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Old 03-03-2016, 08:05 PM   #1
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AC Upgrade to 15,000BTU

Since I didn't see a forum thread that included the AC unit, I guess it goes here.

I have a 2002 Classic with a very noisy and inefficient 13,500 unit. In very hot environments it barely keeps up. I had NW Airstream in Caldwell, Idaho look into switching me to a new, more efficient 15,000 unit. It will fit. My question is whether the breaker box is sufficient and if there are any stumbling blocks I'm not seeing. Please advise and thanks.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by pappy19 View Post
Since I didn't see a forum thread that included the AC unit, I guess it goes here.

I have a 2002 Classic with a very noisy and inefficient 13,500 unit. In very hot environments it barely keeps up. I had NW Airstream in Caldwell, Idaho look into switching me to a new, more efficient 15,000 unit. It will fit. My question is whether the breaker box is sufficient and if there are any stumbling blocks I'm not seeing. Please advise and thanks.
Technically, you will need:

• a new Dometic Penguin II 15K heat pump or cool only upper unit
• probably a new lower interior air distribution box
• a new Dometic drip kit with extra gasket
• a new Dometic Comfort Control Center II thermostat

That's it. Your existing 20 amp breaker is sufficient for the demands of a new 15K unit.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:17 AM   #3
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We went to a domestic 15000 and still had cooling prob. On checking we had cool air leaking into the air return. We had 38 to 42 degree air while compress running but cool air caused the thermostat to kick off the compressor. Apparently according to the dometic tech rep i talked to this is a common issue.he suggested what i did.Pulled the interior distribution down put 3\8 in foam strip along all contact edges alum HVAC tape to seal the blower tube cut thin strips of tape and sealed all seams and joints in the air return box.none of this can be seen from the out side except for about a 1\16 in black line around the edge from the foam. I took a razor and cut the excess foam away. All the AC units are designed to fit flat surfaces. Took about 2 hours and worked..
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Old 03-04-2016, 02:25 PM   #4
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did you have to lift the unit up or this is under the panel so to speak..
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Old 03-04-2016, 04:15 PM   #5
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Dometic does not make a 15k Penguin. The next step up is a 'high efficiency'. I have one and the plate on it says 13.5k. I think that the 'high efficiency' is tuned to run 'hotter'. I do not no for sure. If I had to do it all over again I would save the money (about $200) and just buy the 13.5k. The 'high efficiency' draws more amps, has more freon and weighs more. I would bet it is louder.

http://dometic3frontend.qbank.se/epi...031957a824.pdf


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Old 03-04-2016, 05:52 PM   #6
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The 'High Efficiency' unit is commonly known 'in the trade' as a 15K heat pump. It's all semantics really. Dometic saw fit to change the name when they came out with the Penguin II line. The older Penguins had the 15K option labeled as such.

It weighs the same, uses the slightly larger compressor with more refrigerant and the same blower motor, base pan, shroud, air box, t/stat, etc. Noise levels should be identical to the 13.5K units.
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Old 03-05-2016, 11:18 AM   #7
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Many, many thanks for the information above. I have forwarded this to my AS dealer Service Manager as an FYI. The new Dometic unit is at the dealership and is to installed next week. Until it really gets warm, it may be difficult to judge the end result. Thanks again and any additional info on this swap will be gratefully accepted.
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:18 AM   #8
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that is interesting.. are the condensor and evap coils any larger as well. Not seeing how a large compressor and a bit more freon can make a 1,500 btu difference. Like you said it might all be on paper.



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The 'High Efficiency' unit is commonly known 'in the trade' as a 15K heat pump. It's all semantics really. Dometic saw fit to change the name when they came out with the Penguin II line. The older Penguins had the 15K option labeled as such.

It weighs the same, uses the slightly larger compressor with more refrigerant and the same blower motor, base pan, shroud, air box, t/stat, etc. Noise levels should be identical to the 13.5K units.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:18 AM   #9
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that is interesting.. are the condensor and evap coils any larger as well. Not seeing how a large compressor and a bit more freon can make a 1,500 btu difference. Like you said it might all be on paper.
I've never dissected the units in tandem, so I can't say this as fact, but I would assume that given their stated capacity increase, both a larger compressor and enhanced coil area both should be in play to account for the increase in refrigerant capacity.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:06 AM   #10
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I had a 13.5K Penguin in my 2001 27' Safari. My first trip was in 104 degree weather and we were in the mid 80's in the trailer. In the same campground next to me was my former SOB. It was 30' with a 13.5K Duo Therm. It was 10 degrees cooler inside. That's when I learned that my lesson regarding how well the aluminum conducts heat. Bottom line the dealer and Jackson Center both checked out the air conditioner and pronounced it was working to specs, but was undersized when we experienced high temperatures. I promptly added a street side long awing which helped a lot. When I ordered my Classic, 13.5K was still the standard A/C. I opted for the 15K heat pump model and have never experienced a hot trailer again.
I think most Airstreams 27' or longer should use a 15K unit, and if you travel in hot southern or southwest climes, 2 units should be the standard.

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Old 03-06-2016, 10:18 AM   #11
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Many, many thanks for the information above. I have forwarded this to my AS dealer Service Manager as an FYI. The new Dometic unit is at the dealership and is to installed next week. Until it really gets warm, it may be difficult to judge the end result. Thanks again and any additional info on this swap will be gratefully accepted.
Is your new AC going to be installed with the drain cups vs the drain pan?

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Old 03-08-2016, 01:52 PM   #12
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The new drain cups as they come in the new AS models.
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:26 PM   #13
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when you say drain cups is that sorta like on a self defrost refrigerator the water drains into a pan that the fan blows across to evaporate it during cooling operation.

has that proven to be a good system thus far??


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The new drain cups as they come in the new AS models.
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Old 03-09-2016, 04:52 PM   #14
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when you say drain cups is that sorta like on a self defrost refrigerator the water drains into a pan that the fan blows across to evaporate it during cooling operation.

has that proven to be a good system thus far??
Nope!

Dometic's drain cups are placed on the bottom of the base pan, directly below the drain holes which come from the drip tray under the evaporator. The condensate is channeled thru the included hose and connects into the internal drain line that is placed in every Airstream trailer.

This allow for the condensate to be directed to an opening at the terminus of the internal drain hose and allows the water to flow, usually inside a wheel well so it does not drip onto the roof and exterior aluminum.

They work exceptionally well..WHEN PROPERLY INSTALLED!!!
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Old 03-09-2016, 05:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappy19 View Post
Since I didn't see a forum thread that included the AC unit, I guess it goes here.

I have a 2002 Classic with a very noisy and inefficient 13,500 unit. In very hot environments it barely keeps up. I had NW Airstream in Caldwell, Idaho look into switching me to a new, more efficient 15,000 unit. It will fit. My question is whether the breaker box is sufficient and if there are any stumbling blocks I'm not seeing. Please advise and thanks.
Your thread is in the correct forum now.
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Old 03-10-2016, 07:25 PM   #16
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Your thread is in the correct forum now.
Which one? It doesn't show up on the forum app. What is the main thread under? Thanks.
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Old 03-10-2016, 08:23 PM   #17
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This one: Go Back Airstream Forums > Airstream Restoration, Repair & Parts Forums > Interior Restoration Forum > Furnaces, Heaters, Fireplaces & Air Conditioning
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Old 03-10-2016, 09:20 PM   #18
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Just a comment on travel, cooling and climate. My AS has an 11K unit and works well in high nineties high humidity temps and climates. Considering the square footage of an Airstream there should be quite cool interiors with 13 or 15K units. My aunt and uncle lived in the southwest for several years and spoke of their swamp cooler as better for cooling than their AC during the summer. Is Idaho dry? Perhaps you might consider one of those too?
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:41 AM   #19
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Just a comment on travel, cooling and climate. My AS has an 11K unit and works well in high nineties high humidity temps and climates. Considering the square footage of an Airstream there should be quite cool interiors with 13 or 15K units. My aunt and uncle lived in the southwest for several years and spoke of their swamp cooler as better for cooling than their AC during the summer. Is Idaho dry? Perhaps you might consider one of those too?
Ever seen what a 'swamp cooler' looks like on an RV?..especially an Airstream?

Yes, they are evaporative coolers that are de3signed to work in very low humidity climates. Simply not practical in the RV environment. They also don't work well in higher humidity areas or in very high neat areas.

Had a business in a high temp dry area. The cooler worked OK in the morning but by 1:00 PM and 95F.worthless!
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Old 03-11-2016, 02:20 PM   #20
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Had a business in a high temp dry area. The cooler worked OK in the morning but by 1:00 PM and 95F….worthless!
Hmm. My aunt and uncle, though in a home, had one that once summer got into full swing, they ONLY used it 24/7. They always shared how the thing was so much better than the AC in the desert heat during summer. I cannot say since I have always lived in the humid south. If I were getting one for an Airstream, it would be a portable something like this:

As far as BTU ratings and space goes, I am always perplexed by the many posts here of uncomfortable Airstreamers with a 15K unit or even two units- all for about 150 square feet. It has to be the pano windows and heat radiation. I know one thing for certain, too many BTUs and it doesn't cool down, just stays damp and cooler. If I were buying a unit now, I would consider the new design Dometic Blizzard because of the added airflow (supposedly).http://www.dometic.com/USA/New-Produ.../blizzard-nxt/
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