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Master Mariner
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Discussion Starter #1
There is possibility that we may be able to get into 12 volt refrigeration much sooner than we'd planned.
What I'd like is some feedback on which system (manufacturer) has worked well and been trouble free for those who never or rarely use a dock (IE; shorepower) or those who install and maintain the systems.
Between the two systems, water and air cooled, air sounds better, but those using them, please give me some feedback. We have an actual engine room, which might be too warm for the air cooled systems, but then again, as long as we are in the Caribbean, with the water temp in the 80's, it might not make all that much difference.
 

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Your choices of heat sink might be limited, as using a keel-cooler will involve a through-hull and that means a pricey haul-out which you might not have planned; but if you don't mind hauling out then my vote is for keel-cooled (watercooled). I find that my keel-cooled freezer uses less energy than my air-cooled fridge in the warm Caribbean waters. Despite warm waters, the keel-cooler allows more efficient and faster transportation of heat from inside to outside the boat.

The leader in small compressors is Danfoss and although they seldom break there will be parts and experts available wherever you go. I thought I had Danfoss on the new boat, but the manufacturer is "Cubigel" and I'm finding it impossible to get assistance for them!

Once aboard I don't go to a dock for several months at a time and the cooling systems run all the time. I do need to defrost both units relatively often, but that is a 1 hour task (I can rinse them with hot water from the sink and the drain plugs go to the bilge) and only needs to be done once I notice the energy consumption go up or I can see that the evaporator plates are solid with ice.

While I like doing maintenance tasks I've decided that the small-volume marine refrigeration systems are best left to professionals with training and correct equipment.
 

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I went with the Engel MT60 combo. Fridge-Freezers

It's pricey but I would have had to completely build a new insulated box anyway (why did they not insulate ice boxes back in the day??) and that means I dont have to do that.

They use very little power and everyone who has one seems to loves it.
 

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The Pearson 530 I work on has a Sea Frost system and they are very, very happy with it. Theirs can be water or air cooled, water is more efficient, and he likes to run it on the mooring or anchor. He has a Marine Kinetics MK450 wind gen and a 280W solar array. Cleave Horton at Sea Frost is top notch and stands behind his product. Rich Boren owner of Cruise RO and Technautics is also an excellent stand up guy.
 

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I agree with Zanshin, and think a keel-cooled/Peltier Effect system is a great way to go...

I've been very happy with my Frigoboat for over a decade, now, although I'm certainly a more 'seasonal' user than a full-time liveaboard...I like the sound of "no moving parts", seems you're way ahead of the game by eliminating either a water pump, or air-cooling, from any system. On a boat as small as mine, where I'm never situated very far from the unit, the quietness of the system is much appreciated, and the only times I ever seem to notice when it has been running, is when the Danfoss compressor emits a faint little 'shudder' when it turns off...

Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dave & Sherry on the CSY 44 SOGGY PAWS down in the Bay Islands... Great folks, and extremely capable & knowledgeable cruisers who have done everything on their boat themselves...

Dave swapped out to a Frigoboat a few years ago, and seems quite pleased with the result... You have to poke around his blog a bit to get the full story, but it's a source of great information on the sort of things one must consider re refrigeration, and the installation of a Frigoboat in particular...

S/V Soggy Paws - CSY 44 - Refrigeration
 

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islander bahama 24
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I went with the Engel MT60 combo. Fridge-Freezers

It's pricey but I would have had to completely build a new insulated box anyway (why did they not insulate ice boxes back in the day??) and that means I dont have to do that.

They use very little power and everyone who has one seems to loves it.
What is your idea of low power usage in the tropics with an ambient temp of 25 c or 77 f it would use well over 60 ah per day to maintain sub freezing temps. http://www.engel-usa.com/images/stories/pdfs/mt60f curve.pdf on setting 5 it states a 100% duty cycle at 25 c to maintain sub freezing temps 2.7 ah x 24 = 64.3 ah
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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I have an Adler Barbor Supercold Machine that is aircooled. Been making ice as usual in these hot days and keeps my beer icy cold. Big top loader. 40 - 50 amp/hr daily.

The water cooled version is slightly more efficient but by reports the water pump only lasts a year.

Installed 7 to 8 years ago, so far so good.

If it broke tomorrow I would get another.
 

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The Womboat has an Isotherm. When originally installed it was water cooled. We were told that air cooled was preferable for boats living in predominantly warm waters. After our unit was destroyed in a lightning strike the repairer mistakenly installed an air cooled unit instead of the original water cooled. Result was interesting. In short the air cooled unit was a disaster. Noise and power consumption main problems.

Now neither of those issues were specifically the fault of the product. Reality was our boat's galley had been designed to take the water cooled unit and so the air cooled simply could not get enough cool air happening to perform to capability. The installer who was brought in to sort out the original guy's cockup did come up with a solution but it was a very expensive solution that the insurers where not going to cover.

We elected to go back to water cooled and are quite happy with the end result.

I think that is the major point re any refrigeration system. There is nowt more important than the units capacity to breath. Of course I've always known this but the extent is what surprised me. As a backup for when we are away for more than a week or so we have an Engel portable jobby. It is intended that this will live in the cockpit locker where it is accessible through a door from the aft head but I've yet to build the frame for it. For now it lives in the quarter cabin. The temperature build up when it is running is quite phenomenal so whatever you do ... ventilate ventilate ventilate.
 

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The Pearson 530 I work on has a Sea Frost system and they are very, very happy with it. Theirs can be water or air cooled, water is more efficient, and he likes to run it on the mooring or anchor. He has a Marine Kinetics MK450 wind gen and a 280W solar array. Cleave Horton at Sea Frost is top notch and stands behind his product. Rich Boren owner of Cruise RO and Technautics is also an excellent stand up guy.
Agree with Mainsail .. do consider the SeaFrost.

For the tropics with its HOT water and where water cooling is VERY inefficient I'd suggest to consider to apply at least a double sized (surface area) heat exchanger and 'one size up' supply and discharge hose. The benefits will be less pressure drop through hosing and exchanger for less load to the magnetic drive (March) pump for less battery/amperage consumption and somewhat better heat transfer, especially when the water is well above 85-90°. An alternate with a SeaFrost system is that you can switch off the cooling pump and simply air cool ... also good for when you're hauled out.

The SeaFrost comes pre-charged and with quick connects for easy installation to compressor and plates, etc. No need to 'charge' the system if youre 'quick' with the connections. But you need to supply some accurate 3D drawings of the spaces where the fridge and the compressor unit will be mounted .... so the connections can be cut to accurate lengths.

As you can garner, Im quite impressed with my SeaFrost refrig. system.
 

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Tartan 37
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Sea Frost are awesome but they are $$$$.

I opted instead for a Isotherm sized for our 7 cu ft box and with one year of use so far I am pleased with both its performance and value. It will freeze things solid if you go with the box evaporator. I do not have a thermostat which would be nice, but do have a separate meter that shows high and low temps until reset. Cost under $800 through Defender, allows you to duct the intake using dryer hose (which I duct mine low in the bilge). On the hottest of days this summer I found it was using around 60 amp hrs a day.

Was one of these http://www.defender.com/category.jsp?path=-1|2276204|2276226&id=2530801

Easy to install, maybe 2 hours it took me including a new panel
 

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I use a Dometic CF series Freezer/Cooler - never on shore power but have a 64 watt solar panel. (2 years old now)
Works for me, never had dead batteries or warm fridge upon returning to the boat.
It has an adjustable low voltage shut off to protect the batteries.
Down side is - it can operate as a fridge or freezer but only one at a time. (I set the temperature at 0 deg.F and love the results)
 

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bell ringer
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I have an Adler Barbour Cool Machine (air cooled unit) that is 13 years old. I think the last owner replaced the control module but I haven't have any problems with it the past 4 years. For the last 2 seasons it has run continuously for 7 months with the boat out on a mooring powered from solar.
 

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I picked up a brand new Grunert passage maker and SS holding plates at Sailor exchange for $125. Built the big top load freezer with 5" foam. Made 5gallons of ice a day for tours. Worked great. Water cooled with aquarium pump (most expensive part) Gotta watch for jellyfish plugging the inlet. Discharge was out the generator exhaust. Not for everybody but I was plugged in most nights and it was good for 5 days when on the go.
 

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Isotherm is good quality and their water cooling does not use a pump. Water cooled is always more efficient than air cooled.
 

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Master Mariner
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Discussion Starter #19
I want to thank you all for the information. We certainly did not come up with one outstanding unit, though the air cooled seems to be a big winner (here and other sources. Especially those systems you can water cool later.
So thanks again.
Now its time to consider what to do with the 80's boxes and how best not to destroy the woodwork in the galley. Oh how I wish I had a woodshop at my disposal.
 
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