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Old 07-05-2014, 09:24 AM   #1
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Portable AC Units

Team,

Question for you all: Who has tried a portable AC in their motor home while connected to 20AMP power?

I tried a search with "portable AC," "portable air conditioning," and "portable air conditioner" with no success.

I had one of these units in my office for the last year: Amazon.com - LG Electronics LP1014WNR 115-volt Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control, 10000 BTU -
At 1080watts, That makes 9 amps, site publishes 9.6amps. (That means it's running an inverter for DC power to account for that extra 0.6 amp draw. What do you think the chances are it is a twelve volt system and I could bypass the internal inverter and wire a 12V pigtail downstream of the inverter? )

It plugs into a regular AC outlet, runs on 20amp circuits (that's the highest they rated the circuits in the offices), and draws 9.6 amps. I can tell from experience they work and will make a room nice and chilly. I am wanting to add one to the old TV stand behind the passenger seat, as it is mostly dead space, and vent it out the window there. This will allow us to visit any of our family members for short trips in the summer, but will still provide the necessary A/C. Of the five units we had at work only one had an issue with the condensate tank, so an 80% success rate from three years of use is good for me.

I am also thinking if I get a pure sine wave inverter like this one: Amazon.com: Sunforce 11260 2500 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter: Automotive
Then add a solar kit with about 800watts-1000watts I can have A/C for about two hours a day during the hottest parts of the day with the five coach batteries. Then again, average solar controller is 7.5amps, that would make a difference of 1.5amps between drain and charge, I could probably pull off 4 hours of AC, and still have a full charge by sundown...

Thoughts?
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:55 PM   #2
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Anyone?
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:46 PM   #3
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9.6 amps at 120 volts is 1150 watts ( watts = volts x amps)

1150 watts at 12 volts is 96 amps. Add the inverter inefficiency and it will be more like 106 amps.

The inverter technology in the AC unit is a completely different thing than in a 12 to 120 volt inverter. The general name is the same (inverter) but what they do is very different. The Air Conditioner "inverter" changes 120 volts AC to some other voltage, and often alters the frequency to run the compressor at variable speed. The 12 to 120 volt RV inverter changes 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC. They cannot be substituted for one another.

Although you may have had luck with the portable air conditioner units in your office, in a motorhome you have a different situation altogether. The air exhausted through the tube to the outside has to come from someplace. In the motorhome it comes from leaks from the outside air, so what the portable unit does is cause a lot of extra hot outside air to infiltrate the rig, taking with it a good deal of the cool air it produces.

When I had my '83, 310 motorhome, it had two 13,500 btuh air conditioners on the roof and in 100 degree weather both were needed to keep the coach cool. Your 36' classic would be worse. They have a huge glass area, and the insulation is poor to marginal. I don't think that a 10,000 btuh unit which sucks in huge amounts of hot exterior air while it is running will do much for you.

Why are you not using the original coach air conditioners? If you don't run anything else on 120 volts (water heater, refrigerator etc) a 20 amp hookup will power one roof air unit. they generally take in the range of 15 amps. If you visit your relatives often, it might be cheaper to pay for them to have a 30 amp hookup for you installed at their home, and then pay them for the power while you are there than to add solar, and inverter and portable unit to your coach, all of which you probably will not be happy with in the end.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:03 PM   #4
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I am unfamiliar with the LG air conditioner you are looking at. However, it is highly unlikely that it contains an inverter and runs off of 12-volts internally. I have never seen a portable air conditioner that runs on 12-volts, mainly because the compressors need household AC voltages to operate (auto air conditioner compressors are belt driven).

Also, the Sunforce inverter you are looking at will most likely require 12-volt power cables about the diameter of your thumb to carry the max current needed to power the air conditioner, which for casual use is expensive and impractical. And, quantity/size of the solar panels needed to run an air conditioner are probably cost prohibitive.

I don't mean to sound so negative, but is there a reason you don't want to use the regular roof air conditioner(s)? If it's because they need shore power, you may find that installing a 30-amp RV outlet on the side of your relatives' homes would be less expensive.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:54 AM   #5
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Gents,

Thanks for the feedback. I am by no means familiar with the intricacies of electric theory, and had an idea. Posted it here to verify if it was crazy. Between two points brought up, it seems it is.

1. The air flow: Should have thought about how the air would get replaced.
2. The current demand. I converted the watts to amps on the 110 side, but did not do it on the 12V side. Oops.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:14 PM   #6
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I have a portable unit I used in a truck camper, it was 120 volt and drew less than nine amps worked well. I don't understand the talk about an inverter in the air unit. Jim
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:28 PM   #7
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Vycan, I wouldn't give up on the idea of using a small portable room/window air conditioner. That might work fine with a heavy duty extension cord to the house.

However, I suspect most Airstreams don't have sufficient open roof space to mount enough solar cells to power it. And, the cost of the panels, electronics and batteries would be prohibitive.
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