Finished install

Volare gets a new air conditioner

In Boat Projects, Living Aboard by Adam3 Comments

After many years of resisting, we installed a Webasto 16000btu air conditioner. The summers have really gotten warm here in San Diego and I sold the idea to Jess as a rocket cooling device. Even though the aft cabin of our boat stays cool in the heat, the rest of it gets pretty warm.

Our boat comes with the option of 16,000btu and 12,000btu air conditioners. Meaning, the boat uses both 16k and 12k air conditioners to cool the whole boat. We decided to go with just the 16k unit. A Webasto 16,000btu unit that cools, heats and dehumidifies. All by using heat exchange with the ocean. PFM. Pure ******* Magic

When we purchased the unit, we were going to place it where Catalina normally places the 16k unit. But this would take up a lot of valuable, convenient space under the starboard settee…so it wasn’t our first choice.

Awaiting install

All tidy on a pallet

After measuring the unit, it looked like there was a chance it would fit where Catalina normally installed the smaller 12k unit. I took a ton of measurements and when it seemed like it would fit, I started getting the space under the chart table ready. You can see from this picture that it was somewhat of a mess. Part of the mess came directly from Catalina and I contributed to the rest of it. In our defense… it’s a tough place to get to without removing the chart table.

Whos to blame

Complete wiring mess

So I began by cleaning up and rerouting wire runs. Once this was done, I had a better idea of how big (or small) this space was. In order for the air conditioner to fit, part of it would be under the chart table and part of it would be under the circuit breaker panel and all the way outboard against the hull.

cleaned up

Wiring mess cleaned up

Will it fit

Ready to shoehorn the AC unit in

When I first placed the unit in the space I came to the realization that it was just a bit too wide. It wouldn’t fit as is. I eventually figured out that if I lifted the unit up, it could fit because the hull was widening out and that 2” lift made all the difference. You can see from the photos that I placed it on a 2×4 platform to get the height I needed.

too small

Sizing the unit

Added 2" height to unit. It now fits

Added 2″ height to unit. It now fits

The next steps after confirming that the unit would fit were to;
Install 2 drain hoses to drain to the shower sump
Install the raw water intake strainer
Install and wire the AC water pump
Route the raw water discharge to a new thru hull
Connect the AC power from the AC circuit breaker panel
Install the remote control unit
Cut air supply access in port wall
Install register in main cabin and forward cabin
Run insulated air ducting to both registers. I used two 4×8 teak registers that have directional louvers. This enables me to better control the flow of cooling air

Teak register

Teak register

To enable this unit to be run off the inverter and DC generator;
Installed a soft start device (EasyStart 364) purchased from Costal Climate Control.

EasyStart 364 unit

EasyStart 364 soft start unit

EasyStart wired up

EasyStart wired up

EasyStart wiring diagram

EasyStart wiring diagram

Once installed and running…. We were both surprised about how well it worked to cool the two hottest sections of our boat. It really does make it more enjoyable in the heat of the day. We’ve also discovered that the heat function and dehumidifier both work very well.

Control panel

Control panel

It also nice to know the unit is very smart. I once turned the AC on but had inadvertently left the thru hull closed. It ran for just a minute or two and then shut down. I was initially pretty concerned that the unit had shut itself off until I found the closed thru hull. It’s comforting to know that the unit knew it wasn’t getting cooling water and turned itself off.

Main advantage of this install…. I used the previously unused and mostly inaccessible space under the Nav table.
Difficulty rating… probably about an 8. It took a lot of work to shoehorn that unit into the space I had. The other difficult part was getting the correct wiring info to add the EasyStart.

The finished unit before the Nav table is reinstalled.

Finished install

Finished install. Ready to run!

Ease of install? 9 out of 10 because this install taps into so many systems. Raw water, through hulls, drains, air handling systems, registers, vents, the unit itself, AC wiring, circuit breakers, control units and the soft start system. This install takes a long time but if you have the ability to do the work… you can save a ton of money.

Feed Shark

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the rest of our website and follow along with our travels at CruisingVolare.


  1. You have all that extra power you generate to make it run. LOL.

    1. Author

      You’re right! I saw 32 amps being produced on 550 watts of Solbian solar panels yesterday.
      We’ve got plans to add another 450 watts to give us a cool 1000 watts of Solbian solar!
      Can you say.. ice maker?

Leave a Comment