AC Hacking a Figidaire 5000 BTU

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AC Hacking a Figidaire 5000 BTU

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:36 am

I just completed the adaptation of a 5,000 BTU Frigidaire to work with Compass Rose. This was actually a very inexpensive process as I used a close out Frigidaire 5000 BTU that I picked up end of season at Lowes for $50. I had an adapter made to handle a 4 inch ducts by one of the local heating and air conditioning contractors. I had originally thought of using a rather fancy digital thermostat but found that making it play well with the air conditioner was not going well, plus every time it was unplugged I would lose all the settings. What I ended up doing was pulling the thermostat out of the AC unit and mounting it and on off switch in a RadioShack project box. Wiring is very simple because with a thermostat all I'm doing is looking into the existing wires that control the AC unit, and the power switch basically interrupts the off, cool, fan speed switch. I figured that the unit would be on high cool all the time, or off as I am pushing air through 4 inch flex duct. Control wires are connected using Anderson power poles and run through the air intake duct. The ducts run through four-inch Marine deck plates in the side of the trailer.

One of the things I did not cover was how I came to the conclusion I needed a 5,000 BTU AC, I can not find the original website I used for the calculations but have tried this one http://www.calculator.net/btu-calculator.html?roomwidth=6&roomwidthunit=feet&roomlength=10&roomlengthunit=feet&ceilingheight=4&ceilingheightunit=feet&insulation=poor&temperature=50&temperatureunit=f&calctype=heat&x=67&y=9 and came up with the same result more of less. One thing to remember is that you have six exterior exposed surfaces, more or less, cabinets...

I ended up having a serious problem with the initial set up and that was icing and the discussion of that is much later in the responses on page 3. The solution however was quite simple, I added in a 4" marine bilge blower rated a 240 CFM and this has taken care of the problem. The pictures are at what is currently the bottom of this first posting. I do need to refine how this goes together and I will edit the final solution. my feeling is that I can reduce the speed of the blower and the noise produced and now that I know that it works shorten hose and route wires neatly and efficiently.

This is the electrical guts, VERY simple, Note the absence of the thermostat.
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Here are the housing and adapter prepped for paint.
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This is the inside of the adapter. Note the felt strip to seal the opening to the AC
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The duct is the same one I used for the diesel heater good up to 450 degrees and you can see the plastic reducer wrapped up with closed cell neoprene to achieve a watertight fit.
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Here is the finished adapted unit plugged into a GFI outlet. Note that the AC unit can sit entirely underneath the trailer.
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On the anterior I used standard RV type duct outlets that have a wide enough spacing to allow me to run the control cables through. And yes I need to box in the outlet.
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This the version II of the computer case fans. There is enough room between the fans and the event that they can be left on and help circulate the air within the trailer so that you don't get stratification with the cold air sinking to the bottom.
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Here is the AC control on off and temperature, where it will end up is still open to debate and it will probably be attached using Velcro.
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Deck plates
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AC unit with handle
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Bilge Blower
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Blower in line.
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Crossroads of America Gathering was the real life test of the system with temperatures in the upper 80's high humidity and no breeze. Saturday night it did not cool off much and we left it running all night. Come morning it was covered with condensation and you can see that.
The bilge blower is three speed, full, and with the use of resistors in the negative line, medium and slow. I found that the slow was sufficient to overcome the restrictions in the air movement enough to prevent freezing. My next step will be trying a PMW to regulate speed. The resistors get HOT and while I sandwiched them between a couple of pieces of aluminum to help dissipate that I hate wasting that much energy.

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The latest is that I wanted to see how it withstood weather so left it attached and running and exposed during a thunderstorm with no ill effects. The PMW works great for regulating the blower speed, until you cross wire it, I will be getting another one this week.
Last edited by Shadow Catcher on Mon Jun 05, 2017 3:07 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby caseydog » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:42 am

Like Petcool, only a lot less expensive -- and probably better performance. :applause:

CD
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Postby eamarquardt » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:20 am

Verrrrrrry cool. I frequently have sheet metal things fabricated at a local shop. I'm impressed as to how little they charge for my custom projects. I agree with CD probabaly better than a pet cool and for far less.

You have raised the bar on "cost effective" air conditioning.

Cheers,

Gus
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Postby Synthesis » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:32 am

Awesome job!

I have been looking for "port holes" for my tongue box mounted AC unit that I am in the process of building. The marine deck plates will fit the bill perfectly and still allow me to remove my tongue box any time I see fit.

Great job, and TY for the ideas. :)
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Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:18 am

caseydog MUCH less expensive than a Pet Cool and it actually works. The weather had cooled down so have not been able to really test it out but for the time it did run I noted a good bit of condensate which our PC never did.

Gus I was surprised how little it was to have it fabed up less than $60 as I remember and there is no reason you could not make one using wood or plastic. I figure I have about $150 or less minus the AC unit into this.

Synthesis the deck plates are an awesome design but what was scary was drilling 4 1/4 inch holes in the side of the tear. The vents were 4 inches so there was a bit of a gap which I caulked.
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Postby eamarquardt » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:37 am

I picked up an a/c unit at Costco a while back. Currently it's in the attic awaiting mods. I had in mind to do exactly what you have done. Now I can follow your excellent example.

Due to my ongoing issues with the "suicide disease" (I love saying that, but it's true), the fact that my friends are "dropping like flies", my son graduating from college tomorrow (thus increasing our discressionary funds by approximately $2k/month, YEA!!), many projects at home, etc, etc, etc, I purchased a Little Guy used this week. Suzy, to her credit, got over it in record time. I've ordered brakes, have removed the stove and sink in the galley in prep for adding shelving, and will be on the road to Seattle in July (with my brother as co-pilot).

Cheers,

Gus
The opinions in this post are my own. My comments are directed to those that might like an alternative approach to those already espoused.There is the right way,the wrong way,the USMC way, your way, my way, and the highway.
"I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it." Klaatu-"The Day the Earth Stood Still"
"You can't handle the truth!"-Jack Nicholson "A Few Good Men"
"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem"-Ronald Reagan
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Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:56 am

Gus
I tried to make this as complete a "How To" with out going into excruciating detail as I could. Most of you can figure out what I did but I know I suffer from a good case of "I know what I did" that there may be essential details missing.
I still have not figured out what I am going to do for a handle. The sheet metal is too thin to just slap one on so I have to come up with something made hopefully from some of the scrap I have lying about.
I love being able to use some of the accumulated bits and pieces of this and that. The handle is now on and consists of one 4' piece of all thread with two cuts and threaded through a channel on the bottom of the AC and a section of old aluminum tent pole and a couple of pieces of ~1 1/2' wide aluminum tread plate. The assembly is angled to hit roughly the balance point for the AC.
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Postby CliffinGA » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:15 pm

Tom I like it alot! This may save me a headache with havbing to decide to cut my bulk head to install the a/c. I will probably ask more questions tonight when I get back home.

Cliff
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Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:13 pm

I have just added two additional shots one showing the deck plates and the other showing the handle. Balance point is on the side (the compressor is there) so it is an easy carry.
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Postby bdosborn » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:55 am

Tom.

Did you separate the supply and return air in the adapter on the front of the A/C? You should add a picture of the inside of the adapter if you did. That's a great alternative to the just-too-darn-expensive Petcool with more cooling capacity to boot.

Bruce
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Postby Shadow Catcher » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:55 pm

Bruce, yes they are separated and I will take it apart a get a picture. I also want to add an extra layer of insulation inside as there is a cold spot that is sweating on top. One of the beauties of this set up is that fixing or replacing the cooling unit is simple and relatively inexpensive. I may look for a close out next fall, I got this one for $50 dollars a year and a half ago.
I am also thinking you can regulate the level of cooling by using longer or shorter ducts and insulating or not to keep the unit from short cycling and not adequately dehumidifying.
Because there is no hard attachment and what sound there is, is broken up inside the hose it is super quiet.
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Postby bdosborn » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:18 pm

Shadow Catcher wrote:I am also thinking you can regulate the level of cooling by using longer or shorter ducts and insulating or not to keep the unit from short cycling and not adequately dehumidifying.


Why bother with that, I like your thermostat rig better. :lol:

Bruce

P.S. I bet you could put a hair dryer element in the cover and make it heat as well as cool.
Last edited by bdosborn on Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby CliffinGA » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:18 pm

Tom where did you get the ducting your using? Are you using styrofoam to direct the air in the box into the outlet? Where did you get the deck plates at?

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Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:02 am

The ducting was a left over piece that I got from a supply house in Toledo that specializes in hoses. However finding 4" duct is easy, as an example Lowse's has IMPERIAL "Flexible Transition Duct" and a more rigid dryer vent hose.
The box is galvanized sheet metal made up by a local HVAC shop and the internal baffle is also metal. Watching the gentleman who built it you appreciate the level of skill involved.
The deck plates came from Jamestown distributors who I also bought lights and hinges from. They are the twist and lock http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/us ... Deck+Plate
Last edited by Shadow Catcher on Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:01 pm

I have added a picture of the inside of the adapter.
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