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Old 11-01-2018, 10:49 PM   #1
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My new Apartment Refrigerator

A little background:

I had a Norcold DE/EV 0061 7.0 cuft AC/DC refrigerator. The gasket on the freezer door didn't seal completely necessitating that I defrost it every one to two weeks. The gasket isn't sold separately, but you can buy the whole door assembly for a princely sum. I had my suspicion that it was an energy hog, but never did an extensive consumption test. This is an older unit, and I'm led to believe the newer ones have Danfoss compressors, are more efficient. Also, I felt that if there were 4 of us cruising, the size was a little small.

So I started looking at other marine / RV refrigerators. They start around $1,500 for similar size and go up from there. No information is available for how good the insulation is or real power consumption numbers such as the standard USA Energyguide. Simply, you spend a lot of money and hope the salesman / brochure aren't lying too much.

Decided it was time to start looking at alternatives. There are quite a number of apartment refrigerators that start around $350 and have the USA Energyguide, so you have some idea of how efficient they are. While doing my research, I found that some units are FROST FREE.

Going with an apartment refrigerator adds several hurdles. Most RV / marine refrigerators front surface mount and are less than 24" wide. Most apartment refrigerators are free standing and are 24" wide or greater. Almost none of the apartment refrigerators are designed to be built into a cabinet. Then there is the power supply issue. Didn't find any apartment refrigerators that used 12 volts DC. Last issue is locking doors. Apparently apartment refrigerators aren't subject to pitching and rolling. Pulling out the Norcold and replacing it with an apartment unit wasn't going to be plug and play.

You probably guessed by the title of the thread that I found one and made it work, and you would be right. Did a lot of research and made a ridiculous amount of measurements. Looked at lots of units, formulated remodeling plans, and then started all over again. Here's what I bought:

Summit Appliances FF1119B

It's a 10.0 cuft FROST FREE refrigerator with a "Most Efficient" energy rating for 2017. Now the fun starts. Put a 10 cuft refrigerator in the same place where a 7 cuft unit was.

Here are the only 2 pics I have that show the Norcold. Notice the drawer underneath the fridge, about worthless.

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Removal was pretty easy as I'd had it out during my refit project. Too get the new one in, the drawer had to go. New rails to set the unit on had to be fabricated (cut and mounted some 2 X 4s).The trickier part was cutting 3/8"+ off the teak trim on the left side of the cabinet and peeling some laminant off the inside to make it wide enough.

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In this last pic you can see the Starboard stops at the end of the rails that limit backward travel. Also, you can see the airflow path in the front. Air goes under an original wood piece in the front, up over the bottom of the cabinet, between the rails, under the refrigerator and compressor, and then up the back across the condenser. Using rails instead of a solid piece of plywood was critical for airflow and cooling.

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Next part is cooling a unit that isn't designed to be built in. The manufacturer is emphatic that this unit can't be built in! I like a challenge! Above the back of the refrigerator is the seat back in the pilothouse. An air conditioner vents through a slotted board atop the back of the seat. I opened the slots up for the AC and put a divider in so I could use some of the slots to vent the refrigerator.

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In the space below the slotted board, I bored a hole to mount a 4"+ fan to provide ventilation.

AC Infinity Fan

This fan is very quiet (18 dBA) and uses 1.6 watts of electricity.

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End of 1st post. I need to get to bed as I'm getting underway at 7am tomorrow, moving my trawler to FL. Will try to post the second half tomorrow evening.


Ted
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:49 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr.OC. Nicely done.
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Old 11-02-2018, 02:48 AM   #3
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Ok, so now you have us interested so we need more info and photos...
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:53 AM   #4
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Nice job. My guess is that you may not need the fan. Should cool by convection. After you have finished, test your new fridge and let us know the result.
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Old 11-02-2018, 09:56 AM   #5
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You are going with 120vt?
I am trying to stay with a 12vt fridge.....
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:47 AM   #6
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You are going with 120vt?
I am trying to stay with a 12vt fridge.....
That's where inverters come in handy
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:59 AM   #7
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That's where inverters come in handy
Not for those of us that turn off our inverters when anchored for the night.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:13 AM   #8
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Get a better inverter....mine uses 0.7A/hour in standby mode overnight.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:37 AM   #9
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Get a better inverter....mine uses 0.7A/hour in standby mode overnight.
If in standby and not used it is 0.7Ah wasted

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Old 11-02-2018, 11:45 AM   #10
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Not for those of us that turn off our inverters when anchored for the night.
Well those of you wouldn't be doing that anymore if you had 120v refrigeration to keep running, now wouldn't you?
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:45 AM   #11
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That's where inverters come in handy
Oh joy, another dedicated inverter. The object is to have the fridge totally independent of the rest of the boat. I have 3 inverters on board now. The main 1500 watt inverter, a 300 watt inverter supporting one TV and a 120 vt outlet in the saloon and a 400 watt inverter supporting the fwd stateroom and TV. I shut them all off when I leave the boat for my 2 month visit in Atlanta.
At some point, the inverts' draw will exceed the capacity of the 3x4D batteries.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:46 AM   #12
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Ventilation is key to a refer working well. I added a 50 mAmp fan to blow air in low to my refer compartment and added an exit vent on the top of the compartment. The refer will now freeze ice cream and works much better overall.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:47 AM   #13
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More information:

So here's what it looks like installed and the Energyguide label.

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Basically, I had to widen the opening to a crumb over 24". Removing the drawer below gave me the vertical height I needed. The unit also had to go 3 to 4" further into the cabinet. The body of the refrigerator is flush with the cabinet and the door sticks out about 3". I'd like to tell you everything was right on the first insertion, but it wasn't. I think it went in and out 4 times as the clearances are about 1/16" and the rails needed to be square with the sides and the cabinet opening.

So what holds it in place? There are stop blocks on the rails that keep it from going further back. There is a stop block on the left front rail to keep it from coming forward (door hinge was in the way on the right side). Both sides have almost zero clearance from top to bottom. What's left is for it to tilt forward or backward. While I may fit a wood strip between the top front of the fridge and the cabinet opening, it probably isn't necessary. Simply, the friction from one side or the other of refrigerator touching the inside of the cabinet wall, makes it almost impossible for 2 people to intentionally tip it.

Wanted to get these pics posted before I lose bandwidth. More to come.

Ted
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:51 AM   #14
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Watching your post Ted, as I too am tired of the “Marine Rated” fridge.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Get a better inverter....mine uses 0.7A/hour in standby mode overnight.
Question: Why would one shut the inverts at night on the hook?? That is why we have inverters, so as to avoid running the gen at night unless, one needs A/C or heat. We can always start the gen the next morning to recharge the batteries as we cook breakfast or let the solar panels slowly charge the batteries.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:59 AM   #16
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Ted, looks like a clean installation. You are satisfied with the ventilation across the coils?
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:18 PM   #17
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Awesome post, great pics. Never thought about adding a cooling fan to the back of the refer for air flow.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:40 PM   #18
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Now to the components:

Ventilation was a big concern. The condenser is a tube grille on the backside of the refrigerator. This is why it couldn't be built in. Built in home refrigerators have the condenser mounted under the refrigerator with a fan to push heat out into the room. For my installation, the air would travel under the unit, cool the compressor somewhat, travel up the back of the unit cooling the condenser, and exit out the top. I considered making the hole where the fan is, larger and letting the space thermal siphon. Both a heating loop and an air conditioning system are in close proximity to the space, so I opted for a continuous air flow. The fan I installed has ball bearings and a 7+ year continuous duty life expectancy. The remaining airspace within the cabinet is 24" wide, 6" thick, by 120" long, or about 10 cuft. (Probably significantly less). Whatever amount of airflow I have left from the rated 65 CFM fan, should remove the air (heat) from that space several times per minute. I considered wiring the fan to the compressor and decided the additional circulation probably saved more compressor electricity than the fan consumed. The fan is 3 speed and is currently running on the lowest quietest setting. I did extensive air flow testing. Set a half sheet of paper towel over the slots. The CFM was sufficient to lift the paper towel up and off the slots. Saw no need for further testing.

Next up is the power supply.

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Old 11-02-2018, 12:52 PM   #19
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Looks really great, Ted. I'll be interested in your long term results, too.

When I installed my second fridge, the instructions noted that the heat was dissipated by airflow on the unit sides. I have noticed the heat on the left side of the fridge panel (but not the right side) and have open access on all sides for this heat transfer.

Do you feel any heat buildup on the sides after prolonged operation?
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Old 11-02-2018, 01:43 PM   #20
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Power supply:

The power supply was actually quite simple. The over thinking, researching different inverters, considering and rejecting backup systems and transfer switches was the hard part. Let's start with what I have. I have a Magnum Energy 2812 pure sine wave inverter battery charger. It stays on 24/7 switching seamlessly from inverter to battery charger whenever it senses generator or shore power. I've stopped turning the inverter off at night as it consumes so little power out of my 900AH battery bank. For the refrigerator I consider a separate smaller inverter, a transfer switch in case the second inverter failed, and finally the logic of separate redundant electrical systems versus a transfer switch. After extensive calculations, probability studies, and weighing infrastructure costs versus likely failure rates, I just switched the refrigerator outlet to the tranfer breakers on the inverter. I have seamless power for the refrigerator. The fan's 1.6 watt power consumption seems to be within the inverter's minimum consumption (inverter doesn't know it's there). The conclusion I came to was that there was no energy savings for using a smaller 2nd inverter. The redundancy plan is to simply run the generator until reaching shore power. Will talk more about energy consumption later. The old refrigerator ran off the battery bank when 120 VAC wasn't available. The new unit does the same (through the inverter), only uses significantly less.

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