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Old 26-07-2006, 06:15   #1
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Frigoboat

I saw a comment by Strygaldwir on the diesel site about the lack of customer service by Frigoboat. As this is one of the systems I am looking at for a refer system in the future, I would be interested in hearing any comments you folks (especially Strygaldwir) about this company.

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Old 26-07-2006, 16:03   #2
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I purchased two Frigoboat Units (K50-SSC) at the Miami boat show in 2005 (March or so) from Veco N.A. I paid arround $3500 for the options I installed. One unit was for the refrigerator the other for the freezer. I received both units a week or so later.

I installed the the refrigerator unit a couple months later (June 2005). The installation was okay to do. The lines I from the compressor to the evaporator inside the box were too shoort. No worries, Veco has extensions. Well $300 and a week later I had my extension. I wanted my Smart Speed controls in one part of the boat, the thermostat I wanted on the refrigerator, and the compressor I wanted to put in the engine compartment. A lot of wiring, but nothing I wasn't used to. When I fired it up for the first time, no problems. Evaporator plates brought the temp in the box down handily. The unit cycled properly and the energy consumption was VERY low. I was happy! A day or two latter, I noticed the temperture starting to creep up. I put my hand on the compressor, it would start, then stop. I called Veco, spoke to a VERY helpful tech, Rob. We diagnosed the problem as low refrigerant. Rob said it happens sometimes the seals get pinched. Well, I took all the connections apart, checked the seals. I couldn't find any issue, so, I bought a leak detector. This has all kinds of dies and tools for injecting the dies into the system. But, the fittings on this equipment are not compatible with the fittings on the Danfoss compressors, I had to get the adapters for the newer 134a refrigerant. After searching SEVERAL autoparts stores, I finally found the right fittings (couple days latter). At this point Veco said I should top of the system (the fittings are necessary to put in refrigerant). Now, the major thing that attracted me to the Frigoboat was that I really didn't have to learn about refrigerants and topping up and such. Well, I am now well versed in the subject. Knowledge is great hey?

Well, asside from some compressor stalls every once and awhile and the fact if you turn off the power to the refrigerator while the thermostat is below its set point the compressor will not turn off, not too many problems.

So, come about October, I am ready to install the freezer. No major problems, I don't think. Only issue is everyonce and a while I'd get a low voltage cutoff on the freezer. Hmmm... Must have used to small a gauge (12 AWG) I switch to 10AWG for both units, should fix it. It appears to, the compressor runs constantly, but I figure it is the large freezer I have. I add additional insulation, over a foot thick on the top and bottom, combination of aluminum foil, extruded polystyrene, expanding foam, and some buble rap stuff I got from Lowes. It doesn't seem to help very much. I vowed to pull the whole box and redo it. A major bit of surgery I reserve for later. I live with what I got.

In February of this year, we headed off shore. Just as we are getting to Nassau, I notice the freezer temp is high. I look at the controller, it says the compressor is running. I touch the compressor, it is not going. Rob, is at the boat show, so it is VERY difficult to get ahold of him. Phoning from the Bahamas is VERY expensive. I use email. Well a week later, we find it is not the compressor, there is a controller board on the compressor. I take this off. It is all corroded. I tell Veco there is corrosion on it. They say send it back and if it is a board defect, it is covered under warrenty. If not, it will cost $200. So, since we have been a week without the freezer, I tell them to ship me one now. Oh, did I mention that we had just spent over $800 provisioning, the freezer was full, my wife was stressed? We actually swapped the stuff in the freezer with the refrigerator, cranked down the refrigerator. It saved the great majority of the stuff. Ends up, with the refrigerator full, heat doesn't get removed from the bottom of the refrigerator very well. The stuff in the freezer kept for two days or so, then what we didn't eat we tossed. Ends up it cost $120 to have the board shipped to the bahamas, it cost me $60 to ship the board back to the states. What the heck $180 to ship all of 8 ounces, life in the islands.

So Veco has my board, they say, I caused the damage. I say, I didn't do any thing. I appeal to them. They say tough cookies, it's your fault. Well I am the first to own up to my mistakes. I am unaware of anything I did wrong in the installation. The two compressors are side by side. I would think that if I got one damaged, I would have damaged the other. I pulled the other compressor, just to make sure. No problems. It has even been running for longer than the freezer compressor. I end up coating the board with a conformal spray, theirs is missing it in spots. This may void some warrenty, but, the warrenty is not worth much apparently. So, all in all, this cost me another $600 or so, and Veco is telling me to get the old board back I have to pay for shipping. I'll get them a credit card and get my old board back.

Conclussions. I am not happy with that level of customer service. I believe they should have covered the cost of the board under warrenty. Shipping is my problem. I don't think their product is very good for the marine environment. I KNOW I have not soaked to compressor, it should be able to take incidental spraying. It has drain holes in the bottom of the cover for goodness sakes. Danfoss compressors are the same ccompressors they use in the small refrigerators that cost $120. If you're going to charge such a premium for "marine" make it "marine" or at least stand behind normal "marine" environmental issues.

Well, that's my story. If I had it all over to do again. I'd not select Frigoboat, the story looks good, but .....


Cheers
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Old 27-07-2006, 05:23   #3
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Wow! Sorry for all your problems, but thanks for the in depth reply.
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Old 28-07-2006, 07:22   #4
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I have also heard (2nd hand) about not getting Frigiboat systems. If you have bought Richard Kollmann's book, he shows a Frigiboat System that failed. Based on the discussion of the construction of the system, I'd even suggest Rich Beers (Technicold) over the Frigiboat. His customer service isn't great, but the product seems solidy constructed.
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Old 06-11-2006, 13:00   #5
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Frigoboat reply

I have been alerted to this forum, in particular to the complaints of Strygaldwir regarding Frigoboat refrigeration, and feel it neccessary to supply a response, which I'll make as brief as possible.

1. Frigoboat is, I believe, the only manufacturer offering precharged extensions for our systems. This is primarily for the convenience of the customer, not as a source of income for us as a manufacturer. As with all limited production items they are not inexpensive, but they are undoubtedly a lower cost alternative to calling in a technician to extend the lines, possibly compromising the warranty in the process. The 10' extension this customer purchased is priced at $206.
2. The customer appears to have had a small "issue" while installing one system and lost some refrigerant, probably by damaging or distorting an O-ring when assembling a coupling. This can and does happen occasionally, unfortunately, during installation and, as a service to our customers, we offer directions on how to recharge the system without calling in a technician. We include a pack of spare O-rings with each system, and the additional parts needed are available at auto stores. It appears that this customer had some difficulty in finding and/or selecting the correct items, but there was always the option of calling in a technician to recharge the system. There was no need for this customer to purchase a leak detector.
3. I cannot comment on the reported poor performance for the freezer, as I have no details of box size, insulation type and thickness, usage, etc.
4. The electronic controller that was returned to us for inspection had very obvious signs of catastropic salt water damage. (The customer had suggested to me in an e-mail that the water damage was from condensation, although I see no mention of that in his posting). Frigoboat can not and will not provide warranty cover for such obvious water damage, and the vast majority of our customers understand and wholly accept this. The electronic board in question is not made by Frigoboat but by the compressor manufacturer, Danfoss, and is the same as used in many other brands of marine refrigeration. Although the boards are conformally coated, it is suggested in our Installation and Instruction Manual that they be mounted in an area that is not susceptible to water damage. There are no "drain holes" in the casing, as this customer states, and as an electronic item they certainly are not expected or designed to "take an incidental splashing" as he has suggested.
5. Despite me sending pictures of the obvious water damage, this customer has twice demanded that we send his damaged board back to him. Although I have requested credit card details in order to be able to ship the defective part, to date we have not recieved any. The last correspondence I had with this customer was in July '06.
6. Shipping of parts takes up huge amounts of our office resources, and we endeavour to try to find the most cost effective solution for the customer. Unfortunately, some areas of the world are harder and more expensive to ship to and import regulations and paperwork are complicated. We have no control over those issues.
7. We at Frigoboat take pride in our high standard of customer service, and we put great effort into trying to resolve issues to the satisfaction of the customer. Frigoboat systems are installed as standard equipment on many prestigous world-travelling yachts, and the builder's of these value Frigoboat's high quality equipment and excellent customer service.

I appreciate this opportunity to put the record straight. I will be monitoring this forum periodically and will be pleased to offer advice on refrigeration issues if requested.

Frigoboat Info
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Old 06-11-2006, 15:07   #6
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1. Yes on the price. I had to look for my invoice. There is shipping. The only issue I had here is it was a significant. Surprise!

2. Small issue. Yes, if you are a refrigerant expert. In retrospect, I can say it was a learning experience, and I definately am glad and have more confidence in my ability to recharge it. Like I said, they walked me through it. Only issue was the fittings were difficult to find. I have not had any issue with refrigerant since, it is probably an anomoly.

3. Poor performance. Not a complaint about the unit, this is a complaint about my box . I know I should remove it and redo it, just like my refrigerator. I know it is a large box. Interesting thing is now that it is colder, the freezer compressor runs FAR less often. The warm air and waters of the Bahamas I'd wager has something to do with this.

4. I just wish I knew where the water came from . Yes, the board is damaged. It definately looks like water damage. I suggested condensation cause I am still at a loss where the damage came from!? I suggested a possible source, Frigo said no way. Sorry I forgot to mention it.

5. I didn't demand anything. Yes, I was upset. Yes, I am still annoyed. It was definately my LEAST favorite thing that happened to me on my trip (okay, dragging in Nassau harbor while waiting for the board was my LEAST favorite, but one begot the other ;-) ). I have tried to always be courteous when dealing with Veco, they have always been courteous to me. I don't like their decision on not covering the board. I don't think I have been inaccurate in any statement here. I don't think I have misrepresented anything I said here. I have tried to present what happened so folks understand issues, not rants. Yes, I haven't taken the oppurtunity to call them for my board. I will make sure I do so now. I will probably post the pictures that they sent me of the board. They are accurate and reflect the damage to the board. Like I said. I wish I knew?

6. Shipping is not Veco's fault. It cost me, I believe, $60 to ship the board to them It cost something on the order of $120 to ship it back. Not Veco's fault, just something we cruiser's should be aware of. SHIPPING to the Bahamas can be VERY expensive . Take spares, or have a vistor bring parts with them! Make sure you give them a copy of your cruising permit so they can present it to customs!

7. It is a matter of opinion as to what cutomer service is. Veco's opinion is that they are excellant. I would say, in MY opinion, it was so-so. They have always been helpful, and friendly when I have had to contact them. That's good! Thanks, I appreciate that, and have tried to state that in my post. I may have a distorted opinion of what "excellance" is, Neiman-Marcus, IBM, Dell, West Marine ( have to give them their props), Nordstrom's, they set the standard of excellance in my opinion. I have to admit, that may be high, but, there it is.

I am glad that Veco responded here. It definately gives folks a well rounded insight into what happened, from BOTH ends. Opinions are often distored when you only see things from one side. I applaude the response, and appreciate it for giving balance. May the force be with you.


Fair winds

Keith
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Old 09-11-2006, 01:11   #7
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Refer Systems

Hi,

Just a note on reefer systems. We sell Novakool, Waeco , Engel and Frigoboat. As a stand alone prebuilt system we sell Engel more often and have had no problems with them ( no issues in 6 years). With you build it reefer systems we have sold Waeco and Novakool. Money wise about the same. Quality wise about the same. Warranty no problem just the same (by warranty I mean Quality). The difference is in the amp rating. Frigoboat we sell seldom but warranty has always been a problem. They have no local warranty service and always want to charge you for returns. I have had no such charge from other vendors.
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Old 18-10-2007, 04:00   #8
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Frigoboat: The most troublesome piece of equipment on my boat.

I too have frigoboat and it has been the most troublesome piece of equipment in my sailboat. Sometimes the temperature reads too low and sometimes the compressor won't start and I have to go and play with the contacts. I have removed each one of the contacts and cleaned them. There is no corrossion but still it behaves very erratic. The manuals are very poor. Right now it doesnt even start its dead. Tomorrow I will call them and see if they help me troubleshoot it.
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Old 18-10-2007, 05:21   #9
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I have two Frigoboat systems and I like them very much. Amazing gizmos IMHO. I am currently dealing with a problem on one of them - intermittant "failures" to cool - and the Frigoboat folks have been very helpful in assiting me diagnose the problem(s). We're not done yet. These things have run flawlessly for years otherwise.

Dave
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Old 18-10-2007, 05:50   #10
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I called them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
I have two Frigoboat systems and I like them very much. Amazing gizmos IMHO. I am currently dealing with a problem on one of them - intermittant "failures" to cool - and the Frigoboat folks have been very helpful in assiting me diagnose the problem(s). We're not done yet. These things have run flawlessly for years otherwise.

Dave

I called them a while ago and they were very nice and helpful so we will see how the repair goes.
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Old 18-10-2007, 09:45   #11
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Good response from frigoboat so far.......

I have to admit that the response from Frigoboat has been great so far......the lady that took the service call was very dilligent and within a couple of hours I received an email with the troubleshooting guide, wiring diagrams etc. Tomorrow I will perform the troubleshooting and see what's going on....
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Old 18-10-2007, 14:01   #12
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been looking at lots of different boxes and the figoboat makes the most sense. Seems like it's built the strongest (interior stainless steel), the best insulated (2" on refrigeration, not perfect but better than any other front opening box) and most efficient. As to customer service and reliability, local refrigeration specialists basically mention if it's installed correctly, it should last for 20 years.
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Old 18-10-2007, 14:51   #13
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Two and a half years after installing the first Frigo unit, the only additional problem I have had is an indicator light on the SSC controller has started to flash. I will look this up and see what's the issue.

Same environment, I hope not corrosion on the boards. Maybe I should check! May the additional conformal spray has done some good!?
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Old 18-10-2007, 18:05   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strygaldwir View Post
Two and a half years after installing the first Frigo unit, the only additional problem I have had is an indicator light on the SSC controller has started to flash. I will look this up and see what's the issue.

Same environment, I hope not corrosion on the boards. Maybe I should check! May the additional conformal spray has done some good!?
Thanks for the update.

Doesn't sound too bad after all.
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Old 28-05-2009, 21:37   #15
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FRIGOBOAT HELP

I just had our Jeanneau SO49 brought up to CT from BVI. On the way the captain hit some bad weather and salt water entered the bilge. He was on a port tack and the water must have shorted out/stopped the compressors from operating.

Both the freezer and refrig compressors are not working. There are fans on each compressor, one which can be turned by hand the other is frozen in place. I had someone look at the units briefly and did not test anything and he wanted to replace both units.

I was wondering if there is a way to jump out the board (electronic controller) on the compressors to see if the panel is water logged/shorted out before purchasing them? I don't feel like buying the panels only to find out I need the compressors, condensers and board (electronic controller). I also don't know if the compressors and condensers come with the panels or is everything purchased individually.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Any phone numbers to Frigoboat would help also.

Sonny
s/y NIRVANA, SO49
Branford, CT
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