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Old 19-06-2019, 07:26   #1
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Deck mounted AC unit

I expected this to be bad but not this bad. I thought my normally low key bride was going to kill me the morning after our first night onboard our (new to us) schooner. I KNEW there was a reason very few boats down on our hot/humid gulf coast are dark hulls, however I emotionally fell for this boat like I have no other and bought the "So dark green hull it looks black" beauty on the northern Chesapeake and had her shipped to Pensacola, FL. It wasn't as hot last weekend as it's going to get for most of the next two months either.

I had a Cruisair unit for years with a Catalina 25 that although cumbersome and heavy, would freeze you out of the cabin at full power. I started looking online and quickly learned they were bought out and the company now makes a Durasea 15,000 unit that looks like it would work but good lord..... $2,200 plus shipping and that doesn't even include the air flow diverter?

My question is this. I see all kinds of similarly shaped and same BTU unit's made for RV's that costs between $650 and $1,000. What is the big difference? Is this yet another example of companies placing crazy markups on Marine items because they can, or is it "the construction of the Durasea has components meant to stand up to a harsh salty marine environment? Even if that's the case I could go through 3 of these for the price of one Durasea. I suspect I'm missing something obvious that one of you kind "been there done that mariners" will point out, so thanks in advance for helping save me and my marriage.

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Old 19-06-2019, 08:16   #2
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Deck mounted AC unit

You will see many RV ACís on work boats. They work well. Just may not be as pretty and most of us install a ďMarineĒ AC that except for the water discharge is completely hidden.

Iíve installed an RV AC in an RV, they are made to fit the standard vent of an RV and have an inside piece that more than covers that hole. I donít know what that size is though, but your going to have to remove a hatch that is at least as big as that size to install.

On the RV, the install was dead simple, my RV even had an electrical outlet beside of the vent to plug into.

I wouldnít install one on my boat though, water drains on the deck constantly and of course you lose that vent, and they arenít the prettiest things to look at.

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Old 19-06-2019, 08:48   #3
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

i use a window unit placed into a frame specially made for my ac and use it year round where i am.. much of winter it serves as a dehumidifier and ventilation device and when hot, air cond... 5000 btu works well in this heat. i have 2 and change em out every 6 months for cleaning and recharging if needed.
on 120 f days i wish it were a 1 ton, but it still does the job well for my formosa 41.
friends and neighbors place theirs in overhead hatch with a frame for the machine. some in smaller boats use companionway an step over it.
ps my window unit with remote cost 200 usd.
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Old 19-06-2019, 10:17   #4
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

Tat, does the boat already have ducting installed? Was there an AC that failed? Or has it never been air-conned?

There's maybe more to the pricing you're seeing; marine reverse cycle ACs need raw water... which means a sea water pump... and then an inlet thru-hull (with sea strainer)... discharge thru-hull... and condensate management (often another thru-hull, or routing to a sump... or (gak!) routing to the bilge. So all that adds up...

But OTOH, I've read many (most?) of the mini-split RV-like systems aren't intended to stand up to a saltwater environment... and you've got some of that down there!

FWIW, we just this week replaced one of our original 16K BTU Marine Airrr Vector Compact ACs with a new Dometic Turbo 16K model... both with reverse cycle heating... and the total came to about $3100 including installation. But then we already had all the plumbing and ducting in place, water pump, etc. OTOH, it's a big improvement so far in air flow and cooling, and I don't think I'd begrudge myself that if we were living back down in FL again. In fact, even up here, summers are as hot and humid as FL summers were when we were there...

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Old 19-06-2019, 10:38   #5
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

There was a Cruisair on my 45 footer when I bought it nine years ago. It cooled the saloon, but we had to have fans directing the air to other cabins, which of course diluted the cool air in the saloon. I soon sold it and installed a proper marine water cooled reverse cycle unit. These are much more efficient than the RV hatch type coolers and donít take up space on deck. But then, they do cost a lot more than portable things and there is the associated cost of installation. An article about this can be read at Fitting air conditioning in the boat
Iíve just changed out that original marine unit, so if Tatheelrod22 cares to give me a PM we might be able to strike a cheap deal.
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Old 19-06-2019, 10:57   #6
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

Yep, marine AC units are expensive to buy and expensive to install....but worth every penny. My first boat had a deck mount CruiseAire that did a decent job and my 4 boats since had fully installed marine units. I'll never go back.
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Old 19-06-2019, 18:12   #7
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

It never had AC. What I had considered was the Dometic Durasea portable model. Not shocked to hear that RV intended units donít hold up to saltwater, however at best for the next two years we will be aboard every other weekend. Iím going to go to an RV store in the next few days, learn a bit more, take some measurements, and then make a decision. I will likely eventually have a permanent system installed however although a 40 ft schooner the beam is only 9.5 ft.much less cubic feet to cool than with most 40 footers, but less volume below also means less storage space which means losing a high percentage of storage space to installation. Another of the million plus examples of everything with boats being a trade off.

I thank all of you for your input
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Old 19-06-2019, 18:25   #8
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

If you can see where to put one a window unit will be the most economical and quickest to get running.

We place our 8000btu unit in the main companionway and it leaves 6" beside it for us to use getting in and out (you sort of step over it).

Many other people put them on the cabin top shooting in through an open hatch however you will have to build a cover around it keeping the back side open for exhaust and somehow use ducting or something to keep the warm inside air entering the air conditioner from the cool air coming out. If they mix the air conditioner thinks it is cold enough and shut off.

This can be running almost as soon as you get it home from the store using cardboard for the cover, etc until you build something.

If you can fit a 12000btu, do it.

Watch the ac voltage requirement, 110 or 220.

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Old 19-06-2019, 18:25   #9
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

Buy a cheap Haier window unit at Lowes or HD, fabricate a hatch box to hold it. You just need to make sure the condensate hits the cabin top or deck. Plan on buying a new one every five years. Cheaper than marine rated hatch top units. Or do it right and buy a REAL marine AC with water cooled pump
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Old 19-06-2019, 18:41   #10
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Re: Deck mounted AC unit

Thanks again folks. You are awesome. The window unit is a great idea and Iíll bet I can find one to fit. Drainage onto the deck from this ďsecond companionway ď would be fine, and I canít see us using it to come and go below anyway. If Iíve managed to do this right hereís a pic of where Id put it.
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