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Old 09-10-2013, 09:49 AM   #1
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So whats the verdict- Penguin Low Pro or Mach 8?

Which of these units has best cooling, easiest install, and quiet operation?

I'm going to bite the bullet and replace my AC while I've got everything torn apart. My original AC is working, but I figure its destined to go out at some point, so might as well do it now.

Plus, I'm assuming a new unit will be far more efficient- especially if I upgrade to 15k BTU.

In reading all the posts about these units, I'm still unclear on which is right for me.

The Penguin seems to have solid & consistent positive reviews. I'm not quite certain if there are any condensation drain pan issues, because I've read some posts that indicate they are using different pans, or possibly another design with "cups" or something.... Another member posted that the drain cups are visible from the ground and dont look good aesthetically. At the $750 price point for the 15k heat pump, this seems to be a great value.

Mach 8 looks to be too new to get a good feel for reliability. Posts I've read indicate a simple fiberglass drain pan, and simple 4 bolt installation. However, I'm reading mixed reviews as to whether the noise level is problematic. Not sure if a condensate pump is a potential point of failure, maybe its a non-issue. I know that in a home AC system, they are prone to failure and cause for water damage. The price point for the Mach 8 is right at $1000- quite a bit more than the Penguin.

In the end, I'm inclined to think that the cooling and heating performance between the two is comparable. However the Mach 8 is louder on the outside of the coach, and its $250 more expensive. Weight differential between the 2 is only 15 lbs. The Mach 8 is 1" lower profile.

Am I missing something that makes the Mach 8 more attractive? Ease of installation differences? Reliability? Service & Repair availability?

As always- love your input!
Thanks!
Mic
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:35 AM   #2
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I just did an installation of a Penguin low profile, and used the Airstream specific condensate pan. I was torn between using the pan, or going with the "cups," but since I already had the pan, I went that way. The installation was simple enough (three bolts), and I would imagine it is very similar for any modern AC. The use of the condensate pan added a little complexity--were I to start from scratch, I would probably do the "cups" next time. The AC runs reasonably quiet, and the only thing I have to compare it to is the Coleman (model unknown) on my buddy's RV, and I would say that neither is radically quieter.

So, if you can save money and have peace of mind with the Penguin, I would recommend going that way.

good luck!
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:40 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input!

Can you explain more about the pan? What is the "Airstream specific pan"? And why would you use the cups, if you were to do it again?

Thanks!
Mic
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:40 AM   #4
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The pan is a molded plastic item that I bought from Outofdoorsmart.com, and it is apparently used (or was used) by the factory for installation of ACs. It is sized and designed specifically for the Penguin ACs, and has a curve to it to fit the roof of an Airstream. Basically, you clean off your roof where you want to install it, then goop it up thoroughly with vulkem and stick it to the roof. You then have to carve the foam seals on the bottom of the AC so that the draining channels in the pan can go through the foam in a couple of places. The AC then just sits down into the pan, and should seal against the pan, which is vulkemed to the roof. You can then connect your condensate drain line to the condensate channel in the pan, and you are done (after tightening mounting bolts, etc.).

The cups do essentially the same thing as the pan, just with less hardware. My understanding is that you double the thickness of all of the foam on the underside of the AC, and cut a hole through each side of the main square seal. The cups attach underneath the AC under the drain holes, and funnel the condensate through tubes that go through the main seal in the holes mentioned above. The two tubes come together, and feed into your condensate drain line.

Pan pros: Gets the AC as close to the roof as possible, has a clean look, is the "factory" model.

Pan Cons: I have heard of people whose pans break (physical damage or cracking with age), which results in leaks to the interior, the carving of the foam seals is a little techniquish--made me worry that I might end up with a leaky seal--so far so good.

Cups Pros: a more simplistic approach, less stuff to break, harder to screw up the install. When I said that if I had it to do over, this is the way I would go, this is what I was referring to--reduced chance of screwing it up.

Cups cons: Added foam under AC will raise it up a little bit, cups are visible, and somewhat unsightly.

Cost on the both of them is about the same.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:45 AM   #5
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Here is a thread that details installation using the pan, and some discussion about the cups. There is some misinformation in this thread, that eventually gets corrected, regarding the presence/absence of the foam gasket between the AC and the pan (yes, it has to be there, but has to be modified).

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...an-105615.html
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:11 PM   #6
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I purchased and installed the Coleman Mach 8. No Pan to install, no Sealant to put on the roof. Compressed gasket with 4 bolts mounts it to the roof. I have used it twice so far a week each time in very hot weather. It has worked flawlessly so far. The condensate pump was easy to install, the drain hose hooks to it and keeps the water exiting out the bottom of the camper, as designed. For me, the noise level inside and outside is considerably better than any old unit. No complaints from my camping neighbors or from me. I also added heat strips to this heat pump unit. So for me, so far, I'm pleased with the Coleman Mach 8.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:23 PM   #7
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Interesting.... Definitely sounds like a lot more work than the Mach 8, which as I understand it, just squishes the foam against the roof, with bolts to tighten it down, and has a built in pan.

Without seeing the pan, I'm hearing alot of sealing with vulkem, and part where you "have to carve the foam seals on the bottom of the AC so that the draining channels in the pan can go through the foam in a couple of places" sounds a little rigged to me...

I assume the pan is plastic, which is the reason for cracking and leaking potential?

The cups make me question whether or not they will clog up... Are they able to be cleaned?

I also hear they are unsightly, but if the function is superior, I could live with that....
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:23 PM   #8
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I installed the Mach8 heatpump. Very pleased. Found out also that it came with the hard start capacitor, so I had nothing else to worry about. I ran a thermostat wire along with my drain tube so I can have a wall mount thermostat which was is very convenient. Intstallation was super easy, and no vulkem needed. I got it on right before a huge thunderstorm, before I could put the inside cover on, and not a single drop of water got past the gasket. I used curved z shaped aluminum ribs to keep my roof slightly rounded. Put those in with olympic rivets and shaved the tops a little flat. I got the condensate pump. I was shocked at how much water gets pumped through that tube. Happy with the sound and the 2 speeds and the plenum molds to my roof just fine (even though I have the pleated ceiling).

I also think that my roof plenum looks very period appropriate, and not like something designed by Star Trek.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:30 PM   #9
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Thanks Jimbcole!

Mach 8 sure does sound like a simple and clean install. Good to hear the noise is insignificant. I've been thinking along the lines of you comment, that ANYTHING newer will be a huge improvement over my 37 yr old unit.

So this brings me to a new consideration- water leaks from condensation. The Mach 8 uses a pump, so what happens if it fails? Does it leak inside?

I've just been reading about the cups system on the Penguin, where if they ever clog, the water just overflows on the the coach.... that seems nice.

Does anyone know if Coleman used pump for a long time? AND Do they have a history of failure resulting in problematic water damage?
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:33 PM   #10
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Ok- that brings up another question I forgot to ask.... the Air Distribution Boxes on these things....

Do they fit our curved interior ceilings? Do they need to be trimmed/ sanded to get the curvature correct or is this a non-issue?
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:37 PM   #11
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My original AC is working, but I figure its destined to go out at some point, so might as well do it now.
If you have the original Armstrong and it works keep it. They work really good and are IMHO better than any new unit. If it still works you will probably be dead before the Armstrong.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:38 PM   #12
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AND yet another question comes to mind..

I've read that the Mach 8 has issues freezing up when run on low in humid conditions. I'm in Florida, and you can drink the air....

Is this just AC management no matter which model? Or is this a known issue?
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:40 PM   #13
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If you have the original Armstrong and it works keep it. They work really good and are IMHO better than any new unit. If it still works you will probably be dead before the Armstrong.
No kidding Lumatic??? 37 years and I'm not missing out on performance??
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:45 PM   #14
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No kidding Lumatic??? 37 years and I'm not missing out on performance??
My 1974 Armstrong has kept the 24' Argosy comfortable on the inside at temps over 100F with high humidity and insufficient shade. It did get into the low 80s inside in the heat of the day, but it was quite dry and comfortable and compared to outside it was heavenly.

It's *NOT* quiet, inside or out, but it keeps me comfy. I wish the '76 still had its Armstrong, but a previous owner installed some giant beast without a condensate drain. I'll keep using that until I'm ready to repaint, but I'm not having the AC slobber all over a new paint job so at that point I'll go for a Penguin or a Mach 8 on that trailer.
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