Cheapo Room A/C Unit??? Priceless!!!

When getting the boat ready to leave in SW Florida, we had many days where work literally came to a halt because it was simply too dang hot aboard for humans to survive, not to mention the locker room smell that was our constant companion.  Our electrician, who had a vested interest in the outcome, suggested we go to WalMart or Home Depot and buy the cheapest, smallest window a/c unit we could find.  He volunteered to rig it so it made the inside of the boat more tolerable.

So we became the proud new owners of an $86 Maytag room air conditioner.  When needed, it lives on the top hatch with a cruise-air hood nabbed from a marine flea market.  It plugs into the boat below and has a clear hose drain over the side (which keeps coming off and creating puddles on the deck, but the comfort below is worth the hassle).

Fast forward a couple of years and we’re getting the boat ready to depart for the Northwest Caribbean.  Storage space is limited and we had already determined we needed a stainless marine dehumidifier for when we left the boat in the tropics in the summer.  We decided that our trusty little a/c unit would be sold at the next nautical swap meet and it would continue life making some other boater especially happy to have a safe haven for the heat and humidity.

Somewhere along the line, the little a/c unit couldn’t be lived without and we didn’t make it to the swap meet, so literally the day before we were throwing off the dock lines, David’s scrunching stuff under the pullman berth storage when he declares the little a/c unit would fit if we wanted to take it with us.  Talking to others on the dock that evening, someone suggested we might be able to sell it at a swap session in the Rio Dulce for far more than it was worth used in SW Florida.  And so the little a/c unit was stored below and rode along on our adventure.

Arriving in the Rio Dulce in April, we had imagined the heat and humidity levels of a rainforest and tropical jungle, but the breeze was still good and we didn’t even remember we had the little a/c unit.  Until we arrived at the back dock at Catamaran Island Hotel and Marina.  Whoosh!  It was HOT!  This was a hot our temperate midwestern lives had never experienced!    Swap meet plans were cancelled and out came the trusty little Maytag a/c unit!

Spoiled Rotten by My Priceless Little Maytag!

Spoiled Rotten by My Priceless Little Maytag!

Now, 8 years later, the storage space for that little a/c unit is an absolutely sacred area.    Very little is as revered as that little box pumping out cool dry air.    Since we’ve had multiple attempts by others to buy it, we could have recouped our money several times, but some things become priceless!

So for now and hopefully forever, our Maytag a/c unit continues to be one of the first things put back in place when we return to Winterlude each fall.  Over the summer, we don’t want to pay the increased electricity bill and we just use the stainless dehumidifier.   But when we return, the minute the heat/humidity is overwhelming, on goes the a/c.  The increase in electricity isn’t as bad as we thought it might be, but after working outside all day in the heat and humidity, returning to a cool dry boat is priceless!

I’ll post more photos when we return to the boat this fall, but for now, this is a similar model, except ours doesn’t have any thermometer or thermostat.



  1. We bought a similar unit about 2 months ago from Wal-Mart and love it! It gets really hot here in Louisiana!

  2. Mike Blecher says:


    Can you post a photo of how you have rigged your air conditioner in a hatch? Do you mean the companionway, or a deck hatch? I’d like to rig mine in a deck hatch, but I’m not sure how to do this…


    • Hi Mike! Sorry, we’ve been very busy trying to get the boat put away for hurricane season & I missed your comment. I will look for a photo of the Maytag and how it sits on the hatch — it wasn’t hot enough this April to really need it – 90 during the day, but a quick cool down to 60’s at night was really nice. I should be able to look through some older photos sometime this week & will make myself a note to post some on how it works. Essentially we open the hatch all the way, then position the little Maytag on top with a few pieces of lumber cut to fit. We picked up a hood from one of the West Marine carry on style a/c units at a flea market. So it sits on top, positioned with it’s wood on each side and the hood over the top. We also attach a piece of clear plastic hose to the drain on the back and run the drain hose off the side of the boat so it doesn’t drain into the boat or just puddle on top. Then plug it in down below (although there’s a cord running down the main hatch and across to a plug on the side, it’s over the U shaped salon table and doesn’t get in our way — well worth it for the a/c!). Photos coming as soon as I can find them. Sorry for the delay! Jan

  3. I’ve seen several versions of AC units. I’ve seen mostly the window units, mounted in the companionway. Lots of the liveaboards in Fla liked to do the RV on top of roof type AC unit, because they would plop them down onto an open hatch, then take them off when they wanted to go sailing. The RV type ac units used the least amount of electricity for the amount of cooling. Some of the more industrious types built custom boxes that would deflect the outgoing air one way, and draw from another. Besides that, I’ve heard time and time again, that out of the marine/boat AC units, make sure you get the one that has the standard household type reostate. There is a very popular model out there that has it’s reostat go out every year, reguardless of what type of boat or installation. Its the one that I wanted to install because it has a dehumidify setting, but I went with the other one, and I’ve been very happy with it. I’ve run it for about 7 years now. Also, the Cal pumps that come with the marine ac units is trash too. They go out like clock work just like the reostats. I recommend the Marsh pumps, they hold up well. Hope that helps someone.
    s/v Renasci

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