Date: 20 July 2022. Thermostat
and RJ11 Troubles (Mistakes were Made, Part 4)
a series detailing the nightmare upgrade to a plug-and-play
air-conditioning system aboard Seaweed. I would love to be able to
tell you how well it went, explaining how smart I was, and the
debacles I avoided. Alas, that's not what happened. Details follow.
This is Part
4 of the Mistakes were Made series.
For folks that prefer to have
all details on one page, this is the link you want:
AC Install from Hades (Mistakes were Made, complete series)
In the previous installment of the Mistakes series, I detailed how I
had purchased a brand new model 15,000 BTU Penguin II rooftop RV
air-conditioner with a heat pump by
Dometic. This was supposed to be a
plug-and-play unit. The instructions though complicated were
straight forward. I needed 110 AC power, plus 12 volts. How hard
could that be?!?
Seaweed is a boat. Stuff happens.
Every project has quirks. The air-conditioner needed 12 volts
in addition the the standard electricity. Though I had a power
line feeding a light aft, I needed to upgrade.
A new fuse block was mounted
where the light had been. →
Though I like the look of the round
lights many boats have, I have seldom used mine out here in
the galley. It was too high on the bulkhead. With the
necessity to add a fuse block, I opted to remove that light.
You might have noticed a hand-held VHF radio in the
corner next to my speaker. Having a convenient means of
communication is nice. My daughter bought that for me so I
would have a VHF to use in the dinghy. It is handy and
provides another layer of safety afloat. I am grateful.
Generally my main radio is on at all times. Having a portable
is convenient when a friend hails me as I can answer without
For folks worried that they will never have the funds to have
all the cool stuff, not to worry. You are
looking at 14-plus years of slow acquisitions. The VHF radio by
my bunk was $5 at a marine flea market.
Yes I am indeed fortunate to have been able to
own this older unit. Having redundancy makes me feel
safer. I also listen to the weather channel each morning before
getting up. Most mariners do this too.
But I digresss...
Eventually the inside unit that mates with the exterior motor
arrived. It indeed was Plug-and-Play. Unfortunately we could not
see how to turn the dang thing on. A quick call to
Camping World informed me that there was one more piece
required. I needed to purchase a $267 thermostat!
By this time
spring has arrived. Though the weather was not yet unbearable,
summer was rapidly approaching. It was incredibly frustrating.
Fortunately Camping World did ship out immediately upon payment
a brand new spiffy thermostat for my system.
The thermostat arrived quickly. We plug it in and
... nothing. Not a ding-dang thing happened. Deep breath. It is
getting hot and my last nerve is being stomped on! There is no
power apparently to the thermostat. So, back to the instruction
manual, and coffee. I need coffee.
The instruction manual was quite specific. It
stated that I must utilize an RJ11 telephone cord. I had missed
that in the initial read-through. Fortunately I found a 25' RJ11
eBay for $10. It was ordered promptly.
Thus began yet another
delay in the A/C upgrade plan. I have spent a LOT of perfectly
good money and have only sweat to show for it. Yes, the unit is
mounted. The Penguin II looks beautiful. The fact that it does
not work is infuriating. As the temperatures increase, I am
becoming more surly.
I will tell you more about the
next layer of frustration shortly. Thank you for your patience
while I slog through this seemingly never-ending tale of how not
to have a plug-and-play air-conditioner on a boat. Thanks too
Did you know the difference between an RJ11 cord (4 wires) and a standard
2-wire telephone wire?
And, do you have any tricks for staying upbeat when your project is
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