Install an air conditioner yourself - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Modifications and Alterations
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-31-2015, 05:11 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Edgewood, New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 2,868
Install an air conditioner yourself

I just bought myself a Dometic 11,000 btu Penguin II. Installing one at home is a 2-man job.

In my old build list I had specified I only wanted the trailer wired a/c ready. My installation began by first removing the manual vent in the roof. If your build list does not include a/c Escape installs that roof vent as a place holder. Removing it does take time. There’s 32 screws. Screws are all heavily coated with a rubbery caulking. Use a razor knife to expose before you can unscrew them.

Then you have to pry off the vent. This is also tough because the flange is bedded in the same irascible caulking. Slipping a knife blade under this flange bonded to the roof was impossible. I finally resorted to softening the bond using heat. Took a chance, used my propane torch with great care, but still managed to singe some of the vent. A good heat gun is a wiser choice. Then the prying off continues with knife and with two flat pry bars. It was very stubborn work.


Caulk remnants sticking to the roof needed slicing away with a sharp knife and a good 1 inch putty knife. Must avoid gouging into the gel coat. That done, used Xylene and followed up with alcohol to clean up any remaining residue.


Dometic’s 11,000 btu Penguin II lists at 100 pounds. It is an unwieldy bear. The company says use a hoist to get it on the roof. Very good advice. Sliding the unit in place would cause damage to the neoprene gasket attached around the underside opening. But who’s got a hoist? At first I’m thinking no, no, two guys on a ladder could get it up there. I spent a few days pondering this, trying to visualize every move before tackling the job. The risk is damaging the awning on one side, or the fridge vent housing on the other. Ladders are frisky. The issue of damaging the neoprene gasket or the gel coat also looms large. I needed a better plan. I needed a hoist.


I have a small block and tackle. It could handle a hundred pounds. The question was, could I use the peak of my trailer canopy as a bridge? It just might be high enough. Plan became hoist up the unit then drive the trailer under it, and lower the unit down. I removed the plastic Dometic cover to avoid damaging it, and this also exposed a secure place for attaching lifting straps.


We slowly raised the air conditioner up as high as it would go. It twisted, it tilted off balance, but with small adjustments we got it to hang level. I backed up my 19. The unit cleared the trailer roof by a scant 2 inches. We were good to go.


Before lowering in place I laid down a heavy bead of caulk, filled in the 32 screw holes. I used Leak Stopper, a rubberized all purpose sealer. When we lowered the unit on the roof the sealer had the added benefit of allowing the heavy unit to slide and align in place easily.


Once the interior base pan was screwed up tightly into the roof unit, Romex connections made, cover snapped in place, I plugged into shore power, ready to turn knobs and fire it up. The big moment had arrived.


And….nothing happened. No fan came on, no compressor, no nothing. What?


Figured the factory installed Romex isn’t connected to a power source. But how do I find out where that Romex is routed? Where’s it end up? Big senior moment here. My wife snickered and left me to it. I heard that, I muttered. Finally realized the line must be routed into the WFCO Power Converter Distribution Center.

Removed the trim bezel and, neatly labeled with a magic marker, there it was, Romex to the a/c! But “a/c ready” don’t include the 20 amp breaker switch. Best next advice is pull one of the ones in there out and take it with you to your supplier to be certain you’re buying the right breaker.

That done, I was feeling very cool.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg AC01.jpg (112.8 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg AC02.jpg (57.1 KB, 53 views)
File Type: jpg AC03.jpg (68.0 KB, 51 views)
File Type: jpg AC04.jpg (113.3 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg AC05.jpg (55.9 KB, 51 views)
__________________

__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2015, 05:26 PM   #2
Site Team
 
rbryan4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Canyon Lake, Texas
Trailer: 2015 19 "Past Tents", 2018 F150 2.7L Ecoboost
Posts: 9,464
Great work Myron. No more redneck AC for you!
__________________

__________________
"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy an RV. And that is pretty close."
rbryan4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2015, 05:40 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
MarksAlot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Clovis, California
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19
Posts: 328
Last thumbnail pic looks like a happy A/C unit.
__________________
Don't make excuses for failure, seek ways to succeed.

Mark
Blizzy and Dakota (Da Boyz)
MarksAlot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2015, 05:47 PM   #4
Commercial Member
 
tractors1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21 - "Felicity"
Posts: 2,620
Very resourceful; where this is a will there is always a way. I built two sawhorses on my bathtub surround and used 2 boat winches to lower a 400 lb cast iron tub into the hole. I love it when a plan comes together.......
__________________
Charlie Y

Need custom storage to your design? Don't drill holes!
www.RVWidgetWorks.com
tractors1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2015, 06:42 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
Posts: 11,793
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
The company says use a hoist to get it on the roof.
...
I have a small block and tackle. It could handle a hundred pounds. The question was, could I use the peak of my trailer canopy as a bridge? It just might be high enough. Plan became hoist up the unit then drive the trailer under it, and lower the unit down. I removed the plastic Dometic cover to avoid damaging it, and this also exposed a secure place for attaching lifting straps.
In a similar approach to swap engines, I hung a chain hoist from a 4"x4" post laid across the opening of an attic access hatch in my garage, spreading the load across four roof trusses. The method is the same: lift engine, roll car under it, lower engine into car. Of course, to use this for a trailer one would need a tall garage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
It twisted, it tilted off balance, but with small adjustments we got it to hang level.
The engine hoisting job has the same challenge. The solution, which could be used for an air conditioner hanging from a hoist, is an engine leveller - just turn the screw to change the tilt.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 09:36 PM   #6
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Durango, Colorado
Trailer: 2016 - 21'
Posts: 7
AC Install = Better to get factory unit

I am finalizing my build sheet and this is one item I am wondering about. Presently we have AC ready.
We generally camp in remote areas, where we cannot use ac.
After your install, do you think having the unit installed originally is the best for future use, when needed.
Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
bhonisch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 09:51 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SLO County CA, California
Trailer: 2014 21
Posts: 3,357
Most will tell you to, as most get it. We didn't and still no regrets as camping in an RV park is a one-off, and don't get me started on the a-hole camp host at Finley Point SP at Flathead Lake who thought we didn't want to pay for electric(non-e were deleted by him) because we had CA plates and figured we voted for Obama, thus expected things for free No joke.

Seriously- the best advice IMO is build it for your use, not potential resale later. The upside for anyone later(for anyone who wants it) is that it will be new then with warranty.
Rossue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 09:55 PM   #8
Commercial Member
 
tractors1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21 - "Felicity"
Posts: 2,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhonisch View Post
I am finalizing my build sheet and this is one item I am wondering about. Presently we have AC ready.
We generally camp in remote areas, where we cannot use ac.
After your install, do you think having the unit installed originally is the best for future use, when needed.
Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
Questions: Will the cost of an AC unit decrease in price over the years? Will labor become increasingly cheaper? Will you have the time and resources to install it yourself should you choose to? If there is a problem with the installation of unit, will you want to deal with that? If all the answers are yes, just hold off...............I didn't and I'm in the Pacific NW where we rarely use AC.
__________________
Charlie Y

Need custom storage to your design? Don't drill holes!
www.RVWidgetWorks.com
tractors1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 09:55 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Van., British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19, sold; 2019 Escape 21, Sept. 2019
Posts: 4,808
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post

This is also tough because the flange is bedded in the same irascible caulking. Slipping a knife blade under this flange bonded to the roof was impossible.
"irascible" I'm not sure that was the word I was using when I was removing the fridge vent from the roof. Seemed like pretty good stuff though.

Good job, glad it went well.

Ron
Ron in BC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 09:57 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SLO County CA, California
Trailer: 2014 21
Posts: 3,357
Pretty friggin' warm there now Charlie. What about seals going bad due to non-use?
Rossue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:07 PM   #11
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Durango, Colorado
Trailer: 2016 - 21'
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
Questions: Will the cost of an AC unit decrease in price over the years? Will labor become increasingly cheaper? Will you have the time and resources to install it yourself should you choose to? If there is a problem with the installation of unit, will you want to deal with that? If all the answers are yes, just hold off...............I didn't and I'm in the Pacific NW where we rarely use AC.
Thanks for your quick responses. Will probably stay with current build sheet.
bhonisch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:25 PM   #12
Commercial Member
 
tractors1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21 - "Felicity"
Posts: 2,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
Pretty friggin' warm there now Charlie. What about seals going bad due to non-use?
Both the BUNA-N and Viton seals in the AC mechanical devices will outlast me. Not concerned.
__________________
Charlie Y

Need custom storage to your design? Don't drill holes!
www.RVWidgetWorks.com
tractors1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:28 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Edgewood, New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 2,868
Well, bhonisch, all I can tell you is I didn't include ac in my original build list because it did not suit my budget. I had to hold the line on add-on's some place, and ac is an expensive add-on. I also figured I could save a few hundred bucks by doing it myself when I was ready. Samo-samo with the tongue box.

The insulation package, was another biggie, but I went for it because unlike ac and the T-box that I could never do. If doing these things yourself exceeds your pay grade it's best to leave it to the experts, or convince yourself you can do without. You got the time, so wrassle with it.

Some seals go bad after spending too much time in the harbor. Others, not.
__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:30 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SLO County CA, California
Trailer: 2014 21
Posts: 3,357
Quote:
Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
Both the BUNA-N and Viton seals in the AC mechanical devices will outlast me. Not concerned.
We know at least one other member is "often wrong":

IMHO any appliance needs maintenance and if you seldom/never use it why get it?

Dometic B2200 needs regassing? | MotorhomeFun | The Best M

RV AC And Camper Rooftop Air Conditioner Maintenance ...
Rossue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:49 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Van., British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19, sold; 2019 Escape 21, Sept. 2019
Posts: 4,808
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhonisch View Post
I am finalizing my build sheet and this is one item I am wondering about. Presently we have AC ready.
We generally camp in remote areas, where we cannot use ac.
After your install, do you think having the unit installed originally is the best for future use, when needed.
Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
Since I don't live in a really hot area and avoid serviced camp sites like the plague I didn't get an A/C. I did make a small, easy to attach platform, so I could use my $89 cheapie 5,000 BTU unit. Only used it a couple of times, only takes a few minutes to put in place. So there is another option between all or nothing.

Ron
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 21-05-2015 4-53-49 PM_0003_resize.jpg (192.1 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg 21-05-2015 4-54-18 PM_0004_resize.jpg (154.3 KB, 43 views)
Ron in BC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-01-2015, 10:59 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Edgewood, New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 2,868
That 'escape hatch' window sure is a very practical window. Guess we know now which side of the bed your feet are, Ron.
__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2015, 12:10 AM   #17
Site Team
 
rbryan4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Canyon Lake, Texas
Trailer: 2015 19 "Past Tents", 2018 F150 2.7L Ecoboost
Posts: 9,464
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Since I don't live in a really hot area and avoid serviced camp sites like the plague I didn't get an A/C. I did make a small, easy to attach platform, so I could use my $89 cheapie 5,000 BTU unit. Only used it a couple of times, only takes a few minutes to put in place. So there is another option between all or nothing.

Ron
I can see that as a good alternative. The only hassle is the "setup", but its in the right place to keep the sleeping area cool, and I'm certain that it would be quieter than our roof mounted one. And, you can find these at any home improvement or hardware store for under $100. If it ever failed, you're not out much money. You could just replace it and not have to fool with repairs.
__________________
"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy an RV. And that is pretty close."
rbryan4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2015, 12:41 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
Seef's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, Alabama
Trailer: 2014 Escape 5.0 Classic
Posts: 273
Very nice job Myron, just wondering..... how much noise does such a unit make? On the inside and the outside?

On the inside, is the noise that low so you can sleep with it? And how annoying is an A/C unit for the neighbors at the campsite?
__________________
Escape 5.0 classic (ARRIVED in Holland)
TV - ISUZU D-Max
Favorite destination (Europe) - Tuscany
Seef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2015, 06:44 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Somewhere, Florida
Trailer: 1804 Schooner
Posts: 1,642
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhonisch View Post
I am finalizing my build sheet and this is one item I am wondering about. Presently we have AC ready.
We generally camp in remote areas, where we cannot use ac.
After your install, do you think having the unit installed originally is the best for future use, when needed.
Any thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhonisch View Post
Thanks for your quick responses. Will probably stay with current build sheet.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
Seriously- the best advice IMO is build it for your use, not potential resale later. The upside for anyone later(for anyone who wants it) is that it will be new then with warranty.
My opinion may be colored because I live in the Sweat East, not the Pacific North Wet. But all I will say is need A/C even once and you will regret not having it. And that opinion was formulated when I lived in New Hampshire many years ago. I understand the concept of building it for yourself and not for resale, but relatively few people own trailers more than ten years old; they upgrade. How many 17s and 19s and 5.0s are being sold to upgrade to 21s and 5.0TAs? Lack of A/C will exclude at least 50 percent of potential buyers and may result in a longer wait for the correct buyer to come along, because the majority of buyers don't want the hassle of adding A/C; they want their purchase to be "ready to go." This debate makes me think of the old adage, "penny wise and pound foolish." But the most compelling reason still springs from that one night that you are trying to sleep and it is 90+ degrees (Fahrenheit, that is) and the humidity is in the 80s (and it usually lasts more than one night). That is when the nonexistent A/C will not come on, but the light will.
__________________
“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore’......” E. A. Poe
C&G in FL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2015, 09:10 AM   #20
Site Team
 
rbryan4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Canyon Lake, Texas
Trailer: 2015 19 "Past Tents", 2018 F150 2.7L Ecoboost
Posts: 9,464
Well put Carl. I think the 'resale' factor should be part of it, unless you're one of those folks who buys something with no intention to ever get rid of it.
__________________

__________________
"You can't buy happiness, but you can buy an RV. And that is pretty close."
rbryan4 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Escape Trailer Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:41 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.
×