Staying cool with superyacht climate control
Last updated: 08/06/2016
Few onboard systems are more crucial to the comfort and well-being of yacht owners, crew and guests than air conditioning. Part of a fully functioning HVAC system includes a climate control package, which will be required to work virtually non-stop to ensure an optimum yachting experience. Choosing, sizing and maintaining an AC system can be a daunting task. Technicold by Northern Lights, a market leader in superyacht climate control and HVAC, provided a few tips to get you started on the way to cruise in comfort.
Just chill – chilled water air conditioning is the right system for large yachts
While there are several options for marine air conditioning, including direct expansion and self-contained units, the best choice for boats over 80 feet (25 metres) is chilled water. In a chilled water air conditioning system fresh water is pumped through the chiller via an insulated piping loop. The chilled water then passes through air handlers located throughout the vessel.
Climate control is supplied to each on-board zone or room with air handlers. Air handlers can be placed virtually anywhere on board and can be outfitted with individual controls to maintain zone-specific temperature and humidity levels. The most flexible AC system will utilise a variety of air handler configurations, to ensure maximum comfort in each space.
On large yachts amp draw is always a consideration. A properly sized multi-stage chilled water system provides excellent load management while reducing peak electrical load.
Chilled water air conditioning maintenance
Maintenance is important to extending any air conditioning system’s lifespan. A well maintained chilled water system can eliminate the need for emergency repairs, avoid breaking the warranty and ensure the crew, owners and guests go minimal time without air conditioning.
Bring the heat – total climate control is available on your AC system
When we think of on-board climate control we most commonly think of air conditioning as most yachts sail in warm weather climates. However, what about far northern or southern cruises; or times when the mornings are a little chilly?
A good climate control protocol will include a heating option, and the most functional heating option for a chilled water system is to add electric heat strips in the air handlers.
This option provides heat in each individual cabin, providing an effective versatile solution. For vessels that spend extended cruises in cold weather, immersion heat is used to heat the entire circulating water loop, therefore providing heated water throughout the vessel.
Heating and air conditioning are good ways to improve the overall feel of your boat and another is humidity control. Most class society standards require humidity control now, which can be easily provided through your climate control system by having a fresh air make up system installed. There are requirements for air changes per hour per person as well. Fresh air make up draws outside air into the vessel, removes humidity and then provides appropriate temperature for a more comfortable, stable and ambient environment.
Because of the moisture and temperature involved, many people equate a musty odor with on-board air conditioning. This can be combated with the simple addition of a UV lamp. For best results, UV lamps should be installed in the air handler, not the ducting. This will allow a more thorough elimination of offensive microbes, in all facets of the AC system.
The marine climate is demanding – plan ahead
By now, you can see that a number of factors go into a fully-functioning climate control system. But no factor is as important as the quality and integrity of the components installed. The marine environment is harsh on all components, and the middle of a cruise is no place for a breakdown. For your peace of mind, insist on the highest quality components and materials.
Marine grade stainless steel should be a requisite for any chassis, fasteners or hardware. Single pass fluted coaxial condensers will ensure maximised efficiency and even condensing – especially when built of reliable materials like cupronickel. The chiller should be foam enshrouded to limit condensation. Air handlers can be of the high velocity variety for installations that require longer duct runs. Rotatable blowers will provide better flexibility in installation and usage. Deep insulated condensate pans must be properly plumbed to reduce any water damage to the vessel.
Chip Van Gunten, sales application director at Technicold commented, “When meeting with your HVAC professional, make sure that he is recommending a system that is built to withstand heavy duty usage in a marine environment. Even if your initial system costs a little more, the long term value of clean, reliable air cannot be overstated.”
Take control – AC control panels are easy and versatile
While there are a number of factors that go into selecting a climate control system, the day to day usage should be simple. State-of-the-art control panels allow unprecedented access and management of your entire HVAC system. Modern panels can be fitted directly to your vessel management system, similarly to your smart phone or tablet – they are intuitive and versatile.
In closing, remember that your climate control system should work for you and your boat’s specific requirements. Load, size and zone control are all factors that should be considered. Insisting on top-flight components from a trusted global supplier will ensure clear air and complete comfort wherever you may travel.