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Old 05-31-2017, 08:18 PM   #1
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Evaporative Cooler vs AC

Hello-
A friend recently turned my on to using an evaporative cooler (the brand is Turbo Kool) instead of an air conditioner to cool his travel trailer.
We live in the arid SW and will be doing a vast majority of our traveling here. We will mostly be boondocking as well, so AC will not be used very often. The evaporative cooler, however, runs on 12V.

We have used these swamp coolers before to cool our home, and they work great. We will have the solar option along with dual 6V batteries as well in our 19'er. Our completion date is July 20th!

My questions for you all are:
1. Does anyone have any experience with these coolers for an RV?
2. Did it work well? Drain your batteries? Any problems with leaks?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Jim
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:13 PM   #2
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I've no experience with a swamp cooler in an RV, but I grew up in a desert area with a swamp cooler on the roof instead of AC. I see a couple of advantages. First, the ability to run it when boondocking with no generator. Second, it's much less expensive than an air conditioner. Perhaps another big advantage, and I'm just assuming here, would be that it will be much quieter than the AC unit.

But, if the relative humidity goes above about 35-40 percent, the cooling capacity drops pretty dramatically. For example, in southern Arizona where it can routinely reach 95 to 100F, if the relative humidity stays very low, it could potentially cool the trailer down to the low 80s. Liveable, but certainly not cool as A.C.. But having traveled in that area quite a bit, there are many times when the humidity is higher. In such a case it might be able to reach the upper 80s. Better than 100, but nowhere near what AC could do. One big reason the cooling capacity is limited, even in drier conditions, is that these type of coolers actually humidify the air, vs an AC unit which dehumidifies it. Once the inside air reaches a certain humidity level, the cooling part is over.

One other thing to consider is, the insulation in an Escape is relatively thin. The manufacturers of the Turbokool are probably estimating cooling capacity for a stick built trailer with thicker walls and thus better insulation. That will make a difference.

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Old 05-31-2017, 09:33 PM   #3
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Don't evaportive coolers need a steady water supply? If that is true and you are boondocking, you'd empty your fresh water tank in short order.

I will admit being not too familiar with evaporate coolers since I'm from Florida, where nothing evaporates.
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Old 05-31-2017, 10:30 PM   #4
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Don't evaportive coolers need a steady water supply? If that is true and you are boondocking, you'd empty your fresh water tank in short order.

I will admit being not too familiar with evaporate coolers since I'm from Florida, where nothing evaporates.
They do require a water supply. In the case of the Turbokool, they have a built in water reservoir. The reservoir can be filled using either the trailer's water lines, or from a stand-alone pressurized 15-gallon water tank with 12-volt pump, or from a 3-gallon self-pump water supply tank, according to the manufacturer.

They use water as they operate, so there's no waste water, and no draining into the trailer's tanks. But, as you point out, they need a steady water supply. If boondocking for an extended period, that could be an issue.

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Old 05-31-2017, 10:34 PM   #5
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I will admit being not too familiar with evaporate coolers since I'm from Florida, where nothing evaporates.
Thanks for the falling-off-my-chair laugh for the day.
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Old 05-31-2017, 10:54 PM   #6
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Thanks for the falling-off-my-chair laugh for the day.
You're welcome! (though it was unintentional)

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Old 05-31-2017, 11:23 PM   #7
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You can make a redneck version with a 12v fan, aquarium pump and swamp cooler filter media in a 6 gal plastic water bucket. You tube has videos. Not as classy as the roof mounted one but you can experiment to see if it will work in your area.

A swamp cooler needs to get the intake air from outside, pull it thru the wet filter media and blow it into the trailer. You also need an exhaust but the MaxxFan on a low speed would be ideal as it would be exhausting the warmer air near the ceiling.

I'm playing around with a redneck ice chest air cooler. A plastic sheet resting on the inner shelf holder will have a cut out for a 12v fan to blow air in and a large round or square tube to exhaust the air straight up. No modification or cuts to the ice chest so I can still use it to keep food and drinks cool. It will cool by melting ice. Wondering if the freezer can keep up refreezing containers of ice.

It's more of a game for me because I live in Colorado and have no intention of camping where it is so hot I need the roof top A/C unit.
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Old 05-31-2017, 11:57 PM   #8
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I'm playing around with a redneck ice chest air cooler. A plastic sheet resting on the inner shelf holder will have a cut out for a 12v fan to blow air in and a large round or square tube to exhaust the air straight up. No modification or cuts to the ice chest so I can still use it to keep food and drinks cool. It will cool by melting ice. Wondering if the freezer can keep up refreezing containers of ice.

It's more of a game for me because I live in Colorado and have no intention of camping where it is so hot I need the roof top A/C unit.
Fun game, but even if you needed only a fraction of the standard A/C capacity to keep the trailer cool that is a lot of ice. Even 3,000 BTU/H is equivalent to melting 500lbs of ice over 24 hours.
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Old 06-01-2017, 12:12 PM   #9
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They make 12v cooler-air which blows air across ice to cool. I have one and it works well for about 3 hours. Used it in my non-a/c toy hauler. Here is an updated item
https://www.amazon.com/Portable-12-v...VFDD6FHF2996XW
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:35 PM   #10
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Back to the OP's question though: we're talking about perhaps installing a roof mounted Turbokool instead of AC. I can see pluses and minuses. Would be interesting to get other points of view.

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Old 06-01-2017, 06:20 PM   #11
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If this cooler humidifies air that comes into the trailer, it might negatively affect the life of the trailer. My trailer's owners manual says the humidity inside the trailer should be maintained at 60% or below, otherwise the interior structure and materials could deterioriate.
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:31 PM   #12
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As Robert mentioned earlier, evaporative coolers are only good to a certain humidity point which is why you don't see them used except in certain areas of the country. They will work most of the year in Phoenix with the exception of Monsoon season (July-mid Sept) when the humidity level rises above 40%. Of course, this is the time you need the cooling.
It wouldn't be of much use in the SE or FL where one would routinely want cooling.
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:05 PM   #13
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I understand this. But, even in a dry climate, would the cooler push the humidity inside the trailer over 60%? If so, long-term use might have a detrimental effect on the trailer.
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:09 PM   #14
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I understand this. But, even in a dry climate, would the cooler push the humidity inside the trailer over 60%? If so, long-term use might have a detrimental effect on the trailer.
It's possible. They are adding water vapor to the interior because the evaporative process leaves residual moisture in the air - often raising the humidity levels quite a bit. Over the long term, that could be detrimental. I think that's mitigated however by the fact that it won't be running except when it's hot. Also, the arid climate where the OP lives would mean the trailer interior would dry out in a hurry.

I think someone living in the New Orleans area for example and only camping in the deep South would probably have deterioration long before someone living in the desert southwest, even if that owner used a swamp cooler.

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Old 06-01-2017, 10:35 PM   #15
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I should probably run a dehumidifier in my trailer when it's parked at home in the liquid Florida air. I'm sure some people do.
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:50 PM   #16
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I should probably run a dehumidifier in my trailer when it's parked at home in the liquid Florida air. I'm sure some people do.
Yeah, it's probably pretty common to do so in Florida. Even here in south Texas it gets muggy during the summer months.

It's always funny to me how the camping seasons are so reversed here. We don't really enjoy camping in this area until around October - and that lasts until about April.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:06 AM   #17
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Yeah, it's probably pretty common to do so in Florida. Even here in south Texas it gets muggy during the summer months.

It's always funny to me how the camping seasons are so reversed here. We don't really enjoy camping in this area until around October - and that lasts until about April.
Hi: rbryan4... Try camping here in south wet Ontario. We have 2/3rds of the worlds fresh water in the Great Lakes... and it keeps evaporating into the air and dripping back down!!! Alf
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:26 AM   #18
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True Alf, but you have latitude on your side most of the time! Take that humidity and add about 30 degrees F to it, and you've got a steam bath...lol.

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Old 06-02-2017, 12:33 PM   #19
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In Colorado the Turbo Kool would probably work very well. It is seldom muggy and the temps cool off pretty quickly in the evening. My concern would be the amount of water in the unit on the roof: does it have to be drained before driving off? Also outside swamp coolers in the south are bug magnets so they need to be cleaned fairly often. How easy is it to remove the water and clean or replace the filter media?

I would want to consider the amount of regular maintenance it needs and how easily it can be done knowing that you can't get onto the roof of an Escape. Can all of the cleaning be done from inside the trailer?

A neighbor of mine has a whole house swamp cooler which works very well in the summer. It was installed (built in) during the construction of the house so each upstairs room has an exhaust register in the ceiling going into the attic. Problem is in the winter the big hole in the downstairs wall is very cold and the ceiling registers have to be plugged up in the winter or you can feel the cold draft coming down from the attic.
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Old 06-02-2017, 02:07 PM   #20
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Amazon sells rv swamp coolers and they use the hose from cg for a source of water, may not work from on board water, but they are 12v operation.....https://www.amazon.com/TurboKool-Mot...+swamp+coolers
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