Installing portable aircon in poptopNow we own an older poptop without airconditioning the better half and I decided this wasn’t going to be good if we spent time in the van in the heat of summer.

We had previously taken our portable unit away and I had tried to get the hot air exhaust out of the van – without much success (I tried fitting the window plate across the door vent but as it wasn’t a good seal it struggled to cool the van that much).

So, Carolyne suggested we try to fit it into the rear wardrobe as we don’t carry a lot of clothing in there when we go away, most is stored in the cupboards above the beds. After looking at this for a while and making sure there wasn’t a vertical wall brace in the way (there was just one in the centre) so the hot air pipe could be vented outside, I then tried to work out how to ensure it stayed put when travelling.

In the end I used the method shown in the photos in the gallery below – two pieces of thick ply with holes drilled just large enough for the castors. Then to secure the whole unit, I built a shelf around it above – all sorted. It now can’t move sideways or vertically.

As the portable aircond is a slim model, I decided to make up some shelves in the empty space beside it. Before fitting these I had a thought – what happens if something (I’m thinking of Carolyne’s jewellery or similar here) fell behind the aircond and shelving? I couldn’t close it all off as I needed some way to access the power switch on the socket the local sparky had fitted for us behind it. In the end I just made a simple sliding door from the leftover ply – again see photo – and I can reach the switch easily. I glued some foil-backed foam board on the interior sides as well to reduce noise and heat from the unit when it was running.

The wardrobe door has been put back for now but I plan to get some ‘lift off’ hinges so it can be removed and either left at home or stored in the back of the car when we arrive at a caravan park.

To ensure there was no chance of leaks through the exhaust outlet I just fitted an aluminium grille (Bunnings have a variety of sizes and colours) and siliconed the edges. I also used silicon to secure a small rectangle of insect mesh behind the grille. When I tested it with the poptop up but with doors and windows closed, the temp dropped to a comfortable 20 degrees on a 30 degree day – very happy with that.