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05-13-2013 11:30 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

It really depends.
I've known scullions and jack-a-napes to really screw that job up. Dolts, even poltroons can manage it if they team up, or at least get some advice from a varlet. Naves, never.
But a buffoon ought to manage it ok.
If you run into real problems, though, your best bet would be to hire a lout.
John V.
04-16-2013 11:48 AM
DIY Fridge Install

I did my own install of a Frigoboat unit with the "keel cooler" option about a decade ago. Very Quiet (no fan) and efficient. The install is very fiddley work, in places where one can put only one arm and shoulder at a time, and some swearing will be needed.

After wising up and putting a gasket around the lid, almost zero condensation or frost on the evaporator plate.

I have some pics over at in a refrigeration thread. PM me for a link if wou wish.

Take your time, diagram out what your boat requires, and be sure to buy the parts kit from a reputable supplier who can answer your questions when you are upside down in the boat with a drill in one hand and cell phone in the other!

Frigoboat Home Page
These folks were extremely helpful and patiently answered all my stupid questions.

04-16-2013 11:22 AM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

I'm in the same boat (no pun intended). I have a 32' sloop in Florida and I'm considering air cooled vs. water cooled; Isotherm ASU 3201 looks good. Any thoughts?
03-19-2013 06:18 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

Originally Posted by RTB View Post
It's not a difficult installation. The tricky part is figuring out how feed the beast. Every cruiser will tell you that the refer is the biggest hit on their batteries. Keeping up ain't easy.

Busy and new solar power | sailing away with R & B
I installed an Isotherm system myself about 10 years ago. It was a "Self Pumping (SP) version with "Automatic Start Up" (ASU). The SP bit meant is used an in-water heat exchanger that circulated coolant by convection--no fan. The ASU bit meant that the compressor would kick into high gear if the engine came on so as to freeze the cold plate faster.

The worst of it was changing out the galley sink drain thru-hull with a bronze one that housed the heat exchanger. Hasn't fouled or corroded in 10 years. It is a fairly compact thru-hull and wasn't any big deal to install. The only other large hole was a little over an inch to accommodate the special fittings that allow the system to be precharged. Other than that it was a matter of less than a dozen screws to secure the compressor, cold plate, fuse, and controller and running wiring.

Bottom line: The unit was more expensive than an air-cooled refrigeration system, but it is extremely compact, quiet, and apparently very efficient. I once ran it for 4 days on battery power to see how long it would take to discharge my battery bank. I wasn't running any other loads, so I would estimate that I could go 2 days on 3 fully charged 105 AH gel cells under realistic conditions (house lights, electronics, windlass).
03-19-2013 05:51 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

I'd actually go on to say that professional hvac people (who Moi?) over think/plan more then necessary LOL
03-19-2013 05:21 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

I just put in an Engel last week. Real easy, any body could do it.
03-18-2013 11:20 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

Hey gang - THANKS for the great responses. I will give it a go when we get the boat here.
03-18-2013 10:24 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

Originally Posted by cparclan View Post
Well, there you have it; if my 40' boat just had a good ice box before, could I install a 12V refer unit without hiring it out? (Assuming I was - am - reasonably handy?)
It's not a difficult installation. The tricky part is figuring out how feed the beast. Every cruiser will tell you that the refer is the biggest hit on their batteries. Keeping up ain't easy.

03-18-2013 08:04 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

Always more than one would think. Nothing sweats more than a beer or soda can. When I plug the drain in mine, I can get an inch of water in no time. Add any organic substance and it does stink. Even if you don't spill, things may have spilled on your containers in the factory or store. The condensation washes it off and it seems to like to grow on boats..........
I have my drain hooked to a bilge pump with a bypass valve. I leave it on the "freezer" side most of the time. Just manually turn the pump on once and a while. I trickle a little bleach in once in a while to keep any smells at bay. Any serious cruising i switch the valve over in case i need the additional pump. Factory installed, kinda nice. Keeps everything nice and dry below.
03-18-2013 06:07 PM
Re: Could a self-professed bafoon install 12V refrigeration?

I've done it, so you can. Did the freezer, part way through doing the fridge.

Clive at Seafrost is a great help. They will send you everything you need. The connectors are simple to use after you read the instructions.

I bought the double gauges and pipe cutter from the local Harbor Freight store. It has easily paid for itself. There's a great book on marine refrigeration by Richard Kollmann. Definitely buy it. Never be afraid to buy tools and instructional books.

Figure out how to power it. A fridge will need one 130w solar panel, at least wehre I am. That's assuming your battery bank can handle it. (We have 330 amp-hours, which is pleny for a fridge where we are.) The Kollmann book talks about how much juice you'll need, based on the surface area of the fridge and whether it's top loading or side loading.

I ran 30 feet of tubing (x2) and put the compressor back near the steering quadrant -- think under the swim platform. That was to keep the noise away. Once I get insulated, flexible ducts to the outside, I expect it will be untra quiet -- only thing you can here on the Tradewinds units are teh little "computer fan". So they are quiet. Compressor don't drip water. The part inside the box will attract condensation.

Dishwashing liquid and a small paint brush is your friend for finding leaks -- usually an indicator the your connectors need to be tighted a little more.

Use slightly oversized wiring to keep line-loss low -- especially if you have a long run.


This spring I'm connecting the fridge compressor. I have both copper tubes and the thermostat wires already run.

I'm also connetion thefreezer's thermostat wires to a relay driven off the solar panel dump load, and maybe a second thermostat. If there's extra juice, the freezer compressor will just run and run. It's my way of saving the batteries by reducing the load at night. If I do the freezer right, the holding plate (and maybe some homemade icepacks made from diluted, non-toxic antifreeze) will keep the freezer cold enough to last through the night. That and I'm reducing the depth of the freezer with white-painted, pink (or blue) foam from Home Despot.

Anyone know of a liquid container that is really flat. It would be for making home-made ice-packs made from diluted, non-toxic antifreeze. Somehting 1" thick that still hods a quart would be great.

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