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Old 09-20-2013, 02:43 PM   #1
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basement air. why don't all new rv's have it?

We are wanting to purchase a 2005 Itasca Meridian which has the air and heat in the basement. But we notice that it seems like all new rv's we have seen, still have roof units. Is it a bad idea to have the air there because if it was a good idea, wouldn't more rv's have it done like that?
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:50 PM   #2
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Don't know what to tell you. Ours in our 2002 Journey works fine.
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:52 PM   #3
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I think one reason is because it takes up some belly space which could otherwise be used for storage.

We have basement air and from our experience, and from what I've read posted here, the cooling performance of some basement systems leaves something to be desired in hot weather.

Ours can keep the coach about 20* cooler that outside when sitting in the sun but that makes it pretty uncomfortable in very hot conditions.

Having said that, I wouldn't make it a major consideration when picking a coach unless you either need to have the additional storage or plan to spend a great deal of time in >100* climates.

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Old 09-20-2013, 03:06 PM   #4
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The reason Winnebago went to roof air on the newer models is to make room for the DEF system for the diesel engine that is now required by the feds for emissions. We have roof top air, I think it is louder than basement air, but we have used 2 of our 3 roof units all summer long in South Carolina with temps in the 90+ for weeks along with high humidity & they kept the temps right at 76' where we have it set.
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Old 09-20-2013, 03:27 PM   #5
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You always have good posts Rick0. I heard that when the RV manufacturers started to disappear a few years back Coleman found that the market was not large enough to continue production. Roof air went back to being the standard. It is much easier to install and repair and, per unit, less expensive for the manufactures to buy.

With that said, I like the idea of the roof air over the basement. My '05 Vectra lost a lot of storage because of the basement AC. And it had its own quirks like the tape coming off the rear cooling stack that sent the air to the ceiling vents. The duct would open up and the AC would not cool or heat. Then there was service. The fan motor bearings had oil ports. You had to drop the unit in order to service it and that was no easy task. It was not unusual for the start caps to go and, again, getting to them was most of the problem. Our thermostat was nuts to say the least. We had no idea what the temp would end up being as the day and night temps changed outside. I thought I had a bad thermostat so I replaced it. Ended up with the same problem. Was I pleased with basement air? Not particularly.

Now about roof air. This coach has three units. Regulating the temp seems not to be a problem and we are pleased with that aspect of comfort. But the noise! And these are the 'new and improved less noisy' fans. When we were at a show looking at a Tour we were not impressed with the AC. Now we have a Meridian and are still not impressed with the noise intrusion of these units. Why Coleman can't produce a unit that does not sound like a jet engine is beyond me. There must be a way.

Anyway Rick. That's my two pasco.

The other Rick.
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Old 09-20-2013, 03:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Y Roadrunner View Post
We are wanting to purchase a 2005 Itasca Meridian which has the air and heat in the basement. But we notice that it seems like all new rv's we have seen, still have roof units. Is it a bad idea to have the air there because if it was a good idea, wouldn't more rv's have it done like that?
Winnebago dropped them a few years ago. We had basement air in our 39' 2006 Adventurer... We didn't like it.

Basement air also takes up basement space.

Yes, some folks have been very happy with it. The specific problems we had in our gasser were...

1. Generator near the head of the bed, AC near the foot...lots of noise if both were going. The AC alone was noisy enough for Sandee.

2. Weight distribution. Adds weight to the rear axle only which in a gasser is already a bit problematic on the longer lengths.

3. Servicing it was a bit harder.

4. Duct work needs to be sealed properly. The main duct on the back cap is a bit susceptible to splitting and leaking air. It is also a long path from the back cap to the forward vents.

5. Roof top AC units allow for some zoning. At night we run our front AC/heat pump and it pushes enough air through our ducted system to keep us comfy. Of course, if it is extremely hot we then run the BR AC zone as needed. Even if you could zone a basement system that is located in the rear end cap, it would be very inefficient to run the cooled air to the front.

A shorter MH and lighter color scheme would certainly help the basement AC do the job easier. Ours was very dark and in 100* weather we were lucky to keep the coach temps in the lower 80s but 84*-86* was not uncommon if we were out in the sun without any shade.

I'm not trying to trash talk the MH. It is just what we found to be the case for us. Again...there are many folks very happy with the basement air.

GOOD LUCK!
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:32 PM   #7
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Ok, I'll add one more perspective. Our 39K Journey basement air worked fine and kept the temperatures accurately in the coach. And, although it did eliminate some basement storage, we always felt that we had enough storage. The problem was this. The basement air was very quiet in the lounge and galley areas. However, the compressor noise (both first and second stage) in the bedroom was very annoying. The compressors would typically create a harmonic vibration in the coach floor or structure which really resonated in the bedroom when trying to sleep. So much so that in we often chose to use gas heat instead of the heat pump when going to bed.

We now have roof tops which, in my opinion, have excessive fan noise. Best bet yet is using the fan and sliding windows open whenever practical

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Old 09-21-2013, 04:55 AM   #8
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The layout and appointments are very close to the '05 Vectra we traded a few months ago. The bedroom was noisy when the AC was running and often disturbed my sleep. We are now doing as Joopy, windows open when possible and running the front or back units, depending on the time of day/night as needed.

Where I had a coach similar to what you are looking at let me give you some heads up items.

We lived in it as full-timers. I also do volunteer work and have many tools. The basement storage is very limited for weight reasons. It hangs from the slides. We had one slide track bend. The repair was costly. A common problem with the bolts that the compartments hang from is that they break. We had this happen and know others who had this same problem.

The original dish.net antenna failed and was unrepairable. I had to replace it.

The interior storage is not well designed. The cupboards are are short and shallow. The doors are very deceiving in giving the impression of lots of space.

The positives are there too. My wife enjoyed the galley. We had a dishwasher and that was a good feature. The refrigerator worked well for being an absorption type (which means your food is not as cold as at home, but safe). I don't know if the Meridian has the same chassis setup as the Vectra. If it does you'll love it. We had lots of power and it drove well. The Sleep Numbers bed is very nice if you have that but you must adjust it after each move.

If we had not started to have reliability problems we would probably still have the Vectra. We did it no great service with all the weight we carried. I never had it weighed and I think that was a mistake. We are having service done on the coach next week at the Freightliner factory. I will have it weighed at that time and make any adjustments I need to then.

If you feel that your lifestyle is suited to the Meridian I say go for it. Overall it is a nice and comfortable coach.

Before buying have all of the caulking checked and redone where needed. Leaks and eventual damage can be a problem if not dealt with in a timely manner.

If you wish to know more from me please contact me with a private message. We have many years of experience in that configuration to share with you.

Happy trails,
Rick
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:24 AM   #9
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We went from a motorhome with two roof AC's, to one with basement air, to our current rig with three roof AC's. While the basement AC/heat pump on our 2002 Journey did OK except in very hot weather, I'd have to say at this point roof AC wins for us. As noted, the basement unit drones and if you are a light sleeper, it may disturb sleep. Servicing the basement unit is more of a chore if you need to pull it. It does take up space.

The roof AC's in our first motorhome were not ducted so they were pretty noisy. Our current rig with three ducted AC/heat pumps is less noisy but more noisy in the living space than the basement air. However, with roof AC, you can run the units up front at night and shut down the bedroom AC which is very quiet. By the same token, if you are up front watching TV, you can run the rear AC's if you want to minimize noise up front.

Overall, I believe the roof AC's give you more flexibility, easier servicing, and better cooling. However, roof AC's will produce more noise.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:36 AM   #10
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Make sure the filter is changed out. I had a coach here and the filter was totally plugged- aka didn't cool very well.
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:16 AM   #11
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Most folks have problems with the basement air and it is expensive to repair. The roof units work well, cheaper and do not take up storage room.

At one time Alpenlite use the basement units as well.

Ken
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:21 AM   #12
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Cold air falls !

And heat rises!
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:33 AM   #13
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Discussing basement air at a WIT Rally this year, the factory rep added:
7. Lowers the center of gravity in the coach
8. Less snag points on the roof mean less opportunity for expensive repairs from low-hanging tree branches
9. Significant difference in cabin and campground noise (site neighbors won't even know when you have it on)

I have basement air now and it has been wonderful. Don't use it as often as it sounds some of you do, though. \ken
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:35 AM   #14
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Without a big long explanation about all my fights with the basement air 1 thing. NEVER AGAIN.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Discussing basement air at a WIT Rally this year, the factory rep added:
7. Lowers the center of gravity in the coach
8. Less snag points on the roof mean less opportunity for expensive repairs from low-hanging tree branches
9. Significant difference in cabin and campground noise (site neighbors won't even know when you have it on)

I have basement air now and it has been wonderful. Don't use it as often as it sounds some of you do, though. \ken
REALLY ??? My Coleman / RVP basement unit is so noisy we don't even try to use the outside TV and / or radio that WBGO placed just aft of our mid-entry door. We also don't sit under the rear portion of the patio awning because of the hot air and fan noise the basement AC creates. After having to add a roof-top AC unit just to "help" cool a 37' FWS coach, I will NEVER own another coach with a basement unit. I've spent way too much $$$ trying to cool my coach with a problem-plagued Coleman / RVP unit that RVP would not pay to fix, even while still in warranty.
End of rant.

Another point I'd like to make is about the "reason" WBGO stopped using them. I too have heard it was related to needing the space for the additional DEF tank and related equipment mandated by new diesel exhaust regs. That seems plausible, but it does not explain "why" WBGO also discontinued using basement units, and put roof-top ACs, on all their gassers . I'm betting WBGO got tired of all the problems with RVP basement units and decided to save a few bucks by going with rooftop units.

Lastly, my previous Newmar gasser had two DOMETIC "Penguine" rooftop units. Both fed into the ducted output vents and the return (intake) air was also ducted. Almost NO noise from air movement inside the coach, and you sure didn't hear them running on the roof from outside down on the patio. We slept well back then , now the basement unit under our bed wakes me up every time it cycles off & on . We have stopped using the basement unit at night, choosing to rely on the new un-ducted (noisy) rooftop unit to keep us cool until sunrise. Obviously, it can't cool the entire coach by itself after the sun comes up, but does a good job at night.

As you can probably tell by now, I'm a big fan of fully ducted rooftop AC units, especially those NOT made by RVP.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:59 PM   #16
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I have basement air and prefer it over roof air. Mostly for its quieter operation which is important as we run it a lot here in FL. The droning of the unit is resolved with a new fan squirel cage. I had to replace a fan motor, so while the unit was out, I replaced the exhaust fan squirl cage and changed the bearings (lube type) to permanent lube type.. None of these items had caused me problems but knew they could. After this the droning noise was gone. Making it very tolerable while sleeping in the bedroom. I replaced the thermostat to get rid of the temperature swings with a house thermostat which also greatly enhanced the comfort of the basement unit
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:21 PM   #17
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Thanks all of you. A lot to take in, but hubby drove it today and loves the Diesel engine. If the credit union and the dealer can get the title work straighten out ( it's a consignment ) it will be ours!
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:38 AM   #18
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Thanks all of you. A lot to take in, but hubby drove it today and loves the Diesel engine. If the credit union and the dealer can get the title work straighten out ( it's a consignment ) it will be ours!
If you like the coach otherwise and it is in good condition, I would not let the basement vs. roof air be a show stopper. We used our Winne Journey with basement air for 8 years and got along OK. If you do camp in hot weather in full sun just use your window awnings, main awning and a windshield cover to keep out the sun and stay ahead of the cooling needs. You should be fine.

The heat pump on the basement air is great. That thing heats the coach nicely in weather down to about 34 -36 F.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:48 AM   #19
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Thanks all of you. A lot to take in, but hubby drove it today and loves the Diesel engine. If the credit union and the dealer can get the title work straighten out ( it's a consignment ) it will be ours!
BEST OF LUCK! Looking forward to pics in the future!
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:02 AM   #20
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Thanks all of you. A lot to take in, but hubby drove it today and loves the Diesel engine. If the credit union and the dealer can get the title work straighten out ( it's a consignment ) it will be ours!
Please forgive me for expressing my caution to you so boldly. There are many DPs out in the RV sales world that drive wonderfully and don't have basement air. Please consider that this is a HOME you are buying. The chassis is just for putting it in the neighborhood of your preference.

The choice is yours, naturally. But consider the consequences of ignoring the answers posted here from your very good question. Do you really want to buy the problems we have all informed you about deliberately?

As for me, I never want to be associated with basement air again for all the negative reasons posted above plus a bunch more.

Rick
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