Simple, Cheap, Nondestructive A/C Installation In A Pop-up Camper
When my daughter and her teenage friends camp with us, in the summer, we need more air conditioned space than our minivan can provide.
Unfortunately our 1991 Coleman Destiny Roanoke didn’t come with a/c— and we don’t use the camper often enough to justify spending $1,300 to have it installed.
So we use a window unit, instead.
I didn’t want to make any cuts or other permanent modifications to our camper which severely limited our options.
This installation method is not my original idea. I found several others, on the internet, doing the same thing and it looked like the best option for us.
I considered using this install on the BACKside of the camper so that it wouldn’t be such an eyesore but it would have blocked the big picture window over the table. Also, if we had installed the unit, there, we would have had to hang a piece of canvas around the a/c unit to keep cool air from escaping through the surrounding screen.
If you can get past the unsightly look of having the a/c unit in the front of the camper it has several advantages:
1) The window is almost exactly the same size as the unit. Once we zipped the plastic interior window up to the bottom of the air conditioner there were virtually no leakage points for the cooled, interior air.
2) It puts the a/c unit under the awning and that extra bit of shade should greatly improve its ability to provide cool air.
3) The stove provides an extra measure of security by preventing one of the 2x4s from accidentally sliding out. (I used a Velcro strap to provide extra safety for the other.)
The unit we used is the same 5,000 BTU air conditioner we use with our DAC Explorer 2 tailgate tent. While it doesn’t have the cooling power that a 13,000 BTU factory rooftop model would, it’s still more than sufficient to keep things cool, at night.
Others who’ve done similar installations have said that the camper still gets warm, in the heat of the day, but even then it’s appreciably cooler than the ambient temperatures, outside.
If our 5,000 BTU unit ever fails it would be simple to modify this setup to accommodate a more powerful air conditioner.
Since I already owned the a/c unit this installation only cost me $15 (for pressure treated lumber, bolts, washers and wing nuts). The lumber yard cut the wood to size, for me, so all I had to do was drill two holes, to attach the air conditioner to the top support, and four holes to hold the frame together. Total project time: 30 minutes.
When we break camp the a/c unit pops out after the removal of two wing nuts and bolts. Once the air conditioner is removed the rest of the frame collapses with the four remaining bolts still in place.
Note: I had to notch out the bottom of one 2x4 so that it would fit into the space behind the stove.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to air conditioning the pop-up is that the teenagers are more likely to sleep in— which means more quiet coffee time for my honey and me!
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