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Old 09-29-2019, 04:11 PM   #1
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Are air ducts needed?

I am debating purchasing a used 2013 30ft int signature w/o air ducts versus a 2015 30ftFC with. They both have 2 ACs does it really matter much?
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Old 09-29-2019, 04:41 PM   #2
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Air Ducts are quieter and the conditioned air is better distributed, not necessary just comfort.
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Old 09-29-2019, 05:08 PM   #3
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Hi

Without the ducts you get a direct blast of cold air right out of the unit. Stand in exactly the right place and "wow this is great". Sit somewhere out of the direct blast and ....not so much. As mentioned above, the ducts also quiet things down.

Is any of this make or break? Certainly not.

Bob
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:32 PM   #4
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Ducted distribution systems give better, read more uniform, temperature. It allows front AC to cool the back and vice versa. No duct and the air just doesn't get there. Get some fans. Note when on 30 amps you likely will be limited to one AC.

More importantly is the question how are they controlled? If it is thermostaticly controlled......like a house .... that's a good thing. But if it just has high low switches on the units themselves and the fan runs all the time. You won't want to spend a lot of time in air conditioning. TV , television not tow vehicle, watching is stressed.

This set up is more like the inexpensive model RVs. No it isn't required, but you'll want it.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:26 AM   #5
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We have a 2012 without the vented and love it. We sleep with Alexa’s “thunderstorm” and a fan at home so we love the white noise. We also love how easy it would be to replace if it goes out. Ours is controlled by a thermostat and does a fantastic job of cooling. We can close off either side, or the middle vents, also! We love it!
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:54 AM   #6
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I've only owned one trailer with ducted air which was an SOB. Quite honestly I like the ductless units because they are much more efficient. You get no back pressure which is present on any forced air system (even your house). In that respect most HVAC folks will tell you that most home systems are not running at peak efficiency since builders do not build enough return and distribution capacity in home systems. I question how much Airstream takes that into consideration in the engineering design.

I only state that because of my discussions with Airstream in Jackson center when I was complaining about the performance of my air conditioner that came in my 2001 27' Safari. No one after talking to many there, could tell me what the design level was for the air conditioning choice for my Safari. (Specifically what is the indoor temperature I should expect based on various outdoor temperatures). I was finding it was 12-15 degrees dependent upon sun exposure. Both my dealer and Jackson Center who checked the air conditioner could not find any issue, although no one would go on record with a figure. All they could say was input air and discharge air temps were within manufacturer's specs. But in my case the inside air volume that the unit had to cool was larger than what at the time, the 13.5 K air conditioner could handle in hotter weather.

But going back to the topic at had, my dealer said that while quiet is a definite advantage in the ducted system, he notes that in his experience the ducted units cool down slower due to duct restriction. I know with my single unit in my 30' Classic, I have discharge vents this push to the forward area of the trailer and then back through my center bath into the rear bedroom. I find that air distribution is just fine as long as the center bath doors are open. Not so much when they are closed but there is pass through openings when the door is closed.

Yes it is louder but I also use the auto setting on my thermostat that controls the A/C. So when the inside set point is reached, the fan turns off. That minimizes the time when the air is on, and obviously the trailer is very quiet. The auto function also selects the fan speed that is appropriate for inside air temperatures. When the trailer is cooling down, the fan speed runs at max, but once we approach set point the motor is dialed down. That allows more humidity to be removed since the unit will run a little longer, but will not be max cooling which while it gets temps down, will not remove as much humidity in the interior.

So bottom line, keep in mind that the Airstream is not the most efficient trailer out there regarding insulation and how aluminum absorbs sunshine. If I was buying a newer 30' trailer with ducts, I'd have two A/C units present. If in the same size it was ductless I would go with one (assuming it was a 15K unit.....15K was an option and I took that when I had my trailer built).

If you are doing most of your camping in the south and southwest, I'd definitely have two units regardless of ducting or lack of.

As far as which to buy, it depends on price and condition of the trailer. Choose whichever you would think is best for your circumstances, although based on your locale, I'd probably check the BTU's of each unit and go with the trailer that has the largest BTU ratings if there is any difference. Based on the years of the trailers I would expect each trailer to have the same sized units.

Jack
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Old 09-30-2019, 04:21 PM   #7
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Short Answer: Ducted!

Background: I have had both types. Ducted is a night and day difference especially in noise and distribution IHMO.
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Old 09-30-2019, 04:47 PM   #8
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After having both, I would go with the ducted system for the lower noise and better air distribution. I will report that the overhead duct vent covers in my 2016 FC would routinely fall out on trips until I took all of them out and got rid of the restrictive plastic "adjustable shutter" portion of these vents and opened the angles on the vent cuts in the visible metal to allow more air flow with less restriction. I then re-installed just that metal slotted cover via a threaded center bolt into an aluminum bar spanning the ceiling openings on the inside and pop-riveted in place. The covers can still be adjusted as to directional flow. The increased air flow is quite a lot and the covers do not fall out now.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:38 PM   #9
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Ducted is so much better, I’m installing a Ducted Coleman Mach 8 in a 78 Sovereign now. As for as return air, it is no different than a non ducted unit, same location, same size return. I’m fabrication my own ducts from Aluminum. I might add insulation is the key. I’m using 1.5 commercial foam that is a sandwich type that is suppose to have the highest R value per inch of anything on the market.I’ll see when it is delivered .
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Old 11-17-2019, 09:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobH41 View Post
After having both, I would go with the ducted system for the lower noise and better air distribution. I will report that the overhead duct vent covers in my 2016 FC would routinely fall out on trips until I took all of them out and got rid of the restrictive plastic "adjustable shutter" portion of these vents and opened the angles on the vent cuts in the visible metal to allow more air flow with less restriction. I then re-installed just that metal slotted cover via a threaded center bolt into an aluminum bar spanning the ceiling openings on the inside and pop-riveted in place. The covers can still be adjusted as to directional flow. The increased air flow is quite a lot and the covers do not fall out now.
Dear RobH41, I am also having problem with vent covers falling. Appears openings are slightly too large. Would you be more specific on your remedy? Sure appreciate your help. Thank you, Jerry
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