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Old 27-07-2015, 02:27   #1
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Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Proving that Murphy’s law is alive and well, we are having refrigerator problems one week before friends come to stay with us for 8 days. And it's around 99 degrees here in Greece. Definitely in need of help solving this.

I think the problem is just electrical, which unfortunately is my achilles heel, but with the power of Cruiser's Forum I'm sure it can be fixed.

THE SITUATION: Last night we noticed that the fridge water pump">raw water pump (ours is raw water cooled, not air cooled) was running a lot. It was running for a normal length of time and then stopping briefly before starting back up again. After checking the compressor what I found was that the compressor would start up and trigger the pump to start. However a few seconds after the compressor started up it would stop. The fridge pump would continue to run for a while. As soon as the pump stopped the compressor would try and start again. And it would repeat with the compressor running for only a few seconds, triggering the pump to start back up, and then the compressor would stop. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Not good.

We checked the manual and one of the “Minor Problems” listed under trouble shooting was this:
Compressor starts but stops almost immediately afterward:
- Check that the voltage is correct, if in doubt charge the battery
- Check that all of the connections and the fuse in the supply from the battery are well tightened and not corroded.
- Disconnect terminal “F” from the Electric Controller. If the compressor then runs correctly, check the pump or pump relay as the amperage is too high. As soon as you can, get an authorized Frigoboat Service agent to check the unit.

It was night time, so we had no power generating from my solar panels, but our house battery bank was showing 12.4v. Then we tried running our engine to see if that changed anything. With the engine running the compressor stayed on and the fridge worked fine. It’s morning now and with the solar panels keeping the batteries up (we usually show 13.3v-14v with full solar) and the fridge is running just fine. Last night with no solar and with 12.4v on the house bank I shouldn’t of had any issues, but we did.

So all of that to say, we have fridge issues and based on what is happening it sounds electrical and hopefully minor. Any thoughts?

I'm going to try and disconnect the solar (which I haven't done before, the boat came with solar) so that I can recreate the problem in order to follow the steps in the manual. Any other thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.

Zoid
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Old 27-07-2015, 05:30   #2
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Hi kenny. How long since you have plugged in and done a full shore charge? It might be worthwhile doing so and equalising the batteries if it's been a while. It does sound like the fridge is t getting enough voltage. You could possible check the voltage at the fridge to confirm.
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Old 27-07-2015, 06:41   #3
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

There is a problem with boat’s wiring causing a low voltage spike as compressor tries to start. When starting amperage is high any resistance in power or ground wiring will reduce voltage for a few micro seconds. When the electronic control module detects this voltage spike it stops pump briefly and tries to start compressor. This false start will be attempted every 40 seconds until problem is corrected. A temporary fix may be to keep batteries above 12.6 volts. Final fix is to replace refrigerator wiring from battery direct to refrigerator compressor control module with larger wire, new circuit breaker, and all wire terminals. A volt meter will not detect this type of a voltage spike but the compressor’s protection circuit will.
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Old 27-07-2015, 06:47   #4
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Monte, it's actually been quite a while since I've plugged in. Solar keeps it topped up during the day and we've been living on the hook for many weeks now. Equilizing the batteries, is this something that happens automatically when you have shore power or is there something that I would need to do?

As for the wiring, that might be the case, but I'm hoping not. I plan on trying to read the voltage tonight and check all connections for corrosion, etc. I purchased the boat new from the manufacturer (Lagoon) in Nov. 2013, which doesn't mean that the wiring could be smaller than needed, but there are enough of these boats made each year that I would think it would be a more consistent problem if the wiring was insufficient.

Is there an easy test to determine if there is an issue with one of my batteries? I have 3 wet cell batteries that provide 420 amp/hr.
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Old 27-07-2015, 09:16   #5
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Kenny, equalising is something most solar mppt controllers have a function to handle, but you will need to be plugged in or at least fully charged with full sunlight. It basically ups the voltage to around 16V for a few hours. Don't be fooled by thinking the batteries are fully charged by reading 14+ V while they are charging, this is simply the amount of charge going in from the panels. Also battery monitors will lose accuracy over time so even if it's showing 100% it may be much less. A good idea is to check the specific gravity of each if your battery cells to check they are healthy using a hydrometer. A night in a marina might be a good idea to charge things up fully and will probably fix the fridge issue by the sounds of it. 12.5V in the morning shouldn't be too low though.
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Old 27-07-2015, 09:32   #6
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoid View Post
Proving that Murphy’s law is alive and well, we are having refrigerator problems one week before friends come to stay with us for 8 days. And it's around 99 degrees here in Greece. Definitely in need of help solving this.

I think the problem is just electrical, which unfortunately is my achilles heel, but with the power of Cruiser's Forum I'm sure it can be fixed.

THE SITUATION: Last night we noticed that the fridge raw water pump (ours is raw water cooled, not air cooled) was running a lot. It was running for a normal length of time and then stopping briefly before starting back up again. After checking the compressor what I found was that the compressor would start up and trigger the pump to start. However a few seconds after the compressor started up it would stop. The fridge pump would continue to run for a while. As soon as the pump stopped the compressor would try and start again. And it would repeat with the compressor running for only a few seconds, triggering the pump to start back up, and then the compressor would stop. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Not good.

We checked the manual and one of the “Minor Problems” listed under trouble shooting was this:
Compressor starts but stops almost immediately afterward:
- Check that the voltage is correct, if in doubt charge the battery
- Check that all of the connections and the fuse in the supply from the battery are well tightened and not corroded.
- Disconnect terminal “F” from the Electric Controller. If the compressor then runs correctly, check the pump or pump relay as the amperage is too high. As soon as you can, get an authorized Frigoboat Service agent to check the unit.

It was night time, so we had no power generating from my solar panels, but our house battery bank was showing 12.4v. Then we tried running our engine to see if that changed anything. With the engine running the compressor stayed on and the fridge worked fine. It’s morning now and with the solar panels keeping the batteries up (we usually show 13.3v-14v with full solar) and the fridge is running just fine. Last night with no solar and with 12.4v on the house bank I shouldn’t of had any issues, but we did.

So all of that to say, we have fridge issues and based on what is happening it sounds electrical and hopefully minor. Any thoughts?

I'm going to try and disconnect the solar (which I haven't done before, the boat came with solar) so that I can recreate the problem in order to follow the steps in the manual. Any other thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.

Zoid
We have the same issue with the same water cooled system. BTW, we love the Frigaboat system. We needed to clean all the electrical connections one by one and then simply reinstall each. Some i cut off the old male and female connectors and used new ones....just do it one at a time.
I then sprayed all the connectors with some anti electrical corrosion spray. It cured the issue. Now about four years later, I believe that it is time to repeat the procedure. Corrosion on a saltwater boat is your biggest and most unrelenting foe.
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Old 27-07-2015, 10:11   #7
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Very interesting thread - I think Richard nailed the problem, as he usually does. He has helped me in the past to figure out refrigerator problems. If this is a new issue, I think it is most certainly a low voltage cut-out as described by Richard, and corrosion somewhere is likely the issue. If you can't find the bad connection, you could try confirming this by making a set of short jumper wires directly from fridge to battery (keep short, use a thick gauge wire). If it works with the jumpers, that will confirm a wiring or corrosion issue somewhere.....now you just have to find it!


Good luck


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Old 27-07-2015, 10:56   #8
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

As Richard Kollmann and others have said, I agree (from experience) that the voltage at the battery is not necessarily the voltage at the fridge controller. After re-reading my install manual, I wired my Adler Barbour directly to the battery bank with an inline fuse (not through the breaker panel) and had no further problems.

Depending on the length of run, you may need a larger wire size. I used 10 guage for a ten foot run. Interestingly, I had a similar problem with my VHF radio. It was wired through the breaker panel. I found that when I transmitted on high power (25 watts) I got a message on the VHF screen saying "low voltage". I just went up a wire size on all the wiring going to the VHF through the breaker panel and that fixed it. In any case, I'm pretty certain your problem is not your battery bank.

It's amazing how much DC current is affected by wire size and length of run. I guess I learned the same lesson Thomas Edison learned a hundred years ago....
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Old 27-07-2015, 11:08   #9
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

All of the feedback and discussion has been fantastic, I am always amazed how helpful and knowledgeable everyone is on this forum. I'll be working through this issue and will let everyone know the outcome. Thanks everyone for your input and thoughts.
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Old 27-07-2015, 11:27   #10
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

It also sounds like your solar controller output is set to low. You should see something like 14.4 to 14.6 volts, depending on your battery requirements. Some battery manufacturers specify an even higher voltage setting for bulk and acceptance.

Are these flooded lead acid batteries and if so have you topped them up with distilled water? How old are your batteries?
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Old 27-07-2015, 11:33   #11
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

I'll begin with the caveat that I am not a refrigeration expert. I have had experience with short cycling of the compressor for the boats refrigeration (Alder-Barbour). Speaking with a marina dock neighbor, who was a refrigeration expert, his first recommendation was to check and tighten all the electrical connection to the unit. Based on his experience, he stated 95% of all refrigeration problems will be electric issues.

Upon subsequent examination of my unit, I found the A-B has a light module which, based on sequence and duration, gives a self-diagnosis for trouble shooting. As was suggested by the expert, the message associated with the light sequence directed to check supply voltage and if that was good, check and tighten all electrical leads. The voltage was good and upon inspection several of the leads needed tightening. Powering up the refrigerator confirmed the cycling problem was resolved. About 4-5 years later, I experienced the same issue in Mexico and the fix was the same; tightening the connections.
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Old 27-07-2015, 12:04   #12
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Undercharged batteries.
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Old 27-07-2015, 12:18   #13
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoid View Post
As for the wiring, that might be the case, but I'm hoping not. I plan on trying to read the voltage tonight and check all connections for corrosion, etc.
I had a very similar problem but an air cooled Frigoboat. I was sure that the wiring and voltage were OK, even checking the voltage right at the compressor with an accurate meter.

Richard suggested the problem was still voltage and the low voltage spike happened so quickly you could never see it on a meter. I was skeptical but made a temporary hook up with a new, heavier wire to test the theory and problem solved. So ran the new wire permanently and lived happily ever after.

You might get by with removing and cleaning all the connections from the fridge back to the battery.
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Old 27-07-2015, 12:47   #14
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

Does my heart good to see all of these experienced cruising people sharing with people that need help. Not many Forums around like this one! THANK ALL OF YOU!
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:32   #15
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Re: Frigoboat (W35F) troubleshooting...thinking it is an electrical issue

I second Rick's comment. Love this forum and thanks for all of the help!!

I have not had the problem recur after a long healthy shore power charge of the batteries and being diligent to keep them topped up. I'm keeping an eye on it and will continue to experiment but right now I think my batteries had just gotten low enough that the voltage at the fridge was too low causing a shutdown.

Thanks again everyone, great discussion.
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