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Old 08-11-2022, 09:21 PM   #1
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16' Cargo trailer conversion- AC options without shore power

Hi all. Long story short, 29 year old guy who picked up a 16' cargo trailer a few months ago. Put in a few amenities and live in it in my backyard at night. Love sleeping in it but it's obscenely hot during the day. Even with the 5k window ac running, it can get over 90 degrees inside in the FL heat. If I got a bigger AC unit cutout and a bigger unit, got the insulation redone(the manufacturer sucked and poorly insulated it), I suspect I could be in it during the day. But for now, intolerable. Feels great at night, 62 degrees.

I plan on being on shore power most of the time. But I have family up in the NorthEast USA and at some point I'd like to travel west. I will obviously not have permanent hookups if I am boondocking. It would be nice to be able to have a situation where if I had to pull over between destinations where I could be comfortable for a night or two and then get back on the road.

My plan is to head to better weather sometime next year with the trailer. I was thinking Colorado mountain areas. Getting there will be a chore since it's so damn hot down here that I worry about the situation where I don't have a campsite overnight and I am really sensitive to heat so I won't be able to sleep if it's much over 70 degrees inside. So I am trying to decide what system to implement to get power for my basic needs. At most it will be a laptop and a few tiny lights plus a 12v fridge. I'd like some sort of air conditioner system because on my way to my destination where weather will presumably not need any AC, ever, I'll need to have a way to stay comfortable. Trailer is wired with a breaker box.

I was thinking I could spend a few thousand on a solar setup. Not sure if I want my own with batteries in the front or if I want something like a 'jackery' that my friend mentioned. But I doubt this can run even a 5k btu window unit. Right? I don't like the smell of gasoline or handling it very much, so unless there's some really clean generators I'd rather avoid that method too. Any suggestions for me? I really need to get my trailer reinsulated, the manufacutrer used maybe 1/2 or 3/4 inch insulation when the walls can hold 1". Also used styrofoam instead of XPS board which would be better. Not sure how much that will help.

Appreciate the help from everyone here who is much more experienced than I am with this stuff. I love my trailer even with its faults, it's so cozy and it's really good for my allergies being in an aluminum box with fresh air. My only conundrum is worrying about being on the road with no AC and it being hot.. I am so sensitive to really strong heat.. these FL summers kill me. BTW, current tow vehicle is a 2022 f150.

Thanks for ur time!

Attached is pic of trailer

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Old 08-11-2022, 10:02 PM   #2
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I have a few ideas as it seems you have several circumstances to fix.

For reducing the daytime heat, have you considered a tent type garage? Costco has a 10' X 20' garage for under $300. That would shade your whole trailer and they look nice.

For power needs other than A/C, a Jackery or similar would be ideal. Gives a compact portable source with multiple ways to recharge and multiple types of outlets. It could be charged by solar on the road.

The A/C is the issue. They take a lot of amps for longer periods. Would take a huge battery pack with lots of solar that gets all day sun to get thru a night. A generator is best. They do come in propane powered, no need for gasoline. Watch the noise rating, you want quiet as possible. Shop for an inverter type at least 2500 watts, 3000 is better. Cummins makes a nice one priced a lot less than Honda.

Be sure to use good locks and chain on everything outside and "puck" locks on trailer doors. There are thieves out there and yours needs to be harder to break in or steal than the next one.
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Old 08-12-2022, 08:58 AM   #3
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Yep; AC takes shore power or a generator. Some people have done it with batteries and solar but they have $20,000+ systems that take up the entire roof.

And a Jackery or the like is nothing more than a portable lithium battery pack - it's cheaper to just add a decent sized battery bank to your trailer. 4 - 6V GC's are cheap and provide 400 - 450 AH's of power or you can go Lithium for more $$....but they are lighter and with a half ton, weight is an issue. Pair that with 300 - 500 watts of rooftop solar and a good quality generator and you are going to be as good as it gets in your budget range, but you won't be running an AC with it.

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Old 08-12-2022, 09:11 AM   #4
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Old 08-12-2022, 11:19 AM   #5
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To survive without A/C requires locating to a milder climate unless you have big bucks to invest in solar and batteries to power and A/C.

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Old 08-12-2022, 04:41 PM   #6
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In the Co mountains, and out west where the daytime humidity stays below 20% You may want to try evap cooling. Its a low enough amp draw that it can be done on batteries. Good Luck DR
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Old 08-13-2022, 08:53 AM   #7
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have you considered a mini split unit for better cooling while maintaining a lower amp draw?

these types of ac units would be easy to install on your camper imo. i am not saying this link is the best one just for example purposes. 9k btu rated for 400 sq ft which is triple your space but possibly a decent size in really hot weather. really quiet at only 36.5 db vs a roof top unit at 65 db. low amp draw at 6.25 amps cooling and 8.7 heating ( heat pump model) on standard 30 amp rv system ( 110 volt). there are other makes/models with quick release fittings to be used as portable, to a point but atleast come pre charged. a 1000 watt gen should be capable or running that ac.
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power, conversion, shore power, trailer

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