Response to Review of Arctic Breeze Truck AC
That was a very good review. And it has confirmed my estimation of the limitations of that system and any others like it. Part of what is needed to resolve the serious problem of the current complete lack of an economical solution to cooling and heating is the development of the following. A ruggedized, mobile version of a DC powered, variable speed motor Mini-split heat pump needs to be developed. If you don't know what that is then Google it. But briefly it is the next step beyond a traditional central heat pump.
These have been popular in Europe and Japan for ages, and in the past few years have started becoming known over here. A DC powered version was even supposed to have been developed at one point for truckers and sold as the Kool Rig system. But there are some serious reservations I have regarding it which have kept me from putting it on my own truck. I think this is the website (it has changed since I visited last time):
Update: http://www.allaroundcontractingllc.com/ (no longer online)
Anyway, in a home the advantages of a minisplit are 30% or so less energy usage than a central heatpump, mainly due to the elimination of all ductwork. And also it is more efficient since you can use it to only heat or cool the rooms you choose, which is either not available or is a pricey option with a central unit. In a home (and in a truck) it is a unit that mounts on one side of a wall and the outside unit is only a few inches away on the other side of the wall. Only the coolant pipe goes between them thru the wall. It is a heatpump--NOT anything link a cheap inefficient window A/C. It can also be set to dehumidify without changing the temperature--which would be a Godsend in a truck when all one needs is dehumidified air.
The DC as opposed to AC powered aspect, besides adding efficiency in a DC power device such as a truck, also adds efficiency in the form of flexibility. A DC motor is infinitely variable as opposed to an AC motor which has to have a finite number of speed settings. This keeps it running thru a range of speeds rather than turning off and on continuously and wearing itself out and waking the driver. DC/inverter minisplits are becoming more available as the AC minisplits (the older dominant technology) becomes more popular).
Another thing that should be incorporated in any minisplit--but sadly and inexplicably isn't yet, even on home units, is a topnotch highend air filtration system. It should incorporate a huge and high end HEPA filter as well as a VOC filter. A VOC filters "volitile organic compounds" from the air. These are nasty, hard to filter poisons, of which diesel and gasoline exhaust fumes are among the most common. Parking in a truckstop while running a powerful DC powered minisplit with a HEPA and VOC filter would be like sleeping in a rain fresh meadow (a climate controlled meadow--with all ragweed and other allergens filtered out--and all the diesel smoke).
It would also make sense to make the unit a "dual backup filter" unit. That means one would never have to endure weeks without the filter function when they filled up, or conversely, change the filters earlier then needed just so they wouldn't fill up while trapped on the road. We run out of things on the road frequently when we don't pack a spare. And when you can't get a new one at a Walmart or truckstop--you're just out of luck. So a built-in backup of all filters and etc, with a controller that would just kick the unit over to the secondary filters while one slept would be neat and economical, even tho bulkier and pricier. You get what you pay for tho. When back at home, one could then just replace the full filters and use them till the controller kicked it over to the new filters. Also, sizing the filters so that they would be about the right size to stay in synch with each other would be good, tho not crucial.
I have called a lot of AC and minisplit companies and described this to them (their engineers when I can get them on the phone--the sales staff manager when I can't speak to an engineer). They usually express amazement at the idea and either say that they will keep it in mind--or sometimes that a mobile device is not the market that they are after. they generally like the idea, but don't promise to really do anything with it.
If developed right, and in the 30,000 BTU (plus) range, instead of the pointless 10,000 BTU range, and with deluxe controls and features and (as you pointed out) the ability to direct the cool (or warm and/or merely dehumidified and purified air) to wherever in the truck it was needed--i.e proper air management--this product would (tho pricey) set the trucking world on fire. It is SORELY needed, and with efficiency in the 26 SEER range (as some of the home units are at) it would save huge amounts of fuel
http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12630 (no longer online)
http://www.solarpanelsplus.com/dc-inverter-air-conditioners (no longer online)
Response from Vicki:
Thank you, Greg, for your compliment on our review of the Arctic Breeze Truck AC and for sharing such well-researched information.
Readers, do you have any further thoughts about non-idling solutions for electrification and/or climate control in a truck?
Mike and I wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.