When I first opened Cool Bus Houston and I was in the process of setting the bus up with A/C, I went to a number of companies to get quotes and find out the best way to cool down the bus. Quotes ranged as little as $2000 and as much as $12,000 and the options were either a roof top unit powered externally or A/C that would be installed inside the bus and run power through the bus engine. I wound up installing a roof top unit similar to what you would see on a RV. I went to Camping World to get it installed and with their recommendation, I thought I was set.
As the months went on, I quickly realized that the A/C unit that I had just wasn’t doing the job. Sure it would cool down the bus to an extent. It would only run for a few hours before the external generators that were mounted on the rear of the bus to power the unit ran out of gas. It was a whole process trying to remove the generators from the compartment and to fill them up and then put them back in place.
Needless to say, I was frustrated with everything that went in to running the A/C. Luckily the weather was on my side for the first half of the year so A/C wasn’t necessary, but I knew a change had to be made.
After doing some more research, I finally came across Bus Air Manufacturing out of the DFW area. They had been around since 1992 installing A/C in school buses, fire and emergency vehicles, utility and parcel trucks and off road heavy trucks. They say “If it has wheels, we can create a climate control system for it.”
I finally got a quote and a timeline for installation. The only issue was that I was going to have to find a way to get the bus from Houston to Rhome, TX (just north of Fort Worth) where their shop was located. Sure I could drive it, but that would’ve taken around 6-7 hours due to the fact that the bus doesn’t go over 60 mph. I was able to hire a trucking company to transport the bus to the facility and save me a lot of time.
After about a week, the bus finally made it back to Houston with the new A/C installed! As soon as I could, I got inside the bus and cranked it up and it was awesome! It cooled the bus down in under a minute!
The next few parties on the Cool Bus were during July & August, some of the hottest months in Houston, TX. I could not have been happier that I was able to install the new A/C because all of my customers loved it!
One thing I’ve learned while running this business is that nothing is going to come easy – especially when it comes to matters of bus mechanics.
With adding such a large electrical load to the engine, it was just a matter of time before issues popped up. The installer at Bus Air said that I might want to take a look at my alternator as he thought it might not be big enough to power the A/C plus all the other items I had on the bus.
Well it turns out he was right. The more rides I did, I could tell there were issues with the power as there were times where the subwoofers would cut out or the LED lights inside weren’t working. I knew I had to get this fixed to make sure the bus was fully operational to give my customers the full Cool Bus Houston experience.
I took the bus in to Finch Alternator & Starter Rebuilder to search for a solution. With their recommendation, I wound up installing a 200 amp alternator that was bigger than the 140 amp alternator that was originally installed.
On my next ride, with A/C at full blast and music and lights fully operational, the larger alternator held up and did the trick!