21 VNL860 upgrades, mini split/battery APU

Discussion in 'Volvo Forum' started by 86scotty, May 1, 2024.

  1. 86scotty

    86scotty Road Train Member

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    I upgraded my 15 780 to a 21 860 Globetrotter a few months ago. I've done a few things some of you might be interested in that make it a one man condo and office. The biggest thing I wanted to do was experiment with a home made battery APU running a mini split since this truck didn't come with an APU.

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    Basics of the truck: 21 860 Globetrotter
    - D13 (non TC) 500hp/1850tq 12 speed iShift, 3:08 rears
    - All the 860 stuff, big fridge, work station, loaded cab, space space space.
    - This one has keyless entry which I wanted badly. Also has factory inverter/charger/shore power,
    block heater and Webasto bunk heater.

    First thing I did was yank the factory seats that I didn't care for and add a Legacy driver's seat, second chest fridge up front for drinks and a few extra cup holders in the rail. Factory fridge in the back for food, chest fridge up front for drinks or freezer. I also added TPMS, dash cam and all my mounts for GPS, phone, etc. I also swapped my deer basher to this truck, swapped my AGM batteries and my radio, stuff like that.

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    Next I yanked out the factory closet I never use and put in a cabinet and countertop with a bar sink, 10 gallon water tank, RV water pump and all my controls for APU/power.

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    Last edited: May 1, 2024
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  3. 86scotty

    86scotty Road Train Member

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    Next I pulled the upper bunk and added built a U-shaped shelf to hold computer, laser printer, mini split, pantry and my memory foam mattress I use downstairs where I sleep nowadays. Closet, ladder and rear bunk are completely gone. I love the open space.

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    Under the driver's side lower bunk I have my DC to DC charger (this charges lithium batteries specifically, from solar or alternator)

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    Passenger side has 560AH of lithium batteries, 2500w pure sine inverter to run the air conditioning and misc. wiring

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    Last edited: May 1, 2024
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  4. 86scotty

    86scotty Road Train Member

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    I painted the Mr. Cool outside unit and mounted it using a stainless steel outdoor mount made for these things. Somebody here recommended it off Amazon. It's super solid but you have to brace the inside of the truck with flat bar or the like. I used some 1' sections of aluminum angle. I think I could hang from it.

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    This is a Mr. Cool DIY 9k btu mini split/heat pump. It's just as efficient heating as it is cooling. It's not hot enough outside to test in the summer heat and humidity but overnight so far it will use about 10% of battery bank. I'm expecting this to go way up when it's running steady.

    I have sized the battery system for an easy 12 hrs. of use running and easy recharging from alternator while I drive during the day, currently 40a output on the charger.

    I was worried about condensation drainage from air conditioner when I'm parked tilted the wrong way but these units actually have a drain on either side. I simply had to remove the plug from the other side and add a second drain. You can see the two white insulated drain hoses hanging down under the left side of the unit.

    Way impressed with this unit so far. Almost silent. We'll see how long it takes me to rattle it apart on our lousy roads.

    For those curious I have about $2k total in this battery APU setup. I hope to never give Thermo-King another dime.

    I do not have a generator or coolant heater so it is a stretch to call it an APU but I could easily bring along my Honda generator if I ever need power to charge it. Idling the truck for a couple hours is a lot easier though.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2024
  5. RedForeman

    RedForeman Momentum Conservationist

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    That's a great looking install on the mini split. Only thing you may consider is securing the top of the condenser to prevent forward/back rocking motion if it isn't totally solid. Or at least check it now and then until you've run with it a while to be comfortable with it. Long story short, I had a problem with that on my son's truck and it cracked one of the hard refrigerant lines right at the fitting. Fixed that and added a piece of flat stainless attaching the top of the unit to the back of the cab using one of the slider rail bolts. That said, the one on my truck is slightly smaller and has been unsecured on the top for two years with no issues.

    That's cool what you did with that countertop and bar sink setup. I wish I'd thought of something like that two years ago when it would have been worth the effort LOL. I also keep a drink/snack cooler within reach, just less gracefully. A Dometic 19L portable fridge cooler behind me that's always in the way getting into the cabinets.

    Speaking of that.. @blairandgretchen will find this funny: I finally found a Dometic/Waeco dealer for my cooler handles and latches, that will ship to the US, in Broome WA of all places. Comes to mind as the handle on mine busted a couple weeks ago and I was out of spares. That booger is super awkward to move around without it.
     
  6. Siinman

    Siinman Road Train Member

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    What a great set up man. I am sure you will be super happy with it! Love the whole thing and would do something similar to the inside of mine if I planned on keeping it longer. May change my mind if market doesn't get any better next year and keep it longer. If so than I will for sure lay it out better.
     
  7. RedForeman

    RedForeman Momentum Conservationist

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    After thinking it over a bit more, this right here is the most amazing part of going to a battery powered hvac system. I used to think what an amazing improvement it was going from idling the truck all night to a diesel apu. Now the noise from the diesel apus everywhere sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Going into the 3rd year after 2 of 3 winters exposed to salty conditions up north, barely any change on mine. Just a barely detectable low frequency noise from the condenser unit gets transmitted through the support frame mounts on the cab when the compressor is running.
     
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  8. 86scotty

    86scotty Road Train Member

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    Salt is exactly what I'm worried about. Glad to hear it isn't a big concern.

    The mini split itself was $600. If I have to replace it every 3 years, which I hope not to, it will still be a bargain compared to an APU.

    I also recently learned that the heat pump in these mini splits uses about the same power as the AC. It isn't resistance heat like an electric heater. I am definitely not an HVAC expert but I always assumed any big heater was going to be a power hog. Not the case with these.
     
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  9. RedForeman

    RedForeman Momentum Conservationist

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    The specs on my Pioneer units show somewhat higher energy draw on max heat vs max cool. Something like 1050W to 760W in that order. Just guessing from memory, I don't have the specs handy. Others have reported they work ok down to about +50ºF ambient then struggle if it goes lower. My trucks have Webasto bunk heaters, so we do not use the heat function on the mini-splits.

    Yours probably are like mine and just not equipped with aux heat (radiant strips) like you'd see in a conventional home install. Seems like there was a variant equipped with them, I don't remember for sure. Heat pumps have a valve that reverses the refrigerant flow. Compressor runs as usual, however absorbing heat from outside and transferring it inside instead. Condenser and evaporator reverse roles. Since it's less efficient running backwards in heat mode, the energy requirement is greater and btu capacity reduced. Incidentally trailer reefer units operate in the same fashion, with a similar efficiency hit, when set to heat the interior. On a "keep from freezing" load in the winter, for example.
     
  10. 86scotty

    86scotty Road Train Member

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    Thanks, that's pretty much what I gathered from talking to a couple of folks since I got this one. I also have a diesel bunk heater, which will always be a lot more efficient and powerful, but I love having the option of aux heat if needed.
     
  11. BoostedTeg

    BoostedTeg Road Train Member

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    Great setup very practical for OTR. Well done
     
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