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Old 04-01-2007, 12:08   #1
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Custom vs Factory Build Frig/Freezer

I need some help from you gurus here, because I'm either not getting it (quite possible) or haven't seen it specifically addressed.

Our boat is due to be delivered late this year. It comes standard with a 30 gallon (3.9 cub ft) frig under the counter in the galley. From what I've gathered from those who have actually seen one of the boats (a Lagoon 420), it is one of the factory built Waeco units. There are two other places in the boat to install similar-sized units. These are pretty expensive factory options, but I imagine that they are also factory built units. They all sound like pretty typical Danfoss air-cooled units.

We intend to do a fair bit of tropical cruising and would like the ability to do at least some long-term meat storage, as well as ice cubes, of course.

I have bought Richard Kollmann's book (very helpful in terms of educating me about building a unit and the relative merits of compressors, cooling, etc.), but this is definitely oriented toward building custom units.

Given that the boat will have places already built into the boat for standard factory built units, are there advantages (in terms of performance and performance/price ratio) to doing custom units?

On one level, it would seem that the advantage to factory build is standardization of dimension and fittings, as well as ease of installation and having at some semblance of a warranty. But, do they perform? Are they reasonably efficient with the power consumption? I'm assuming, from Richard's book, that there are better companies (he lists them) from which to purchase components, but what about finished units?

Or, has it been your experience that none of the factory built units have decent performance? Given our use, should I just make the decision to custom build and spend the extra money because that's the only way I can get decent performance?

Thank you. Your comments and experience are appreciated.

ID
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Old 04-01-2007, 12:38   #2
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I love my Technautics "Cool Blue" unit.
Relaible as a hammer and low power consumption.

So far I have 6 years and 7500 hours on the unit.
(Installed an hour meter to log running time)

Converted 2 factory ice boxes to fridge and freezer and did some other modifications such as adding fans and insulation on the copper tubing, bigger holding plate than standard, etc.

For more info, go to Kollmans Forum, I have been active there describing my setup and asking questions, etc.

(According to Kollmans answers to my questions, I am consuming less than 1/2 the power normally required for that kind of fridge/freezer: 12V, Air Cooled.)

kollmann-marine.com :: View topic - How efficient is the box? Temp drop over 24 hours power OFF
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Old 04-01-2007, 15:09   #3
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Hi ID,

I'm not a guru, but I'm not letting that get in the way of posting here.

I need more help understanding your question. By "factory built" are you refering to the box or the reefer system (or both)? I'm picturing either a stand-alone self-contained unit that the factory built (like a dorm fridge), or a traditional insulated reefer box with a lid in the counter and a system like one would buy from (say) AB or put together with components from rparts.com.

As for the former, I don't have any insight to add. If the latter, I have a bit of experience, as I installed an aftermarket AB system on my boat that had to be custom fitted and ordered. My experience with AB was very positive and they worked with me to determine my cooling needs and custom built an evaporator to fit my box. The system, however, is nothing special. It consists of a standard Danfoss BD50 compressor and a large thin plate evaporator that was bent in a big "C" shape to fit. The only special AB components were the digital controls and spillover fan, but I'm not even sure these are particular to AB. One could easily recreate this system from less expensive components (rparts). I considered this, but made the decision to pay the extra money for the convenience of hookup and warranty. I guess I also paid for their help in designing the system, although they don't specifically charge for this. Aftermarket systems come precharged and only require you to tighten the evaporator tubing to the compressor. Putting together component systems will require you to pump them down and charge them and cover warranty issues yourself (actually, I don't know this for sure. Maybe some of them do come precharged?).

Much of this depends on Lagoon's installation (and price). If they just threw in a small system without regards to the box or usage, then you might be better off to go with an aftermarket or home build a component system in which you work with the manufacturer or design the system specifically for the box and usage.

The performance is also going to depend a lot on the box design and insulation. It sounds like this is already baked in the cake for you, so if you get a reefer unit sized for the box, then it will operate at the maximum performance that it can!

Reading the thread on meat storage, if long term is over a few months for you, then it sounds like you need to be at -15F. I think this is probably out of reach for a boat system.

If it helps for comparison, my box is divided into a 3.5cf freezer and 5cf reefer with a thermostatically controlled spillover fan between them. The evaporator plate is wrapped around 3.5 walls of the freezer with 0.5" standoffs all around. The freezer is kept at 10F and the reefer at 35F. The system runs ~30% of the time and uses 40A/day during the CT summers (not even close to tropical). Amp use, of course, is highly dependent on how often we are putting in warm beers and opening it up for cold ones.

Mark
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Old 04-01-2007, 15:44   #4
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Mark -- thank you, sounds like I wasn't clear enough in my question. By "Factory Build", I'm talking about the self-contained refrigerators and/or freezers, e.g.:

Nova Kool, refrigerators, freezers, Marine, RV, Truck
WAECO USA

Since Lagoon is doing the cabinets in such a way that units like this could be dropped in (wiring and ventilation louvers already present) it would greatly simplify things. They have the same sorts of compressors that would be used in a custom build. But is the insulation enough? How do they really perform up against a custom build?

Thank you for your help.

ID
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Old 04-01-2007, 21:53   #5
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Ah, I see I attempted to answer the wrong question. To quote Miss Emily Lattella: "never mind".

Mark
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Old 05-01-2007, 10:31   #6
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Sounds like you're making the assumption that the factory unit will suck? Maybe ask some of the other owners of Lagoon 42's or other Lagoon models how they like the factory units? If the reponses are positive have the factory add additional units. If they say they suck, well plan for custom.....

Can't answer the cost question because I don't know the cost of a Lagoon installed Fridge/Freezer.
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Old 05-01-2007, 15:11   #7
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for what its worth i would go custom as this can then dictate how much insulation = how much run time = how much energy used = less battery required = faster boat
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Old 06-01-2007, 03:55   #8
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The amount of energy required to run a refrigeration system is related to the amount of energy lost through the box insulation, the coefficient of performance (COP) of the refrigeration plant, and the energy lost through exchange of air that occurs with door openings.

The quality of your refrigeration, in terms of proper food storage temperatures and energy consumption, depends almost entirely on the insulation of your specific box.
Insulation thickness has a dramatic effect on heat loss, and subsequent energy requirements.
Remembering that more insulation is always better; I recommend a minimum of R-20* insulation for refrigeration and R-30 for freezers, preferring R-30 & R-50 respectively.

* Assuming R-5 per Inch, about 4" (100 mm) of foam insulation for refrigeration, and 6" (150 mm) for a freezer

The COP is a measure of system efficiency. Most DC systems used in mobile applications use the same Danfoss BD35 or BD50 type compressors.

Front opening doors transfer more air, than top opening hatches.

Compare the specifications of standard “drop-in” unitary refrigerators, with what you can realistically achieve with a semi-custom “modular” installation.
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Old 11-01-2007, 19:07   #9
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The front opening fridges seem to only have one inch of insulation which people like coleman would say is grossly inadequate if looking for efficiency. They are however very user friendly. I am going to use one but fridge only, no freezer inside, External to this on all sides add 2 or 3 more inches. This only leaves the door and the opening of the door to waste energy. The freezer will be a custom box with 5 or 6 inches and top loading.
Maybe you can add more insulation to the factory unit but I would think there would not be the space around it. I can do this as the cabinetry will be built to suit.
You could solve the problem by keeping the interior of the boat very chilly with airconditioning
Gord may be able to offer his opinion on what I have thought on this issue.
Mike
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Old 11-01-2007, 20:00   #10
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Have any one heard of or managed to track down "Mal Bett's" who does the ICEER breed of rerigeration in Eastern Australia[ Brisbane].

Apparently he does the best semi-off the shelf fridge-freezer around. Thick foam, fiberglass and Danfoss bit's. Also supposedly has a little electronic gizmo that makes 'em run more efficiently.

These are used in the Seawind cat and I would assume a few other's, but I have had trouble tracking him down.

posted by whimsical
I am going to use one but fridge only, no freezer inside, External to this on all sides add 2 or 3 more inches

Whimsical, what about a front opening freezer, this would have thicker insulation and actually work OK as a fridge, and not work as hard

BLA: Boating's Leading Accessories

Or These front loader S/S fridge /freezer ones

BLA: Boating's Leading Accessories

You do have to go to the bottom of the page on these links

These guy's do stuff but may be a bit big for your need's

SOLAR FRIDGES

some of this stuff may help

Outback Marine Mobile Refrigeration




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Old 11-01-2007, 20:17   #11
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Looking at the pictures in catalogues and some units in the flesh it seems that the insulation is the same in both. As far as I can see the only difference is in the arrangement of the shelves, no door holder for bottles etc. I would presume changing the thermostat would be all thats required to use a freezer as a fridge.
I think most of the available units are just domestic units set up for 12v. AS most boats remain at the dock who cares anyway would be the attitude. Fussy bastards would be a miniscule market.
I have seen a couple of references to iceer but have never found a site. Please post it if you do, they do seem a far better starting point.
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Old 11-01-2007, 21:23   #12
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I couldn't find a site for ICEER, but this company was mentioned as similar to them, or perhaps associated. Regardless, they look interesting and have done marine installations.

Sunfrost Refrigerator Models

ID
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whimsical
Cat
Looking at the pictures in catalogues and some units in the flesh it seems that the insulation is the same in both. As far as I can see the only difference is in the arrangement of the shelves, no door holder for bottles etc. I would presume changing the thermostat would be all thats required to use a freezer as a fridge.
I think most of the available units are just domestic units set up for 12v. AS most boats remain at the dock who cares anyway would be the attitude. Fussy bastards would be a miniscule market.
I have seen a couple of references to iceer but have never found a site. Please post it if you do, they do seem a far better starting point.
Mike

Put me in the fussy bastard catagory, no marina for me thanks

381752Grey Line 130 litre Fridge 130/0 525x545x755

381754Grey Line 90 litre Freezer 0/90 525x545x755

it would seem that the above example has the same external dimension, yet the fridge is 130litre and the freezer is 90litre.

Thicker foam me think's

But custom for me.

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Old 12-01-2007, 07:57   #14
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Originally Posted by Intentional Drifter
I couldn't find a site for ICEER, but this company was mentioned as similar to them, or perhaps associated. Regardless, they look interesting and have done marine installations.

Sunfrost Refrigerator Models

ID
They look great, and infact on look's they would appear to be better than the ICEER.

May be at the wrong end of the world though.

I'll look at the numbers when I wake up.

Thank's ID

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Old 12-01-2007, 17:34   #15
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I stand corrected. You can see from the pix the insulation is thicker. A quick check of the volumes would indicate about an extra inch, still a long way short even for a fridge. The ones i have seen in the flesh were the same so I just dismissed them for the freezer. Looking at photos in catalogues i always look at the pix with the door open to gauge the insulation and have checked a few by the numbers and they have all been the same so far.
I'm still a long way from this stage and will do some serious research as it gets closer.
The sunfrosts look better, even the doors are thicker.
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