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Old 08-10-2018, 10:38 PM   #1
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Norcold vs. regular refrigerator

Greetings! Thes is my first post, although I've been searching the forums for a little while now. Bought my 45' Hershine about a year and a half ago--my first boat.

It's a 1987, and the appliances could use replacing--#1 is the Norcold refrigerator/freezer (model 461). Boy are they expensive...I know...I'd been warned about the whole BOAT acronym.

I'd love to be able to consider a regular AC refrigerator, since I'm usually plugged in or on my way to be plugged in somewhere. First question please: Has anyone else done this?

The drawback of course is that it doesn't work as long as I'm out on the water. Made me wonder about the possibility of an inverter for this. Would an inverter work on something like a big fridge/freezer? Additional info: I have an Onan 8KW generator.

I appreciate any kind assistance that is offered! Thanks,

Deb

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Old 08-10-2018, 10:49 PM   #2
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Yes.

You want an inverter. Aside from the reefer question, which you will soon figure out, there are simply too many of the things we take for granted in daily life that want 110 AC. If you had a 27 foot sailboat, the answers would be different, but in your class, get the inverter and then assess your power needs from there.
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:11 PM   #3
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:38 PM   #4
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Do you ever want to anchor out?
If not, carry on.
If so, you need to educate yourself about all of the power consumers on your boat, starting with your Norcold ac/dc fridge.
If you will absolutely, never, ever want to spend the night anchored out, you can populate your boat with all manner of ac only appliances.
If you will ever, even just for one night, want to anchor out, none of that AC sh*t will help. You will need bigger batteries, a big inverter, a big generator, and even with all of that, you will still wake up in the morning with flat batteries and will wonder why you ever wanted to try anchoring out.
Once you have a domestic fridge, or freezer, the necessity to keep it turned on and happily consuming huge amounts of AC power will rear its ugly head and keep you happily tied to docks wherever you go, even at wonderful resorts where you will happily pay their $3.50/ft/night.

Or you could go DC only, cut your house bank in half, anchor in free, quiet anchorages for weeks on end.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:07 AM   #5
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Wow, Keith! Quite the rant. I would suggest there is a middle course:

I claim no original inspiration; the energy philosophy of my boat was established when I bought it, and I have only extended those concepts.

I cook with a Wallas diesel stove and oven, heat with a cheery passive diesel parlor stove, and have two substantial isolatable battery banks, no generator. My lights are LED, and my major consumer is a dual-current Norcold. (Oh, yeah, phone/data chargers)

I am currently anchored out for the fourth night, with a total of six hours of run/charge time. The only inconvenience is that my hot shower has to wait until engine shutdown.

But I am looking forward to the Ketchikan Yacht club day after tomorrow.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:27 AM   #6
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Welcome DR.

Options:

1. Don’t anchor as kolive mentioned and get a nice domestic fridge.

2. Up your battery bank and get an inverter and get a nice domestic fridge.

3. Run your generator any time you are away from the dock and shore power. Lots of big boats do this and an 8kw genset will keep an AC fridge happy as well as most of the other AC appliance you may have on the boat. At 8kw, you will need to think carefully about which are running at any given time.

4. Spend the money on an AC/DC fridge and still likely need to up the size of your house bank.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:40 AM   #7
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An inverter would seem to be a standard item on a 45 ft boat even if the owner does not anchor out routinely. Just traveling from place to place the inverter would provide options for electrical use.

As to a residential AC refrigerator, most of the objections to their use do not apply to a boat which lives in marinas with shore power.

The battery bank should be sized to give at least four hours of power for the refrigeration. Shore power is not entirely dependable and it is nice to be able to continue to the refrigeration while shore power is being restored.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay Pelican View Post
An inverter would seem to be a standard item on a 45 ft boat even if the owner does not anchor out routinely. Just traveling from place to place the inverter would provide options for electrical use.

As to a residential AC refrigerator, most of the objections to their use do not apply to a boat which lives in marinas with shore power.

The battery bank should be sized to give at least four hours of power for the refrigeration. Shore power is not entirely dependable and it is nice to be able to continue to the refrigeration while shore power is being restored.

What he said.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:36 AM   #9
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Just a comment ref the thread title: there are several other AC/DC fridge brands... Norcold isn't the only one. NovaKool, Vitrifrigo, Frigoboat, etc. In case that matters.

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Old 08-11-2018, 07:19 AM   #10
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Deb, how will you use the boat? The fridge?
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:35 AM   #11
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Getting back to the OP, I strongly urge you to get a copy of Nigel Calder's "Boat Owner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual". It will walk you through this whole topic. in detail, and in easy to understand language. Plus a wealth of other things. Much better place to start than random opinions of strangers on the internet. Then you can come back here better educated and understand and evaluate our responses much better.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:56 AM   #12
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Many folks soon tire of the dockside Zoo and prefer to anchor out when they can..

If the boat will actually be cruised , anchoring out is the O'nite choice for most.

The quality DC reefers have Danfoss cooling units which is very frugal on DC (battery ) use.

Yes dockside , aground in your own coffee grounds , with a 120 or240 power hose is an inexpensive solution with many dirt house items, but it leaves little alternatives if you wish to use the boat.

A 24-7 noisemaker does work but the lifetime overall cost is almost as much as a dock every night.

M>M,,,, marina to marina is a fine lifestyle some folks choose, eateries , a pool, golf and cable TV as desired.

An inverter will keep a house fridge running , while underway.


Enjoy!
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRocc View Post
It's a 1987, and the appliances could use replacing--#1 is the Norcold refrigerator/freezer (model 461). Boy are they expensive...I know...I'd been warned about the whole BOAT acronym.

I'd love to be able to consider a regular AC refrigerator, since I'm usually plugged in or on my way to be plugged in somewhere. First question please: Has anyone else done this?

The drawback of course is that it doesn't work as long as I'm out on the water. Made me wonder about the possibility of an inverter for this. Would an inverter work on something like a big fridge/freezer? Additional info: I have an Onan 8KW generator.
Congratulations on your boat Deb. That's a beauty, no doubt.
Yes, you can do this (replace your Norcold) with a standard AC refrigerator. Lots of boaters do that.

To power it we use either our batteries connected to an inverter, OR a generator, or plug in at a dock. The generator will also recharge your batteries. Additionally, your own engine's alternator will also put power into the batteries.

I wrote a series of articles on this topic recently that may be of help.
Powering the Refrigerator article on janice142

Now the suggestion to get Calder's is a good one too. He is an amazing guy -- knows loads more than I ever will.

Good luck. What you want to do is being done. It all comes down to money, and how you wish to solve the issue.

A less expensive refrigerator and a larger back-end to supply the power
OR
A more expensive refrigerator that negates SOME of the power supply issues.

Dollars to donuts, it turns out to be about the same $$ either way.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:37 PM   #14
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Just a general question....
I've heard house refrigerators don't like the motion on boats. Something about needing to be level to work properly.... I guess 'marine' units might be made differently ??
I do know we used a "dorm" fridge one time. Lasted about 1 season. But it was a cheap one too..
Ideas ??
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:51 PM   #15
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As others have mentioned, lots to learn about the terminology. Most better units will have a comparable number based on a standard test and measured in kilowatts per day or per year. How you make and possibly store your power is a different subject. The point about comparing units actual power consumption is that while there is a difference in efficiency for most modern units, it's not a multiple.

Where this leads you to is how you generate and store your electricity. As an example, if you plan to anchor for weeks and live off solar and wind generated power, the efficiency of your refrigerator will be critical and can hugely impact your investment in wind, solar and batteries. Alternatively, if you cruise in an area where climate control (air conditioning) is required most of the time, then a continuous supply of generator power when underway means refrigerator efficiency is relatively meaningless. As with many here on the forum, I fall sort of in the middle. While I may anchor out for several days, my normal cruise mode is to only sit for a day or two before cruising a day. My boat is setup with a 900 amphour battery bank. I can usually sit for a day and only recharge the batteries when cruising the next. If I use the microwave (through the inverter) a fair amount, I may need a little generator time to recharge the batteries.

This fall I will likely be switching from my Norcold to a slightly larger apartment refrigerator / freezer ($600). Part of the motivation is frost free and a thermostat that holds temperature regardless of refrigerator contents. While my Norcold still works, it's getting old and the non replaceable door seals leak. While I believe the power consumption with the apartment refrigerator running though my pure sine wave inverter, will be about the same or better than my current refrigerator, I feel I will get a better product (with modern conveniences) for about half the price.

Your situation and parameters will likely vary from mine, so you need to do your own evaluation. For me , the option has some very nice up sides and fits into my boats electrical systems without modification.

Ted
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:56 PM   #16
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I have no problem with household applicances.

I think the Great Harbors all have household appliances, and noone can argue that they are dock queens.

What you need though is to as AKPROF indicated get an inverter if you plan on being away from shore power for any length of time. Or get a Generator, or both.

DC “marine” appliances are in my opinion over priced for the performance ytou get. They are tied to theold fashioned concept that a boat is a DC system.

That is just not the case any more.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:21 PM   #17
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:35 AM   #18
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We have a apartment sized 10 cu ft fridge with icemaker on the boat. Powered by a 3000 MSW inverter or gen. 3 years in and in violent seas has been perfectly fine. Bought it at HDepot, made by Whirlpool. I installed the optional icemaker. Nice sized freezer on top, cold ice cream and ice.

Before that it was a GE model new in 1985.

A home fridge is not going to be as good as a marine fridge, it will make all sorts of noises, get rusty, spill water out the bottom, pumps will fail and the food get hot, paint will peel off doors, sheet metal is paper thin, have no decent warranty, technician will refuse to work on it cause its not latest model, too old to find parts, or they don't have a clue what they are doing, refrigerant will leak out of the lines, take a very long time to cool down the food, break down when you least expect it, the food will go flying off everywhere, the doors will fly open whacking your kid in the head, it will electrocute you when it gets wet, it will heat up the cabin, inside plastic parts will snap off due to violent boat rocking, no ice maker, no automatic defrosting, food gets buried deep into it and becomes lost. OH WAIT a sec, I am describing a marine fridge with a sea water heat exchanger...
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:30 AM   #19
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"I've heard house refrigerators don't like the motion on boats. Something about needing to be level to work properly.."

40 years ago Propane reefers needed to be level , but that is long past.

Today if you dont roll lot of bed its levelenough.

Modest motion actually helps this style of reefer to cool.

The big hassle with house boxes is they are built to have the biggest interior , which reduces insulation space and forces the requirement to heat the insulation daily to keep it working.

K street has worked to keep the insulation heating electrical use out of the annual power requirement sheet , stuck on the door of new units.


Caviat Emptor.
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Old 08-12-2018, 06:32 AM   #20
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One of the difficult things is figuring out exactly what the power consumption will be when operating off the battery.

Some appliances just don't have the amperage so we guess a bit.

12v is pretty simple:
If it's a 10 amp appliance, then you consume 10a running it for an hour.

120 is tricky (thru the inverter)
If it's a 10 amp, it will consume 100a of 12v power, plus the inefficiency of the inverter. How do we figure that?

If your battery is a 200 amp hr battery, you can only use 50% of that before needing a recharge so you have 100 amps to use.

So with the above 12v appliance you can get 10 hours of use.
With the 120v appliance you can get 1 hour of use, less the efficiency loss.

Does this sound right?

====
Now, when we figure out our need, we can figure out how big of battery bank we need to operate between charges.

I'm currently in the process of trying to figure out how to increase my battery bank (different post).

For the OP, once you know your power needs, you'd be able to figure out what supply you need.
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