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Old 05-09-2009, 08:31 AM   #1
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Refrigration and Trawlers

I'm in the preliminary stages of searching for a trawler in the 34 to 38 ft range. In searching I have found a couple of different configurations as refrigeration is concerned.

Since I'm looking for comfort and convenience (I currently have a sailboat and am getting a little tired of the work necessary to move the boat) I like those trawlers that have what appears to be a full or nearly full size fridge, similar to what are used in homes.

Not knowing much about refrigeration (I have a DC system on my 29' sailboat that I only run when the alternator is running so as not to drain the batteries)* do these rather large units run on DC, propane, AC or what. And are they practical to use without running the generator all the time or being hooked up to dock power.

Some boats have what I believe is a cold plate system that runs on DC power, is very efficient and is powered up for only a couple hours a day. Only down side to these units I believe is that they are like coolers and you have to dig around to find what you want.*

Any body want to start a discussion on the different types of refrigeration commonly found on trawlers? I live in the Tampa area where hot weather would probably require an efficient system.

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:54 AM   #2
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim, There are probably as many different refrigeration systems on these boats as there are different boats. For the size range you are looking at you will probably find a few types. Ours is a front loader RV style that runs from 120 volts, 12 volts or propane. This is called a 3 way and it is available in a "marine" configuration with 120 volt and 12 volt. I doubt we will ever use the propane function and at some time will disconnect it. There are similar units that are only 120 volt which will need shore power or generator or 12 volt models which will use a fair amount of battery power and the batteries will need constant charging. Many of the 12 volt/120volt systems are simply a unit with a built in inverter that converts 12 volt to 120 volt and switches to 12 volt when shore power is disconnected. Others are actually two separate power systems. Any boat you buy may have any one of these systems. Chuck
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Old 05-09-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim,Our vessel came with a Norcold 7.5 cu ft unit when we purchased her a few years back. Around Thanksgiving year before last the compressor would not come on. I "teed" into the low pressure line and found the freon was OK. A few other checks confirmed the power supply was the problem. The unit was only a few years old- but as I recall the cost for this part was more than we should spend. We searched online, etc. for a house style replacent to replace this unit (it never cooled that well) with no success. Online reviews for the Norcold were not favorable- so we ordered an 8 cu ft Dometic unit to replace it. During the winter months it seemed to do OK but last summer it was obvious that it was not cooling well. I read the directions*and found out how important proper ventilation was to this unit. Both were cold plate units. I added venting low and high (3 sides are enclosed which is common)which has improved the cooling ability. I will probably space it out from the rear wall another inch- the recommended distance.*
Conclusion:
8 cu ft is about the biggest unit out there that I found readily available. We boat on the Gulf Coast and when we have more than 4 of us onboard I like to keep one ice chest for drinks and a smaller on for meats and grill goodies. On a Friday evening when everyone arrives you could overwhelm the cooling ability of our unit if you did it otherwise. Both of our units were 120/ auto 12 volt.
When you are shopping I would consider if the room is available to install a home unit. The cost is signifigantly less and it will cool much better. Our galley down does not have the room. We run the gen set almost 100% when we are away from the slip (sorry FF) so the ability to cool with 12 volts is not a big plus. Good luck in your search!
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:40 AM   #4
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

POWER is the problem , and either you are dockside with a power hose , or you are working hard at attempting to have a fridge.

I Used to work for Adler Barbour , so am familiar with every imaginable setup.

The RV unit , with a boat modification is to me the best on earth for any boat that cruises from the dock for more than a day.

The propane is wonderfull as the vessel can sit on a mooring for months at a time , and the ice cream will still be frozen .

The hassle with propane is it is heavier than air, the solution is to install the fridge/freezer in a pan or tray that vents overboard.

A PIA perhaps , but silence is golden .

On LUCY , it was a snap, the 10x15 after deck drains overboard , with no air connections to the bilge , so a weatherpruf box holds the unit, DONE.

On our Box Boat on the drawing board & model test , we simply located the fridge slightly higher to assure overboard draining , no matter what.Easier sure on a clean sheet design , but very do able in most any boat.

IF the noisemaker is on 24/7 , (a requirement if you cruise in HELL , and most recycle canned air all season) a cheapo house fridge does work.

But BEWARE , the new refrigerants suck , so the MFG have made the units "more efficient" by downsizing the compressor , as 24 hour operation on slight loads gives better Fed numbers than a real compressor.

SO 24/7 they work , but shut many house sets off overnight , and the 16 hours of electric provided may not be enough.

This is a subject that DEMANDS you FIRST have a realistic concept of your use of the vessel, and the compromises you will endure .

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Old 05-10-2009, 07:00 AM   #5
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

I do not want to run a generator 24/7. It's just not practical and from the sounds of it an RV type front opening fridge running on 12v would require constant battery charging so the generator is running a lot on that system as well.

I currently have a 12v Adler Barber system, probably the cheapest one they make, and it works OK, but as I mentioned I don't run it without the alternator running to prevent the batteries from draining.

Propane as FF mentions is a possibility that I would consider. How much propane do these systems use? Can you go a week or so between refills on a 20 lb tank or do I need to run a gas line from the gas company to the boat? Is a propane detector mounted low in the boat in several places a possibility to detect leakage.

2 other options may be a possibility.

A cold plate system that runs 2 to 4 hours a day on DC power. It would require recharging the batteries but certainly not running the generator most of the day like the other AC and DC systems would require. I think many long distance sailors have a cold plate system. Anybody know about these, the good and the bad.

The second possibility is an ice maker. Make ice for 2 to 3 hours a day and fill your cooler. Only run the generator when the ice maker is working.

I live in Tampa so I have the additional issue of overcoming the summer heat. A well insulated ships cooler is a must for any type of refrigeration system. I doubt the RV style units have much insulation and are designed to run 24/7. These systems unless they can be further insulated are not practical for those not wishing to run a generator all the time.

So with my limited knowledge it seems my choices are propane, an ice maker or an efficient cold plate system.

Please, more comments.

Tim
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:07 AM   #6
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim, You talk about a trawler in the 34 to 38 foot range. If you go with your plans you will need to make some serious modifications, you are not going to find a boat already set up in any of these ways in most cases. That means finding the space and modifying cabinetry already there. Not saying it can't or should not be done, just saying keep this in mind. Space on boats of this size range is at a premium. I would forget trying to get an icemaker to supplement the fridge. It is going to be too complicated, and a resource hog. As you already know, a 12volt system like Adler Barber that is not run all of the time will require a lot of insulation to be efficient so in the end you are going to have a very small box. Good luck with your choices. Chuck
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:59 AM   #7
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Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim:

Our ice maker is under the TV...We removed two big drawers, added a 110 receptacle and a 1/4" water line. Piece of cake! Both the ice maker and the refrigerator are AC* only, so we use the inverter while underway. Works great!

-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Sunday 10th of May 2009 11:01:48 AM
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:01 PM   #8
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Refrigration and Trawlers

Quote:
SeaHorse II wrote:

Tim:

Our ice maker is under the TV...We removed two big drawers, added a 110 receptacle and a 1/4" water line. Piece of cake! Both the ice maker and the refrigerator are AC* only, so we use the inverter while underway. Works great!

-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Sunday 10th of May 2009 11:01:48 AM
And that was my point, You lost two big drawers of storage. If you can afford to lose that and ice is important than it is a good plan, but to add an icemaker simply to supliment the fridge might not be the most effecient way to keep your meat. As I understood Tim he wanted to add an icemaker to make ice to put in the fridge to keep it cold so he would not have to run the fridge, but I might have misunderstood. Chuck


-- Edited by Capn Chuck on Sunday 10th of May 2009 12:05:55 PM
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:38 AM   #9
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

The DC (or AC with an inverter) power required problem is NOT solved with a cold plate.

The time at which you can reinstall the cold is up to you , but the dailt total HP por amps remains the same.

Sailors will use the engine drive , 10 hp compressor on a belt that finally tapers to a half hp or so when the plate is 10F below the eutetic freezing point , and held there long enough.

I figure most systems require at least 100A of 12v to be provided every 24 hours , PLUS what is needed for system loss , batt set recharge , and cooling from opening doors or adding food.


With a noisemaker 24/7 or a shore power hose its EZ,

Otherwise its 3 - 75W solar , and life long sunshine !
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:34 AM   #10
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

OK, I'm learning here. The ice maker option may not work on a 34 to 38 ft boat. I don't know how much space these units require but as several of you have mentioned, space is at a premium. The Adler Barber 12v unit on my sailboat does not take up much room, but it doesn't cool a very big cooler either.

For those who have a unit that requires a constant run of the generator or engine/inverter, that is not my desired setup. I visit a couple of anchorages on the west coast of FL where others would frown on a constantly running generator.

Insulation of course is the key. However, I guess it's not practical to insulate an RV style front opening fridge, or is it?

FF mentions in a previous thread that propane is efficient and could run for 2 months on a 20 lb tank. This would seem perfect. I'm guessing there's more to the story. Capn Chuck mentions that his front loader RV style runs on 120/12v or propane but doesn't use the propane option. Why not Capn Chuck? I know the dangers of propane, but if properly installed and monitored it should be OK, right? Are propane detectors available??

Going off topic a little here, why don't I see trawlers with wind generators. This would seem like a good option for those with a DC fridge.

Tim
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:00 AM   #11
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Depending on your location wind is often your best source for on the hook power. Why you ask, because it's easier albeit more expensive to turn on the genny.
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim, we would prefer to use the 12 volt function of the fridge as oppose to propane. That is just our preference and in setting the boat up for cruising, recharging the batteries at anchor will be a priority. Replaceable battery power is better for us than another propane device. A propane sniffer is a must if you have ANY propane appliances aboard. If you have gone to our Sea Trek site you will find we have done some extensive cruising on our 40 foot sailboat so we have been down this road. We see many trawlers with wind generators and solar panels, you just won't see them on cruisers that really don't cruise much or spend a lot of time in marinas. The generator is also why you don't find wind or power too often and we will install a generator on our trawler. You don't need to run it all the time. If you are under way the engine alternator is keeping the batteries topped off while the fridge is running. In the evenings the generator is usually run for a few hours for running appliances and of course keeping the batteries topped off. Once shut down for the evening, which most do, the fridge will use very little battery power, again depending on its efficiency, if your house banks are big enough. You can indeed add solar and wind, you will just need to find a practical place to mount them. And another question will be, are you doing all of this to cover you at anchorage occasionally and be at the dock a majority of the time or do you plan to be anchored out most of the time? Chuck
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:56 AM   #13
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

I have a Rich Beers refrigeration system on my boat. The cold plates are in the freezer, and a little 12V muffin fan blows air from the freezer into the fridge part when the thermostat over there calls for it. It's a 110V system, so I have to run the genset maybe 3 hrs/day to keep things cold. During that time, the charger is on, and we do anything else that requires 110V. If we're underway, I have an engine mounted generator that supplies this power, so the only time we have to run the genset is when we're stationary. I love it!

Oh yea, if you don't open the doors much, it can last a long time. We had a fire on the pier a couple of years ago. After 48 hours with no power (and no openings) the freezer was at 33F.
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Old 05-12-2009, 07:04 AM   #14
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Refrigration and Trawlers

Capn Chuck, you ask if I will anchor or dock at a marina the majority of the time. With our sailboat we seldom dock and are on the hook almost all the time. I'm assuming when the time comes to use a trawler we will probably do the same. I enjoy being somewhat self sufficient and not paying to stay at a public dock with the attendant noise and such.

Since I don't yet have a trawler and the electrical system is not yet known, I'm trying to determine how much of a priority I will put on the refrigeration system. My feeling right now is there are other things that will take priority and I will either change or live with what I have. However having the knowledge I've gain from talking to you folks will give me a heads up on what I'm up against when I decide on a trawler. My ultimate goal is in a couple of years to do the loop with a trawler that is comfortable for 2 and an occasional visiting couple. We definitely will be on the hook most nights, but will certainly use marina facilities when appropriate. Aside from that we will also cruise extensively the FL area since we live in Tampa.

My sailboat has 2 group 27 gel cells. I generally don't run the adler barber without the engine running as I've found that the fridge will use up the single battery in a matter of a couple of hours. Keeping in mind that the ships cooler has no additional insulation and the adler barber in my opinion is probably the cheapest one they sell and is certainly not very efficient. I think the previous owner wasted his money installing the unit.

I'm curious if most trawlers in the 34 to 38 foot range have gas or electric stoves. My guess is both are used extensively. Again trying to be as self sufficient as possible, but being reasonable, I would prefer a propane stove because it heats quicker and no generator is running. However I suppose with a properly sized inverter perhaps an electric stove will work without the generator running. For you folks who use electricity for most things how big an how many batteries do you have to power everything like refrig and stove. I know AC is only available with the generator running.

For you folks with knowledge of propane, what's the down side? It sounds like it's pretty efficient using perhaps a 20# tank to run the refrig for a month or two of continuous use. Sloboat has a good idea in using an RV style refrigerator using either propane or DC, and a DC cold plate freezer. Perhaps some modifications would be necessary but it sounds like something to look into.

Tim

-- Edited by timjet on Tuesday 12th of May 2009 07:10:08 AM
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:02 AM   #15
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Refrigration and Trawlers

Perhaps I'll rethink the propane refrigerator system. Click on this link to find out why:

http://www.multihullsmag.com/magazin...%20article.htm

Tim

-- Edited by timjet on Tuesday 12th of May 2009 09:21:23 AM
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:33 AM   #16
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Tim, Our propane stove runs for about 8 weeks on a 20# tank and the wife bakes a lot. I doubt you will find an inverter that will run your electric stove and you will need batteries for however much power you will use. That means determining the power usage for everything on board, how long you need to run equipment and how you will recharge it. Every boat is different. You will need to take a complete systems approach and you won't be able to do that until you get the boat, see how it is equipped and what you plan to add. Anything at this point will be pure speculation and you might be close or miles off base. Right now, trying to find answers to those questions is like trying to answer, how long is a piece of string?
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:34 AM   #17
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

Cousin Vinny,

The issue here is the inherent danger of a constantly running pilot light and propane device that cycles on and off as needed. Obviously the fridge was not maintained properly, but that can be said of about any equipment on a boat that fails. I had a propane stove with a solenoid shutoff on my previous boat with the tank vented outside and housed in an enclosure that did not share space with the inside of the boat. I had a policy that the solenoid was shutoff anytime the stove was not in use. Even if something failed, it could not create the situation in the story. No solenoid shutoff valve would have saved them if the owner of the boat had not fallen and twisted her arm.
A propane device that cycles on and off 24/7 while in use would in my opinion need to be inspected daily. Especially in a boat that will be closed up with the AC or heater on at night.
After reading this story, I will probably opt for a different type of refrigeration system.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:05 AM   #18
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

"Tim, we would prefer to use the 12 volt function of the fridge as oppose to propane. That is just our preference and in setting the boat up for cruising, recharging the batteries at anchor will be a priority. Replaceable battery power is better for us than another propane device."

This is a very ,very unusual choice as on AC or DC the cooling system in a absorbtion fridge is far less efficient than a compressor style. The RV units will use far more actual energy in use , however it works well for most RV's.

While going down the road the RV has ample DC power so a 25 or 30A DC draw in meaningless.Its just keeping the box cool.

At a campground the AC is "free" , so as long as the air cond and hot water heater function, there is no power concern.

In terms of the BTU used the propane probably isn't very efficient , BUT there are so many BTU in a 20# can that , who cares?
The stove and fridge run a month or two for $11.00 refill, with ease and in silence.

Sure 4 months would be better but,,,, so what?

The usual boat desire for a solenoid valve is because the boat will not drain propane from the bilge. So a solenoid valve (and we install a wind up timer too) is a necessary feature.

Installing the fridge/freezer in an overboard VENTING tray, with the tanks in a venting locker gets rid of the need for solenoids.

We have the fridge on 24/7 since it and the propane tank drain overboard, the STOVE , is on a solenoid as usual boat practice.Additional RED light takes a bit of juice , but reminds the cookie the unit is on.

Remember the solenoid is about 1 amp per hour , usually a minor draw for most onboard cooks.

A genuine BOAT STOVE (not house or RV ) usually has the gas knob operate different from the house stuff.

Turning the boat range ON gets full gas operation and rotating the valve knob reduces the gas supply to a Pre -Set low. What the owner hopes will not blow out from a breeze . Many will also have a thermostatic conterol valve , and turn off the gas if the flame is lost.

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Old 05-13-2009, 05:22 AM   #19
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

"The water heater was removed and
sent back to the importer, to see whether it could be reconditioned after
finding that it was very corroded inside. It was too rusted to be
reconditioned. I decided I never wanted another water heater aboard. Not only
did the water heater seem to be the source of the CO which had nearly killed
the four of us, but it had always been my least treasured propane appliance."

" When the refrigerator was
pulled out, there was a pile of corroded flakes under the pilot. On the
advice of the gas company, Walter sucked corroded metal bits with a shop vac
and then blew out the area with compressed air - and that solved the problem.
Not only did the CO detector not go off again, but we found a boater with
access to a CO measuring device who determined that there were no further CO
problems at the refrigerator - and none at the stove."

" My boating schedule of living aboard and using all my propane devices
intensely during three months of the year and then letting the boat sit
unused while I return to Ohio to teach for nine months of the year, no doubt
has hastened the rate of corrosion in my water heater and refrigerator. These
appliances are only three years old and badly corroded."

"Flakes of corroded metal can accumulate over the pilot of a propane
device, leading to incomplete burning of the propane and a buildup of carbon
monoxide. Cleaning these devices of any loose corroded material at the
beginning of each season is certainly a good idea"

"My refrigerator uses a lot of propane in hot weather and
sometime freezes lettuce in cold weather, but I love it. It keeps me supplied
with ice cubes as well as keeping food and beverages well chilled. I've read
that the difference between a "boat" and a "yacht" is whether you can produce
your own ice cubes. Ice cubes are the most highly rated luxury item aboard
Icon Duet. So, I'll keep my propane refrigerator. The water heater, on the
other hand, is something that I can, and will, do without."


This guy is what passes for a "teacher" these days.Probably another Kollege "teacher".

GOD help our kids , teachers used to have an IQ over room temperature.

Sounds like replacing the thermostat valve is all he needs to do.

The fridge MFG do have PM service in their books , clean the burner and the flue.

For any inside installation DA Book from the fridge mfg. has installation instructions , mostly on how to properly VENT the unit , A thru deck overhead vent from the mfg is about $60 and is needed in a small space like a boat or RV. The Servelle is mostly used in homes so venting is less of a hassle, BUT an RV roof unit will solve the problem if a Servelle is on a boat.

The main reason for venting is Propane creates 1.2 lbs of moisture for every pound burned, so venting it overboard keeps the humidity in the boat lower.

FF
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:08 AM   #20
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RE: Refrigration and Trawlers

FF

You say "Installing the fridge/freezer in an overboard VENTING tray, with the tanks in a venting locker gets rid of the need for solenoids."

I can't see how that is possible. Again my ignorance is showing. So you re saying it's possible to install a propane RV style fridge/freezer or any type propane fridge/freezer that will vent overboard. That seems impossible. How could the propane burner and lines be sealed from the inside of the cabin and be vented overboard and yet allow access to the fridge door from inside the boat. Under the installation you mention if the fridge/freezer pilot goes out or any other reason a leak is created then no propane will enter the cabin?

If this is possible then it should be made mandatory and would have eliminated the near disaster that was described in the above thread.

Tim
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