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Boat air conditioning: everything you need to know

During the summer season, especially in regions such as the Alpes-Maritimes, it is often very hot. To maximize comfort on board, it is essential to have good air conditioning because ventilation is insufficient, especially at anchor. Everything depends on the type of boater, the type of boat and the use he/she makes of it.

An air conditioning system for a yachtsman living in his boat seems conceivable knowing that there are reversible air conditioners, that is to say that they blow cold air when it is hot and hot air when it is cold.

The air conditioner is one of the fundamental elements contributing to the comfort on board your boat, just like the upholstery. Of course, a boat is not only about comfort, its general maintenance is just as important. For example, it is CAPITAL to properly winterize your boat...

Au cours de cet article, nous verrons dans un premier temps, comment choisir son climatiseur ? Puis, comment l’entretenir ? Nous verrons ensuite, quelles sont les bonnes pratiques ? Enfin, nous verrons quelles sont les pannes les plus fréquentes ?

Table of contents

How to choose it ?

Now you know that having an air conditioner on board your ship is a big advantage for comfort, but how do you choose one? It is essential to choose an air conditioner that goes with your boat, i.e. energy efficient and long lasting.

The main criteria to consider are : 

  • Required space for installation;
  • A good power;
  • A Reduced sound;
  • Availability on the market, especially for pieces;
  • The type of power supply;

How to maintain it ?

This section is mainly for boat owners who already have an air conditioning system on board.

An air conditioner requires regular maintenance so that it can function properly and last over time.

Here is a list of steps to follow regularly for the proper maintenance of your air conditioner :

  • When you leave your boat to return during the day or the next day, activate the "dehumidification" function. The ventilation will slow down to intensify the condensation and let the air passing through the indoor unit get rid of its humidity. The water in vapor form becomes liquid and is discharged through the hose. The air in the room dries out and the humidity is reduced. This allows a small cleaning of the pipes. In addition, you are protected against mold, mites, fungi... 


  • Clean the air conditioner filters regularly : first, remove any debris from the saltwater filters in the plumbing. Next, clean the cabin air filters.


  • Regularly check the condition and operation of plumbing and pumps. Poor salt water flow is a regular cause of many air conditioning system problems.

What are the good practices ?

Avoir une climatisation à bord c’est très bien mais avant cela il est important de prendre en considération plusieurs informations en amont. En effet, il existe un ensemble de bonnes pratiques à adopter pour mieux vous préparer à l’idée d’un climatiseur à bord d’un navire.

Here is a non-exhaustive list :

  • Pay attention to the size of your boat, basically the air conditioner in the boating world is intended for yachts with the presence of a powerful generator. Since recently, there are more and more equipments able to adapt to pleasure boats but it is still advised to have a boat of at least 10 meters.
  • For those who have a boat in the construction phase, anticipate the installation of air conditioning at the time the boat is built. It makes sense that installing an air conditioning system before construction is much more practical and therefore less expensive than afterwards. 
  • Use quality materials. Often, boaters tend to want to save money by buying materials, but this is a trap because quality materials are better preserved in the marine environment and are therefore more economical in the long run.
  • Pay attention to the power supply. Of course, in the port, this is not really a problem because there are terminals on the docks. It is mainly when you go out to sea that you have to be careful, being sure to have on board a generator powerful enough for a good power supply.

What are the most common breakdowns ?

It is obvious that the causes of an air conditioning breakdown can be multiple and diverse.

However, there are several easily spotted signs that indicate a problem with your air conditioner.

Here is a non-exhaustive list :

  • The air blown by the air conditioner is neither hot nor cold;
  • A leak of small drops of water;
  • The air conditioner makes noise;
  • There is smoke or the smell of smoke;
  • An unpleasant smell;
  • The air conditioner suddenly turns off;
  • Filters are dirty;
  • The seawater cooling circuit is clogged;

What you need to remember ?

Having air conditioning on board your boat is a great benefit for comfort on board, whether you are in port or out at sea. However, before you check out, there are some things you need to know to determine if your boat really needs an air conditioning system on board and if so, what tips will help you choose the best value for money air conditioner.

Air conditioning on board a boat is not only reserved for yachts or large boats with a powerful generator.

Of course, it is recommended to have a boat of at least 10 meters for the place, with also a sufficient power supply. Nevertheless, the market for boat air conditioners is very innovative and it is possible to find a solution for smaller boats. An example of an alternative would be low voltage air conditioners with reduced power in return.

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