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Old 25-04-2011, 21:32   #16
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour!

Hi guys,

you know , there is a ' cool ' discussion on the jeanneau forum going on.
Would any of you experts care to elaborate on the subject.
Meaning , what could be the probable cause (and solution) of the problems stated on that board ?
jeanneau owners network - Fridge goes on strike sometimes

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Thanks
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Old 27-04-2011, 03:42   #17
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobs View Post
Hi guys,

you know , there is a ' cool ' discussion on the jeanneau forum going on.
Would any of you experts care to elaborate on the subject.
Meaning , what could be the probable cause (and solution) of the problems stated on that board ?
jeanneau owners network - Fridge goes on strike sometimes

Ps:
My nickname is sailbleu.

Thanks
hi bobs,

I think Rik Kollmann answered it 100%. The LED will tell you the reason for the compressor stopping and it isn't R134a charge!

You are very sure it isn't the power supply but I think there is still a bigger than 50% chance that it turns out to be the low-voltage error. Remove the power connections on the unit, clean and reseat them. Try temporary test wiring directly to the battery; or also good: try while charging your batteries (= higher voltage). But first thing to do is the LED.

About R134a charge: this is much more involved than most think and often the system gets contaminated. For frigoboat units, make sure to purge air out of any hose/line with a little R134a. Also, fill based on frost on evaporator. When the whole evaporator gets frosted during a full cycle, you have enough charge.

Like I wrote earlier in this thread: replace O-rings in the quick-fittings every 5 years.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:22   #18
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

I have a similar issue, but wanted to add a bit to this discussion as I have noticed one other oddity as well.

I have a Frigoboat with the BD50 and keel cooler. It was a water cooled unit, and now is only keel cooled. Do not have any additional filter/drier installed, just the stock Frigoboat stuff.

I installed the keel cooler 1.5 years ago, and thus far, have had no issues. No one has touched the refrigerant in 5 years of basically constant use (except connecting the keel cooler which worked fine and did not release any refrigerant). This is the first ever issue I have had with the fridge in the 5 years I have owned it (it's about 6 years old in total).

About 2 weeks ago, first noticed the issue of the fridge not cooling. After 2 re-powers and starts, and a wait of about 15 minutes between each one, all seemed OK. Ran fine the past 2 weeks. After the first re-start, it only ran about 15-20 minutes and then the same issue occurred however.

Now having the same issue again, and having spent more time diagnosing what is going on. My best guess at this point is moisture (or something) blocking the tube, but I will let the experts chime in (please).

Symptoms: Fridge no longer cools, temperature rises inside. Compressor remains running (at least somewhat as the noise seems slightly different, but I cannot be 100% sure). Any noise in the evaporator disappears (no gurgling that is normal). When I touch the copper tubing going to the keel cooler, it progressively gets cooler over time once things have stopped working (as in, compressor not doing what it should be doing by heating the refrigerant). If I remove power to the unit, and then try to start it again within about 5-10 minutes, the compressor fails to start. I do not get any flashing on the LED put across the + and D terminals however. If I wait more then 10 minutes, the compressor starts OK, and runs normally for a variable amount of time.

The other significant thing I notice, that I don't see mentioned, is that the amp draw on the unit drops a lot as this problem starts to happen. So, the compressor runs OK for a while (sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 1 hour), at about 3.5amps. Then I see the amps start to fall, fairly quickly. Sometimes the amps will bounce back up, but usually they drop down to about 1 amp draw. At which point I shut the whole thing down and wait at least 10 minutes, and start it again as it seems to stay in the non-working state for a long time (have not waited hours however as I need to keep my food cold).

Right now I have no speed control on the unit so it is running at minimum (2000rpm).

Also, while the amps are dropping, I sometimes hear/notice a bit louder pop from the evaporator (loud enough to notice with the fridge door closed).

So, is the amp drop something others have seen with a blockage? Is this to be expected or is my issue something totally different?

I have checked voltage at the controller at idle, start-up, and running, and is always > 12V.

That being said, I guess the only next thing to do is vacuum the system and recharge, right?

I have tapped the line where the capillary tube connects, and the capillary tube which leads back to the keel cooler, but to no effect so far. I will remove everything from the fridge today, defrost the evaporator so I have it clean, and try to further diagnose what is happening.
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:58   #19
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Yes, the circulation has stopped. With the unit running, use a heat gun pointed at the evaporator plate where the refrigerant from the compressor enters (the whole area there) and when this triggers circulation in a couple of minutes (you hear the gurgling sound), then it was moisture freezing. You need to replace the O-rings at every quick-connect, evacuate with vacuum pump (hours, use heat gun to heat all parts, concentrating on evaporator and the small filter) and then charge the sstem with fresh R134a. Tune the charge by observing frost on return line (max. an inch of it outside box or so).

I had the second box (normally freezer) just starting the same symptoms so will be going the procedure too. It totally solved the problem with the first box.

If the heat gun does not restart circulation, there may be debris blocking the line. Replace evaporator and put the big filter/dryer in front of it.

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Old 05-05-2012, 08:29   #20
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Mark, Your post is somewhat confusing lets start over. Compressor has start up problems and when compressor is running there if no cooling.


Start up problem with no flashing LED can only indicate one of the following troubles:
  • Thermostat or its wiring are not closing circuit between module terminals C and T. To check this out place a jumper wire between these terminals.
  • LED is bad or incorrectly installed.
If, LED is working correctly it will flash if one of these conditions is causing a no start problem:
  • Low voltage spike on compressor startup. And no, you can not find this voltage spike condition with a volt meter.
  • Current passing from small control module plus terminal to D terminal exceeds amp on BD50 compressors.
  • Too much refrigerant in system or compressor not accelerating up to minimum control speed of 1850 rpm.
Compressor runs for up to 1 hour with no cooling at 2000 rpm while drawing 3.3 amps and no refrigerant flowing sound in refrigerated box, would strongly indicate refrigerant blockage problem. With moisture blockage evaporator will get refrigerant flow every few minutes creating evaporator to stay cold enough to have condensation on its surface. As long as system is not over charged with refrigerant amperage does drop when blockage occurs and if it is moisture blockage amperage will rise and fall as ice melts and refreezes.

Low on refrigerant will not keep this compressor system from running.
No sound of refrigerant flowing and drawing 3.3 amps after 20 minutes also does not point to very low on refrigerant.

Next step would be to connect a low pressure gauge and record suction pressure, amperage, every 10 minutes and frost line during a one hour run.
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Old 05-05-2012, 16:56   #21
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Thanks for the responses. Here is some additional information to clarify things as well as what I found today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
Mark, Your post is somewhat confusing lets start over. Compressor has start up problems and when compressor is running there if no cooling.
Compressor has start up problems only after the compressor gets in the state of not seeming to move the refrigerant. And, it has start up problems for about 10 minutes after this condition arises. After 10 minutes, the compressor starts again, but after a fairly short amount of time (< 30minutes), the amps drop, and again the refrigerant seems to stop moving. During the time the amps are normal, the cooling in the fridge seems fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
Start up problem with no flashing LED can only indicate one of the following troubles:
  • Thermostat or its wiring are not closing circuit between module terminals C and T. To check this out place a jumper wire between these terminals.
  • LED is bad or incorrectly installed.
I checked the operation of the light by touching negative to the main - on the controller, light worked fine. Re-connecting to D did nothing. The thermostat must be closing the circuit as I can hear the attempted compressor start, but it stop basically immediately. I had checked the resistance across the thermostat, and the circuit was open all night (as the shutoff temp was never reached over night with the issues). I also removed the variable speed board to eliminate that from being a potential issue.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
If, LED is working correctly it will flash if one of these conditions is causing a no start problem:
  • Low voltage spike on compressor startup. And no, you can not find this voltage spike condition with a volt meter.
  • Current passing from small control module plus terminal to D terminal exceeds amp on BD50 compressors.
  • Too much refrigerant in system or compressor not accelerating up to minimum control speed of 1850 rpm.
I don't think its too much refrigerant as I have not added any in 5 years and it has worked fine (no frosting outside of box, just a small condensation drip). As far as voltage spike, as you say, I cannot read this. I was sure hoping for the light to blink, but I tried a few times with no luck.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
Compressor runs for up to 1 hour with no cooling at 2000 rpm while drawing 3.3 amps and no refrigerant flowing sound in refrigerated box, would strongly indicate refrigerant blockage problem.


This is not quite what happens. When the compressor starts again, it works fine for a period of time; this previous night, between 2 minutes and sometimes as long as 20-25 minutes. During this time it was drawing about 3.5amps and I could hear and tell the refrigerant was moving around. Then the amps would drop, and the refrigerant was no longer moving. It is drawing about 3.5 amps when running "normally", and about 1 amp when the refrigerant stops moving. All this was at 2000rpm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
With moisture blockage evaporator will get refrigerant flow every few minutes creating evaporator to stay cold enough to have condensation on its surface. As long as system is not over charged with refrigerant amperage does drop when blockage occurs and if it is moisture blockage amperage will rise and fall as ice melts and refreezes.
If I power down the unit, wait 10 minutes, power it on, the compressor starts normally and the refrigerant flows for a period of time again.

So, as the moisture freezes, the amps will increase? And when it thaws, the amps will go back to normal again? Or am I backwards here? For me I only saw the amps drop down. On occasion, the amps would start to drop, and then go back up to normal for another 5-10 minutes, and then drop and stop the refrigerant.

Sometimes the amps would jump around a bit, but no more then .2-.3 amps, until it would fall off and drop down to only the 1amp draw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
Low on refrigerant will not keep this compressor system from running.
No sound of refrigerant flowing and drawing 3.3 amps after 20 minutes also does not point to very low on refrigerant

Next step would be to connect a low pressure gauge and record suction pressure, amperage, every 10 minutes and frost line during a one hour run.

Today we unloaded the fridge, and let it defrost for about 2 hours as there was buildup on the evaporator which made it impossible to see what was happening.

After these 2 hours, I turned the speed up to 3500 rpm, started it, and it ran fine. I let it run for 45 minutes, and had basically full coverage of frost on the evaporator plate. It ran normally the whole time.

I then let it defrost again for about 30 minutes.

Started again, put food back into fridge, and has been running for about 4 hours with no issues. Box temp is in the normal range, but has not cycled off as of yet. I ran it at 3500 rpm until the temp was about 44F, and then turned it down to about 2250 where we normally keep it.

I had also mentioned that I first saw this issue 2 weeks ago. At which point we also let the fridge rest for a while (> 1 hour), and it then ran fine until yesterday (all at 2250rpm). All night long I was "limping" it along as every time the compressor would start normally, it would only last 20 minutes at most before the amps dropped and the refrigerant seemed to stop moving.

I will try to locate a low pressure gauge to monitor these items and report back. Issue is I was hoping the problem would be persistent today after the defrost so I could try some things, but it has been working normal. I was going to try the heat gun on the evaporator, but it never stopped working.

Nic's issue with moisture seemed to be very consistent, but mine does not seem to be consistent so not sure its the same problem or not.
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Old 05-05-2012, 19:44   #22
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Sounds like LED is hooked up backwards. Positive side of LED should be connected to small+ terminal with negative side connected to D terminal. This has no bearing on problem of refrigerant flow stopping But LED will never blink trouble code if connected backwards.

On air and water cooled condenser systems with normal refrigerant charge a blockage will not prevent these BD compressors from running as access refrigerant will condense and backup into condenser. Keel coolers have little storage for liquid so this would be why your unit is shutting down on over pressure/high amperage. This condition would then produce a three flash LED signal if it were working properly.

A ten minute off period would allow ice to melt and high pressure to be released unloading compressor amperage. The best guess now is somehow there is more moisture in refrigerant than can be captured and held by filter/dryer and extensive dehydration with a refrigerant vacuum pump is required. In some cases this moisture can be refrozen temporarily in liquid accumulator section of evaporator if it can be moved past cap tube and into evaporator. This is only a temporary solution because if evaporator warms up moisture will return to compressor and eventually end up back in cap tube to freeze again.

What bothers me is if this is moisture how did it get there it would not be seawater from keel cooler failure because refrigerant would be lost before water could interior refrigerant circuit. No refrigerant was added to system. If dehydration does not solve the blockage problem it has to be solid material too large to pass through capillary tube's inlet opening and falls free in 10 minutes when pressures across tube are equal again.
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Old 05-05-2012, 21:51   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiltym

Nic's issue with moisture seemed to be very consistent, but mine does not seem to be consistent so not sure its the same problem or not.
No, your problem is exactly the same. Just do the heat gun test to convince yourself.

The inconsistency comes from moisture moving through the system. It comes from leaking quick connects so you loose a little refrigerant on high side and vacuum side lets some moist air in. I bet you have some oil residue beneath connectors from leak.

ciao!
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:55   #24
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
Sounds like LED is hooked up backwards. Positive side of LED should be connected to small+ terminal with negative side connected to D terminal. This has no bearing on problem of refrigerant flow stopping But LED will never blink trouble code if connected backwards.
The light was wired fine. I disconnected the wire from the D (while leaving one wire on the +), placed it on a negative, and the light was OK. I do know the difference .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
On air and water cooled condenser systems with normal refrigerant charge a blockage will not prevent these BD compressors from running as access refrigerant will condense and backup into condenser. Keel coolers have little storage for liquid so this would be why your unit is shutting down on over pressure/high amperage. This condition would then produce a three flash LED signal if it were working properly.
I will wire a light permanently and note this when the condition happens again, assuming I get some blinks next time. Intermittent issues are the most annoying to diagnose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
A ten minute off period would allow ice to melt and high pressure to be released unloading compressor amperage. The best guess now is somehow there is more moisture in refrigerant than can be captured and held by filter/dryer and extensive dehydration with a refrigerant vacuum pump is required. In some cases this moisture can be refrozen temporarily in liquid accumulator section of evaporator if it can be moved past cap tube and into evaporator. This is only a temporary solution because if evaporator warms up moisture will return to compressor and eventually end up back in cap tube to freeze again.
All this makes sense to me, and I agree based on what I know as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann View Post
What bothers me is if this is moisture how did it get there it would not be seawater from keel cooler failure because refrigerant would be lost before water could interior refrigerant circuit. No refrigerant was added to system. If dehydration does not solve the blockage problem it has to be solid material too large to pass through capillary tube's inlet opening and falls free in 10 minutes when pressures across tube are equal again.
Agreed. My next plan of action is to:

Vacuum system.
Check Quick Connect fittings/replace o-rings (although 2 are only 1.5 years old, but 1 is original, about 6).
Replace r134a

See what happens. If this does not fix it, one can only assume it is a debris blockage and have to address it by changing evaporator and the installing a proper filter/drier with the new one. Very annoying Frigoboat does't just include this as part of their setup. The cost is minimal, especially at manufacture time. Oh well.

And thank you very much for your time and thoughts on this. Once I have some results I will certainly pass them along on here.

I am also attaching 2 pdf's I found/recevied from Frigoboat/Veco with some information about this problem. I found them useful as background info and perhaps will be useful to others as well.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:58   #25
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
No, your problem is exactly the same. Just do the heat gun test to convince yourself.
Except now its been running for 18 hours with no issue so I can't do the heat gun test. Believe me, I would have gladly done this anytime yesterday when the fridge was empty and I was trying to get the fault condition to repeat, but no luck. Perhaps I misread your posts, but yours was very consistent in the issue appearing so you had the opportunity to perform this test. Since mine is now running fine, using a heat gun doesn't get me anywhere (although I was hoping it would obviously).

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
The inconsistency comes from moisture moving through the system. It comes from leaking quick connects so you loose a little refrigerant on high side and vacuum side lets some moist air in. I bet you have some oil residue beneath connectors from leak.
There is no oil or oil residue anywhere near the quick connects. Bear in mind that as I added the keel cooler 2 of the quick connects are only 1.5 years old, with new o-rings. So, I the remaining one I did not change would be the suspect, and I will replace o-ring when I vacuum the system, but there is no indication of any type of leak in these areas.
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Old 06-05-2012, 16:33   #26
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I had it run fine for weeks or months at a time, hoping that the small filter-drier got the moisture trapped... the consistency is that when circulation stops, the heatgun alone, while keeping compressor running, restarts circulation. When you switch off and wait, it could have been debris that blocked it and fell back, freeing the system up temporarily.

Compressor, evaporator and keel cooler have both a male and a female disconnect. This means you have at least two old O-rings?

Do you run your system full time?

ciao!
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Old 06-05-2012, 18:25   #27
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

After twenty five years and exposures to hundreds of these capillary tube 12/24 volt systems, fifty of which I designed and manufactured my self, I do not understand why only Frigoboat has capillary tube blockage failures. Has anyone ever heard of an Adler Barbour or Grunert or any other small 12 volt unit with refrigerant flow problems when no one has tampered with refrigerant? I described the first case of problems I was aware of in my 2003 manual on 12/24 volt refrigeration. All of these miseries boaters have gone through are linked to keel cooler condenser modules except a resent Frigoboat unit converted from pumped water to air cooled. Frigoboat is aware of this problem an has developed procedures on how to live with this blockage problem until evaporator assembly can be replaced but there is no guarantee blockage will not occur in replacement evaporator.
If there is a pattern to these problems it seems to be on system operating on live-aboard boats after four years of service. If anyone does replace their evaporator do to blockage I would like to cut it open to solve this mystery. The question is this a design or a quality control problem? I will add faulty O rings to my list at this point anything is possible.
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Old 06-05-2012, 21:27   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Kollmann
After twenty five years and exposures to hundreds of these capillary tube 12/24 volt systems, fifty of which I designed and manufactured my self, I do not understand why only Frigoboat has capillary tube blockage failures. Has anyone ever heard of an Adler Barbour or Grunert or any other small 12 volt unit with refrigerant flow problems when no one has tampered with refrigerant? I described the first case of problems I was aware of in my 2003 manual on 12/24 volt refrigeration. All of these miseries boaters have gone through are linked to keel cooler condenser modules except a resent Frigoboat unit converted from pumped water to air cooled. Frigoboat is aware of this problem an has developed procedures on how to live with this blockage problem until evaporator assembly can be replaced but there is no guarantee blockage will not occur in replacement evaporator.
If there is a pattern to these problems it seems to be on system operating on live-aboard boats after four years of service. If anyone does replace their evaporator do to blockage I would like to cut it open to solve this mystery. The question is this a design or a quality control problem? I will add faulty O rings to my list at this point anything is possible.
For live-aboard use, a lot depends on the circumstances: if one is at some remote island, the quick connectors allow DIY installation and are a blessing. However, when a good tech is around with the tools and supplies, I think soldered connections are much better. This also allows a good filter-dryer to be installed between keel cooler and evaporator. The cost of these quick connects is also very high.

The big problem with the Frigoboat units is the missing filter-dryer. I have seen pics of older models on their Iralian website that do have these installed.

My previous system also froze up at the expansion valve, as did systems on friends boats incl. Danfoss based systems. The heat gun is a good diagnostic tool imho. My theory is that the moisture enters the system with air when the compressor pulls a vacuum on the low side.

ciao!
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:47   #29
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
I had it run fine for weeks or months at a time, hoping that the small filter-drier got the moisture trapped... the consistency is that when circulation stops, the heatgun alone, while keeping compressor running, restarts circulation. When you switch off and wait, it could have been debris that blocked it and fell back, freeing the system up temporarily.
I agree with your theory here. Unfortunately I have not had the failure again, and when I do, the evaporator area is likely full of frozen meat so I am hesitant to put a heat gun on it. But I do think this test would narrow down the issue between moisture and debris as the cause.

For me, easiest thing to do is just vacuum the system and see if it solves the problem as it is too intermittent to get lucky enough for the fridge to be empty and have the problem appear to try the heat gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Compressor, evaporator and keel cooler have both a male and a female disconnect. This means you have at least two old O-rings?
When I installed the keel cooler, I replaced the other o-ring since it was separated to insert the keel cooler into the circuit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Do you run your system full time?
Yes. We live aboard full time except maybe 1 month/year, during which time we do turn the fridge off.


Another data point for Richard. A friend on a boat next to us has 2 Frigoboat Keel Cooler installs, both with BD35's. One a freezer, and one a fridge. The freezer install has a filter/drier installed correctly, the fridge is just standard (not sure why one of his installs got it, and the other not). Regardless, he has had the same issue with his fridge unit as well. He vacuumed it, replaced r134a, and so far it has been fine for about 8 months. Prior to that, also a very intermittent issue, sometimes days, weeks, or months between failures so he still keeps a close eye on it, but so far so good.
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Old 16-05-2012, 11:39   #30
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Re: Bizarre FrigoBoat Behaviour !

I have some more information, although not very good news I suspect.

Trying to figure out the cause for the moisture/debris that is causing my issues.

Today, after the fridge is continuing to show the periodic blockage, i unloaded the bunk so I could gain access to the interior of the keel cooler.

A few bits of information:
Keel cooler has zincs. Zincs look perfect.
External surface of keel cooler looks fine. I clean it every 2 weeks.
Keel cooler is grounded to ships negative/ground.
No water or traces of water are evident anywhere around the keel cooler, only on the keel cooler itself as the residue shown in the photos.
The moisture/residue is fully shown in the photos. Although there is moisture all the way up the entire length of the keel cooler.
The keel cooler was installed Dec, 2010.

So, please take a look at the photos and let me know what you think. Is the keel cooler leaking? Looks pretty suspicious to me.....

Thanks for your continued advice.
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