As the camper build progresses I’ve run into some interesting problems. I’ve gotten past the angst of cutting holes in either the floor or aluminum. What I haven’t done, and won’t do, is cut a hole in my one-piece aluminum roof. But I can totally understand why RV manufacturers are addicted to roof air conditioners. They really are highly evolved technology. They may be noisy but those big, whooshy camper A/Cs are really good at what they do. But that hole in the roof is eventually going to leak, that’s the downside.
Strangely, I live near another guy going through the same process of converting a cargo trailer to a camper. He’s a bit ahead of me and is out camping in his conversion even as we speak. The totally bizarre coincidence is how often we’ve run into the exact same problems.
Here are a few tips for anyone considering doing a conversion.
Forget Stand-Alone Air Conditioners
There are two types of room air conditioners. One are window units, the other type are the stand-alone with a vent hose. Forget those. Everyone I know who has tried one has ended up switching to either a window unit or roof mounted. Both my friend and I tried a stand-alone 14,000 BTU unit and both of us ended up returning them. An A/C unit that big should have turned our trailer into a meat locker but it could never get the temp lower than 82. We both swapped it for a window unit.
Don’t Rule Out Professional Help
Know your limits. I didn’t know anything about wiring an electrical system and even 30 amps is a lot of power. So, I hired a contractor to help with the electrical install. That was really smart. The electric is the one that works and is absolutely bulletproof. We got it done, including the outside receptacle and porch light, in a day. One day. That has been the one bright spot of the build.
Get To Know a Metal Fabricator
Less than a mile from my house is a little welding and fabrication shop and they’ve been invaluable. The RV windows we got in our camper don’t come apart, so I ended up removing the entire window. The window A/C doesn’t take up the whole space and there’s a ragged hole where the window belonged. Instead of a solution that involves crack seal or plywood, I went to the metal fabricator and am getting a piece of aluminum to match the exterior of the camper to cover around the window, leaving a hole sized for the A/C unit.
Buy Complete When You Can
I decided to build the kitchen cabinet but bought a pre-made bathroom sink. The bathroom sink is installed and the plumbing dry fitted. The kitchen cabinet…well, I have to take the frame apart and rebuild it. It was supposed to be 24 inches wide and yet, mysteriously ended up being 26. I measured…twice and it still came out weird. It’s easy to fix. Meanwhile, the cheap, particle board kitchen sink is just waiting on the faucet and some glue.
This is has been a learning experience. I’m learning everything I do badly and the value of professionals with craft skills. Trust me when I say that electricians, plumbers, and carpenters are totally worth the money.