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post #1 of 37 Old 07-24-2018 Thread Starter
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Refrigeration advice needed!

Hello,

System overview / background:

12v BD50 with Frigoboat Keel cooler, thin plate evaporator, digital thermostat, whole fridge area is very poorly insulated.

I've had this boat for about a year and prior to this summer the refrigeration was only used for day trips and 3 day weekends at most. I didn't really pay attention to it other than to ensure stuff stayed cold -which it did.

Recent Issues:

1) The fridge stopped getting cold about a week into a month long trip just this past June. I had to pour ice into the box to keep food from spoiling (about 20 lbs every other day - ugh!!!!). During the trip I tried to let the evaporator warm up (hoping to clear a potential frozen moister contamination issues in the lines), but I couldn't get it to cool again while underway on the trip. After I got back from the trip and the system was shut off for a day - and really did get to room temperature, then voila - it started to frost over and cool again.

2) The compressor itself is getting very hot, up to 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so I don't run the system currently.


My assumption was that there may be an issue with the amount of refrigerant and/or that there is contamination in the refrigerant. However, I don't understand why the compressor would get so hot.

Other things to note at the time of failure:
1) The poor thing was probably running at 100% duty cycle since the fridge is SO poorly insulated
2) During that first week we were caught offshore in a storm and were thrashed about fairly aggressively for about 4 to 6 hours. I don't know how that aggressive mechanical agitation might affect one of these systems..

So I look to you, wise internet, to seek guidance as to what the problems may be and what to do about it. What do you all think?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 37 Old 07-24-2018
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

The fact that the compressor is overheating might indicate a problem with the keel cooler loop. If the condenser is too hot, the refrigerant won't condense, and the system won't function. Check the level, flow rate and temperature of the keel cooler loop, the condition of the coolant and the condition of the external heat exchanger to make sure it is not fouled.
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post #3 of 37 Old 07-24-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Denise030 and Chicory83, thank you very much for your input!


Ok, so I didn't know that the compressors get that warm. Honestly, I never checked the temp before I started having issues.

By frosting up, I mean that after about a half our there is a thin film of frost forming all over the evaporator. There is no frost on the line returning to the condensor and none of the connectors had any oil or oily residue.

Here's a photo showing some of the connectors and components:


I don't know how old the unit is. I've had the boat about a year but I would guess the system is less than 10 years old. Being a BD-50, I believe it has R-134A. It does have an attached LED for diagnostics, but it doesn't blink (at all). There is no other condenser fan that I am aware of. Just the keel cooler, compressor, evaporator and associated wires and coolant lines.

BTW, I did not think that warming it and restarting it would "fix" anything. However, from other forums it appears this can sometimes squeeze a little more life out of the unit as the contaminating water vapor (if that is the issue) may melt and move to an area where it might not freeze up and cause a blockage. Thought it couldn't hurt..

Honestly, I don't plan to roll up my sleeves and give it the old diy effort. I like to do some research before calling in the professionals for the following reasons:

1) Less chance of getting bamboozled by a less than knowledgeable or honest technician.
2) With a little background understanding, I might actually understand what the tech is saying to me.
3) Might be able to figure out ahead of time a rough guess of what this might cost me

With this additional information, is anyone able to figure out a likely culprit?

As always thank you all for your help!
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post #4 of 37 Old 07-24-2018
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Go to the Frigoboat web site. They have a decision matrix tree which is very helpful. If you go through that with no joy find a good MARINE HVAC tech. Itís a simple system you can DYI but will break things and end up spending more money to get it working. Better to hire someone and watch and learn. That way whenís thereís no tech around you have some chance to fix it.
Two years ago we had moisture in the system. Used the hot cloth trick to keep it going. When back to Sopers had a tech look at it. He ended up up putting more moisture in it and overcharged it.
Got another tech. He ran nitrogen through it and when placed a moisture trap. Used the correct refrigerant at the correct pressure (no analogue gauges which have been dropped for him). So Iíve learned on Refrigeration get a good tech with good tools.

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post #5 of 37 Old 07-24-2018
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Hi,
We have the same setup. Our Frigoboat system has worked great for years, about 7. Some years we do not run it for 5-6 months during hurricane season if we are not on the boat.
Our refer we insulated really well with Dow Blue Board before we installed our Frigoboat system.
We are in the Mexican Riviera where in the summer it is hot and humid yet we did not ever have a problem even keeping ice cream.
We recently had some problem with moisture in the lines. We installed a filter\dryer from Frigoboat which was plug and play, sort of.
Problem went away.
So they can work and work great.
Any more info we can supply it.
Hope this helps,
Chip

Last edited by SanDiegoChip; 07-24-2018 at 04:48 PM. Reason: spelling
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Ha! Yes, the boat is in the water!

That diagram and photo is exactly what my system and keel cooler look like. Unfortunately, I can't run the 4 to 6 hour test until next weekend when I can get back down to the boat.

I don't think the keel cooler was that fouled, at least at the time of the initial failure earlier in the season. However, by now it could in fact be fouled with Chesapeake slime.. I will check the temp of keel cooler return line - good idea!
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanDiegoChip View Post
We recently had some problem with moisture in the lines. We installed a filter\dryer from Frigoboat which was plug and play, sort of.
Problem went away.
So they can work and work great.
Chip
Very helpful idea - I'll look into this. Did you have some difficulty installing the filter drier? You said "sort of" plug and play - any guidance for a newbie?
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

Hi,
To me plug and play is:
You plug the fan into the wall, turn it on and play.
This was a bit more. We had to remove our propane locker to get at the are where the filter dryer needed to go. We had to bend some tubing which is scary. Well worth it , no more hot rags or pouring boiling water over the coil etc.Chip & Debbie Willis on s\v Elegant'sea: Filter Dryer for FrigoBoat System (Refer/Freezer) installed and works well!
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

SanDiegoChip,

Thank you for your link to your blog! So, it looks like this is the product you bought: https://www.coastalclimatecontrol.co...ier/p/95699130

How well do the sealed quick disconnects work? It seems to do this you don't need special tools and it's already filled with R134A, so no purging and re-pressurizing required - is that really how it works?

Thanks!


Just read your blog more thoroughly - which answered my questions. I think I'll try this after I check to make sure I don't already have one.

Last edited by Reefpoints; 07-24-2018 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Asked question they already answered.
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post #10 of 37 Old 07-25-2018
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Re: Refrigeration advice needed!

All mechanical joints will leak at some point, but, if done properly the quick connects should give you several years of trouble free service. However, you will probably need a new system to be able to use it.
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