Need Refrigeration for Cruising - Suggestions? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-08-2006 Thread Starter
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Need Refrigeration for Cruising - Suggestions?

I am planning a year long cruise from Maine to Bahamas with family on P365 Ketch. I have been leaning towards the Adler Barbour Cold Machine with cold plates. I would probably need a larger alternator (original on Yanmar 40). I am very interested in having input from folks with experience. My ice box is large and well insulated. Please share with me your experience and what size alternator is required. Would like to run refer off engine Vs. drain batteries
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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Alternators are designed to charge batteries, not run electrical equipment. You would be much better off designing a good battery bank and the means to charge it, then by using the alternator. Especially once you get into warmer climates. Otherwise you'll be running your engine quite a bit. Trying to avoid upgrading your battery bank (which it seems you are doing) would, in my opinion, be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

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post #3 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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Since you want to chill the plates with your engine rather than off the batteries, you should add an engine driven compressor instead of an electric compressor/condensing unit. I have a friend here in St Louis who took one off his 33 Hunter when he sold it. It is listed in the classifieds here on Sailnet. While cruising, his box was kept cold by running the engine twice a day for 20 minutes each time.

Last edited by bmunse; 12-08-2006 at 09:42 AM.
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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Running your diesel to run your fridge is not a good idea for your diesel and will not only wear your engine agrressively but also REQUIRES you to be on the boat every day to run the engine for an hour or two if you don't want to lose your food. I don't know ANY long term cruisers who have CHOSEN such a plan. Many have boats that came with engine driven refrigeration...but none would CHOOSE to have it this way. Engine driven units drive a compressor for efficiency so you would not haveto upgrade your alternator.
If you go the conventional route then you need an upgrade to the 100Amp range alternators. We had good luck with a Balmar on a Yanmar44. Be sure to gt the smart Balmar regulator with this upgrade as well to take good care of your batteries.
For your situation and space, I would recommend the SeaFrost BD system. I recently helped install one of these on a catamaran and was impressed how easy it was and how the company put everything together so it all fit our particular installation. The unit worked great too.
http://www.seafrost.com/bd.htm

They also make engine driven systems if you continue down that road.
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post #5 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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The engine driven cold-plate system is a great system, but it is just that - engine driven.

Most of the "real" offshore-cruisers use a cold-plate system. They are very efficient and the "old" theory was that you have to run your main or genny anyways to charge the batteries, might as well put an extra load on it and refridgerate at the same time.

However, it seems to me there has been a considerable decrease of those as of late to more of an Adler-Barbor air (or air & water cooled compressor). They are less efficient (although I understand the combo unit is an improvement). They will draw about 5 amps when running, and we run our about 8-10 hours a day in the tropical climates (with really good insulation, which is another topic). How long they run, depends of course, on the insulation, how often you open your box, and how the box opens (ie, does it have a front opening door that lets out all the cool air every time you open it).

My boat came with the air cooled, as did my other two previous boats. Short of sticking a ice pick through the coils (don't ask), they are dependable, and very modular for ease of installation. They are also relatively cheap. Mine has never failed.

In my opinion, I think you will see cold plates dissapear. This will of course be very debated, but let me tell you why: The technology for charging batteries (outside of an engine) has vastly improved. If you invest in good (the emphasis being GOOD) solar panels, wind generators, and an awesome charge controller, you should find that you have ALL of your power requirements taken care of - and more than enough to run your refridgeration. You can also increase your battery bank capacity (I reccomend Lifeline AGMS) to get you through cloudy, no wind days when they happen... which does not happen much where you are heading.

In essence, if you do not upgrade your boat to "off the grid" cruising power systems, you will be running your engine all the time anyway... why not spend the extra money where it can serve dual purposes?

Just my thoughts. If you want specifics on this, including make/models of what I use, just PM me or you can ask here.

- CD
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post #6 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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CD...so you used an ice pick eh? I find personally that a flat bladed screwdriver works better!! THAT was an expensive mistake!!

Refresh my memory...what are you using for solar/wind generation? We had 160 watt Kyocera panels on our last boat with a 4-winds generator but were never able to get self sufficiency for our need despite a big battery bank. We were using about 150A/H a day but only generating 80-100 on average. What is your secret...living small or massive panels???
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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4- Kyocera 130's, wired in series. Outback mx60 MPPT. AirX wind gen.

Like you , I also have a generator. I have the Whisper (Mastervolt) 3.5. Seems like yours is a 8kw Westerbeke?

The boat we are fashioning after (a Taswell 49) uses 6 - Kyoceras, same charger, and your wind gen. (PS PBeezer, if you are reading, that is the boat that is down there with you right now). He says he gets a solid 60-65 amps/hour form his panels, for most of the day (which is surprising, I guess... but he is the most knowledegeable E-Engineer I have ever met). He did not like your wind gen either.

I may add another panel. Picked up the 130's for $601/piece!! 4 panels is about the minimum for the MX-60, really needs more.

How many panels are you running?

As far as the *&!#$ Ice Pick, My wife would not let me have another ice pick on a boat for YEARS afterwards. I am NOT exhaggerating. It was one of those stupid things where you say, "Defrost? Why? Here Baby, hold my beer and watch this!"
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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CD, I note you are using an AirX have you had any trouble with th internal voltage regulation. My AirX stops generating due to "voltage hysterisis" and I am considering an external regulator. Have you had any problems with your AirX.
I am also interested in why you think "cold plates" are on there way out or by this do you mean the engine driven cold plates. I ahve been thinking of changing my air cooled Alder Barbour to a water cooled and instaed of evaporating coil using a cold plate which contains a substance similar to freezy packs. The people I have talked to have been unanimous that this is the way to go especially in warm climes.

Last edited by ebs001; 12-08-2006 at 06:13 PM.
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post #9 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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aschoenb@rcn.com,

Just another vote for the electric Adler-Barbour air or water-cooled system. I've had one for the past 18 years, including 11 years in the Caribbean. No problems whatsoever; still going strong.

Reasons for this one:

- ultra reliable
- ultra simple
- relatively inexpensive
- allows you to leave boat for reasonable time, if you have adequate house batteries.

The previous post is right: engine-driven compressors are disappearing on cruising boats. They were once very popular, but no longer are.

The A-B Cold Machine may draw a bit more than 5 amps...maybe 6 or so, and it may run more than 11-12 hours per day. Mine runs more like 14-15 in the tropics, but my large top-loading frig/freezer is not very well insulated.

In my experience, you'll want a house battery bank of at least 400AH (e.g., four 6V golf-cart batteries in series/parallel). I moved up to 675AH a few years ago, and that was very beneficial. However, I have an onboard generator, a big battery charger, and a high-output alternator with smart regulator to keep these babies happy.

You could get by on a P365 easily with just about 400AH house batteries supplemented by a couple of good sized solar panels or a smallish and quiet wind generator (like the Ampair 100). Definitely go for a high-output alternator and smart regulator, though. A very good investment.

Good luck.

BTW, I know the P365 very well. Once chartered one in St. Thomas for a couple of months.

Bill
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post #10 of 24 Old 12-08-2006
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CD- Thanks for the info...you have a solar panel FARM!! My panels were on my last boat along with the wind generator. This boat came with the Westerbeke and we never got around to doing passive again since the gen works well. Are you really looking at Taswell seriously...they are wonderful high end boats. We looked at one seriously in FL before we got our Tayana but that particular one had poorly thought out engine access which would make you crawl OVER a hot engine if you had an oil or impeller problem underway. It was really hard to walk away from that boat . Since it was a custom interior, I doubt you'll have the same issue. Good luck on her!

Bill...nothing wrong with the A-B's! Reasons I recommended Sea Frost were the "personalization" of the piping/fittings running to the cold plate prior to shipping AND the fresh air intake on the compressor which helps efficiency of the unit which is quite similar to the A-B.
I actually have a much different sea-frost on my own boat...it is a battery driven 1/2 HP compressor driving 2 large cold plates. Draws 40 Amps when running but only runs about 2-3 hours a day so end result is good efficiency if you have a big battery bank and a large cube to cool.
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