug or a long nose bus like a yellow lab?  Of course it would not be a dalmatian as school buses are not white with black spots.  They are yellow.  : ) 

I'm sorry.  I tried to resist asking but I failed.
 

sushidog

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RogerD said:
I have the Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5000 BTU window unit.

It has the lowest power consumption of any unit I could find.

https://www.frigidaire.com/Home-Comfort/Air-Conditioning/Window-Mounted-AC/FFRE0533S1/

Yes that unit has an EER of 12.19 which is outstanding for a window unit.

The Forest air unit's EER is a low 8.8, according to their specs. The sears micro-split must be dismal as they don't even publish it, just say that it takes a 15 amp outlet, which translates to an EEr of only 5.5 if it draws all 15 amps at 110 volts.

EER is everything for our off-grid application. Get the highest EER you can afford as it will pay for itself in lower solar panel and battery costs in the long run. Unfortunately the highest EER units are the most expensive. Hotspot makes a 48v DC unit that puts out 12k BTUs with an EER of 19.2 for about $1,800. If you have over $2,000 burning a hole in your pocket you can get a 12k btu mini-split with an EER of 21.43 - that means it will produce 12,000 BTUs of cooling while consuming only 560 watts - with no inverter losses as it is a native DC unit. Here's the link: http://www.geinnovations.net/HSAC_Productline.html Plus it's scalable power that doesn't need to cycle like a typical window unit which requires a huge start-up surge every time the unit kicks on and off. That means if you only need say 3/4 the cooling you only burn 3/4 the power. Only need 2/3 the cooling and only consume 2/3 the power and so on, down to around 50% capacity - no starting and stopping, only a seamless ramp-up and down.

Remember, when comparing efficiency don't compare EER with SEER, EER is simply btus of cooling divided by watts of power used, and is the figure you want to use. SEER will typically be much higher than an equiv. EER.

For instance this excellent $1,800 9,000 BTU Fujitsu mini-split has an SEER of 33 and an EER of only 18. https://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-Single-Ductless-Split-System/dp/B01MF5XS3T Plus you need an inverter to convert your battery bank to 220v power that this unit uses, for another 15-20% loss in efficiency. That makes this $1,800 unit which at first appears a good deal, a poor value compared to the $1,800 19.2 EER DC powered hotspot.

Chip
 

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