Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Adding APU (generator) and A/C to van.

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    Guys I think I have come to the right place for this question. I am driving for Panther Expedited. and I need to upgrade my van by adding an APU (generator) and A/C/heat. My first point of concern is where to locate the APU and possibly propane for the apu. My 2nd concern is How to muffle and or noise dampen the APU while keeping it cool in summer months. The A/C is not much of a problem. I don’t want RV A/C because of expense $800 plus installation, or another $500 or so. So What I’d like to do is take out the back glass of one door and put in ply wood or metal frame to hold a window unit 5000 BTU A/C. $150 for A/C unit. I will of course have to weld a frame onto the door to hold up the A/C unit. The generator will have to be light weight, compact, and quiet. I also have security of the generator to keep in mind.

    For security purposes the Generator would be best located inside, on top or underneath (if possible) the van. Though I don’t want anything tall on top. The generator could be kept on the back door in a box, underneath the A/C unit. Inside is difficult because I’m hauling freight 2 to 3 pallets. And I need all the space I can get. If the generator were compact enough inside would be the best place for it, though it would have to be sealed and ventilated and noise controlled etc. Over a wheel well might be a good location.

    Generator would be best fueled by the van’s fuel system. Or by propane. Though propane storage is a problem inside the van. Could that be located underneath? or maybe on a back door.

    I’m also thinking I’d have to add extra hinging to any back door that supports anything. And I can’t let anything stick out too far, the doors need to open fully. I need this done as cheaply as possible as well.

    Thanks for your comments in advance.


    I would go look for a portable unit that sits on the floor, and has a Hose vent out. Brands “newair, soleus and sunpentown” come to mind. Some of these units use heat pump technology so they are dual use.

    Look for a unit with the best (highest) EER value.

    As far as Generators… I believe yamaha and Honda are the most Quiet and moveable units around.

    If you know someone who can create a sunken pocket in a floor area of the van and drop the APU there, then build a box over it, then you would be set.

    then find a way to get the Gasoline to it.

    I think buying a “cheap-Cheap” air conditioner wall unit is Penny wise and dollar foolish. I would rather cut the smallest possible vent to the outsize… hense the 5″ circular hole vs a rectangle thru a window. IMO…


    I had not considered cutting a hole in any glass. I don’t use the back glass anyway, I cover them to keep sun out. So I’d just remove a back glass on one side and replace with metal or plywood. Then put holes in that for vents.

    The cost of making a frame to support the window unit A/C would offset the cost of a floor unit.

    Yes cutting a hole in the floor might be wise, but I’d have to look to see where exactly. Would be nice if I could run duct hose from an A/C unit to the front in case I only wanted to A/C the front of the van. And not the cargo area. Sears makes some small units, 1’x1’x2.5′ high I think. 8,000 btu.


    Larry why do you need to add another generator to the van? I assume you only need the air conditioning when you are driving the van. The system I designed for USCG boats would also work for you except the air conditioner would be air cooled not water cooled.


    add another? because A/C units are over 1000 watts to run. The only generator the van has is an alternator. I was only thinking of having 2 generators, one for backup and also so my van would power my RV.

    I just noted on the net that you can get a gas powered window unit air conditioner. And they require less than 1000kw. Meaning though we would be burning more gas for the a/c, smaller, cheaper generator would be required. The question is, how much gas would the a/c burn per hour. I could still run gasoline to the generator itself. Propane for the a/c unit.

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