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Unherdable 08-15-2010 01:39 PM

Upgrading AC on brand new Airstream....
Hello all,

I have a quick question, and apologies if I was not able to find an answer in previous posts. We have taken delivery of a 2011 25FB International (sorry if I have not learnt all the acronyms yet!!). We have been on 4 trips already, and after the last one to check out the Perseid Meteor shower... I have to admit that the AC does not cut it. It has been quite hot and humid in TX, and this combination has been quite taxing to the AC system. I believe my AS has a 13,500 BTU AC unit. Is there a quick and easy "swap" to a 15,000 BTU (or bigger) unit? Although I doubt the 15,000 BTU unit is going to help that much more. The official temp on Friday at our campsite west and north of Fort Worth was 106 degrees, and substantial humidity too. And it was unable to keep the temp inside the AS below 90 degrees. The AC unit did not freeze up on this trip, although on a previous trip it did freeze up.

Thanks for any comments.

RLS 08-15-2010 02:05 PM

We have the 15,000 unit in ours, and in the summer time, it will not cool down all the way. I found it helps to use insulation on the fans and windows you do care about seeing out of. I can maintain about 78 - 80 during the hottest times doing this.:)

richinny 08-15-2010 02:08 PM

from other posts i've heard......
the ac will usually only drop the ambient temp 20 degrees.
to reduce the chance of icing, run the fan on high.

from experience....
start the ac before it gets hot in the morning. i suppose that at 100+ during the day, you're not getting to the point of turning it off at night ;-)

park in the shade and use your awnings.

tpi 08-15-2010 02:08 PM

I'm wondering if adding an air conditioner would be more effective than adding 10% more capacity.

My 11K btu on 25' seems more effective than you describe. But it is only with one occupant, 24 hour run time, little cooking, efforts to insulate the windows and skylights and using awing to increase shade.

But I can see scenarios where extra capacity is required. Perhaps someone will chime in about the ease of adding a second unit. Replacing the 13.6 with a 15K shouldn't be hard, Dometic Penguins come in both sizes.

Al - K4GLU 08-15-2010 02:19 PM

You might also consider adding the window awnings if you don't have them already. They definitely help with keeping things cooler but when the temp gets over 100 prepare to sweat!

Unherdable 08-15-2010 02:41 PM

Ah, thanks for the replies. I did not in fact extend the awnings... And I have three of them. Hmmm, should have thought of that. :o

We did find that closing the two "room dividers" helped out a lot in keeping at least part of the volume cool.

The AC ran almost continuously for the 3 days we camped.

Melody Ranch 08-15-2010 02:47 PM

Awnings is the secret....all sides possible. I used a 13500 in the Caravels here in North Texas area and it was OK. Keep the door closed as much as possible, use awnings.

You have to be laughing at the suggestion to use tree shade (in the Grasslands) around here. Trees? Shade?

golfgal 08-15-2010 03:10 PM

We had a similar experience in our new 2010 25' International Serenity. It was 102 and humid, and the best our wimpy 13,500 BTU A/C could do was 90 degrees inside. We had to go out and buy two fans! We, too, are thinking of changing it out to a 15,000 BTU unit. Our fridge didn't do too well in those hot conditions, either. The best it could do during the day was 60 degrees inside. We had to throw away some steaks! Ugh! My husband is looking into the possibility of installing a computer cooling fan behind the fridge as some others have done on here. Hope that will help!

I might also add that we had all three of our awnings extended the day it was 102. I don't even want to think about how hot it would have been inside without those!

DKB_SATX 08-15-2010 03:12 PM

Yeah, seems like the awnings would make a huge difference. If I didn't have trees shading my house I'm not sure my central air would keep up with the lovely weather we've been having in north TX the last couple of weeks. It would be a good side-effect of covering the free roof area with solar cells, too... You'd get a little electric power and keep some direct sun off the top. ;)

tpi 08-15-2010 03:25 PM

Here's a couple more tips from a hot weather user.
1. Any windows not shaded by awning and exposed to direct sun can be improved by applying reflective windshield cover (cut to size) on the outside of the window. It can be applied with tape, velcro or suction cup. The key is to keep the exterior of the window out of the hot direct sun.

2. The roof skylight can be covered temporarily with a weighted pad. This can be done without getting on roof.

Windows with direct access to sun and roof skylight can admit several thousand extra btu of heat.

Gene 08-15-2010 03:49 PM

The material referred to in tpi's post is called Reflectix. It is available at Lowe's and RV stores. We put it on all the bedroom windows. A piece can slide over the skylight cover and one piece on each fan. All of these except the skylight are affixed by Velcro. It does make a difference. We just leave it on the bedroom windows because we don't look out them all that much plus it's easier.

When starting the A/C, have the Fantastic Fan run for a while to vent the interior after it's been towed through 100˚ temps. The cabinets and wardrobes will be hot too and could be opened for a while to ventilate them.

The awning(s) help too, of course.

I haven't put a fan on the outside of the fridge, but we do have one for the inside. The fridge temp went up to 48˚ in 106˚ heat one afternoon in Utah, but otherwise it stays at 39-40˚.

Airstream must save a few bucks by installing the 13.5 K unit and lose a few bucks several times over in reputation when people suffer 100˚ temps and complain publicly.


Foiled Again 08-15-2010 06:50 PM

My 25 FB SE came with a 15K air conditioner. You could hang meat in there on a 100 degree day. One simple thing - regularly clean the filters on the Air Conditioner. Twice a month if you're fulltiming. Using the awning(s) and or shading the windows helps a lot too.


Jammer 08-15-2010 09:25 PM

I have two A/Cs in my 30'.

The aft bedroom stays cool.

The forward portion of the trailer does not, on hot, humid days, with no shade, when it is windy enough that the awnings can't be extended. I have had the A/C looked at and have been paying increasing attention to exactly what goes on.

Part of the problem is that the fancy thermostat will not run the A/C all the time and at high fan unless there is at least a 9 degree difference between the thermostat setting and the indoor temperature. At 7-8 degrees it will switch between low and high fan. At 5-6 degrees it will stay on low fan and cycle the compressor.

So if you want it to be 72* in the morning so that in the afternoon heat it will drift up no higher than 78* well then you have to set the thermostat at 64* or so when you finish breakfast so that the A/C will run hard enough.

Pat Conway 08-15-2010 10:36 PM

As you use the trailer more, you will begin to know the campgrounds that have shade. We stayed in a nice one a couple weeks ago in Denison, Tx, birthplace of President Eisenhower, has a Corps of Engineer Campground (Dam Site) that has large Oak trees. HD TV reception very good using the trailer antenna under the trees.

Our A/C, 13.5 BTU, is 22 yrs old. The interior shroud louvers can be directed right at you and closed in the opposite direction. The window shades that come with the trailer are not good enough to keep the sun/heat off in extreme heat. As someone else suggested buying a roll of the aluminum insulation material and cutting it to fit the windows helps. We cut ours slightly larger than the window casing and they stay in place when pushed in place on the inside of the window. Hope this helps, Pat

ROBERTSUNRUS 08-15-2010 10:57 PM

11,000 btu
:) Hi, so far we haven't had any problems cooling our 25' trailer with our 11,000 BTU air conditioner. But we have small windows, no sky lights, mouse fur walls, and a padded vinyl headliner in our Safari.

Gene 08-16-2010 09:06 AM


Originally Posted by Jammer (Post 883330)

Part of the problem is that the fancy thermostat will not run the A/C all the time and at high fan unless there is at least a 9 degree difference between the thermostat setting and the indoor temperature. At 7-8 degrees it will switch between low and high fan. At 5-6 degrees it will stay on low fan and cycle the compressor.


I don't think ours does that, so they must have changed the thermostat between '08 and '10. When it's very hot, it just stays on, when the temp has gotten down to a reasonable level, it will go on and off. The fan stays at the same level whenever the A/C goes onówe have set it at high and leave it there.

Two A/C's will certainly make a difference. Have you checked the temp coming out of the forward one? I think it should be around 45-50˚, but don't hold me to that. Compare temps from each A/C.


Silvertwinkie 08-16-2010 10:37 AM

I added the 15k unit to my 25er at the time of production nearly 7 years ago. I had a lot of folks here on this forum tell me it was a bad idea. I countered with the fact that the 25' Classic had it as an option and that dimensionally there is no real difference in my 25er and other model 25ers of the day. Airstream agreed to do upgrade it for about $200 and it was the best decision I have made in terms of HVAC for my Safari. Like someone else said here, you can hang meat in the trailer in a 100 degree day (in my case with or without the one main awning deployed). I have no doubt that the awnings do make a difference.

Flash forward to about the 2006 or 2007 model started to see a lot more 15k units on the 25 and 28s across the model lines, which until then was really only a Classic offering.

My first suggestion would be to make sure you have any gaps or air leaks addressed first. Even with a 15k unit, many leaks in the window and door gaskets can even be too much for a 15k unit to overcome. After you've done that and the 13.5k unit still can't hold it's own, then I'd consider a 15k unit. Your story of a 13.5k unit not being able to hold it's own is not an uncommon story that I've heard many times in the roughly 9 years I've owned Airstreams which is why I was very persistent in getting that 15k unit put up there. Skylights and vista view windows also can play a significant role in allowing heat into the cabin. These areas should have their shades pulled and in some cases some folks have placed buffers or insulation type material into these areas to keep the heat and/or cold out. The windows themselves are not thermopane like some other higher end trailers, so keep in mind that they will allow far more of the opposite desired temps into the trailer as well. Keeping the shades closed there too is a good idea.

On my trailer, I have the Comfort Control System which controls both the furnace and the A/C (which includes control of the A/C's heat pump feature). On any service provided by the A/C unit (A/C or heat pump) you can set the fan speed to low, high or auto. I don't know if this is still the case but is how mine operates. Additionally, my unit does not stay on all the time. It gets to the temp and then turns completely off.

Jammer 08-16-2010 11:36 AM

I have the Comfort Control System too, and yes, it does have manual overrides for the fan speed. I would like to be able to set it on auto and just have it do its job but, alas, it's not that smart and I end up coming back to a hot trailer too often.

Climate makes a big difference and if you're west of the rockies, or in Texas, where humidity isn't such a problem you'll probably do fine. It's the east cost and the midwest where there's a problem.

ZoominC6 08-16-2010 01:50 PM

Going to the 15 helped us while we lived in Texas; however, as you've discovered by reading the previous posters, many other steps factor into keeping the trailer liveable....awnings, added window insulation etc etc. Even with the 15 we cool off the trailer interior in steps i.e. main salon first, opening the bath and finally the bedroom. Insulating the skylight(s) works wonders as well. I used styrofoam laminated with foil duct tape and with the outer side completely foil wrapped. Parking in the shade of trees when possible helps as well. Small cooling fans placed here and there work wonders moving the air to keep the body feeling a degree or two cooler. Enjoy your new Airstream and have fun out there.

Frody 08-17-2010 10:27 AM

Thought I would offer an easy do it yourself fix to air conditioner. I noted the first post on this thread said their AC "froze up". I am not sure if they meant froze from ice, or if the fan just stopped working. Our fan froze up from non use and when turned on, whole unit would just hum. Mechanic that does our wrenching has been in the biz since dirt and showed me how to unfreeze the fan. He said lots of RV mechanics think the ceiling AC is toast when this happens but it is a simple fix.

Here is what he showed me.

First make sure you turn off your 110 hook up. Don't need anything starting while your hand is up in the fan compartment. Turn off your power.
Next, take the knobs off the from controls.
Then take the vent covers off by using needle nose pliers to depress quick snaps. After vents are off, take four phillips head screws out to remove the plastic cover. Once cover off, remove horseshoe shaped heater coil by backing out the two screws. You can look up in to that compartment and access one end of the barrel fan cage.
If that barrel fan will not rotate, grip it and firmly apply pressure trying to wiggle it back and forth. Eventually you should be able to free it up so it spins freely.
Once the barrel is moving freely, plug your trailer back in to 110 power and turn fan knob to low. Should work, if so, reassemble.

Mechanic also said there is another fan on the opposite end of the barrel. To get to that other end, have to go through the roof. Haven't had to do that, and hope not to.

Mechanic told us to run that AC/Heater once per month whether we are living in it or not. Doesn't take much for fan shafts to lock up.

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