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Discussion Starter #1
Crazy Ideas 942:

I have been thinking a bit about this... Already have stock AC but electric would be nice to give cooling without the engine power loss.... I don't use AC much now but on some of the hot days it is very nice to have.

I have been looking around... and have been having trouble finding out how much BTU the stock AC unit does / can do.... Any Ideas?

Concidering the very small space it has to cool my first thought was 1,000 BTU or less... but then it occured to me that it will have to keep up with a good bit of solar heating and such so it might be more... but I can't imagine much more... If it even needs that much.

Depending on the amount of power / BTU's needed the Electric AC could come off the 12V System or use its own Battery to augment the 12V system... Unless your useing Mike's Boost Battery the power will ultimately still come from the Gas Engine... But if it is Electric Based then we can use the Car's 144V to 12V Charging system to keep a small Eelectric AC unit running as long as the 144V battery has a good charge on it.

I have found a few AC units that might do the job but wanted to check here to see if anyone knows / has any other ideas about the BTU's that would be required???

Thanks.
 

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The Insight is a poorly insulated greenhouse with the heat from an ICE blowing around it. :D . I suspect that direct mechanical linkage is still the most efficient source of power. Did you try calculating the solar energy falling on the total glass surface as a brain teaser?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well I crunched a few numbers....

Basicly.... the worst case sinario in the US if you had a clear glass box about the size of the 60 cubic foot Insight interior parked it in direct Summer Sun in the southern US and a dark surface inside the glass box absorbs 100% of the radiant solar energy of the sun that reaches the surface ... I figure the Box will get ~6,800 BTU's of radiant solar energy per hour to the Interior.... which given the aproximate conductivity of glass as the insulating material between the inside of the car and the outside temperature... the inside temperature under those conditions would reach an aproximate max value at about ~1,373 degrees C above Ambiant outside Temperature this is the worst case sinario.... Now the Insight is not a complete glass box and will not absorb 100% of the radiant energy coming in... but 1,000 BTU's inside will reach a temperature diference of over 200 degrees C with Ambiant...

Conclusion.... 1,000 BTU's will not come any where near enough to compete with the sun's radiant heating in the Summer.... and I doubt the air vents & fans will move enough ambiant air to make much difference....

If the Honda Stock AC unit can compete with the 6,800 or so BTU's per hour of radiant solar energy of southern US and still keep the car cooler than the ambiant outside temperatures.... it has to be putting out well over 5,000 BTU's per hour even with the ambiant air flow.... 5,000 BTU's per hour if converted at 100% effeciency would be about 2HP .... I would say the stock system feels like it pulls about 3 or 4HP....

So.... If the Insight is to be converted to an electric AC system that does not rob the car of power... then the best approach might be to use the exsisting honda AC unit but drive the compressor with a electric motor instead of coming off the engine.... but such an Motor would more than likely weigh at least 20 Extra Pounds ... and you would have to power it which would mean at least 2 or 3 kWh of electrical energy storage for every hour of electric AC use....

So The Idea is a bad one..... It would be better to use that 2 or 3 kWh to power a booster battery like Mike is doing and just leave the Stock AC unit where it is.... Operate is Electric Priority mode where the stock 10kW IMA motor is at full power any time the car goes down to 100MPG.
 

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The early Prius I owned had a belt driven A/C compressor. The 2004 Prius and up, the Highlander and Lexus 400h all use electric drive compressors. They are hermatic units driven by 3 phase A/C power from a small secondary inverter. On the Prius and Highlander, you can stop the vehicle and still have A/C without the engine running. I am sure that the losses in the electric drive A/C are lower then the belt drive system. The Toyota systems (including my Rav4 EV) all use variable speed to use a minimum amount of power to achieve the required cooling. The electric A/C draws 2 amps (or less) from the Rav4's 288 volt battery and has a marginal effect on vehicle range. The S10e's that I own also use a 3 phase A/C compressor, but with a couple of speed ranges, not fully variable. One of these compressors on an Insight with a small dedicated inverter would really help the vehicle in areas where a lot of A/C is required. One of my least favorite things about the Insight is the mileage hit when using the A/C and the constant fiddling with the throttle when the compressor starts and stops. I would think Honda would be using something like this on the Accord or Civic---I don't know about these vehicles, or what kind of compressor they have, but if they did, the voltage the vehicle runs on is close enough to the Insight that parts might be usable. BTW on the Kurbwatt---just slide open the doors for A/C!
 

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The Accord Hybrid and 06 Civic Hybrid has what Honda calls a "dual scroll" compressor. It runs off the engine belt drive when the engine is on and switches over to the electric when the engine is off. The compressor basically has a small electric motor in the back end of the compressor which scrolls another piston in the compressor. If you have the air set to full bore it will keep the engine running to provide maximum cooling, but once the car has cooled down sufficiently and your just maintaining cab temp the electric portion of the compressor gets used a good bit. It works very well, there is also an electric coolant pump for heat in the winter.

This setup deffinitely is much more efficient than belt only driven compressor. With the Civic I can still get 45mpg fairly easily with the AC running whereas with the Insight mpg would drop as low as 55mpg, and I've been using more air in the Civic than I did with the Insight. An interesting note too is that the Civic won't shut the engine off until the cab has cooled down sufficiently if the ambient temperatures are about 100 degrees or higher.

It would be interesting to see which setup is more efficient, Honda vs Toyota. Honestly this was one of the huge selling points on the new Civic for me. It would be awsome on the Insight, but retrofitting something to do this would probably be very difficult. The only electric AC unit I've ever seen was a Saden unit used in the factory Ford Ranger EV, and it needs something like 300 volts to work. I was looking for something to use in my electric Saturn Conversion, but it's looking more and more like I'll be driving the stock compressor with a separate small electric motor, hopefully directly driven and not belt driven.
 

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I think what everybody is missing in this discussion so far is the losses of efficiency on the conversion of gas to electricity.

What allows apparently better efficiency of an electric compressor is the ability to level the load. Meaning on acceleration any compressor load is electric, not added to the acceleration fuel directly used. It's a 5-8% MPG city drive cycle gain to simply unload the AC in acceleration. And some of its energy is derived from "free" regenerative forces (braking or downhill).

So a plain electric vs a belt driven one is likely to be less efficient without some additional control logic.

HTH! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Rick said:
The only electric AC unit I've ever seen was a Saden unit used in the factory Ford Ranger EV, and it needs something like 300 volts to work. I was looking for something to use in my electric Saturn Conversion, but it's looking more and more like I'll be driving the stock compressor with a separate small electric motor, hopefully directly driven and not belt driven.
There are several I found in a short Web search...

These people make some that are very small... different units put out in the 1,000 to 5,000 BTU range .... but seem to run on AC for the AC .... Alternating Current for the Air Conditioning.... So if you dont' already have the right kind of AC from an inverter than that is another expence and source of loss to change it or get it....

http://www.kooltronic.com/ac/mm/mm.htm

And these people make a AC unit that runs on DC 12V or 24V to put out 5,000 BTUs.....

http://www.dcbreeze.com

.... Now from what I have seen ... If you already have the Belt driven unit like what is already in the insight it will be much cheeper to use a small electric motor to drive the belt for electric AC .... as those above all seem to be in the $2,000+ Range and a small electric motor should eb less than this.


Insightful Trekker said:
What allows apparently efficiency of an electric compressor is the ability to level the load.better
Agreed.... The usefulness of an electric AC unit would be to have AC at stops when it is very warm without the engine needing to stay on and burn gas.... Most stops are only for a minute or 2 in traffic anyway.... And to prevent the loss of power so you don't have to add more gas going down the road to maintain speed.... As you said the Electric is not free.... and conversion losses will come in ... so I wonder where it breaks even amount of stops when the AC keeps the ICE running compared to the conversion losses..... I was actually thinking it would be nice to add on... as an after the electric booster pack kind of thing... as the Booster back will give extra electrical power without adding a load ever to the engine ...


Just crazy Idea 942.
 

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variable a/c

siai47 said:
The Toyota systems (including my Rav4 EV) all use variable speed to use a minimum amount of power to achieve the required cooling. The electric A/C draws 2 amps (or less) from the Rav4's 288 volt battery and has a marginal effect on vehicle range. The S10e's that I own also use a 3 phase A/C compressor, but with a couple of speed ranges, not fully variable.
*whoa*, are you saying that these compressors are variable output? Whooppeeee! when can we get these for household use? I've never seen a window unit with anything other than a "fixed rate" (on/off) compressor, and you have to pay a hefty surcharge to get variable ones in central units.

(There are a _lot_ of reasons to prefer a, say, 5,000 BTU capable air conditioner assembly with the compressor running 90% of the time as opposed to a more typical 10,000 BTU system with teh compressor running two minuteson, one off, on for two, etc.).
 

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Hi,

How about a swamp cooler. They are sometimes used. Much better for the environment too. Basically a 'wind tunnel' ie. long tube with air sucked in from outside, and water misted or dripping inside the tube. The water is cooled by the air significantly, and cool air is produced. They workr great, even in 100+ days. Only downside, you'd need top off the water. I think it could work, or be an adjunct to the a/c unit and it would only take a bit of simple mods to do it.
 

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Swamp coolers won't work in the southest US.
Or anywhere else with high humidity :)
Plus it's not ging to work in a car because you need a constant source of water :p

As for electric vs belt AC, the electric wuld help for the same reasons that the hybrid system is beneficial... distributed load. It would help further equalize the load being put on the ICE. Plus the whole auto-stop+AC :p

I think Honda's twin scroll in the accord and civic are actual scroll compressors... no pistons. (Which are far more efficient than piston driven compressors)

If you are going to run the A/C, you are better off, energy usage wise, to turn on the air recirculation... the only reason Honda brings in fresh air is to help keep moisture from accumulating in/around the ducting. But this hot outside air drastically increases the load... and therefor the parasitic drain of the A/C. Hotter air increases the suction pressure and head pressure making the compressor have to work harder in order to compress and circulate the refrigerant.

I personally am not worried about the condensation buildup :)

Most automotive air conditioning systems are horribly designed as far as energy use goes. Most bring in hot outside unless set to "max"... this is one reason that people think turning thier household stat lower makes it cold faster :evil: , and is also a great souce of energy waste...

I applaud Honda for at least putting in a thermostat! :p
 

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Another plus to having electric in adition to auto stop and load on ICE is that the ac electro magnatic clutch to engage the current system pulls between 8-12 amps any time compressor is turning and this would be eliminated by a direct drive dc compressor and a brrushless 144 v dc motor could put out the 3-5 hp needed with less amps than the clutch already uses, its just high dollar stuff, and as mentioned the temp could be controled better by variable speed (pulse width modulation) on the motor instead of clunk clunk just less or more turns per min
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Yes .. As always .. Idea not dead .. I'm just a turtle with too many projects and not enough time. ;)

Anyway.

Updates:

- - - - - - - Peltier - - - - - -
Experimented with some Peltier Module types.

The good:
Very Small (Low Volume)
Very Light (Low Weight)
Easily scale-ible & Throttle-ible
Solid State .. Fan is the only Moving Part.

The Cons:
Very low Energy efficiency Heat Pump .. SEER in the range of about ~2.
High $Cost for a given amount of BTUs.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the end .. the low efficiency was the final nail for me .. I like everything else about them .. but the efficiency is just too low for this application.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I've done some testing on the compressor based portable cooler heat pumps.

The lowest powered one I found showed (via test meters) is sustain rate of up to ~48 Watts of electrical consumption .. In 70F ambient Air Temperature it cooled 7.8kg of water from 86F to 34F in ~4Hr and consumed ~191Wh of electricity .. I took ~4.5Hours for the insulation to let it creep up to 44F once the heat pump was turned off .. and it eventually got all the way down to 0F .. Although efficiency noticeably started to drop as it got more than 50F bellow ambient .. was down to almost ~1/2 as efficient by 70F bellow ambient.

I'm estimating this to be ~267 BTU/HR .. A SEER of ~5.6 (up to 50F bellow ambient) .. down to a SEER of 2-3 by 70F bellow ambient.

--------Based on:-------
86 to 34 = d52F = ~d29C = ~d29K

4.2J/g/K for water
4.2 x 7,800g x ~d29K = 950,040 Joules

And insulation heat gain from ambient of ~10F over that ~4 Hours
d10F = ~d5-1/2C = ~d5-1/2K

4.2 x 7,800g x ~5-1/2 = 180,180 Joules

1055 Joules = 1 BTU

180k + 950k = ~1,130,000 Joules / 1055 = ~1071 BTU / 4 Hours = 267 BTU/Hr

1071 BTU / 191 Wh = ~5.6 SEER
- - - - - - - - -

Soo .. that is about double (almost triple) the Peltier efficiency .. which is good .. 2-3x as many BTUs for the same Wh of electrical input .. and the low power consumption ~48W .. also means I could potentially run 2-3 of those from my 120W solar on my roof .. at least 2 directly .. the ~3 might need a little (~30Watt) battery storage help , but 3 would get it up to about ~800BTU/Hr Rate.

I'm thinking that should be enough to keep up for the HEV battery pack .. the ~530BTU/HR + Exhaust Cooling Fans should also help reduce the summer parking lot heating that normally happens during ~10Hours at work.

The 530-800 BTU/HR rate would not be nearly as fast as the OEM rate .. soo that style electric AC would need much longer periods of time to take effect over.

- - - - - - - - - -

Thinking of the longer time period to take effect .. Sense the small compressor cooler I was testing had no trouble going down to about ~0F .. I could also take a more daily cycle .. longer time period view of the air cooling situation .. With improved insulation .. it could stock pile ice as thermal storage ... that approach has the benefit of being able to tap that ICE thermal Storage much faster than the heat pump alone.

Each 1 unit ~267 BTU/HR as long as ~48W electricity applied.

About ~8kg of water pre-frozen as ice ..
From 32F to 70F Liquid water = ~d42F = ~d23C = ~d23K
4.2 x 8000 x 23 = 772,800 Joules

ICE is ~2.03 J/g/K
From 0F to 32F As Solid ice = d32F = ~d17C = ~d17K
2.03 x 8000 x 17 = 276,080 Joules

333 J/g Enthalpy of Fusion .. to phase change and melt the 0C solid ice into 0C liquid water.
333 x 8000 = 2,664,000 Joules

From 0F Solid ice to 70F Liquid Water represents thermal storage of ~3,712,880 Joules / 1055 = ~3,519 BTU

Soo by tapping that thermal energy storage I could get short bursts up to about ~3,000 BTU/HR for about ~1 Hour .. And still be able to sustain that ~267 BTU/HR from the ~48W heat pump.

Worth nothing / comparing:
Each ~8 kg .. is about ~16 A123 cells ... 4p4s ~880Wh.

1 Joule = 1 Watt for 1 Second .. Soo ..
3,712,880 / 60minutes /60 Hours = ~1,031 Wh worth of thermal energy storage .. although the~880 wh of electro-chemical storage in the A123 cells is more versatile .. can be used for a wide variety of things .. for cooling purposes the ice has better energy density.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Another direction to take is to replace the OEM accessory belt driven Air Conditioning Compressor with a High Voltage Electric Driven Compressor .. I've also been researching and experimenting / etc with that option as well .. Although normally I personally prefer fresh air over HVAC .. still on those 95%+ Humidity and/or 95F+ temps .. for those dozen or so days a year .. Full Air Conditioning is nice .. And perhaps I'd want more than ~3,000 BTU .. or just want it for more than ~1 Hour or so.

I picked up an Electric Powered HVAC Compressor .. Benling 27cc , 110-200 VDC , uses a simple 12v PWM to throttle , completely off .. has as high as [email protected]/HR and down as low as [email protected]~2.4kBTU/HR .. it's ~6.3kg .. not a very big/heavy compared to the OEM belt driven compressor.

The good is that it is around a SEER of ~7 .. so even better than the smaller little units .. although not as good as some of the best window units which get up over 10SEER .. go figure.

Sense it's lowest electrical power consumption is ~400W .. I think I will still want to make use of at least one of the ~48W tiny cooler models , at least for the HV battery cooling.

It will be a while yet .. Will have to run a 2nd HV line from the rear PHEV pack .. and will have to mount and such the new compressor.

But .. there is the turtle progress .. good fun experiments and projects so far :D
 

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My thoughts:
Re: Peltier
Peltier devices are really only useful for point-of-load cooling, or highly insulated enclosed areas... neither of which describe insight.

Re: Small compressor
48 Watts is undersized to cool insight's passenger cabin. I imagine insight's thermal intake exceeds 1 kW in direct sunlight? If true, your cooling device would only slow down the cabin temperature rise, not maintain it.

The thermal efficiency of storing energy in ice isn't nearly as good as storing the same energy in a smaller (and lighter) mass, such as the interior aluminum panels... just a thought, but what if you cooled the battery pack itself, which would act as a "free weight" thermal mass... it's even fairly well insulated. Again, I think you need more cooling capacity to overcome sunlight, but why carry ice/water around when you can use the thermal mass already in the car?

Re: Benling 27cc
Now we're talking! Too bad the lowest output is 400 watts; hard to put that much solar on the roof. You could tap into your larger lithium pack... after an entire day in the sun - assuming 40% duty cycle - the compressor would consume 2 kWh, plus maybe 300 Wh blowing the cooled air around. Too bad the 27cc is so expensive (maybe you can find them in junk yards?).

Kudos on your research. I only use the air conditioner when I have a passenger ;), but I don't mind dripping sweat for better mileage (however, I am by no means a hypermiler).

-John
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
48 Watts is undersized to cool insight's passenger cabin.
Agree.

just a thought, but what if you cooled the battery pack itself, which would act as a "free weight" thermal mass... it's even fairly well insulated.
Exactly. :)

In moderate weather charge battery .. 2nd stage run cabin hot air exhaust fans .. 3rd stage targeted cooling of the HV-Battery itself.

I imagine insight's thermal intake exceeds 1 kW in direct sunlight? If true, your cooling device would only slow down the cabin temperature rise, not maintain it.
Agree.
If anything .. I expect in full direct 1 sun conditions potential to be up in the 2kw to 3kw of solar cabin heating range .. Of course it will vary with sun intensity , angle , etc.

At least until (the future) when I make more progress on my other project .. variable window shading .. I might be able to reduce the solar heat gain down to the 500-700W range :D

Again, I think you need more cooling capacity to overcome sunlight, but why carry ice/water around when you can use the thermal mass already in the car?
Agreed.

A benefit of the ice .. is that it is easier to insulate a small cooler for 8kg of ice .. in order to hold on to that ___ Joules of cold energy .. compared to providing the same level of insulation to the interior aluminum panels .. soo they would loose the same or less cooling energy to hotter ambient temperatures .. that is allot more car wide insulation , than just a small cooler.

- - - - - - That having been said - - - - -

All in all .. I think I'll get more bang for the buck .. from storing the energy in a battery .. than using that battery to run a heat pump .. it should store even better than a insulated cooler .. and the heat pump over comes the small energy storage loss.

~8kg of A123 cells store only about ~17% less wh than the same 8kg of water .. the small 48w heat pump cooler gives me effectively about ~78w of cooling for that 48w of electricity ... ((1071BTU/4Hr)x1055ConversionJoules)/3600ConversionWh) = ~78 W.. 1kwh of ICE/Water only provides 1kwh of cooling .. but ~800wh of 12vBattery via heat pump provides ~1.3kwh of cooling .. or ~800wh of 156v (HVbattery) for Benling 27cc which has an even better SEER .. [email protected]/HR .. 800Wh gives 2 hours or 4800 BTU x1055 Convert Joules / 3600 Convert Wh = ~1.4kwh of cooling from the same ~800Wh.

Re: Benling 27cc
Now we're talking! Too bad the lowest output is 400 watts; hard to put that much solar on the roof. You could tap into your larger lithium pack... after an entire day in the sun - assuming 40% duty cycle - the compressor would consume 2 kWh, plus maybe 300 Wh blowing the cooled air around. Too bad the 27cc is so expensive (maybe you can find them in junk yards?).
Well .. like a programmable thermostat for my house .. I don't need to spend the energy to cool the whole car cabin every minute I'm at work .. Maybe just target the HV-Battery .. keep it cool and charged .. than turn cabin on 15 minutes or so before I go out to the car.

Although .. If I do solar on the hood and the hatch .. that would probably bring me up in the ~400w of solar range :D

Kudos on your research. I only use the air conditioner when I have a passenger ;), but I don't mind dripping sweat for better mileage (however, I am by no means a hypermiler).-John
Thanks.

And I to don't use it much either .. I prefer fresh air usually myself .. Air-Conditioning maybe a dozen or so of the hottest/humid days of the year .. my battery will probably see most of it not cabin AC.

- - - - - - - Added thought - - - - - -

Reason for using water and ice or testing .. water has known specific heat and such .. better allows to quantify / test the small ~48w heat pump performance.

The Reverse also applies ... want a little HV-Battery or cabin heating in the colder winter .. well sense this little ~48w heat pump showed it still did ~78w of heat movement for ~48w of electricity .. down to down to d50F temperature differences .. and did cold side down to 0F .. I should also be able to use it to extract heat from colder air temperatures in the winter .. and get more than 48W worth of heating (for HV-Battery and such) , while only applying 48w of electricity ... similar to my house heat pump hot water heater .. Although the cabin compressor / heat pump is not plumbed to run in reverse in winter .. I think I can modify the little ~48w cooler fairly easily to do so.
 

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Humidity control

One of the main functions of the automobile A/C is to wring the moisture out of the cabin air (to dehumidify the air) to prevent the windows from fogging up. To accomplish dehumidification, the air is chilled to a temperature below the dew point at which condensation occurs and then the dried air is reheated to the set temperature. You should also consider the contribution of body heat from the occupants and their considerable contribution of moisture/humidity and the chilling and reheating processes and add them to your calculations.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well 1st attempt to re-purpose the small ~48w ~250 BTU heat pump failed .. :(

Was going well .. I tried to change / reshape things .. changing the coils , moving refrigerant lines , change packaging shape .. moving electronics and sensors , etc ... I had spot checked to make sure things were still working a few times .. and things seemed to be going ok .. but last night discovered the last alteration I made broke it.

It was never designed to be reshaped or such .. soo it did fairly well some some of the shape altering .. but I guess I did too much.

Oh well , I enjoyed the attempt.

- - - - -

I ordered a few things for my 2nd attempt .. but due to the date .. will probably not be ready for the up coming Insight-Fest trip .. oh well .. maybe by next year ;)

- - - - -

In other thread news .. I've also made a little additional progress with prepping for the Electric Compressor swap .. but that too will probably not be completed before the up-coming Insight-Fest trip .. oh well .. maybe by next year ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I ordered a few things for my 2nd attempt .. but due to the date .. will probably not be ready for the up coming Insight-Fest trip .. oh well .. maybe by next year ;)
For those who wanted to know .. the ordered for 2nd attempt is "Zero Breeze" Link

This is far more promising:
It does consume about ~3x the previous ~48w .. soo , it will be a bit more than the real time output of the roof solar panels alone

It is more efficient .. getting up to 1,100 BTUs .. at 4x the BTU it's up high enough , it should be able to do some noticeable amounts of the cabin cooling , not just mainly the PHEV-Battery .. soo , 4x the cooling , for 3x the electrical power .. worth noting , even 1,100 BTUs I would expect to be a good bit on the 'weak' side for whole cabin cooling .. just that compared to the previous ~250 for mainly just the PHEV-Battery , the 1,100 should be enough to do a noticeable amount of the cabin.

It already has all the plumbing for ambient air inlet , cool outlet , warm outlet , and still runs directly on 12VDC.

I even splurged to get the ~5 Hour battery for it .. soo there will be a dedicated 5Hr battery for the Heat Pump alone .. in addition to the dedicated Solar Battery.

If it actually operates as efficiently as they claim .. that will make it on par with , maybe even a bit more efficient than that Berling electric compressor option .. that would be some irony ;)
 

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Why not get a BLDC motor to drive the existing AC compressor? The hobby kind for large airplanes and helicopters are dirt cheap and put out thousands of watts. My 5000 BTU window AC unit pulls about 450 watts when it is running and cools a space way larger than an Insight.
 
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