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Old 29-09-2015, 01:52   #1
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Why no Residential Fridges?

Hey all,

I'm a total newbie, starting the research for living aboard a few years from now.

My family's been living in an RV for the past year, and so I have become well-acquainted with the systems we have. I am now trying to translate my understanding into things more appropriate for at sea.

The first thing I can't figure out is, why are there no residential fridges in boats? RVs basically moved to these a couple years ago, I suppose in part because they are so efficient now and in part because the Norcolds and Dometics of the world were so notoriously sucky. (And because with induction and microwave convection cooking, one can get rid of propane entirely and make things a lot simpler.)

So... is it just a space issue? Could it be something with orientation/motion? Or maybe rust and corrosion?

Thanks for clueing me. And be gentle, first post.
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Old 29-09-2015, 02:01   #2
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

On boats, most folks are concerned about efficiency and the ability to have the fridge run on DC off the batteries. RVs tend to plug in when they get someplace or have the engine running until they get someplace. On a sailboat, we spend lots of time at anchorages and without the motor running.
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Old 29-09-2015, 02:26   #3
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

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On boats, most folks are concerned about efficiency and the ability to have the fridge run on DC off the batteries. RVs tend to plug in when they get someplace or have the engine running until they get someplace. On a sailboat, we spend lots of time at anchorages and without the motor running.
Thanks for the quick reply.

If this is the main reason, that's great news: on most summer days we can charge the batteries that feed our inverter (and fridge) exclusively via solar on our rig. A quick swag suggests we can probably get twice the array size up on a 44' cat, although with a guarantee that some of it will suffer occlusion due to rigging at all times.

We generally only need to fire the generator if we have multiple rainy days in a row or if we go crazy with the oven. Or if we need to turn on the A/C!
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Old 29-09-2015, 04:00   #4
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, nebster.
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Old 29-09-2015, 04:08   #5
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Maybe you are onto something!
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Old 29-09-2015, 04:49   #6
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

A fridge in an RV is generally vented to outside to get rid of the waste heat. A boat fridge in generally mounted inside where it is not so easy to vent - and who wants a big hole somewhere where hot air can be expelled and water can get in.

Boat refrigeration generally uses pumped seawater to get rid of that heat - water is also a lot more efficient that air at getting rid of it.
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Old 29-09-2015, 05:16   #7
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Many (most) domestic fridges also consume power to heat the anti-condensation door gaskets, and to heat the frost-free components. Too much consumption for a battery-based system, imho.
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Old 29-09-2015, 05:22   #8
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

I'm going to disagree and there a few ft live aboards who can vouch. I experimented w 2 different smaller fridges , 1 was a fridge only the other had a fridge& freezer , these were smaller 3 and 4 cubic ft units. Our power consumption was actually equal running thru an inverter to our same size norcold. Measured thru a victron power mgr. It ran more frequently but for much shorter periods of time.

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Old 29-09-2015, 05:36   #9
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Historically, residential refrigerators do not like to operate at large angles of heel. Unless that has changed.
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Old 29-09-2015, 05:41   #10
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

We have a built in 12volt fridge, and a 120volt fridge freezer. The 120volt uses much more power for the same exact size. Also every time you open the door it runs for a long time to catch back up. A typical top loaded fridge will not lose as much when you open it. There may be some worth to looking at a top load freezer that is 120 volts.
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Old 29-09-2015, 05:42   #11
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

It's not actually uncommon to see residential fridges in larger powerboats. These are AC-only units, and powered either by generator or inverter when away from the dock.

(Genset make noise, but that's not necessarily an issue with big twin diesels running at the same time.)

There are also many more efficient DC/AC "marine" units available these days, especially since using a DC compressor became more common. (I think that includes newer Norcold models, too, but not sure.) These usually run on DC all the time, even when on shorepower; when fed AC, the incoming current is immediately converted to DC, much like computer power supplies, etc.

Some of these latter units are smaller for marine or RV format, but some are also (at least approaching) standard household sizes.

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Old 29-09-2015, 05:44   #12
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Boat refrigeration generally uses pumped seawater to get rid of that heat - water is also a lot more efficient that air at getting rid of it.

I've never seen one of these in a boat.

Understand what you're saying, but I wonder at the "generally" part of that. Maybe more commonly a sailboat thing?

-Chris
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Old 29-09-2015, 05:48   #13
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Historically 12V refrigeration has been much more efficient. Brand name residential fridges are getting more efficient. I tested a small no name 120V fridge a while back and it was wildly inefficient, but have a friend who lives off-grid who recently installed and Samsung 120V fridge and has been pleased with its performance (sorry, dont have numbers).
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Old 29-09-2015, 06:07   #14
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
I've never seen one of these in a boat.

Understand what you're saying, but I wonder at the "generally" part of that. Maybe more commonly a sailboat thing?

-Chris
One of our reefer guys should correct my "general" opinion....

But my experience is about 50/50 water/air cooled... Larger you go leans towards water... unless you're a giant AC plant with a helm...
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Old 29-09-2015, 06:09   #15
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re: Why no Residential Fridges?

Quote:
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Maybe more commonly a sailboat thing?
Yes. As mentioned, sailboats tend to be much more conservative in their energy use, mainly because they tend to run the engine much, much less frequently (sails, after all).

Even at anchor, the powerboaters that I know seem to think it is quite acceptable to run the engines for several hours every day. Whereas a lot of sailboaters try to have enough alternative energy sources that they never have to run the engine at all, just for power generation.
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