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Old 16-12-2010, 04:36   #1
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Refrigeration Dilemma

I have discovered that the Waeco refrigeration on my boat does not exactly work. I'm not sure which model it is, but it is the style with the "O" shaped fridge plate and a compressor unit under the oven unit. The compressor does turn on but the fridge plate barely cools down. It seems from talking to the previous owner that the problem has been around for a while.

The boat is coming up on 9 years and so is the Waeco unit (I guess), so I'm wondering if it will be more sensible and economical in the long run to bin it rather than try to get it serviced?

I'm not in the position where I am penny pinching but at the same time I don't want to unnecessarily throw good money away. If the service costs are potentially going to be relatively high and a shiny new unit (like an isotherm seawater cooled ASU) is going to be more reliable in the long term, get the beer cooler and cool fast and will be more energy efficient, then I will probably bin it.

However if the Waeco is possibly a simple cheap fix, should easily last another 10 years with the occasion servicing and the new units are not a great deal better, then I might make an effort to get someone to look at it.

I am generally ambivalent about the fridge, I just want it to work reliably.

Any thoughts, experience or opinions?
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Old 16-12-2010, 05:22   #2
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Location: At the moment in the Spanish Ria's
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
I have discovered that the Waeco refrigeration on my boat does not exactly work. I'm not sure which model it is, but it is the style with the "O" shaped fridge plate and a compressor unit under the oven unit. The compressor does turn on but the fridge plate barely cools down. It seems from talking to the previous owner that the problem has been around for a while.

The boat is coming up on 9 years and so is the Waeco unit (I guess), so I'm wondering if it will be more sensible and economical in the long run to bin it rather than try to get it serviced?

I'm not in the position where I am penny pinching but at the same time I don't want to unnecessarily throw good money away. If the service costs are potentially going to be relatively high and a shiny new unit (like an isotherm seawater cooled ASU) is going to be more reliable in the long term, get the beer cooler and cool fast and will be more energy efficient, then I will probably bin it.

However if the Waeco is possibly a simple cheap fix, should easily last another 10 years with the occasion servicing and the new units are not a great deal better, then I might make an effort to get someone to look at it.

I am generally ambivalent about the fridge, I just want it to work reliably.

Any thoughts, experience or opinions?

9 years is a bit young IMO. Our previous system had reached the age of 16 years and had been intensely used (living aboard since 2002). It had developed a leak in the tube where I couldn't reach it but the rest of the system was still ok. These Danfoss compressors are reliable and have a really long lifespan.

So, it depends on what's wrong now. Most cases of failure IME are: 1) low on refrigerant (tiny leaks develop in the years due to haircracks in the tube, caused by vibration) 2) improper compressor functioning mostly due to corroded electrical connections, f.i. stopping intermittently caused by undervoltage.

Connections are easy to check. Use a cable from the battery directly to the controller (which alters the 12v DC in AC, never connect 12v to the compressor directly) and see if things improve.

Sometimes you can easily see if you are low on refrigerant, the gas in the system. When the frost appears on the tube, or better yet, anywhere else but on the evaporator, the pressure is wrong and mostly low. You will need a fridge mechanic to add refrigerant.

If you have a leak, this will show when you this fridge guy over. When he's able to locate the leak with his electronic sniffer, he might be able to fix it (I think it's called brazing). After that he'll add refrigerant up to the right pressure and you're good to go, maybe for many years. Shouldn't take the fridge guy more than an hour or 1.5, depending on accessibility.

I would say you need to try this first before you toss your system. Tell the fridge guy to bring his sniffer and brazing tools. He'll want to know which refrigerant you're using. There will be a lable on your system. When it's 9 years old, it probably says "134A". So, you know where to look for.

Cheers,
Len.
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Old 16-12-2010, 09:57   #3
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Location: Ft. Lauderdale
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Hoppy, It is important to know what model compressor you have if you donít know describe its electronic control module in detail or see if it looks like the one on my web site slide show.


This systemís performance will depend on the following conditions:
  • Compressor sized properly for heat load of box in tropical conditions where boat is presently operated.
  • Most WAECO models are designed for RV applications and may need additional condenser cooling. Have you cleaned dirt and dust from condenser cooling fins? Does your WAECO unit have a condenser cooling fan? Knowing WAECO model series would help, is it a 80, 85 or 90 series unit. The 80 series does not have a fan.
  • If thermostat is set to full cold will compressor ever stop? If so how cold is refrigerator section? How cold is it inside O shaped evaporator? If compressor does not stop are you positive of this. If you can not confirm compressor run continuously connect thermostat wires together bypassing thermostat for 24 hours.
  • Describe frosted up system component areas in complete detail, evaporator should have frost covering 100% of its surface and no frost outside refrigerator returning to compressor.
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Old 16-12-2010, 10:10   #4
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Ok, I won't give up on it just yet.

Right at the moment I have no information about what model or anything else about it. It was my first time on the boat so I had information overload pushing buttons, flicking switches, going through the lockers and sitting back and admiring my new toy.

I will go down there in early Jan I think and will try the things suggested.

Hopefully I will do better than I did with my home fridge. The thermostat has been buggered for 6 months and I have been to lazy to arrange someone to fix it. It has not helped knowing I need to take a day off waiting for them to come.
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