War on Summer

In the great struggle of Iguanadons vs the seasons, the Empire has struck another victory in favor of working climate control. Epic tales of this struggle exist as far back as one can remember here and most often end in defeat. Not today, for the weapon of choice this day is a 14,000 BTU monster unit that has finally taken back my pathetic excuse for a room from the ravages of the desert summer heat. This did not happen without trials of course. In seeking this new unit out, one must remember that I had an 8,000 BTU pile of crap that couldn't cool an outhouse.

The latest battle in the war started with a power outage on the second hottest day of the year, about 2 days ago to be exact. Temps hit 108 after having hit 110 the day before and the Edison grid gave up the ghost. So I hopped into the only working source of AC to be found - my car - and journeyed to Fry's Electronics in hopes of escaping the carnage. It was not to be, for upon arrival there it was found that their AC in the entire store had failed and it was a balmy 91 degrees inside the building combined with ridiculous levels of humidity. It was bad enough they were handing out lukewarm water to the customers to keep them from dying on the sales floor.

So, with plans to cruise the store and soak up the cold dashed, I wandered over to the appliance section where I found my new weapon, proudly on display providing the only cold air for miles. It felt good, although one had to stand right in front of the unit since they were running it in less than ideal conditions. I took some quick measurements and determined it would fit the rather narrow space I have for such things by the window. After grilling the poor salesman on the details of power usage, it became clear I'd suffer no additional penalty to electricity use. Music to my ears.

With wallet cracked open and Debit card in hand, I plunked down the $600 for my new best friend, and then made the long sad trip home. I would see him again 2 days later.

So Saturday afternoon rolls around, and Fry's shows up 2 hours earlier than expected. Score! Or so I thought. I eagerly unboxed the unit, got the pieces all lined up, and then noticed the problem. The plastic window slats weren't long enough! Curse you non-standard window! Not to be deterred, I formulated a plan. Get all the other stuff assembled as much as possible, then head for Home Depot.

Now, normally Home Depot is the last place one wishes to venture off to in 107 degree heat, but there I was in the parking lot, dreading the entire time I was to be in the building. Until I actually walked through the doors and realized: Nirvana. Their AC was on and working double overtime! A minor miracle for those familiar with the place. I took one of my puny plastic window slats over to the lumber guy and presented the challenge. Cut me a piece of wood to fit this thing's specs. 20 minutes of rummaging through the culled lumber cart yielded the perfect match - exactly 1/2" thick and large enough to cut two 20 inch pieces out of it.

Now, let me just say, the giant radial saw machine thing they have there for these guys to use is nothing short of power tool awesomeness. Tim Allen would be pleased. Took all of 10 seconds to slice and dice me some ugly but perfectly sized chunks of plywood from the culled lumber, but as they say, looks aren't everything. Total cost for this little detour: 55 cents after tax. Yep, that's right, I actually walked away paying less than a buck for something :)

Upon returning home, it was on. Inserted one piece of plywood, then the other.... then CURSE my foolish eye, turns out I only needed one 20 inch piece, or alternatively 2 16 inch pieces. Ah well, it was only 26 cents wasted.

Plastic slats in place, hoses attached, power connected, it was time. The secret weapon was fired up, and the battle won. Cold air at last! Bonus points for the unit bringing the temp in my room down from 102 (Jesus Christ!) to a cool and comfortable 78 degrees in 30 minutes - and then hearing the compressor actually shut off as it reached that point.

No longer shall I wont for a cooler room. I shall have it whenever I please. And I shall have a lower Edison bill as a result of the compressor no longer running constantly. That has to be good, right?

The only thing that remains is WTF to do with the old tired 8,000 BTU unit that I can't keep. Anyone want a lukewarm air blower machine?
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Jul 18, 2010 1:01 am by Samson in: | 16 comment(s) [Closed]
Congratulations, Samson! :)
On the other hand, even 8k btu should've been enough to handle a 350 square foot room adequately according to Energy Star, so 14k btu should be enough to handle a room of approximately 700 square feet. How large is your room? (12'x20' is only 240 square feet, incidentally...) Of course, the fine folks at Energy Star also would have us believe that too much air conditioner will leave your room(s) damn & clammy feeling as they'll cool it too quickly without removing enough of the humidity, and I think we know better than that from experience, don't we? :lol:

According to that ridiculous chart of theirs I should have survived fine on a 5,000 BTU air conditioner. My room is 12x10 at best, which is only 120 sq ft. I can attest firmly that 8,000 won't cut it, even if all 3 computers are off and it's just me and the light bulb in here. I might have been able to get away with 10,000 or 12,000 but since I'd only have saved $50 in either case I figured go for broke and be sure. I was right, and it certainly didn't leave it feeling damp and clammy in here. Just cool, which is what I've been after now for ages.

At night it's generally not an issue to shut the AC down and just use the window fan. Summer loses all its power once the sun goes down, unless a random thunderstorm pops out and fills the air with nasty humidity and then dissipates 40 minutes before sundown. That sucked big time.

Alas, poor 8,000 BTU unit, we knew you well. You were so proud of that thing at the time, too.

Yes, but apparently the summer of 2007 was mild by comparison, and the 8,000 got old and inefficient. Or something. I dunno, might have been placebo, but today wasn't when I was seriously considering putting a shirt on :)

I think their chart's a bit off too, but even so, 14k btu is a lot of a/c to need for 120 square feet... you know, not that I doubt you but the troubleshooter in me has got to ask, did you ever check to see if the 8k unit had any sort of filter(s) that might've needed cleaning/replacement or what not?

On the other hand, this summer's been fairly brutal here, particularly compared to the summer of 2007, perhaps it's been so there as well.

You know, I always thought iguanadons were comfortable and liked the heat... learn something new everyday here :)

Congrats on winning the battle.

Yes, the old one had a filter and I cleaned it regularly. Had to, this is also dust city out here. Getting worse every year it seems.

I guess the computers really do output enough heat to cancel out 8,000 BTUs because it's in one of the other guy's rooms now and working just fine, like a normal AC should. Live and learn.

I don't remember how many BTUs the a/c unit puts out that I bought for my office, but it struggles along daily, despite the fact that my household central a/c keeps the rest of the house at 78 degrees evenly, to keep that room cooled to 80 degrees and it's meant to be enough to cool a third of my house. It's really amazing just how much heat a handful of computers generate.

I suppose so. We have found though that the 8,000 isn't enough to cool the other bedroom either even with no other active heat sources running other than a human body. So the unit was never adequate for the job to begin with and I was only making it worse. So overkill or not, I know 14K works for this room and I'm not about to do this again unless the thing breaks or something. Which is why I sprung for the 4-year extended full replacement warranty from Fry's.

I hear that. Too bad that it's not working out for the other room either though, at least if it had worked there you could've felt like it hadn't gone to waste. :(

Maybe it's just too dry a climate for that unit to function at capacity?

Yes, but apparently the summer of 2007 was mild by comparison, and the 8,000 got old and inefficient. Or something. I dunno, might have been placebo, but today wasn't when I was seriously considering putting a shirt on

Sounds like it just needed a service and re-gas. This is something you should do every couple of years with AC units to keep them working in tip top order. Energy Star ratings etc are a pretty good guide to the minimum needed to do something, but if you want to be more efficient, you need to double their specs, this will save you huge amounts of money over the life of the unit as it does only 1/2 the work to achieve the same results, so less energy consumed and less wear means less servicing. Of course if you really want to save, better buy an inverter system, those things use crap all power, something like 1/3 less than a traditional design.

I went and looked since I couldn't remember, the unit in my 10x12 office space is 9500 BTUs, most of the time it manages to keep the office at 76 when the rest of the house is at 78, but this last week or so the rest of the house has been reaching between 79 & 81 during the day and my office has been sitting closer to 84. I can't fault the A/C unit for that though, it's been that bad out there.

Fury, I don't think the sort of portable A/C unit that Samson and I are talking about has a refrigerant replacement need like a normal central A/C system, or even a vehicle A/C system, would. The one I'm using is a Everstar 9500 BTU Portable Air Condtioner which I bought from Home Depot a little over a year ago. The refridgerant systems are entirely sealed, I am assuming that the ones Samson's talking about are very similar.

Yep, same deal. Mine is an Amana AP148DS (the link is for the 148D). The manual says nothing about refrigerant. It's one of those evaporative cooling systems that spits the excess humidity out the exhaust hose in the window. The only thing I'm afraid of is if it manages to overwhelm its capacity to self-evaporate the condensation from the compressor and I end up having to go dump the water tank. This thing wasn't exactly cake to get into this room.

Mine's the same way, but it's actually got a cabinet specifically for the water collection bottle so that you can dump it rather easily in case the water doesn't evaporate via it's external outlet appropriately, but also no mention of refrigerant.

Well unfortunately mine has no such easy remove tank. I'd have to wheel the behemoth out somewhere I can pull the drain plug. So let's hope this one never asks to have that done. The old one never did either and it came with a pipe and shit to drain the water with if it needed it.

Find yourself a hose just in case? Or a small stack of pie tins? :lol:

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