Air Vent vs Air Conditioning: need opinions - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-22-2019, 08:07:PM Thread Starter
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Air Vent vs Air Conditioning: need opinions

Hi, I'm new to the forums but have already found some incredible information embedded within!

As I'm going through my camper build I am at a decision point, based on the amount of real estate on the roof.

We require a roof top tent and I'm pretty much set on one of the hard shell two person tents, like the Air Top. Because of this, I probably won't have enough room on the roof to install an air conditioner.

Does anyone have a similar setup, without air conditioning? Do you find it adequate with a rooftop fan like the Dometic Fan-Tastic vent, or do you wish you had an Air Conditioner? What do you find is the warmest temps you can camp in and still remain comfortable?

Most of our adventures will be in the Rockies with the occasional trek to California and the Pacific Northwest. I'm thinking we should be alright, even in the summer, with the dry air and cool nights. At the same time, I'm asking, because this is a big investment and I don't want to screw up the build! I may need to recalibrate my plan.

Opinions, Experiences and Anecdotes welcome! 🙏

Thanks!
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 12:09:AM
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No expert here, lurker. But very few of the van builds I've seen either here or on YouTube have A/C.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 01:08:AM
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Follow the seasons, Summer in northern states and winter in the southern ones.

Winter is a great time in the southeast, It is the off season and the campgrounds have off season rates, And no reservations to camp! It is often warm days and cold nights.

Just about everyone on this forum has a roof vent, I have the Fantastic Vent, I forget what model, Low profile and a flat cover, 10 speeds with a thermostat and a remote.

They do make air conditioners that fit up under the Transit, (nothing on the roof), A few here have talked of buying them.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 08:33:AM
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Humidity is worse than heat, for sleeping. I camp in the south, often in summer. AC would be especially nice, if it were practical. I run my vent at fairly high speed, and have second cabin fan blowing over the bed, which makes it more tolerable. While I sleep OK, the clothing I have set aside feels damp in the morning.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 08:59:AM
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We stay mainly north in the summer and only have fan. If you also get screens for the slider and rear doors, with a fan and the doors open the van usually stays pretty close to ambient outside temperature so it cools off well through the evening and over night.

I have no experience, so take this speculation with a grain of salt, AC may only be useful if you are able to plug in. Seems like it would draw down even the largest battery bank pretty rapidly.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 11:06:AM Thread Starter
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Cool, thatís kind of what I was hoping to hear. I think the humidity should be fairly low in most locations we will go. Southern Utah in the spring and fall. Idaho and Wyoming in the summers. The Espar heater should take care of any winter touring or alpine ski trips.

With the AC option we would have only been able to run it with shore power or a generator. I donít think the batteries would have been able to handle it all night.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 08:59:AM
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Also, we installed on of these last summer:

https://www.amazon.com/Sirocco-24V-G...a3a8046be71c2f

Works great on warm nights, adds some white noise if you're in a louder area, and very low battery draw.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 09:24:AM
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Originally Posted by shadyatbest View Post

With the AC option we would have only been able to run it with shore power or a generator. I donít think the batteries would have been able to handle it all night.
With lithium batteries anything is possible today. (Air conditioning)

And it is still doable with lead acid batteries except for the weight factor.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 02:41:PM
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I've always had RVs with AC so I wanted to put AC in the van but I plan on mostly being without hookups and I don't plan on being in the van much during the day anyway and can't run a generator at night in most places and not willing invest in enough battery and inverter to run an AC I've decided no AC. I also think you have to installing bracing in the roof for the weight of the AC. Maybe I'll try a portable AC if I find that it sucks that bad.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 08:12:PM
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I have a MR Passenger van that I converted.

For different reasons, I didn't want to make holes in my roof but needed a little bit of AC when plugged in so I mounted a portable unit under the bed in the rear and vented the exhaust heat out thru the wiring access hole that already exists in rear supports right next to the tail light.

With some internal sealing via aluminum tape, I was able to direct the air flow out thru the bottom of the rear bumper using existing holes. I had to pull out a 6" x 4" rubber plug in the bumper but otherwise I had to no holes to drill for this experiment.
I directed the drain flow out thru a little gap I cut in the rear door rubber although you could just go straight thru the floor to but I haven't had any issues with my install.

Behavior after 5 months:
1. 10k btu wont save you in the 95F+ heat in direct sunlight unless you REALLY insulate up the van, it merely gives you a spot to cool off without idling the vehicle.
2. At night however, its great. It keeps the bed area quite comfortable, of course, your mileage may vary.
3. I use this only when plugged into shore power for now. A genny would run it just fine at 1600 watts though.



I used this unit for a couple of reasons.

http://www.costway.com/portable-air-...e-control.html


1. Its 110vac, I could someday run it from a large battery bank I suspect.
2. Its short, at 21" it fits nicely under the bed.
3. Its quite reasonably priced.
4. Has a remote although I'm going to have to relocate the control panel... its on the top side of the unit.

Upcoming mods:
1. The control panel on the top of the unit is removable and uses just 4 low voltage wires, I'm going to relocated it on the wall next to the bed for ease of use. Its a normal digital thermostat with an IR receiver for the remote.
2. I want to put a vertical diffuser on it, it will help and be only 1ft in length. Right now I'm directing the flow at the bed via 3ft of 4" dryer duct. It works but I loose a lot of the efficiency I think due to the curves.


Good luck sir!

Last edited by BlueVan; 01-24-2019 at 08:15:PM.
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