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Kool Inside

(Oh, how my kids hate it when I start out a story ‘Back in the day………’  Roll your eyes kiddos, here we go.)


On the door of an old country store


Back in the day (LOL), early 60’s probably, when we still had the phones with a rotary dial on them and they came in one color -black-  and you still found the occasional car or truck with a three on the tree, air conditioning was not a widespread given as it is today.  This was especially true in the rural areas.

As times changed and these little country stores ‘upgraded’, many of them installed air conditioning.  This was usually advertised on the plate glass front door with a sticker for Kool cigarettes.  I can well remember going into the Dixon & Boals Grocery  in Finley,TN and noting that sign as I pushed the door open.  Most likely, my Grandfather had stopped by there with My Bro and me to get us a coke.  Always a Coke  and always a bottle  — a small Coke was 6 or 6.5oz and the bottom was stamped in the glass with where the bottle was made.  Sometimes, he would allow us to get a BIG coke which was in a 10.5 or 12oz glass bottle.  A BIG Coke was serious shit for a seven year old;  a treat never allowed by the parents.  These days  I see folks buying these tubs of soft drinks that hold 60 oz or 72 oz and it just makes me scratch my head.  You can’t even pick them up hardly with one hand.  Anyway……..

I am going to make a superlative statement for all the recreational vehicle readers.

If you plan on spending any summer months ‘down south’ like Texas or Mississippi or Alabama, one air conditioning unit will not cut it– PERIOD! 

Already this year, down in the South Texas Brush Country below San Antone, we are seeing afternoon temps near or above 100 degrees daily with some fairly high humidity numbers.  A single air conditioner may be all you have to work with but you ain’t going to be a happy camper.

If you are or if you are thinking about being an oil field gate guard you need to pay close attention if your tour of duty in the oil patch is going to encompass the summer months.  Most of the gate guard companies provide a 10-15kw diesel generator.  For all of you folks with a 50amp service coach or trailer, you can call it good and go on your way  -unless-    your gate guard company is one of the cheap bastard ones that only provide a 6-8kw diesel generator.  They may tell you it will run 2 A/C units just fine but I ain’t buying into the BS.   A 7kw generator running a typical load of 30-40amps is going to hand grenade in short order in this abusive environment.  And let me tell ya something,  2 A/C units plus peripherals like an inverter/charger or water heater or electric fridge, microwave, coffee pot etc etc are going to load your power source close to that 40amp mark.   Don’t fall for the Company BS!

So typically we have two scenarios here – one, you only have one air conditioning unit on the roof of your trailer or coach or two- you have 30amp service to your RV and cannot run both roof top air conditioning units simultaneously.

Your options for Scenario One:

  • Install a second rooftop A/C unit.  On later model recreational vehicles, the vent in the bedroom is usually reinforced for the addition of the second A/C unit and the 110v wiring may already be in place.   You would need to install a second thermostat as well.  Don’t forget that part.
  • Install a portable air conditioner.  We did that in the Old Girl last summer.  For being raised in the Arizona Desert, Miss Kathy is a total puss when it comes to heat and humidity. the portable A/C in the RV worked out —ummmm— just OK. We do not have slide outs and I found it bothersome to always be walking around that beast.   I addition, you have to exhaust the hot air out a window or a vent some way or another.  They are also pretty danged expensive ($300-$400) for poor folks like us.   On the plus side, you are talking generally about 13,500btu increased cooling capacity.  I know of one gate guard couple that made a shelf over the driver’s seat and put it there with the exhaust hose going out that side window.
  • Install a window air conditioner in your recreational vehicle. We did that, what was it, two summers ago?  I like this option the best.  It will take you about an afternoon to confab a wooden frame to fit your slider window and then there ya go!  5 minutes or less to slide that window shaker in or out.  I like this option best because these units are small and easily handled by one person.  They are QUIET!  Typically, the window A/C is the first one turned on before even the rooftop air conditioning units.  An Energy Star unit in the 5-6.5k btu range is only going to draw 5-6.5 amps running.  They are CHEAP!  Wal-mart had 5k btu units for $98 bucks this Spring in all the stores.  Now you may be thinking 6.5k btu ain’t squat when compared to the 13.5k btu roof top and portable A/C units.  We remark all the time about how much cooling capacity it DOES have –seems like it is much more than the larger units.
  • Lastly, adding a portable A/C or a Window A/C is something I would do only after I added or modified the second rooftop air conditioner.   2 A/Cs are minimum to get by; you are really better off with three.

Your options for Scenario Two:

I modified the Old Girl several years ago to enable the simultaneous use of 2 air conditioners in a 30amp recreational vehicle.  Basically, you are tapping the second 20amp output of your generator that is normally dedicated to run the second rooftop air.  Let me stress something here.   For me, this was a modification I would put in the advanced category.  Electrical fires are prevalent in recreational vehicles and if you are not an experienced electrician you shouldn’t even attempt it.  Thinking you can get underneath your coach and splice a plug into a line that feeds the second AC is sheer stupidity.   There is much more to it to do it right including the fact that many 30amp recreational vehicles have EMUs that must be over ridden .

My original post contained a link to the place I bought the kit from to modify the Old Girl to run both rooftop air conditioners at the same time.  Sadly, it looks like they have gone out of business. I hate that because the kit was all American made and the highest quality.  I recently ran across JTB Power Solution and it looks like these folks offer the same type kit.  I cannot attest to the quality or the ease of installation or use.

Power Requirements

Disclaimer: I am not an electrician.  I will never be an electrician.  Fooling with electricity scares the willies out of me.  Fer Chrissakes,  hire a competent electrician to make any of the modifications I have discussed!

OK, so you are hot and grumpy and you have decided you need more cold air.  How are you going to power it all up?  First off, you are going to need a horse of a diesel generator — 12-15kw is what you should be looking for.  Hopefully, it will have a typical RV box wired into it.

The RV Box consists of:

  • One 50amp RV Outlet
  • One 30amp RV Outlet
  • One 20amp GFCI Outlet

You may end up using all three. Here is how I am doing it and let me stress you need beaucoup RV power cords.  Those teeny extension cords about as thick as a #2 pencil are gonna  do nothing but melt shit everywhere and get you in trouble.

50amp male to 30amp femalle double pig

  • The 50amp RV outlet  has a double pig RV Electrical Power Adapter that splits the 50amp into two 30amp receptacles.  Plug your 30amp feed for your coach or RV trailer into one of the pigtails. Plug a 30amp RV Power Cord
    into the second pigtail to feed the second roof top air conditioning unit.   Don’t scrimp on the power cords!
  • Plug a 30amp RV Power Cord
    into the 30amp receptacle. Use this to feed either your window air conditioner in your RV or the portable air conditioner in your RV– not both dammit!  One or the other.   And while I am at it…. you will need a 30amp to 15amp adapter to plug in either A/C unit.  Don’t cheap out on one of those cheap bakelite adapters from Ace Hardware.  Get something like this 30 Amp Male Plug To 15 Amp Female Connector that is going to carry the juice without melting down into a plie of marshmallow creme.

Right now today, Miss K and I are running the two rooftop A/C units and the 6500 btu window air conditioner.  If I was a mind to, our generator would accommodate the 4th portable A/C unit as well.  It may come to that.  The configuration would change just a bit.   I would plug the 13.5k btu portable air conditioner into the 30amp RV receptacle as outlined above due to its’ higer power requirements.  Then, I would plug  no less than a 12ga extension cord into the 20amp GFCI receptacle and run the little window AC unit off  that line.  With its’ 6.5amp power draw, it should be just fine.   A configuration set up in this fashion should also allow me to run the microwave or the coffee pot without tripping a single breaker.

STAY KOOL y’all.


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3 comments to Kool Inside

  • Coal

    We had a blast of heat and humidity last week and of course my ac unit kept on tripping the breaker in the fiver. After some voltage drop and amp tests, it was time to get on the roof and clean the unit out, happy to report working fine now with a ampdraw of 16. Did not take much dirt grime and dust to cause grief for me, wondering if your units need cleaning due to the dusty conditions you have there ?..

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    • Andrew

      Hey Coal!

      Survived the winter I see. I have to foam the fins 2-3 times each summer due to the dust.

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  • Coal

    We hardly had a winter up here, mostly hovered around freezing with very little snow.

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