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  #1  
Old 10-09-2011
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Question Refrigeration-Frigoboat Keel Cooled vs. others?

I have been researching refrigeration systems and had the chance to see a few at the boat show.

I want the most efficient system at the most reasonable cost (of course right ). It looks like the Frigoboat keel cooled system fits my needs best?

A Frigoboat keel cooled system sized for my box (about 6-7 cu/ft) using a bin shaped evaporator will run about $2,000 + another $250 for the thermostat and the Merlin Smart Speed Control and maybe the spillover fan for $150? 15% off plus free shipping during the show, so I would like to decide very soon.

They also have a combined keel cooled & air cooled system for when the boat is on the hard or a back up, for an additional $200? Worth it?

I also looked at CoolBlue and Sea Frost but found the pricing is similar and neither offer the keel cooling option. The CoolBlue air cooled system is pretty efficient though at 24 amp hours a day using a holding/cold plate. If I recall, its also can easily be recharged with a kit which can be used at sea, others require a professional service call = $$.

Are there any other systems that are similar in cost and efficient that I should consider?
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Old 10-09-2011
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Shawn--

We went through a similar process awhile ago and decided against the keel cooler option. Several of our friends opted for the system and had the experience of having the lubricating oil in the coolant collect in and obstruct the keel cooler which disables the system. One of our friends has abandoned a FrigoBoat system after two+ years of efforts and repeated malfunctions.

We did go with the FrigoBoat air-cooled option simply because it replaced the system that originally came on our boat and I did not want to have to change the cabinetry to fit a different arrangement. Thus far it has worked very well and we're satisfied with it although, believe it or not, the new unit is not quite as efficient as it's 1986 era predecessor which may be a function of the new refrigerants verses R-12.

In addition to the FrigoBoat for the refrigerator, we also have a separate SeaFrost for the freezer and I have found that to be somewhat more efficient. If we could have fit another SeaFrost in the space we had available, I would have gone with another.

The "expert" on refrigeration is a fellow by the name of Don Kollmann. See KollmannMarine Boat Refrigeration Specialist

FWIW...
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Old 10-09-2011
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I've had the Frigoboat with the keel cooler for about 10 years now, and am very happy with the choice... I've yet to have any significant issue with it whatsoever, it's been pretty flawless...

it's virtually silent, the only time I ever notice it is the very faint "shudder" the compressor emits when it shuts off... Only maintenance is to keep the keel cooler free of marine growth, pretty simple chore if it's located reasonably close to the waterline...
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Old 10-09-2011
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My frigiboat keel cooler has a zinc that must be checked and replaced when needed. I have seen a boat with the consequenses of zinc neglect on the keel cooler.
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Old 10-09-2011
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Am in the same decision process and think I'll probably wind up buying one of the Isotherm coldplate units. Have not yet decided to go water cooled or air. I don't like the extra layer of things to break on any of the water cooled exchangers although they are slightly more efficient. Just seems I remember seeing a few posts over time about various problems with water cooled units either getting clogged, corroding, etc. [URL="http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|406|10789|322423&id=58870"]

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Old 10-10-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonEisberg View Post
I've had the Frigoboat with the keel cooler for about 10 years now, and am very happy with the choice... I've yet to have any significant issue with it whatsoever, it's been pretty flawless...

it's virtually silent, the only time I ever notice it is the very faint "shudder" the compressor emits when it shuts off... Only maintenance is to keep the keel cooler free of marine growth, pretty simple chore if it's located reasonably close to the waterline...
FWIW I think the older FrigoBoat units were much more robust than the current editions. Our original unit was a 1986 version installed by the builder when the yacht was manufactured and it worked very well for 24 years. We finally replaced it when the compressor died and although we could obtain another compressor, that would have been with "no guaranty" and would have cost about half of what the replacement system cost. I have heard the same sentiments from other owners of the older units...
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Old 10-10-2011
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I'm a big fan of any of the keel-cooled variants. The two most common choices are the Frigoboat keel-cooler and the Isotherm SP. My experience with both has been very good, even when neglected. Both do have their own zincs to watch after.

The Isotherm SP has its heat exchanger wrapped around a thru-hull (galley sink drain on Auspicious) so it can be installed in the water. In addition, as long as you don't accidentally put a drain plug in the sink drain acts as a chimney and cooling is quite reasonable (albeit at higher power consumption) on the hard.

I would not hesitate to purchase either a Frigoboat keel-cooler or an Isotherm SP. Both are very reliable and significantly quieter than a classical water cooled unit. The air-cooled units are reliable but can be noisier than a keel-cooled/SP although quieter than a classic water-cooled. They do become one more source of heat in the cabin.

When looking at stand-alone Engel air cooled freezers for a friend I did some calculations that clearly indicated that the heat from an air-cooled refrigeration unit was significantly less than the heat shed by a person down below from breathing and body temperature, so while an air-cooled unit does add to heat loading it is much less than people. *grin*
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Old 10-11-2011
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Our keel cooled Frigoboat has worked nearly flawlessly for 8 (?) years; interesting to read the above comment that the older systems are more robust than the newer ones. Their website has a table to calculate your power use that, if anything, OVERestimates what you'll need. We use about 25 silent amp-hours per day for two good-size cold boxes plus a shoebox-sized freezer.

We're only on the hard a few weeks per year, so rather than adding the air-cooled option, we just use block ice for that short time.
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Wow, 25 amp hours is great for that amount of cubic footage. That would add up to only about 2 hours of output/day from my 2 solar panels, an acceptable amount. The thing that seems to be difficult to find is the predicted cycle time. The amperage range is in the specs. of these units but there is no estimate of theoretical run-time. This would give a much clearer idea of actual amp/hours. It would be nice to see a chart with variables of cubic feet, R-value of the enclosure, ambient temp, and cycle time. This would give a much better basis for sizing a unit. Have not seen the Frigoboat table you mentioned, maybe they have done this.

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Old 10-11-2011
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Smurphy, yes, they've done exactly that: you tell it box volume, amount of insulation, water temp, and they tell you usage. We can run indefinitely off our solar panels in 70-degree water. Better in summer with longer hours of daylight, worse in autumn when the water's still warm and the days are short.
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