Friday, April 29, 2016

Air conditioner install

(Ed note: several readers requested more details on the installation of the a/c window unit after my previous post.)
 
If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know that we elected to remove the inboard air conditioning system before we left to go cruising because it occupied the entire largest closet on the boat. We needed the space for clothes, books, electronics, my Sailrite, and our vacuum. Alas, we never dreamed that we would spend so much time on the dock in the summer, where breeze rarely flows through the hatches the way it does at anchor. Three months at Cooley's Landing in Ft. Lauderdale would have been an impossibility without air. Same thing here in Southwest Florida.


When we were in Ft. Lauderdale, we bought a Shinco portable a/c that actually worked really well. The only problem with it was that it was huge and took up the entire nav station where it had to reside in order for the exhaust hose to reach the port. Since we were going to be on the dock here for eight months, I wanted to have the interior of the boat as clean and free of clutter as possible. Clutter bugs me anytime, but particularly when I'm chin deep in boat projects. After some discussion, Tim and I decided to look into the possibility of a window unit set on deck

We had tried a window unit once before, but never really got it set up in any way that it was efficient. After multiple trips to Lowe's and Home Depot with a measuring tape, pencil, and paper, I figured that we might just be able to fit the 12,000 btu window unit on the side deck with enough room to run some insulated ductwork to the ports. It was going to be tight, but it looked doable.

I had originally hoped to place the unit facing the ports, but the insulated duct is huge and unwieldy so I ended up having to turn it sideways. I removed the insulation for the first 6" or so and then taped the silver outside layer directly to the air conditioner with Gorilla tape, one duct  surrounding the outflow area of the grill and leading to one port, and another duct taped around the inflow area of the front grill and leading to another port at the other end of the salon, directly over my galley stove. Getting the tape goo off in the fall will require lots of Prism, but there really wasn't any other way to seal it. The two-duct approach works well because then the heat from cooking goes straight into the a/c and returns nice and cold. Genius.

The end result is at about my limit for trailer-parkishness, but it's on the side of our boat that faces the aluminum sided boat shed, so no one has to look at it but me. I did manage to get it done in one day in spite of the duct from hell, and the smile of relief on Tim's face when he came down the companionway after working in the heat all day was worth the effort.

I would love to have an inboard a/c again, but we just don't have the space anywhere on the boat. In addition, we sometimes need the a/c while on the hard doing bottom work, a time when inboard a/c doesn't help, so for now, this solution is what works the best. As they always say, everything on a boat is a compromise.

The port over my galley stove is the hot air return

This duct goes from the outflow portion of the grill to the port over Tim's settee.

The longer duct goes from the galley port over my stove to the intake grill on the a/c

2 comments:

Adrian said...

I can understand the inefficiency of window units, I feel like I am throwing money out the window (literally) when it comes to my electrical bill with those units! I wish I had your problem of trying to get an air conditioning unit on a boat, but I, unfortunately, do not own a boat. I am, however, highly impressed with you ability to come up with multiple solutions to solve your AC issue.

Dennis Cannon said...

This sounds like the best solution based on your situation. I had a window air conditioning unit in my apartment and it never really worked all that well – the units just tend to be too small and not powerful enough to provide any sort of relief, especially if you’re working on projects inside. I might follow your example. Thanks.