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Old 05-08-2002
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Installing Refrigeration

We are building an F-36 trimaran and are now planning the galley systems. As we will be cruising in the tropics, refrigeration is at the top of our list. Can you offer us some advice on different types of refrigeration? I have heard that Glacier Bay and Adler/Barber are both quite good.

Sue & Larry respond:
Congratulations on a project near completion. In our opinion, the best refrigeration value today lies in the 12-volt, constant-cycling, refrigeration systems that incorporate a sealed Danfoss compressor. Companies like Adler/Barber, Frigoboat, and Seafrost all utilize this technology. The benefit to this type of refrigeration is low initial cost and virtually no maintenance. These extremely efficient units are also appreciated by multi-hullers for their relatively light weight. Because they're 12-volt systems, they can be easily powered by alternative energy like solar panels or wind generators. For cruising the tropics, you'll want to specify a water-cooled compressor as the efficiency is roughly 20 percent greater than air-cooled models.

Another advantage to this type of system is that they come pre-charged with coolant and are easily installed by the owner. We recently revamped our refrigeration on Serengeti. We installed a new compressor and evaporator on the fridge and added a totally separate freezer, which we built from scratch. Our two Frigoboat compressors are water-cooled via a single pump and relay. These simple and energy efficient compressors provide a surprisingly high amount of cooling. We maintain a freezer temperature of around five degrees Fahrenheit, with our fridge around 40 degrees. We can even make popsicles and our own ice!

Remember to insulate your box really well while you can still easily get around it. For refrigeration, four inches of urethane foam is considered a minimum and for freezers, six inches is the minimum. If space allows, err on the high side, particularly on the bottom of the box, where cold loss is the greatest. Good luck.

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