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Old 11-22-2011, 10:23 AM   #1
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Propane Refrigerator

I have seen in other threads conversations about propane refrigerators on boats.* I have had experience with these in RVs but never on a boat, where */ how are the fumes and heat vented?* Is this just a PNW thing where you like the extra heat?
*
Pictures would be appreciated
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Old 11-22-2011, 11:37 AM   #2
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

I would like to see some pictures as well, I've been told that the gas needs to have a trap (to catch leaks) and a drain to actually drain the gas overboard. I am assuming that the gas is heavier than air and will drain like a liquid. Lots of ventilation for the heat would be desired as well. I am at a toss up between the low energy consuming Sunfrost fridge with batteries/inverter/solar panel and the propane option. Good post, hope some good replies will come of it.
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Old 11-22-2011, 12:07 PM   #3
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

My info may be dated, but in the past my insurance company would not insure a vessel equipped with a propane refrigerator. That may have changed, but I'd certainly check it out.
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Old 11-22-2011, 12:43 PM   #4
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Just had a complete out of water survey for insurance in May of this year, with no problems - I insure with Lloyds.

I have propane for heat(bulkhead); cooking, water heating, refridgeration.
each appliance requires hoses be home runned to the propane locker, in my case a manifold is used to supply all 4 units.
I also have the sniffers and electric shut-off panel.

My fridge is a half size type - i am guessing about 36h x 30w x 30 deep. It also has a small freezer compartment in the upper portion, about 7" high and is the width of the unit.

on the fridge, venting is accomplished by drawing ambiant air through a vent a few inches above the 'pan' and exhausted through a vent at the top of the box that houses the fridge. I also utilize a 12v muffin fan to encourage air movement accross the fins of the cooling unit.

It just so happens that I have a port that is just above the upper vent and during the summer, most of the 'heat' just goes out this window.

My 'box' is pretty much the same size as the fridge except in the back where the venting occurs - it is about 4 inches deeper than the fridge.

The 'pan' is basically a watertight (and vaportight) base with walls that extend up past where the flame is located. The thinking being that propane is heavier than air and in the event of a failure in the auto shut off if the valve were to bleed propane it would fall into this pan.

at the base of the pan is a hose 1 1/2" or so that leads to a thru-hull about 6" lower than the low point of the pan and about 30" off the waterline.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:31 PM   #5
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

I don't know if the propane fridges aboard boats is just a PNW thing. FF uses it I believe and he's Fl.

I know quite a few people that have propane fridges aboard and they love them.

Yes, some insurance companies get upset but most are ok with it as long as the installation has been done properly and includes a propane leak sniffer, and the auto shutdown valve tied to it. There are other requirements but it can be done. Just find out how your insurance co. thinks first and if need be talk to another company.

A small bottle will run a fridge a long time.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:38 PM   #6
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Hmmm, closed too soon and my web connection gets upset at me trying to edit.

Venting will have to be looked at. SOme boats will be fairly easy to set up and some may not be. Can't tell you much here but you may need to modify cabinets, cut a vent in the cabin side.

For electric, 12Vdc, even those fridges will do much better with good venting including the active venting of a small muffin fan so those also need consideration; how to get rid of the heat.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:39 PM   #7
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Propane Refrigerator

We have AC/DC refrigeration on our GB but one of the older narrowboats we hired in England was equipped with a propane refrigerator. Based on that experience I would have to say the propane unit is considerably superior to an electric refrigerator. For one thing, it got things much colder and kept them that way than the electric unit on our GB. It didn't appear to be all that propane-hungry although the Calor bottles on the narrowboats are considerably larger than the bottles used on the typical cruising boat. And the propane refrigerator didn't drain the batteries, which on a narrowboat is perhaps a bigger deal than on a typical cruiser.

But the main advantage to us was how cold it got things. There's nothing like an ice-cold bottle of milk straight from the dairy with a layer of cream at the top.

The only thing I would be a bit leery of is the always-on pilot light, particularly as we run our refrigerator 24/7/365 and have done for the last 13 years. I would want to know before investing in one what kind of 100% reliable safeguards were on the unit to ensure there is no way propane could escape into the boat unburned.*

An advantage of our electric refrigerator is that when we are not at the boat it is running on ground power and as such can be left alone for weeks if we are out of town or something.* A propane unit run constantly would require monitoring of the propane supply with perhaps an automatic tank switchover valve as is used on the narrowboats.**But it would be*a bummer to run out of propane and have everything in the refrigerator spoil and stink.

I don't know about propane refrigeration being a PNW thing.* I have assumed it is actually a very rare thing to have on cruising boats, period.* I have yet to meet a boater up here who has propane refrigeration or hear of a boat that has it.

*


-- Edited by Marin on Tuesday 22nd of November 2011 11:46:24 PM
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:31 AM   #8
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Propane Refrigerator

In Fl , but the propane consumption does not seem to change , same 3 weeks we got in CT and in Canada on the mud run.

Our unit is from the 1960's , modern units use less propane

Propane MUST be set up so a leak can drain overboard, which might be hard to retrofit.

On our Utility we simply placed it in a weatherproof box and it sits outside on our 15 ft self draining after deck.

That location pain getting breakfast goodies , a delight at beer '30 in the PM.

Propane is more difficult on a rag boat as the unit should be in gymbols, but the minor motion on a power boat actually helps efficiency.

THe 3 way RV , Propane ,12V, 120V units work well in port with free 120.

The 12V is really inefficient , fine underway with an alternator , but a 12v compressor unit will be 3-5 times as efficient on a battery.

I would use a Servelle house unit , instead of an RV unit as the insulation is thicker , and its not 3 way , just propane.When in weekend use , we are on a mooring not dockside.

*

*Edited by FF on Wednesday 23rd of November 2011 05:36:19 AM


-- Edited by FF on Wednesday 23rd of November 2011 05:37:35 AM
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Old 11-23-2011, 07:40 AM   #9
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

When I* bought my boat, it came with a Sears 110 refrigerator. That surprised me because the Halvorsen publications mentioned this model having a 12V/110. I called the PO and he said, "yes, I replaced it because the 12V unit didn't get things cold enough. Just turn the inverter on when you're cruising and you will have ice, cold beer and coffee." I thought that this was a pretty lame excuse, not to mention running the inverter all the time when underway, but came to realize that he was a day sailor and always had the boat in a slip and on shore power every night. (As I do!) I did notice that the original wiring for the 12V/110 was still in place for someone wanting to switch back and I've come to love the set up. We don't cruise, there's really no neat places to go down here, but when we take friends out, the 3000 watt inverter and the Sears refer do a great job. It's like we never unplugged from the shore.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:07 PM   #10
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Anyone have any charts or data on how much fuel burn for the newer units? We are doing a complete re-do of our galley includeing flooring, cabinets, basically gut and start over. We have two 20lb tanks and are running new propane hose for galley stove..so, considering the 110v/propane fridge option. We like to anchor out alot and so at night we have to run our inverter to run the 110V fridge we have now. IN the fall and spring when we would rarely run the genset anyways, and we only have to run the inverter to keep fridge cold, would be nice to not use it at all but I am curious how fast it burns thru the fuel....
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:19 PM   #11
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

I have a problem with my 12/110 refer not , cooling properly on hot summer days underway or at the dock. I installed a flat fan that I picked up a Radio shack and fixed that problem, that little fan ran for 20 years before guilt made me change it out, it not is a part of my spares. J.T.Duncan
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:02 PM   #12
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Tim
On our RV, last month, the 110v side failed, so we were on propane till it got repaired. went thru 8 gal of propane in 2 weeks, in warmish weather - 70 deg most days, some hotter, some not. Didn't run the furnace much, or the hot water, so most of that 8 gal was the fridge. Norcold absorption. Compressor fridges might be more or less efficient. At $3.50/ gal, that is $2 per day to run a propane fridge.
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:25 AM   #13
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Propane Refrigerator

Out ancient large unit runs about 18 to 20 days in a 20# bottle refill, standing in the sun on the after deck.

Today a "pound "bag of coffee is 12 oz , and the 20lbs of propane is shorter due to the new filling requirement.

AS a guesstimate , with no added insulation a bottle a month should do.

IF you have the room , adding 2 inches of insulation to the sides might help.

Since you wish to operate dockside on supplied 120V power the Servelle will not work for you.

*

But you might want to look , http://www.servelrefrigerators.com/


-- Edited by FF on Sunday 4th of December 2011 07:28:53 AM
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:45 AM   #14
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Anybody out there who uses a*unit on propane*when away from land/dock refills*for a few weeks?
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:07 AM   #15
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

we carry 3ea. 20# tanks. usually go through 2 on a 60 day trip. Includes water heating, cooking, refrigeration and a little bit of cabin heat.
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Old 12-05-2011, 03:27 AM   #16
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

we carry 3ea. 20# tanks

Ditto, no problem.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:42 AM   #17
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Quote:
Marin wrote:

The only thing I would be a bit leery of is the always-on pilot light, particularly as we run our refrigerator 24/7/365 and have done for the last 13 years. I would want to know before investing in one what kind of 100% reliable safeguards were on the unit to ensure there is no way propane could escape into the boat unburned.*
*There is no 100% safeguards for preventing a leak. I read an internet story about a couple that barely survived a leaking propane refrig on their anchored sailboat. The husband woke up about an hour after going to bed with a severe headache. Went out into the cockpit and immediately felt better. He knew what likely happened and was uable to wake his wife but dragged her topsides. Both survived after a helicopter airlifted her to a hospital. A pin hole leak was found in the plumbing.

It's why I choose diesel over gas and I still have 4 CO detectors, one digital.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:57 AM   #18
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Quote:
JMYSS wrote:
*....curious how fast it burns thru the fuel....
Servel's (Dometic) web site says they burn on the 400 series 8 cubic foot propane refrigerator/freezer, 1.1 gallons per 24 hours with an ambient temperature of 77 degrees.* I asked them about foreign fuel and the higher butane content which doesn't burn as hot as US propane.* When I hear back from them, I'll post their reply.
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:54 PM   #19
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

I'm intriqued with the idea of swaping my fairly new Vitrifrigo AC/DC fridge for a unit that also runs on propane. My boat is set up with a large house bank (960 AH) and a 2000w inverter to handle AC loads, but no generator for recharging. When on the dock or crusing, the fridge runs on 120V AC, but when anchoring, it would be nice to turn off the electric and switch over to gas while on the hook. I'm thinking that the fridge consumes about 60-75 AH daily.*My thinking is that we'd*only run*on gas occasionally, and I would certainly install and operate with caution as a priority -- but probably just wishful thinking because I doubt*that my*yacht policy*(Red Shield) would allow*it. It's the presence of a continious pilot -- not the propane*--that makes them nervous. (Yet what about all those RVers cruising the highways?)**
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:44 PM   #20
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RE: Propane Refrigerator

Quote:
nwboater wrote:
I'm intriqued with the idea of swaping my fairly new Vitrifrigo AC/DC fridge for a unit that also runs on propane.
*How do you like the frige itself?* What size do you have?
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