The Surthrival Trailer has AC!

in life •  last month  (edited)

So..... last night I created a way to mount a window unit ac in the Surthrival trailer. Working all through the night the temperature is manageable now in the heat of summer in Alabama. I needed this for the security system that will be installed in the trailer because a component to the system will not work if the trailer is too hot. I tested it out today with temperatures in the 90's and learned several things.

I need to adjust the layout so the window unit tilts down and away from the trailer to allow the condensate that builds to drain away from the trailer.

I made a foam cutout for the door that can be inserted around the air conditioner when parked somewhere.

I need to insulate the roof really well and see how to insulate the walls so the heat doesn't build as much during the day. The ac could maintain a temp of around 85 during the heat of the day but no cooler.

Come hang out tomorrow for the Meadows and Makers Podcast tomorrow on www.mspwaves.com from 5-7pm UTC 1-3pm Est. I've talked to my old Co-host @jackdub to catch up on his new house build and chew the fat.

Yours in liberty toward a brighter future,
Greg Doud @makinstuff

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Have you already covered your solar system and battery set up? You have enough power to run the AC all day and meet your other needs?

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I have around 1.98kW of solar and 10kwh of battery bank. The AC is drawing around 550 watts I had not originally intended to keep it air conditioned but as long as it doesn't run full blast when the sun is down it's all good.

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Nice, that's a lot of power.

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It's quite a system, I hope to really showcase the potential of it as it's essentially a mobile microgrid. I'd love to continue building more of them, and make new improvements to the design. I'm looking into buying some unframed solar panels and creating my own composite frames to lighten the trailer substantially.

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I'll be interesting in seeing how light you can get them and what protection you go with. I think the glass is the majority of the weight and anything else will cloud up in just a couple of years.

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Good point sir, I'll have to do some deep dives to find a better solution to the glass that is as long lasting. The flexible panels have that flaw and sounds like the max they last is around 10 years if you're lucky. I'm just thinking about replacing the aluminum frame with a composite. I was reading some DOD materials where they have been experimenting with composites for solar panels in field deployment.

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I'll bet 10 years is only for a stationary system. Driving with them is like being sandblasted. The reviews for the flexible panel's I bought where people permanently mounted them to the roof of an RV said they lost considerable conversion ability after just a season.

None mentioned the specifics, but I think those ppl weren't very experienced DIY'ers, if at all. So, reading between the lines, using my knowledge and experience, I believe it's because the coating has very little abrasion resistence.

I want to protect mine better, so I'll be researching this topic as well. If I come across anything promising, I'll let you know.

I had a solar panel mounted on my work truck for years, and just washed it when I washed the windows and lights, without noting any degradation in performance or the clarity of the glass.

Killer! There's got to be a way to create a uv stable hardened coating, or use a thinner glass with possibly some selective reinforcement.

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Did you park it in the shade?

It was able to maintain around 74 in the morning but from the middle of the day onward it started to not keep up.

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Yep, if you are in direct sunlight it won't, too small.
If you can rig something for shade, that should help.

Good point, I will have to gear things toward what I'm doing for the day. If I want to chill in some a/c for a bit I'll have to bring the trailer into a shadier area and everything closed up well. If I need to top the batteries I can pull into more sun and trim the ac down or turn it off and just let it vent naturally.

Awnings are awesome for reducing direct insolation. It's why Bedouins wear robes that completely shade them.

Great point my good sir! I'm definitely going to set that up with a rainfly tarp I use for hammock camping.

wow good job sir makinstuff! That's a great move, were you going to put one in before you learned that you needed it for the security system? I can't imagine how hot it gets in there!
And plus it's humid in Alabama isn't it?
Do you have electric there?

No sir, I wasn't going to have ac in the trailer until the security system install. There are changes in that regard right now because the company needs a permanent structure to install the system on. I'm working that solution now and will be bringing an old camper from my folks down there. I have the ability to connect to the grid at the property, but will not be connecting grid power. This property will be entirely off-grid unless I drastically need to. My neighbors are super cool and will help me with filling my cisterns if needed and a place to cool down if needed. I'm very blessed to have such great neighbors and will work to give back to them 10 fold.

Howdy today sir makinstuff! Oh, I see, very interesting...that's wonderful that you have neighbors who are great people and want to work with you, wow!

So, the water that comes out of that system is going to be distilled pure water, right? Good for drinking, watering, displacing evaporation.

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The water will be produced on the cooling fins of the radiator, which will cause it to be contaminated with dust and other environmental particles. It doesn't come out of the system so much as off the system.

Ah, that makes sense. Still a viable option for watering plants and refilling an aquaponics system.

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Probably the most significant reduction in heat gain you could achieve at least cost is shielding the trailer from direct sun. Just stretching a tarp on a frame of pvc pipe blocking most of the sunshine will be inexpensive. Insulation will be pretty cost ineffective in comparison, however I don't think you shouldn't insulate. I made a trailer without insulation in the PNW years ago and spent my first night in it in winter. That morning I awoke it was 32 F. That day I installed 2" rigid foam inside, and the next morning I awoke to 72 F, while the weather hadn't changed.

Particularly since you have a trailer which is intended to be mobile, insulation will prove a good investment IMHO. Also, while when stationary that frame appears robust enough to nominally support the weight of the AC unit, it will be a different story when the trailer is bouncing over potholes.

Good to see folks DIYing stuff I wanna make too =)

Thanks!

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