We are looking at all the cooling options available. Hit me up with all your recommendations. We want it to be as flush to the ceiling as possible of course. Our Van is a Sprinter 170 year 2017.
Personally I have had much better luck with swamp coolers than air conditioners, even in extremely humid areas. They only use a fraction of the power, and if used correctly they’re faster & more efficient than any A/C.
Thank you for that. We live in a climate in CA where it can be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Swamp coolers don’t work too well in those high-heat scenarios. I appreciate the input! Something to think about as we only get those temps for a month or so at low elevations.
Typically, a swamp cooler can lower the temperature by 40°F-50°F. The indirect type like I use will even work in high humdity, and actually lower the humidity.
The biggest problem with swamp cooler is people don’t understand how to use them correctly. Unlike an A/C, a swamp cooler works by replacing the indoor air, not cooling it. So you need a window open on the opposite end of your van or house before they’ll work correctly, so the hot air can be pushed out & replaced with cooler air.
Thank you for that input. Yes! That is correct. We use one in our garage/shop and leave the door open. Works like a charm til temps reach over 100 degrees F. We may choose to put a cooler in…thanks for your reply!!
Mine kept my van in the lower 70’s at 120°F outside. The trick seems to be adjusting the water flow right. Sometimes less water flow will actually lower the temperature. Go figure…
Thanks for the info!
Basic physics says an indirect swamp cooler cannot work if the relative humidity outdoors is close to 100% - as it might be during and after rain or fog, near water or wet vegetation, perhaps some other conditions. Because there will be no evaporation.
But it’s a “cool” idea, that I wasn’t familiar with. Sounds like it could have a wider range of practical applicability than direct swamp coolers.
I’m not an engineer, but suspect a big, massive swamp cooler could be developed that works during the part of the day with low relative humidity (assuming there is one), and stores the cold for the rest of the day. I don’t know if that is practical for a van the size of Sprinter. You need a big thermal reservoir.
BTW, there exist solar powered ACs and refrigerators using Ammonia cycle cooling, that (only) work in bright sunlight. They have an important role in some countries in some climates. But there are significant safety issues: Ammonia is toxic. I do not know whether there are comparable units using a non-toxic working material. Perhaps alcohol - but it is flammable.
Not to sound flippant, but parking your vehicle (hopefully white!) in the shade could help a lot too.
Physics is theory, not facts. The art of explaining what is, and convincing others that you’re right. It is only accurate until disproven.
Evaporation only ceases in a closed container. Humdity can slow it, but not stop it, and it takes very lttle evaporaton to cool the water in the reservoir, much less than what it takes to cool the surrounding air, due to the lesser overall volume. Water flow rate seems to play a big part in the cooling effciency.
Airflow is more important than physical size.
Seeking shade or creating shade is always good advice & practice whenever feasible.
learning how to do more with less and in the
simplest way possible." ~ Wise Words Wiki
BTW, physics is not just theory - it is also practice.
Actually, there are very high humidity conditions (over 100% relative humidity) where not only is there no evaporation, but there is condensation, which actually adds a small amount of heat. (It sometimes happens when the air outside is cooling down, which increases “relative” humidity - e.g., that’s how dew forms.)
More ideas to stay cool without wasting power:
In addition to parking in the shade, another idea that some people might consider is reflective windows instead of tinted windows.
Many vanlife and camping people love tinted windows, for privacy and stealth, and because they think it keeps you cool. Tinted windows actually absorb heat in the sun. Some of that heat may radiate or convect away before getting inside, but reflective windows, which you can create using reflective films on window glass (but be sure to stay legal, and not kill your ability to see), would keep you cooler. I don’t know why more of the van life and adventure camping crowds don’t get reflective windows instead of tinted windows - it seems a pretty obvious idea.
And of course, your vehicle should be white. No other color makes sense in hot summer sun. It’s also highly visible - except in (snow) blizzards and fog - in which case you might want to add bright reflective (e.g., orange) stripes. (Orange also has an advantage if you park in areas where people hunt, because many hunters are trained not to shoot at orange colored things.) Of course, the stripes aren’t completely visible in heavy blizzards or fog either. Driving in heavy blizzards or dense fog isn’t a great idea if you can avoid it.
I admit that painting a non-white vehicle to be white can be pretty expensive, especially if you pay people to do a good job, but I’ve sometimes noticed a 10-15 degree difference in white vs colored vehicles, despite the fact I’ve never had a black vehicle, which must be awful in the hot sun. Even my light silver Venza gets pretty hot in the sun. It was a mistake.
And of course you want to be able to open vents on top (preferably screen covered to keep out the bugs) to allow venting of hot air - but probably NOT while you are running an air conditioner, because it may also vent some of the cold air. I’ve sometimes, in places with few bugs, used a vehicle with an open sun roof - but beware if you have an inverted kayak on top, that any water inside the kayak may slosh around and splash inside. (Also, if the sun roof is glass, and you get on top of the vehicle to load stuff, you can easily put a knee or foot through it and break it - I did that once.)
I’ve also used a pickup truck with a sliding window in the back, which helped a lot. (If you have a cap in the back, mounted very close to the cab, it is hard to stick a hand in to steal stuff or unlock the vehicle, an advantage over vans.) If you sleep in the back, be sure the cap has a sliding window up front too.
At home, I’ve noticed that ceiling fans help a lot to keep me cool. I’m not certain how common they are in vans - and of course you need a moderately high ceiling to make air circulation work. Wouldn’t do much good in my Venza, which is more or less a station wagon. And you probably want one that makes very little noise, so you can sleep. They require a little power to run, but less than an air conditioner. Though I admit that a swamp cooler, under the right conditions, could do as well or better. But under very high humidity conditions, a fan would be better.
Many of the mylar type emergency blankets are also transparent, and make for cheap reflective window tint. Makes a HUGE difference in heat gain & loss.
Simply spritz the window with water, or use a sponge, apply the blanket, use a squeegee or credit card to get any air bubbles out, and you’re good to go. No other adhesives needed. Then just trim around the window with a razor blade for a professional looking installation.
Simple is cheaper and more reliable." ~ Off Grid