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#722255 - April 09th 2017 5:14 pm Air Conditioning for my van  
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 3
Dixie_Chick Offline
stranger
Dixie_Chick  Offline
stranger

Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 3
Va. Beach Virginia USA
I have a 1991 dodge ram 250 ..I have lived in it b4 but just as is. I plan on living it again due to affordability but I some questions my main question right now is what is the cheapest way to cool your van what would I need why I'm sitting still..I can't afford solar panel's or anything to expensive right now. TY

#722258 - April 09th 2017 6:48 pm Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Dixie_Chick]  
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,348
Reed Online content
Maniac
Reed  Online Content
Maniac

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,348
Fircrest, WA
Cheapest way to cool the van? Open a front window, open a windor in the back of the van, set up a 12 volt fan to move the air from one end to another.


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
#722260 - April 09th 2017 8:46 pm Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Reed]  
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 3
Dixie_Chick Offline
stranger
Dixie_Chick  Offline
stranger

Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 3
Va. Beach Virginia USA
TY another question that would mean I would have to keep my battery running , would my battery go dead ?

#722261 - April 09th 2017 10:42 pm Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Dixie_Chick]  
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,348
Reed Online content
Maniac
Reed  Online Content
Maniac

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 11,348
Fircrest, WA
If you leave any electronic device running with the engine off, yes, the battery will eventually die. This is why many people have the engine battery and the "house" battery and run all living or camping accessories off the "house' battery. But doing this right involves buying the second battery, a battery isolator, and all the associated wiring. Not cheap.

You can also get a product such as a "battery buddy" that will interrupt all electricity flow from the battery if the battery is discharged to a certain point.

Like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Marine-Battery-Buddy-New-Old-Stock-Battery-Power-Protector-/122416286471?hash=item1c80944b07:g:y1cAAOSwtfhYqjBi&vxp=mtr

If you install a device like this, it will let you use accessories with the engine off until the battery gets discharged, then cut off the electricity flow when there is still enough charge in the battery to get the engine started.

Another alternative is to install a vent in the roof of the van, or even a vent with a fan built in. Cracking a front window and opening the vent on the top of the van is a good way to get passive cooling in a van without having to run a fan or anything. A vent such as this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/14-Roof-Vent-RV-Motorhome-cargo-van-trailer-horse-complete-Hengs-SMOKE-74111-C-/201461972301?hash=item2ee811bd4d:g:HfkAAOxy8HlScVFJ&vxp=mtr

A vent is probably the cheapest route, but will require cutting a hole in the roof and any headliner you have. You will likely want to install a screen over the opening to keep the bugs out, and you will need to be sure to seal it well.


Windows- they're what make a van worth owning!
#722299 - April 10th 2017 5:25 pm Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Dixie_Chick]  
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4,338
Ram4ever Offline
Ram4ever  Offline



Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4,338
Dundee, Michigan
Hi Dixie_Chick, welcome!

Does your B250 van have the pop-out rear windows? If not, while they're not priced as low as a fan, they offer quite a lot in terms of comfort while parked and would be good to add to your long-term bucket list. They and their mounting hardware and seals can be removed from a salvage yard van and retrofitted into fixed-window doors very easily, with a bare minimum of tools and physical effort. There were also pop-out windows which were sized for the side cargo doors, which makes for a nice cross-flow ventilation. If you do go shopping for pop-outs, please make sure you measure your own windows first; there were several sizes of windows, and the side cargo doors windows may be a different size than the rear cargo doors!

If you're looking to keep alterations/expenses to a minimum, and you find moving air to be cooling enough, you might really enjoy what Reed said about a DC powered fan. In many cases that's all you might need. They were quite popular in the original 70's vintage custom vans. I've seen little fans which have clips on their bases, so they can be relocated easily; a great feature.

I'm not going to figure on it being productive to wade into air conditioners for a large vehicle like our vans when on a tight budget; real air conditioners consume immense amounts of power; even the really good modern ones will consume 5-10 horsepower from an engine, which batteries simply aren't able to keep up with on their own. And even if they were, the energy you remove from a battery has to be replaced quickly, to prevent crippling damage to the battery, which is an expensive process in terms of charge management hardware and energy costs. You'd really have to be able to plug into a sizeable (2000+ watts) generator or shore AC power to run an air conditioner while parked.

If you follow the fan route, it might be worth considering tracking down a moderately-sized trickle-charge type solar panel, which is sized adequately to power the fan. Most small fans are fairly forgiving of their power source fluctuating, so clouds and trees shading the panel wouldn't affect the fan as much as they would the charging of your critical battery. The sort of small panel I mean can be had for less than $50 if you shop around. The bigger ones are for powering up more thirsty devices.

Thinking of this made me incredibly curious, so I went out and measured what my 35+ year-old vintage roof top vent with integral 6" fan actually draws from the battery, and I measured 160 mA (milliamps). That figure could be used as a reference for what similar fans might draw, (modern motors might draw less current) and for the capacity of solar panel which would spin it up to full speed. Most solar panels are rated in watts though... Fortunately, the calculation between milliamps and watts is very simple for DC voltages; it's simply amps times the voltage, so 0.160 amps x 13.2 volts = 2.112 watts. This figure would indicate that a fairly small solar panel, like one of the trickle charge panels which sits on your dashboard, would power up my vintage vent fan when in direct sunlight. To allow for angle to the sun over the course of the day, clouds, etc, a panel of several times the 2 watts would be desirable.

I'd head straight to eBay and see what the Chinese are selling inexpensively. And Harbor Freight is an inexpensive retailer with outlets in many cities too; might be worth a quick scan of their website.

If by good fortune you should stumble into a windfall of money at some point, RV (recreational vehicle) dealers even offer several types of rooftop vents with fans and solar panels built right in.

BTW, one of our members, Nikothenomad, has customized and lived in her Dodge van for extended periods, and has recently researched fans and roof vents; might be worth sending her a PM to see what advice she might offer.

Any other questions, just send them to our forums anytime!

Last edited by Ram4ever; April 11th 2017 5:17 am. Reason: added AC info & wattage calculation

-It's been such a LONG TIME... BlueShift>> 1981 Dodge Ram B250 Custom Sportsman Maxi Van


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#722390 - April 12th 2017 9:11 am Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Dixie_Chick]  
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 755
Wedgy Offline
old hand
Wedgy  Offline
old hand

Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 755
West Texas
Hi DC,

Greetings from the land of Cotton, and A warm Texas Welcome to the site!

On the cooling, if you do a search on here for ice cooler, and put frscke1 in the user name box, you will find the coolers for our Vans that are homemade out of Styrofoam.

These coolers work well. Cut gallon milk jugs make nice big ice cubes if you have access to a fridge.

One of those, with a little panel or cheap Harbor Freight jumper box to run the fan when you are stationary.

The best boxes are the thick ones that they pack and ship meat in.

Lot's of us on here have lived in our Vans. It's great for staying in shape, that's for sure.

Best of Luck and Happy Vanning DC!


"Who New? Blue"
1990 Chevy G30 454
Church Van, maternity division

"Old Blue"
1988 Dodge B250

"Cabin Cruiser"
'94 Dodge B350 www.xplorermotorhome.com/
Xplorer MH model 230 230 hp MPI 360 LA Wedgy OD auto

Old vans never really die if we chose to let them live
#722391 - April 12th 2017 9:35 am Re: Air Conditioning for my van [Re: Dixie_Chick]  
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 12,648
frscke1 Offline
frscke1  Offline


Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 12,648
Van Diego California




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ONE FOR THE DIRT & ONE FOR THE STREETS
'93 CHEVY G30 454 4X4 SPORTVAN EXT 146" WB
'92 CHEVY G30 454 BEAUVILLE EXT 146" WB

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