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Old 09-06-2014, 11:34 AM   #1
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Basement Air Pros and Cons

Hello, newbie here looking at buying our first class A MH. We're interested in the 2004 to 2006 Winnebago Adventurer 33V. This unit had the basement air conditioner and I wanted to know the pros and cons of these units over the typical two roof units that most gas class A have installed. Are they better, more or less efficient than roof air, higher maintenance, noisy, do you run these while driving, would you buy another MH with basement air, etc

We also have our eyes on the 2004 to 2006 Brave 32v but it has the two air conditioner units.

Thanks

Lynn
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Old 09-06-2014, 12:17 PM   #2
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We have a '03 Adventurer 33V and to be honest, I wouldn't do the basement air thing again. Pro's for me is the low roof profile...but the list of con's is;

Doe's not keep up when weather gets up into the 80's and above. I feel it struggles to keep you cool. Although if it's 105 outside, 89 feels cooler. We used ours in the winter months in a mild climate (Victoria BC Canada, probably the warmest place in Canada in the winter) and we has freeze up problems below 40 if the humidity was high. Quickly corrected by putting it into air condition mode, but you can't do that every 20 minutes.

Lastly, it's right under the bed!! When it comes on in the night, it's not subtle at all. You kind of get used to it, but if we can avoid using it to heat we do...

Maintenance is minimal, keep filter clean and make sure drain plug isn't blocked.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:13 PM   #3
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Our unit was built by National RV, however it's the same basement A/C unit. I love ours, however there are always pros and cons.

Pros:
1. Very quite in kitchen and lounge areas.
2. Uses regular residential air lifters, not foam pads.
3. Heat Pump is great.
4. Efficiency is just as good as roof mounted units.

Cons:
1. Air noise is higher in bedroom.
2. If unit fails, you have no A/C.
3. Requires service by shop that handles residential A/C units, most RV shops don't have
have a clue.

"Knock on Wood" our unit has been trouble free, I attribute that to usage as often as possible, even in the off season.

We use run ours on road, same a roof top units.

I am firm believer that the floor plan is much more important then an A/C unit. If the units meets your needs-go for it.

Fred
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:36 PM   #4
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If you use the search function at the top of the page, you'll find many threads on the basement A/C systems. Many report their RV won't cool properly in southern heat. Also, there are issues with the duct work that runs up the back of the living quarters behind the rear cap. The duct can separate causing much cool air dumped into that space and thus not cooling properly. Another issue I've seen on here is folks report the A/C system is no longer made, so they have to find used units to replace parts that fail. (compressor) You'll also find people who add a rooftop A/C unit to aid cooling in hot locations.

If you check out the make of the A/C and find parts are still available, turn it on high and don't find cool air leaking out the rear cap, go for it!
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:49 PM   #5
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Lynn;

We are in our 3rd Winnebago with the basement air. We never had any problems with any of them. 2 previous motor homes had roof air conditioners. My DW believes the basement a/c is much quieter. We would not be afraid to purchase another. In extremely hot weather we will run the A/C on generator and have never had any problems doing that either. My advice is find a coach you like and don't let the basement A/C be a factor in buying the coach.

Good luck;

Don
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:06 PM   #6
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LJV51,
As you'll find out, there's lots of opinions. This basic question has been asked several times on here and, on other forums. If you were to do a search and find all the threads on this subject, I think you'll find the majority that have or, have had, basement A/C units, like them more than roof top units. ANY AIR CONDITIONING unit is going to make SOME noise. That's inevitable.

The basement A/C in these coaches, is primarily a residential unit. Most have two compressors and, can be ran independent of each other. That in many cases, is due to low voltage at campsites, at home, etc. Our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT, has the basement A/C and, so far, in over three years of ownership, have had real good service out of it. The only real issue, if you want to call it one, was the fact that I had to replace a "bushing" with a real BEARING, for one of the fans. No big deal.

As far as how well it works, we think it works great. The ability to obtain parts or, folks that work on them, is sometimes questionable. But, in the end, someone always comes up with a new source for parts and, a place that either repairs or, installs new ones.

We've had roof top units too. They worked just fine. I'm not against them at all. I do think that, because this unit is larger than the average roof top unit and, is designed just like a residential unit, it's more efficient than a roof top. But, that's simply an opinion. I personally don't think you'll go wrong with a basement A/C unit. Your choice.
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:00 PM   #7
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We lost our #2 compressor on our basement air and were quoted a price of $1,400 to replace. We opted instead to replace the entire basement unit with a new one at almost double the cost. In hind sight I would have just replaced the compressor as the newer heat pumps use different refrigerant and I'm not yet convinced that the unit is as robust in keeping the coach cool in extreme temperatures.

In addition there is a duct connection under the back cap of these coaches that can come apart blowing your conditioned air into that cavity and make it seem as if the heat pump is not putting out like it should. When it happened to us we were in Florida and I wasn't in a position to attempt to repair it like some have done with duct tape. Our repair involved removing the back cap, reattaching the duct work, and then sealing it with blow on insulation. It should now never come apart however it also was not a cheap repair at around $700.

Those things being said here is what I've learned and share as my opinion on the basement air:

1. I believe our compressor burnt up due to the parks (primarily Thousand Trails) frequently having low voltage and early on when we first started using the coach I didn't always recognize this. Now we have a voltage meter within plain view in the coach so we can always check it and we run a Hughes Autoformer and a Surge Detector on the power line that also recognizes and temporarily shuts down when low voltage conditions exist.

2. The duct work coming apart is a known problem with these types of units so give it a good look up from the bottom of the coach into the cap to ensure that the parts look like they are mated.

3. EVERY RV has known problems no many how many lies people tell you and I would have a hard time arguing either way on the basement air. That being said I do not read about these things blowing up all the time and there were A LOT of them produced. If you have a problem yes it will probably be more expensive to replace then a roof top unit but they burn up too.

4. Yes they do make noise but so do the overhead ones...

5. They run great when driving and it's very hot outside. We have run it often with the generator on driving down the road.

Considering all I've told you, its probably remarkable the you find me now telling you to not let that be a determining factor. I'd be a lot more concerned about the overall condition of the coach inside with carpet & upholstery and outside for rust & damage issues. Be sure to crawl around underneath it and operate EVERYTHING to be sure they work.

Are the tires older then 7 years? At $500 a tire that's a lot of dough to replace. What happens if one blows out on the interstate? I can tell you about that but it would be a couple additional paragraphs.

Do yourself a favor - don't fall in love with any unit and find someplace to have it checked over or pay to take someone knowledgeable about RVs with you if you're at all unsure about what you are seeing.

Buying an RV is NOT like buying a car - trust me on this one. The other part of that is each RV is unique. When cars come down the assembly line they nearly all have the same fit and finish...NOT RVs! So just because I had problems doesn't necessarily mean you will. Forums are great places to find out what others have dealt with and their opinions, however there are also a great many others that you will not hear from.

Have fun and enjoy the journey!
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Old 09-06-2014, 10:54 PM   #8
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We have had both and I like the basement A/C better than the overhead because the basement model seems much quieter and does a better job than the other. We were in our friends RV and they have the overhead ones and they were so loud it was hard to hear each other talking.
I don't know about the repair cost because we haven't had to deal with that, we have had this RV since Feb of this year and we really love the RV and the floor plan.
We have a 7 day trip planned to Sacramento, CA. 2 weeks from now so we'll see how it goes.

2002 Winnebago 32V
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Old 09-07-2014, 06:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LJV51 View Post
Hello, newbie here looking at buying our first class A MH. We're interested in the 2004 to 2006 Winnebago Adventurer 33V. This unit had the basement air conditioner and I wanted to know the pros and cons of these units over the typical two roof units that most gas class A have installed. Are they better, more or less efficient than roof air, higher maintenance, noisy, do you run these while driving, would you buy another MH with basement air, etc

We also have our eyes on the 2004 to 2006 Brave 32v but it has the two air conditioner units.

Thanks

Lynn
Our Newmar gasser had two roof air units which were DUCTED (in and out) and therefore quietly cooled the coach for 7 years. Then we bought the signature coach which came standard with the RVP/Coleman basement unit WBGO used on many of their models. Within months of purchase it failed to keep the coach cool, and WBGO warranty paid to repair the multiple leaks they found. When it failed again after the one year WBGO warranty was up, RVP refused to pay for the additional repairs under their two year warranty because they claimed the WBGO dealer was not one of THEIR authorized dealers. WBGO declined to help or intervene on my behalf. I have added a roof-top A/C in place of my kitchen vent fan, which IS noisy because it isn't ducted (at all), but at least we can now use the coach in hot weather, which was not possible with the POS basement unit alone.

To answer your question, I will NEVER buy another coach with basement A/C, and that really isn't a problem, because I don't think there are any new coaches using them.......that should tell you something

When a roof-top unit fails, you can relatively easily replace the whole thing with a new one for less than $1,000.00. Replacing a basement unit will cost many thousands more IF you can find one that works with your coach's electrical system.
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Old 09-07-2014, 09:14 AM   #10
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Wow, you have received some great detailed responses.
We have both basement and roof units in our 2000 Horizon. We have had problems with both units in fact just about everything on the 14 year old coach 110,000 mile coach has broken at one time or another. Having both type is helpful when we are in over 110 degree weather. The roof unit is very very loud in fact we have turned it off and used the basement just for the noise. We have used both type when driving and on generator. If I had to choose one I'd opt for the basement unit.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:27 AM   #11
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Smile Basement Air Questions

We have this in our 2007 Winne Adventurer. Really like it. It runs quiet, filters are easy to clean, cools real well even in the Florida Keys. The only downside is the loss of one storage bay.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:39 AM   #12
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Agree with gordsett. We were in 100 degree temps in OK in July for a week and coach stayed in the mid 70's without any problems. We have had both roof top and now basement and prefer the basement over rooftop. No dropping down side of coach or down awning. Much quieter inside and out. There is a start up noise in the bedroom, but has never been an issue for us. Also enjoy the neat pump in cool weather.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LJV51 View Post
Hello, newbie here looking at buying our first class A MH. I posted this over in the owners forum and got only one response so i though i would try it here. We're interested in the 2004 to 2006 Winnebago Adventurer 33V. This unit had the basement air conditioner and I wanted to know the pros and cons of these units over the typical two roof units that most gas class A have installed. Are they better, more or less efficient than roof air, higher maintenance, noisy, do you run these while driving, would you buy another MH with basement air, etc

We also have our eyes on the 2004 Brave 32v but it has the two air conditioner units.

Thanks
Like the previous two posts, we also have a basement air and have had no problems other than the split duct in the rear cap. It's a fairly easy fix. Our traveling buddies have two roof air units and in their living room you can hardly hear yourself think. The basement air is much, much quieter in the front. You do have some compressor hum under the bed, but you get very used to it and even miss it once you get home.

We have had no problem staying cool in up to 100 degree weather, but exterior windshield and front window coverings are essential to keeping the hot sun outside. It is important to replace the filter frequently with the cheap, residential fiberglass filters. Don't use the more restrictive paper filters.

Contrary to what you may hear, parts are still available for the basement air units. Most of the parts are standard, residential unit compressors, fans, capacitors, etc. There are even brand new, complete units still available, just do a search for rv basement air conditioner on google.
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Old 09-07-2014, 12:24 PM   #14
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I do not have one of these units but have a family member that does. I have never heard him complain about it and his coach stays cool in summers in Oklahoma. One of the things I know he did was to take advantage of the empty roof area. He installed a pretty large solar power array on his roof and basically does a lot of boondocking.
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