FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

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FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:01 am

I’m hoping this becomes a sticky, since it seems to be a frequent question.
The short answer = The cost to do this is over $2500 and will add over 400 lbs in weight to you rig for 4 hours of air conditioning per day.


The long answer, Modern 5000 btu Window Air Conditioners need about 750 watts per hour to operate. A group 27 deep cycle battery holds 100amp hours of power. This equates to about 1250 watts, and it weighs 67 lbs. The rule of thumb for extending battery life is that you should keep the charge above 50%, but you can still many cycles out of them if you go lower, so let’s assume we use 750 watts from the battery, that’s 60%. So you would need one 67 lb battery for every hour of run time. If you just run it for the hottest 4 hours a day, that would be at least 4 batteries or 268 lbs. As of today those batteries cost over $200 each.
Now we need to talk about recharging them, putting 3000 watts back into our 4 batteries will take some solar panels. The rule of thumb with solar panels is that we have about 6 hours worth of sun per day, so 500 watts per hour, but due to efficiency losses, we should add about 30%, so 650 watts, this will cost over $1500 and you will need a very big space to mount it all.
So if you are willing to spend over $2300 and add 400lbs in weight to you rig, you can do it. Or you can spend $400 and get an inverter generator, that is very quiet and weighs 45lbs, and will run all weekend on 30lbs of fuel.


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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby clamlamp » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:07 am

Socal Tom wrote:I’m hoping this becomes a sticky, since it seems to be a frequent question.
The short answer = The cost to do this is over $2500 and will add over 400 lbs in weight to you rig for 4 hours of air conditioning per day.


The long answer, Modern 5000 btu Window Air Conditioners need about 750 watts per hour to operate. A group 27 deep cycle battery holds 100amp hours of power. This equates to about 1250 watts, and it weighs 67 lbs. The rule of thumb for extending battery life is that you should keep the charge above 50%, but you can still many cycles out of them if you go lower, so let’s assume we use 750 watts from the battery, that’s 60%. So you would need one 67 lb battery for every hour of run time. If you just run it for the hottest 4 hours a day, that would be at least 4 batteries or 268 lbs. As of today those batteries cost over $200 each.
Now we need to talk about recharging them, putting 3000 watts back into our 4 batteries will take some solar panels. The rule of thumb with solar panels is that we have about 6 hours worth of sun per day, so 500 watts per hour, but due to efficiency losses, we should add about 30%, so 650 watts, this will cost over $1500 and you will need a very big space to mount it all.
So if you are willing to spend over $2300 and add 400lbs in weight to you rig, you can do it. Or you can spend $400 and get an inverter generator, that is very quiet and weighs 45lbs, and will run all weekend on 30lbs of fuel.


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Great info! Any recommendations on a inverter generator?

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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:09 am

You can’t go wrong with Honda or Yamaha, but the Harbor Freight Predators have been getting good reviews and are only $400 to $450,
Tom


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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby GuitarPhotog » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:25 pm

Socal Tom wrote:You can’t go wrong with Honda or Yamaha, but the Harbor Freight Predators have been getting good reviews and are only $400 to $450,
Tom


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Just be aware that the HF generators are not repairable because HF does not sell parts for them. You can purchase an extended warranty for them, which will get you a replacement if they decide the failure is covered, but that can take weeks. And then you may have to wait until they are back in stock. My local HF stores have not had any in stock in over 2 months.

A well recommended piece of equipment is not a good deal if it breaks and can't be fixed or replaced in a timely manner.

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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:35 pm

The word on the street is that they are rebadged WEN generators. Maybe they have parts?
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby GuitarPhotog » Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:03 pm

Socal Tom wrote:The word on the street is that they are rebadged WEN generators. Maybe they have parts?
Tom


Does anyone know for certain? They look similar, but so do the Yamaha and others.

Not that it matters much to me, because I would not undertake to fix one myself. To their credit many of the parts are available directly from Wen.
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:40 pm

Socal Tom wrote:I’m hoping this becomes a sticky, since it seems to be a frequent question.
The short answer = The cost to do this is over $2500 and will add over 400 lbs in weight to you rig for 4 hours of air conditioning per day.


The long answer, Modern 5000 btu Window Air Conditioners need about 750 watts per hour to operate. A group 27 deep cycle battery holds 100amp hours of power. This equates to about 1250 watts, and it weighs 67 lbs. The rule of thumb for extending battery life is that you should keep the charge above 50%, but you can still many cycles out of them if you go lower, so let’s assume we use 750 watts from the battery, that’s 60%. So you would need one 67 lb battery for every hour of run time. If you just run it for the hottest 4 hours a day, that would be at least 4 batteries or 268 lbs. As of today those batteries cost over $200 each.
Now we need to talk about recharging them, putting 3000 watts back into our 4 batteries will take some solar panels. The rule of thumb with solar panels is that we have about 6 hours worth of sun per day, so 500 watts per hour, but due to efficiency losses, we should add about 30%, so 650 watts, this will cost over $1500 and you will need a very big space to mount it all.
So if you are willing to spend over $2300 and add 400lbs in weight to you rig, you can do it. Or you can spend $400 and get an inverter generator, that is very quiet and weighs 45lbs, and will run all weekend on 30lbs of fuel.


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It doesn't really change much, but I ran my Frigidaire 5000 BTU system with my Kill-a-watt meter this morning. Surge was a bit over 700 watts, and it was puling about 450 when running the compressor. The sticker says is uses 515, so the 750 above is about 30% more than mine called for this morning, but the conclusions still hold. It would take a lot of batteries and solar to run AC on 12V, but a decent 1K generator should be able to run it just fine.
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Pinstriper » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:45 pm

GuitarPhotog wrote:
Socal Tom wrote:You can’t go wrong with Honda or Yamaha, but the Harbor Freight Predators have been getting good reviews and are only $400 to $450,
Tom


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Just be aware that the HF generators are not repairable because HF does not sell parts for them. You can purchase an extended warranty for them, which will get you a replacement if they decide the failure is covered, but that can take weeks. And then you may have to wait until they are back in stock. My local HF stores have not had any in stock in over 2 months.

A well recommended piece of equipment is not a good deal if it breaks and can't be fixed or replaced in a timely manner.

<Chas>
:beer:


I have no experience with the HFT extended warranty but I have had them tell me (while trying to sell me) that you just bring it back and get a new one, no questions asked, so you buy the warranty and just before it expires you come in and get your replacement.

Perhaps someone who has actually tried this can report whether they're just lying to me (I never fall for it).
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby greaper007 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:44 am

If you're in a dry climate you can forgo the air conditioning and make a swamp cooler with a 5 gallon bucket. I live in Denver and the majority of people I know cool their homes with evaporative cooling.

A small 12v pump could probably run continuously on a 30 watt solar panel. When I camp in the mountains, it's almost never warm enough to need cooling after sundown.

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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby capnTelescope » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:37 am

SoCal Tom gave us the long answer to this age-old question, and did a good job with it.

I propose the short answer: No, it isn't practical to run your A/C off battery power. If you must have A/C, get a campsite with shore power. No one wants to listen to your generator anytime, and most campgrounds don't allow them after quiet hours. Harumph. :fb
I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Andrew Herrick » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:58 am

Champion makes a high-quality, mid-range 2,000-watt inverter generator. They have pretty good reviews and you don't have to deal with all the HF b***t. I've had good luck with mine. Not quite as silent as a Honda or Yamaha, but close.
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:22 am

capnTelescope wrote:SoCal Tom gave us the long answer to this age-old question, and did a good job with it.

I propose the short answer: No, it isn't practical to run your A/C off battery power. If you must have A/C, get a campsite with shore power. No one wants to listen to your generator anytime, and most campgrounds don't allow them after quiet hours. Harumph. :fb
if I’m in a campground on a hot weekend, I get a spot with power. If I’m boon docking , no one hears my little Honda but me. I think the AC unit makes about as much noise as it does.
Tom
( now if I could get the others in the campground to turns off their stereos...)


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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby capnTelescope » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:23 pm

Socal Tom wrote: If I’m boon docking , no one hears my little Honda but me.


On this summer's road trip to Alaska, my insufficiently tested charge-while-towing upgrade failed, and I had to use my little genny daily. Not the quietest, nor the loudest, but I came to hate that noisy #%&*. :x

Socal Tom wrote:( now if I could get the others in the campground to turns off their stereos...)

... and gennys. :lol:
I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.

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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Socal Tom » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:49 pm

capnTelescope wrote:
Socal Tom wrote: If I’m boon docking , no one hears my little Honda but me.


On this summer's road trip to Alaska, my insufficiently tested charge-while-towing upgrade failed, and I had to use my little genny daily. Not the quietest, nor the loudest, but I came to hate that noisy #%&*. :x

Socal Tom wrote:( now if I could get the others in the campground to turns off their stereos...)

... and gennys. :lol:


Most of the time I've seen the question asked the folks were looking for options for boon docking situations, in which case a little inverter genny is a often the best option. Truth be told, if you are camping in a TD, the only time you might use AC is when sleeping. It doesn't make a lot of sense to drive to a camp ground and sit in a small air conditioned box all day. But if its hot enough, it makes the trip much more pleasant if we can get a decent nights sleep.
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Re: FAQ: Can I run an Air Conditioner on battery/solar?

Postby Aguyfromohio » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:52 pm

capnTelescope wrote:


On this summer's road trip to Alaska, my insufficiently tested charge-while-towing upgrade failed, and I had to use my little genny daily. Not the quietest, nor the loudest, but I came to hate that noisy #%&*. :x



We are putting in charge-while-towing systems as well.
I sure would like to hear more about what you think went wrong with yours, so we can make entirely different mistakes instead of repeating your mistakes.
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