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Old 28-02-2014, 07:20   #16
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Re: Do I need AC?

It comes down to an equation of cost vs. convenience. If you install marine AC in your boat the hardware is going to cost you around $2,500 just to start, and then there is the install, which is not trivial. You need to find a place for the unit (probably the bottom shelf of a locker if you have one big enough, install through hulls for the water intake and outflow, run separate electric and install a dedicated shore power fixture, and run all the plumbing and ducting. At a minimum that's 24 hours of work at most yards and so in your area that's another $2,000+ in labor if you don't do it yourself. So you'll be looking at $4,500 as the price of admission of the simplest of installs.

As everyone has stated, buy a window unit and build your own mounting over the largest central hatch on the boat. Build (canvas or wood) a "hood" that covers the hatch and the back of the window unit. Run a drain hose to the nearest scupper or you'll end up with mildew on your boat where it runs off the cabin. You're looking at a couple of hundred dollars this way.

The convenience factor is that when you want to take the boat out, you need to drag the AC unit off the boat.

And yes, you DO need it here on the Chesapeake, if you're in a slip. As mentioned an awning or tarps that cover the deck will make a huge difference, or at the very least covering hatches to keep the sun out. When you're on the boat during the heat of the day, spraying down the decks and cabin will also help, if it's not covered. You can try a summer without it, but I would only do that if you know someone with a Cruiseair hatch-top unit you can borrow on short notice, and you will borrow it when the temps are in the upper 90's (which they will be) and the inside of your boat is 110+ degrees.

Make sure you plug any unit you use directly into another shore power outlet. Don't plug it into the AC outlets in your boat unless you want to set it on fire.
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Old 28-02-2014, 07:52   #17
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Re: Do I need AC?

What Suijin says is good advice. I bought my boat near Annapolis during the 100+ degree two week heat wave two years ago. It was brutal, and being highly motivated I spent five days inspecting the boat and another week cleaning it without AC, as the 16K BTU onboard unit was installed but not completely hooked up yet.

In some areas of the Chesapeake the insects are much worse than where I live in the Outer Banks. When there is no wind for ventilation the insects can be unbearable.

I still haven't bothered to complete the AC install, which would amount to maybe six hours of work (an above the waterline drain hole and the vents, simple really.) Most of the time I don't need AC, if the weather is nice while on the hook there is enough ventilation and a good swim does the trick during the day. If it's really hot I stay in the slip and hook up a $100 wall unit at night in the companionway- it fits perfectly with one board removed and a few life preservers underneath, any closer and I think the noise and very cold air output would be bothersome.

As far as a permanent install, if your boat doesn't have a central enclosed head and shower area there probably isn't enough room. Mine is behind the sink and uses a space that would otherwise be essentially wasted. Below is a picture of the install from my initial survey pictures.
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Old 28-02-2014, 07:57   #18
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Re: Do I need AC?

Only you can answer as to whether you need an AC because it's a very personal situation. I can say as someone who has lived their entire life in AC houses and worked in AC offices and driven AC cars, I definitely do. During the day, I could probably do without it much of the time if I had to, although would be uncomfortable much of the time. But I could not sleep comfortably at night without it. And it's not just the warmth but the dampness of the sheets and the general environment. If my boat didn't have AC then I would feel like it was much less comfortable than home and find it less enjoyable. But that's just one person and just the way I am.
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Old 28-02-2014, 08:04   #19
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Re: Do I need AC?

I've lived all over the east coast of the US, and in fact Florida (where I live now) is cooler in the summer than most of the places I have lived, the main difference is that there are no cool days and warm days, just 91F every day. Nonetheless, I can tell you that I have spent way too many nights at protected anchorages, lying awake in a pool of sweat. It makes the experience miserable. In my opinion, A/C is well worth having, assuming that you have room and money for it. Unless you like lying in a pool of sweat. pete
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Old 28-02-2014, 10:00   #20
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Re: Do I need AC?

I like the efficiency of marine units that exchange heat with water. These units are below deck and, if they are supplied by a large filter basket or "sea chest" they require little maintenance. The units that sit on top of a hatch are common on recreational vehicles, but not known as "marine" air conditioners by most.

Window units that are placed in companionways do well, but they are often in the way and unsightly. I had a former boat with a window unit that I placed at the aft end of a quarter berth that exhausted the hot air into my lazarette. When I used the unit I would raise my cover over my lazarette where I had installed a window fan that blew the hot air out. This worked well for me and never needed moving to go for a sail.

For us, living aboard in the South and off to work weekdays, we needed AC!
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Old 28-02-2014, 10:56   #21
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Do I need AC?

Thanks for all the replies. I think I am going to go window mounted my first summer (probably 5000 btu) and keep the v-berth door closed.

I was in Iraq for 18 months with no AC, but needless to say it wasn't the most comfortable.

I do like the idea of getting a sun shade tarp and will be doing that. I can't decide between the window unit being in the companionway or the hatch. I thinks the companionway would be easier, however understand the inconvenience of leaving the cabin, which may be ok if I just use the AC while sleeping.

I do have a Bimini and dodger so that will help greatly. One question I did have was for the guy that said plug it directly into a shore power outlet and not a 110 on the boat, how do I go about doing that? I am pretty sure my 110 outlets are directly connected to my shore power, as they only work when plugged into shore power.

I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

-Aaron

Also is it possible to just store the unit in the quarter berth or the V-berth while underway?
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Old 28-02-2014, 11:27   #22
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Re: Do I need AC?

I suspect your statement that most cruisers live on the hook and do without is false.

I'm betting it's closer to a 50/50 split.

We spent a summer in the carolinas. Cruising is supposed to be fun not a survival experiment.
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Old 28-02-2014, 11:40   #23
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Re: Do I need AC?

In Virginia I'd definitely want some sort of AC to live aboard at a marina. Coastal mid-Atlantic summers are oppressive!

In the '80s, I lived aboard for 9 years here in Annapolis on my 45' center-cockpit walk-thru cutter. Couldn't afford a good marine AC system, so I lived with a window unit in the aft companionway. With a small fan in the walk-thru it cooled the whole boat reasonably well and wasn't too much in the way.

Could not have survived without AC in the sleeping cabin!
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Old 28-02-2014, 11:53   #24
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Re: Do I need AC?

As far as electrical hookup, my permanent unit will require a separate 30 amp service.

Get the tiniest window unit you can find, probably 4000 BTU and it will operate off a 15 amp breaker from shore power, mine does. Keep in mind if you look at the amps required on the unit's ratings, say 8 amps, that doesn't mean you can run it easily off an inverter with your batteries at anchor. That will be 8 amps times 10 to convert AC to DC or 80 amps per hour, a big load on the batteries and obviously a potential fire hazard. Thus, most people on the hook are running a generator. Those little Honda 2000 generators are pretty quiet, but are still not going to make you popular in the anchorage.
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Old 28-02-2014, 12:20   #25
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Re: Do I need AC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirBoyzT View Post
Thanks for all the replies. I think I am going to go window mounted my first summer (probably 5000 btu) and keep the v-berth door closed.

I was in Iraq for 18 months with no AC, but needless to say it wasn't the most comfortable.

I do like the idea of getting a sun shade tarp and will be doing that. I can't decide between the window unit being in the companionway or the hatch. I thinks the companionway would be easier, however understand the inconvenience of leaving the cabin, which may be ok if I just use the AC while sleeping.

I do have a Bimini and dodger so that will help greatly. One question I did have was for the guy that said plug it directly into a shore power outlet and not a 110 on the boat, how do I go about doing that? I am pretty sure my 110 outlets are directly connected to my shore power, as they only work when plugged into shore power.

I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

-Aaron

Also is it possible to just store the unit in the quarter berth or the V-berth while underway?
Even with 30 amp service into your boat, it's just a bad idea to plug a household air conditioner into one of the 120v outlets on your boat. It will stress your electrical system needlessly and potentially dangerously. Just look at your panel wiring for 120...it doesn't look like a breaker box in your home, it's not as robust. It's just asking for trouble. Ask any boater who's also an electrical engineer.

In addition, you can get a more powerful AC unit if you run it directly to shore power. If you can find a 7-8,000 BTU unit you'll be more comfortable. A built-in water-cooled marine AC unit for your boat would be 12,000 BTUs or thereabouts.

Your power/water pylon on the dock will likely have two outlets. Buy an adapter for the 30 amp plug and use a suitably rated 120v extension cord for the AC unit and run it along the deck to the machine. The biggest challenge with this sort of mounting is weather proofing it, but that's easily accomplished with a sheet of plastic and a few bungie cords.

As for putting it in the companionway, one or two days spent on the boat with it in the way of getting in and out of the cabin will put an end to that idea, particularly when you can easily build a mount for it out of lumber for over one of the hatches. Also, it will cool the boat better if it's more centrally located, and higher up.

You can store the damn thing anywhere it will fit, although wrestling it in and out of the cabin will be no fun. Or you can just chain it to the dock so it does not get legs. That's what I did with mine last summer.
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Old 28-02-2014, 12:22   #26
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Re: Do I need AC?

Virginia in August is very hot with high humidity. You will need AC, not much wind to count on air circulation to cool the boat. They do build a marine unit that will fit in one of your hatches, a friend of mine had one he used and it was very efficient.
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Old 28-02-2014, 12:23   #27
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Re: Do I need AC?

One thing about using a window unit on your hatch, constructing some sort of divider between the cool air discharge and the filter intake will make it work much better.
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Old 28-02-2014, 12:47   #28
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Re: Do I need AC?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boating2go View Post
Virginia in August is very hot with high humidity. You will need AC, not much wind to count on air circulation to cool the boat. They do build a marine unit that will fit in one of your hatches, a friend of mine had one he used and it was very efficient.
The problem I face with finding the marine unit is they no longer make it, so it's all used and limited availability.

As far as constructing a device to allow it to be used on the hatch, anyone have a diagram or pictures to give me an idea. I'm guessing id need a sort of hood for it as well. After listening to advice from y'all I will definitely get the adapter and plug it into 30amp.
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Old 28-02-2014, 13:22   #29
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Re: Do I need AC?

When I lived aboard, I installed a second 30A shore power connection and master breaker exclusively for heaters and AC.
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Old 28-02-2014, 14:46   #30
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Google " portable stand alone air conditioners" lots of options.
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