WARNING, CONTAINS GRAPHIC ELECTRICAL PHOTOS.
I finally bit the bullet and purchased the 'Micro-Air 364 EasyStart' system I promised myself late last year after reading numerous reviews and reports of it's performance.
Spurred on by the need to keep occupied during these trying times, I visited the company website located at www.MicroAir.net
and was pleased to see they are currently running a special offer.
Not only a significant discount from the normal pricing but also a doubling of their factory warranty, nice. Now where did I last see my wife's Visa card?
We have an 'Airxcel Mach 3+' 13,500 BTU unit on the roof of 'Harvey'. It's ducted so we have the option of direct air blasting from the central register in the ceiling or from several directional circular ceiling vents throughout the coach. Either way, it has done a fine job of keeping the interior cool during even the hottest weather the SE states can throw at us.
We very rarely do any 'boondocking', but we do travel with a 'Champion' 3500 watt generator for those times we need an extended stop on the road. The 'genny' runs the A/C quite comfortably but it's on the limit and I don't want to damage either by inadvertently trying to draw more power than is available, causing a 'brown out' which I'm told is a bit like a cardiac arrest for everything electronic concerned, and to be avoided like the plague, or put in more modern terms, Covid-19.
Our unit, like most other similar RV A/C's is rather annoyingly noisy, especially at night or when trying to watch the telly. We have pretty much adapted to the sound of the rushing air as it exits whichever vents we're using, but the thud of the compressor kicking in is enough to startle the dog, and wake us from the deepest sleep.
I think originally I 'Googled' "how to make RV A/C's quieter" and read everything I could find on the subject, at about the same time an editorial appeared in 'Trailer Life' for 'Micro-Air' which piqued my interest.
Subsequently, someone on this forum asked if anyone had bought and installed the gizmo, to which I voiced my intent to do so. Time to put my wife's money where my mouth is methinks.
About a week after the exchange of digital information with the very nice people at 'MicroAir', a neatly packaged 'EasyStart 364' arrived via FEDEX.
The quality of the unit, all it's internal components, (visible through the clear plastic top cover) and the braided pig-tailed wiring are immediately apparent. It appears that no expense has been spared to provide a component ready for a lifetime of service. I'm not easily impressed, but so far they're off to a fine start.
Job number 1. Disconnect shore power, isolate 12v battery.
This morning was cool, a change from the low 90's we've endured so far this month in Central Florida, but because of the humidity, Harvey's roof was slick with dew. Extra caution was exercised as the last thing anyone wants is an idiot needing attention from our over stressed medical professionals.
A quick thank You here to ALL FIRST RESPONDERS, everyone on the front line, and those considered essential for keeping commerce going. Nuff said.
The install is very simple. Seriously it took me longer to get out the ladder, gather my tools, and lay out an old beach towel on the roof than it did to do the job.
Rather than go into the finer details, if your interested, go to Micro-Air's website, therein you'll find an installation manual full of photos, wiring diagrams for alternate units, and highly accurate descriptions of everything you might need to do. Alternatively, they provided a 'QR' code on the flyer that came with the unit, one click on your smart phone with a suitable app and it magically opens the installation manual for you.
I had to ask an 11 year old what a 'QR' code was and how to use it, so don't feel like this technology is beyond your abilities if you're a dinosaur like me. If I can do it, anyone can.
There's perhaps a dozen 'How To' videos on YouTube and the like. The best I found was narrated by the company's Electrical & Control Systems Engineer. You can see it here:
The gentlemen explains and demonstrates the before and after current draw with real time data being displayed on digital instruments. You don't need to understand necessarily what's happening, but it's clear a dramatic reduction in something is going on.
I don't understand how a TV works, but I really appreciate a High Def LED screen over the grainy Black and White tube I grew up with.
Once on the roof, kneeling on my towel the A/C shroud and the electronics bay access panel can be removed. Inside are a bunch of colored wires and two capacitors, like small soda cans with spade terminals on the top. BEWARE, these things can bite HARD. There are several ways to ensure capacitors are discharged, but since my A/C had not been on for several days, mine were safe to work with.
There are four connections to be made. Two were as simple as pushing a factory crimped on connector onto a spare spade terminal on the run capacitor, one I had to join two wires together, the other required adding a third wire to two the A/C mfr. had already crimped together. Easy peasy.
In the video, the 'EasyStart' is installed above the run capacitor against the back wall of the electronics bay. This didn't work for me as the space I have is limited above the capacitor so I elected to mount it onto the removable access panel. This was doable because 'Micro-Air' have provided about 2 feet of pig-tail to make the connections, allowing in my situation the panel to be removed with the unit in one piece.
With the shroud back on, and everything cleared off the roof, it was time to re-connect to shore power.
The 'EasyStart 364' has intelligent electronics that needs to learn the characteristics of their new charge. To perform the learning sequence, 5 starts connected to a reliable power source are needed, these must be punctuated by 5 minute breaks between cycles to allow the compressed gases to dissipate, after which the 'Micro-Air EasyStart 364' is ready for service.
After diligently performing the learning sequence, and referring to my photos of the installation, I began second guessing myself as I could hear the fan running and moving air but couldn't hear the compressor kicking in.
I read the troubleshooting guide at the end of the installation manual and began to wonder if I'd wired something incorrectly, or whether the unit was defective. I shut the unit down by toggling the thermostat switch to off, then cycled it back to on. Nothing happened.
Fortunately, I had read the manual and anticipated the unit would not re-start for 5 minutes. However, not being know for my patience, particularly during moments of panic, (only kidding)
I decided to call 'Micro-Air' tech support just to be sure.
I spoke to Kevin, who after I explained my concerns, I could actually hear smiling.
He asked if it was blowing cold, to which I replied "FRIGID". "So the compressor is definitely working" he said.
"Yes, but shouldn't there be a time delay between the fan starting and the compressor kicking in?" I asked.
At that very moment the A/C came on, at least the fan started running. I listened intently, still on the phone sitting at my dinette which is almost directly under the A/C, nothing else.
"Kevin, did you hear it, it just came on as expected". "Is it cold?" he asked. "Bloody freezing" I replied.
I had just experienced for the 6th time, the NEW NORMAL, the jaw dropping silence of my hitherto heart stopping compressor coming online. OMG, I genuinely didn't hear it start.
I thanked Kevin for the prompt delivery, for taking my call and addressing my concerns. I believe he's one of the Senior Marketing executives at 'Micro-Air', and who, like many at this time is doing whatever is necessary to preserve the integrity of their respective businesses.
To say our A/C is quieter is an understatement. Previously, when it came on, lights would flicker, circuits would hum, and distant contacts would go thud, visualize Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory when he throws the switch to energize his creation, you get the picture.
Now it's whooosh,
like opening the fridge door and the light comes on. Only colder.