Aftermarket Air Con Fitting FAQ

By William Coleman

Across our forums we have been asked quite a few questions over the years about the fitting of air con, what work needs doing, is it worth it and will it damage the van. These are all great questions which without being answered lead to people not bothering with having systems fitting and missing out on the benefits. So let us clear up some of this based on our visit to several on board air con manufacturers.

If you are wondering about having something fitted or you just simply want to know more these FAQs may just help make the decision that is right for you.

Before finding out what work actually goes into removing a skylight and fitting an air con unit I was very sceptical. I mean any cutting of the van roof must be bad news, right?

Now having spent an entire day at a fitting bay and seeing the finished product I can put every doubt out of my mind and assure you there really is nothing to fear.

Fitting must involve cutting into the roof. This cannot be good for the van and possible lead to water ingress?

If installed properly i.e. by a manufacturer trained and approved installer over 90% of installs the air conditioning unit is attached to an already existing skylight by simply removing said skylight. Once that is done you simply drop in the AC unit.

If this is not possible on your caravan or motorhome then it is likely to be an extension to an existing skylight hole rather than a completely new hole cut in your roof.

Water ingress? The way the units are sealed means the weight of the unit may often form a better bond with the caravan or motorhome than the old roof light.

Will adding a roof mounted unit affect the nose weight and towing behaviour?

For motorhomes this really isn’t an issue. However, with caravans it is worth positioning the unit as close to the centre axel as possible. Whilst most modern AC units are relatively light given that it is high up on the caravan having this additional weight over the axle will give the results for towing.

Can the system be taken off and transferred to my new van?

YES – as with the installation they are designed to fit a standard roof light system so simply get your installer to take it out and put a roof light back in. I think you could even keep the one they took out.

If during install you have to the hole widened to accommodate the AC unit then you can still get a standard size roof light to replace where the AC unit was.

Air con is loud. Won’t having a noisy unit on the roof just annoy everyone in and out the van?

Different AC units have different sounds, insulation, fan speeds and noise levels. If you have heard a noisy AC unit then go and see a modern upmarket version – they are extremely quiet.

Additionally look at how it integrates with your heating system – I would not recommend a separate unit, if it can integrate in to your heating and provide climate control you know whatever happens it’s only working to keep you at the right temperature.

If any of these FAQs do not answer your questions do not hesitate to contact us further. You can email us directly or contact us via our Facebook or Twitter.

Are you thinking of having air con fitted?