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Old 09-13-2016, 12:41 PM   #1
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Damon Owners Club
Spartan Chassis
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Niceville, FL
Posts: 173
ME Inside WAY too warm - Ideas?

This was by far the worst part of the trip...the drive home!

We were driving on I-10, in 90 to 95-degree ambient, partly cloudy and into the sun so the 'greenhouse' was fully illuminated. There is another thread on this topic in the forums...lots of suggestions and ideas, but no real solutions. So...here goes.

First, the conditions and actions used as a reference since, reading the prior threads, some posting replies seemed to miss these conditions.
1) We pre-cooled the coach before departing, getting it down to 70-degrees inside (DW was wearing a coat); ambient at departure was 85-degrees
2) Running generator & both A/C units set to 72-degrees/fans on high; rear A/C vents shut (as best can be done) and back BR door closed
3) All shades pulled down; all vents verified shut/closed
4) Dash A/C on "Max" with blower on high
5) Roof A/Cs are 15K Penguins heat pumps which only blow through the inside ducts in the ceiling (no diverters, etc)
6) Yes, I'm fully aware of the greenhouse effect of driving a large window area into the sun. Given the prior owner put 30K miles on this unit living in El Paso, I'm guessing at one time it did not have this issue (PM sent to Wurd; we'll see)
7) Note that this rig also has an in-motion King-Dome satellite antenna centered in front of the forward A/C unit. Likely there is some airflow disruption---how much is TBD.

1) The dash A/C quits blowing 'cold' air as soon as you begin driving. The dealership from whom purchased checked and charged the system, even replacing the expansion valve immediately before taking delivery. That, however, did not fix the issue.
2) After about 1 1/2 hours, ambient was up to 92degrees. Pulling in to get gas, the generator tripped the single-lever (dual 30amp) C/B. It's an Onan 8kw diesel. I shut off A/Cs, reset C/B, and turned everything back on. C/B did not trip.
3) By another 2hrs, ambient now 96-F, inside coach at least that or more. Roof A/Cs shut themselves off, guessing due to generator overheat? Not sure. Stopped in rest area and C/B was not tripped. Had audible refrigerator alarm for no AC and checked inverters...the lower one showed "thermal overload." Shut off generator since it was just adding more heat to the coach.
4) Endured the remaining drive home in a coach that was noticeably warmer INSIDE than the 95-F outside. Could see from overhead TV 'standby' light that the inverter (at least that one) was cycling on/off the entire time, guessing from heat. The engine instrument display showed coolant temp at 187-F, which matched the dash gauge position.
5) Got inside hangar and plugged into shore power...A/Cs came back on. (Had left generator off since the heat it was generating seemed to exceed the cooling delivered by the A/Cs)

OK...things done so far:
1) Requested refund from dealership for A/C repair (I paid part of it)...probably not going to happen, but had to ask. That dealer is in Arkansas; I'm in Florida.
2) Used pressure washer to thoroughly rinse out/wash side radiator vanes, top to bottom. I'm guessing one of the top banks is the expansion unit for the dash A/C. I noticed some dirt onto the concrete...not sure how much is too much--or to the point of impacting cooling. (Also used the washer to remove the TONS of love-bugs covering the front--ugh!)
3) Checked inverter charging on shore power (note: the rig was now much cooler it being about an hour later and having washed the bugs off). Bulk charge working with no overload.
4) Ordered 65% transparent ceramic solar tint film for windshield and side windows
5) Checked all seals on engine compartment door - all good and tight. Will likely add metal shielding between exhaust and coach floor area.

All of that said, I'm looking for some ideas on how to proceed. The Dash A/C should blow cold air, even if it cannot cool the coach. Something is preventing that. And while I understand the roof A/Cs don't work 'as well' in motion, my Outlaw's two 13.5K low-profile units seemed to have no issues working and cooling the rig while in motion. Is there something unique to the Penguin low profile units?

Any ideas appreciated as I tackle this problem.

BTW...I'm considering positioning a portable 'tower' A/C unit in the aisle, powering it off of the inverters, and running the exhaust air out a side window as a stop-gap measure. I have two and they are 8k and 12k units. I used the 8k in my Outlaw's garage; got the 12K from a friend who used it to cool/heat her garage at home. I figure the inverter's draw will produce negligible heat load, while providing significant cooling as the 12K unit only draws about 1300watts.

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Old 09-13-2016, 07:36 PM   #2
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Posts: 1,460
We had some issues with our AC's not cooling very well while traveling a couple years ago... the AC in the rear was freezing up all the time too. Our dash air has never worked.

Probably not the same issue, but it turned out that the duct work in our ceiling was collapsed right at the air conditioning units. I pulled the inside cover of the AC's and used some good aluminum duct tape to tape them open. The increased air flow was a huge improvement...

I also then cut holes in the AC covers and installed registers right on the unit. This way I can get maximum air flow in and out of the AC's by dumping air straight out of them instead of running it through the restrictive duct work in the ceiling. This made the biggest difference of all, and really helped keep the cockpit cool since the front AC's register is aimed towards the front of the RV. (the original ceiling vents are more towards the middle of the RV.)

Have you checked the temperature differential of the air going in and out of the AC unit? This will tell you if the AC's are working correctly.

I'm not familiar with your generator... is it an inverter type generator or are you just running separate inverters to power things? If the inverters are cutting out due to heat, it seems like they are probably being over taxed? Our system is just an old style 7500watt diesel generator... runs a constant 1800rpm all the time. In extreme heat, the breaker in the service panel (inside the rv) will trip now and then on the front air conditioner, but for the most part we don't have issues. I changed the main breaker (located in the generator compartment) on the generator early on because it would trip if you just looked at it funny. Breakers can go bad from age...

We rolled across the Mojave Desert in late June this year at 115F and the two rooftops were adequate to keep us cool while we traveled. Cold actually... and our AC units are now 22 years old. I would think if you can get good air flow (inside the RV) through your rooftop units you should be good to go... providing you can keep them running. Is your generator system kicking out the right voltage? Correct me if I'm wrong, but as your voltage drops, the AC motors will draw more amperage. If the voltage drops enough, it can generate a lot of heat and even trip breakers.

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