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Old 04-17-2021, 01:18 PM   #1
Winnebago Master
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 925
I ADDED A 8,000 BTU Portable AC To My 2004 Itasca Horizon 40AD

My 2004 Itasca "Horizon" 40AD has a Coleman-Mach (2-Ton) Basement AC, and I prefer this type of AC over those noisy rooftop ACs.

This basement AC unit has 2 heat pumps. Stage 1 draws ~14A (compressor #1) and ~25A when Stage1+2 is running.

So that puts a good 25-28A load on my Onan 7500 Generator with my residential refrigerator and TV and computer powered up, but this generator can handle it. I.e., my basement AC starts and restarts just fine in hot weather. And it burns about .9 gal/hr of diesel fuel at this load. What I do not know is how my generator will handle running 33A and if load balancing is a concern?

Note: My Onan 7500 is a pure sine wave generator, but it uses “inverter technology” and I think load balancing is important when you get above 15A. I’m not real clear about this, but I know Winnebago wired my L1 and L2 (50A) lines to achieve the best load balancing as they can... and I will be conducting some current measurements with both my basement AC running and my portable AC running at the same time… just as soon as I find some hotter weather (80+F), because right now it’s 72F outside, and I can’t really conduct power management calculations when the weather is this cold. So I will need to post a follow-up thread.


When Winnebago ran venting ducts up the rear cap they did NOT insulate them and consequently many owners complain their Coleman-Mach (2-Ton) Basement AC does not cool down their coach every well. However, it’s not the AC that is the problem. Rather, it’s more likely you have cracks in the tape that seals off the venting duct work on top of cooling losses due to poor or no duct insulation... and 30 feet of ducting in the roof, which all de-rates the cooling inside the RV.

So step one would be to inspect your ducts where the cold air exits the AC' and then I covered that 90-degree elbow duct with butyl-metal Water Proof Tape made by “Duck” ...which BTW I have only found this stuff at Walmart. And then for added measure I sprayed 2 cans of Flex-Seal over that entire area for added insulation. And this helped alot!


* On 100F days I’m mostly comfortable in my RV with both the Coleman compressors in my basement AC running, but it could be colder. Ideally, I would like to see 72F-76F inside the RV vs. 78-80F I now get.

The problem is on 95F+ days it gets to about 82 inside my RV; and when humidity is high it would also be nice to have more BTU’s of cooling at my disposal. So I came up with the idea of adding a supplemental 8,000 of BTU’s (rated at 6,000 BTU DOE).

* I selected the 8,000 BTU unit, because I think this is all I need as a supplement unit to my existing basement ACs; and I like that it runs at 6A-8A, and is 50-52dB, which is pretty quiet and on the low side for an AC.

Here is a link to the Lowe’s website for more information about this GE-8,000 BTU AC ($320):


* I am fortunate to have 2 choices on where I install this portable AC unit and both were based on having access to a wind so I can exhaust the hot air out of the AC.

Option 1 was to put it next to my couch. And all I needed to do was insert a piece of wood (see last picture below) as a shim so the sliding window can butt up against the AC’s window mounting kit (exhaust port).

Option 2 was to mount the AC in the bedroom where I have a tip-out window.

I decided to go with Option 2, because a) I did not want to listen to the AC in the living room; and b) I can store the AC unit between my bed and my closet when I’m driving; and c) I think putting the AC close to the basement AC air vent may be the most efficient. (TBD)

...Besides, I will be using the basement AC fan to distribute the cooled air to the front of the RV anyway -- and maybe on somedays, I will not need to run both stages of the basement AC when I have the portable AC on. TBD. If this is the case then maybe NOT running the basement AC or just running Stage 1 will help to prolong the life of my Coleman-Mach unit. (In theory anyway.)


Answer: I don’t know yet, because we just had a cold spell in south Texas and it’s not humid outside now, but next week I will be heading towards El Paso and Yuma and then Las Vegas and Montana, so there are plenty of hot days ahead. So I will be sure to add follow-up posts at some point.

For now, I am very pleased with how easy this project was to do. And if adding a supplement 8K-BTU-AC proves to be a good upgrade, then I will run a dedicated 120V extension cord (or romex) to power this GE-Portable AC off the 20A service plug at shore power, so I don’t put an additional 8A load on my 50A service.

Note: I will also be inspecting my Automatic Transfer Switch neutral return wires too. Why? ...When I have my basement AC running in conjunction with this portable AC since I will be pushing 33A – 35A, so I want to make sure my Onan 7500 can handle this and that goes for my ATS too.

Note: I'm not sure if newer ATS relays can handle 33A for years of service, but that's another discussion. This is why I want to stick with the old style 50A, 8-pin relays in my Parallax AST-5070 and not use the more modern designs.


Can anyone explain the concept of “load balancing” and what concerns there may or may not exist when using an Onan 7500 Generator with “inverter technology.”
Note: This Onan calls for a 70A-Neutral, but what they mean by that is that each leg off the generator stator is 35A for a total of 70A... but the ATS is marketed as a 70A neutral.

Is load balancing a real factor?



I was thinking I might be able to just run my Basement AC on Stage 1 (aka L1) together with this portable 8K-BTU-AC on L2 for load balancing, and not run the Coleman Stage 2 (aka compressor #2). This will keep the current loads down to under 25A total, and I bet this portable AC will provide better cooling than one stage of the basement AC.

…So I will need to check if my bedroom AC wall plug on the end of my dresser is connected to L2 or L1 in my circuit panel. (TBD)


* Make A template first, and then use it to cut your finished piece of wood or better still get a ridged 1/4" vinyl plank. (Start with a rectangle 6-1/8" x 24-3/4")

* Use the template to trim mark the corners on the good plank and add a notches to clear the window hardware.

* Then insulate it with a black, round rubber strip of weather proofing. (Note: You buy this weather proofing material as a double strip and then you split it down the center.)

* The last picture of wood is for the window over the couch, if you decide to go that route. (29-1/8" long x 3-1/2")

That’s all for now. The total cost was ~$360 and the pictures below will show you how I cut out the wood (or ¼” vinyl planks) to shim up against the AC window kit.
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Old 04-17-2021, 04:27 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 925
Pictures of the GE 6100-BTU DOE (8000-BTU ASHRAE) 115-Volt White Portable Air Conditioner... which says it will cool 250 sq-ft, but that's in a home, which has better insulation than an RV.

Still, I think this 8000 BTU (6100 BTU-DOE) will work well as a supplemental AC since I already have a 2-ton basement AC.

Note: 2-tons is supposed to be the equivalent to 24,000 BTU (or 12,000 BTU/ton), but due to RV efficiency losses I bet this is why you will not see Winnebago suggesting your basement AC is rated for 24,000 BTU.

* Again, these pictures show where I will store the AC when I'm driving. And I can easily roll it out of the way with my slides out. I can also roll it to run next to my couch, but I'm hoping that will not be necessary on 105F days. (TBD)

As you can see in the picture below, I removed the chair that would normally go between the couch and the kitchen, and those 4-storage boxes you can get at Ikea. I particularly like the wine rack and which plastic storage boxes you can and to this mini credenza.
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Old 04-26-2021, 11:03 AM   #3
Winnebago Master
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 925
Update: I like my portable air conditioner (8,000 btu)


I have been camping on the beach in Port Aransas, which is one of my favorite spots to go when the weather is clear and the wind is not too strong, and today its been 85F outside with 50-70% humidity, and this is what I learned about my new portable AC:

* The 52-54dB of sound is very acceptable and the generator noise will over shadow it.

* For the same temperature, I found high humidity (70%) is harder to cool down with a portable AC vs. lower humidity (50%).

* I found that if you put the portable AC where it blows on you, it doesn't matter how hot or humid it is, you will get chilled down real quick -- thanks to Newton's Law of Cooling.

* This portable AC with 8000 BTUs uses 7A on low and 8A on high fan speed.

* I can run a combination of things with the portable AC on, but I would not recommend you running a lot of things at the same time. For example, when boondocking you probably want you generator to charge your house batteries while you run you air conditioner so you can camp with power overnight so that will cost you 4-12Aac depending on how you set your charger which reads 20A-90Adc to your battery on your display panel.

* If you decide to add a portable AC I think 8,000 BTU (@8A) is the way to go, but you could go to 10,000 BTUs if you watch your power consumption. I don't know if you need 10K-BTUs, but like having more HP... more BTU is most certainly preferred in the right hands!

* Your 50A service has to go through an ATS and I have come to the conclusion that while it can operate for a short while at 28+ amps, that does not mean you want to run for hours with this load. In fact, the contacts in the 50A relay should not (IMO) be pushed beyond 55% of it's rated capacity, which in my case is ~28A.

...or you probably will shorten the life of your ATS, and generator if load balancing becomes an issue. (I can't speak to that, but maybe other people can. I.e., What does the average RVer need to know about load balancing when they start running at the higher end of their generator's output?)

* And did you know there are a lot of so-called 50A ATS boxes being sold that say they are for 50A service, but inside they use 40A relays, which means these newer ATS boxes should not be run above 22A for extended periods of time. (And now you know why so many people are replacing their new ATS after just 1-2 years.)

CONFIGURATION A: Since I know I need AC for 10hour/day I will set my battery charger to 20Aac which will cost me 4A-HRs-DC.

Battery Charger 4A - 8A
Portable Air Conditioner 8A
Hot Water Element 12A - 0A
Residential Frig 2A
Desk Fan 1A
TOTAL 28A - 16A

CONFIGURATON B: Running High Load Current

* What if I ran just my basement AC with my 8A Portable AC?

==> I tried this for a while, but had to back off when my Amp meter shot up from 28A to 35A. So the short story is that I wouldn't do this.

The longer story is that I have an old Parallax ATS-5070 that uses the old style, Heavy Duty, 50A, 8-Pin relays with contacts, which is good. As good as it gets almost until you spend a fortune and get a 100A ATS from Parallax for big bucks.

Anyway, I ran my generator at 28-29A for 2 hours with the basement AC running both compressors and my portable AC running too. But as I explained, my amp meter shot up to 35A for no other obvious reason. So I can only assum my ATS contact-points were getting hot, and probably the wires too! So I shut the system down before I burned up my ATS box.

Consequently, I can't recommend running the basement AC on 2-compressors with the portable AC under generator power, and when you have shore power, I thing you should use an extension cord to power the portable AC separately or wire-in a separate outlet just for your portable AC.

And that means: Just because your service says it is rated for 50A, that does not mean you can run more than 28-29A safely for a long period of time. Further, I think it can be said... running less amps is always "easier/better" on/for your system and your generator!

What about Vent Temperature with and without the portable AC running?

==> So with my portable AC located next to the Washer-Dryer in the bedroom, you can see I got colder vent temperatures by pointing the basement AC so that it shoots cold air into the basement AC intake register. (See pictures.)

* The outside temperature was 77F with 70% humidity. And with the portable pointed forward the kitchen vent temperature was 55F.

* Then I turned the basement AC around so the cold air out of the portable would blow into the Basement AC intake an the temperature at that kitchen vent dropped to 47.9F and at one point I got 47.3F, which is a -29-30F drop.

* Now you would think this is good, but the ambient temperature around the coach windows remained at 75F... and ideally you want 72F with the added benefit of these AC dehumidifying the air in the RV. ...But you can't get that. Therefore you need to use a fan or point the portable AC so it blows close to you.

My conclusion: All these AC systems are only good for a -20F drop. ...But apparently you can fool the basement AC (a matter of speech, because you can't really fool physics) by directing the cold air out of the portable AC into the basement AC and you will get -29F, which is 77F outside let 48F out the vent, which is temperature drop of -29F.

* Wait... I'm not done! It turns out that it's better if you put the portable AC next to the couch for reasons I will explain below.


==> Turn the breaker-off that feeds the #2 Compressor in your Basement AC.

==> Or don't run your basement AC at all. I found if you start your portable AC at 80F, just like your RV basement or roof top ACs, it will hold the temperature better throughout the day! And in Port Aransas, today I did not need the basement AC and I just ran the portable AC at 8A. Plus the portable was more efficient since it was not losing all that cold air to 40' of basement AC vents in the ceiling.

==> For the best cooling, I moved the portable AC from the bedroom window area to the window next to the couch. (See picture below.) And then you can run any number of AC appliances you want, but again, my recommendation is to stay at 55% of your ATS rated ability or 28A, which ever is lower.

Battery Charger 6A - 4A
Portable Air Conditioner 8A
Residential Frig 2A

* And when you need to heat-up your hot water, just use gas.

* And if you need more battery charging you can crack it up!

* Just remember your generator is burning diesel at .5 to .9 GPH, so make sure you have enough fuel before you camp for 2-4 days, which is limited by how much water you consume more than anything.

* And with the portable AC in the front part of the RV you get the advantage of Newton's Law of Cooling, because the cold air will be blowing around you.


* I'm not sure how this 8,000 BTU will perform in hot climates, because I have not tested it. However, next week I will be in Arizona and Rocky Point, MX and I will report back. However, one plus is that the humidity will be real low so that should make cooling the inside of the RV easier. I think.

CONFIGURATION D: When You Are Not Boondocking and have shore power

==> Use a 14 gauge 50' extension cord and power the portable AC off the separate 20A plug at the shore power post. This will isolate the portable AC power from the 50A service to your basement AC and you run them all if you want.

==> You now know you can put the portable AC in the front cabin and you can put it in the back cabin, but I would prefer to put it in the bedroom in front of the Washer-Dryer, because then you don't see the ugly exhaust venting out the window above the coach.

==> For better cooling in the front cabin, turn the portable AC so it blows cold air into your basement AC register. And then let your basement AC fan distribute the cold air throughout the cabin.


* I'm working on that. I think it is wise to have a separate 20A power source when you have shore power. So I recommend adding one... by hiding a long extension cord or routing protective 12 gauge wire to a wall socket you install.

* And then you need to hide that exhaust hose to the window above the couch. To do this you need to cut a hole in your side wall or floor, if I go this route I will let you know how I accomplish it. So stay tuned.
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Old 05-04-2021, 11:42 PM   #4
Winnebago Master
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 925
The perfect place for my new 8,000 btu portable ac


Right now I am visiting Rocky Point, MX, which if you follow some my threads then you know I call this place an "RV DAY SPA," because you can get all sorts of RV services here – performed by knowledgeable BV Body & Paint specialist – at a great price!

In fact, I trust Carlos Hernandez and Pablo to do the best body & paint work found anywhere! …And today Carlos installed a portable AC to my specifications. …And everything turned out 100% perfect!


...And get this, I just learned they also spray truck bed liners (not Rhino Liner, but another brand just as good and much less expensive). ...and in my case, I going to have them spray their Rhino-Like-Liner on my front grill to hide all the road chip marks!


* I found that blowing low AC temperatures is one thing, but to feel truly “cold” or “comfortable” when when it is hot outside, you also need "blowing cold air" all around you. This is why fans work wonders, and when combined with Air Conditioning you now have the perfect storm!

* It is preferable to locate your portable AC in the front cabin.

* And you don't want to vent the hot air out the window, because then you can't close your day-night shades. Plus the hot exhaust tube looks ugly and stupid, hillbilly style I was not gunning for.

* Now my 8,000 BTU is my primary AC and I have it plugged into a wall socket that was already there, and I didn’t even know it! It’s like Winnebago knew back in 2004 that someone was going to put a portable AC in the credenza; and 17 years later… I did!
* I don’t think you want a 10,000 BTU supplemental AC, because this GE 8,000 BTU model only pulls 8A; and at that rate, you could run it on battery power if you have a PSW inverter.

* Next I will address load balancing, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem when you are plugged into short power. However, I still have to do come load measurements on generator power, which is more important when it comes to distributing the loads evenly across L1 & L2 so the stator in the generator is not loaded asymmetrically… any more than necessary… and when you are running at max-loads this maybe where I look into powering the portable AC off a separate extension cord, to 30A or 20A service. (TBD)


*L1 = Portable AC + Basement AC Compressor #1 = 19A.

L2 = Basement AC Compressor #2 + Hot Water Heater Element or Microwave = 22-24A

Total L1 & L2 = 31A and you don’t want to do this on Generator Power, because your ATS has contacts inside that fail over time (1-year possibly) if you operate the ATS at these high loads. I.e., IMO, 50A generators should only be run at 25A for an extended amount of time, for reasons I will not go into now.

 On the other hand, when running on 30A service, using a “dog-bone” to connect L1 to L2, this also has the advantage of the Intelletic EMS-620 system to safeguard your loads. (This is if its working properly?)
Anyway, I’m still not sure if I should run a separate power line to the shore power pole to by-pass my RV AST and 50A service? TBD. Does any know which is the better way to go when on Shore Power.

 And on generator power, I just have to remember to run the portable AC up front and just 1 basement AC compressor at the same time. To do this is easy: Just turn off the 20A AC Circuit #2 in the breaker box and no more power to the basement AC compressor #2. Problem solved.
Now I’m almost ready for 105-110F Las Vegas weather!
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Old 05-04-2021, 11:47 PM   #5
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....Continued: More pictures.

And in a couple days I will ask Carlos to paint the external air vent to match my body paint.

And the 49.4F thermostat shows how cold the 8,000 BTU GE Portable AC is blowing when it was 80F OAT. This is a temperature drop of -24.7F.

So at 100F, I will see if I can get 76F out of the vents. TBD.


On 80-90F days, I now can just run the portable AC and run my basement AC fans to distribute the air inside the RV.

The bedroom air temperature is going to be a little warmer, but I really don't care about that during the day since I'm always in the front part of the coach during these times.

And when it gets hotter, I then just turn on the basement AC compressor #1; and if it gets real hot I can turn on the basement AC compressor #1 & 2.

* I think when I'm on generator power, I should only turn on compressor #2 and run my portable AC on circuit #1. This will help with load balancing. However, I have not tested that out yet.

Can you start the basement AC only on compressor #2 by shutting off the CB to Circuit #1?
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Old 05-05-2021, 02:16 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 925
Best Wiring Practices When Adding A Portable AC to your RV With 50A Service

UPDATE: Today I wanted to see if I can only run my Basement AC on Compressor #2 (Circuit #2)?

I attempted this by turning "off" the CB to Circuit #1, hoping that the Basement AC would start on only Compressor #2, but to no avail.

Turns out the fan motor get's it's AC power off Circuit #1. So no power to Circuit #1 means no fan (blower motor dead), which means the circuit board in the basement AC will not start Compressor #2.

On the other hand, I can easily run the basement AC with just Compressor #1 working, but cutting power to Circuit #2 -- just turn "off" the Circuit Breaker (CB) to the #2 basement AC compressor.


* The problem is that most of my daily AC loads (plus my 8A Portable AC) are all on Circuit 1 aka L1 at the shore power post.

* My concern is that this is not going to be ideal when I run the generator, because it's always better to distribute the loads as even as possible, aka "load balancing."


A) I first considered this: Just re-route the wires that currently connect the passenger side wall outlet wires... currently connected to the Inverter sub-panel... and then route this wire that powers the portable AC (wall socket) to the Main Panel L2 side... so it now receives power on L2.

...But then I realized, none of these outlets on L2 would work when I am on inverter power, because the Sub-Main CB only receive power on L1 and then in the coach they call it Circuit #1.

So now I'm considering this:

B) I add an additional outlet box next to my AST-5070, and wire it to the L2 power terminal inside the ATS; and then run an extension cord to the portable AC so it always runs on L2.

This way when I'm on generator power my Portable AC will be on L2, which should give me better load balancing, when I am also running my Basement AC; and/or...

C) When I want to run all 3 compressors on shore power I just add an extension cord to the 20A outlet to power the portable AC separately...

...And carry a 30a to 20A converter cord just in case those 20A outlets are not working... cuz I have seen some pretty ugly and corroded 20A outlet at some RV parks, but the 30A outlet is usually working.

...And this way I do NOT burden my 50A service through my ATS and put 30A+ on the L1 Circuit.

I will post pictures when I complete this wiring project.
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