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Old 05-23-2007
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How much is enough? (cu ft)

I am designing the galley of my 36' steel sailboat and currently I am working on the under-the-counter refrigerator.

The boat will be used primarily for coastal cruising for between 2 and 4 people. I may take it to the Pacific Islands as my experience increases, but that would only be for two.

The first questions I have to answer is how big should it be. Without getting into exactly what I will need to refrigerate, what do you all think, how many cubic feet is enough?

- Mithril
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Old 05-23-2007
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It depends.... many long-distance cruisers get by with no refrigeration. Refrigeration on many boats is not reliable enough for it to be a given.

IMHO, the refrigerator you need for 2-4 people coastal cruising is probably very different than that you would for a couple on a bluewater passage.. since the food and drink consumption patterns are probably quite different.

I would highly recommend getting an installing a top-loading, in-counter unit, rather than a front-loading unit, as the top-loading units tend to be much more efficient.

Also, how do you plan to power the refrigerator? Engine driven, 12 VDC, 120 VAC with an inverter, propane or a combination of the methods?? Will it be water-cooled or air-cooled??? These all affect efficiency and in some cases size.

BTW, bodies being stored for disposal at sea require at least four cubic feet per...
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Old 05-23-2007
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I agree with Sailingdog here. Climate has an effect as well on efficiency, as well as your eating and "access" habits. If you are going in and out of a half-filled box for cold pop all day, the unit will run more than if you have it packed out with long-term supplies. On passage, you would open it as little as possible and would pack it in the order in which you expected to be eating, in order to avoid more amp draw to cool the tropical air you've let it four times a day.

The only constant is that you want the fridge full for best results, and you want enough of a surround in the cabinetry to insulate the hell out of it, and to put in a nice heavy lid. With a lock-down, of course, so you're not killed by a bag of frozen peas in a knock-down.
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By posting the thread I expected some cruisers and blue water sailors to pipe in with their opinions. "That x cu ft is enough space for the two of us..." or "we have x cu ft but we really need more for our family of four on a week-long cruise...". That sort of thing.

Currently I am planning on a top loading freezer and I am thinking of using VIP's (Vacuum Super-Insullation Panels) to make the unit as efficent as possible. I should get at least R-30 in an inch of space. The unit would definetely be powered by the 12V system, but as to if it will use an evaporator or plate, be air-cooled or water cooled, that will all depend on how large the unit should be (cu ft).
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Mithrl...I think there is really no answer to your question. We've had various size boxes on various boats and we always fill them up. "The food stored expands to fill the available space!" If you must have a number...10-12 cu ft. minimum.

I would NOT recommend the use of vacuum panels as they are prone to puncture and failure and then you are really out of luck.
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I would second Cam's suggestion not to use vacuum panels. Most have had pretty poor real world results from what I've seen. Holding plate systems seem to make more sense to me... since they seem to cycle less often. The decision for air-cooled vs. water-cooled may depend on where you'll be cruising. Also, placement of the refrigerator unit is going to affect its performance. I would recommend putting it on the shaded side of the boat, if at all possible. Putting it too close to the exterior can badly affect its ability to cool. On a friend's boat, the proximity of the refrigerator to the hull made it thaw and re-freeze in tropical waters... not good for the food. She and I took it apart and added a fair bit of insulation, including the metallized heat reflective insulation, and that seems to have fixed the problem.
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If I were designing an undercounter fridge, I would have both top and front loading. For coastal cruising where power consumption is not such an issue you could enjoy the convenience of a front loading fridge and for longer cruises the efficiency of a top loader.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebs001
If I were designing an undercounter fridge (DUCKS ), I would have both top and front loading. (DUCKS ) For coastal cruising where power consumption is not such an (DUCKS) issue you could enjoy the convenience of a front loading (DUCKS) fridge and for longer cruises the efficiency of a top loader. (DUCKS)

I agree with about 5 things you said
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