Niall Hampton

See other Advice articles filed in ‘Electrics’ written by Niall Hampton
Fitting air-conditioning into your caravan can be a tricky and complex process – Practical Caravan reader Tony Brown shares his advice

Reader Tony Brown has fitted an air-conditioning system to his ’van, and here shows you how to carry out your own installation, with specific reference to his project. Remember, each installation will be different so plan your work carefully. 

Installing a system in my son’s Lunar caravan was not the most difficult DIY project I have undertaken, but it needed the most planning. Roof-mounted units are too heavy for many caravans. Instead, we chose the Truma Comfort IR, which fits in a seat locker. At 285mm high and needing 440mm in depth and 940mm in length, including installation space, it is likely to be a snug fit.

It also weighs 24kg, so its position within the van needs careful thought. As with all heavy objects, the nearer the axle it is installed, the better. If it’s fitted too far forward, it will increase the noseweight, but putting it close to the rear may cause on-road instability. Also consider on which side of the van to fit it; ideally, select the side that has fewer heavy items — this will normally be the side opposite the kitchen.

Where to put the ducting

Now think about keeping it clear of existing obstructions and how to run the ducting. The cooling unit is supplied with a floor template that outlines its size and the location of three substantial holes. These require cutting through the caravan floor and must match up with the vents and condensation drain in the unit base without any obstruction. You can’t move the chassis members, but pipes, tubes and wires above and below the floor can be relocated.

Siting the main unit in a seat-box that’s next to a wardrobe will allow you to hide ducting before continuing up the back of the wardrobe and branching forward and back in the roof lockers. It will then connect to vents high up in the van where the cold air can drop down.

If the cooling unit is installed on the opposite side to the wardrobe you’ll need to think about routing some ducts under the floor, as you probably will when you negotiate the washroom. Underfloor ducting needs waterproof sleeves, which will increase cost.

To comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations, the total length of ducting must not exceed 15m and the longest duct must not exceed 8m. Finally, think about where your electrician can pick up a power supply. You may spend more time planning than on the installation but it will be worth it when you’re pitched up on the Riviera.

For step-by-step advice on the fitting process, click here.

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