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For Sale: Hand-Held Marine Btu Meters?

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Oh boy, if only that were true! But unfortunately there is no such thing, and so comparing the performance of one marine air conditioning manufacturer's product to another comes down to comparing the manufacturer's published specifications.;


Keep the following in mind if you are in the market for air conditioning for your boat.

Q – How can I be sure that a 16,000 Btu air conditioner from Brand X actually produces 16,000 Btu of cooling and heating?

A – To be blunt, you can't! If it were a residential or commercial unit you'd be assured of the capacity rating as there are strict compulsory standards in these industries, but not in the marine business.

A marine air conditioning manufacturer can label his system as whatever takes his fancy, which is usually dictated by marketing strategies. If only we had that "Btu Meter" to assess performance .....

Q – But surely there must be a base-line for a prospective buyer to be able to assess one manufacturer's system against another's.

A – Yes there is, it is the compressor. Every compression system has a compressor, and every compressor manufacturer publishes performance data for their individual models. Most marine air conditioning manufacturers simply use the compressor's Btu rating in determining what to label their products.

That's a simple solution, but

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Droop and Sag - Age Old Partners

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My first dabble with installing air conditioning on boats was in the mid ‘80’s. I was new to the game and was an eager gofer helping to install a system on a 44’ sailboat. When I mentioned this to my buddies at the bar, they were amazed to hear that you could actually install air conditioning on a sailboat, especially on one that small!

Fast forward a decade or three and we now have owners of much smaller boats not just wanting, but expecting to have air conditioning on their vessels. Owners of 25’ sailboats want to be able to sleep in comfort, and even those with 18’ walk-around powerboats with outboards are asking how they can get a blast of cold air on their faces as they zoom around having fun. Well, it can be done and it is being done, but there is some debate about how best to power the thing.

We offer the Climma 4,200 Btu air conditioner for just those applications, as well as for individual small cabins on larger boats. This a 110v mains-powered unit, so when the vessel is plugged in to shore power or a small generator it can run, but it can also be powered through a small inverter from a DC source such as a battery bank or an engine alternator.

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Cool Justice

cool bear dreamstime s 91842195 800x400I was called up for jury duty a while ago, and on the second day of the trial I decided to take a leisurely walk from home into town rather than getting a ride. Although it was during a really hot spell in Annapolis, it was before 8am and so I didn’t expect any undue effects from the heat as I was wearing only a cotton dress shirt with no tie or jacket (plus other stuff from the waist down, of course). By the time I reached the courthouse door, I had but a mere hint of perspiration, but in the time it took to get through security, my metabolism had switched into overdrive and left me oozing sweat from every pore, with my shirt visibly wet both front and back.

Next I had to traverse across the waiting hall to reach the jury waiting room, with 100+ seated souls all looking in the direction of this sweat-ball parading past them. You know, initially I thought that the sizeable number of prospective jurors in shorts, flip-flops, scanty flimsy dresses, and t-shirts with foul messages, must have missed the memo about dressing soberly and respectfully. On reflection, though, I’m now of the opinion that this was an intentional move on their part in order to hopefully not get picked for service. Maybe it was me that missed the memo…

So, there I was, sweating profusely in the air conditioning, but isn’t air conditioning supposed to prevent this sort of thing? So what happened?

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Cool is Cool!

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My first dabble with installing air conditioning on boats was in the mid ‘80’s. I was new to the game and was an eager gofer helping to install a system on a 44’ sailboat. When I mentioned this to my buddies at the bar, they were amazed to hear that you could actually install air conditioning on a sailboat, especially on one that small! Nowadays it’s expected that even 25 footers have air conditioning as a standard item.

Those days were before rotary compressors replaced the noisy, heavy, and power-hungry reciprocating versions, and when one unscrupulous manufacturer would chisel the metal data plate off the compressor in order to fudge the specs to boost their claim that they had bigger units than their competitors. Yes, really!

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Air conditioning on your boat - it's within reach

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You want to go for an overnight boat adventure, but it's hot out there, even on the water. During the day, no problem, there is wind, a bimini, swimming to keep you cool, but at night, when you want to sleep, the thought of that hot, humid cabin can be a deal killer.

Solution: a small air conditioning system that is perfect for a sleeping cabin, to lower the cabin's humidity and temperature.

With a small 115v unit, the current draw is low enough that it can usually be powered by an engine alternator during the day when the engine is running and then from the batteries, through an inverter, at night. You may not need a generator, if you choose the right air conditioning unit.

There are also 12v air conditioning units available, but only one that is really worth looking at, and even then, the cost may make the venture unattainable.

To better understand the choices, let's compare two units:

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A Heated Conversation

Goshawk Ketch Rob Lamb Ontario Canada
We occasionally get asked whether it is possible to run a reverse-cycle marine air conditioner (heat-pump) when the water surrounding the boat is at freezing temperatures. The answer to that is “yes, it is indeed possible”, but is it a sensible, safe, and reliable way to heat a boat in those conditions?

Most of these inquiries come from live-aboards up north, although we may well be hearing from some in Florida and other southern states in the days to come once this arctic blast hits down there also. We hear that many marinas are now stipulating that plug-in heaters are prohibited, citing insurance issues, including even the ceramic and oil-filled radiator types, which seems a little overly precautious to my mind.

For a really cozy cabin you could install a diesel-fired forced air or circulating water system, but these are expensive and complex installations that require strict adherence to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to prevent potential ventilation, exhaust, and noise issues. Then, they sit idle for half the year.

So, your vessel is sitting in freezing/frozen water and you want to use your reverse-cycle air conditioner to heat the boat. You won’t get that much heat out of it, but once it’s up and running and you have a warmish cabin, you should get around 30F higher air temperature at the air outlet than at the inlet. Just don’t stop it once it has started, as it will take forever for the system to start producing any useable heat again. A cold compressor will suck up all the heat being produced by the system for the first 15 to 30 minutes until that heavy hunk of metal has had a chance to heat up.

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Phone: (301) 352-5738
Email: info@CoastalClimateControl.com
Office | Warehouse:
4831 Tesla Dr., Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
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Office | Warehouse:
Coastal Climate Control
4831 Tesla Drive
Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
Phone: (301) 352-5738

Request Information
Click here for directions.