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Westfalia A/C vents & removing plenum
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that you all have a "Serious " air flow, let me ask you this question.

Where do you all assume the air has been going prior to this Dr. Frankenstein elimintation of the directional vents??

Out the back side of the evaporator box, frosting up the back window??

I have a big news story to tell.

By allowing the air to blast outa that cabinet direct and by-passing the baffle's & vents, the air won't isn't getting as cold as it should.

Yea--you might getting a little more air volume--but not as cold as it should be--it may be running through the coils too fast , too unrestricted to cool the air down properly.
That baffle plate was put there for a reason.

There's baffles in there?

Yea there is--and then the vents.

Your over compensating for the lack of real cold air with the feel of the blast of half assed cold air.

If you got your system operating right, the vent & baffle assembly could stay without penalty.

My system works just ducky---and the vents do direct the AC exactly where I want it--no problem.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EvilDNA wrote:
So I dropped my Plenum/Duct and took the van out for a good drive. Safe to say . . . its staying off. Man that is some serious airflow.


Yeah huh? As you said, hurricane gales. I get chilly just thinking about it. (Of course, here in Berkeley, where we get constant morning fog in the summer, I'm chilly anyway. Very Happy )
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
By allowing the air to blast outa that cabinet direct and by-passing the baffle's & vents, the air won't isn't getting as cold as it should.

Yea--you might getting a little more air volume--but not as cold as it should be--it may be running through the coils too fast , too unrestricted to cool the air down properly.


Terry Kay, I don't know much about A/C, that's for sure.

So, saying this out of ignorance...... Isn't the end result the same? Why should the speed with which the air goes through the coils affect the total cooling?

Say (for sake of example), that without the plenum, twice the amount of air goes through the coils. As a result, each unit volume of air emerging from the vent is only half as cold.
But then it just gets cycled through the A/C again.

Either way, the coils are taking the same total amount of heat out of the air per unit time, aren't they?

I mean, whether you're reducing 10 cubic feet of air by 2 degrees, or 20 cubic feet by 1 degree, the total cooling effect as it circulates through the van interior is the same, isn't it?

The advantage of doing it without the plenum, though, is that less energy is wasted by having the air circulate in on itself in the plenum, wasting its momentum by hitting baffles, creating eddies, and getting caught endlessly circulating in dead gyres.

And if the total amount of heat removed is the same either way, then isn't it better to get rid of the plenum, because then you ALSO get the additional perceived cooling effect of greater air volume circulating around one's skin. It's like adding a fan to the A/C, at no additional cost, and no loss of cooling.

Or am I totally wrong?
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK,

So lets cut the whole front end of that cabinet wide open--all the way across, ad let's double the size of the two fans in back of the evaporator.

The air wouldn't have a chance to cool while it's running through the coils.

Same with any heating system--
You need a plenum to allow enough back pressure to be able to heat ( or cool) for the amount of air the system was made to handle.

If you want double the cooling--and want a bigger volume of air, then you had also better double the size of the evaporator to handle the volume of the severe Tornadic activity your going to create.

Good idea in theory--not in application.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's another thought to chew on---

Why in the heck didn't VW just slap a big vent on the front of all Westfalia evaporator cabinets?
Why didn't VW just slap a big vent in the back of any later model GL, Carat, or Wolfsburg, instead of blocking off the Big hole for max volume and using that goofy fall on the floor tunnel??

Why?
Because the evaporator cabinet is only so big, and can only move so much air efficiantly.
They needed the back pressure to slow the air down a bit so it would cool all of it that passed through the coils.

If they had an open port hurricane, the air wouldn't get cold enough, fast enough.
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Typhon2222
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So how about if, without the plenum, we just run the A/C fan at speed 2 instead of 3?

That will reduce the air flow through the coils.... It produces approximately the same total outflow of air as running the fan at speed 3 (max) with the plenum.... But has the added benefit of reducing noise. Very Happy

Terry Kay wrote:
OK,

So lets cut the whole front end of that cabinet wide open--all the way across, ad let's double the size of the two fans in back of the evaporator.

The air wouldn't have a chance to cool while it's running through the coils.


I still don't get it. If I read you right, you're implying that cooling is an all/nothing proposition. That the air either does or doesn't have a chance to cool while running through the coils. But if I have more air going through the coils, the total amount of heat removed is the same — it's just spread over more air. The net heat transfer is the same.

I assume the reason not to cut open the whole front end has to do with wasting energy. If I did that, then some of the fan's energy would be wasted moving air which never came into contact with the coils at all — some of it would just flow around the sides and miss the coil assembly entirely. By channeling the air out through a vent centrally-located yet smaller than the vent through which the air came in, however, that problem is avoided. But that's unrelated to the issue of tacking on an additional duct assembly outside the single main vent.

If the plenum was introduced to produce back pressure in order to slow the air flow through the coils, then why not just do without the plenum entirely and instead make the single central vent outlet smaller? That would produce just as much back pressure, and have the same effect. Or just reduce the maximum fan speed.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought the exersize in over engineering the rear evaporator cabinet was to get more air volume moved through & over the coils to get more cold air moving inside of the Van.

I don't want to piss on your Post Toasties, but that AC unit is /was designed to put out X number of btu's, and you guys are trying to bump up the output with just simply removing a baffle plate and allowing more air to pass over the same sized coils.

The correct way of getting more output outa that system is by increasing the size of the condensor, evaporator, compressor, and the fans to lower the temps faster.
Your NOT going to bump up the output of that unit by moving more air through it alone.

If nothing else, your going to lower whatever the efficiancy rating of it might be.

What your implicating here is( and I'm simlifying this so you can absorb this easier) taking a 5000 BTU window unit, removing the fan, adding a 10,000 btu fan & motor, and Poof--your going to have more cold air just because your pushing more air through the same 5000 btu coils.

It isn't going to happen without making everything else bigger too.

Your not going to make that 2.1 a 5.9 just by ripping off the air cleaner, and the exhaust system.

Now that you guys are all cranked up about this 15 minute fast way to 50 degree's with a screwdriver--forget about it.
It ain't going to happen.

Somebody dropped the bomb on you without first doing some basic BTU 101 studies.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay, I get the feeling we're blowing air right past each other. Very Happy

So (to repeat myself), how about if, with the plenum gone, we just run the A/C fan at speed 2 instead of 3? This feels to me, judging from the amount of air coming out, as if it runs about as much air over the coils and through the system as running the fun on speed 3 (max) when the plenum was still there. So the volume of air being processed remains about the same, and efficiency remains the same, and air outflow remains about the same. But it's a heck of a lot quieter. What's the problem with this?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK.

The idea sounds like a possibility--

But why go to all of that work?
Just running the fan WFO and get the same thing--with the air being able to have some directional capabilities rather than exiting the cabinet straight forward?

What about the guy sitting in the middle in the back seat?

You going to hand out a wool P-coat for him?

I guess the point is: why go to all of the work when the bottom line is going to be the same--maybe less?

Running without the vents doesn't make any difference to me---
I can't figure out why somebody would want to be laborius when there was really nothing to gain.

Now if you were talking about shoe horning a bigger evaporator in the box, bigger fans, and then X'ing out the vents--this would make plenty of sence to me and would actually probably work quite well.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
OK.

The idea sounds like a possibility--

But why go to all of that work?
Just running the fan WFO and get the same thing--with the air being able to have some directional capabilities rather than exiting the cabinet straight forward?

What about the guy sitting in the middle in the back seat?

You going to hand out a wool P-coat for him?

I guess the point is: why go to all of the work when the bottom line is going to be the same--maybe less?

Running without the vents doesn't make any difference to me---
I can't figure out why somebody would want to be laborius when there was really nothing to gain.


Heh heh, reason why is that we almost never have anybody in the back seat, so being able to direct the air flow downwards isn't any allure. On the contrary: it's a waste. I'd rather have all the air go straight forward than have that stupid duct assembly always directing some of it down onto the back seat, regardless of whether there's anybody sitting there or not. Send it all forward baby!

But there's also the space issue. Westies don't have a lot. And anything that needlessly sucks up another few inches of headroom — and deprives me of another foot-and-a-half of shelf space on the side — is just a waste. Very Happy

And ultimately, A/C is all about making you feel cooler. That's what ultimately matters. So regardless of whether pumping more air through the system — and giving me a wind tunnel effect in the front — is actually more or less efficient in terms of heat removal, the fact for us is that having so much more air circulating around us sure as heck feels cooler than having that plenum discharge air which is super cold but in such low volumes that it doesn't even tickle the hairs on the back of my neck. I'll take big volumes of slightly cooled air over small volumes of well cooled air.

But even if I change my mind, and at some point want to return to, strictly speaking, more efficient use of the A/C, I still have that option: I just turn the fan speed down from 3 to 2. And get quiet too.

The only reason I see to keep the extra duct assemblage in place is if you want some of your cooled air to hit the back seat instead of going forward — and if you don't mind the fact that you can't turn that function off, even when there's nobody back there.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
Now that you all have a "Serious " air flow, let me ask you this question.

Where do you all assume the air has been going prior to this Dr. Frankenstein elimintation of the directional vents??

Out the back side of the evaporator box, frosting up the back window??


Once the air is forced out of the blower vent, there is nowhere else for it to go but out the plenum vents. However, due to its size and internal construction, some bits of air will simply recirculate, especially once the air hits those two little "walls" adjacent to the outer-most vents. Right?

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

(borrowed pic)

If ^those black gizmos are strictly baffles, they appear to be hindering airflow out of the second and third vents (from the left). Or am I not seeing them correctly?

I've got an anomometer. While a couple of you take temperature readings, I'll take "wind" readings to see what the differences are (at the vents, at the driver's seat, before-and-after, etc.).

Terry Kay wrote:
I have a big news story to tell.

By allowing the air to blast outa that cabinet direct and by-passing the baffle's & vents, the air won't isn't getting as cold as it should.

Yea--you might getting a little more air volume--but not as cold as it should be--it may be running through the coils too fast , too unrestricted to cool the air down properly.
That baffle plate was put there for a reason.


If ^that's true, could you explain this (posted back on page 1):

EvilDNA wrote:

As a side note, I bought a wireless thermometer from La Crosse that can have 3 additional sensors added in order to measure my air temps. The only way you can truly monitor your A/C's effectiveness is to know what the temps are coming into the evaporator and coming out.

I have Sensor 1 mounted at the evaporator's air intake (rear of van). Sensor 2 is mounted directly at the blower vent (middle of the two openings). Sensor 3 is just in front of the plenum vents.

What is interesting is that I'll see a 20 degree drop in my temp from Sensor 1 to Sensor 2. (I still think I can get more . . . must talk w/ TK). But at Sensor 3, it's back up 10 degrees. So, after running around for a bit, I was seeing 65 . . down to 45 . . . up to 55 degrees at vent.


So, ^that's 65° at the intake, 45° at the blower vent, then 55° at the plenum vents. "Evil"'s readings combined with the fact that removing the plenum increases airflow, indicate that the plenum hinders an already somewhat inefficient system: With the plenum installed, air volume decreases while the outflow air temperature increases.

Typhon: I'll get it added to the project list in the next few days. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EvilDNA wrote:
So I dropped my Plenum/Duct and took the van out for a good drive. Safe to say . . . its staying off. Man that is some serious airflow. Now, I'll just have to come up with a faceplate that can cover/fit in the groove and also take a vent register or something to protect kiddie fingers.


Man, your plan to devise a faceplate to fit in the groove sounds sweet.

In my case, I think I'll just use some of the Westy cabinet tee-molding to fit into the groove. It's wide enough that it should totally cover it. Not sure whether to use gray or black.... The rest of the car's tee-molding is all factory-original gray. But the A/C vent itself, the speakers, and the handlebar-moustache-curved rear speaker cable snaking across the front of the A/C cabinet are all black, so maybe I'll go with black. Cool
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kamzcab86 wrote:
I've got an anomometer. While a couple of you take temperature readings, I'll take "wind" readings to see what the differences are (at the vents, at the driver's seat, before-and-after, etc.).

Beautiful. Can't wait to see what you find out. Very Happy


kamzcab86 wrote:
If ^those black gizmos are strictly baffles, they appear to be hindering airflow out of the second and third vents (from the left). Or am I not seeing them correctly?

You're seeing them absolutely correctly, Kam. They are, as far as I can tell, just baffles. Here's a shot I just took of my own removed plenum. I took the shot from a low angle, so the vertical baffles would be more visible:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a 20 degree difference in temps over a 45 minute ride.

Depending on how warm it was outside --that isn't bad, and not too far off the mark.

Yep--take them vent's off & remove the baffles, and when you see no bigger difference in the intake & exhaust temps on that evaporator box, I remember I told you there wouldn't be any big difference.

The intake will always be warmer than the exhaust--it'll ever even get close to being the same temps.
Your looking for perpetual motion here , and it ain't gonna happen.

Even in a front loaded, normal vehicle AC set up on recirculate there is a big difference between the sucked in air & the vent temps.
I don't know where or how in the heck you allowed yourself to get sucked into this BS story.

That 2.5 inches head room isn't enough to be even thinking about this pure speculative move you guys are dreaming about---

Have fun.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You're seeing them absolutely correctly, Kam. They are, as far as I can tell, just baffles."

They serve a dual purposes; the holes in the upper surface are for some of the mounting screws. On mine, I had to remove the upper bunk mattress in order to reach about four screws that went down through the wood into that, but the black plastic of the baffles was cracked and broken around the screws enough that they likely did not provide much of a grip to anything. I reinforced them with wood but then never reinstalled the plenum.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm throwing my 2 cents in here . . . as I have just finished a complete overhaul of my A/C. Much of which was guided by TK's forum posts, however, I dare to bite the hand that fed me.

First, once a system is properly rehab'd and charged, then the most important thing is how much the evap coil can reduce incoming ambient air. We'll call the the Delta T value. Delta T IS Crucial. HOWEVER, the time it takes to reduce the incoming ambient air is a function of Delta T AND Air Flow Volume. And Delta T is a function of that Air Flow Volume, i.e. blower speed. Less time on coil, less cooling. Simple enough.

But here is the kicker . . . when I had that plenum on, I was getting nothing upfront and my total ambient temps inside the van took FOREVER to lower. With the plenum off, sure my Delta T drop was less (not drastic) BUT my overall time to drop ambient van temps decreased dramatically. Simple English . . . I got the van cooler faster because I was moving more air at the cost of an acceptable loss of my Delta T drop.

Because the plenum is now off . . . I also have much more flexibility in controlling Air Flow and Delta T . . say I want to slow the airflow and bump my Delta T temps lower . . . I'll go to fan speed 1 or 2 . . . (previously USELESS). Say my van is smoking hot and I want to move that HUGE CAVERNOUS volume of air back into the evap coil faster . . . 3 or 4 speed does it. If I loose 5 degrees of Delta T but can turn the cabin air 4 times faster, my temp drop is a net gain over a slower ambient turnover at a better Delta T. (actual values have not been tested yet)

Secondly, as I recall, the older camper vans had no plenum WHATSOEVER! Same evap coil? Same expansion valve? Same blower? Same refrigerant? Yep. Same. So, how is it that a "newer van" with plenum, but same A/C components is some how 'designed' accordingly?

Third, proof is in the pudding . . . I've set up a four sensor wireless thermometer. At evap coil intake, at the blower, middle of van and up front with me. Results? No plenum = faster cool down of total ambient temps. Once that occurs . . what do I do? Fan speed to 2 sir! Aye Aye, Captain. And now, I'm back to maximizing my Delta T drop from intake to blower output, via a slower fan speed. (a speed that I can still feel up front)

36-38 at the vents does me no good if there is now flow up to my sweaty ass. I'm certain that the 12 v fan setup would do the trick as well, but damn it that blower feels good. With the plenum on, at fan speed 4, I was only being teased by a cool breeze. Small little kisses . . . noting more. Now . . . my A/C and I know each other intimately . . . and I feel no shame. And yes . . . I now can choose the quickie or slow burn . . .

That may have been 5 cents . . . keep the change.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just re-read and wanted to address TK's window unit analogy. This analogy doesn't apply to the van. Window units are not a closed system, like the van. The van is re-circulating the same cabin air. The window unit is an open system. So, yes, a bigger motor on a 5K BTU window unit would render less effective because the unit is not re-cooling the same volume of air.

HOWEVER, in a closed system, where the same ambient air is being constantly recirculated, you can loss some effective cooling at the coil and make it back up in a faster recirculation rate. Ultimately, over time, the AC system should only get to something above 32 degrees.

A faster fan speed doesn't affect the coils temps. Only its ability to drop the incoming ambient temps by x degrees. BUT if that same air is coming back for more and more passes . . . then it's possible to continue the temp drop of ambient . . . albeit to a certain limit. Then its time to play with a lower fan speed of course.

I'm still testing, however, as of now, I'm getting to bearable faster . . . and cooler faster. And in SLC right now, its blasted hot.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EvilDNA wrote:
With the plenum on, at fan speed 4, I was only being teased by a cool breeze. Small little kisses . . . noting more. Now . . . my A/C and I know each other intimately . . . and I feel no shame.

Hee hee hee Razz

My wife is wondering why I'm giggling at a post about A/C on Westies.

I'm not going to tell her. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just so I can get a real firm grip on this phenomina, and I do agree that in a recirculating system the evaportaor will have an easier time of cooling recycled cool air in this heat wave--

You have the intaked air at the same temps as the blown air right now?

I want to say this too---and this is pretty much common AC know---
The slower the fan speed, the less uncooled air your trying to pass over or through the evaporator the cooler the air outa the vents is gonne be.
I don't mean on low & then high.
I mean running the fan on 3 gets lower vent temps anyway, cause your forcing less volume of hotter air through the core.

I looked at my 89 Carat today and yanking that tunnel outa the van to use that 8" rectangular hole to cool down that cavern ain't gonna make it.
The evaporator is the same in the Westy as the Carat.
The box is different and not as large.
I'd say the tunnel is necessary to get any cold air up front,and the yanking of the tube would be a gross error.

Actually when your looking at any of the Vanagon systems they are all junk in design.

I also have tied my sliding door vents into my rear baffle plate/ vent box, so I do get plenty of AC up front in my Westfalia's.
I plugged the fresh air intake side of the vents and tied the AC output into it.
I was looking for the same solution 10 years ago and found what worked for well for me.

I just wanna get a idea of what the greenhouse back window intake side of that AC air's temperature is with the front end of the evaportaor cabinet off.

If you get much better than that first reported 20 degree's I'll be quite suprised.

Have Fun---
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:

You have the intaked air at the same temps as the blown air right now?


Heavens No. In a properly charged system, that is impossible. Intake temps will always be higher than the blower temps. I just pulled the plenum yesterday and only took another 45 min drive but I'm seeing my Delta T drop at 15 - 18 degrees. The data and subjective analysis seems to make the smile on my face a colder one indeed.

Your slider vent mod thickens the plot indeed. Did you also block coolant flow to the front blower? Certainly there are other mods left to be done for me but right now, that plenum drop seems to be getting me the most bang for my buck. All I know is that the same 45 min drive had me so damn cold my skull was gonna crack . . . AND I had to lower things Fan Terrorist Threat Level 1.

There is no question, that in an open air system, all this plenum drop talk would be crazy. But that is because the air temp drop is solely of function of the coils capacity to cool the air in that single pass. Recirculation gives another parameter to play with . . . Air Flow Rate.

I'm gonna take another spin tomorrow and focus on data points. We'll see. I never did expect a plenum drop would yield the same or better for my Delta T values. I know it'll take a hit. You simply can't move more air faster over the same coils and get the same or better drop. Its the turnover of total cabin air I wanted to play with. Thus far, results are significant.
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