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  #1  
Old 01-28-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

I have a standard 6 foot cube icebox.
Using in Florida and Caribbean.
Wanting to add a Refrigeration unit.Likely a thermoelectric not engine driven unit.
Considering Norcolder.
Letriceman(Very simple to install)
Alder/Barbour this unit you must add thru-hull fitting?
Any comments or suggestions?
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Old 01-29-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

Chuck, here are a couple of thoughts...
1. You''ll be happier with any reefer choice if you first address any insulation issues. Walter Industries e.g. makes exterior insulating sheets for home construction that is foil backed on both sides, is made of closed cell isocyanurate foam (very low moisture absorption), is very easy to work with (utility knife and ruler) and very cheap. FL and Caribbean sailing will quickly put any reefer''s inefficiencies to the test.
2. Don''t assume that water cooling requires a thru-hull. On our last two boats, I plumbed a fresh water tank into the cooling circuit of 2 different types of 12V reefers. It''s worked great (especially in the FL-Carib environments), you have no salt water issues, and the plumbing is simple. On WHOOSH, I ''T''d into the supply hose running from a nearby tank, put the in-line filter in place and then connected that line to the ''in'' side of the cooling circuit. The ''out'' side is routed back to the vent line of the same tank and ''T''d back into the tank. You will find the tank''s water temp increases little in the tank, even when the fridge is running for long periods and even if the tank holds little water. An engineer in Trinidad e.g. was very doubtful about this approach, used a 5 gal. bucket as the ''water source'' and ran his freezer''s Isotherm system this way for a day - temp increase was 10 degrees, and that was in a Trinidad summer and without the bucket being cooled by the water in which the boat''s hull sits 24/7.
3. You may well understand this already, but adding refrigeration to a boat is only putting one piece of a needed system upgrade in place. It will instantly raise two additional issues: how ample is the battery capacity and - very different - how do you put amps back in the batteries. The larger you increase the battery bank, the more recharging in some fashion becomes an issue. Sooner or later, most cruisers end up adding electrical upgrades to their boats in order to be satisfied with their reefers.

Good luck. And FWIW I''d recommend you consider a simple Isotherm unit. Good gear, great distributor (Great Water), competitive pricing (e.g. at Defender), and well known in your cruising grounds.

Jack
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Old 01-29-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

I agree completely with the advice in the previous email. The most important part of your refer system is the insulation.

Adler barbour tells you that you should not run the water pump until the ambient temperature gets to something like 102 degrees. Prior to that level of heat the pump consumes more amps than it saves in more efficient cooling. I grew up sailing where you are and dont ever remember it getting that hot.

Every nickle you spend on making your box better comes back to you in battery life, reduced engine use and comfort. The last thing you need in your boat is a couple of hundred pounds of hot metal. So, the less often you can run your engine at anchor, the better.

The primary things you can do to reduce the frequency of engine running is to insulate the box very well and install a large battery bank.

On my last boat I used glacier bay R panels and was very impressed with the performance. On a typical day I used about 36 amp hours to run the fridge and freezer. This included making ice for margaritas and putting at least a 6 pack of warm beer into the fridge every day.

I only had two type 31 gel cells on that boat and still was able to go three days between charging. This included lights, fridge and stereo (which was almost always on) I let the batteries fall to 50% before charging.

The catch is that the r panels are expensive. They must be custom made for each box. It cost about 1500 to have them made for the 2.5 cubic foot box on my norsea 27. In return I got a bigger box and the insulation efficiency of 10 inches of foam. The r panels are only 1" thick.

I suggest that you visit glacier bay''s web site and read their technical articles. Even if you dont buy their products you will get a very good understanding of insulation and battery bank management.

I am expecting delivery of a new boat in a couple of weeks. I had the builder leave the ice box cabinet empty because I intend to use GB insualtion and build the box myself. It is going to cost me close to 4500 for the insulation and, based on my previous experience, I consider this a good investment. My batteries will last longer and my frequency of engine running at anchor will be cut more than in half.

I have calculated that (with the gb insulation) I should be able to go about 5 days before I have to run the engine to charge the batteries. If I add a couple of solar panels I may be able to get close to the point where I dont have to run the engine at all, for charging purposes.

I would advise you to forget about thermo electric refrigeration. Its very inefficient and cant make ice.

The vast majority of the people from my yacht club that go to Mexico for a year or two install the adler barbour cold machine and I have heard nothing but praise for the product. The gulf of California is a much more demanding evnironment than the one you sail in and the AB units survive.

Glacier Bay sells very expensive and super efficient refrigeration equiipment. The problem they have is that their insulation is so good that the efficiency of the refrigeration equipment becomes irrelevent.

Take a good hard look at all the money you will have to spend to get a servicable fridge on your boat. You may end up deciding that its not worth it.

On my old boat I sailed for 10 years without a fridge. Before a week long trip I would cool the box down 2-3 days before departure by putting a bucket of ice in it. I would freeze a case of beer (dont try this with soda because the cans will rupture) and put the frozen beer in the bottom of the fridge along with any frozen food I was taking. Even with only 1 inch of foam insulation on the original fridge it would be 5 days before the beer was thawed and drinkable. Sometimes I had to take a couple of cans out of the icebox and put them over the side to get them drinkable.

HOpe this helps

John
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Old 01-29-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

"Take a good hard look at all the money you will have to spend to get a servicable fridge on your boat."

Kudos to John - I wish I''d placed this advise in my earlier comments because I think it''s THE critical question re: refrigeration. Technically, mechanically & commercially, there are tons of choices. But it''s the "cost" of those issues - in systems complexity, maintenance, financial outlay, reduced icebox size, etc. that should be everyone''s first concern. OTOH it''s usually the last, IME - simply because refrigeration is so common and invisible a system on land that we presume it ''belongs'' on a boat AND is a standalone system, just like ashore.

We ended up spending $2K aboard WHOOSH for an icebox rebuild and Isotherm installation, done ourselves with hardware store bits and pieces where appropriate. But we have another $2.5K invested in a HiCap, pretty bullet-proof electrical system (incl. alternative energy sources), at least some of it there because we planned for refrigeration upfront. This may seem like a lot for ice cubes to some, but I''ve been astonished and how much others have invested in their refrigeration systems (and ancillary gear/systems/etc.) and have learned my choices look like peanuts to many.

Jack
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Old 01-29-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

Another thing I should have mentioned earlier is that in humid environments good insulation is important for the protection of the woodwork on your boat. I have seen very nice yachts with damaged woodwork because of condensation cause by a fridge with poor insulation. If the wood work ends up a couple of degrees cooler than the air water will condense on the outside and inside of the cabinet in which the box located. WE all know what continual exposure to fresh water does to wood.

I did not mean to sound like Im totall down on refrigeration. Im not. It is very useful for cruisers (especially when you realize that mexican ice is made from mexican water) but is also nice to have if you just use your boat for daysails or weekends. It is very nice to go to your boat without a big ice chest in tow. Loading the box when you get there and loading the ice chest to take everything home is just one more task that I can do without.

A well installed refrigeration system adds a great deal of pleasure to your boating activities. A poorly installed system will be much more aggrivation than its worth. I, for one, dont like to spend my money to buy aggrivation.

BTW, virtually most of the hermetically sealed systems manufactured for marine use use the same Danfoss compressor. The efficiency claims that some manufacturers make are not realistic. I''ll bet there is very little difference in the power consumption of the different systems on the exact same box. You do get better efficiencies with the externally driven systems but they cost thousands of dollars more and require that you have water cooling.
Service and parts availability are important considerations.
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

"BTW, virtually most of the hermetically sealed systems manufactured for marine use use the same Danfoss compressor... I''ll bet there is very little difference in the power consumption of the different systems on the exact same box."

I''ll bet there is, simply because Danfoss makes many different sized (rated) compressors, and vendors choose between them. Isotherm alone uses several different capacity compressors. And in truth, the compressor is the last thing to fail; it''s all the "peripherals". (Gee, just like a boat...!)

Jack
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Old 02-23-2003
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Updating Icebox to Refrigeration

On our 37'' sailboat we originally had a Crosby system which serviced a seperate fridge and freezer. External compressor and water cooled. When it worked it was great. freon became hard to get ( I use to recharge myself and freon for me was nocharge at the time). I decide to remove system and replace with regular ordinary 5 cu ft 110 volt fridge. The cost was under $180. We run it when away from the dock on the inverter which we also use for TV and VCR. Our trips on the boat are usually for a week and many weekends. With 4 -31 house batteries it just has not been a problem and is very trouble free. we run our engine evryday to make hot water and it is enough to keep is in cold beer frozen steaks. For us it works and works well. The cost is minimal and trouble free.
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