First step is insulation, I know that, but does anyone have any affordable ideas for the actual cooling? I was thinking about getting a rooftop RV style air conditioner and mounting a very small generator under the van to run off of the fuel tank of the van... That would get me by with several scenarios, including if our van happened to break down, we could still cool the produce... I don't like the thought of putting the big unit on top of the van though, that is my only reservation, I don't want to have something permanent up there if I can help it... A window unit in the back window would work, but that just looks so ugly that I'd rather not go that route either... The van is fairly new, (2003) so I'm not sure it would really be easily achievable to add another compressor onto the serpentine belt system, certainly possible, but would require a little more involvement with this project than I care to go... Oh, and I definitely do NOT want to do the ice chest air conditioners :p
anyhow, never hurts to ask, I usually miss the easy stuff and overthink things! I'm hoping to find someone else who has already solved this problem haha... I can get an ambulance package and install it to increase the 12 volt output, but I would honestly only want to do that if I found an actual 12 volt air conditioner, if I am operating on 120 volt AC power, I have no problem locating a small generator under the van and out of the way, I feel that would be better anyhow since it would be able to operate if the van happened to die on us.
M Foti wrote:I am looking for a way to keep the cargo area cool enough for those times that I may be caught in traffic in a city or just for transporting... The van air conditioner will keep it from getting sweltering hot, but I want to go a step further and keep it actually COOL in there...
What van and engine? Does it have dual a.c.?
First, CLOSED CELL spray foam. Yes it is $$$$ but cheaper in the long run. Won't hold moisture and rust the van like open cell. Foam in the divider and make sure to cover the door James.
DO NOT use a roof a.c., they are horrible. Small window a.c. Units will run on a lot less power, can run them from an inverter while the engine is running no problem. That with a cool bot will get the job done.
Buy another rear door, they are cheap in the junkyard, and install the a.c. In that.
Plug it in so it is cold before you leave, or use it as your cooler for the night so you can just get up and drive.
I did think about tweaking the onboard a.c. Guys can get them to blow 40, but you have to have the engine running $$$
R. scott That's actually not a bad idea, I had touched on it before, just making a window unit that is easily swappable I just never really thought about just having 2 doors... I mean, 4 bolts and it's off and on and I DO like the idea of using easily replaceable components rather than something complex. That way when something breaks, I can just wheel in wal-mart and replace it at any time and in any location. Good to know those rooftop units aren't very good, I had never had any experience with one.
it's a 2003 chevy express cargo van 3/4 ton. 5.3 engine. No dual A/C, it's possible to put one in, but the reason I bought this van is because as far as vans go, it's pretty easy to work on, i'd rather not clutter up the engine bay if I don't have to, I get frustrated easily working on things that are a pain in the butt haha
I've researched HVAC tech for years, and you can actually just replace your refrigerant with HVAC compatible propane refrigerant and get gains in every aspect, but as you pointed out, I like the idea of not losing a couple thousand pounds of product if I have a breakdown.
Since it is a plain white cargo van, your idea actually sounds like it is probably the best way to go about it, just buy another rear door to swap when it is needed and would be pretty easy to find.
I like that idea better than any I've come up with yet, I usually overthink things and miss something easy like that! I'm going to start looking into an ambulance package alternator setup and see what it'll do. Just need one to charge a few AGM batteries stowed under the van and a good inverter, that way I would have a few hours of buffer run time if needed. it would be nice to have something really cool in there, but... simple is usually best
Check out www.solaricemaker.com Possible to adapt this to the van roof ??
Secondary system would be a generator to run a small ac unit with a device called a Cool-Bot (www.storeitcold.com) will trick the ac unit into thinking it's a freezer.
I've used it for years and they work well.
Might also research peltier plates https://tetech.com/peltier-thermoelectric-cooler-modules/
For a demonstration of this principle, sit on the side of I-80 Eastbound from Sacramento just at the point that the road starts rising in elevation to travel up over the Sierra Nevada mountains... All that water pouring out of the back of the trucks is due the the ice melting off the veggies.
The creation of ice can be a grid-tied activity, and it's use could significantly reduce the size and cost of portable cooling devices. Making ice with electricity in the barn might be less expensive than cooling with gasoline on the road. Ice comes with it's own set of problems such as disposing of the water.