ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 Review for Van Life: One Year Pros and Cons

ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 Review for Van Life: One Year Pros and Cons
"We've been on the road for two years without an air conditioner, so we know firsthand what a difference that could make!" shared a van user who decided to try the ZERO BREEZE Mark 2. This sentiment resonates with many van dwellers who understand how hot and unbearable van life can be during the summer. The debate over the best cooling device has been ongoing for a long time, and since the Mark 2 entered the market, it has been making waves. Is it good for van life? Don’t just take our word for it—hear directly from those who have experienced its benefits firsthand.
Before diving into this review, note that the insights are based on the experience of one of our users. He bought the Mark 2 Plus in 2021 and shared his thoughts online after a year of use. We've added some technical explanations to better elaborate on his points. 

User Experience with ZERO BREEZE Mark 2

I've been using the Mark 2 air conditioner in my VW T4 van for a year, and overall, I’m very pleased with it. It meets my need for a portable AC, and I've made some DIY modifications and added insulation to fit it better and achieve better cooling results in my van. If you live or camp in a van like I do and want a good night's sleep, I recommend trying it out.
Mark 2 portable ac in a van by @snpkbag

Pros

Low power consumption & high efficiency

The best thing, from my point of view, is the low power consumption and high efficiency. The Mark 2 consumes only 240 watts, making it the most energy-efficient portable air conditioners on the market. This is ideal for van power systems, as it reduces the strain on your power supply.
The key to its low power consumption and high efficiency is the inverter compressor. Unlike traditional compressors that operate at a constant speed, inverter compressors adjust their speed based on cooling demand. This means the compressor doesn't have to run at full capacity all the time, leading to significant energy savings. Inverter compressors can modulate their output to maintain a consistent temperature, reducing the need for frequent on-off cycles. This not only saves energy but also enhances comfort by providing a more stable cooling environment.

No installation & Real portability

The second advantage is real portability, which is often overlooked when comparing the Mark 2 with roof or window AC units. While those types of ACs may perform better in hotter or larger environments, they require installation and must be mounted in your van. This demands a good understanding of how to install them or the need to hire someone for the job. Therefore, it involves additional installation fees that are often not considered when purchasing the AC. Furthermore, these units require ongoing maintenance and have high power consumption.
For those living off-grid, it's crucial to utilize every bit of energy efficiently. I appreciate that I can take the Mark 2 anywhere I need to cool down, whether it's in my car, tent, or out in nature. Its portability allows for versatile use without the hassle and extra costs associated with traditional AC units. Just like their ads say, "cool on the go." This feature is ideal for an outdoor AC, as we often move to different places.
Mark 2 AC by @snpkbag

Cool Enough for a Sound and Private Night's Sleep

After using the Mark 2 for a year, I can confidently say it provides a great sleeping experience outdoors. It keeps my sleeping area cool without the loud noise typical of larger cooling devices. Being able to close the doors and windows of my van without feeling hot helps block out outside disturbances. An enclosed van with this AC ensures a cool, quiet, and private sleeping environment.
Finding a good portable AC for our van was a challenging and stressful process. We tried many options, prioritizing what mattered most to us. The true cost isn't just the $1000 price tag; it's the time, energy, and frustration of trying the wrong products. With the Mark 2, we've finally found a reliable solution that meets our needs.

Cons

OK, after all the good things I’ve talked about, I will now share some of the downsides so you know what to expect before buying it.

The "Not Enough" Cooling Effect

This is the most discussed issue with the Mark 2. Yes, it's true—2300 BTU might not be enough in some situations. You need to be clear about where, when, and how you plan to use it. If you're thinking of using it to cool your van in the mid-afternoon when the sun is brutally heating up your van, please reconsider. A van under the sun is often hotter than being outside because the air inside doesn't flow well. In my area, temperatures often reach 89-96°F, and it can get even worse inside the van. So, I don't expect to take a nap inside my van with the AC running in the mid-afternoon. Instead, I'll find something else to do or drive around using the car AC. Using the Mark 2 as a spot cooler during the day is a more realistic approach.
My tip for using the Mark 2 is to insulate your van better. It's quite simple, and you can find many cheap and easy ways to do it. Even if you don't use the Mark 2, insulating your van will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. A good example is that a tiny house with the same size as a van will be cooler and warmer in the same circumstances because of better insulation.

The Drainage and My Solution

Apart from the "not enough cooling" issue, the other cons seem less significant when choosing an AC for outdoor use. One thing I found out about the Mark 2 is that the drainage design isn't great. You need to tilt the front a bit higher for smoother drainage. In some cases, the drainage might flow to one side and get your van wet. I used two rubber pads to elevate the front slightly. It would have been better if they optimized this in the design phase.

The Slow Recharge of Battery

The battery recharging often takes around 7 hours, and it slows down gradually as it nears full capacity. This isn't very convenient, but it’s understandable since this design helps extend the battery’s lifespan. The slower current towards the end protects the battery from damage and ensures it lasts longer.

No Temperature Control

The Mark 2 doesn't have a temperature control setting, which some people see as a drawback. However, it doesn’t bother me at all. It only has cool, rocket, sleep, and fan modes without a specific temperature setting. In my opinion, this is actually a clever design. Given its limited cooling capacity, setting a specific target temperature wouldn’t be realistic as it can’t reach it. Instead, the temperature control is built into the unit itself. It has a temperature switch in the front inlet. For example, when you set it to sleep mode at night, it slows down the compressor if it detects the temperature is around 68°F or lower, saving energy. When the temperature rises, it automatically speeds up the compressor to cool things down. So, for me, this isn’t a bad thing at all.

The Hidden Use of the AC: Heating

Though the brand states that the AC is not designed for heating, I have used it several times in winter when camping in places where the temperature is around 50°F. On average, it helped to increase the van temperature by 9 to 14.4°F. This is actually an added bonus to its cooling purpose. The brand likely doesn’t recommend using it for heating because it won’t provide much warmth in temperatures below 32°F, and in extreme cold, the AC might freeze up.

Conclusion

To sum up my experience, I am very satisfied with the Mark 2. Not just me, but some of my camping buddies also bought the Mark 2, and they all feel good about it. One common issue we face in the summer is that it’s not only hot but very humid. Even on cooler days when the weather forecast says the temperature is bearable at around 82°F, we still feel hot, sticky, and uncomfortable due to the humidity.
Mark 2 AC for dehumidifying
Trust me, you will feel a lot better and more comfortable using the Mark 2, even if you just use it as a dehumidifier. Evaporative coolers can’t help in humid conditions or areas. Plus, it saves a lot of power. For my use, I enclose my sleeping area and ensure good insulation in my van so that the Mark 2 can efficiently cool the sleeping area at night. Spending limited resources on things that matter most is something outdoor living has taught me.
ZERO BREEZE 2024 summer sale
Looking to experience the benefits of the ZERO BREEZE Mark 2? Check out our "Van Life Cooling Collection" with the best discounts ever! Visit our summer sale page now to learn more and save big! 
Review sourced from [@t4vanlife]

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