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Old 09-17-2020, 08:43 AM   #1
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Convert basement ac to roof?

A new basement ac is around 4k and sometimes require custom ducts to fit. but roof ACs can be purchased for around 700 each. Has anyone done this conversion? I assume that the hardest part is finding a good place to cut the hole. Any other large challenges?
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Old 09-19-2020, 03:39 AM   #2
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Seeing how no one has jumped on this. My opinion is thats a bad idea! As for the whole in the roof most AC's will replace one or two of the roof vents all ready there. You are most likely going to need two AC's although you did not say what size coach you have. Now think wiring, 120v and thermostat wires will have to be pulled somehow through the ceiling. Duck work is going to be another challenge, hooking up to the work you all ready have will be a very hard task i would think.

Sorry my thoughts are not positive but I would look at a different plan.
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Old 09-19-2020, 07:53 AM   #3
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Seeing how no one has jumped on this. My opinion is thats a bad idea! As for the whole in the roof most AC's will replace one or two of the roof vents all ready there. You are most likely going to need two AC's although you did not say what size coach you have. Now think wiring, 120v and thermostat wires will have to be pulled somehow through the ceiling. Duck work is going to be another challenge, hooking up to the work you all ready have will be a very hard task i would think.

Sorry my thoughts are not positive but I would look at a different plan.
No worries at all, this is the kind of response I am looking for.

The rv is a 2001 36’ chieftain so yea i would need 2.

The electrical is not a major concern for me because there are a number of ways to do this including just running the wires along the ceiling with cable covers. My larger concerns are 1) as you mentioned ducting, how would I tie it in. Some don't have to be tied so this would be nice but not necessarily required if too challenging. and 2) more importantly, can my ceiling even support it? Not sure if the vents are really built to handle a 80 pound appliance. Im assuming that most roof units have built in supports tied to the trusses.
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:24 AM   #4
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John while I have no idea how to go about this it is interesting. One thing you could do is take a look at the Winnebago site for a roof AC unit and then compare it to what your roof construction has. Just a thought.
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:47 AM   #5
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So you imply that you have no A/C on the roof currently like some MHs of your size. That means it has no ductwork up there. So any A/C you install on the roof will directly blow into the coach from its air outlets. And as others have noted you probably need two up there.

Wiring will be difficult. You will have to run two circuits from your power center breakers somehow up to the roof mounted A/Cs. Then if you want remote thermostats you will have to route wire for that.

$4,000 is sounding pretty good to me.

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Old 09-19-2020, 11:08 AM   #6
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So you imply that you have no A/C on the roof currently like some MHs of your size. That means it has no ductwork up there. So any A/C you install on the roof will directly blow into the coach from its air outlets. And as others have noted you probably need two up there.

Wiring will be difficult. You will have to run two circuits from your power center breakers somehow up to the roof mounted A/Cs. Then if you want remote thermostats you will have to route wire for that. Thats all superficial stuff. What really concerns me is the roof structure itself. I cant reasonably start digging in to the roof to add a support structure with out risking other structural issues. So my primary concern is about weather these roofs need extra support to handle a roof ac

$4,000 is sounding pretty good to me.

David
Nah, i would do the work myself. Im no stranger to electrical work. Its not super complicated. Running the wires can be easy or a PIA depending on how you want to do it. Units are not super expensive and I could probably use my existing thermostat. Ducts are also already in the ceiling but i dont know if I would rely on them.
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Old 09-19-2020, 05:19 PM   #7
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I am especially worried about whether those vents are built up sufficiency to support a roof ac though. Also, The ducting is a concern as well but its a lesser concern because ductless units are around.
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Old 09-19-2020, 08:18 PM   #8
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Personally I'm sold on the basement air concept. Altho the ducting for it is molded into the roof insulation foam, I'm not sure how you would marry into that from roof air, with alternative being dumping cold air in a single location.

There has been some chatter on other forums about installing these new(er) split ac systems.

Compressor placed where the old basement air was, then having the chiller portion mounted in the coach somewhere. Issue there is running the chill supply/return lines. Installations pictured looked clean and professional.

Alternatively, having both compressor and chiller in the old basement area, with a purpose made cowling to direct the air through the existing ducting. That way you have balanced air dispersal as originally engineered..

All of those options are interesting to us old shade trees. Good Luck!

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Old 09-19-2020, 09:23 PM   #9
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There has been some chatter on other forums about installing these new(er) split ac systems.

Compressor placed where the old basement air was, then having the chiller portion mounted in the coach somewhere. Issue there is running the chill supply/return lines. Installations pictured looked clean and professional.
Now that makes some sense, but most of those are 240 volt units, a few though are 120. One compressor could run two or three head units and the plumbing and wiring would be relatively straightforward.

Most the compressors though stand vertical. But you might be able to mount it on the back wall.
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Old 09-20-2020, 01:57 PM   #10
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Now that makes some sense, but most of those are 240 volt units, a few though are 120. One compressor could run two or three head units and the plumbing and wiring would be relatively straightforward.

Most the compressors though stand vertical. But you might be able to mount it on the back wall.

I have looked into the mini splits as well. Its an option but My challenge with it is the air handers take up a lot of space.i just dont know if I have a good spot to stick 2 of them. They have some ceiling unit air handlers but then I might as well just install a regular ceiling unit for less $.
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Old 09-20-2020, 02:06 PM   #11
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I have looked into the mini splits as well. Its an option but My challenge with it is the air handers take up a lot of space.i just dont know if I have a good spot to stick 2 of them. They have some ceiling unit air handlers but then I might as well just install a regular ceiling unit for less $.
Yes the ceiling ones are crazy expensive for some reason, and the OP's goal was to reduce cost. Even the wall ones probably wouldn't do that.
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Old 09-20-2020, 02:17 PM   #12
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I would want to look at the bigger picture and part of that is noise, which is bad with two units overhead, compared to one basement unit. Wiring and fitting ductwork is going to get really awkward, even though it can be done. But part of that decision is what the value and expectations of the RV. If it is a nice RV, doing a retrofit is going to knock the resale value way more than $4000! If you are talking down in the realm of $10,000 RVs, the resale value is less question but then is a good time to ask if even the $2500 or so if good to put into an RV of that sort.
At what point, spending less gets to be too expensive will involve lots of personal choices and situations.
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:00 PM   #13
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My main concern would be why they didn’t do a roof unit in the first place? And why would an equal tonnage AC unit cost so much more because it’s configured differently?
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:14 PM   #14
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I would recommend staying with the basement unit if you can use the new replacement unit. I did this swap on my Journey and am pleased. I paid less than $3000 and did the work myself. Easy swap. If you shop you should be be able to find it cheaper than I did. The key will be whether you can use the replacement unit with no change to your ducts.
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:47 PM   #15
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I would recommend staying with the basement unit if you can use the new replacement unit. I did this swap on my Journey and am pleased. I paid less than $3000 and did the work myself. Easy swap. If you shop you should be be able to find it cheaper than I did. The key will be whether you can use the replacement unit with no change to your ducts.
The last I looked, they were running about $2,500 and there were two models, the difference being the duct location.
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:49 PM   #16
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I have looked into the mini splits as well. Its an option but My challenge with it is the air handers take up a lot of space.i just dont know if I have a good spot to stick 2 of them. They have some ceiling unit air handlers but then I might as well just install a regular ceiling unit for less $.
John,

I have the same issue and have looked at options for years. This fall when I come south again, it will happen! If you have an old Airxcel 6535, conversions to a new 86515 should be fairly simple and I see them advertised at around $2600. It you have 6537 - like I do - with a top return, things get a bit more complicated. You will need at least 4" of clear space behind the new 86515 for a custom return duct.
I love the basement heatpump and believe that the new 86515 will be even more quiet than my old 6537. I have looked at so many options on installing new 86515, including slide tracks and the works. Now, to make my life easy, I will just mount the new duct to the new heatpump and lift it in to position, just like the old 6537. Only difference being the extra 4" of space used in the back. I will also need to make few mods to the base frame, but no big deal.
If your current unit is a 6537, I'll be glad to send you my plans/drawings
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:03 PM   #17
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Basement AC

I realized just how fortunate I am to have a basement AC unit during the past week of Hazardous air quality. We were able to run AC or the fan and have the inside air going through a very good air filter to take out the smoke. Made a Huge difference to me, as I have asthma, and really needed to breathe filtered air. I don’t think the filters in roof mount AC units would have been nearly as effective.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:35 PM   #18
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John. Did it on my02 Journey. Store coach in Florida during summer and didn’t want to run basement air all that time. Installed a 20,000 plus btu roof air in existing roof fan vent opening. Wired to outlet in bathroom for washer dryer with a 3 way outlet for either ac/washer dryeror off. Only need 4 feet of ceiling wire mold. Drem 12v from existing vert fan switch and mounted thermostat in kitchen. No ductwork tie in, just blows down. It is loud but we are not there. Also serves as a basement air backup in case it breaks. Had it done for apprx $2400 two years ago. Runs at one third the basement air electric. Use it when we leave rv for the day etc or just to lightly cool when we snowbird.,if roof will hold a person at about 200 lbs, it will hold a roof ac in vent hole. Good luck. Rkl
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:48 PM   #19
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John,

I have the same issue and have looked at options for years. This fall when I come south again, it will happen! If you have an old Airxcel 6535, conversions to a new 86515 should be fairly simple and I see them advertised at around $2600. It you have 6537 - like I do - with a top return, things get a bit more complicated. You will need at least 4" of clear space behind the new 86515 for a custom return duct.
I love the basement heatpump and believe that the new 86515 will be even more quiet than my old 6537. I have looked at so many options on installing new 86515, including slide tracks and the works. Now, to make my life easy, I will just mount the new duct to the new heatpump and lift it in to position, just like the old 6537. Only difference being the extra 4" of space used in the back. I will also need to make few mods to the base frame, but no big deal.
If your current unit is a 6537, I'll be glad to send you my plans/drawings
I have the basement a/c with top return and would be very much interested in your drawings/plans if you dont mind.

Thanks
Bob
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:09 PM   #20
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Understand why you might want to make this switch - but as others have pointed out
there is so much more involved than just the A/C units themselves - ducting, wiring, thermostats, etc.

We drive a 2005 Adventurer with basement air, and happy to say it has worked extremely well (knock on wood!) Relatively quiet and quickly cools entire rig. Especially impressed with its heat pump performance - really puts out the heat (as long as you use it when outside temp is >36F).

I have also learned from others that you usually should not have to replace the Coleman basement A/C unit. It can be worked on and repaired by any reputable A/C shop as it's workings are not a mystery or unique to RVs. Compressors can be replaced, coils refitted, etc as needed. The biggest trouble is removing the unit from the RV bay, as unfortunately Winnebago did not really design their mounting to be user friendly for service.

Also learned that one of the critical maintenance items on them is also the simplest - you have to keep the drain pan drain hole open as it will easily clog up with dirt and debris. Once that happens water will accumulate in the pan and start to rust out the pan and corrode the coils. So simply keeping that drain hole open will help prolong the life of the unit.
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