enlarging icebox, converting to refrigerator/freezer - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 08-15-2010 Thread Starter
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enlarging icebox, converting to refrigerator/freezer

So the latest boat to strike my fancy during my search lacks a refrigerator. The icebox is rather small too. It's going to cost me at least a couple boat-bucks to have a refrigeration system professionally installed, so I've been thinking about how to get more for my investment: build a bigger fridge than I have now, add a real freezer, do the installation myself.

I haven't looked in detail (and I won't get a chance until/if I buy the boat, I think), but a cursory inspection tells me there is probably some dead space under the counter in the galley where the icebox is. What would be involved in increasing the size of the icebox to use that dead space? I presume some fiberglass work, some insulation... what's used for the interior surface? Awlgrip? Any tutorials on doing this? How hard is this, and is it worth it?

If I'm going to go to the trouble of enlarging the icebox, I think I'd like to build two compartments and have a legitimate freezer. I guess the divider between the two compartments wouldn't need to be as heavily insulated as the outside of the box. Any thoughts on this?

Lastly, is it feasible for me to do the install of the refrigeration system myself? Perhaps everything but the filling it with refrigerant part? Do I need to think about this when building my new icebox, or are they discrete steps? I was thinking perhaps of having someone professional design the system (and possibly supply the components), then I'd install them, then the pro would come back and charge the system with refrigerant.

Thanks for any guidance...
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-16-2010
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KollmannMarine Boat Refrigeration Specialist

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post #3 of 22 Old 08-16-2010
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Nigel Caulder has a Marine Refrigeration book that excels with all the details you would need. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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post #4 of 22 Old 08-18-2010
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the setup in my galley has the icebox access panel on the counter, with the icbox running all the way to the cockpit, where there is another access panel from outside... if you are willing to sacrifice some space under your lazzerette you might be able to extend the icebox to that space... and get cold beverages in and out!

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post #5 of 22 Old 08-18-2010
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RM the lid is the most often ignored but should be as well insulated and as airtight as you can make it.

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post #6 of 22 Old 01-18-2011 Thread Starter
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Well, the boat I originally posted about is the one I bought, and I'm finally nearing the point where I want to move forward with this project. The space I have available is between 5 and 6 cu ft. I'm still hoping I can find reasonably priced aerogel insulation, in which case I can save a ton of volume on insulation, and it might be more like 8 cu ft. I plan on allocating about 1.5-2 cu ft to the freezer. I want my freezer to be COLD! Cold enough to keep things for a long period of time, and cold enough to keep icecream, etc. I plan on including a small fan inside each compartment to keep the temperature uniform throughout.

I've read that I should use two compressors for this, but I really don't want the added expense. Is it possible to get a solenoid valve or two that would allow me to have two evaporators (one fridge, one freezer) and run them both off the same compressor? The valves would permit me to only run the side that needs to be cooled instead of being forced to run them both at once if I connected them in series or parallel. If such a system can be built without too much difficulty and expense, is there also an off-the-shelf system to control it (i..e temperature sensors and valve/compressor controller)? I can build the controller if need be, but it would probably be easier and more reliable to buy one. Can anyone offer a guess as to which compressor(s) I should be looking at? I have no idea how to estimate the capacity.

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post #7 of 22 Old 01-18-2011
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Don't forget that the refrigerator/freezer should have a drain, but that drain should be closed to prevent cold air from leaking out through it.

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post #8 of 22 Old 01-18-2011
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You may be able to design it so there is enough clod "leaking" from the freezer to keep the fridge cold. (It's really the heat the moves, not the cold, but you can still picture it the other way.) Maybe have a few layer of the separating wall removable so you could adjust the amount of insulation between the two boxes. Then you could use trial-and-error to figure out how adjustably-thick to make the wall. You could put the thermostat on the fridge side, since a fridge has a small acceptable temperature range. On the other hand, with a freezer you probably don't care if it's 10 degrees or -20 degrees, as long as it never gets close to 32.

(Full disclosure, I got like a 37 in thermodynamics. That was passing/good grade in that class by the way.)

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post #9 of 22 Old 01-18-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Don't forget that the refrigerator/freezer should have a drain, but that drain should be closed to prevent cold air from leaking out through it.
You could also use a pump with a hose on the inside that goes down to the bottom. Either a corner of the bottom, or an indent into the bottom so you get the last bit out.

Another thought...

Insulate like crazy, way more than you think you have to. Thin insulation eats up amps. Away form the dock you end up buying wind generators, solar panels and/or a nice Honda generator+gas to replace those amps. Add another inch of insulation to the icebox if you can, then another, then another.

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post #10 of 22 Old 01-18-2011
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the glacier bay refrigeration system uses a solenoid to run two cold plates with one compressor.
it comes with a control panel which runs the freezer plate until you reach the desired temperature for the freezer plate, then it runs for the refrigerator plate. nice. but more expensive than most systems out there.
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