Mabru totally exceeded my expectations

brianszero

Active member
Long story short. Sold my 144 4x4 of 6 years since we semi retired and now travel with our dogs. We also upped it to a 170 4x4 since we really struggled with floor space in the 144 last year with our 2 Aussies added. My intentions were to have a 12v AC so that we could leave the dogs in the van during sunny warmer temps. (Disclaimer) we really don’t have intentions to travel and be places that are too hot to do what we like to do(rock climb, mtb, hike, hitting a town meal). We planned a trip to the PNW (SD, WY, WA, British Columbia etc) We left July 24th from KY and traveled through a heat wave and stayed in 2 harvest hosts that had power to use at night. First time I turned on the unit it really only needed a 15amp outlet. Used only like 6amp, 120ac to run the unit. Once we got to SD it was hot during the days 80’s and cool at night. We easily ran the unit off our 600 amphr lithium to climb or mtb for half a day and still had 70% battery when we returned. We continued this through SD, Wyoming (Yellowstone, Tetons, Ten Sleep). Then into BC to Whistler, Revelstoke, Lake Louise, Banff and are now in Jaspee. It’s been a unusual mid to high 80’s for these areas but this unit has really expanded our activities and stress. We also have a waggle that works great unless you are in Canada as we found out. While in Canada we went out earlier or seeked out shade and checked on the pups more often.
side notes low 80’s in full sun the unit cools the van to 74-73 no problem on medium and hardly dents the battery with 525 watts on the roof. Upper 80’s to mid to upper 90’s full sun still cools to mid 70’s and still have 70% after 4-5 hours. I have the unit mounted mid cabin. One night we ran it all night and it’s nice to have a fan blow across the airflow to push it across the bed. Finally the other cool things about it… super low profile. You can’t even tell it’s up there. Who wants to look like a rental van? Can you even hear it! Barely!! If I come back to check on the van if we grab lunch in BC( waggle doesn’t work) I have to sometimes open the door since I can’t hear it from the outside.
I will be looking into the victron cell device when we get back to see if that works in Canada but this unit has really changed the way my wife and I travel with our dogs.
I did say short story long!
 

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Airtime

Well-known member
Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for posting on your real world experience with the Mabru. It looks almost too good on paper so it's good to hear firsthand experience. I also like the Flatline rack as well, with the panels, AC and Maxxfan all tucked inside and easy awning mount. You're making me want to spend more money!
 

blutow

Well-known member
First time I turned on the unit it really only needed a 15amp outlet. Used only like 6amp, 120ac to run the unit. Once we got to SD it was hot during the days 80’s and cool at night. We easily ran the unit off our 600 amphr lithium to climb or mtb for half a day and still had 70% battery when we returned.
Is the Mabru a dual voltage unit? I thought it was just 12v DC powered? Not sure how you are saying it ran off 120v ac at 6a. Are you saying that you plugged into shore power to power a battery charger (which is turn powered your AC)?
 

Kajtek1

1922 Ford T. No OBD
Nice review.
AC use is tricky. I am carrying 3000W generator on front hitch as where we camp, we need AC overnight even in October.
Than during our trip to Alaska, the generator and AC were dead weight and the 2009 was summer of Century in Alaska with temp reaching 72F.
 

brianszero

Active member
Is the Mabru a dual voltage unit? I thought it was just 12v DC powered? Not sure how you are saying it ran off 120v ac at 6a. Are you saying that you plugged into shore power to power a battery charger (which is turn powered your AC)?
Yes. It is 12 volt but plugged into shore power it really only needs like 6.5 bolts a/c120 to be even on power. I’m just letting people know that if you only have 15 amp outlets(like a lot of tent sites) there is plenty to power your 12 volt air conditioner and extra to charge if need be. We are pretty much all self contained so we can grab cheaper sites if need be
 

Rocksnsalt

There Can Be Only ONE
Yes. It is 12 volt but plugged into shore power it really only needs like 6.5 bolts a/c120 to be even on power. I’m just letting people know that if you only have 15 amp outlets(like a lot of tent sites) there is plenty to power your 12 volt air conditioner and extra to charge if need be. We are pretty much all self contained so we can grab cheaper sites if need be
I must be missing something. I thought the Mabru runs on DC voltage, not Shore Power (AC voltage) as you are describing.

Are you actually saying you are charging your battery system through a charger (like in a Victron inverter) plugged into shore power, and that is charging your battery system, allowing you to run your Mabru for extended times?
 

blutow

Well-known member
I’m just letting people know that if you only have 15 amp outlets(like a lot of tent sites) there is plenty to power your 12 volt air conditioner and extra to charge if need be.
I think I get what you are saying, but using shore power to "cover" the DC load is a function of your charger output as much as how many amps you are getting from shore power plug. You could have a 30a 120v shore connection, but still be draining your batteries while on shore power if your charger doesn't output enough to keep up with the DC loads. It looks like that AC unit maxes out at around 750 watts (which is really good for a 12k btu unit if that number is right), shouldn't be a problem using a charger to keep up with demand. Looks like a really good unit if the specs are even in the ballpark.
 

brianszero

Active member
Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for posting on your real world experience with the Mabru. It looks almost too good on paper so it's good to hear firsthand experience. I also like the Flatline rack as well, with the panels, AC and Maxxfan all tucked inside and easy awning mount. You're making me want to spend more money!
Yea, the flatline rack is nice that everything it tucked in. No tree branches to grab and zero wind noise
 

jackk

New member
I have the same Mabru in my 144 sprinter with 600 ah of LiPo4. I have had the unit about two years. I live in Southern California so plenty of opportunities to test it out. There are some things a like about the unit and some things i do not BUT I am still trying to work out the things i don't like. I DO NOT have experience with any other Air Con unit brands either AC or DC so I am not able to do fair comparisons. BUT i can reflect on my experiences with this unit. I'm taking the time to write this because there is so little documentation on this unit out there and i found that frustrating. Very few reviews. I have delt with the company in FL directly quite a bit for reasons that ended up being my error and not their unit's error. They were very kind and helpful as possible BUT i definitely got the feeling that their support network is limited and they are not use to dealing with the more needy less technically adept retail RV user market. No tech support unless you get the main designer on the phone and he's a very busy guy. If the unit fails you are welcome to buy parts from them but you are on your own with trying to fix the unit yourself or trying to find someone to take a stab at it. And in my experience no RV repair guys in the LA area were familiar with this unit. The company is small. They have vast experience in the marine power and air conditioning business with larger systems... this is their first attempt to get into the RV retail market. I repeat... i was in contact with them a lot about an issue that i thought was about their unit but in fact it ended up being something else all together. Their unit has NOT failed me to date.

PROs: Definitely a game changer for power usage if you do a lot of multi day dispersed camping (no driving for a few days without access to shore power to top off your battery charge). DC air conditioning in general enables you to go quite a stretch without power anxiety assuming you have a sizeable battery bank.. AC aircon units just are not a viable solution for long run times without shore power or a Honda 3000 watt generator running (Honda 2000 is not enough). So in my humble opinion don't fool yourself into thinking running an AC rooftop aircon is possible beyond 3-4 hrs on batteries thru an inverter. The actual Mabru specs are fairly accurate. power draw all depends on mode and fan speed setting but roughly this is what im seeing on my vitron iphone app... Max cool at top fan speed.... about 500 watts after start up (for my 600 amp Lipo4 battery set up about 15 hrs). Eco mode at low fan speed about 75 -100 watts (over 24 hrs for my battery set up). These numbers do nor include other typical simultaneous power draws on batteries like dc refrigerator or starlink or induction stove or microwave but even with all that suffice to say this Mabru aircon unit can run a LONG time before you need to turn it off. We have 420 watts of solar rooftop so that takes the edge off as well. The unit is right over the bed. We are very seldom in areas when the evenings are hot. We are usually at high altitudes but the few times we have been in the desert its nice to have it on eco mode blowing lightly on you throughout the evening or until things cool down enough to turn it off... ZERO power use anxiety for us ...Nice!!!

Cons: If its hot and you are not in the shade this unit will not cool the entire van for us even with insulated window covers. No Way. We have a dark colored van that really heats up in the sun so if its hot out daytime the only way to stay cool is to lay in bed right under it but it can not cool the entire van. On the rare occasions we want to take a daytime nap laying under it works great tho. Id be curious to know if other brand units can cool a van in the sun down.

Installation is tricky if you want to use an existing standard 14x14 hole in your roof you cant just drop it in.... you have to separate the inside half drop the exterior half in and then reattach the inside half after shortening the hard foam exhaust duct. And even with a 14x14 hole you still have to drill a small circular power cable hole in the roof along side the 14x14 hole. If you truly want to just drop the unit in without disassembly you have to cut a bigger hole i think its 14x22 or something like that. I decided to cut a 14x14 in case i wanted to get rid of the unit in the future. They have good documentation for installing either way.

There is no in/out airflow option. The air the unit uses to cool is from the inside of the van. I think like many rooftop AirCon units you do not have the option to use this unit as a fan only to move air from the outside in or the inside out. I would kill to have this ability because with my large solar panel on the roof i do not have room to put in a maxifan or similar elsewhere. Between solar and the AIrCon there is no more room on my roof (i have a 144 a 170 there would be room for a fan forward in the kitchen area). I am not sure if other aircon units have a fan only air exchange option but boy i would love it.

In the end, I'm happy i have it on the occasions i need it. My battery set up is perfect for this air conditioner so why not. I cant say if other manufactures of DC aircon units are better or worse or the same. I would love to know if someone on here has experience with other brands. I do worry about support from Mabru if something really goes wrong. Its quite a bit less expensive than its competition so if price is an issue that's a big pro as well.

That's it. Thoughts? Questions? let me know.
 

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blutow

Well-known member
AC aircon units just are not a viable solution for long run times without shore power or a Honda 3000 watt generator running (Honda 2000 is not enough). So in my humble opinion don't fool yourself into thinking running an AC rooftop aircon is possible beyond 3-4 hrs on batteries thru an inverter.
That's a great review on the Mabru, but I think you are off base on 120v A/C units. There are plenty of folks running 120v A/C units off batteries. Sure, you lose some efficiency running through the inverter, but that's less than 10% with a quality inverter. I can easily get 2-3 nights out of my 13.5btu houghton unit without totally draining my ~1100Ah battery bank. That's in a 170 with decent insulation and setting the temp at 66F at night, we like it cool for sleeping.
If its hot and you are not in the shade this unit will not cool the entire van for us even with insulated window covers. No Way. We have a dark colored van that really heats up in the sun so if its hot out daytime the only way to stay cool is to lay in bed right under it but it can not cool the entire van. On the rare occasions we want to take a daytime nap laying under it works great tho. Id be curious to know if other brand units can cool a van in the sun down.
Max cool at top fan speed.... about 500 watts after start up
Cooling a van that's sitting in the sun is a challenge, the entire body basically turns into a heating element and there are lots of spots that are really tough to insulate. Our van is a 170, but it's stone grey (not a dark color, but not white and does get really hot). Our A/C will maintain temps in the 70's inside the van when in the sun, but the compressor runs constantly to do that. If we are going to run the A/C on a sunny day, we have better results parking in the shade. We lose the solar, but at that point the A/C can easily keep the van as cool as we want without the compressor running constantly. Our A/C is located in the center of the van, so that might make a difference also, but as long as you are able to push air around the entire van with fans, you should be able to equalize temp from front to back regardless of A/C location.

That wattage draw you are reporting is a good bit lower than the specs I've seen on it (specs say 750w max). Some of that might be that you aren't operating it in "worst case" conditions (100F+ and humid), but 500w still seems a little low for that BTU if operating on a hot day. I wonder if it's putting out a full 12k BTU at that 500w or if maybe it's throttling down for some reason. I'd think 12k BTU would be enough to keep a 144 pretty cool even in the sun, but it's really hard to speculate how much van color, insulation, etc. are in play here.

The Mabru sounds like a great option, good price for a DC unit and sounds like it's working well. My only concern would be the accuracy of the BTU rating if you are struggling to cool your 144 in the sun, but that's a tough test and maybe your van is just soaking up that much heat. Whenever I have to replace our unit (if it doesn't outlast the van), I'll definitely be considering a DC unit. Having A/C in the van is so nice and we use ours when off grid way more than I expected.
 

Rocksnsalt

There Can Be Only ONE
I have the same Mabru in my 144 sprinter with 600 ah of LiPo4. I have had the unit about two years. I live in Southern California so plenty of opportunities to test it out. There are some things a like about the unit and some things i do not BUT I am still trying to work out the things i don't like. I DO NOT have experience with any other Air Con unit brands either AC or DC so I am not able to do fair comparisons. BUT i can reflect on my experiences with this unit. I'm taking the time to write this because there is so little documentation on this unit out there and i found that frustrating. Very few reviews. I have delt with the company in FL directly quite a bit for reasons that ended up being my error and not their unit's error. They were very kind and helpful as possible BUT i definitely got the feeling that their support network is limited and they are not use to dealing with the more needy less technically adept retail RV user market. No tech support unless you get the main designer on the phone and he's a very busy guy. If the unit fails you are welcome to buy parts from them but you are on your own with trying to fix the unit yourself or trying to find someone to take a stab at it. And in my experience no RV repair guys in the LA area were familiar with this unit. The company is small. They have vast experience in the marine power and air conditioning business with larger systems... this is their first attempt to get into the RV retail market. I repeat... i was in contact with them a lot about an issue that i thought was about their unit but in fact it ended up being something else all together. Their unit has NOT failed me to date.

PROs: Definitely a game changer for power usage if you do a lot of multi day dispersed camping (no driving for a few days without access to shore power to top off your battery charge). DC air conditioning in general enables you to go quite a stretch without power anxiety assuming you have a sizeable battery bank.. AC aircon units just are not a viable solution for long run times without shore power or a Honda 3000 watt generator running (Honda 2000 is not enough). So in my humble opinion don't fool yourself into thinking running an AC rooftop aircon is possible beyond 3-4 hrs on batteries thru an inverter. The actual Mabru specs are fairly accurate. power draw all depends on mode and fan speed setting but roughly this is what im seeing on my vitron iphone app... Max cool at top fan speed.... about 500 watts after start up (for my 600 amp Lipo4 battery set up about 15 hrs). Eco mode at low fan speed about 75 -100 watts (over 24 hrs for my battery set up). These numbers do nor include other typical simultaneous power draws on batteries like dc refrigerator or starlink or induction stove or microwave but even with all that suffice to say this Mabru aircon unit can run a LONG time before you need to turn it off. We have 420 watts of solar rooftop so that takes the edge off as well. The unit is right over the bed. We are very seldom in areas when the evenings are hot. We are usually at high altitudes but the few times we have been in the desert its nice to have it on eco mode blowing lightly on you throughout the evening or until things cool down enough to turn it off... ZERO power use anxiety for us ...Nice!!!

Cons: If its hot and you are not in the shade this unit will not cool the entire van for us even with insulated window covers. No Way. We have a dark colored van that really heats up in the sun so if its hot out daytime the only way to stay cool is to lay in bed right under it but it can not cool the entire van. On the rare occasions we want to take a daytime nap laying under it works great tho. Id be curious to know if other brand units can cool a van in the sun down.

Installation is tricky if you want to use an existing standard 14x14 hole in your roof you cant just drop it in.... you have to separate the inside half drop the exterior half in and then reattach the inside half after shortening the hard foam exhaust duct. And even with a 14x14 hole you still have to drill a small circular power cable hole in the roof along side the 14x14 hole. If you truly want to just drop the unit in without disassembly you have to cut a bigger hole i think its 14x22 or something like that. I decided to cut a 14x14 in case i wanted to get rid of the unit in the future. They have good documentation for installing either way.

There is no in/out airflow option. The air the unit uses to cool is from the inside of the van. I think like many rooftop AirCon units you do not have the option to use this unit as a fan only to move air from the outside in or the inside out. I would kill to have this ability because with my large solar panel on the roof i do not have room to put in a maxifan or similar elsewhere. Between solar and the AIrCon there is no more room on my roof (i have a 144 a 170 there would be room for a fan forward in the kitchen area). I am not sure if other aircon units have a fan only air exchange option but boy i would love it.

In the end, I'm happy i have it on the occasions i need it. My battery set up is perfect for this air conditioner so why not. I cant say if other manufactures of DC aircon units are better or worse or the same. I would love to know if someone on here has experience with other brands. I do worry about support from Mabru if something really goes wrong. Its quite a bit less expensive than its competition so if price is an issue that's a big pro as well.

That's it. Thoughts? Questions? let me know.
Thanks for that info!
Is your van factory color blue-gray?
 

jackk

New member
That's a great review on the Mabru, but I think you are off base on 120v A/C units. There are plenty of folks running 120v A/C units off batteries. Sure, you lose some efficiency running through the inverter, but that's less than 10% with a quality inverter. I can easily get 2-3 nights out of my 13.5btu houghton unit without totally draining my ~1100Ah battery bank. That's in a 170 with decent insulation and setting the temp at 66F at night, we like it cool for sleeping.


Cooling a van that's sitting in the sun is a challenge, the entire body basically turns into a heating element and there are lots of spots that are really tough to insulate. Our van is a 170, but it's stone grey (not a dark color, but not white and does get really hot). Our A/C will maintain temps in the 70's inside the van when in the sun, but the compressor runs constantly to do that. If we are going to run the A/C on a sunny day, we have better results parking in the shade. We lose the solar, but at that point the A/C can easily keep the van as cool as we want without the compressor running constantly. Our A/C is located in the center of the van, so that might make a difference also, but as long as you are able to push air around the entire van with fans, you should be able to equalize temp from front to back regardless of A/C location.

That wattage draw you are reporting is a good bit lower than the specs I've seen on it (specs say 750w max). Some of that might be that you aren't operating it in "worst case" conditions (100F+ and humid), but 500w still seems a little low for that BTU if operating on a hot day. I wonder if it's putting out a full 12k BTU at that 500w or if maybe it's throttling down for some reason. I'd think 12k BTU would be enough to keep a 144 pretty cool even in the sun, but it's really hard to speculate how much van color, insulation, etc. are in play here.

The Mabru sounds like a great option, good price for a DC unit and sounds like it's working well. My only concern would be the accuracy of the BTU rating if you are struggling to cool your 144 in the sun, but that's a tough test and maybe your van is just soaking up that much heat. Whenever I have to replace our unit (if it doesn't outlast the van), I'll definitely be considering a DC unit. Having A/C in the van is so nice and we use ours when off grid way more than I expected.
Thanks for your reply. Wow… 1100 amp hrs. Are those lipo4 ? That’s a lot of battery!!! I supposed if you have enough battery anything is possible. How many watts does your
 

jackk

New member
Thanks for your reply. Wow… 1100 amp hrs. Are those lipo4 ? That’s a lot of battery!!! I supposed if you have enough battery anything is possible. How many watts does your
That's a great review on the Mabru, but I think you are off base on 120v A/C units. There are plenty of folks running 120v A/C units off batteries. Sure, you lose some efficiency running through the inverter, but that's less than 10% with a quality inverter. I can easily get 2-3 nights out of my 13.5btu houghton unit without totally draining my ~1100Ah battery bank. That's in a 170 with decent insulation and setting the temp at 66F at night, we like it cool for sleeping.


Cooling a van that's sitting in the sun is a challenge, the entire body basically turns into a heating element and there are lots of spots that are really tough to insulate. Our van is a 170, but it's stone grey (not a dark color, but not white and does get really hot). Our A/C will maintain temps in the 70's inside the van when in the sun, but the compressor runs constantly to do that. If we are going to run the A/C on a sunny day, we have better results parking in the shade. We lose the solar, but at that point the A/C can easily keep the van as cool as we want without the compressor running constantly. Our A/C is located in the center of the van, so that might make a difference also, but as long as you are able to push air around the entire van with fans, you should be able to equalize temp from front to back regardless of A/C location.

That wattage draw you are reporting is a good bit lower than the specs I've seen on it (specs say 750w max). Some of that might be that you aren't operating it in "worst case" conditions (100F+ and humid), but 500w still seems a little low for that BTU if operating on a hot day. I wonder if it's putting out a full 12k BTU at that 500w or if maybe it's throttling down for some reason. I'd think 12k BTU would be enough to keep a 144 pretty cool even in the sun, but it's really hard to speculate how much van color, insulation, etc. are in play here.

The Mabru sounds like a great option, good price for a DC unit and sounds like it's working well. My only concern would be the accuracy of the BTU rating if you are struggling to cool your 144 in the sun, but that's a tough test and maybe your van is just soaking up that much heat. Whenever I have to replace our unit (if it doesn't outlast the van), I'll definitely be considering a DC unit. Having A/C in the van is so nice and we use ours when off grid way more than I expected.
Sorry I got cut off. How many watts does your ac aircon require on start up? Do you have a soft starter ? What is your inverter rating?
 

Rocksnsalt

There Can Be Only ONE
Sorry I got cut off.

Just an fyi There is an edit feature at lower left of posts you make so if one gets away from you, edit / add on/ finish it is possible. Not sure how long the edit is available but I think it’s overnight.
 

blutow

Well-known member
Sorry I got cut off. How many watts does your ac aircon require on start up? Do you have a soft starter ? What is your inverter rating?
I don't know what the startup amps are (can't really capture those with my monitoring or with my multimeter), but that's just a brief surge that a quality inverter should have no problem with. My victron 12/3000 has no problem starting it, even when other significant loads are running. I think the victron is rated for surges up to ~6000w. It can also be started and runs easily off a honda 2200 generator. No soft start added.
 

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