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 > Bigfoot Camper - Major Modifications I'm Considering...

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adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 08/17/22 02:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I've had my Bigfoot for several years now and have been generally pretty happy. In recent communication with another member here, I've thought once again about some major changes I have toyed around in the past. I thought I would spell them out here and see what others think about the idea.

1. I want to change out my AC unit. The current one I have sits 17" high off the roof and stands out like a sore thumb. It's also very noisy. My first thought was to go to a 12v DC unit. More common in the trucker world but starting to be more available due to the Sprinter camper craze. Expensive yes but lower profile and allows for running off batteries.

2. Alternative to changing out rooftop AC unit is eliminating it all together by combining it with the furnace. I do not know if there are ready made solutions out there but I have considered doing my own fabrication project to combine these two units together. The clear benefit is not having a huge AC unit on my roof anymore for trees to snag and I can either add another fan / vent in the opening left behind or just glassing it closed.

3. I currently have 200w of solar and a single 100AH LiFePo4 battery. I can easily add another 200w of solar, maybe even close to 400w if I eliminate the AC on the roof for a totall of 400w to 600w of solar. I have plenty of space to add another 300AH of LiFePo4 batteries. Going this route would allow me to run my AC on batteries which really is the ultimate goal really. Nothing fancy or unusual here.

4. Eliminate the generator and possibly 1 of 2 20lb propane bottles. Right now the generator is almost never used. It is bulky, loud, and heavy. Yes, convenient once in a while but with a much larger battery and solar setup I can't see how it would every be used. If I eliminated the generator I would consider finding a fiberglass shop to close off the outside access panel completely. I could then repurpose that space for better under counter / sink storage with full width drawers or something. Eliminating one of two propane bottles just frees up additional space and more weight savings. A single 20lb bottle should last at least one if not two weeks for just fridge and stove duty.

So those are the thoughts I am kicking around. Some of these paths are well traveled, others not so much. None of this is really necessary to improve our current camping lifestyle, much of it is for kicks and giggles. So with that, I'm putting it out to all you "seasoned" camper gurus for your own thoughts.


1999 F350 Dually with 7.3 Diesel
2000 Bigfoot 10.6 Camper


Lwiddis

Southern California :(

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Posted: 08/17/22 03:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Not having used my generator in quite a spell except for biweekly exercise, I can’t argue that you should not eliminate it.


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, WindyNation 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AH Lithium battery. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist. 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


CA Traveler

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Posted: 08/17/22 06:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Even a small A/C takes a lot of 12V DC amps to run, hence you'll need a lot more solar and batteries.


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JimK-NY

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Posted: 08/17/22 07:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The math rarely works out well for RV solar panels running an RV A/C unit. A typical RV A/C pulls roughly 1000 watts. If you look for a small unit figure 700 watts. I would not try to go below that because the unit would not keep up. So you want to run a roughly 700 watt unit with 600 watts of solar? It looks like you live in Northern CA. Solar calculators show your 600 watts in Northern CA on this date would produce a theoretical maximum of 270 A/H. That is enough to run your A/C for a total of 4.7 hours a day. Of course that would be with no other use of electricity with perfect conditions, no clouds, no shade, no dirt on the panels and panels that actually perform to specs. On top of all of that, you need to keep your RV in the blazing sun. I have found that my TC just plain cooks like a tin can in the sun.

I have done a lot of camping in desert Southwest some of it in the summer with temps up in the 90s. If I am driving, I keep the pass-through windows open and a vent open in the camper. The truck A/C does a pretty good job of keeping the temps in the RV reasonable. When I am camped, I try to keep in the shade. Usually, I would need to run the A/C on generator for an hour or so in the evening to cool everything down well. Then I can get by with a small relatively quiet fan that blows air across the bed. When it is too hot for that, I look for hook ups or even better get out of Dodge.

A more feasible budget friendly approach would be to replace the A/C with a new unit. The new ones are quieter and have a much lower profile. Costs are not bad, but I have no idea about installation costs. You mentioned eliminating a propane tank. I guess that means your current generator runs on propane. If so I would get rid of it. My 18 year old Honda runs great, is pretty quiet and has had no maintenance except oil changes and one year I felt I needed to do more so I replaced the spark plug. I keep the gas jugs between the ladder to the roof and the back of the camper. Three or four gallons on the back and a gallon in the generator lasts a long time and is easy to refill. Even though a 20# propane tank lasts me about 2 months, I am very happy to have two tanks. Over the years I have had all sorts of issues getting refills. I will not do exchanges. First you only get 15# instead of 20# and the tanks are often out of date and later on vendors cannot legally refill them.

* This post was edited 08/17/22 07:41pm by JimK-NY *

joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 08/18/22 12:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

FWIW, there is also this discussion about A/C and solar currently going on in the Travel Trailers / General Q&A section:
"Powering AC unit built into travel trailer with solar?"
https://forums.trailerlife.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/30353899.cfm


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theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 08/18/22 06:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As noted, running an A/C, either 12VDC powered or 120VAC through an inverter, requires MASSIVE amounts batteries and the solar panels to charge them !

I would look into installing a residential mini-split heat pump (they have various interior air handlers). You can get rid of the A/C and the furnace. If you are willing to live without hot water (or only on shore power) and switch to an induction cooktop, you can eliminate the LP tanks completely and install the heat pump compressor there.

As for a generator, get rid of the built-in one and buy a small portable.

jaycocreek

Idaho

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Posted: 08/18/22 06:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Kicks and Giggles is why I do it..

Many RV's come equipped with a window AC,I do not understand why truck campers for the most part,don't..My 5k window AC draws 330 watts with the compressor on and 59 watts with the fan on high..Take a 70% duty cycle and your talking 230ish watts for four hours is 920 watt hours..

Yesterday my 200 watt solar panel I have hanging on the ladder rack waiting for installation parts put out 850 watts off a Victron mppt..I did aim it at the sun in the afternoon..

So just one 200 watt panel would run a 5K AC for four hours with little taken off the batteries..When all are hooked up,400 watts would do it with ease(on paper lol) we will see shortly as I am going to do just that..

This is my 5K window unit with the compressor on..(the Jackery died and they won't fix it)Boo Jackery!..My Wagan 1K PSW inverter runs it with ease..

[image]


Lance 9.6
400 watts solar mounted/200 watts portable
500ah Lifep04

mkirsch

Rochester, NY

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Posted: 08/18/22 07:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Most TCs don't have a place for a window unit to be hanging out, except the side, and the problems with that should be obvious.

If you think the rooftop AC sticks out like a sore thumb, a window unit hanging out the side or back like a giant pimple isn't going to make you any happier.

I'm thinking the "many RVs come with window units" you're actually seeing SLEEVE units, which have special ventilation porting to allow them to be embedded in the wall.

Even so I can't see 5000BTUs keeping up with a larger TC. 5000BTUs takes 4 HOURS to bring my well-insulated 8x12 bedroom from 79 to 72 running continuously. A TC is far less well insulated. Plus its pretty loud.


Putting 10-ply tires on half ton trucks since aught-four.

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The Western States

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Posted: 08/18/22 07:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jaycocreek wrote:

My 5k window AC draws 330 watts with the compressor on and 59 watts with the fan on high..
5000 BTUs is equivalent to 1465W, so not sure your A/C size that only uses 330W. [emoticon]

jaycocreek

Idaho

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Posted: 08/18/22 08:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The 5K window unit I have is so so quiet especially compared to a 13.5 RV unit..Something like 48db if I remember right..And yes to the sleeved units..Why couldn't they do the same for a TC?

Some have said a 5K didn't or wouldn't keep there large TC cool..I su-pose it depends on the unit,mine blows ice cold air and it's 5 years old but mine is a 9.6ft non-slide TC and at 102 degree's last week,my Victron sence said the battery area was 70 degree's even in a cupboard with the door open..

Many have modded there TC for a window unit out the back but I just put it out the side window as needed,At 39 pounds,it's easy..A factory sleeved one would be really nice or a professional install,the same..I don't have the skills anymore to tackle that but I have a few bucks set aside for a cabinet carpenter to do in is slow time..

My 8K window AC is fairly loud compared but still way quieter than an RV AC..Ihad a roof unit in my last Lance and that was loud,really loud and it was a new one..

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