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Old 02-08-2014, 20:03   #1
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Window A/C on a Sailboat?

I was looking at a cheap window air conditioner and was wondering if it's a good idea for a sailboat? I can actually fit a small 5000 btu GE one in the forward cabin hatch. Thoughts? Also I would frequently take it out and be moving it around. The marine A/C units are extremely pricey, this ones 100$
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Old 02-08-2014, 20:11   #2
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

Window units are cheap, quick and dirty solution to AC on a boat and will do the job. Of course only good at the dock but that's usually when you need it the most.
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Old 02-08-2014, 20:11   #3
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

I see people do this all the time. They are called Redneck air conditioners. I have to admit I used one like that for a few years myself.
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Old 02-08-2014, 20:13   #4
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
I see people do this all the time. They are called Redneck air conditioners. I have to admit I used one like that for a few years myself.

Well, since you confessed I guess I will too. I'm using one right now, but I have an excuse, I'm on the hard and can't use a marine unit.
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Old 02-08-2014, 20:22   #5
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

There are a couple of current threads discussing various types of AC people are using. Some are using the stand alone units with single vents and some are using the double vented ones. Do a search on the forum. They shouldn't be to hard to find.
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Old 02-08-2014, 21:06   #6
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

There is no way to run AC from anything other than a genset or shore power. It would drsin your batteries in short order



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Old 02-08-2014, 21:10   #7
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

when i am using a marina in summer i use an air conditioner iiu=unit in my formosa window.. it works well, cost me 130 usd, and my gato and i are comfy in summer in tropics. it removes easily for travel, which is sailing, and doesnt get in the way. i do not have to pay thousands of usd to repair it, and its impending demise is not a problem, as there are many more just like it.
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Old 02-08-2014, 21:25   #8
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

The biggest issues, I see with window units, are drainage and mildew or mold.
These units have an internal drain leading to the external reservoir and external drain. The internal drain fails when improperly tilted or blocked by debris, which causes water to, "blow into you living area."
The water in the outer reservoir is necessary to cool the outer unit. This water, blown through the outer unit, is a dust magnet. This dirt blocks the outer unit causing overheating.
The ducts may be of foam bead construction, in window units, and once mold has started, it migrates into the space between these foam beads. Getting rid of that requires replacement of the duct, as nothing will kill the mold between the beads.
This mold buildup will also facilitate blockage of the drain from the internal unit to the external reservoir.

Can you do it.? Yes.

If I had an AC guy in my pocket, I would cut that unit up and add fiberglass ducts and another blower motor for the external unit. Then I would mount the external unit outboard and extended the Freon lines and drain from the internal unit to the external unit.

Just my 2 cents, which can be expensive when I'm attempting to save a buck...!
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Old 02-08-2014, 21:43   #9
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

They make non-window portable units that have an exhaust that is perfect fit for port holes.

Portable Air Conditioners - Air Conditioners - Air Conditioners & Coolers - Heating, Venting & CoolingÂ*at The Home Depot
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Old 02-08-2014, 21:45   #10
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

i find the mold issue is better when ye change out the air cond unit every 3 -5 years, depending on area of world used--it is worse in tropical areas.. mold builds in 3 yrs.
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Old 02-08-2014, 22:15   #11
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Re: Window A/C on a sailboat?

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Originally Posted by SargassumFish View Post
It definitely would. The a/c im looking at runs about 4.7 aH. But I only want to use it for about an hour when not plugged into shore power. I have 2 225 aH batteries. But need solar to charge them. Should I find a different a/c unit? They also have ductless A/C units, anyone ever used one?
4.7 amps in terms of 120 volts is 564 watts per hour.

No problem if you are running a genny but 564 watts in the 12 volt world is 47 amps (564/12).

So, you will need an inverter that can handle at least 47 amps, plus whatever the start up surge would be plus inversion losses. For one hour of AC on battery power would cost you about 55 amps (47 base plus losses). I'm no expert but I think I'm in the right ball park.

Then, you need enough energy the next day to get that 55 amps back into the batteries, and unless you have lithium ion, you are going to have to put a lot more back in than you took out. Lets assume you have lead acid wet cells and say 100 amps.

If you intend on getting that 100 amps back in through solar, you will need about 1200 watts to go into the batteries. We will get (at best) something like 5 hours of peak solar output (=100% from solar cells) in an average day in Florida. Maybe 6.

1200 watts / 5 hours = about 240 watts of solar panels. On a good day. Of course, this doesn't include your fridge, lights, fans, computer, etc...

Or, you could just run your engine or genny while you are a/c'ing. Assuming you have a good enough alternator and inverter.

We have 520 amp-hours of batteries and 554 watts of solar, and a wind gen, and we can barely get enough solar to cover our energy for the day. We finally broke down and bought a honda generator after we had 10 days of rain and clouds.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:10   #12
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Re: Window A/C on a Sailboat?

My $99 redneck Window unit mounted (sitting on the edge, actually) of my forehatch with a homemade scoop has kept my boat cool for 4 summers in New Orleans. 5000 btu is enough for my little boat. Shore power only. When I sail it is in the way of the jib and stuff anyway, and obstructs the view over the bow, so I just lower it down the hatch for a day sail, or leave it behind when I do an overnight or longer. It is very cost effective. Light bill is never over about $75. If it breaks down, I can have another one installed and running within the hour.

Lonesoldier's idea sounds like fun... pull the thing apart and install it more like a "proper" air conditioner, with ducting and stuff. Maybe use the compressor from a bigger unit, and build a refrigerator that runs off it too. This would be great for someone with a kw of solar or who runs a gens et all the time. Me, at sea I am okay with out air conditioning, and at the dock my redneck rig satisfies, and is quickly replaceable. Really, I only need it for about 3 months of the year. A tarp forward of the mast, and my homemade redneck bimini over companion way and most of the cockpit, help a lot. Before installing any air conditioning, see to shading your boat first. It makes a big difference.

Btw, my bimini cost me less than $20 to build. Pvc frame and arches, cheap drop cloth type tarp sewed on and painted with some mystery dumpster paint, it has survived several severe storms. Go figure.

On gotta go. Dollar General has generic spam on sale.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:19   #13
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Re: Window A/C on a Sailboat?

There are DC air conditioners made for boats. Don't know the specs, power usage or the cost but that can be easily found.
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Old 03-08-2014, 12:23   #14
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Re: Window A/C on a Sailboat?

Marvair - Marine - DC Air Conditioner
Here is one that is rated at 5,000 btu and uses 30 amps at 12 volts.
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Old 03-08-2014, 14:56   #15
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Re: Window A/C on a Sailboat?

You can build a cover out of pink board foam for your forward hatch pretty easy. We used metal tape to hold it together and bungies to hold it all down. Then used 4" insulated duct into the cabin.


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