The effect of climate change is that our days are getting hotter and hotter. Every year, we spend three weeks in the Kruger National Park, and on these occasions, the temperatures have sometimes reached 40 degrees Celsius – which is extreme for most people, even South Africans. It was for this reason that my wife and I decided to fit a split aircon unit into our newly-acquired second-hand Gypsey Caravette 4 caravan. The first thing we needed to do was to find out whether it could indeed be done, and then decide what machine would be most suitable for our needs.
Before I started, I had a professional installer of aircon units come to advise me on how to proceed. He told me that a 9000 B.T.U would be more than adequate, and might possibly even be overkill as it would be cooling an area of approximately 9 square metres; he also mentioned that a strong machine would be better, as it would not be switching on as often to keep the temperature cool.
I was very lucky to have a small space available for the inside unit, next to one of the cupboards in the caravan. The problem was where to fit the outside unit. It was decided that it had to be in the front for correct weight distribution, and also because the up-and-down motion when going over a bump would be too much at the back, and the unit would break off the brackets.
I looked at my van and decided that it would not fit into the compartment in the front where one normally stores gas bottles, extension cords, etc. I also didn’t want to lose that space as it takes a lot of camping gear, pegs, the gas cooker, lamps and so on. Instead, I decided to make a bracket which bolted onto the chassis so that I could still open my gas-bottle compartment. Once the aircon had been fitted, I had to ensure that I could also still use the Jockey Wheel as usual.
I received help from a friend of mine who is very good at welding, and we got to work on the project. We got four pieces of 25mm angle iron, and two pieces that would fit across the top that were the exact width of where the holes on the aircon were. We welded this all together, then bolted the whole frame onto the chassis.
I painted the frame with black oxide rust-preventative paint and bolted the Aircon onto the frame. I used two pieces of angle aluminium which I riveted over the unit to secure it properly. I was now ready for the installer to come and do the final connection and also to fit the inside unit onto the inside wall of the Caravan.
We are very happy with the outcome, as it works very well; we can now use our caravan in any type of weather, hot or cold, and be comfortable. I am also very happy that I was able to accomplish this task myself, with just a little help from a friend.