5 Best Sailboat Air Conditioners

Best Sailboat Air Conditioners | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

It's quite easy to imagine yourself anchored near an island, sipping juice from a young coconut without a worry in the world while aboard your sailboat. But complete comfort can only be possible if your sailboat is fitted with one of the best air conditioners (ACs).

Sailing in the hot scorching sun or tropical heat is great. But the reality that you have to deal with such hot weather and the possibility of suffering from heatstroke can be some of the major drawbacks. Sure, you can take a dip into the water or take a shower to mitigate the sweltering heat and sweat but this can only work for a few minutes if not seconds. As such, nothing is more comfortable than having your sailboat fitted with high-quality air conditioning if you want to get rid of that heat.

If you, like most of us, do not fare well in sweltering temperatures, investing in one of the best sailboat air conditioners should be the right thing to do. A sailboat air conditioner will ensure that your sailboat has the right temperature, humidity level, and airflow so that you can have a comfortable, memorable, and enjoyable sailing experience even when the temperatures are quite high.

There are hundreds of sailboat air conditioners on the market today. This makes it quite overwhelming to choose the right sailboat air conditioner for you. But as we always do, we are here to help you choose the best sailboat air conditioners that will allow you to enjoy your sailing escapades and make the boat appropriate even if you're traversing the waters with your young ones.


Table of contents

The Importance of Having a Reliable Air Conditioner on Your Sailboat

Sailing, especially in the summer, generally means that you'll have to deal with temperatures on the north of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity that's close to 90%! Sailing in such temperatures is hands down challenging. Add to the fact that it can be extremely cold at night or during winter, and you have several reasons to have a reliable sailboat air conditioner installed on your vessel.

Honestly speaking, sailboat air conditioners are quite costly, especially for those of us who are cruising on a budget. However, their importance in ensuring that you have an enjoyable sailing experience and do not suffer from heatstroke can never be downplayed. With a reliable air conditioner, your sailboat will be comfortable, cool, and air will circulate in your boat, which is essential in preventing mold.

Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Sailboat Air Conditioner

Besides being expensive, an air conditioner plays a crucial role in making your vessel more comfortable and enhancing your sailing experience. You certainly do not want to end up with a poorly working air conditioner. This is exactly why you must have a well-thought-out plan when in the market for the best sailboat conditioner.

Here are things to consider.

Size and Layout of Your Sailboat

The right air conditioner system is one that can efficiently cool or arm the entire boat without struggling. The larger the boat, the more powerful the air conditioner system you will need. Of course, you'll need more than one unit if your boat has several cabins. You'll also need space for an engine room if you choose a split air conditioning unit.

The Size of the AC Units

Modern AC units are designed to be lightweight, easy to set up, and install. These are some of the most important features to consider when choosing an appropriate AC for your vessel. You do not want to end up with a bulky unit that may not fit in your vessel.

The Air Conditioner's Power Requirement

One of the most important things to consider when choosing the best sailboat air conditioner is the unit's power requirement. Generally, you need to have generous battery banks, a powerful inverter, and an efficient source of power such as a generator or solar panel.


Most air conditioners are noisy when they operate and this can be irritating. You should go for an AC unit that is less noisy, especially if you're a light sleeper.

Your Planned Sailing Ground

Weather conditions generally affect how an AC unit will work. Of course, the unit will work a lot harder if you are sailing in hotter climates than when sailing in colder climates. With that in mind, your preferred sailing ground and its climates will determine the appropriate BTU (British Thermal Unit) that you require.

Budget and Maintenance

Keep in mind that sailboat air conditioners can be costly, so you need to consider your budget. Again, it's important to ensure that the unit is well-maintained to operate effectively without breaking down.

Best Sailboat Air Conditioners for 2020

Without wasting much of your precious time, here are the best sailboat air conditioners for 2020.

DOMETIC EnviroComfort Retrofit Air Conditioner

It has to be noted that ACs are generally costly but their importance on a sailboat can never be underestimated, especially when sailing in hot temperatures. You certainly do not want to spoil your sailing experience and that's why you have to invest in a worthwhile AC such as the Dometic EnviroComfort Retrofit Air Conditioner.

Designed with some of the most innovative features in the AC industry, the Dometic AC can perfectly cool down your sailboat and will give your vessel ideal temperatures throughout the year. Thanks to its British Thermal Unit (BTU) climate control feature, you're damn sure that you won't have any problems with whatever temperatures or seasons you face while sailing. Its R-410A refrigerant is eco-friendly and is widely recognized as one of the most environmentally safest gases.

It doesn't matter whether you're planning to sail during the hot summers or plan for ocean crossing during winter, The Dometic Retrofit will always have you back as far as the temperature of your sailboat is concerned. This AC offers 16,000 BTU per hour of cooling and reverse-heating capacities. If the 16,000 BTU per hour is so much for your vessel, this AC gives you the option of sizing down the system to perfectly fit your sailboat so that you can have maximum comfort in varying climates.

That's not all; this AC comes with reliable digital control and a self-contained AC system. It has a pre-installed air filter, which is easy to clean. In terms of installation, this AC is probably the easiest to install, thanks to its easy-to-understand installation procedures.

On the downside, you may have to contend with the system's audible fan, as well as difficulties in programming between heating and cooling. But overall, this AC is the real deal thanks to its superior velocity blowers. Of course, you'll love the fact that it is compact and very small so can fit even in the smallest of spaces.


  • Comes with a pre-installed air filter, which is easy to clean
  • It's compact and is built for very small spaces
  • It is eco-friendly
  • Comes with a high-velocity rotatable blower
  • It's ultra-light
  • It's energy-efficient
  • It's easy to install


  • It's quite noisy
  • The blower doesn't move 360 degrees
  • Spread controls should be improved
  • May experience unintentional temperature fluctuations

MarinAire 16000 BTU/H Self-Contained Marine Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

For first time buyers, investing in the best sailboat air conditioner can be challenging, especially if you do not have the right information about the features that you need in your sailboat's air conditioner. Luckily for you, MarinAire knows what you need in your sailboat as is evidence on this amazing 16,000 BTU air conditioner.

This is unquestionably a top-quality sailboat air conditioner that's designed with built-in pressure gauges so that you don't have to constantly monitor the AC just to see whether or not it's operating efficiently. Manufactured using an SS316 stainless steel drain pan, this AC comes with a sound cover that makes it one of the quietest sailboat air conditioners currently available on the market. This sound cover can reduce up to 60% level of noise.

In terms of size, this is one of the most compact marine ACs out there. It doesn't matter how tiny your sailboat is; you'll never lack somewhere to fit in this superb AC. From its D-Smart control system, its 360-degrees blower outlet to its low start-up current, it's easy to see that this AC has one of the most innovative features in the Ac industry.

This AC comes with a distinctive design, eco-friendly R410A refrigerant, low energy consumption, and works effortlessly to make your sailing experience quite enjoyable.


  • Constructed with lightweight materials
  • Comes with a built-in pressure gauge
  • Built with D-Smart control system for easier control
  • Low start-up current
  • The sound cover makes it very quiet
  • Designed with 360 degrees rotatable blower
  • Very compact and can easily fit in small spaces


  • The electric box can be difficult to use
  • The main power cord is extremely short

WeBasto AC Retrofit Unit

When it comes to the best sailboat air conditioners, WeBasto is your go-to-guys. For years, this company has been manufacturing some of the best sailboat air conditioners and the FCF Series is just a testament to what you get from this company: quality, reliability, efficiency, and affordability.

Consuming just an average of about 8.5 amps at 115 volts, this AC is quite affordable in the long run as it's probably the most energy-efficient sailboat air conditioner currently available in the market. First-time buyers will love it as it's very easy to set up and install. This is a sure guarantee that your vessel will have that much-desired cooling and heating effect with fluctuating temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

This AC's compressor is very quiet and doesn't generate that irritating noise like other units while still working efficiently in keeping the cabin at favorable temperatures. More importantly, this unit is designed in such a way that you won't have to worry about servicing it for its entire lifetime.

From the onset, this sailboat AC unit may seem extremely overpriced but it will offer great value for your money in the long run. This AC is designed to be durable and efficient thanks to its superior velocity and 360-degree, three-speed blower. Although you'll have to buy the heat pump separately, this air conditioner offers some of the best features that you may require in the best sailboat air conditioner.


  • Comes with a high-quality anodized evaporator
  • The air filter is easy to remove and clean
  • The unit is very easy to set up and install
  • Comes with multi-capillary ports
  • The velocity 360-degree rotatable three-speed blower is superb
  • This unit is certified, reliable, and functional
  • It's very quiet
  • One of the most energy-efficient units
  • Offers accurate temperature controls


  • It's quite pricey
  • You'll have to buy the pumps separately
  • The condenser and compressor are faulty and need to be replaced

MarinAire 14000 BTU/H Self-Contained Marine Air Conditioner

MarinAire is a revolutionary manufacturer in the AC industry and is credited with bringing to the fore the self-contained marine air conditioner. This model is widely popular among boat owners thanks to its practicality, innovativeness, and affordability.

This sailboat air conditioner is designed with superb built-in pressure gauges that are in place to ensure that the entire unit works perfectly without any hitch. It also comes with the MSB Integra compressor that's built with an excellent sound cover to ensure that the noise levels of the unit are significantly reduced by nearly 60%.

The unit's state of the art design not only makes it sleek and modern but makes it a lot easier to use and maintain. Its 360-degree rotating blower is durable and reliable while the entire unit is made using lightweight materials. This is essential in ensuring that it can fit in compact spaces.

It's also structured with the eco-friendly R410A refrigerant, which makes it highly energy-efficient. This unit is arguably one of the best sailboat air conditioners in terms of durability, functionality, and ease of installation.


  • It's highly energy-efficient
  • It's eco-friendly
  • Offers superb cooling and heating efficiency
  • One of the quietest units
  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Offers good value for money 


  • Not suitable for other types of vehicles
  • Not ideal for home use

MarinAire 11000 BTU/H Self-Contained Marine Air Conditioner

If you've been looking for a smaller but highly reliable sailboat air conditioner, the MarinAire 11,000 BTU/H AC can be your best solution. Like most MarinAire units, this self-contained AC comes with excellent low and high-pressure gauges to ensure that it works efficiently in all climates. This means that you won't have to worry about setting it manually; it will do everything automatically and that's how many boat owners love it.

Its superior centrifugal 360-degree rotatable blower will ensure that the entire cabin is easily conditioned and kept at desirable temperatures. In other words, you won't have to move from one corner of your boat to the other just to feel the cool or warm breeze. Like most boat owners, you certainly want a unit that carries on with its job without much fuss. Well, this AC unit is designed with a superb sound cover to reduce the level of exasperating noise that's widespread in most sailboat AC units.

This unit is designed with an excellent Toshiba R410A refrigerant that is not only eco-friendly but a true guarantee of superior efficiency. When compared to other affordable options out there, this AC unit has everything that you'd want in a perfect air conditioner for your sailboat. It comes with a remote temperature sensor, intuitive display, and more importantly, it's energy-efficient.

This is, without a shred of doubt, an innovative sailboat air conditioner that will take your sailing adventures to the next level. You won't have to worry about getting exhausted because the temperatures are so hot. It's easy to set up, install, operate well and will serve you diligently for many years to come.


  • Comes with an excellent 360-degree blower
  • It's lightweight
  • It's easy to set up and install
  • It's one of the quietest units
  • It is eco-friendly
  • It's sleek, modern, and compact 


  • The control box is bulky
  • The control panel is difficult to operate
5 Best Sailboat Air Conditioners
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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