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Old 02-07-2013, 20:42   #1
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Problem with new Frigoboat

Finally installed the new Frigoboat system but no joy.

System components

Capri BD50 air cooled compressor.
Merlin smart speed controller
Coastal MKII digital thermostat.

Symptoms

1. Power on
2. Observe green LED light up on the Merlin
3. Digital display powers on
a. one by one all lights and LED segments light up
b. display then shows temp
c. sound of a relay clicking and display alternates between temp and all lights on.
d. display does not vary from this state.
4. Green LED on Merlin flashes on and off slowly but have not yet discerned a pattern

Powered off, rechecked wiring. Saw no obvious errors. Powered on a off a couple of times.

On the second or third time I switched on the power the fan started but heard no sound of the compressor running. After a few seconds the trouble shooting LED started three flashes pattern indicating too much refrigerant or contaminated refrigerant.

Turned system off after this rechecked all connections. Both lines from compressor to evaporator are snug. Dust caps were never removed until the lines were connected.

Supply voltage was checked at 12.5 V at the connection on to the compressor.

So any suggestions on what to check next?
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Old 02-07-2013, 21:03   #2
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat.

This maybe stupid, but I once found some little plastic protective cups under the dust caps, that if unoticed might just cause this problem ! probly not but it's all I can come up with!
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Old 02-07-2013, 21:06   #3
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobconnie View Post
This maybe stupid, but I once found some little plastic protective cups under the dust caps, that if unoticed might just cause this problem ! probly not but it's all I can come up with!
Thanks. I was thinking about something like that. A blocked line might give a signal for too much freon since the compressor has no where to pump it.

I didn't see any mention of that in the destruction manual but might be worth a look.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:42   #4
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Skipmac: Where did you get the impression that a three-flash signal indicates "too much refrigerant or contaminated refrigerant." It means nothing of the sort. A three-flash error indicates that the compressor can't start for some reason, usually because it was stoppped and then started again too soon with too high a head pressure. Once the pressures equalize then the compressor will start. Three flashes can also be the result of a low voltage problem, which would appear to be your problem. If the Coastal MK II display is continously going through its start-up routine and then restarting when the relay clicks, then that indicates that there is enough power to light the LED's but the relay takes the voltage below minimum operating voltage and then the whole process starts again. You need to monitor the voltage at the power terminals on the Coastal and see what it is there.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:57   #5
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frigoboat Info View Post
Skipmac: Where did you get the impression that a three-flash signal indicates "too much refrigerant or contaminated refrigerant." It means nothing of the sort. A three-flash error indicates that the compressor can't start for some reason, usually because it was stoppped and then started again too soon with too high a head pressure. Once the pressures equalize then the compressor will start. Three flashes can also be the result of a low voltage problem, which would appear to be your problem. If the Coastal MK II display is continously going through its start-up routine and then restarting when the relay clicks, then that indicates that there is enough power to light the LED's but the relay takes the voltage below minimum operating voltage and then the whole process starts again. You need to monitor the voltage at the power terminals on the Coastal and see what it is there.
Three flash information in the Frigoboat manual does say only "compressor non-start". Additional comments from Mr Kollman's LED data sheet indicates potential reasons for non-start could be too much refrigerant or contaminated refrigerant. Since this is a brand new unit and I handled and installed it very carefully I doubt either of these to be a factor and more possible in an older system or one that has been worked on.

Regarding voltage, batteries are charged and I checked voltage under load at the distribution terminal 12" from the compressor at 12.5V. Since I had good voltage there and a very tight, short, new connection to the compressor I focused on other areas including rechecking correct wiring with no luck.

By that time it was late, I was tired and concerned about making some dumb mistake and frying the system so gave it up for the night. Will go back today and check voltage at the connection on the compressor and at the back of the thermostat.

Thanks for the suggestions and quick response. I cannot say how much support from the manufacturer means, especially in today's world of automated voice mails and zero access to real help.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:13   #6
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Understood, Skipmac. I look forward to your test results.

Your comments are well taken, thank you, but I'm curious to know why you didn't contact our office directly with an e-mail or phone call. We deal with many enquiries like yours each day, and it's a much easier and quicker process than working through forums.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:18   #7
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

When I first installed my Frigoboat system, there was too much refrigerant. I had frost on the line almost back to the compressor. Tech support advised to reduce the level of refrigerant, so I did. That solved that problem. I think they may put extra refrigerant at the factory to allow for some leakage by owner/installers. Just a guess.
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:28   #8
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frigoboat Info View Post
Your comments are well taken, thank you, but I'm curious to know why you didn't contact our office directly with an e-mail or phone call. We deal with many enquiries like yours each day, and it's a much easier and quicker process than working through forums.
Valid question. I guess I asked here because I'm on the forum every day and it was easy to post. Plus I have seen the support you have given on the forum. Maybe just laziness as I didn't have to find another website or look up any phone numbers to call the correct support line.

Also, gives you a chance to show off your great product support!

Seriously, if it's better for Frigoboat and would be your preferred channel for questions, more cost effective, quicker access to the tech guys or whatever, I'm happy to access via the website or should I even call the dealer that sold me the unit?

However, if OK with you, since we've already started on this one, may I continue with this issue here. I will assume a yes answer (I know that's presumptuous of me) but to avoid confusion I'll make my report in a separate post.
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:42   #9
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

The Frigoboat compressor, speed controller or whatever is very sensitive to low voltage. Frigoboat recommends 10 guage wiring for the power supply, which seems overkill but maybe not.

You say you measured 12.5 volts very near the compressor. But was this at the instant that the compressor tried to start. If not you were not seeing the true voltage at the compressor terminals on startup.

Unless you have already done so, watch the voltage as the Frigoboat goes through its entire startup cycle. My experience is that if drops to anything much under 12 V it won't start.

David
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:19   #10
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Tried the new unit again and got more information. Voltage readings taken with a Fluke volt meter that has been compared to another Fluke and my digital battery monitor and found to be within +/- 0.03V of readings from both.

1. Battery voltage at rest before turning on main power 12.7V. Drops to +/- 12.6 V with mains switched on.

2. Switched on power to the Frigoboat.

3. Voltage taken at the main power terminals on the compressor. 12.6V

4. Voltage at the back of the Digital thermostat body 12.5V

Sequence observed after power to the system.

1. Green LED on Merlin lights.

2. Thermostat goes through power on self test, all screen functions light up sequentially then the display shows temp.

3. After a few seconds I hear a gurgling noise in the evaporator.

4. Thermostat relay again starts clicking on and off in this sequence.

a. Temp reading on the screen for 3 seconds

CLICK

b. screen does power on sequence lighting all the functions taking about 5 seconds

CLICK

c. back to temp display and repeats.

d. The Merlin green LED is lit during b. for 5 secs. When the relay clicks about half second later the Merlin LED is off. The Merlin LED stays off for about three seconds and then relights and simultaneously the thermostat's display switches back to the temp.

5. Every 8 seconds, when the Merlin green LED first lights I hear a slight burp/gurgle noise in the compressor.

6. Couldn't stay long, had to get back to work, but after 5-8 minutes could not feel any significant cooling on the evaporator.

7. Not getting any error codes from the trouble shooting LED.

Leaving now to go back to the boat and recheck status.
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:31   #11
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
The Frigoboat compressor, speed controller or whatever is very sensitive to low voltage. Frigoboat recommends 10 guage wiring for the power supply, which seems overkill but maybe not.

You say you measured 12.5 volts very near the compressor. But was this at the instant that the compressor tried to start. If not you were not seeing the true voltage at the compressor terminals on startup.

Unless you have already done so, watch the voltage as the Frigoboat goes through its entire startup cycle. My experience is that if drops to anything much under 12 V it won't start.

David
Thanks. On the way back to the boat and will check that. Problem is digital meters react a little slowly and it's sometimes hard to see a quick, short voltage drop. Have an old analog meter I keep for just that reason which I need to go dig up. Or I could get a recording meter that will save a max or min reading. Hmmm. Another tool upgrade in the works.
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Old 03-07-2013, 11:55   #12
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

It sounds very much as if the voltage is dropping below the low voltage threshold once the compressor starts, and this is a common problem. Follow the testing procedure and advice shown here: http://coastalcoolaids.com/images/Po...on_systems.pdf

These forums are great for sharing information, but for diagnosing and problem-solving it can get long-winded and get off-topic very easily. A bit like a doctor trying to make a diagnosis with other patients throwing their opinions into the mix.

Hope you find that bad connection.
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Old 03-07-2013, 14:10   #13
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Noon update.

Went back to the boat and the frig seemed to be cooling. Temp in the box had dropped about 10 F in a couple of hours.

I have not dug out my analog meter yet but watching the display on the Fluke digital I do not think the voltage is dropping very much but what is too low? The error codes for the LED says it will blink when voltage drops below 10.4V on a 12V system. I am certainly not seeing anything close to that low.

Also I though the Merlin was a soft start and started at min compressor rpm to reduce the initial hi V demand? I did note that the Merlin LED was flashing 3 then 4 times when I last looked so the compressor speed was ramping up and seems like the Merlin is working.

BUT now another problem. The digital display on the Coastal was dark and nothing I tried would make it come on again. I finally powered off the system, waited 5 minutes for the refrigerant to settle and restarted. The display cycled through the startup self test and seemed to be working again.

I am starting to suspect the digital thermostat may be a little flaky.

I have checked voltage at every point and watched it during cycles and I don't think voltage drop is the problem so don't know what else would be causing the changes in what the system is doing.
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Old 03-07-2013, 14:41   #14
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Went back to the boat and the frig seemed to be cooling. Temp in the box had dropped about 10 F in a couple of hours.

I have not dug out my analog meter yet but watching the display on the Fluke digital I do not think the voltage is dropping very much but what is too low? The error codes for the LED says it will blink when voltage drops below 10.4V on a 12V system. I am certainly not seeing anything close to that low. Although the low voltage cut out of the Danfoss controller is 10.4v, it will not start with less than 11.8v. This is about the same cut-in for the Coastal t/stat also.

Also I though the Merlin was a soft start and started at min compressor rpm to reduce the initial hi V demand? I did note that the Merlin LED was flashing 3 then 4 times when I last looked so the compressor speed was ramping up and seems like the Merlin is working. The Merlin will start in medium speed with three flashes showing and then will ramp up one speed every 5 minutes. This is all explained in the instructions.

BUT now another problem. The digital display on the Coastal was dark and nothing I tried would make it come on again. I finally powered off the system, waited 5 minutes for the refrigerant to settle and restarted. The display cycled through the startup self test and seemed to be working again. This again sounds like a low voltage issue. Did you manage to test the voltage at the terminals when the display was dark?

I am starting to suspect the digital thermostat may be a little flaky. Your (very detailed, thank you) description of the sequence of events all points to a power supply issue. And keep in mind that many power related problems are intermitent.

I have checked voltage at every point and watched it during cycles and I don't think voltage drop is the problem so don't know what else would be causing the changes in what the system is doing. If the problems persist, you can try running temporary power supply wires direct to the battery and see if this banishes the gremlins.
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Old 03-07-2013, 17:42   #15
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Re: Problem with new Frigoboat

Went back to the boat and the frig seemed to be cooling. Temp in the box had dropped about 10 F in a couple of hours.

I have not dug out my analog meter yet but watching the display on the Fluke digital I do not think the voltage is dropping very much but what is too low? The error codes for the LED says it will blink when voltage drops below 10.4V on a 12V system. I am certainly not seeing anything close to that low. Although the low voltage cut out of the Danfoss controller is 10.4v, it will not start with less than 11.8v. This is about the same cut-in for the Coastal t/stat also.

Have held the meter to every point in the system and have not seen less than 12.4V but again, with digital meters a transient low voltage event is hard to spot. But would a drop to <11.8V for 0.5 sec prevent startup?

Also I though the Merlin was a soft start and started at min compressor rpm to reduce the initial hi V demand? I did note that the Merlin LED was flashing 3 then 4 times when I last looked so the compressor speed was ramping up and seems like the Merlin is working. The Merlin will start in medium speed with three flashes showing and then will ramp up one speed every 5 minutes. This is all explained in the instructions.

Yes, that was the point I was making. With the Merlin soft start the system should not be drawing as much power on initial startup.

BUT now another problem. The digital display on the Coastal was dark and nothing I tried would make it come on again. I finally powered off the system, waited 5 minutes for the refrigerant to settle and restarted. The display cycled through the startup self test and seemed to be working again. This again sounds like a low voltage issue. Did you manage to test the voltage at the terminals when the display was dark?

Yes and it was 12.5V. I then cranked the generator and turned on the battery charger which gave me about 13.6V and could not get the thermostat to respond. I used the key combination stated in the manual of holding the Set and Down buttons for 8 seconds which, if I read the manual correctly, would turn the thermostat on or off. Tried this a couple of times and just for kicked pressed several other buttons and nothing. Had to switch off power to the system. Also, the whole time the thermostat was blinking from reset to temp the voltage was a steady 12.5V

I am starting to suspect the digital thermostat may be a little flaky. Your (very detailed, thank you) description of the sequence of events all points to a power supply issue. And keep in mind that many power related problems are intermitent.

Intermittent I understand. FYI I have a degree in EE and worked my way through college repairing computers, printers, etc. Had all sorts of intermittent failures that drove me crazy. Had a PC once that worked perfectly at the shop but failed every time the owner got it home. Finally found that it worked with the case off but with the top screwed down it caused a very slight distortion of the case and an intermittent connection in one of boards.

I have checked voltage at every point and watched it during cycles and I don't think voltage drop is the problem so don't know what else would be causing the changes in what the system is doing. If the problems persist, you can try running temporary power supply wires direct to the battery and see if this banishes the gremlins.

5:00 update. Went back to the boat and the box was 40F and everything working perfectly. Compressor running at min speed (one flash on the Merlin) and drawing 3.5 A. Will let it run overnight and see how it is in the am. Also have 660 amp hours of new deep cycle batteries well topped off so pretty sure no problem there.
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