Put Outdoor Air Conditioning on Your Boat for $300

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A pump, a couple of wires, and a couple of tubes is all it takes to get outdoor AC.

I know this sounds a little nutty, but it’s true: you can put air conditioning on your small center console, more or less, with a mere $300 and an afternoon of work. I say “more or less” because what I’m talking about is a misting system, not actual AC. But if you’ve ever stood under misters before, then you know that it really does feel like air conditioning. And on a blistering-hot 100 degree day with no breeze, at the flip of a switch, standing on the deck of your boat it’ll feel like a cool 70 degrees.

The best thing about a mister system is that it’s inexpensive, and easy to install. I put one on my 22 center console in about three hours. All you have to do is mount a pump, within a few feet of somewhere you can put a jerry can of water. Wire in power, then run the straw-sized tubing from the pump to the T-top, up a leg, and around the top’s perimeter. For securing this line, all you need to use is plastic zip-ties. Next, cut the tube where you want to install a misting head. Installing it is as easy as pushing either end of the tube into each side of the head, until it clicks in place.


A pump, a couple of wires, and a couple of tubes is all it takes to get outdoor AC.

With the system in place, you can expect to get several hours of “ahhhhh” out of a five-gallon jerry can. I installed a mister head on each corner of my T-top, and I find that on breeze-less days it keeps everyone in the helm area plenty cool. I mention breeze-less in specific because when there is a decent breeze blowing, most of the mist blows away before it comes down on the boat’s occupants. Of course, when there’s a breeze everyone isn’t really sweltering in the first place.


Plastic zip-ties hold the tube and mister heads in place.

If you want to look into adding a mister system to your boat—and if you have a T-top or arch and are sick and tired of sweating all the time I suggest you do—just Google around a bit. There are plenty of options out there, including hand-pumped, self-contained systems (though IMHO, these aren’t nearly as nice as systems you can mount on the T-top, flip a switch, and forget about). Believe me, you won’t regret it.

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