Author Options:

Electric Air Conditioner for SUV?? Answered

I live and work in one of the southern states that moves to a position approximately 100' from the surface of the sun in summer.  I unfortunately must spend time sitting and waiting at various facilities, sometimes for a couple of hours in my vehicle.  I have 120VAC readily available at all of the facilities, but usually no air conditioning inside.  I'd like to find a way to cool the inside of the vehicle without idling the engine.  Ice would not be a preferable solution.  Ideally, I would like something that can be put into the vehicle during the summer months and then removed during the cooler month we get.  I've thought about a rooftop A/C, but don't want to cut holes in the vehicle (I also don't like the look. It's a Suburban, not a camper!).  A portable A/C with the vent hose run out of a window would be one option, but I was hoping to find a more elegant solution...and one that challenged my technical abilities. :)  It's been in the 105 degree plus range this week, with no forecast for it to go below 100.  I want/need something that travels with me, sits in the cargo area of the SUV, and can (hopefully) just be plugged in to work.  It would NOT be used while the vehicle is moving.  

Oh, and of course....I want to do this as inexpensively as possible! :)



5 years ago

You never said how dry or humid it gets 100 feet next to the sun :-)

If it is dry enough a small swamp cooler ( low cost ) is easy to build
into a back window..

Otherwise steveastrouk's commendation will certainly challenge
your technical abilities.
I would add to this that a 400 cycle motor is much smaller and lighter
then a 60 cycle machine it needs an up cycle converter.
in fact then you may not need another clutch as the smaller rotor can
freewheel when not in use.

Of course the very cheapest cooling technique is / are mylar sheet
mirrors to reflect the sun.
I live and work a bit further from the sun in the high Nevada desert,
and can attest to those reflector cooling sheets held by magnets
cooling the cab interior when parked under or next to the sun.


It's fairly dry, and I know quite a few people that use evaporative cooling....but the main reason I don't want to use ice is for the "mess factor"...and I'd have a similar issue with an evap. Plus, I don't really want the outside of the truck to look much different.

Not ice....
Evaporating water and a small squirrel cage fan.
Air travels through a moist ( wet ) fiber screen, water that does
not evaporate gets pumped to the top of the screen ( small pump )

Air can enter through a 3/8" window slit and exit through another such
after cooling around the cab.  We run a larger unit through our house.
The whole contraption can fit in a cubic foot, except the 10 gallon
supply of water tank that gets used up unless there is a hose to refill a
smaller tank.
Power it off a spare battery or AC line.
You may be able to find it on eBay.

I was referring to some of the other instructables on how to build an ice-based air conditioner.

How about mounting a separate AC motor onto the SUV's compressor, with another clutch ? Then, when you are on-site, you have an AC cord to run the motor, and turn the compressor (you'd arrange to turn on the magnetic clutch).

You arrange a relay to disable the ignition when the power cord is connected to the vehicle.

Interesting idea....and definitely one that would challenge me! Couple of possible issues though:

Cooling for the condenser coil
Keeping the blower, etc running.
The electronic climate control system that probably won't like what I'm doing one bit!

Add a battery charger to keep the battery topped up so you don't drain the battery running the blower.