Sol Purpose

Main AC unit replacement

In 2014 we replaced the aft quarterberth/head AC unit as the old one was 20 years old.  This year we replaced the 16,000 BTU unit that cooled the rest of the boat as it was close to the same age and noisy.  We had gone for a 8,000 BTU Vector Turbo unit from Marine Air for the aft quarterberth and were very happy with it.  The blower was powerful if a little noisy and it had a composite drain pan which meant ot would not rust out.  The unit also staggered the starting of the raw water pump and AC unit so that there was a minimal current surge at start up.  That would allow us to power the rear unit with a Honda EU2000i 2KW generator with ease if we chose.

As we liked how the 8,000 BTU unit performed we decided to go with the Vector Turbo for the rest of the boat as well.

I decided to do the installation as a surprise for Debbie as she was out of town on business for the weekend and I figured I could get it done before she got back on Sunday night.

First step was to take out the old unit.  It was mounted under the starboard settee at the very forward end.  I had this area earmarked for our Sailrite sewing machine as the cover giving access to the underneath of the settee was the largest here.  The other 2 covers were too small to accommodate the sewing machine.  This meant that I had to reroute the drain from the pan as the new unit would go under the middle of the settee.  The bonus here was that as the unit would not be directly behind the return air grill in the face of the settee, it would be a little quieter as well.

With the old unit removed I set about cleaning the space under the settee.  I then sanded down the whole area and attached some wooden angles which would be used to hold the sewing machine in place.  I filled in three holes in the floor with epoxy.  One had been for the drain hose from the old unit and the other two “came with the boat” when I got it.  I then drilled a new hole for the new location of the drain hose.  Once this was done I painted the whole area with three coats of bilgecote.

Sol Purpose

old unit removed, holes filled and painted. Notice the larger access hole at the forward end of the settee. You can see where the old ducting went up through the floor of the cupboard behind the settee and then split off to supply the fwd cabin as well as the main salon.

While all this work was going on I rigged up the new unit in the cabin to keep the boat cool and test it out.  My only disappointment was the water flow through the unit.  The old one was terrible and I put that down to build up on the fins in the tubing.  Unfortunately the new one was no better, although it was much quieter and ran colder.

Once the paint was dry I disconnected the new unit and attached the electrical box to the inside wall of the space, mid-settee.  I then ran the drain hose down through the floor of the settee, along the space below it, aft to the bilge box.  Next was the raw water hoses.  Initially I just cut them as short as I could to give the least resistance and therefore improve flow as much as possible.  My neighbor informed me that he had replaced all the hoses when he had done his AC unit as some of it was brittle and he didn’t want that to cause an issue further down the line.  Now that he had placed that fear in my mind, I had no choice… off to my local marine chandlery for some new hose I went 😛

I removed all the old hoses after attaching the new ones to it.  This allowed me to feed the hoses through some awkward spaces without difficulty.  With this done I cut the insulated ducting to the correct length and attached it to the junction box which fed the two ducts leading through the boat.

Next I removed the old digital wall panel, installed the new one and ran the phone cable through the cupboards and down under the settee.  With all the other work done it was time to drop the unit into its space and connect everything up.  The gallery below shows some pictures of the finished installation…

When everything was hooked up I turned it on to test and discovered that the water flow was vastly improved.  I can only put this down to years of tiny build up on the inside of the old pipe as it looked clear and had no visible obstructions.  I was now glad that my neighbor had suggested the replacement.

In previous years, when it was the height of the summer, the boat would struggle to keep itself below 80F during the hottest time of day.  Now it will usually manage 75F to 77F which is a whole level of comfort better.  It is also considerably quieter.

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