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Old 07-03-2022, 08:24 AM   #1
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Replace or recharge Cruiseair AC?

One of the two original air conditioners on our Mariner 37 was replaced years ago and our patience has run out on the other one. We got away without air conditioning in the salon by choosing good weather days, but now it’s time to get it right.

Question is, once circa 2007 marine AC units lose their refrigerant charge, will they always lose the charge? Raw water flow is good, air flow across the evaporator coil is good and unobstructed, thermostat is responsive, and the compressor makes the right sounds. It just has nothing to compress or has lost seal. Is it worth the cost of having an AC guy charge it with refrigerant, or is that a losing battle and it’s time to just buy a new unit?
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Old 07-03-2022, 09:01 AM   #2
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Finding a new reverse cycle A/C unit is difficult. I limped along one A/C for about 5 or 6 weeks waiting for 2 new units. 6 weeks later one of the new units died. Apparently quality control has gone down hill.

my opinion is to buy a new unit..... I suspect your A/C tech will suggest the unit is approaching end of life.
If you elect to recharge it, gotta find the leak first. The labor time and effort, finding the leak and successfully sealing it may approach 1/2 the price of a new unit.
Discuss your options with the tech.
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Old 07-03-2022, 10:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by HeadedToTexas View Post
One of the two original air conditioners on our Mariner 37 was replaced years ago and our patience has run out on the other one. We got away without air conditioning in the salon by choosing good weather days, but now itís time to get it right.

Question is, once circa 2007 marine AC units lose their refrigerant charge, will they always lose the charge? Raw water flow is good, air flow across the evaporator coil is good and unobstructed, thermostat is responsive, and the compressor makes the right sounds. It just has nothing to compress or has lost seal. Is it worth the cost of having an AC guy charge it with refrigerant, or is that a losing battle and itís time to just buy a new unit?

In auto AC recharging is common. I understand these units are more compact and as such have fewer places that can leak. Find someone to recharge and have them inject some fluorescent oil dye at the same time. Then if the unit stops due to low charge, buy an inexpensive black light (available at Amazon) and look for the leak. The oil will leak with the Freon. Of course if the leak is in the heat exchanger, finding it may be impossible. Then make the decision to repair or replace. If you do decide to replace, search this and other forums for a unit that has good reviews. Good luck.
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Old 07-03-2022, 01:03 PM   #4
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Could it be the case that with a unit that old, a recharge is not possible because the refrigerant required is no longer allowed to be used? I've been wondering about whether my Dometic/Cruise Air A/C might perform a bit better with a recharge, but have been hesitant to look seriously into this because I'm thinking that I will be told that a recharge is not possible and that the entire unit will need to be replaced due to regulations. (Mine is from ~2012)
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Old 07-03-2022, 01:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HeadedToTexas View Post
One of the two original air conditioners on our Mariner 37 was replaced years ago and our patience has run out on the other one. We got away without air conditioning in the salon by choosing good weather days, but now itís time to get it right.

Question is, once circa 2007 marine AC units lose their refrigerant charge, will they always lose the charge? Raw water flow is good, air flow across the evaporator coil is good and unobstructed, thermostat is responsive, and the compressor makes the right sounds. It just has nothing to compress or has lost seal. Is it worth the cost of having an AC guy charge it with refrigerant, or is that a losing battle and itís time to just buy a new unit?
Refrigerant is like coolant in an engine, if you're loosing it slowly or quickly, there's a leak. I've had vehicles that had refrigerant leaks. Add a couple of cans and you were good for a year. Others that lost their charge in a week.

IMO, marine all in one AC units are window shakers (window air conditioners) with a water cooled condenser. Maybe you replace a blower, thermostat, or other minor part, but when you start to loose freon, time to replace. The other question is whether it has a piston or rotary compressor. There's a significantly lower amperage draw with rotary over piston. Installing a new rotary unit will make life easier on your generator for the same number of BTUs.

Ted
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Old 07-03-2022, 01:41 PM   #6
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Personal opinion 2cents worth. Buy a new unit. All the improvements are worth the money. The fan inside the blower and relocated cooling coil, reduced noise, digital control with dehumidification while away, and rotary compressor with soft start are all great improvements.
A service techs time to diagnose and then source parts and repair would probably be more that the labor cost to drop in a new unit.
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Old 07-03-2022, 03:53 PM   #7
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Greetings,
Our master BR AC (Marine Aiiire?)wasn't cooling to my satisfaction prior to listing her for sale (March 2022). I had a tech inject fluorescent dye but he was not able to find a leak. He DID note 2 questionable unions (brazed) that he changed. He added a liquid leak sealant (just in case) and topped up the Freon. Now, the unit was originally charged with R22 which is banned I think BUT he recharged it with an R22 replacement which was readily available. The unit was about 20 years old.



After achieving suitable pressures and temperatures, we ran the unit for a week after which the tech returned and re-checked his initial readings. No change so the new owner should have AC.



SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than replacement. My memory is REALLY bad but I think it was in the region of $700 including the gold plated replacement Freon.
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Old 07-04-2022, 01:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Refrigerant is like coolant in an engine, if you're loosing it slowly or quickly, there's a leak. I've had vehicles that had refrigerant leaks. Add a couple of cans and you were good for a year. Others that lost their charge in a week.



IMO, marine all in one AC units are window shakers (window air conditioners) with a water cooled condenser. Maybe you replace a blower, thermostat, or other minor part, but when you start to loose freon, time to replace. The other question is whether it has a piston or rotary compressor. There's a significantly lower amperage draw with rotary over piston. Installing a new rotary unit will make life easier on your generator for the same number of BTUs.



Ted
Interesting opinion on all-in-one units being "window-shakers". Our main salon unit quit two years ago. I elected an all-in-one. It fit in the same space as the old CruiseAir air handler. I found that, even with the compressor now being located behind a bulkhead in the salon rather than the engine room, the all-in-one was less noisy than the old air handler alone. Side benefit - saved space in the engine room.
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Old 07-04-2022, 05:44 AM   #9
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Interesting opinion on all-in-one units being "window-shakers". Our main salon unit quit two years ago. I elected an all-in-one. It fit in the same space as the old CruiseAir air handler. I found that, even with the compressor now being located behind a bulkhead in the salon rather than the engine room, the all-in-one was less noisy than the old air handler alone. Side benefit - saved space in the engine room.
I didn't mean window shakers from a noise or vibration standpoint, more from a cost and service standpoint. Don't think most people consider a window shaker being serviceable, you go buy another one. This is very different from a whole house central air conditioning unit. From a cost standpoint, you would expect to have it repaired if it was less than 10 years old.

My impression was that the term "window shaker" came from the days when these units had piston compressors and there was significant vibration.

Ted
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Old 07-04-2022, 06:21 AM   #10
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Would like to see "mini splits" available in a scaled down marinized version.

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Old 07-04-2022, 07:19 AM   #11
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I know the difference between all in one window units and central air conditioners with their separate evaporator coils and condenser/compressor units, but outside the chilled loop type of marine ACs, aren’t they all “all in one?” Mine both are. They fit in spaces about 18x18 inches. Condenser water is pumped to them and air is blown over the evaporator coil by an integral fan.

That said, now may be the opportunity to “upgrade” to a mini split with the condenser/compressor up in the base of a fly bridge seat and the evaporator unit where the old AC is today?
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Old 07-04-2022, 07:46 AM   #12
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I know the difference between all in one window units and central air conditioners with their separate evaporator coils and condenser/compressor units, but outside the chilled loop type of marine ACs, aren’t they all “all in one?” Mine both are. They fit in spaces about 18x18 inches. Condenser water is pumped to them and air is blown over the evaporator coil by an integral fan.
As boats go above 40', it's fairly common to see split units where the water cooled condenser / compressors are in the engine room and the evaporator/ blowers are located throughout the boat.

Ted
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Old 07-04-2022, 08:24 AM   #13
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With copper refrigerant lines running between them much like a home central air system, eh? Makes sense.
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Old 07-04-2022, 08:39 AM   #14
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Could it be the case that with a unit that old, a recharge is not possible because the refrigerant required is no longer allowed to be used? I've been wondering about whether my Dometic/Cruise Air A/C might perform a bit better with a recharge, but have been hesitant to look seriously into this because I'm thinking that I will be told that a recharge is not possible and that the entire unit will need to be replaced due to regulations. (Mine is from ~2012)
This is from a 2013 post here by Gulfstar 36 on 04/04/2013


A buddy charged mine last year for a few beer credits without a manual, I know mine is from the 80s as well. There is a wiring schematic under the cover and the pressures are stamped on top. I know it is hard to read but here is what my 16,000 115 volt unit reads.

Refrig R22
Test Low side -150 PSI
High Side PSI 300 PSI
Charge 1#-7oz



R22 is still available. I found some on E-Bay. If you are not familiar with charging then find someone that is. It's not as difficult as you might think.
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Old 07-04-2022, 09:05 AM   #15
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I have all 4 original ones from 1976. 1 is disabled and parts not available but can still be manually switched on and off in the engine room. Another did not operate when I purchased the boat in 2020. But a good tech, a $20 capacitor and a recharge cost me about $250 and it is still running. Other 2 are noisy but fine. Cost to replace all is about $35k. Likely will delay as we rarely need AC in San Diego. May replace with all in one's vs. the current split units when the time comes.
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Old 07-08-2022, 04:02 PM   #16
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i have 5 reversable ac cruise air units in our boat.
3x 12000 btu from 2000 1x 18000btu from 2000 and 1x 8000btu from 2005
the setup was with 1 water pump for all.

the 18000 btu has lost his charge and has a leak some whare, i have removed this unit.
i hade a technichian look at 1 12000btu and the 8000btu unit and the pressure was ok,

all 4 units are still working fine,

i have changed the central water pump and use a sepperate freq regulated pump/unit
the central pump was 1500w now each ac unit has a pump with only take 25w

to replace all the ac systems is verry expencive and now with a small cost the system is updated

i had to repace 1 fan on a ac unit a a new themostat on a second unit
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Old 07-08-2022, 05:32 PM   #17
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As boats go above 40', it's fairly common to see split units where the water cooled condenser / compressors are in the engine room and the evaporator/ blowers are located throughout the boat.

Ted
The problem is that they take up extremely valuable real estate in the engine room. I guess that they were supposed to be quieter. Our last boat had one of each. Really didnít notice that much difference in noise levels. With the new ones on the market today I think the self contained units are the way to go. They are quite a bit quieter than they used to be.
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Old 07-09-2022, 07:40 AM   #18
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I bought a new Webasto FCF unit from an outfit in Tennessee and will swap it out myself. Arrived yesterday. The adventure continues!
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