Adding an AC to a vintage PUP

Discussion in 'Heating / Cooling Systems' started by Kwfixer, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Kwfixer

    Kwfixer New Member

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    Ok so here it goes.

    I am in the strictly planning stages right now. I own a 1986 StarCraft 17SLE and I am looking to do a rehab/remodel of it this upcoming off season. During that time I am going to add a new subfloor, new flooring, new storage boxes, bunk bases, new bunk pads, etc.. I was also looking to add an AC unit.
    The question is, should I make the ice box area an enclosed AC unit by using a window AC unit, or try to add supports to the roof for a roof mounted AC unit? I am not sure if the lift system would be able to handle the extra weight. But I know I would have to put some sort of support (1/8" angle iron across the top of the roof or similar solution) on the roof since there is not any heavy duty support built into the roof.

    Any and all suggestions are welcome. TYIA!
     
  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    When I was considering the window AC option for my old Starcraft, I learned that the popup floor gets really cold, but the cooling often doesn't make it up to the bunks where it's needed. While I never experienced it, thermodynamically speaking, it makes a lot of sense. I would research this before making any modifications. For roof mount, I believe all starcrafts of that era got the same lift system, and they did offer roof mount AC, so I'd say your lift will hold up to it. We ended up getting a 10k BTU portable AC unit, and setting it on the counter. It kept us nice and cool in 90+ degree weather.
     
  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah Gold Supporting Member

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    Here are my two cents. Personally I would be concerned adding a rooftop unit to that old of a camper. Between a roof that is probably worn out and worn lift I think it could cause more problems than what it's worth.
    Just bringing this up as on my old 1990 Jayco the converter couldn't handle the amount of power an AC uses. So plan to plug the AC directly to the power post (ideal) otherwise you will need to update the converter and perhaps the wires in your camper to create a dedicated AC outlet. There were times I seriously considered updating that converter anyway because I kept on tripping the breaker and always had to unplug something to run something else.
     
  4. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    A/C is powered by 120 vac coming into the camper via the main service cable and has nothing to do with your converter. One could have no converter and still run A/C.

    As far as the OP's question is concerned I think I'd be inclined to not install a roof mount A/C on a 34 yr old popup camper even though it would be more effective than a portable unit sitting closer to floor level.
     
  5. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office Gold Supporting Member

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    Was A/C available as an option on these old units back in the day? If so then the lift system should handle it. A roof AC is going to be much more effective and unobtrusive than any other option.
     
  6. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Semantics. The converter is part of the power center, and I think we can all agree that the general public collectively refers to the power center as the converter. We all know it is wrong, but we all know what we are talking about. Force of habit.

    In jmkay’s instance, their older pup likely had a lower rated center. It was mentioned that the breakers kept flipping due to the higher amp load of the A/C. Thus in that case it was the power center that couldn’t handle the load. The converter is integrated into the power center, and often with these smaller pups they are not set up for high amp draw circuits. Same thing happens to mine if I run the toaster oven and the microwave at the same time. I suppose you could put bigger breakers into one, but I would be more inclined to upgrade the center to a bigger rated unit to be safe.

    Getting back to the OP, I would check to see if that model was offered with A/C as an option. Most were, but the smaller ones sometimes did not have that option. If it did, then inspect the lift mechanism, flooring where the lift mechanism is bolted to, and figure out if additional bracing was needed when a roof A/C was added. That should tell you if it is worth the effort. Also check for a plug - mine has a dedicated 20 amp plug that the A/C uses, which is behind a cabinet. Others used an exterior plug on the side. If you don’t have one you will need to figure out how to power it safely. As others stated, plugging it into the power pole may be the safest bet.

    I have never been a fan of the floor mounted A/C option. The bunks get hot, and it is harder to distribute the air from the floor. I have seen some goood hacks to add removable supports to the side of the pup in order to use a window unit. If I had to add A/C, that would probably be my first choice. You can get a bigger window unit for less than a portable, and they are smaller so it makes it easier to transport in the pup. Install your brackets, lock in the unit, and open the window so it is blowing through the screen.

    If you do go portable, I would recommend one of the ones with dual hoses. They are more efficient than the single hose variety, but are more expensive. I have a small 8k btu portable that I use to supplement the roof A/C in 100+ degree temps. It is a short squat thing, and just fits under the bunks in travel mode. All the otherrs I looked at were way too tall, and would have had to ride in the TV. It works, but is woefully inadequate to cool my larger pup on its own. I would get the absolute largest one I could afford, and then scrimp and save to see if i could get one bigger.
     
  7. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    What is the budget for this rebuild? Is your canvas in good shape. If the canvas isn't near perfect you might be better off trying to buy a camper that has AC. Changing the floor is a major job and if the floor is rotted there is probably damage elsewhere. Roof top AC are also expensive unless you get a good deal on a used one.
     
  8. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    Hardly "semantics" when folks repeatedly post on these forums saying they have a 120 vac electrical problem and instantly point to the converter, such as jmkay1 who said - "Just bringing this up as on my old 1990 Jayco the converter couldn't handle the amount of power an AC uses." The only role the converter plays is it's a handy spot to mount 120 vac breakers - electrically the converter itself doesn't have anything to do with the trailer's 120 vac system at all, a concept that many obviously just don't understand. In jmkay1's case it was the breakers mounted on the converter that couldn't handle the load of an A/C, not the converter itself.
     

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