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Air-conditioner Buying Guide

As many experienced Australian caravanner’s will attest, air-conditioning your RV is a matter of necessity rather than one of luxury. At some destinations you can choose your location, set up site, for optimal breeze, shade, and orientation to the sun. Meaning you can work with nature to keep the inside of your RV cool. However, often you are allocated a site in a park. Finding yourself in full sun with no air flow, rendering your choice and control over these environmental factors mute.

To circumvent any stress or concerns about being too hot or too cold, having a reliable air conditioner gives you peace of mind and ensures you are cool and or warm and comfortable. No matter what, nor where, you set up.

When replacing an existing air conditioner with an updated model, you may find that the original air conditioner has been discontinued. Meaning that you will not be able to simply replace new for old. You may have to replace a wall unit with a roof top unit. Which will require patching the wall where the existing unit was mounted to have the new unit installed on the roof. Ideally you will be switching from a roof mounted to a new roof mounted unit that will fit the same space. Regardless, take this opportunity to find a new model that is most suitable for you and your van.

To choose the air conditioner most suitable for your van, consider the following.

First thing is to ensure you are purchasing an air conditioner designed for an RV, rather than for your domestic home. The cost may be more than a split system domestic household air conditioner, but there is a reason for that. House air conditioners are designed to be stationary and stable, therefore do not come with mountings and fittings designed to handle movement, corrugations and vibrations from the road and tow vehicle. RV air conditioners are specifically designed with these factors in mind including keeping the water out while you are travelling.

Secondly, consider the space on the roof of the caravan or RV. Avoid solar panels, hatches, and vents and ensure the central location of the air-conditioning unit maintains even distribution of weight. Roof mounted air conditioners are ideal because, frigid air likes to drop. So it is preferable for the air conditioner unit to be high and central to the internal space.

If you have a pop-top caravan, hard bodied camper, or camper trailer having the air conditioner on the roof is not recommended. Because the weight of the unit may compromise the gas strut mechanism of the pop top roof. Thankfully, a storage compartment unit (under-bunk unit) is a suitable alternative. However, keep in mind, that this solution will take up storage space, such as under the bed, in your trailer. Alternatively, consider the light weight Dometic Harrier Lite Air-Conditioner designed to be mounted to the roof of small to medium sized caravans, pop tops, and campers.

Next, think about the internal size of your RV to be cooled when considering air conditioner options. Refer to the manufacturer’s product manual as a cooling output guide. That way you can figure out which air conditioning unit best suits your needs.

General output guide per air conditioner size:

Size of air-conditioner

Suitable for vehicles up to – metres

Suitable for vehicles up to – feet

2 to 2.5kW

5 metres

16. 4“

2.5 to 3kW

6 metres

19.6”

3 to 3.5kW plus

7 metres

22.96”

RV air conditioning units often attract complaints about the level of noise they produce. Not all air cons are created equal in this department. While manufacturers are continually improving designs by innovating advanced dual-cylinder inverter compressors with low noise and vibrations you still need to consider your personal tolerance to noise. If you are sensitive to noise, narrow your decision-making criteria to make this a top priority. Based on trending customer feedback the quietest air conditioner on the market at the time of writing is the Dometic IBIS 4.

Another important consideration is the weight of the unit. With overweight caravans and legal towing capacities being breached, van weight is a contemporary road safety issue. Ensure you are installing an air conditioner that keeps the weight of your van within the legal limits. Rest assured, light weight innovations see powerful feature packed air conditioners on the market weighing less or equal to their older superseded models. 

Installation, please ensure that air conditioning units are installed by a Licensed Technician and compliant with Australian Standards. As improper installation can lead to significant injury or death.

Read on for more details about Dometic and Truma brand air-conditioner units available for installation.

Dometic IBIS 4

The Dometic IBIS 4 sets a new standard for air conditioning in the mobile living market thanks to several refinements made from the acclaimed IBIS 3. The Dometic IBIS 4 features a powerful dual-cylinder horizontal compressor, a first for the RV industry. Which creates a more balanced roof top unit and reduces the level of vibration. 

In addition to this, the quiet environment that the IBIS 3 achieved has been replicated. The internal ADB has been redesigned, optimising airflow inside the vehicle. For the first time in an IBIS air conditioner, a turbo-mode fan speed is included, which allows for rapid cooling.

Dometic Harrier Plus

The new Dometic Harrier Plus is a powerful RV rooftop air conditioner that is a must-have for caravan owners that wish to stay comfortable on their journey. The Harrier Plus has reduced noise, new dual cylinder inverter compressor, reduced weight, new ABD with a lower profile and a 4-speed fan including turbo mode for rapid cooling or heating with a powerful output. The advanced dual-cylinder inverter compressor, with lower noise and vibration, also helps to eliminate start-up current issues when running from generators or if current supply is restricted.

 With the ability to maintain the compressor output, the energy consumption, noise, and vibration are kept to a minimum. 

Dometic Harrier Plus
Dometic Harrier Lite

Dometic Harrier Lite

The Dometic Harrier Lite Air-Conditioner is Dometic’s latest leading product in the industry and has been specially designed to fit small to medium sized caravans, pop tops, and campers.

The Harrier Lite Air-Conditioner has struck a balance between using a lightweight, compact design that also has impressive heating and cooling performance. In addition, it comes featured with cool, white LED lights and the dual-cylinder inverter compressor that the market has come to know through the highly sought-after IBIS 4. The compressor reduces vibration for better sleeping comfort, as well as low fan noise with three standard speeds. Cool white LED lights in the ADB which can be operated with the remote control. Outlet vents with individual vertically adjustable airflow. Connectivity with CI-BUS compatible control panels. Light weight for a low centre of gravity.

Truma Aventa Compact Plus

The Aventa Compact Plus roof-mounted air conditioning system impresses with maximum power in a minimum amount of space. This is because the housing is compact yet boasts 2,200 watts of cooling power. 

The Aventa Compact Plus is as small as it is light, so it fits on almost any leisure vehicle roof.  With its considerable cooling capacity, it is not just ideal for smaller van conversions. The Aventa Compact Plus is also suitable for larger motorhomes, beneficial if you want to powerfully cool several areas at once. It extracts moisture from the air at the same time as it cools, which contributes to a pleasant room climate.

The compressor noise has been minimised, making the Aventa compact plus one of the quietest and lightweight roof-mounted air conditioning systems on the market.

Truma Aventa Compact Plus
Truma Aventa Comfort Reverse Cycle

Truma Aventa Comfort Reverse Cycle

Truma Aventa Comfort is an extremely powerful and aesthetically pleasing comfort solution. With two comfort functions in one device, the Aventa Comfort offers powerful cooling and energy saving heating. With 1700 watts of heating power, the energy saving heat pump function ensures a pleasant on-board temperature. 

At the same time, the air is dehumidified and cleaned by means of a honeycombed shaped air filter system. The Aventa Comfort is extremely lightweight and features LED lighting which can be dimmed. It can be retrofitted quickly and easily in standard roof vent cut out of 400 x 400 mm.

Truma Saphir Reverse Cycle

Space-saving storage compartment air conditioning system with 2400W cooling output and 1700W heating output in heat pump mode. Truma Saphir comfort RC is a powerful storage compartment air conditioning system that cools very quickly and efficiently.

In cooling mode, the Truma Saphir also dehumidifies and cleans the air with the integrated fluff and particle filters. Thanks to the reversible cooling circulation system it can also be used as a heater with heat pump. With a heat output of 1700W, the appliance generates pleasant warmth, especially during spring and autumn.

Truma Saphir Reverse Cycle

DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature, and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

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