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Basement air conditioner


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I am looking at a 2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J on a Workhorse chassis. It has the air conditioner in the basement and the dealer calls it a side mount Coleman A/C. Are they reliable and are parts available or this this something to avoid. I only have knowledge of roof top air conditioners.

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We have an Alfa fiver that has basement air, virtually the same unit in what you are looking at. We bought ours new 2003. We knew up front that the AC units could cause some problems in time. Well after full timing for 17 years in this fiver using both the AC and heat pump, the unit took the death blow last September (2020) Up to that time there were no problems but we knew it would. I also knew most RV outfits won't even look at them, that it was better to call a residential AC outfit to see if they would work on them. When tis unit crapped out, I knew the compressor locked up. So fortunately we were back in Yuma, AZ. and needed AC. Went to an RV parts and repair that I have dealt with for years. I walked in and "do you guys work on basement units"? "No we don't but another outfit just up the street does and I could be wrong but I don't know of anyone else in the area that does".  So I go there and I have purchased some items from over the years from them. Talked to the guy that I knew would know what they could do if anything. "Are you mobile"? "Yes, no problem there". "Well we need to have it down here because the fiver needs to be jacked up, and units dropped". He also confirmed my diagnosis. "Now to be up front with you, I have two new compressors here but won't know if they will match up". "It will be a minimum of $1600 dollars". So knowing these units are still being put in some newly built units, " I asked, well what about new units"? Answer, " unfortunately Airecel(Coleman) has changed the configuration on the units and they can't be retro fitted". "Also the parts in the new units aren't compatible with the old units". He then offered" if you weren't mobile I'd tell you to call a residential AC outfit and have them install a residential 2 1/2 ton unit as they will be able to use your existing duct work". So I come back to our RV lot and tell the wife the situation. In about two hours we decided to retire our 40' unit from the road and do the residential unit deal. At that time there were no roof AC units anywhere do to plants shut down.  Due to the length of the fiver I really didn't like that option anyway since the roof airs would have trouble cooling the whole unit in higher temps. This situation started on a Friday, we went and got a small window AC and stuffed it in the bedroom for the weekend as temps were hovering around 105. Monday morning I called a residential AC outfit that I had prior knowledge of doing this type of install for some folks in an RV park that we knew when we were in the park. He comes out, takes a look see. No problem as we do these frequently. "Ok, how much and when can you do it"? "Tomorrow morning 8 AM and $3900 dollars complete". They got here about 8:05, went to work, and it was starting to cool at 9:50 AM. Now to the next story. 

 As we aren't ready to get off the road yet, we spend about 6 months on the lot here in Yuma and then on the road for about 6 months, give or take. We decided to look for something used that was shorted for the summer. Looked in Oct, Nov, and Dec. I really didn't want a travel trailer and sure didn't like the newer fivers. Entirely too much fluff. So the first week of January, a 2005 Alfa , yes another Alfa, was listed in the Whitesheets. We thought it was a little high and sort of put it on the back burner. The fourth week it was still listed but the price dropped $2500. Ah, we better go look at it. Well the owner came down a little bit more. It was used very little because I know what ours looks like after life on road. So we bought it and decided if the basement AC's go belly up, being a shorter unit, 31'  I'll just put on roof ACs. Lo and behold when as I was moving the solar from the fulltime unit to the newly purchased unit. I had the breaker box out of the cabinet and noticed a rolled up Romex cable laying there. Hmm! I went to the bedroom, removed the trim ring from the regular roof vent. Well, well, there wrapped up was an unused Romex. I ohmed it out and sure enough complete from the breaker box to the roof. As far as the second vent, it would be easy enough to wire from that location to the breaker box. We just were using the basement air at Lake Havasu City at 102 and it did really well, but hiccup could come anytime. In our travels we do see a few Alfas that have had roof ACs mounted. Don't know if the basement units crapped out or many folks didn't like the way they cooled the bedroom. We have a friend that has an Alfa motorhome, 2005, I believe, and he never has had a problem but he too is ready for the unexpected.

Edited by bobsallyh
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I had a "Basement Air" installed in my new custom built trailer in 2013. Coleman Mach. Never worked very well for cooling and most certainly not for providing any warmth. You can only turn the temperature up 2 degrees at a time and you have to have a furnace linked to it for really cold areas. Replaced it with a Mini Split system the puts the prior one to shame in every way. Part of my issue could have been installation and working on it to attempt a repair was very costly and ineffective. I would stay away from one. 



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20 hours ago, Bert2 said:

I am looking at a 2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J on a Workhorse chassis. It has the air conditioner in the basement and the dealer calls it a side mount Coleman A/C. Are they reliable and are parts available or this this something to avoid. I only have knowledge of roof top air conditioners.

We love ours so much we have replace ours when it died with a new unit. $3000 Easy out and in on our 2000 Suncruser, Its so quiet I have to put streamers in a vent to know its on!

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We have a 2007 National RV Dolphin, with a Coleman AC.   Had a problem back in 2014, and here is my Maintenance Log entry from that time:   


May 29, 2014:
TT Verde Valley, Cottonwood, AZ.   Air conditioner failed to start.   Stage 1 Compressor does not come on.   All known fuses and Circuit breakers are OK.   Same problem with shore power, or Generator.   Have not ran Air conditioner since August 2013.   Did run Furnace in March, 2014.   Called local service, ‘RV Medic’.   

May 30, 2014:      
Gideon Ephratah, from RV Medic came out on Service call.
RV Medic
2111 E. Beaver Creek Rd.
Rimrock, AZ    86335
(928) 634-2133

Gideon examined internal & external of applicable MH parts.   Checked Thermostat – is OK.   Gideon Called Airexel (Coleman A/C   Company) and talked to technical Support.   Thru a Process checklist, they identified that the Circuit Board was bad (Green flashing light).   A replacement was ordered.   Gideon will install when part comes in.

June 9, 2014:
Gideon returned, replaced Circuit board.   Stage 1 Air Conditioning is working fine.   Gideon examined the working, and said we “have a very good Air Conditioner based on measured cooling”.
Replacement Circuit board, ( # 6536C3209), 2.25 hrs labor include  two mobile service calls = $343.11
Warranty is 12 months on Circuit Board, 90 days on Labor.

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I have a Coleman-Mach/RVP air conditioner 24,000btu, it has kept the MH at 76° in Las Vegas in 106° heat, and at 76° inside when it was 40° outside in Indiana. It's all about keeping the air filters changed frequently and using real air filters not the green mesh thing. I use Filtrete brand air filters, when I began using them I had to replace it every 2 weeks because it got so dirty. Now I need to change it monthly.

The green mesh things allow dust and lint to accumulate on the inside coil and block efficiency. One man I told about this said he could reach down and touch his inside coil and it felt like a rug instead of fins.

The basement units are repairable, new parts are available and they are rather easily removed from the RV. This how-to PDF was written by a member of irv2.com while working on his unit: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxiaWxsbWFyaWUyMDA4fGd4OjRmOGYwYzBiZTYxYzU5ZWQ

If more information is desired, this is a frequent subject there. I have links to parts and completely new units.($2,800)

Edited by Ray,IN
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