Install an air conditioner yourself - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-01-2015, 05:00 PM   #1
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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.

My original build list specified I wanted the trailer pre-wired a/c ready. Home installation began by first removing the manual vent in the roof. If your build list does not include a/c the factory usually installs a roof vent as a place holder. Removing it is tedious work. 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 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. 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.
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AC01.jpg   AC02.jpg  

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Old 06-02-2015, 09:41 AM   #2
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Myron, you are very ingenuous. Great job.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:50 AM   #3
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Thanks for that post!! Now THIS is what forums should be about!!
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Old 06-03-2015, 09:30 AM   #4
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Great post! Were there any structural considerations before installing? Or was your trailer already set up for A/C along with the wiring? Have often thought of installing one but would have to make some sort of frame that distributed the weight to the sides or something.
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Old 06-03-2015, 09:50 AM   #5
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Thanks. No, the roof was already prepared structurally for extra weight at the factory. I believe that is standard procedure at Escape regardless.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myron Leski View Post
Thanks. No, the roof was already prepared structurally for extra weight at the factory. I believe that is standard procedure at Escape regardless.
In the second picture I can see the wood reinforcement in the opening, is that 2x2's framed into the roof?
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Old 06-29-2015, 10:26 AM   #7
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Yes, that framing was factory installed.
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Old 06-29-2015, 10:43 AM   #8
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Just a Tip: When installing or removing a rooftop A/C on an RV I place a large piece of carpet face down on the RV and just slide the A/C unit into place on that. I have even done that one-man from the ground using a notched piece of 2x2 as a pusher to slide it up the side and onto the top. The scary part only lasts about 10 seconds until it's on top.... LOL
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