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Maybe you should watch the video first, and then I’ll explain:
Our Winnebago Travato, Lance, is just a little different from most others. (OK, it’s a lot different.) One of the changes that Winnebago made for us during the build was to mount our bed considerably higher than normal. We have a full meter (40″) of clearance under the bed so that we can store our bicycles inside.
But the downside of this configuration is that our bed is alarmingly close to the air conditioner. We sleep with our heads probably less than three feet from the indoor Air Distribution Box (ADB). At that range, an air conditioner is REALLY LOUD. As you can imagine, this presents some issues with sleeping. This affects Stef more than it does me.
(Well technically, since Stef lets me know all about it, this indirectly affects me every bit as much as it does Stef.)
Another issue we had with the air conditioner was that we couldn’t adequately shut off the airflow towards our faces. Sleeping three feet away from an air conditioner is bad enough. But sleeping three feet away from an air conditioner that’s blowing directly up your nose is even worse. And yes, I realize I could have used Great Stuff foam or duct tape to block the vent permanently, but I wanted something a little less… crude.
And even with all that, we might have been able to live with that air conditioner but for one final issue: it just didn’t seem to cool all that well. In our older RV Das Bus, we had a Dometic Penguin II that would make the rig meat-locker cold. We had never been able to achieve that in our Travato. Between “unbearably loud”, “uncomfortable”, and “ineffective”, I might have been able to live with two of them. But all three was just too much.
Thinking back on our previous experience, we got a Dometic Penguin II (a new model), and installed it in our RV. You can see the whole swap-out in the video. It was pretty comical at times, but we got it done. But we did this purely on hope. We had no way to test how quiet or cold the AC got until we got it installed! I’m happy to report, all turned out well.
So, How Loud Is It?
Well, I can’t lie and tell you that it’s “pin-drop” quiet or anything. We all know what RV air conditioners sound like. But I can say with absolute confidence that the Dometic Penguin II runs quieter than our previous air conditioner. Here’s a quick recap of the data I gathered in the video. (The readings jumped around quite a bit, and changed as I would put my head or the camera up to see them, so please consider these approximate.)
|Results in dB, A-weighted
|Old RV Air Conditioner
|Dometic Penguin II
Remember that decibels are on a logarithmic scale. So a difference of 4 dB isn’t just a few percent. It’s noticeable. And while they’re not completely scientific, these off-the-cuff measurements reflect what my ears felt during the testing. Namely, that the Dometic Penguin II is quieter than the air conditioner it replaced. Much of this, I attribute to the Penguin II having a functioning low speed, something our old AC unit never could seem to get right.
How Cold Did It Get?
This is the result that blew me away. Our Dometic Penguin II was cooling the air four degrees more than our previous air conditioner. You can see the way I measure this in the video. Basically, you let the AC unit run for a while to get up to speed (I ran them for 30 minutes), then you take the temperature of the inlet and outlet air and take the difference. Here’s how that data stacked up:
Old Air Conditioner:
Inlet Air Temp: 68° – Outlet Air Temp: 48° = 20° difference.
Dometic Penguin II:
Inlet Air Temp: 67.2° – Outlet Air Temp: 43.1 ° = 24.1° difference.
That the Dometic Penguin II cooled the air in our RV an additional 4 degrees is significant. That’s 20% better performance. It’s like the difference between an A+ and a B-.
How Much Energy Did It Use?
The Penguin II used 13 amps (AC) versus our old air conditioner which only used 12 amps (AC).
If the performance numbers surprised me, this one didn’t. If you pull up the spec sheets on the Dometic Penguin II line, they’ll tell you that it uses slightly more energy than our old air conditioner. The numbers we saw in our video bear this out.
And while the increased electrical load might mean I can’t run the new air conditioner quite as long as the old one on our battery bank, I look at it like this: I could run our old air conditioner forever, and it still wouldn’t get the RV cool enough. At least with the Penguin II, I have a better shot at being comfortable, even if it is for an 8% shorter duration.
One last little thing I like about the Penguin II is the number of options for airflow that its ADB provides. There are FIVE vents on the Penguin II ADB, versus two (that didn’t really work) on our old AC unit. Hopefully, this will help in keeping the wind off our faces when we sleep.
So there you go. Besides just being better looking, the Dometic Penguin II was colder, quieter, and more adjustable than our previous AC unit. We’re keeping it – and not just because it’s such a pain to hoist them up on to the roof! Curious to hear your comments down below.
Full disclosure: Dometic did provide us with the Penguin II we used in this video. But I can’t make up results like this. The replacement, the testing, and the results are all me. I’m confident they could be replicated in any rig. You can find out more about the Dometic Penguin II at this link.