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Old 07-03-2018, 08:39 AM   #22
foggysail's Avatar
City: Ashland, MA
Vessel Model: 1990 Silverton 40 aftcabin
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 1,180
Originally Posted by Maerin View Post
Apologies for the long post, it's a long-running situation... I hope this epistle from the perspective of a full-time cruiser is helpful to someone who may be on the fence about a fridge decision.

I've had 2 Vitrifrigo DP2600's. The 1st, installed in 2010 at $1200, dropped a control module the day before we were crossing to the Bahamas in 2015. Probably not the most cost effective move, but I replaced it with a new one vs. a repair, not wanting to risk further problems in the Bahamas.
That one started to lose ground during the summer of 2017 as we were cruising in Canada. I replaced the control module on it in Oct; 2 weeks later the condenser fan failed, and even though that was replaced, I had trouble keeping it under 45F. Stinky milk, slimy lunchmeat, limp lettuce and celery. Per VF support, adjusted the constant pressure valve, calibrated the thermostat, still had trouble keeping it below 40F. Took 36 hrs to recover from a defrost, and still wouldn't maintain a consistent temperature. Repair required removing the fridge from the cabinet to gain access to the rear of the machine, a wonderful design. /sarc

After worrying with it for several months, I replaced it this February before we left for 2 months in the Bahamas. This time I went to a Nova Kool. Slightly larger capacity, freezer on bottom, service access from front, front fan so no worry about trapped heat & extra ventilation (which I had provided for both VF's). Also $2600! Wow! It maintains 37F, much more even temps in the box, and the bottom freezer is really nice. OK, if it works, it's worth the price tag.

We were in the Bahamas 5 weeks and it started getting warm. Really???!! Called Nova Kool, the control module software, per NK support, "can be moody". Tripping out on compresser start fail, low voltage, had a new updated module flown in from Lauderdale. In the interim, just to eliminate any potential of voltage problem, I ran a new 12V supply in #8 since I had it on hand. It was marginal at #14.The new module worked, but was still plagued with compressor start faults. I checked the thermostat, it had flakey resistance, tapping on the housing sent it skittering all over the scale. Still in the Bahamas, I wired in a spare digital stat (W1209) and it has been maintaining 36-38F in the fridge, 17-20 in the freezer. Huzzah! It's working! It still needs to be defrosted frequently in real humid weather, maybe every 2 weeks, and I have not replaced the OEM thermostat yet. What a PITA. To its credit, it is somewhat easy on the batteries, but I am DONE with "marine" refrigerators. Pay a premium for the ability to run on 12V, and suffer a HUGE penalty in performance- and still be obliged to defrost the damned thing every couple weeks. So that's my experience with Vitrifrigo et al. Sorry you asked?

If I had it to do over, despite my aversion to 24 hr inverter operation (it eats up about 70AH/day in standby/parasitic loads), I would gladly endure the additional daily AH to have refrigeration that is not an attention whore, and maintains an appropriate temperature. Frost free?? on a boat??? Nirvana! Even a point of use inverter would be better. I saw an 11 cu. ft. fridge at a home center, $345. Frost-free! Geez, I could buy one a year and be ahead of the game with the VF's.

My recommendation would strongly be to buy a standard domestic, non-marine apartment fridge and perhaps its own dedicated inverter if you don't have a large inverter installed. So it may require some cabinet work, a small price to pay for the reliability gained!


We enjoy a Summit apartment fridge that I installed over 10 years ago. Ice cream always brick hard, interior light plus self defrost. What an improvement over a Norcold that I replaced.

There is an aversion by many to apartment fridges on their boats for a couple of reasons. Loss of efficiency by needing an inverter and physical sizes available. I installed 4 each 295 watt solar panels along with 860 AH of battery capacity so I could care less about efficiency plus we are not a full time cruiser.

The next gotcha relates to the physical sizes to pick from today. Back when I purchased our domestic fridge there was an abundance of fridges to pick from that had physical sizes comparable to our failed Norcold. Not so today! So a domestic unit might require doing some cabinet work for an installation.

Now of course those with large enough boats to accommodate today’s available choices plus having an adequate power source should seriously consider following your above example. Long live the domestic fridge!!!
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