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Author Topic: Air Conditioning, Fantastic Fan, or Catio?  (Read 746 times)


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Air Conditioning, Fantastic Fan, or Catio?
« on: March 30, 2019, 09:21:24 PM »
Hello all! I am trying to decide how to keep my cats safe while living in a van.
I would only be traveling during the summer months; the rest of the year I would be teaching and therefore stationary. This would also mean that I would be leaving my cats at home while I go to work.
I live in an area where temperatures can be near 105 in the middle of the day at the start of the school year, so I want my cats to be safe in the van. I have lost too many cats to outside accidents, so it is really important that I contain them while I am gone.

There are three options that I would like some input/more information on please!

1. Install an AC unit in the van, and run it while I am work. I have no idea how much power that would drain and if it would even be possible without a MASSIVE solar system. I am still learning! I know I will need heating due to where I live, but I believe I can get that separate from AC. If you think this is an option, can you recommend an energy efficient heating/cooling system?
2. Use the Fantastic Fan with the windows cracked so I can get a nice air flow. I will be insulating with polyisocyanurate foam boards in the walls and ceiling, as well as the extruded polystyrene foam boards in the floor. Will that be enough with the breeze to make sure they are safe and comfortable while I am away?
3. Create a "catio" that has window access for the cats to "leave" the van and walk around outside. I would also install some sort of a tarp for shade over the catio. Think a chicken coop with a shaded covering. That way they stay safe, but they aren't stuck in the hot van.

I really want to be off grid so I am not stuck parking at places when I need to borrow power, however I recognize I may have to do that in order to make sure my cats are safe. Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you soon.


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Re: Air Conditioning, Fantastic Fan, or Catio?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2019, 11:14:55 PM »
Greetings and Welcome!

1) Air conditioning is going to require shore power or a generator, and running a generator all day isn't practical.  Borrowing power is unethical if not outright illegal.  You need to be supporting yourself 100%, and not relying on others to help support you.

2) Both the Fantastic Endless Breeze fan, as well as the 10" O2Cool fans are great fans to place in a window, but they can't lower the temperature below the outside temperature.  Insulation only slightly slows the temperature difference between the inside and outside, and in campers usually works more against you than in your favor.  Sun in the winter, and shade in the summer will get you a lot farther than any amount of insulation.

Heating with pets can also be problematic, you need something that can't be knocked over, and that can't burn them or set their fur on fire.  This pretty much limits you to an installed furnace or parking heater that is vented to the outside.  The worst downside to these is that they're very expensive to run.  1500 watt electric heaters are only a little over 5k BTU's, so they're only good down to about 40°f and will require shore power.

3) You "catio" sounds interesting, but only if you're staying in one place long term.  Setting it up daily would become a huge headache.

Anytime the outside temps get above about 70°f, you're going to need a campground with shore power and a 5k+ BTU AC if in the shade, and a 10k+ BTU AC if no shade is available.

Campgrounds with shore power can be very difficult to find in the summer, many require reservations many months in advance.  They're also not cheap unless you're paying by the month.  If you are paying by the month, something bigger than a van is more appropriate.

If it were me, I'd buy a cheap, move in ready, ~$1500 motorhome and call it good.  Move it into a RV park for ~$1k a month rent + utilities, and you're good to go.  What you're suggesting is going to be nothing short of torture for your cats.

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