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Old 08-04-2015, 03:51 PM   #1
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Expectations from the AC and refrigerator, and coping with excessive heat

Please excuse this very long-winded post: I promise to get to the point in the end!

There are many threads on winterizing but few it seems on coping with the heat. And I mean real southwest heat in the middle of the summer.

Let me qualify this a little: I live in Arizona, and take trips to the high country to get away from the heat in mid-summer. But on occasion, I have to go to Phoenix ("The Valley") for one reason or another. And recently my wife had a hair appointment in Phoenix, and since the forecast was cloudy with showers, we decided to take the Interstate so I could relax in it for a few hours. Well, the forecast was wrong, and it was sunny and 108F!

I started off with the Maxxair on full with the shady-side windows open. The fridge was ice cold stocked with water and lunch, and I watched the TV. With these running, the 50W solar panel was able to maintain 80% battery capacity; and I was happy!

However, with the outside temperature so high, I was starting to get uncomfortable, and decided to start the generator and run the AC.
But things gradually started to go downhill:

1) First My iPhone screen went blank - and I'm sure it was due to the heat.
2) Then It dawned on me that the AC wasn't doing much to lower the inside temperature; the outflow seemed pretty cold to me, but everything inside was so hot to the touch - the walls, the seating, the furniture - it seemed the AC would never be able to cope. I had the blinds closed and the reflective shades in the cab, but it just remained HOT inside.
3) So I took another drink from the refrigerator - and realized the drinks were covered with condensation - because it was no longer cold inside the refrigerator!
4) Then finally the CO detector started beeping (as mentioned in another thread); the generator was running, but I had first closed the side windows. So I'm concluding here the heat may have destroyed the CO detector.

So, the question here is whether I can realistically expect the AC and refrigerator to maintain fair temperatures under extreme conditions like this.
It's also worth noting that the Sprinter chassis AC also had a hard time keeping us cool once we started to head for home.

Perhaps no one else is crazy enough to spend a day in heat like this!


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Old 08-04-2015, 04:25 PM   #2
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The blinds do nothing to block heat, only to block vision. So even with the windshield and front windows covered, you're still inside a greenhouse. A lot of heat comes through that vast acreage of glass.

Which is why I removed the blinds altogether and get by with reflective windshield covers in my side windows as well. When I take them out on the shady side of the van they go behind the sofa. While I was in Farmington, NM with daytime highs well into the 90s or better, with the windshield covers in all around, the interior of the van was dark, dark enough to have to turn on lights inside, and cool enough to be comfortable with the A/C running, though not actually cold. But of course I couldn't see out, either, so there's still a down-side.

Not that seeing out was a big deal at McGee Fairgrounds in Farmington. Wasn't was any scenery worth seeing in a parking lot.

I'm considering adding low-emissivity film to the outside of the tinted windows to block heat transfer, as soon as I can find a good local source. Has to go on the outside because the windows are so much bigger than the window openings inside thanks to the interior trim, and the film won't do any good unless it covers the whole pane. In Louisiana, law says film, even transparent film, can't be added to the windshield or front windows if I ever want to pass another vehicle inspection, so I have to limit it to the tinted windows only.

On an office building where we used that film on all of the windows, the film itself gets too hot to touch (literally— 1st-degree burns in 15 seconds or less in direct Gulf Coast sun) but that's all heat that stays outside instead of coming in through the glass. The film is mostly transparent so it wouldn't have much effect on the view aside from maybe a polarizing effect that you'd only notice if you're wearing polarized sunglasses as well.
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Old 08-04-2015, 04:46 PM   #3
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If you started the AC after the inside of the coach was hot you will never catch up.The thermal mass of the contents all have to be cooled before the air inside will be cooled. AC generally can only deliver a 20 degree differential so if the coach was over 100 you would be lucky to get 80 degree air out of it.

You have to find shade.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:00 PM   #4
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The blinds do nothing to block heat, only to block vision. So even with the windshield and front windows covered, you're still inside a greenhouse. A lot of heat comes through that vast acreage of glass.



On an office building where we used that film on all of the windows, the film itself gets too hot to touch (literally— 1st-degree burns in 15 seconds or less in direct Gulf Coast sun) but that's all heat that stays outside instead of coming in through the glass. The film is mostly transparent so it wouldn't have much effect on the view aside from maybe a polarizing effect that you'd only notice if you're wearing polarized sunglasses as well.

That's very interesting about the film, Protagonist. But I'm wondering if so much heat that's accumulated in the film and the glass its attached to is likely to cause a fracture if, for example, it's ever splashed with water.


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Old 08-04-2015, 05:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
If you started the AC after the inside of the coach was hot you will never catch up.The thermal mass of the contents all have to be cooled before the air inside will be cooled. AC generally can only deliver a 20 degree differential so if the coach was over 100 you would be lucky to get 80 degree air out of it.

You have to find shade.

Yes, in fact the thermostat displayed 108F at the start, and after an hour only went down to 103F. So it seems it's an impossible task.


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Old 08-04-2015, 05:06 PM   #6
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Expectations from the AC and refrigerator, and coping with excessive heat

Bingo!!!

The Air conditioner has to cool down much more than air, it has to cool down everything while dealing with the constant influx of heat too.

You have to get a jump on the battle with heat or you lose the war for several hours.

When I was parked in NM this summer, I never turned the cooler off. My worst day was when it was 106, it got up to 82 for an hour or two.

My AC is 11500 BTU, I used the reflective bubble wrap in the windows, and I sacrificed the bathroom to the heat. (I was parked in full time direct sun)


Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
If you started the AC after the inside of the coach was hot you will never catch up.The thermal mass of the contents all have to be cooled before the air inside will be cooled. AC generally can only deliver a 20 degree differential so if the coach was over 100 you would be lucky to get 80 degree air out of it.

You have to find shade.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:08 PM   #7
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That's very interesting about the film, Protagonist. But I'm wondering if so much heat that's accumulated in the film and the glass its attached to is likely to cause a fracture if, for example, it's ever splashed with water.
Unlikely. The film itself gets hot; the glass does not. And at the office building I mentioned, sudden afternoon thunderstorms don't cause any problems with cracking glass.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:55 PM   #8
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Shade is the answer. If you don't have full awnings get them. Put your silver windshield reflector on the outside, not on the inside.
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Old 08-04-2015, 05:58 PM   #9
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Sailors have a saying, when the time comes that you ask yourself should I take in a reef, it is probably to late. Same with the AC. Most people do have unrealistic expectations of mobile AC systems. Whether it is its ability to cool a 108' interior or the perceived DB levels.
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Old 08-04-2015, 06:20 PM   #10
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Expectations from the AC and refrigerator, and coping with excessive heat

For example when I stopped in Kansas City area on recent trip the temp was 105deg F. I had the Sprinter AC on while driving so the inside temp in back was about 85deg F when I stopped at a campground and plugged in external power. The AC ran continuously until about 2 AM to get the interior down to the 76deg F setting. I also use reflective window covers on windshield, side cab windows, rear door windows and the two side windows in rear lounge area. Cutting the heat gain with shade really helps if you can get it.


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Old 08-04-2015, 08:23 PM   #11
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A typical full-size auto A/C is about 3 ton (more at hiway speeds). Since a vehicle is just a much smaller version of a Sprinter, it's unrealistic to expect a 1+ ton unit to be able to cool a Sprinter, even w/ the chassis A/C running.

On our recent Florida trip when the six passengers went in to shop, I stayed w/ the RV to keep both the chassis and rear A/C running in order to maintain the interior at a reasonable temp. (about 85* in rear). It also allowed me to catch up on email, reading, etc.

When prepping for a trip during the summer, I'll cool the RV down on shore power before heading out cuz it'll never catch up once the crew comes aboard.
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Old 08-04-2015, 08:45 PM   #12
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We have been camped in southern Nevada for a couple of weeks. Sunny days, 102F up to 108F and mornings in the 78F to 85F range. The local TV weather is like watching a football game using different players, as the temperatures can vary considerably in the metro area.

Running the AC full time set at 77F we can expect the AC to cool us down no more than 20 degrees below the current outside temperature. Currently it is 101F 12% humidity outside and 90F 2% humidity inside the trailer. Only 11 degrees of separation. Although comfortable if you do not exert yourself as to cool down it will take your body thirty minutes to quit perspiring.

The American Indian knew more about Full Timing than modern US Citizens. They moved with the seasons in the Western US. Sometimes only 200 miles for higher elevations and cooler, comfortable climate get you in the 40's to low 80's as temperature extremes.

With jobs and careers this may not be possible, but to sit still and bear the brunt of the seasons... can dampen the Full Timing attitude. Myself... we hook up tomorrow from the deserts of Nevada and into the Colorado High Country. It was a test of wills and a great experience that trailers and RVs do have limits for comfort. Limits is being modest. The opposing Winter/Summer months you had better have a plan... otherwise you will find yourself wondering why this sounded like a good idea in the first place.

Myself. Call me a Nomad. A trailer provides some comforts, but has severe limitations no matter the length, number of awnings or AC(s).
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:15 AM   #13
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Thank you guys. A lot of food for thought here.


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Old 08-05-2015, 12:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDUDE View Post
Please excuse this very long-winded post: I promise to get to the point in the end!

There are many threads on winterizing but few it seems on coping with the heat. And I mean real southwest heat in the middle of the summer.

Let me qualify this a little: I live in Arizona, and take trips to the high country to get away from the heat in mid-summer. But on occasion, I have to go to Phoenix ("The Valley") for one reason or another. And recently my wife had a hair appointment in Phoenix, and since the forecast was cloudy with showers, we decided to take the Interstate so I could relax in it for a few hours. Well, the forecast was wrong, and it was sunny and 108F!

I started off with the Maxxair on full with the shady-side windows open. The fridge was ice cold stocked with water and lunch, and I watched the TV. With these running, the 50W solar panel was able to maintain 80% battery capacity; and I was happy!

However, with the outside temperature so high, I was starting to get uncomfortable, and decided to start the generator and run the AC.
But things gradually started to go downhill:

1) First My iPhone screen went blank - and I'm sure it was due to the heat.
2) Then It dawned on me that the AC wasn't doing much to lower the inside temperature; the outflow seemed pretty cold to me, but everything inside was so hot to the touch - the walls, the seating, the furniture - it seemed the AC would never be able to cope. I had the blinds closed and the reflective shades in the cab, but it just remained HOT inside.
3) So I took another drink from the refrigerator - and realized the drinks were covered with condensation - because it was no longer cold inside the refrigerator!
4) Then finally the CO detector started beeping (as mentioned in another thread); the generator was running, but I had first closed the side windows. So I'm concluding here the heat may have destroyed the CO detector.

So, the question here is whether I can realistically expect the AC and refrigerator to maintain fair temperatures under extreme conditions like this.
It's also worth noting that the Sprinter chassis AC also had a hard time keeping us cool once we started to head for home.

Perhaps no one else is crazy enough to spend a day in heat like this!


Sent from my iPad using Airstream Forums
We are currently living in our 2014 Flying Cloud full time in the Nevada desert where temps have been over 100 for all but a few days going on 8 weeks now. We're under the shade in the a.m. But get beaten up pretty bad in the late afternoon. Our A/C has been holding up pretty well but we also bought a portable swamp cooler to supplement and put some moisture in the air and it works great. Now the bad news.... Our fridge broke down over 3 weeks ago (still under warranty) and we're STILL waiting to get it fixed. Why you ask? Because Dometic customer service is nonexistent in our situation. To be blunt...they suck. Now other people here will praise them because they didn't have issues, but not only do I think they're the worst, but now our Dometic A/C is starting to crap out (also still under warranty) so who knows when they will get us that part when it happens. out of the 22 days we've been waiting for the part, 17 of that has been transit time because Dometic refuses to expedite the shipment. Now, the part is out of stock at one warehouse so we have to wait yet another week. Sorry about rambling, but I wanted you to know what you're in for. The thermistor works great when it works. What I would like to know is if there's another product out there that we can use besides Dometic. Prior to this we had a summer in the Alabama heat and everything worked fine. Good luck to you and I hope it's just something temporary and not something that's about to break. By the way, the brand of Swamp Cooler we have is Luma.
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