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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My Hunter 36 came with a huge (takes up an entire side of the galley), completely uninsulated ice box. There was an old and rusty compressor/evaporator system which I have removed, and am now wondering how best to proceed.

I was thinking about cutting the ice box in half, turning half of it into cupboards and then insulating the other half with foam and putting in a new evaporator plate system.

HOWEVER, I then saw marine dropin units like the engels Fridge-Freezers - this are pretty much the same price as the conversion units, and mean I wouldn't have to much around with insulation. They also seem to have very very similar power draws as the conversion units as well...

I guess my question is - does anyone have strong feelings one way or the other? Searching seems to show that most people used the conversion kits to add refrigeration, and I'm wondering why over using a drop-in unit.
 

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Alctel, I've just ordered an Engel drop-in fridge-freezer (the MB40) to replace my old fridge. I can't yet speak from experience, but everything I've read about them is positive. They are efficient and draw few amps (less than pretty much any other fridge) and don't seem to break down ever. I like the fact that it can be removed easily if you have to service it or replace it. I think the price is good as well (about 1K) if you consider that you don't have to build the box. Another benefit is that it can be run as a fridge or a freezer with the turn of a dial. I like a freezer for longer trips, but prefer a fridge for just a weekend. Which model are you looking at?
 

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That Drunk Guy
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I was thinking about one of these too. I know the Dometic is either/or fridge or freezer. Is that true of the Engel too. It would be nice to have cold food AND and some ice cubes ready for a cold adult beverage (or two).
 

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██▓▓▒▒░&
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An MB40 boasts "42 quart" but that's also ~1.5 cubic feet, the size of a "dormitory" fridge. Even the MB80 at twice the size might prove to be too small for four adults trying to go more than a week without restocking it. Nice boxes, but "take two they're small" might apply?
 

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Alctel,

A subject near and dear to my heart!

You might want to take a look at our web page at; Guenevere's Projects, Ice box replacement

We have used a number of different brands of reefer on our boat and in our car. By FAR the Engel unit is THE BEST!

It works as a freezer (even in the summer in the tropics) or turn it down a bit and it's a reefer. Sips electrical power unlike older and other units that gulp it.

If I built a boat myself or had a custom boat built for me, I would demand 2 drop in units on a shelf! :)

Take from one who has owned the same boat for many years, it's a LOT better if you can simply remove an older or broken unit, and just drop in a new one that uses half the power the old one did!! :D

Greg
 

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islander bahama 24
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For the conversion you want to do I agree with everyone the engal unit with one addition more insulation and second addition more insulation you will be glad you added more it will even further reduce the power usage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Wow, great feedback guys, thanks. Makes me feel a lot better about a pre-made one :)

For note, the icebox size is 36" long, 30" deep and 20"(inside)+10"(outside) wide.

I have no idea why they would have had an icebox so big and yet so uninsulated, it must have just ATE ice.

I'm also a solo liveaboard, so the fridge doesn't have to be super massive. It looks like a dropin will take up under half the ice box, so I may be able to use the other half as cupboards, or put a mini-freezer in there or something
 

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Not Finished Yet
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We went with the Engel three years ago and do not regret it. My reasons were:

1) the built in ice box is way too big for a mid-30' boat. Will never refrigerate that much stuff and it would take an obscene amount of power to keep it cold. That means more solar panels, batteries, etc. all of which is more $$ and more space.
2) the build in ice box is great storage in a great location. I wanted that to store dry goods, canned goods, etc. I thought that was a much better use of that space on a small boat than a 6 cu ft refrigerator.
3) an Engel is about 1/3 the cost of refrigeration as I figure it (not including cost of extra power needed to run it).
4) Refrigeration means tearing apart and rebuilding the ice box to provide top quality insulation. If you boat is over 15 years old, and you will live aboard in a hot climate, it is not ever worth considering installing refrigeration unless you do this IMHO. That is easily 40+ hours of nasty work.
5) I expect Engel to be much more reliable.

After three years I would still make the same choice. I still feel the same way about all of the above. We love our Engel.
 

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The Engel products all claim much lower power usage(2.5-2.8w/hr at freezer setting) than the Isotherm(6.0), and at a much lower price, although the Engel combination unit is a portable unit rather than a built-in. I think I'll look for a more efficient fridge/freezer drawer model like the Isotherm.
 

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One of None
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only down side of the drop in is eventual service.. means you have to lift it out UNLESS, you can do a remote on the condenser (I'll ck)
 

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The Engel products all claim much lower power usage(2.5-2.8w/hr at freezer setting) than the Isotherm(6.0), and at a much lower price, although the Engel combination unit is a portable unit rather than a built-in. I think I'll look for a more efficient fridge/freezer drawer model like the Isotherm.
If you watch our short (12 min) Youtube video "Energy Monitor Mini Op-Eval" you can see the actual draw in Ah of our Engel unit.

They not only make portable units (we like), they also make a drop in unit that is made to be a built-in, not a portable unit.


Greg
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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The Engel products all claim much lower power usage(2.5-2.8w/hr at freezer setting) than the Isotherm(6.0), and at a much lower price, although the Engel combination unit is a portable unit rather than a built-in. I think I'll look for a more efficient fridge/freezer drawer model like the Isotherm.
It's hard to go wrong with any. but the engel and norcold units use the swing compressor. it's not anything like a a traditional piston compressor like the Danfoss BD which are great but are still higher draw on starting.

Swing motor | Technology


I call em salt shakers :D
 

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I'm using two stand alone ENGELS in my boat. They are not drop in units and take up a little floor space. But, also increase the size of the single bunk on that side of the cabin. I turned the original on board icebox into a storage area after the engine driven refrigeration system went bye bye. Love the Engel products had one for about ten years and bought a second unit this year. I don't think you can go wrong with a Engel drop in if my units are any indication.
 

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It's hard to go wrong with any. but the engel and norcold units use the swing compressor. it's not anything like a a traditional piston compressor like the Danfoss BD which are great but are still higher draw on starting.
There are 2 Norcold icebox conversions that use the swing arm compressor, one for up to 3 cubic feet and another for up to 6 cubic feet. They are made by Engel for Norcold. The other Norcold products use Dan Foss compressors.
 
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