A/C Modding

18 Jul

So, I’ve always been a big fan of Air Conditioner Modification… I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels where I found it necessary to modify the air conditioner, because a lot of hotel air conditioners are programed to turn off and on with the thermostat. I prefer for the fan to stay on constantly because I find it very annoying to hear the fan kicking on and off all night long, I like the consistant white noise the fan provides. I’ve disassembled units, I’ve downloaded manuals, I’ve gone in to deep programing menus, service menus, you name it, I’ve done it. I even had to trick a thermostat once by removing the probe and putting it in a hot bottle of water.

This time I was modding our own air conditioner, not because of fan cycling, but due to another issue, which is actually well documented on the Amazon reviews of the A/C unit.  It’s a Frigidaire FRA086AT7 8,000 BTU Window Unit, and it has the loudest beep I’ve ever heard on a piece of equipment that is supposed to be indoors. I can only assume they had a surplus of smoke alarm beep units so they used them in this air conditioner for the command  acknowledgment tone. It’s so loud that you kind of think twice before you change a setting because you really don’t want to hear that sound.

It finally got to the point where I was cleaning the air filter today and I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns, find this beeper and destroy it. I know a lot of people who have written and read reviews would like to do the same, and if they have the guts, they’ll be able to follow the tutorial I’ve made below…

It really is a very easy operation, I think it took me about 10 minutes and that was with taking a few things apart that I didn’t need to and documenting the whole process with the camera. This blog post is taking probably 10 times as long!

Start by opening the front of the A/C and removing the air filter. Anyone should know how to do this. Then remove the grille that covers the filter, which is a pretty simple process as well. Using a philip’s screwdriver, remove the 2 screws that are circled. Keep track of which screw goes where because they are not exactly the same.
Once you have the screws out you need to remove the whole front bezel, which will require a little squeezing and pulling, but it’s not a big deal. There is a wire that will be connected for the control panel, so the face of the unit will just be hanging there while you work.

You will want to have the unit turned off and unplugged before this step, there is line voltage present in this compartment which could cause electric shock if contacted or cause damage if a short occurs.

On the left side you will see this plate that covers some controls and relays and other circuitry. Remove the two screws that are circled, again keeping track of which goes where for when it comes time to reassemble.

Now that the screws are out you can open this panel, this is a familiar type of operation if you’ve done work inside a computer case. Simply push up with your hand in the direction of the arrow, take note how the mechanism works for when you have to put it back. Also take note of how wires are run so you can route the properly when buttoning the whole thing up

Here’s the back of the plate you just removed, this is where the magic happens.
The irritatingly loud magic.

And here’s the culprit.
They call it a buzzer, but that’s like no buzz I’ve heard before.
You have two choices now, to muffle the buzzer, or to silence it entirely. I suppose if you have a hot glue gun or some gum or sticky tack you could plug up the hole on the buzzer where the sound comes out, I tried it with my finger and it did knock it down to a manageable tone. This may be enough for you, but I think if you’re this deep in you may as well go for the kill shot.

If you’re a soldering fool you could go behind the board and melt the two contacts and remove the buzzer entirely, but I think that amount of heat is actually more risky than what I did, which was simply take vise grip and squeeze it. The cover simply cracked and the element that makes the sound fell right off with just a slight tug, it came off nice and clean, as you can see.

I put it all back together, plugged it in and I was greeted with sweet silence, no beeping at all.

This is a huge relief, and while it does nothing to silence the overall noise this unit makes, it will make it a little easier to live with. I hope some people try this and have the same success, if you do, just be careful and gentle with the wires as you put it back together and you should have no problems. Everything just goes back in the exact reverse order and you’re done! Leave a comment if you try this at home!


2 Responses to “A/C Modding”

  1. Joe August 16, 2012 at 1:10 AM #

    Went through the steps earlier today and it worked out perfectly. Hardest part was getting the front cover off. Thanks for writing this up, reassured me that I could handle it.

    • Jerry August 16, 2012 at 1:13 AM #

      That’s great! So glad to see someone taking advantage of my tip. It’s good to know it wasn’t all for myself and that someone else can benefit from it, sure is nice not to have that beep, isn’t it?

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