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Produce Transport Van how to keep your cargo cool?  RSS feed

 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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Hey folks, I'm a pretty handy feller, can build just about anything that can be dreamed up but before I start getting all crazy with stuff I was wondering if anyone has some ideas that I haven't thought of. We just got a pretty nice cargo van for transporting our produce to both farmers markets and to wholesale markets. 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...

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.

thanks
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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I'm to the point of just making my own unit out of parts from a window unit a/c... I have enough understanding of HVAC technology to make it work, but seems like an awful lot of work... I guess the plus side would be that I could put the evaporator and condensor/compressor anywhere I wanted and plumb it all up...

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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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...


Ice...
 
R Scott
Posts: 3342
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Been thinking about the same problem.

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 $$$
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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ice isn't gonna do it but I appreciate the response! There will be too much produce for ice to be suitable for. I will also have to have a very large reefer trailer for our large deliveries, but those are pretty easy to figure out. I've been collecting materials for the last couple of years to get our reefer trailer together, but no need to get out the big truck and trailer for a delivery if I am only hauling a van load or less.

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
 
Eric Rummler
Posts: 28
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I'm a fan of redundant systems. In other words never depend on just one way of doing something.

Check out www.solaricemaker.com Possible to adapt this to the van roof ??

Also:http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/jrhee/solar/projects.htm

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/

 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2334
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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Ice is particularly valuable when transporting green-leafy vegetables, broccoli, and similar crops that benefit from high-humidity levels. Mechanical refrigerators are wonderful. They also create low-humidity climates that can be detrimental to greens. Using a combination of ice and mechanical refrigeration can really improve the quality of some crops during transportation.

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.


 
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