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post #1 of 22 Old 11-19-2015 Thread Starter
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Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

I have thought our refrigeration system isn't performing as well as it should - it's a Seafrost air cooled BD system. Our freezer section is 15 F and the refrigerator is 37. And that's with it being set on high and running constantly. It uses too much power when we are running off of batteries.

What temperature do others shoot for on a boat? It is a well insulated compartment, and the system has worked better in the past. Thanks for any help.

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post #2 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

Those temperatures are reasonable. If it worked better in the past and has degraded slowly it is either a dirty condenser, failed condenser fan, or most likely leaking referigerant. There are a number of other things it could be but they tend to be uncommon: water (ice) in the system, control valve failure...

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post #3 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

I would say it is a dirty condenser coil as well clean it and improve air flow there is so little freon in these systems that a loss of any refrigerant would cause a rapid degrade of preformance .

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post #4 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

I use a SeaFrost BD 'spill over' (thermo-controlled 'door' between freezer and 'fridge') with heat exchanger. In winter with cool ambient water I run my freezer set point at 5, summer I run at 15.


'and the system has worked better in the past" .........When was the last time you checked your R134a system pressure to verify if its leaking or not? When my system lost a wee bit of pressure due to a 'joint' that loosened, it too ran almost constantly.

BTW - those 'spill over' thermostatically controlled 'doors' only last 5-6 years before sticking open or closed.

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Last edited by RichH; 11-19-2015 at 01:18 PM.
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

Those temperatures seem a bit low to me. My refrigerator is set to 45 degrees, while my freezer compartment stays at about 22 degrees. Additionally, my entire refrigerator/freezer is surrounded with 4 inches of Styrofoam, which maintains the temperature even in the warmest weather, thus the system only runs about 30 seconds every 10 minutes at most on a hot day. I have a raw water heat exchanger for the system, but I've never turned it on. I know it would lower the temperature quite a bit, but beer colder than 45 degrees is not a requirement on my boat. Additionally, I never seem to have a problem with cheeses or vegetables going bad in 45 degree temperatures, and I store a dozen TV dinners in the freezer on longer cruises with no problems.

Now, I also toss a 10-pound bag of ice in the fridge and it takes a week to melt at 45 degrees, therefore, I have a good supply of ice cubes for my Green Coconut Margarettas every night.

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post #6 of 22 Old 11-19-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

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'and the system has worked better in the past" .........When was the last time you checked your R134a system pressure to verify if its leaking or not?
How do I check the pressure? I guess I need to search that out...

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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

Thanks for the pointers everyone. It sounds like a dirty condenser coil might be making it slow down a little. I'm gonna try that first.

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

Standard refrigeration temperatures should run between 35 and 38 degrees. Anything higher will allow bacteria to grow and is not safe.

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post #9 of 22 Old 11-19-2015
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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

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How do I check the pressure? I guess I need to search that out...
I judge the refrigerant level by the frosty-ness of the evaporator and the return line to the compressor. But that assumes an intimacy with your system which is only acquired by years of living with it. And the line to the evaporator should be warm, but not hot. The air leaving the condenser should be warm.

Because I spend much time in free countries...that is to say places with lax regulations...I have a little bottle of refrigerant. If I suspect it is low, which happens every few years, I give it a short squirt. If it gets better then I'm happy. Never used a pressure gauge. Just watch the frost line on the evaporator.

Of course this all depends on exactly what kind of system you have.

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Re: Refrigerator and freezer temperatures?

The frost line method is mostly accurate for judging charge in a system metered by a capillary tube as the flow variable is pressure difference and refrigerant available. With an expansion valve system the valve will try to compensate for a decreasing charge by opening more so the frost line may not move back towards the evaporator immediately and it will only move towards the compressor a fixed distance (depending on the superheat setting of the valve) as you add refrigerant. Subcooling temperatures are a good way to check for proper charge if your system does not have a sight glass but you will need a PT chart, a way to measure high side pressure, and an accurate thermometer which probably puts that method beyond the reach of most sailors.

If the condenser doesn't appear to be dirty and you are getting good airflow through the coil (not recirculated hot discharge air) I would be glad to interpret your "touch test" measurements. Depending on the type of access fittings you should be able to add charge by using an automotive type can of R-134a and an adapter.

Be prepared! The small commercial refrigeration industry is moving towards propane as the refrigerant of choice since the EPA has been steadily taxing and restricting everything that the industry has put in use since the banning of CFC refrigerants. The good part about capitalism is that it fosters constant evolution around barriers placed before it!
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