Portable A/C Considerations

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Frontier85

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Hey all,

My wife and I are planning a trip down to Utah in late August. We'll be visiting Zion as part of a lengthier trip. We'll be bringing along our two dogs with us. Unfortunately they won't be able to take them on many of the trails in the park so they'll need to be left in the truck while we're out. I'm not keen on leaving the rig running for hours but I won't leave the dogs in the heat either.

Do any of you have ideas on a good way to keep them cool while we're out? They'll be in the truck cab and my initial idea is to get a portable A/C unit and plug it into a GoalZero or something. Have any of you used a portable unit in the past that you'd recommend? Or do you have suggestions that have worked on similar trips in the past?
 

Rovaraptor

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I think I would try to find a dog sitter in Moab that you could drop the dogs for the day,google or FB marketplace. I don’t think a goal zero will run an A/C unit for a period of time.
 
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Flipper

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A GoalZero or any Inverter System probably wouldn’t even start a AC unit and if it did it would run for about 5 minutes, if that. Maybe a local Vet and Kennel or leave the dogs with Grandma for this trip. Also please be respectful of your neighbor campers with your dogs. We just got back from a trip to the Glades, at the one campground our neighbor had 3 dogs, barked at every move, they thought they were cute but no one else did. Finally an other neighbor complained to the Park Rangers. Then a argument broke out, bad start of the day for everyone.
 

smritte

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The type of AC unit you want is actually hard to search. I started looking into these a few years ago but never bought one. As far as I can see, the knock offs aren't too bad. Unfortunately your not pugging into anything short of a small generator. These are called air cooled spot ac units.

Here's three found after looking a bit.
Zone Air
Cold Wave
Emerson
The Cold Wave is too big for what you asked. I included it to show what the knock offs are based on. You want something in the 2500-5000 BTU range. When I was looking, I found them around $500.

Then there's these
Dog House AC
 

Boostpowered

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I have my home partially off grid and can tell you the only way you'll be able to run an ac is if you have atleast a 3k inverter a rather large 24v battery bank if you want it to run all day.

Just For my split ac on 110v I use 8, 24v 100ah batteries 2 sets of 4 in series they are 800amp 19200watts =19.2KWH and use 16 200watt solar panels to keep it going all day
 
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MidOH

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Let the truck run, set it to roll the windows down if it stalls. Like a cop car.

Otherwise, find a dog sitter, or eat the dogs. A portable AC will just fail and lunch meat the dogs. Or skip Zion.
 

Road

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I'll join the chorus and say no way will you be able to run a portable or small window AC from a portable power unit like Goal Zero or Jackery etc.

I just plain would not do it. Leaving your dogs in the cab of an unattended truck on a hot day while out hiking is asking for trouble, even if cooled properly. The danger is having something happen while you're hiking or away from the truck that delays your return. Injured on the trail; helping someone else who is injured; getting lost or turned around and taking twice as long, etc. Gone longer than expected is when things go wrong back at the truck.

Also, other folks who think they're doing the right thing are likely to report that dogs have been left in a vehicle on a hot day with owners nowhere in sight. Even if truck is running. Maybe even more if truck is running. When that happens some places, the dogs are removed and owners fined or charged.
 
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SquishBang

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As a reference point, the AC in your vehicle is actually as powerful as the AC of a moderate sized home (3,000+ sq ft).
There's a reason for that! Cars are basically uninsulated ovens/greenhouses.

As people have said, any type of portable power short of a medium sized gas generator is going to be insufficient.
Plus, whatever rigging needed to mount the AC to your vehicle.

I really like the idea of finding nearby doggy-sitters.
 

Clrussell

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Hmm.. what about using something like this for a roof tent in Midwest summer?

or is there an option I don’t know about?
 

smritte

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Hmm.. what about using something like this for a roof tent in Midwest summer?

or is there an option I don’t know about?
Some of the manufactured teardrops come with them as an option. When I first saw them, I was surprised how efficient they were. The nice thing is, its an AC unit not a swamp cooler (the real inexpensive ones are). That means it will dehumidify the air as well as drop the temp some.
 

Flipper

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I have a 5500 BTU mounted in my rear window. Having AC in the summer in Fl is a must. My first build was a 4000 that didn’t cut it..the van was also brown which didn’t help . When hot sun hit the truck at sunrise it was like turning on an oven. The 4000 couldn’t keep up. This build I went up to a 5500 also the new build is white. This worked great. Also with the new cheaper units the low btu models have a plastic frame which would be a mounting issue. The Samsung 5500 had a metal frame and energy star rated. Took the original rear glass out and made a fiberglass blank. Custom cover from a local canvas shop. Disassembled unit and replaced all the screws, nuts and bolts with stainless. Thru-bolted a 1” steel piece of angle on bottom to mount to the rear door. We use a Yamaha 2000w Inverter/ generator when boonbocking that handles the load very well, I wouldn’t recommend anything below 2000W . Initial startup definitely puts a load on. Been working great for over 10 years.
I also run a 2K pure sine wave Inverter w/ 2 group 31 AGMs. Never tried to run the air with it, which I doubt it would handle the initial start. It would probably take down both batteries in minutes. Even using our microwave makes the voltmeter drop like a rock.
317BB444-CF3E-4E36-984E-23322DA629B3.jpeg5C8FF2D6-E499-4B0E-81C7-795377A2CB51.jpeg
 
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DMS1

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It gets real hot in Zion in the summer. I would leave the dogs home with someone you trust or rent an RV in St George and keep it in one of the campgrounds near the entrance of Zion and keep your dogs in there with the AC running.
 

bgenlvtex

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Even if you were to find a satisfactory solution that you were confident in, in 2021 there is a significant likelihood that Karen walk by your truck, find the circumstances unsatisfactory to him/her/it and smash the window to "rescue" the dogs. Potential to never see the dogs again is high.

I personally cannot envision leaving my pets locked in a vehicle outside of a very, very brief period. There is no way I would do that to them or expose them to those risks. As is already noted a delay in your return could turn out very poorly.
 
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twinight

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Stay at a campground with hookups and pay someone to periodically make sure the AC is working or doggy daycare. I used the doggy dude ranch. It seemed like a home run outfit, but they know what they are doing and the rates are reasonable.