Cheap Fridge Idea - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 03-05-2003 Thread Starter
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Cheap Fridge Idea

I''m really new at at this so foregive me if this is a really stupid question. Couldn''t I take one of those little dorm fridges, add another two inches of isolation to it, and hook it up to a power invert so that it runs at 12V instead of 115. Would this consume more energy than what I''m realizing. I plan on sailing the Caribi for a month or two and live in FL. Any help would be greatly appreiciated.
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-05-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

I''m no expert, but my first guess is that it would work, but that it would draw your batteries down fast, requiring you to recharge them frequently.
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post #3 of 20 Old 03-05-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

This is only a good idea if you have a really really really really long extension cord. You could not run your engine enough to keep the batteries charged to power the inverter, ice would be a better solution. Rather than an inverter why not buy one of the ice box conversion kits? Manufacturers such as Seafrost, Technautic, Glacier Bay and Isotherm make the better units. Iím certain this would be a more efficient solution and would enhance the value of your boat at time of resale.
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-06-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

Most small refrigerators are intended to be operated in the level position and will break down if operated on a heel. Also the electrical draw and RF interference would be excessive.

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post #5 of 20 Old 03-06-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

If you are only going out for a month why not try your idea and see how it works. You wont be able to insulate all sides since the condenser coils are usually on the back of those little fridges and you cant cover those.

Maybe a combination of ice and a little fridge would be enough to get you through your cruise in comfort. You might only turn on the little fridge when the ice gives out.

I used to be able to go a week on my norsea 27 if I iced the box right before leaving. Here''s the formula I found that worked.

1. 2 or 3 days before you are going to head out go to the boat and dump a couple of buckets full of ice in the fridge to precool it.

2. Put a case of canned beer in the freezer at home. Dont use soda because the cans will break. Beer freezes at a temp much lower than water.

3. When ready to leave build a chamber in the bottom of your fridge with the beer and put your frozen food in it. Cover with bubble wrap.

4. Add the rest of your refrigerated stuff on the top. Make sure it is all cold when it goes in. Add extra ice (preferably block ice).

5. Keep the stuff you will need during the day on top so you dont have to open the box too much and root around in the fridge.

In southern California the frozen food would stay solid for 3-4 days and very cold for 5-6. It was not until the 6 day that I could start drinking the beers.

The Norsea had a very poorly insulated fridge.

California waters are in the 50s to low 60s all year and the air is much less humid than in the west indies. You probably wont get as long a hold over as I did but

The long term solution to refrigeration on a boat is a multi faceted problem. You usually have to improve the insulation on the manufacturers box, add a lot more battery capacity and also add a high output alternator to your engine too keep up with it all. After I added a refrigeration unit to my norsea I would use between 36 and 50 amphours per day depending on the weather and how much warm beer I added. Ice for margaritas also took some amp hours to make.
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post #6 of 20 Old 03-06-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

I have been freezing bottled water and using them to keep the ice box cold. Since there is less surface are per volume than crushed ice, it melts much slower but doesn''t keep the box quite as cold. As the bottles thaw it also gives you cold drinking water rather than being drained overboard.
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-06-2003 Thread Starter
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Cheap Fridge Idea

Thanks for all the input, I thought that it would probably draw too much power. Didn''t think about the heal issue, though.
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-07-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

What about the 12 volt coolers.
They are not any good as freezers but has anyone have experience with them?
I think their output is around 40 watts.
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-08-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

There are two kinds of 12 volt coolers on the market..The ones that use peltier electronics and very inefficient and dont get all that cold. They would be ok in a car where a virtually unlimited supply of electrons is available.

The other type use a small compressor and work just like a regular fridge. They tend to be more expensive and better made. Most open from the top which would be better than a dorm fridge.

Something like this might be just the ticket for chilling a few drinks on a long day of motoring.
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-11-2003
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Cheap Fridge Idea

The little dorm fridges are quite inefficient, so a big enough battery bank and charging system would make it a pretty expesive fridge. Only the fridges that run on ammonia (like the RV type that can also use propane as a power source) need to be kept level.
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