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Old 07-29-2019, 11:59 AM   #101
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Houghton AC unit installed on Interstate

I purchased the Houghton AC unit from ARV and installed it myself.

What I can tell you is, this is by far the best modification I have done so far. I can run the AC on high and have a normal conversation.

My original AC unit was removed within 6 months of purchasing the Airstream. I installed a Dometic Blizzard, which was stated to be lower noise than the original. It was only 2 decibel lower than the original and the unit was much taller (which didn't look good). I still could not sleep with the Blizzard running.

Spent the ~$2387 for the Houghton delivered to my house. UPS brought it in a large cardboard box. About 130 lbs.

Installation: Last month I removed the Blizzard AC unit (remove shroud, then 4 main bolts in the corners, labeled all wiring). Used my tractor with forks to remove it. Lifted Houghton unit onto the van with the tractor.
Due to the ridges on the top of the van, you would need to cut 2 high spots of the van in order to place the Houghton plastic square upper mount. I did not use the upper mount, thus didn't cut the metal. I used the best quality black silicon I could find and made my own seal to fill in the gap between the Houghton seal and the roof ridges and then placed the Houghton directly on the roof. From the inside, I used the lower mount and 4 bolts. That was all there was to the mounting for me.
Obviously the biggest challenge is to remove the original and place the Houghton on top. If I didn't have the tractor, I would have gone to a local construction rental place and use a boom forklift to do the job there in the parking lot and then do the wiring at home.
Wiring was very, very easy. The Houghton only needs the three 120V wiring. The thermostat is on a remote and signals the shroud. It doesn't use any of the Airstream thermostat wiring or generator sense wiring. This year Airstream has a generator sense wire. If the generator shuts down, the ac unit will cut off first. That didn't concern me. Also, the Airstream thermostat on the wall will no longer be used.

Decibels:
Orignial Dometic unit was 72 on high.
Second AC unit, the Dometic Blizzard was 72 on high and 70 on low.
Houghton AC = high is 62 and on low is 52. Massive difference.

Houghton height = 9 1/2". Interstate height approx 9'6".

Houghton Amperage:
Blower fan running = 1 AMP
Compressor running = 8 additional AMPS so, 9 AMPs total.
Compressor starting = To be determined. I do not see any jump on the panel, but I would need to check the wiring with an AMP meter to see what it is on start up.

Sooooo much of an improvement. We used it two weeks ago in 98 degree weather and it worked flawlessly. Kept the inside at 70 degrees and mine is black. Prior to departure in the morning, I ran the AC to pre-cool for about 30 mins.

Driving with the Houghton running: I have done this twice. However I was the driver and cannot determine if the unit was still blowing cold air. The unit never shut off. Soon, I will have my wife drive and I will check the output of the temperature to see if it raises due to the back flow on the condenser. I have though about making my own scoop to flow the driving air over the AC unit...

Hope this helps anyone thinking about installing it. $2387 is expensive, yes, but it has made the summer time in the Airstream so much better.

OH, added bonus. I am being told the Houghton is a heat pump and while on shore power, I will be able to run this as a heater in the winter and not use my propane......
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Old 07-29-2019, 12:13 PM   #102
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Wow, what an *excellent* write up!! Thanks!!
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:04 PM   #103
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M4 - thanks for the info. I'm not sure, but I think that Houghton A/C has a variable speed compressor. If it does then there won't be much of an inrush current on start of compressor. Might be why you did see a jump in current on compressor start.
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:49 PM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
M4 - thanks for the info. I'm not sure, but I think that Houghton A/C has a variable speed compressor.
You know, it is interesting you state that. Today I watched the AMPs on the control panel and it went from 1 amp for a few seconds (blower only) to 4, 6, then 8 and settled at 9 amps. So, that makes sense what you are saying.....
I never hear the thud, like the Dometic units on it from before when the compressor kicks on. The only way I know it was working was when the inside air slowly started to cool after about 30 seconds from turning it on. I like this even more now.

Just need to see about running it while driving. More tests and maybe some type of scoop.
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:53 PM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M4 Aviation View Post
I purchased the Houghton AC unit from ARV and installed it myself.
Thanks very much for the write up. I'm thinking about doing this mod but letting ARV do the install.
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Old 07-29-2019, 05:55 PM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M4 Aviation View Post
Just need to see about running it while driving. More tests and maybe some type of scoop.
MY AVIATION - Thank you for taking time to writeup. Will follow your remaining drive tests. Very interested in this unit.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:15 PM   #107
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So if the current draw is only 9 amps, that means that I could put 2 of these units on my 27ft. trailer and maintain the 30 amp service. That's something to contemplate. Are these 15k units or 13.5? Probably somewhere in the thread, but too lazy to go back and read.
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:47 PM   #108
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Here and on the Class B Forums website the ARV unit is identified as the Houghton HB3400. The Houghton HB3400 has a single speed compressor in the Owners Manual schematic on the mygenerator.com.au website. The Owners Manual page 21 shows a 2-wire power connection and a start capacitor.
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:20 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by Fixin2Drive View Post
Here and on the Class B Forums website the ARV unit is identified as the Houghton HB3400. The Houghton HB3400 has a single speed compressor in the Owners Manual schematic on the mygenerator.com.au website. The Owners Manual page 21 shows a 2-wire power connection and a start capacitor.
FIXIN2DRIVE - Yes, I saw that. Also, on their website they list the Houghton as having "PTC Soft Start technology" making it sound like some hi-tech gizmo. This is nothing more than a thermistor in fancy tuxedo named PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) resistors. As evidenced by their own diagram, you can see the PTC (thermistor) wired across the start cap between Run & Start terminals. This thermistor is not in the same league as the MicroAir EasyStart and IMHO hardly deserves the designation of Soft Start Technology. Beginning to not be impressed, considering all the hype.
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Old 07-30-2019, 05:36 AM   #110
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... on their website they list the Houghton as having "PTC Soft Start technology" .....
I'm trying to square this with ARV's consultant's statement of 45 amp inrush current. I wonder was this a later adaptation to the unit? Because a year and a half has gone by since this inquiry commenced. That's enough time for the manufacturer to tweak it if they were going to.
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:29 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
I'm trying to square this with ARV's consultant's statement of 45 amp inrush current. I wonder was this a later adaptation to the unit? Because a year and a half has gone by since this inquiry commenced. That's enough time for the manufacturer to tweak it if they were going to.
INTEBLOG - that is good question and I have not really thought about that (even though I remembered you and/or someone else mentioning the 45A). Maybe those who have installed & measured MicroAir EasyStart can confirm this - but 45A seems a bunch more than what MicroAir EasyStart throttles down the inrush current.

So I looked up the specs for my unit Dometic Penguin II. For some reason, they have 2 types of 13.5kBtu units depending on volume of R410A which shows 2 different Locked Rotor Amps (LRA) which is also referred to as Inrush Current or sometimes referred to as Startup Current. The one that has 19oz is rated at 52A LRA. The one that has 24oz is rated at 63A LRA. Given my unit, if one was to use a MicroAir EasyStart and using a very conservative LRA reduction of 60% (they publish 70% reduction which you can observe in a few of Matteo's Youtube vids), my unit will have a start current of 20-25A (most likely even less).

So, if Houghton's number is 45A, then that is not even half as good as the MicroAir EasyStart. Am I surprised? Absolutely not, given their so called PTC Soft Start technology is just a thermistor. That's probably as good as it gets for such a device. If I was to spend the kind of money ARV charges for this Houghton unit, I would expect it to have a true LRA throttling technology that MicroAir uses AND either a variable-speed compressor or at the very least multi-fixed-speeds. Interestingly, MicroAir has been trying to get their technology into the OEM makers but not sure where that effort is.

The allure of very quiet operation is nice. But not at the expense of getting a unit that has no better tech than my noisy one. Not to mention that AFAIK, ARV markets this unit still as a static unit not capable of performing optimally in-transit (also pending M4AVIATION drive test).

PS: I did look at the specs for the Houghton BelAire 3400 and nowhere does it list it's true compressor LRA without the PTC. So I am only assuming the stated 45A is taken with the PTC. Also, the specs published are 220-240 50Hz. Could not find 120v specs.
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Old 07-30-2019, 10:23 AM   #112
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Amp discussion had me curious again. Went to the AI just a few mins ago and turned on the Houghton and similar results on the Airstream 120v control panel:
Blower on = 1 AMP
I heard a slight noise change (compressor coming on-line) and amps ramped up slowly to 16 and then settled back down at 13.

I do have an actual hand held electrical amp meter, but I would need to pull down the ceiling shroud to gain access to the actual 120v hard line and do a test. I will try to do that as soon as possible.
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Old 07-30-2019, 03:08 PM   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M4 Aviation View Post
Amp discussion had me curious again. Went to the AI just a few mins ago and turned on the Houghton and similar results on the Airstream 120v control panel:
Blower on = 1 AMP
I heard a slight noise change (compressor coming on-line) and amps ramped up slowly to 16 and then settled back down at 13.

I do have an actual hand held electrical amp meter, but I would need to pull down the ceiling shroud to gain access to the actual 120v hard line and do a test. I will try to do that as soon as possible.
M4AVIATION - Thank you again for doing all this testing, which benefit those of us who still undecided. Regarding measuring the inrush current/LRA - from watching a vid by the Wynns and Matteo (MicroAir), it was noted a regular ammeter was not going to capture the spike generated by the compressor at startup-to-peak. The spike may only be in the millisecond range, so fast that most ammeters can not react fast enough to get an accurate reading. You would need a one similar to what Matteo uses (5:55 in Youtube video) which has a latching capability to capture the data.

For anyone who cares a deeper dive - the wonky/techy alternative - during my days when I was in the field, we would've automatically used our oscilloscope to capture both amplitude & duration. In this case, definite overkill since all we need is just the peak amperage, but having both amplitude, duration & the waveform image tells you so much more about how long it takes for the compressor to settle down and how cleanly it is ramping down from peak. I know, this is wonky stuff that most won't care about. But since Houghton does not publish this data, seeing it on a scope could give you insight on how good their compressors are. Being such an expensive a/c, surprised they dont provide this data.

Exaggerated waveform of dirty ramp down from peak to steady state below.
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Good example of clean ramp down from peak to steady state below.
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Old 07-30-2019, 05:29 PM   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fixin2Drive View Post
Here and on the Class B Forums website the ARV unit is identified as the Houghton HB3400. The Houghton HB3400 has a single speed compressor in the Owners Manual schematic on the mygenerator.com.au website. The Owners Manual page 21 shows a 2-wire power connection and a start capacitor.
What is true for a Houghton HB340 may not be true for the unit ARV is selling. For one thing they had the A/C modified to run on 120V, 60Hz power, unlike the Australian unit that runs on 240V, 50Hz.

Question for M4 Aviation - did you get any technical info on the unit you bought from ARV?
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Old 07-30-2019, 11:30 PM   #115
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Did a bit of investigative research, dug up all the posted pics & vids of the inside of the ARV Quiet A/C. I can definitely say it uses a BOYARD rotary compressor. Have no idea what model or specs on this compressor. BOYARD is the English name for Zhejiang Boyang Compressor Co.

INTERBLOG - since you brought up the outsourced made in China Zero Breeze in Post #85, this answers your curiosity. I see no reason to attempt checking if the other parts are made in China as well, since it's most expensive part the compressor is, chances are the rest of it is. Is this then an Aussie branded unit made in China imported by ARV?
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