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Old 17-09-2019, 19:17   #1
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My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

I have a Frigoboat AV-12 refrigeration system in my sailboat. I think it is the original refrigeration from the 1980s. I have owned the boat for fifteen years and have not done anything to maintain the refrigeration. The refrigeration still works; in the fall, it is enough to keep food cool, but in the summer, I have to supplement it with ice. I leave it on the max setting, it runs 24 hours a day consuming around 5 to 6 amps. Frost builds up on the evaporator and if I put something inside the evaporator it can even freeze it.

As you can see in the photos, it looks like it uses 0.125 kg of R-12. I understand that R-12 is no longer produced, but can be purchased on the secondary market by licensed technicians. The following options occur to me:

1)Find someone with R-12 who'll inject a little into my system. Based on the photos, does my system have an easy port for topping off the refrigerant? My boat is in Barnegat Bay now in New Jersey. Anyone know a person nearby?

2)Find someone to remove the R-12 (I imagine you need a license and special equipment). Fill with alternate refrigerant. Looking over old threads from 10 years ago, it seems there's some debate as to whether this will work and what other parts, seals, oil need to also be replaced.

3)Throw out the entire system and buy new. Can I remove the whole system myself without spilling refrigerant or do I need to hire someone? I imagine I can install a new system myself since it comes with refrigerant inside of it. Do I need to replace the evaporator in the icebox? I'm not sure how it is attached or how easy it is to access it. Everything else is really easy to access, as its under the kitchen sink. Any advice on brands or models? My icebox is about 3.4 cubic feet in volume.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Joe
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Old 17-09-2019, 19:28   #2
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

If you have the means to reload your fridge...........there is plenty of the stuff on Ebay
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Old 17-09-2019, 19:35   #3
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

I just went through this. Get someone to remove the r12 and install an alternate like redtek or duracool that requires no technician. If your system doesnít have a schrader valve have one installed, remove the old refrigerant and have a tech purge and dry the system; Tech or you can then add the benign refrigerant and top up purge, vent whatever with no license and no harmful emissions.
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Old 17-09-2019, 19:48   #4
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

A refrigerant other than R-12 may not be compatible with the seals in the system. The wrong stuff might eat them. Best to recharge with R-12 (plenty on eBay). Unless Frigoboat can recommend a compatible refrigerant.
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Old 17-09-2019, 19:49   #5
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

If the evaporator frosts over, then you probably aren't low on refrigerant.


It's possible that your insulation is breaking down, requiring more cooling power.
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Old 17-09-2019, 20:26   #6
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

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Originally Posted by jt11791 View Post
If the evaporator frosts over, then you probably aren't low on refrigerant.


It's possible that your insulation is breaking down, requiring more cooling power.

This, before you even think of investing any $$. A leaky door seal will do this all the time, plus if you open the top a lot.



How often does the evap frost over? If it takes a week, you don't have a problem.


I have a similar system from the 80s. Just turn it off for a few hours to defrost and start over again.
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Old 17-09-2019, 20:54   #7
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

Switching to the Ďpropaneí alternatives (we went with duracool) doesnít effect the seals, switching from r12 to 134 is a problem but the hydrocarbon alternatives are good as the head pressures are similar to an r12 system. They will cool close but not quit as cold as r12; but are a non ozone depleting or considered a carbon emitting product. 134a is coming to and end as well, hydrocarbons are the best alternative IMO.
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Old 18-09-2019, 00:31   #8
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

I switched to a hydrocarbon based refrigerant late last year and am pleased with the performance and very satisfied with the convenience of being able to give it a top up occasionally without the cost and inconvenience of engaging a fridgy tech.
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Old 18-09-2019, 01:10   #9
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

Put 125.grams of propane (explosive power equivalent to 245 grams, or more than half a pound, of TNT) into an ancient, leaky reefer system with seals of unknown tolerance to a refrigerant they were not designed for, in a BOAT, with closed bilges - what could go wrong?

A whole new system is only a few hundred bucks - what is your time - and your LIFE - worth?
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Switching to the Ďpropaneí alternatives (we went with duracool) doesnít effect the seals, switching from r12 to 134 is a problem but the hydrocarbon alternatives are good as the head pressures are similar to an r12 system. They will cool close but not quit as cold as r12; but are a non ozone depleting or considered a carbon emitting product. 134a is coming to and end as well, hydrocarbons are the best alternative IMO.
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Old 18-09-2019, 05:00   #10
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

I have a 1988 or so Kollmann Marine dual refrigeration system in my Pacific Seacraft. The engine drive system has been converted to R-134a, but the 125V condensing unit that I use when in a marina is still R-12. A couple of years ago some of the R-12 leaked off through a failing rubber gasket under a service cap. A refrigeration tech said to scrap the whole system and start over. With different advice from Richard Kollmann, I found the leak, bought a service cap, asked around for some R-12, was given two or three 12oz or R-12 cans by people who had it squirreled away in their garages, replaced the cap, and added about an ounce of R-12. All has been fine since.

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Old 18-09-2019, 05:30   #11
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

I would replace the R-12 myself and continue to use use it until the system died. Iím one of those that has some still squirreled away, somewhere. Got mine in Korea where it was still manufactured and used, apparently legally.
If I didnít want to use R-12 then Iíd convert to R-134a, but depending on how well the system works and itís age, that may well be the time of consider replacement.
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Old 18-09-2019, 05:55   #12
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

Thanks for all the replies. One crucial question I got from you all is whether the problem is really the lack of refrigerant or something else. How do I tell? I would say significant frost forms on the evaporator after 48 hours of use in the summer. Does that tell you anything? Does the fact that Iím also using bags of ice contribute to frost forming since that adds moisture at the bottom?

Presumably a breakdown of the insulation around the icebox would be hard to fix and require some carpentry? Would it be easier to replace the refrigeration components for something more powerful than replacing the icebox itself?
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Old 18-09-2019, 06:13   #13
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

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One crucial question I got from you all is whether the problem is really the lack of refrigerant or something else. How do I tell?
Kollmann Marine
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:05   #14
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

Hot Shot 2 is a drop in replacement for R12.
If the gasket is bad then nothing you do will make much difference.
Check the seal.
Use the tips that Richard has in the link above.
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:36   #15
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Re: My refrigerator still uses R-12. What are my options?

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Hot Shot 2 is a drop in replacement for R12.
If the gasket is bad then nothing you do will make much difference.
Check the seal.
Use the tips that Richard has in the link above.

I don't think Hot Shot 2 is actually "drop in".


"The potential problems would include liquid floodback and motor overload at high condensing temperatures and loss of liquid seal entering the
capillary tube at low condensing temperatures. Only in a situation where ambient conditions are expected to be relatively constant can using the original capillary tube and undercharging the unit be considered."


-- Honeywell


https://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread...t-Shot-2-stuff


I think you need to do some pretty major work including changing the cap tube, to be sure that Hot Shot 2 will work well.


I can't imagine how that could be worth while for a decades old boat system.


Someone advised just using R12 -- I think it's still conceivably possible to find it. Or scrapping it.
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