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Old 07-01-2009, 08:35 PM   #1
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1977 Argosy 24
Justin , Texas
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A/C - roof unit, portable, or swamp cooler?

Hi. I purchased a 1977 Argosy 24' last year to help a friend of mine start a new life. She recently moved into it full-time in the Fort Worth, Texas area. It's really hot there now (100 degrees), and she has no shade where she is located. She discovered that the roof unit, which she thought was an air conditioner, is only a heater. She needs air conditioning as well because the heat it making her sick.

At first she thought of getting an evaporative (swamp) cooler. From what I've read, she would have to keep supplying it with ice, which doesn't seem practical. I think it's often very humid there also. Then she thought of replacing the roof heater with a new heating and cooling unit. I've read that it's better to keep an original roof unit rather than remove them. Now she is looking at portable A/C units to keep inside the Argosy.

Which of these approaches do you recommend? Can you give me an idea of how much power an A/C unit draws? My friend is located next to her sister's house, which she plugs into, and I told her to expect to pay a high electric bill. Do any of you have recommendations for a specific unit - one that would serve the purpose and be relatively quiet and presumably energy-efficient?

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Old 07-01-2009, 08:46 PM   #2
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I have never seen a heater mounted on the roof of an Airstream. It could be a Heat pump which both heats and cools or an Air Conditioner that has optional heat strips, but it is most likely an Air Conditioner.

Evaporative coolers do not need ice, but they do need water. They are also worthless in a humid environment.



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Old 07-01-2009, 08:53 PM   #3
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The popular brands of AC's are Duo-therm, Coleman and Carrier.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:48 PM   #4
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1977 Argosy 24
Justin , Texas
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Richard, I thought I read that in a humid environment, you could use an evaporative cooler, but instead of water, you need something like 10-20 pounds of ice per hour. At any rate, it doesn't sound feasible for her, because she said the environment is basically tropical there.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:23 AM   #5
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Lagrange , Kentucky
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If the unit is roof mounted, I would have to say that it is a heat pump and there is an issue with the reversing valve or wiring to the valve. If this is the case, there is an easy fix and a expensive fix.

Another thought, alot of times folks will say it is putting out hot air when in reality, it is really just recirculating the hot air in the space. We expect cold air, anything else is just hot.

Swamp coolers work well in the desert, 10% relative humidity and less. You can expect a 30 degree difference. Anything above 10% dramatically reduces the temp difference.

A/C is really the viable choice on a trailer that can encounter variable enviroments. There are many options to replace it and no you do not have to keep the old one running. Just find a reputable shop to replace it.

In many cases, if it runs past 10-15 years it is a gift. Past the 15 year mark and it needs a major repair, replace it. I know money doesn't just drop in our laps, sometimes we just have to look at the bigger/longer picture.

Good luck
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:37 AM   #6
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I agree, if it's on the roof, it should be an air conditioner. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is still working, though.

How about posting a photo of the unit. Inside from the bottom and outside from the side would help in identification. Even a cell phone photo would be good enough.

I have to agree that any swamp cooler is not going to work in FW. She has my sympathies.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:54 AM   #7
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A temporary solution could be putting a ~5k btu window unit (<$150 at HD or Lowes) in a emergency exit window. I did that for 5 months when I moved to TX a few years ago and had to live in my in-laws driveway with only 15amp service. It kept my 25' plenty cool as long at it ran constantly.

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Old 07-02-2009, 12:19 PM   #8
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1977 Argosy 24
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Thanks for all of your feedback. I sent Richard's message to my friend, and she confirmed that the roof unit is in fact a heater and air conditioner. She says it isn't working well. That means the logical choice would be a new roof unit, But now her sister doesn't want her to hook up to her house electric if my friend has A/C running, because she is afraid that it will put too much of a load on their house circuit. I suggested that my friend get a small window A/C unit. Another option would be for her to get a portable generator, but I told her they are noisy. She also is going to erect a tarp with legs over the Argosy; not sure how effective that will be.
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Old 07-02-2009, 02:29 PM   #9
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Portable AC

Is she still alive in this heat???? Justin is 20 miles from me and I'm siting here at 100 plus....and have been for a week. The AC on the trailer won't burden the house electric at all. Use a heavy extension cord to get it going. She can have anyone of numerous RV dealerships, within 10 miles, over on I-35, service the unit and check its function. If that fails....the Home Depot in Denton of Gainsville have portable AC units for a few hundred dollars.

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