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Old 15-05-2016, 09:45   #1
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Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Morning everyone! Have a question in regards to refrigeration and hoping you awesome folks here at CF would have a few answers for me. I must admit I find wiring and understanding all of the electric pieces involved with moving aboard very daunting so I apologize for my ignorance, I just haven't owned a boat long enough to know much.

So the question is - We currently have no refrigeration onboard and are debating between converting our icebox to an air-cooled system or buying Engel's 12v plug in fridge. http://www.amazon.com/MR040F-U1-Port...s=engel+fridge

We are planning on living aboard in FL and being plugged in for most of the time to shore power. We also want something that will run and work well off grid once we upgrade our solar & wind gen power array and won't involve having to run the engine every day.

Thank you all so much for your help as always!
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Old 15-05-2016, 10:26   #2
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

I went with a built in icebox and a portable Engel. Simple to install (or replace) and gives some nice options like having both frozen and cooled space. I make my own ice for the icebox when power is abundant.

My Engel (the small one) will freeze a gallon of water in a day or two while being powered by a 100 water solar panel.

Note: I do not live aboard.

Steve
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Old 15-05-2016, 10:38   #3
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

The Engel units are durable and well liked, might be the best choice to start. The drawback is it takes up space...could serve as a backup, a separate freezer or fridge when the box is converted.

Converting your icebox may include revamping the insulation to make it a true "off grid unit" as well as installing the unit with wiring and plumbing.

Many posts on this subject...

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Old 15-05-2016, 10:44   #4
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Good advice so far. Installing an air cooled conversion kit isn't all that difficult or complicated BUT how well it works, especially how much power it will draw, will be very, very dependent on the quality of the insulation in the existing ice box.

If the insulation needs replacing or beefing up then the Engel is a great solution for immediate use. They are reliable and efficient and would be a good back up or additional capacity.
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Old 15-05-2016, 10:56   #5
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Engel would be my choice.

A smaller one pulls <20AH per day in the tropics.
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Old 15-05-2016, 13:12   #6
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

IF the Engel uses a sawafuji compressor, it 'might' be a noisy little bugger, if that is a concern.

I had a Norcold Front loader with a Sawafuji and it was annoyingly loud, and I went to rather extreme efforts to isolate it from the cabinet, and dampen its noise and the harmonics it would generate.

When it failed at around the 5 year mark, I replaced it with a Danfoss bd35f in a Vitrifrigo c51is of the same internal capacity and nearly the same external dimensions, and found it uses slightly less battery power, and is much much quieter.

There are several chest type 12v compressor fridge freezers that use the Danfoss bd35f.

Here is the most basic unit:

TruckFridge Model: TF51 - Portable Model

Please keep in mind that the cooling unit vents must remain unobstructed for it to be efficient and the ciggy plugs are problematic, and are best cut off and the wired more directly.

No sense in wasting battery power heating spring steel conductors.
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Old 15-05-2016, 14:55   #7
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sternwake View Post
IF the Engel uses a sawafuji compressor, it 'might' be a noisy little bugger, if that is a concern.
------
Please keep in mind that the cooling unit vents must remain unobstructed for it to be efficient and the ciggy plugs are problematic, and are best cut off and the wired more directly.
-----
My Engel was very quiet, can't remember what model.

Yep, had to replace the cigarette type plug on mine.

If you build a refrigerator box, the depth of insulation is the most important thing. I've got a Vitafrigo install in my current boat with 6" of insulation and it works like a charm.
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Old 15-05-2016, 17:46   #8
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

We recently switched to a keel cooled Frigoboat with supplemental air cooling for when we are on the hard. We also have an Engel 45 quart.

With 25 year old insulation 2" to 3" thick the keel cooler is using about 35 to 42 Ah a day in fridge mode in Florida in 90 degree air (day), 75 at night. 82 degree water. With that said, twice a day we get a ripping current at the dock for a few hours, so I assume it won't be quite as efficient in non-current situations.

The engel uses about 3 Ah an hour in freezer mode. I find that the chart they supply which gives a grid of fridge temperature to ambient temperature is pretty much spot on assuming the freezer defrosted.

So, together we need to produce about 1400 watts a day plus charging losses, so say 1700 watts. Assuming 5 hours of sunlight we need about three 140 watt solar panels to produce that power. We have 4 plus a wind generator.
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Old 16-05-2016, 10:01   #9
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

We also have the Frigoboat keel cooled fridge system and the Engel portable for a freezer. They work great!
The air cooled supplemental option would be nice to have when on the hard, we use a separate large boat cooler with purchased ice for those biannual 7-10 day times when redoing bottom paint etc.
Definitely run a dedicated #10/2 wire from the battery to the 12 volt plug-in for the Engel at it's location! You want no voltage drop!!!
The Frigiboat will probably cost around $2,500 plus installation and the Engel $800-$900?
But then, you'll have a great system, lots of fresh and frozen food c/w ice cubes for Happi Hour!!!
We're thinking of adding a separate Engel just to make large blocks of ice for when we catch fish to keep them cool in the portable cooler or for beer and cold drinks when we have guests onboard.
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Old 16-05-2016, 10:28   #10
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

I have a whopping great big 14 cu ft icebox, that I made into a spillover with a 7 cu ft freezer and fridge.
Rich at Cool Blue (Third Day) built me a dual cold plate system with a BD-80 sized compressor. Insulation was probably marginal to begin with and being 30 yrs old doesn't help, but his system maintains the freezer at 5 F and the fridge at 40 F but cost me I think about 100 AH in a 24 hour cycle to run it. That is a function of insulation of course.
I've considered an Engel as a back up or maybe as an additional freezer so I could carry many months worth of frozen beef.

If you can. mount your compressor unit in the Lazarette, that way you will never hear it run

For ice making and as a possible back up in case my fridge packs up I have one of these
http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Ice-M...table+icemaker

$120 and it makes a surprising amount of ice and only pulls just under 50W or a little less than 5 amps at 13VDC
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Old 16-05-2016, 11:28   #11
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

ENGEL
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Old 16-05-2016, 11:30   #12
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have a whopping great big 14 cu ft icebox, that I made into a spillover with a 7 cu ft freezer and fridge.
Rich at Cool Blue (Third Day) built me a dual cold plate system with a BD-80 sized compressor. Insulation was probably marginal to begin with and being 30 yrs old doesn't help, but his system maintains the freezer at 5 F and the fridge at 40 F but cost me I think about 100 AH in a 24 hour cycle to run it. That is a function of insulation of course.
I've considered an Engel as a back up or maybe as an additional freezer so I could carry many months worth of frozen beef.

If you can. mount your compressor unit in the Lazarette, that way you will never hear it run

For ice making and as a possible back up in case my fridge packs up I have one of these
http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Ice-M...table+icemaker

$120 and it makes a surprising amount of ice and only pulls just under 50W or a little less than 5 amps at 13VDC
We have a NovaKool Danfoss-compressor type top-loader and are considering an Engel as a drop in in the pilothouse.

The logic is that "meals" are kept in the top-loader, which is opened only twice or three times a day. Beverages, fruits, snacks needing refrigeration, and breakfasts are kept in the Engel. We therefore keep the more amp-hungry unit less amp-hungry by limiting access to it.
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Old 16-05-2016, 11:36   #13
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

I thought that it would be easier to make say 25 AH of power than it would be to rip out the old ice box and re-build it, but I will most likely add additional insulation to the inside, that will reduce it's size of course, but I don't need 14 cu ft now.
I assume the idea was to put 7 cu ft of ice in it and it would still have ice a week later, way it is now, unless your over 6' tall, your not reaching the bottom, we have a fold up stool wife uses now.

You may save energy by not opening the box as often, but I doubt very much it will offset the energy an Engel uses, but having a back up and the convenience will I'm sure be worth it.
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Old 16-05-2016, 11:51   #14
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

With Engel you have already picked the most energy efficient technology. We have a large unit [83qt, maybe larger if they make one...] mounted under a settee seat opposite the galley we use as a full time freezer [-5F]. If the boat is very quiet, you still have to listen carefully to tell if it is running... We can hear the quiet pancake fans we installed to remove air from that compartment over the compressor... so ours is very quiet.

As others have already mentioned, you could start with the portable as a cooler and use it as a freezer in the future when you redo your ice box.

In case you weren't aware, Engel also makes drop-in ice box units that may be of interest [instead of retrofitting your existing box. The drop-ins are available with the compressor already mounted, or separate if you need to mount is elsewhere...]

If you go with a separate technology for your ice box compressor, we can highly recommend water cooled with air back-up. Our boat came from the tropics and is set up that way. We can turn off the water pump when not needed. [e.g., on the hard, cooler weather, etc.] The water pump and compressor have separate hour meters so you can trend usage patterns which helps determine whether the water pump is needed [typically in cooler weather...]

Also, to avoid the issues with raw water cooling, the water pump is plumbed to our back-up 110gallon potable water tank. It functions like a keel cooler without the expense and exposure...

Best wishes choosing what is best for you.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 16-05-2016, 13:27   #15
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Re: Engel 12v fridge or Ice Box Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sternwake View Post
IF the Engel uses a sawafuji compressor, it 'might' be a noisy little bugger, if that is a concern.

I had a Norcold Front loader with a Sawafuji and it was annoyingly loud, and I went to rather extreme efforts to isolate it from the cabinet, and dampen its noise and the harmonics it would generate.

When it failed at around the 5 year mark, I replaced it with a Danfoss bd35f in a Vitrifrigo c51is of the same internal capacity and nearly the same external dimensions, and found it uses slightly less battery power, and is much much quieter.

There are several chest type 12v compressor fridge freezers that use the Danfoss bd35f.

Here is the most basic unit:

TruckFridge Model: TF51 - Portable Model

Please keep in mind that the cooling unit vents must remain unobstructed for it to be efficient and the ciggy plugs are problematic, and are best cut off and the wired more directly.

No sense in wasting battery power heating spring steel conductors.

Thanks for the interesting information. The TF 51 (Indel B) seems to be very good and less expensive - better value for money - than Engel.
Here is test report :
http://www.equipt1.com/Downloads/Ind...n%20Report.pdf
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