I'm been thinking about the possibility of saving some money on the off-the-shelf electric air conditioning compressors by getting a used electric compressor from a Prius or other hybrid that uses them. Ignoring the problem of actually driving the compressor, what are your thoughts on the mechanical/gas side of such an approach?
I'm using this article as a reference for my discussion.
The Prius uses R134a refrigerant, just like (nearly) every other car on the road these days. It does, however, use a special high-resistivity compressor oil. This oil would have to be used in the conversion as well. I doubt that will be a problem, assuming the existing system is well flushed.
My main question is regarding the compatibility of a Prius compressor, designed to work with the somewhat unique Prius aircon system (with ejectors and whatnot), with an older-style aircon with a simple expansion valve. Assuming the correct hoses and lines were fabricated to install the compressor, would it be capable of doing its job in an older-style system?
Unfortunately, the regulations in Australia around the handling of refrigerant make it prohibitively expensive to experiment with such ideas. In the US, you can buy cans of refrigerant from the local auto-parts store for a couple bucks and recharge your system yourself without any special tools (and if you need a manifold guage set, run down to Harbor Freight Tools and grab one for $40). That was the case when I lived there at least.
Technical discussion on converting internal combustion to electric
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