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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?
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Thread: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
03-27-2012 09:23 PM
deniseO30
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Additional information if some of you may be interested.
Absorption cycle refrigeration and air have been around a very long time. Yes the company I was with serviced them. personally I knew very little about them except they needed simple gas burner service to keep the running. The larger units worked as a "Chiller" and cooled a brine (around 38*) that was piped to the cooling coil on top of a furnace or blower unit.

Absorption refrigerator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Labeled photo of a domestic absorption refrigerator.
1. Hydrogen enters the pipe with liquid ammonia
2. Ammonia+hydrogen enter the inner compartment of the refrigerator. Change in partial pressure causes ammonia to evaporate. Energy is being drawn from the surroundings - this causes the cooling effect Ammonia+hydrogen return from the inner part, ammonia returns back to absorber and dissolves in water. Hydrogen is free to rise upwards
3. Ammonia gas condensation (passive cooling)
4. Hot ammonia (gas)
5. Heat insulation and separation of water from ammonia gas
6. Heat source (electric)
7. Absorber vessel (water + ammonia solution




Back in the late 50s early 60s there were quite a few gas ac systems in residences and even full size refrigerators being sold and installed, mostly by utility companies.

On boat, in addiction to the dangers of gas and venting, the thing may rust out quick because of steel piping.

A flame is not really necessary to heat the system as I believe the temp needed to start the cycle working is around 240* (why the flame is so small)

Anyways... thought ya'll might like to do some "additional" reading

03-27-2012 07:46 PM
Capt Mitch
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

That should be obvious... there is waste gas... CO is produced and propane
is constantly depleted. 134A refrigerant is the current gas used. learn how to work with it.
03-24-2012 09:35 AM
geoduck
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

I like the option of a 3-way refer. Gas when sailing along. 12volt when motoring. Dock power when tied up.
You just have to make sure you dont blow yourself up. Simple enough. I sailed on an old timer built in 1898 that had kerosene refer - worked just fine as long as you kept the soot out and the burner clean.
My refer is 12v or 110 - works good enough for me. I can live for 3 days without charging batteries. 2 roll up solar panels - 1ft x 6ft takes care of my charging as long as the sun shines.
03-24-2012 08:07 AM
Minnewaska
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

COPA, it sounds like you're doing the right thing, but assume you either have no refrigeration of use electricity when away from the boat. Just a further thought on a gas solenoid. They do fail and are only intended as an emergency shut off and need to be installed back at the tank. Ultimately, to protect the boat, you need to spin the tank value as you do. What I really worry about is a leak along the line somewhere.
03-24-2012 07:41 AM
copacabana
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Yes, it's a Domitec 12v/120v/propane freezer, although I would never run it on 12v as it would drain the batteries. It doesn't seem to be at all sensitive about working 100% upright. I rarely release the gimbal and I haven't noticed any loss of performance when heeled. All in all, it seems a good solution, although I'm not sure I would have installed it in the boat as my first choice. It came with the boat, and "if it ain't broke ..."

I don't leave it running unless I'm on or around the boat. I suppose a gas sniffer with an automatic cut off valve in the bilge could be a solution to worries about an eventual leak.

Minnewaska, I never leave gas in the fridge or stove line. I have a valve right on the gas bottle that I turn off first and let the gas in the (very short) line burn off. Then I turn of the 2 individual valves, one on each gas line. The freezer also has a cut off valve if the flame goes out for whatever reason. I had a gas cutoff solenoid that I chucked in favour of high-quality manual shut-off valves, which I believe are more reliable.
03-24-2012 01:08 AM
mitiempo
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by copacabana View Post
It's not a marine freezer. I believe it must be for the RV market (the brand is "Domec" I think).
It is probably a Dometic. popular in rv's in both Europe and North America.

As Minnewaska posted with a stove it is presumed you are there - with a fridge, often not.

I recall the Hiscocks aboard Wanderer had kerosene refrigeration - it had to be kept close to level to work properly. The propane fridges are similar, just the fuel is different. Virtually every rv has a 3 way fridge - 120volt/12volt/propane.

I doubt ABYC extends to Brazil.
03-24-2012 12:21 AM
Minnewaska
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by copacabana View Post
I'm not sure it's any more dangerous than a propane stove. Change all the gas lines and put in good quality shut-off valves and I can't see any problem.
The difference is that you should only charge the propane lines running through boat when you're actually using the stove. A fridge would need to be charged all the time. A leak could fill the bildge while your sleeping.
03-23-2012 06:54 PM
copacabana
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Ron, I have to say I think I've got the only propane fridge in Brazil (as well as the only compoating toilet!). The previous owner, a very experienced German gentleman with 9 Atlantic crossings in this boat, installed it in 1997 during a complete refit. It's not a marine freezer. I believe it must be for the RV market (the brand is "Domec" I think). At any rate, it works very well and hasn't blown up yet! When it finally dies I'll be here asking for advice on 12v vs propane systems. Until then, it maintains the beer at exactly -3 degrees celcius. Who could ask for more?
03-23-2012 06:43 PM
Faster
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

Copa is that common in Brazil? I've only see them on powerboats in our area. It's an attractive idea in some ways.. certainly on the electrical side of things - is yours a specialized version compared to, say, the general RV model?
03-23-2012 05:48 PM
copacabana
Re: Why doesn't anyone use propane refrigeration on a boat?

No pilot light on a propane fridge, just a small, constant flame. If it goes out for whatever reason there is a gas cutter, just like on a propane stove. Mine is not vented outside the boat, but the little heat it puts out doesn't really heat the cabin (my boat is well ventilated). I can understand avoiding a propane fridge if it voids your insurance, but I still think a propane fridge, properly installed, is no more dangerous than a propane stove. My propane freezer lets me use a single 165amp battery for all my house needs. When it finally gives up the ghost I'll have to think very hard about whether to replace it with a new propane freezer or go with a 12v system (which will mean building an icebox and all the woodwork involved).
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