Inverter caravan air conditioners

Submitted: Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 14:58
ThreadID: 44636 Views:15738 Replies:11 FollowUps:15
This Thread has been Archived
Have seen any number of suggestions about fitting the smaller domestic type inverter air conditioners into caravans.
The benefits are reputed to be better performance and lower costs.

However I have never seen an installed unit.


Has anyone done this installation in a touring caravan as distinct from a van permanently on site?

Has anyone seen or know of a successful installation?

Any knowledge or first hand advice regards mounting the internal wall unit?

Is there the strength in a caravan wall to carry the weight?

Mounting/installation advice re the compressor unit?

One would assume that the A Frame would be the logical place to mount the compressor.

How do they stand up to road vibration/shock etc:? What about dust whilst travelling dirt roads?

More importantly, who has detailed photos of an installation?

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a dozen photos must be a real lot.

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - Steve T (NT) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:09

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:09
Hey Ian

My old man had a split system mounted on his van.

He had a bracket made to fit on the steal bar across the back of the van that carries the spare tyre, and the had some one install it for him.

It looked solid enough and dad being a builder would have made sure the unit was solid, it didn't take up to much space either.

Cheers Steve.
AnswerID: 235313

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:46

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:46
TRhank's Steve,
We, meaning I have a start.
I,m looking at purchasing a new van and should I retrofit a split system I want it to look smick.
Any info at all is helpfull.

FollowupID: 496396

Follow Up By: Member - Steve T (NT) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:38

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:38
The old man did this to an older van and didn't take it of road, so if you are buying a new van one would suggest to have a factory fitted one.

FollowupID: 496403

Reply By: Member No 1- Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:33

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:33
these units are designed for moving vehicles.

However, others say they work and swear by them. warranty if something goes wrong
AnswerID: 235318

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:34

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:34
are not designed should read
FollowupID: 496392

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:44

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:44
"vibration/shock"...will be the killer

the copper tubing in the coils are very thin. The tubing passes thru a tube support sheet of steel. Vibration & shock to this area could cause a leak to occur and possible subsequent major failure.

FollowupID: 496394

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:58

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 15:58
Appreciate where your coming from Number 1. I realise the units are designed for a static installation and I have a little knowledge/experience with work fatigue/case hardening associated with copper piping. I'm of the opinion that sufficient support bracketing with liberal insulation and rubber grommetting can alleviate most of the risks from this area.

However! I'm still researching, hence the post.

Somewhere out there in the big Internet world some bugger has answers to all the questions I asked together with heaps more I never posted.

Where are you dammit?

Post now you bastard!

FollowupID: 496397

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:25

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:25
being a fridgie in the aircon field i have just a bit more than a little knowledge.

Do or would you expect warranty?
its a lot of money if something goes wrong.

I'd be tempted to start with a cheapie and see how long it takes to be destroyed
FollowupID: 496400

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:59

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:59
Yeah mate,
Am considering just that. I can pick up a unit for a third or less than a "so called" caravan unit and if it lasts just half as long then I'm laughing from a financial point of view, the superior performance is a bonus. The quieter running due to the remote compressor etc: adds icing to the cake.. Hence the research.

As far as warranty is concerned, yes, it is a consideration but by the same token it's not the final arbitrator. Too many warranties are actually worthless when one gets into the fine print.
FollowupID: 496476

Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:27

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:27
Another fridgie in the aircon field here.... I have fitted numerous units to caravans and trailers etc, they do work but there is a very high risk of breakdown via the copper tubing rupturing as Member No 1 has pointed out. Also the inverter technology is still rather fragile in my opinion, and rather expensive to repair when it fails. Forget warranty in this situation... the manufacturer will hide behind the "fixed installation" clause. Buy a cheapie, even if it's not an inverter, and try it. Heres a few tips for you though....
1) Don't use screws to hold the backing plate on the wall... use rivets if the wall is metal or toggles if it a wood wall.
2) When the unit is hung on the bracket, drill two screws through the bottom of the fascia to secure the unit to the backing plate to prevent the unit from jumping of the bracket
3) Avoid close/tight bends in the pipe, allow the pipe bends to "flex"

I've done the above reasonably successfully, although there are still failures, just not as many as before I started doing them.... (Gee's... did that make sense?)


FollowupID: 496495

Reply By: Peter 2 - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:52

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 16:52
Have you asked the question on the caravan or motorhome forums, while I've seen a few installed on both motorhomes and vans trundling along the road as well as heaps in stationary vans in parks I'd reckon that you could do as suggested and fit a cheaper unit and see how it goes.
Had an acquaintance who installed a small domestic ducted system in a Jayco Dove years ago and towed it right around Oz with no problems. Had its own power lead and took up all the space under the bench/bunk/cupboard in the RH front corner.
Looking at the cost of a caravan unit you could buy several domestic ones at full retail before you would be out of pocket.
AnswerID: 235331

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:04

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:04
Peter 2,
No not yet. I have ssen any number of posts about mounting/installing etc; but no actual published results.

It may well be time for me to join some competing/complimetary forums should I not get the required information here.
Damn! I'd hate to do that.

FollowupID: 496480

Follow Up By: disco1942 - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:27

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:27

They are not competing forums - more complimentary - they specialise on caravan subjects. 4WD topics are more on towing aspects than off road. I find I get a wider range of discussion belonging to both camps, however caravanning is my main pursuit.

Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 496493

Reply By: FZJ 80 - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 17:53

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 17:53
Saw one last week on a semi behind the sleeper cab,looked a bit odd and protruded over the lhr wheel arches on a bracket. Interesting to see how it went long term,semis are vibration kings!

AnswerID: 235345

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:06

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:06
If you see this guy again pull him over and ask. L.O.L

FollowupID: 496483

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 07:21

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 07:21
i have seen one on a 30foot cruiser....bloody thing (condensing unit) will fall to pieces with rust before warranty runs out
FollowupID: 496597

Reply By: EOM-2120-ROBLIA - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 18:22

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 18:22
Ian,i was looking at the Bushtracker vans the other week & they have the split systems instlled in there vans.Have a look on there website & then maybe you could contact them for further info.
Cheers Bob.
AnswerID: 235354

Follow Up By: Member - SKI er (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:23

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:23
Hi Ian,

We recently paid $2700 for an Heron Q AirCommand split system factory fitted in a new Coromal caravan.

It was one of the first that our Coromal dealer had seen come through from WA and not what we had seen in the display unit at the time of ordering. What we got was Big fan unit but flush mounted to the side of the van with the older type of square box like the window rattlers as a inside unit.

Most disappointed in ours it just doesn't cool adequately and what bit it manages has no "Cold" bite to it. At $2700 this compares with some of the big kv units that I have fitted to our home. Our house in open plan and not well suited to ducted so I fitted have a few stand alone splits. The last split that I fitted to the house was in my office. An LG . It cost $699 + fitting and it works. in fact it freezes yer *.* off.

Wish we had our time and money spent over again. I would mount a half hp window rattler on the back double strand bumper bar therefore double height bumper and zip a cover over it when travelling.

FollowupID: 496460

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:48

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:48
EOM --
Thanks mate, I do check the BT site regularly and have seen reference to split systems but nothing to date about them being factory fitted. For the second year running I attended the BT site at the Rosehill Show but got little information. Admittedly I turned up at what might be called lunchtime but the one guy on their stand was extremely aloof and did not encourage enquiries. I actually sat down and checked out the sole of my boots to see if had trodden in something unmentionable prior visiting their stand.
I understand exactly where your coming from re the cost of splits against so called "caravan" units. The price quoted for caravan units is ridiculous compared to domestic type units. This discrepancy is further exacerbated when you look at the superior performance of a domestic unit. This why I'm considering exposing myself to a warranty risk in installing a non conventional unit.
FollowupID: 496471

Follow Up By: Member No 1- Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 07:27

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 07:27
reason why they are so dear is "supply and demand"
its just a pity that the daikens, mitsi's etc are using so damn thin walled tubing...

FollowupID: 496598

Reply By: bloosted - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:14

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:14
Site Link
AnswerID: 235372

Reply By: disco1942 - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:20

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 19:20
Try the Caravaners forum ( or Caravanforum ( - Both have many threads in them. On one of them reference was made to some fishing boats using them for some years - now there is some battering.

Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 235373

Reply By: Camoco - Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:06

Monday, Apr 23, 2007 at 20:06
I was considering the split system route for about $600 or so for a cheapie, but then Dometic had one of the "big" units on sale at the Brissie Show last year for $1000 dropped from $1800 (not from anything else).

It works a treat but it isn't reverse cycle but does have a great electric heater function. For the grand I was happier to use a "tried and true" installation than risk the cheapie.

BUT if the van I am building was for myself I would have been more tempted especially had the offer not come along at the right time.

I had seen a few van split system installations that looked OK and others that were shocking. The biggest issue was the mounting of the condensing unit in a location to prevent undue vibration and loading of the van and mounting the evaporating unit in a location in the van that was not in your face. That is one advantage of the roof mounted units. (the downside is the extra clearance you need and remember about just after you've cleaned the A/C unit up.)
I had been in the commercial fridge design business some time back and well built units can take the punishment of road conditions just like the dedicated units, but I am not so sure about the cheap imports (these usually run r22 gas as well and that is one reason why they are cheap as local manufacturers are not allowed to anymore)

I have also looked at the "cupboard" mounted units and have come to the conclusion they are just too expensive to be real. Too dear and not enough result. (and too noisy and take up too much cupboard space and look ugly........and too dear......)

PS your mention about dust is valid. I would use a good vinyl cover to protect the coils from stones etc rather than just dust. One well placed stone and you've lost your cool (and stuffed the environment a bit more).

Cheers Cam
AnswerID: 235395

Reply By: David N. - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 12:00

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 12:00
I have installed half a dozen in vans.
They are superior in every single respect to the crappy caravan airconditioners, EXCEPT harder to find a place to install.
They are MUCH quieter, MUCH more efficient, more effective, cheaper, more reliable etc etc etc. I know lots of people who've had probs with caravan aircons, but no-one with a domestic split who's had a problem.
I have some photos posted in the Caravan forum:
Site Link
in the pictures section, about page four or five.

A 2.6KVA inverter unit will happily run on a 1Kva Honda on ecothrottle (only draws a maximum of 600- 700 watts depending on brand. (Much less most of the time!)
If you can find somewhere to fit one, you'll never look back!
AnswerID: 235507

Reply By: rolande- Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 18:47

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 at 18:47
G'Day Ian,

After reading about this in a caravan forum, I checked out some vans at the recent show in Caulfield.

Two manufacturers were fitting Mitsubishi Inverter spilts into their larger vans, both 25' plus vans

Guess only time will tell


AnswerID: 235587

Reply By: fourstall2000 - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 23:04

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007 at 23:04
I have recently installed a conia split system on my and my brother in laws caravan.
the outdoor unit is mounted on the draw bar with a vinyl cover over it for travelling.
the problem was finding a spot for the evaporator unit,finally after modifying the cupboard structure it was fitted and looks good.
piping was fed through front boot and up side walls in the interior,these were covered by a purpose made duct cover and the whole installation looks better than some of the purpose built duct sytems I have seen.
The conia unit although a so called cheap brand is in fact very well made,they are suitable for installation in lifts according to the instructions,I am sure the vibration on my van does not exceed this type of duty.
Like you I baulk at paying $2000 plus for a unit that is no different to a standard compressor unit,just marked up and taxed as a recreational piece of equipment.
Does it work though?it goes really well it fact the only problem I have is that it tends to cycle to much,I overcome this by leaving one of the windows open to load it up more.
If you can find the space go for it !
AnswerID: 235820

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (11)