If there is one thing that luxury motor yachts are known for, it’s comfort! And, if you are going to be cruising around South Florida, or any other tropical locale, nothing says “comfort” like air conditioning!

But, choosing the right AC system for your yacht requires some very specific considerations.

Marine HVAC

The first thing you need to know about your yacht’s air conditioning is, like the system you have in your home, or office building, it provides more than just cool air, but when needed, heating as well. That is why it is more properly referred to as a Marine HVAC, or “heating ventilation and air-conditioning system.”

Basically the idea of an HVAC system is to provide total “climate control,” whether that is keeping you cool and comfy in August, or warm and toasty if you decide to take your boat out in the winter months. This past year, even right here in South Florida we had some record low temperatures in the 40s, and even lower in some parts of the state.

Beyond providing for heat and air-conditioning, your HVAC system is designed to provide proper “ventilation” and prevent the buildup of mold and mildew, as well as remove other toxins from the air.

On-board AC adds joy

Enjoying the comfort of on-board AC

In this respect, the right HVAC equipment not only provides comfort for you and your guests, it protects your investment, and extends the life or your vessel.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your AC System

There are two kinds of ventilation you can have on your boat — active and passive ventilation. Passive ventilators are your typical grilles, or louvers, that simply provide a pathway for the air to exit from the ducts into the vessel. When the vessel is in motion, they work just fine. However, on still, hot sticky days, you may prefer active ventilation.

Active ventilators incorporate a fan that will keep the air flowing, even if the yacht is standing still. The systems on most luxury motor yachts will incorporate active ventilation.

AC ducts on a yacht

Having air conditioning as part of your ventilation system, means you will draw a lot of power, so you must make sure you have an adequate generator. A motor yacht of any appreciable size, will have a central AC system, similar to the one you have in your home.

On yachts of 80’ in length or more, the central AC will likely be something known as a “split system.” A split system “splits” the two main components of the AC — the condenser and the evaporator, into two separate units. The condensing unit, which consists of the compressor, seawater condenser, and electrical components, is usually installed in the engine room, or other mechanical location. The evaporator unit, which is made-up of an evaporating coil and the blower, is installed in the living areas of the yacht. The two are connected by specialized copper tubing which carries the refrigerant between them.

Again, just as the central air conditioning in your home, central AC on your yacht will provide heat as needed, as well as AC. They actually work by pulling heat out of the water to warm the interior of your boat!

Basic Marine AC system

AC systems are rated in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. The BTU output you will require depends on several factors, incorporating the size and shape of the interior spaces of all decks, and the typical high and low temperatures in which your yacht will be operating.

Your designer and engineer will work together to determine the best system for your vessel and your individual needs.

As you can see, your yacht’s HVAC system is as important to your vessel, as it is complex. Proper maintenance of the AC system is critical, and we will discuss routine HVAC maintenance in future posts.



Finding the right gear and equipment for your yacht can be challenging. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.