Check out this energy efficient 12-volt air conditioner that is perfect for a camper van. It installs onto your van’s roof just like traditional RV air conditioners but is vastly more energy efficient. Most rooftop air conditioners require 120 volt AC power to operate. Normally this is provided by shore power or a generator. In some cases you can run a standard unit from an inverter but inverters often struggle “starting” the compressor. In contrast, this Mabru unit runs directly from your 12 volt DC battery bank.
Mabru RV air conditioners are extremely energy efficient – even when compared to other 12 volt rooftop units. If you take a look at our comparison spreadsheet, you’ll see that the Mabru uses about the same amount of power as the Dometic 2000 RTX while producing nearly twice the cooling capacity! The reason is that Alain Mabru has leveraged his decades of marine cooling experience to engineer an innovative “inverter” system for the compressor. This design provides substantial improvements in energy efficiency, quieter operation and longer longevity than traditional compressors.
So, while Mabru is relatively new to the RV/van market, they are well known and respected in the marine world and have been in business for 38 years providing products for high end private yachts and military vessels.
Both of the owners of Vanlife Outfitters have the Mabru AC on their personal vans. But don’t just take “our” word for it. As we update this product page in September of 2023, there have been hundreds of happy customers and you can check out some of the following forum posts where people are discussing the Mabru unit. There are, of course, many others but these threads can get very long and these are “relatively” short.
We highly recommend using lithium deep cycle batteries with this unit.
Not sure which unit is best for your rig? Check out our comparison spreadsheet to see many of the most important data points across the various units at a glance. We'll be continually adding to this reference over time and expanding it with as much "real world" testing as we can!
Cooling Capacity: 12,000 BTU
Quiet operation: rated at 33 dBa. Our tests with a phone sound meter show anywhere between 45 and 55 dBa with the phone at waist height in one hand and the other hand touching the unit. You can see a video of this test here.
|Power Consumption – Amps at 12 Volt DC|
|Mode||Fan Low||Fan Medium||Fan High|
Weight: AC unit itself without brackets/packaging, etc. is 59 lbs. Net weight in box is approximately 76 lbs.
Rooftop unit: 33.8 ” long x 38.2″ wide x 6.5″ tall
Interior unit with vents and controls: 18.1″ wide x 11.4″ long x 2.8″ tall
Optional outer trim panel (with integrated LED lights): 36.9″ wide x 21.5″ long.
Roof hole/cut out size: 14.62″ long x 20.125″ wide, plus 4x drilled holes for the mounting bolts. The unit ships with a roof cutting template (example photo).
You’ll also need a roof penetration for the wiring that is adjacent to the rooftop unit itself. We recommend using something like this solar entry gland for running the wires through the roof to the location where you’ll connect them to the unit’s 12 volt DC supply from your electrical system. If you use the solar entry gland that you’ll need to remove the grey connectors on the wiring harness that comes out of the unit itself and the extra length of harness that is included in the box because the entry gland is designed to have an opening (gland) for both the DC positive (red wire) and DC negative (black wire) to pass through rather than one, much larger connection. You can use these “splice kits” to connect the wires if you do remove the grey connectors. Regardless of how you route the wires through your roof, we recommend making trying to make this connection accessible for any future maintenance or repairs.
The unit can also be installed into a “standard” 14″ x 14″ roof opening. This requires some basic disassembly and reassembly. Please see the manual (link below) for details.
Note: since 2022, the temperature units are shown Farenheit
How Are These Units So Much More Efficient Than The Competition?
(Warning: Nerdy Technical Jargon Below! However, if you geek out on amps, BTUs and decibels please do proceed…
Inverter technology on the Mabru high efficiency systems works on a similar principal as the blowers on the units. When a lot of cooling is needed, you want the most cooling out of the system so the compressor is running at full speed. As you get closer to your set temp, the unit will automatically ramp itself back. We have had variable speed blowers for as long as I can remember and we now have the ability to do the same thing with compressors. It is obviously not as simple as just reducing the voltage to the compressor as is done to slow down fans typically but that is the simple way to explain it.
What are the benefits of inverter technology?
1.) These compressors do not use capacitors and are not on/off which allows us to start them slowly, eliminating the wasteful compressor start up amps.
2.) The compressors are generally not running at full power all of the time so compressor are not being worked as hard and last longer.
3.) As the compressor is slowing down based on demand, the compressor in many cases will not cycle off but rather draw a consistent low amperage. Since the compressor is always running, it does a much better job of keeping the desired temperature without variances in temperature. This also helps with reducing humidity because the evaporator is always cold and removing the moisture from the air. When a standard unit cycles, the evaporator will warm up and will stop drying the air that is passing through it.
Mabru AC on a black Promaster van with the factory, white cover/shroud.
Mabru AC on a black Promaster van with the cover/shroud spray-painted black.
The photo above shows the Mabru unit installed into our customer van (@iondesignvan) with a beautiful custom interior panel to match their van ceiling!
The photo above shows the Mabru unit installed into another customer van with a beautiful ceiling trim/treatment.
The photo above shows another creative customer, professional van builder, Boujee Builds who crafted their own Mabru interior panel.
- Mabru 12,000 BTU rooftop AC with approximately 11′ wiring harness connected to the unit.
- Additional 11′ wiring harness with integrated 80 amp fuse and ring terminals (6 AWG wire).
- Optional, outer trim panel with LED lights. If you choose to make your own trim around the vents/controls it must also serve as the return air inlet and must provide adequate air flow. Here is an example photo with air flow between the ceiling boards.
- Foam gasket (1-1/4″ wide) (green outline).
- Mounting brackets (yellow outline).
- Mounting bracket extensions (blue outline).
- LED light wiring (light blue outline).
- Wire ties, mounting hardware, etc. (purple outline).
- Remote control (white outline).
- Plastic angle brackets – not used (red outline).
- Rubber spacers – not used (pink outline).
- Optional 1/2″ condensation hose (yellow outline).
- Roof cutting template (not shown). Example PDF.
Remote Control Functions
Note that a newer version of the remote control was introduced in July 2022. The illustration above shows this new version.