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Old 05-02-2019, 02:16 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Trailer: 1974 Trillium 4500, 2019 Escape 19 on order for August pickup!
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Any alternatives to rooftop air conditioner?

We are putting together our build sheet for a 19'er. For almost 20 years we have had two 1970s era fiberglass campers with basic amenities, so this build is very exciting.

One add-on that we thought we'd splurge for is AC...but now we're not sure, and are looking for wisdom from others.

We live in Montana and have always chosen to camp off the grid. When we have travelled far with our campers it's typically been to the desert in Utah, where we again chose camping spots with no hookups. We only stay in campgrounds with power if we have to, so plugging in to shore power happens rarely - there or if we are parked in a friend's driveway while visiting. We'll probably do a bit more plugged-in camping as we have time to travel more (yay!), but it won't be the primary use of the trailer.

It dawned on us that while AC will be great for the rare hot Montana weekend or for late spring in the desert...wait!...we don't have shore power most of the time. And we don't particularly like generators because of the noise and (maybe?) the increased complexity of daily camping life. Our arms could be twisted but if we could stay away from a generator that'd be great.

So we'd love to hear from both those who have and don't have AC. From the ACers...even if we use it rarely, will we be so happy to have it then? For the non-ACers, what clever alternatives have you come up with to keep your camper cool? Air circ with one or two rooftop fans? Additional interior fans? Some clever non-shore-power AC that we have not thought of?

Thanks in advance. This forum is great!
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:29 PM   #2
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We’ve owned 3 fiberglass trailers over the last ten years
We have used our A/C far more than our furnace .
We never realized how much we would use the A/C until we went South in the winter
To be fair we usually camp with hookups and detest / hate hot weather
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:14 PM   #3
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Like the OP we almost never use hookups, don't want a generator and didn't get AC- zero regrets. We camp mainly in shoulder seasons or at altitude. Was in Idaho/Montana last May through middle of June and never was uncomfortable. If you live with humidity that is another story.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:23 PM   #4
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Since Escape pre-wires the hatch for AC, even if you don't include it, you can always buy a unit later (like I did) and install it yourself. Or, when boondocking, on really hot days simply push air around with a low-amp little desktop fan.

A search of this topic will learn ya, it has been beaten nearly to death on the forum.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:27 PM   #5
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We only go to RV places with hookups when we have to. The vast majority of our trailer use is without power.

We didn't get an A/C but I keep our options open by making a shelf support for a small inexpensive window unit. We've only used it once but it did work quite well. If we were heading across the US South in summertime then we'd definitely take it with us.

Ron
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:27 PM   #6
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Spent 15 years over at Big Timber. No AC in the house. Only knew a couple of folks that had AC. Now South Carolina. If you come east of the Mississippi humidity is an issue along with the heat. An 80 degree day in Montana was great. An 80 degree day east of the Mississippi especially the Southeast, miserable. To my knowledge unless you have one heck of a battery bank plus at real big inverter, that you won't have in an Escape, you will not be able to operate an air conditioner without shore power or a generator. Also, you will need something like at least a 2200 watt generator to operate that AC. After I pick up the Escape late June I'm headed to Utah and Arizona and I'm takin two generators.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:31 PM   #7
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In the 41/4 years We’ve had our Escape we primarily camp without any electrical hookups. During those years we used the A/C at two Campground locations. It was nice having the a/c those two times but the extra weight was hanging there on the roof the rest of the time.

I suppose, depending on your POV on the subject you could factor climate change into your decision making matrix. We’ve had to factor in the “new normal” of raging wild fire season into planning our trips.

Added: oh, we don’t like generators

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Old 05-02-2019, 03:49 PM   #8
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We have A/C but power is not always available so we create a breeze at night with a window fan(s).

You can see the modification in the two links below.

Modifications to Eggscape

Modifications to Eggscape
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:59 PM   #9
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They make 12v evaporative coolers that blow air over ice, but you would need a source of ice to keep it going for any length of time.
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Old 05-02-2019, 06:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTSuz View Post

We live in Montana and have always chosen to camp off the grid. When we have travelled far with our campers it's typically been to the desert in Utah, where we again chose camping spots with no hookups. We only stay in campgrounds with power if we have to, so plugging in to shore power happens rarely - there or if we are parked in a friend's driveway while visiting. We'll probably do a bit more plugged-in camping as we have time to travel more (yay!), but it won't be the primary use of the trailer.

It dawned on us that while AC will be great for the rare hot Montana weekend or for late spring in the desert...wait!...we don't have shore power most of the time. And we don't particularly like generators because of the noise and (maybe?) the increased complexity of daily camping life. Our arms could be twisted but if we could stay away from a generator that'd be great.

So we'd love to hear from both those who have and don't have AC. From the ACers...even if we use it rarely, will we be so happy to have it then? For the non-ACers, what clever alternatives have you come up with to keep your camper cool? Air circ with one or two rooftop fans? Additional interior fans? Some clever non-shore-power AC that we have not thought of?

Thanks in advance. This forum is great!
As another Montanan [Missoula], we're now on our 3rd Escape -- with AC. Not needed very often around here, but in the Northwet or the mid[humind]west [anything east of Rapid City], it has been wonderful. Even needed it in Billings twice. Without AC on those occasions, we probably wouldn't have camped. Worth the money, IMHO. We're typically without shore power, unless we anticipate those conditions.
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