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Old 18-08-2018, 10:59   #1
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Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

The time has come to replace my two marine A/C units as they have gotten to the end of their lifespan. I installed 2 Flagship Marine 16500 btu self-contained units about 6 years ago, and they have been running 24/7 ever since. I am on my second compressors and have replaced one of the blower motors. I have not been unhappy with these units, and the customer service from Flagship has been exceptional over the years with them giving advice and technical help over the phone and selling me replacement parts at really low prices. The main problem has been my location in St Maarten and the complete lack of any decent service companies to work on the problems when they happen. I have used everyone on the island at one point or another and they are all basically useless. So now I have decided to just replace both units with new before I put the boat up for sale and I am looking for advice / confirmation on what to buy.
Looking for input and reviews from people who have installed new units in the last couple of years. Livaboards in tropical climates would be best as it is similar to my usage.
I have looked at all the available marina A/C companies and this is what I have learned so far.

Marineair. Dometic company with two different grades of quality. Turbo self-contained is probably the best. cost for 16,000 btu $2,900. Reviews not so good

Cruisair. Dometic company. It seems that it is the the less expensive option at $1,900. But at different factory. The reviews are not great

Webasto. Not really in the running as they look to be poorly constructed and have mostly bad reviews. Same pricing. I had one once total POS.

There are a bunch of small companies with units built in the U.S like Aquaair, Marin air (built in China) really bad reviews, and others non of which look like a good idea.

Flagship Marine. Have a proven history with me, very well built units. Great customer support. Got a price of $1,900 each for 16,000 btu units.

My favourite so far Frigomar. Built in Italy to very high standards, has newer inverter technology, variable speed compressor. High quality components. Price for 16,000 btu self-contained unit is $3,200 each so a little more expensive than the average. Excellent reviews, but very limited service network in the U.S. Good warranty, 2 years. There is a Frigomar service centre here in St Maarten but they are new and have no history, otherwise I am going to have to use the sales/ service centre in Florida ( MabruMarine ) for parts and tech help.

Now the part I need your help with. I need your personal experiences with these brands and any others I have not mentioned so I can make a decision and get on with replacing my old units. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 18-08-2018, 17:53   #2
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

I’ve had both my Webasto’s for three years, and for the first two years they ran 24/7 365 days a year keeping the boat dehumidified and warm in Winter.
They have been brilliant, not a flaw. Of course I have had to clean the strainers, but other than that and cleaning the air filters nothing.

I bought them because they were cheap, but I think if you pay attention to the install they are as good as any other AC, and are cheap enough so that in 5 or 10 years when they become problematic, R&R with new.
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Old 18-08-2018, 19:18   #3
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

If you've had Flagship Marine units running 24/7 without trouble, why bother looking at anything else?
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Old 18-08-2018, 20:33   #4
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

With the Flagship units I did have to change two blown compressors and one blower motor in 6 years. I am hoping there might be something in the last 6 years that is better, or bullet proof. With this boat I have now it is the first time I have had self contained units, previously I had larger boats with chilled water systems and never had a single issue. The reason I like the Frigomar units is they have a very slow start from 2 amps that prolongs the life of the compressors, and inverter technology similar to all the home units today. I am hoping this will make for a longer lifespan and no breakdowns.
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Old 18-08-2018, 20:50   #5
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

I personally wouldn't stray from a company with stellar customer service, which Flagship has. I bought a USED frankensteined Flagship unit, and they still served me very well. Their commitment to their customers is top notch.

And nothing on a boat is bullet proof.
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Old 18-08-2018, 23:29   #6
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

I have Webasto 16k units for 6+ years. One quit due to trying to start off an inverter I think but was replaced at extremely low price. Customer service has been good. I run the compressors off 50hz with no problem in Europe but keep the blowers and pumps on 60hz per their recommendation. Controls however are not as sophisticated as more expensive units - e.g. can’t blower on and off independent of compressor.

But I question why you are replacing your units to sell the boat unless they are down now - not sure it’ll add any real value. They may make the slightly more attractive and therefore may sell quicker but probably not for more money. Second I don’t know why these types units should not have more than a six year life span despite the enviroment.
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Old 19-08-2018, 06:40   #7
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

I am replacing the units now to have A/C until I sell the boat, which could take a while. I am sure that having working A/C in good condition will make a difference to the value of the boat. I am going to be looking for a buyer who wants a turn key purchase that requires no projects, if I start letting things go pretty soon everything needs attention and your trying to sell a project boat.
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Old 19-08-2018, 08:42   #8
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

Wow, absolutely love my webastos. I put in 2-16000btu on our boat and have installed 8 more on clients boats. We live aboard our trawler in New Orleans and these puppies run 24/7 for the last five years. Don’t know where your POS comment comes from. Usually have a problem with the shipping, but that’s from the carriers drop kincking the units all the way here! Now that West does price matching, the shipping part has become easier. I don’t know if that affects you since you’re out of the states.
Good luck
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Old 19-08-2018, 12:34   #9
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

Here’s another question- are any quieter than others? Our vintage cruiseair under our bunk makes some serious noise every time the compresser kicks on
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Old 19-08-2018, 13:37   #10
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Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

Our little Webasto is under our bunk and you cannot hear it’s compressor at all, you do of course hear the fan. It’s only a 6K though.
So far as quietness, a good long run of duct seems to quieten one way down as does having several ducts.
Our 16K in the Saloon has only about a 2’ run to one large duct, and the fan is noisy as you can imagine.
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Old 20-08-2018, 04:34   #11
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

I have Dometic 16k units and while my boat is 50+ years old and now on its third unit the first two units lasted between 15 and 20 years apiece.
I would use these again.
Recently I did install an additional 7k unit in the bow v-Bert area made by Marabu because of its compact size.
On the 16k unit I now installed a Smartstart addon soft start capicator. It dropped startup amps by nearly half.
When the boat is docked at my home and nobody staying on it I have a “throw away” standard air cooled window unit installed in a temporary door that fits into my sliding glass door opening. This runs 24/7 for humidity and air moving during the hot months here in Florida.
When the boat is in use the temp door and AC unit are removed.
Keeps the wear and tear off the more expensive an water cooled marine units.
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Old 20-08-2018, 05:20   #12
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

Another vote for Webasto. 2 going on 4yrs. Quiet, cheap, no problems
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Old 22-08-2018, 13:02   #13
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

Another vote for Flagship, rugged no printed circuit board and good customer service. I see that you are down island I would bet your compressor and blower motor both suffered from low voltage.
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Old 26-08-2018, 06:38   #14
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

After doing a ton of reading on all the forums and the internet in general I have decided to go with the Frigomar product.

INVERTER variable capacity - SELF CONTAINED UNIT

The technology is the same as home based A/C systems and has a great track record.. Also the reduced stress on the compressors, increased efficiency, and lower electrical usage is very appealing.

When looking at all the other brands out there the technology has not changed very much in the last 30 years, and the durability of the unit components has declined a lot. I use my A/C constantly and at best the market is making self-contained marine A/C units for intermittent use. The best solution would be a chilled water system but I do not have the space, and the cost is out of the question for a boat I will sell in the next year.
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Old 26-08-2018, 07:43   #15
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Re: Marine A/C reviews and recommendations

So if I'm reading the specs correctly this unit, 16000 btu, could easily be run by a honda 2000 generator. Please keep us informed.
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