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Old 11-07-2021, 07:55   #1
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Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

Hi,
In the past I've used this forum several times to ask questions and I was surprised how quick my questions were answered. One topic "if it's possible to run an a/c from you batteries" was quite hard to get answered. Since then I installed a 10.000 BTU airco unit from the dutch company The Climate Factory (TCF) in our Excess 11 catamaran that runs off our Victron Lithium bank (this is not in any way a sponsored post!). I thought I'd share my experience as this topic has come up several times. It may help others in the decision making process.

My Question some months ago was: can you run an airconditioning from you (lithium) batteries?

The idea was that when we would be (stuck) in a hot marina we could run the airco at night so we could sleep better
AND (much more important for this discussion) to run the airco when at anchor - this is when the data becomes important

What we did:
  • Installed a 10.000 BTU reverse cycle airco from The Climate Factory (TCF) in the owners hull of our Excess 11 catamaran.
  • Our hull is approximately 11 by 2 meters when we leave the door the wet area open
  • We had 900 Ah (3x 300 Ah Victron Smart Lithium) installed including a 5000 watt Victron Quattro as well as a Victron BMS and charge controllers to prevent the alternators of our 29 hp Yanmar engines to go up in smoke.
  • Installed 990 watts of rigid solar panels on the davits
  • Installed 12x 111 watts (=1332 watts) of walkable flexible solar panels on the roof. We opted for Sunbeam Tough Solar panels. So far these have been superb and we walk over them daily when we pack the mainsail.

How much did the airco cost:
€1500 for the 10.000 BTU version including 21% VAT as we installed it ourselves (6 hours of work).

Although the manual could be slightly improved (I have to call them once during the installation). The installation is quite easy and took around 6 hours. It all depends whether you have a spare throughole you can use for the water inlet. We used an existing sink outlet as the outlet for the airco.

How much power does it consume
This was our biggest unknown. At the dock you can of course plug in your shore power and the thing will run. We now ran it for several nights and here are the numbers.
  • Location: Ibiza and mainland Spain
  • Outside temperature: 30 celsius
  • Water temperature: 26 celsius
  • Set temperature on control unit: 22 celsius
  • Run time: around 23:00 until 08:00
  • The compressors consumes around 500 watt when running
  • The fan consumes between 150 watt and 300 watt depending on the set level (1-5)
  • So when the unit is running at full cooling capacity it consumes around 800 watts (in cool mode)
  • For heating mode; you can add around 150 watts

Key is the cycle time; how much minutes per hour does the compressor run?

We've put a Voltcraft energy meter between the airco unit and the power outlet it uses; so now we know

Here's an image of the power consumption: https://imgur.com/a/WZ2kBSo

On average the unit uses around 380 watts per hour when you want to sleep at 22 degrees celsius in a 30 degrees celsius environment. This adds up to around 2660 watt hour assuming you run it for 7 hours a night. You can see from the screenshots (note the time are off due to timezones issues) the consumption is much higher in the first couple of hours and gradually decreases.

As mentioned we have around 11.000 watt hour of lithium (900 Ah @ 12 volt). Every day our batteries are at 100% state of charge via the solar panels. We can thus run the airco every night if we want to. And that's pretty awesome.

Some final remarks:
  • If TCF is reading this; it would be great if the unit would come with a timer option like our Caframo Sirocco II fans. The Voltcraft energy meter could switch off the unit at a certain time but I don't think the unit would appreciate it.
  • After seeing the video from Gone with the Wynns and others about the surge spike and corresponding solution: installing a softstart I was worried turning on the unit would blow our fuses. TCF let me know that the start up spike is around 2-3x the usage. So that would be around 2400 watts (3* 800 watt). With an 5000 watt inverter (that can handle up to 12.000 watt of surge) this isn't an issue at all. We can even cook on induction and boil water and still switch on the airco...

Conclusion:
I think it's feasible to run a 10.000 btu airco (which is way too much for 1 owners hull) daily from your batteries as long as you have around 7000 watt hour of lithium (so you only use ±50% of your capacity for the a/c) and enough solar (around 1200 watts) and a >=3000 watt inverter.

Fair winds!
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Old 12-07-2021, 10:05   #2
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

In case anyone is interested in the unit itself; here's the link: https://www.tcfmarine.com/nl/tcf-mar...eepsairco.html
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Old 12-07-2021, 10:29   #3
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

Thank you! That is very good information.

Though, if I ran the cooling down to 22C, my wife and I would be wearing parkas.

Later,
Dan
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Old 12-07-2021, 15:10   #4
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannc View Post
Thank you! That is very good information.

Though, if I ran the cooling down to 22C, my wife and I would be wearing parkas.

Later,
Dan
In winter I heating the house to 26-29°C and wear a long shirt, but deffinitivy when is 22°C outside i close door because to cold.
on 30-33 i don't need anything 33-60°C I need cooling.
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Old 13-07-2021, 05:00   #5
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

That suggests an excellent EER* of around 12.5!
The relationship between BTU and the power (in watts) of an air conditioner is determined by the energy-efficiency EER rating.
A good EER rating, for example, is 10. That means that 1,000W will give us 10,000 BTU/hr of cooling effect.
If an air conditioner had a higher EER rating (12, for example), the quoted 800W would give us 9,600 BTU of cooling effect.


* It is, however, important to understand that EER is based on a fixed set of conditions, namely:
  • Outdoor temperature: 95F
  • Indoor temperature: 80F
  • Relative humidity: 50%
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Old 14-07-2021, 00:51   #6
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

Thanks @GordMay for tis background info. Always interesting to learn from those who know more. Thanks
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Old 14-07-2021, 01:59   #7
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

What I find most interesting is that you have neither an excessive amount of batteries or solar capacity. So this should be doable on most cats with relatively small investments, especially compared to running a generator.
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Old 14-09-2021, 11:50   #8
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

What kind of noise DB do you have? And where did you place the unit?
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Old 15-09-2021, 02:31   #9
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Re: Review: running an airco from (lithium) batteries - with actual consumption data

Hey Eric Jan, I don’t have an accurate de meter but the noise you hear comes from the air duct and the fan. Not from the unit itself. I installed it under our bed on a vibration absorbing mat. Not sure if that makes a difference but I haven’t tried it without. On the lowest setting of the fan/blower it’s slightly more noise than a regular AC unit at home. I was really surprised by that. Having used it now for 3 months in the Med; our conclusion is that we have ran it 50% of the times for 2 hours to cool down the cabin and the other 50% for the full night. Note that between the unit and the bed, I’ve raised the floor board, so on top of that there’s clothing. On top of that, the bed is placed. I think this also helped a lot in reducing noise. And as said; 90% of the noise we still hear comes from the air ducht and grill….
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