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Old 04-12-2016, 13:17   #1
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12 volt refrigeration?

Hey all you Sailors out there. I just bought my 41 foot Morgan out Island and she is all original I would like to upgrade her with 12 volt Refrigeration instead of 115 volt Refrigeration has anybody put a 12 volt refrigeration system in their boat that is functional and successful? And that uses very little power that can run off of a large Bank of batteries which are charged by solar panels and occasionally by the generator? At the moment I have a huge ice box and a huge refrigerator that runs off of every frigerator unit that makes a lot of noise and obviously is very old I want to remove it and remove the ice box and remove the refrigerator and replace them with 12 volt refrigerators if possible please let me know if anybody has done this and how it is thanks
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Old 04-12-2016, 13:38   #2
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

I have some of the same questions, but if you have a huge fridge now, you may be able to just add insulation on the inside rather than having to tear out cabinetry to make a new box. It will be smaller but you need really good insulation to not run the pumps a lot. I think there have been many threads on 12 volt fridges so I am sure some searching will turn up info. I will follow this thread. ______Grant.
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Old 04-12-2016, 14:16   #3
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

There are a number of 12v options. I've got an engel onboard and it runs very smoothly and efficiently. Mine is a 12v standalone cooler, but they also offer ice-box conversion kits that you could drop in and replace your old 120V with. There are also a few other options in terms of high-efficiency "marine" units, but can't think of names off the top of my head.

The engel only takes about 2A or so on average, depending on the ambient temps and how often you open it. 3A max. My setup runs on a 400A battery bank and about 250W of solar, and it fits in well with my overall energy budget, which is otherwise pretty minimal.
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Old 04-12-2016, 14:39   #4
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

12V, air cooled fridge is very doable and has become the standard for cruising boats (though there are some that argue for and love their water cooled units).

Power consumption will be primarily based on how good your insulation and seals are. The best, most efficient compressor in the world is going to suck power like mad if you don't have a good box.

I have a 9-10 cu ft box with about 1.5 cu ft of that in freezer space. I draw about 50 amp hours/day in summer with ambient temps mid 90s day, 60-70 night. Winter I use half that. One 330 Watt solar panel makes more than I need to run the fridge.

To get this I ripped out the old box and built a new with min 4" of Dow foam insulation. Also made a new lid with double seals. Unless some PO of your Morgan already did this you will need to redo the insulation. If the box is really big and you can live with less room the easiest method is to add insulation on the inside.
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Old 04-12-2016, 14:52   #5
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

There are a number of vendors of 12v refrigeration systems available. I just replaced my 30 year old 12v compressor and plates on my boat with a Sea Frost unit and I'm extremely happy with it. More compact and efficient than the old unit and quieter too. It is both air and water cooled, you choose with the flip of a switch. I have not installed the water cooling gear yet and may when I next haul the boat. Has a great programmable panel that gives me current temperature at the probe. My box is a "spillover" design and I kept it that way since it has worked extremely well for my needs.



For reference, that inlet duct is 4".

If your existing box is well insulated (which it's not, given it's age) you could just slap some new cold plates inside and be done with it. Fridge box rebuilds are not for those that shy away from time-consuming projects, but the benefits are enormous in terms of efficiency gains.

There are plenty of blogs out there documenting box rebuilds and how to refit your refrigeration. There's also a whole book by Nigel Calder that goes into more detail than you'll need:

Nigel Calder's "Refrigeration for Pleasureboats"
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Old 04-12-2016, 15:19   #6
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

Give Google a try. Look for 12volt refrigerator . There are many different ones available.
Personally I have installed several for customers and with a properly insulated box the power usage numbers are doable somewhere between 35ah. And 80ah are the normal range
Personally I would recommend the cool blue system from technotics . Give Rich Boren ( SV third day on here) a call or shoot him an email.
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Old 04-12-2016, 15:57   #7
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

Second that for Seafrost. I installed the BTxp on the frig side (engine driven on the freezer side) and couldn't be happier with. Runs off of our solar panels during the day and batteries when the sun isnt out. Cant beat their customer service either.
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Old 04-12-2016, 16:01   #8
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

Richard Kollman has many times posted the water temp. conditions below which water cooling is an advantage. A very narrow window where water pump energy consumption .v. cooling gained.
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Old 04-12-2016, 20:43   #9
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

One of the most efficient units I've installed was a 12-volt, keel-cooled Frigoboat. Quiet, efficient and affordable.
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:07   #10
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Re: 12 volt refrigeration?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
There are a number of vendors of 12v refrigeration systems available.
Quote:
Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
Give Google a try. Look for 12volt refrigerator . There are many different ones available.

Yep, Vitrofrigo, Frigoboat, NovaKool, Norcold, etc. all offer likely products in various sizes/shapes. Ours happen to be NovaKool AC/DC models, so they run on shorepower or genset (AC) or DC. I think most dual-voltage models actually use DC compressors these days, and the AC power feed (hwne present) is simply converted to DC as it comes into the unit.

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