A “Ghetto-Fabulous” Inexpensive Boat Airconditioner in 5 Steps

Not to denigrate ghettos in any way since several of my closest friends live in them, …. The solution that Lisa and I came up with for an air conditioner with which to survive summer in Florida was literally that: a jerry rigged but very effective, inexpensive installation. Yes, it does make Pearl look a little bit like the Clampett’s truck, but I can live with that for the moment. At least we aren’t sweating.

Requirements for a Ghetto-Fabulous AC

  1. An appropriately sized AC for your boat
  2. A suitable place (like a forward hatch) to install it
  3. A roll of non-marking 3M Duct Tape
  4. A sheet of plexiglass
  5. About 2 feet of bath-liner vinyl (this is pretty wide so you need to cut it down)
  6. Installation Instructions
  • Cut a rectangular piece of plexiglass approximately the width and height of the front of the AC
  • Square the AC off in front of one of the forward hatches so that the plexiglass sits on the hatch at an angle
  • Attach the plexiglass just above the air intake panel for the AC
  • Drape the bath liner vinyl over the AC so that it covers the front of the AC that would be inside the window in which it’s installed and tape it to the AC
  • Fold or cut the vinyl as required so that it can be taped to the deck.

That’s pretty much all it takes to get up and running. You can make the system more efficient by taping the plexiglass to the vinyl sheet. There will be other tweaks you can make depending on your boat, but this is about as quick, dirty, and effective as it gets.

There are several people I know who install window style ac units in the companionway. That turns into a huge pain as you have to clamber over it every time you try to get in or out of the cabin.

We’d love to hear if you have a better idea on how to cool your boat for cheap!


Leave a Reply