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Old 03-06-2021, 04:50 PM   #1
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Marine AC and Reverse Cycle Units

I have two Dometic CruisAir 220volt 16,000btu AC with reverse cycle heat on laVITA. On one, the compressor failed. I believe it is original equipment. Looking to replace with one of the new drop in units. Asking “which is the best Marine AC” unit is like asking “which is the best anchor” (I can not believe I just said that) but I would like some opinions of anyone who has recently done a replacement. Looked at reviews for Webasto, Mermaid, MarineAire, CTM, and a few others.

Thanks in advance.
Steve
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Old 03-06-2021, 04:59 PM   #2
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I swapped one of my Marine Air / Dometic Turbo units for a Webasto FCF Platinum 16k last year. So far, it's been great. And hopefully it'll be less prone to refrigerant leaks... Based on my experience so far, I'll be putting in 2 more at some point.
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Old 03-06-2021, 05:32 PM   #3
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I can tell you the the Webasto units are fine units. I can't tell you how they compare to other units.

Webasto units come in various sizes and shapes. Make sure you have the space for the BTU's you are looking for.

There are two types of Webasto units. The Classic and the Platinum. The Classic is generally sold through discounters like Defender and West Marine. The Platinum is usually sold through dealers who do the install.

Both units do AC, heat, dehumidifier or Fan only. What is different between the two is sometimes size and here is the really important difference. With the Classic the Fan runs the entire time. With the Platinum the Fan turns on and off with the compressor.

Now before you make a decision you need to know a few things. With the constant running fan of the Classic, you get much better air flow. You will have much fewer hot and cold spots and your windows will have less moisture do to the constantly moving air. You will also have a quieter start of the compressor. Classics really do a better job all the way around if you can deal with the constant sound of the air handler always running. Many people just can't get their head around that fact. If you were looking for a bedroom unit I would most certainly recommend the classic, its alot less likely to wake you up when it cycles.

The Platinum works just like all the other units, the compressor kicks on and the fan starts up after a minute or so you get cold or hot air. When its up to temperature they kick off. There is a audible click when the system cycles on and off.

The Webasto's can not be recharged. They are sealed units. My experience has always been that the control boxes are the weak link. I have never replaced a unit because of refrigerant leak. I replaced several control boxes on my old Rotory Air units before the compressor finally locked up. The Webasto fit my space so I dropped one in.

I don't have the expertise to recommend one brand over the other. I can only say that I have now dropped in one Classic for the bedroom and one Platinum for the Saloon. I paid about $1,450 for each and I have had them for 1 year with no issues. I have looked at several brands and as far as I can tell they all use the same compressor and similar design. I have no idea about difference in the quality of the other parts.
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Old 03-06-2021, 05:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
I swapped one of my Marine Air / Dometic Turbo units for a Webasto FCF Platinum 16k last year. So far, it's been great. And hopefully it'll be less prone to refrigerant leaks... Based on my experience so far, I'll be putting in 2 more at some point.
Thanks. Did you have to get new Webasto thermostat and controls? Some companies advertise their units are compatible with other brands controls (including the Dometic).
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Old 03-06-2021, 05:35 PM   #5
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I know the older Webasto FCFs cannot be recharged easily, but I'm almost positive the newer FCF Platinums like mine have charge ports.

There's also a 3rd model of Webasto unit now, the Bluecool S series. They're supposedly a bit fancier, they weigh a bit less, and they have nicer touchscreen controls. They're about $300 more than the FCF Platinum last I saw.

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Thanks. Did you have to get new Webasto thermostat and controls? Some companies advertise their units are compatible with other brands controls (including the Dometic).

The Webasto unit came with new controls, so those got used.
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Old 03-06-2021, 07:34 PM   #6
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I went with Webasto, mostly because Defender carried them and the price was solid. I also closely considered mermaid.

As far as reusing old controls, I'm not sure how old your existing controls are, but mine were from the 80s. Controls like these have improved at a fast rate. I wouldn't even consider reusing a control that was more than a few years old.

Good luck

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Old 03-06-2021, 08:01 PM   #7
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I have put Mermaid units in 4 boats so far and had great success with them.
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Old 03-07-2021, 07:44 AM   #8
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We replaced our original Marine Airrrr Vector Compacts (from circa 2002) with Dometic Turbo units in 2019. worked very well... although we don't have long-term reliability info yet.

Our decision was partly on the merits of the newer units, and partly because it was an easy almost drop-in replacement. Results were quieter, more airflow, and better condensate handling (composite drain pan). Prices, installed (during off-season months) and with "boat show special" pricing, were OK.

At one time, while still under the Marine Airrrr brand, they were named Vector Turbo... then eventually got renamed as Dometic acquired the company...

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Old 03-07-2021, 07:59 AM   #9
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We replaced our original Marine Airrrr Vector Compacts (from circa 2002) with Dometic Turbo units in 2019. worked very well... although we don't have long-term reliability info yet.

Our decision was partly on the merits of the newer units, and partly because it was an easy almost drop-in replacement. Results were quieter, more airflow, and better condensate handling (composite drain pan). Prices, installed (during off-season months) and with "boat show special" pricing, were OK.

At one time, while still under the Marine Airrrr brand, they were named Vector Turbo... then eventually got renamed as Dometic acquired the company...

-Chris
I'm hoping you have better luck with them than we did. When the 1980s vector compacts started dying, my father swapped them for vector turbos (right after Dometic bought them). 2 got replaced under warranty for refrigerant leaks and all 3 had refrigerant leaks fixed at least once (some more than once) in the 12 years after that. One leaked out again in 2019, then the other 2 did within a couple of weeks last year.

So I decided I'm done with them and they're just getting replaced. I've swapped one so far, I'll probably do the others soon.
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Old 03-07-2021, 10:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
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I'm hoping you have better luck with them than we did. When the 1980s vector compacts started dying, my father swapped them for vector turbos (right after Dometic bought them). 2 got replaced under warranty for refrigerant leaks and all 3 had refrigerant leaks fixed at least once (some more than once) in the 12 years after that. One leaked out again in 2019, then the other 2 did within a couple of weeks last year.

So I decided I'm done with them and they're just getting replaced. I've swapped one so far, I'll probably do the others soon.
The newer ac systems will NEVER last like the older ones. Nothing is made as robust as it once was, but more importantly, these new refrigerants run at much higher pressures. More pressure, more tendency to develop leaks, and shorter lifespans on the compressor.
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Old 03-07-2021, 10:46 AM   #11
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The newer ac systems will NEVER last like the older ones. Nothing is made as robust as it once was, but more importantly, these new refrigerants run at much higher pressures. More pressure, more tendency to develop leaks, and shorter lifespans on the compressor.

Newer refrigerants do have a few challenges for lifespan, but I'd expect the higher pressures to cause issues with seals. Or, as you mentioned, compressor lifespan. Neither of those was ever an issue though. The leaks on my units were always either through soldered connections on the copper refrigerant tubes, or in one case, it actually looked like a corrosion pinhole formed in the tubing (corroded from the outside), despite the only moisture near the unit being the condensation that forms on parts of it while running.

The Webasto units have a coating on the outside of the tubes, so I'm thinking that alone may improve their lifespan a bit. The general build of them gives the impression of being a little more robust as well.
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:30 AM   #12
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The newer ac systems will NEVER last like the older ones. Nothing is made as robust as it once was, but more importantly, these new refrigerants run at much higher pressures. More pressure, more tendency to develop leaks, and shorter lifespans on the compressor.
True, but prices have gotten much more reasonable. I now pay less per day for a disposable product than I paid for those long lasting products.


I just had a look at the Webasto cool blue s unit. It looks like a natural upgrade to the platinum unit. It does have recharge ports and a USB port for remote diagnostics.
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:17 PM   #13
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CTM Marine makes self-contained units with titanium tubing.
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