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Old 22-10-2012, 08:47   #1
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Refrigeration versus ice box

I've never seen this conversation before, so here goes. We just bought a boat with no refrigeration. There's just the old icebox. Now, this original icebox is huge, and the insulation is inadequate, so I need to do something different.

My original plan was to add insulation and then build in a 12 volt refrigeration unit. Here's what has made me start to question that standard approach:

For the past three summers, we've cruised up and down between Maine and the Bahamas. We had a portable Waeco refrigerator and a pretty good built-in icebox in our old boat. We found that we needed to buy ice and put it in the icebox every 2-3 days as we cruised, if for no other reason than to mix the evening cocktails.

The refrigeration was nice to have, but it brought in all sorts of electrical issues. If we had alternator trouble or batteries started to wear out, etc., the refrigeration wasn't reliable, and we'd end up storing everything in the icebox anyway.

We talked to a friend recently who talked about their cruising in the Bahamas with a built-in refrigerator. They found it consumed so much electricity that they ended up storing ice in it, essentially using it as a cooler, and running the refrigeration unit only an hour or two a day to prolong the life of the ice.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife was talking to a friend who had a Yeti cooler in the back of his pickup truck- in South Carolina- in August. He reached in, dipped into the ice, and pulled out a cold drink as they talked. She asked him when he had put the ice in the cooler. He said he had put it in SIX DAYS earlier.

So- I'm thinking- should I build in one of these Yeti coolers? Or should I build more insulation into my icebox and use it as an actual icebox? Four or five days between ice purchases would cover a lot of cruising ground. Or should I build in a refrigeration unit and add the batteries, solar panels, wind generator, etc., necessary to keep up with it? On the far extreme, another friend was installing a generator on his boat recently to keep up with the demand from his refrigerator and separate deep freezer.

What do you guys think?
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Old 22-10-2012, 09:50   #2
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

1) Build more insulation in your boat Ice box. 3" of Aerogel = R33
Aerogel - Spaceloft Insulation for Fridge / Freezer

2) Build in the Fridge/Freezer to your icebox

3) Add batteries

4) Look around, everyone has solar panels now. They are cheap
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Old 22-10-2012, 11:09   #3
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

You really want to consider an ice box over a fridge???? Cotemar's suggestion is one you should consider!
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Old 22-10-2012, 11:11   #4
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

Add up the cost of the refrigeration system, a new bank of batteries, solar panels and controller, new alternator and installation. Then ask yourself where you will put the panels and how unattractive they will be. Ice might look reasonable.
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Old 22-10-2012, 11:22   #5
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

TheOffice,

Yes, ice is reasonable for a day sailor.

If you are a cruiser the game changes and you want things to be just as if you where at home in your house. You would not stand for that ice box inconvenience,
so why would you want it on a boat that you cruise on for weeks at a time.

When is the last time you purchased ice for your home????
Ice boxs on a boat just make soggy food and water and the ice takes up all the room.

Been there done that.
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Old 22-10-2012, 11:22   #6
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tia Bu View Post
So- I'm thinking- should I build in one of these Yeti coolers? Or should I build more insulation into my icebox and use it as an actual icebox? Four or five days between ice purchases would cover a lot of cruising ground. Or should I build in a refrigeration unit and add the batteries, solar panels, wind generator, etc., necessary to keep up with it? On the far extreme, another friend was installing a generator on his boat recently to keep up with the demand from his refrigerator and separate deep freezer.

What do you guys think?
Are you camping or cruising? The cost of ice can add up, too, if you are relying on it full time for everything.

If you're just doing some weekenders with a few longer cruises between, then yeah you can get by with a well insulated icebox or portable icechest - especially if you're just keeping cold drinks (and will want the ice anyway)

I have seen modern coolers keeping ice for days at a time, I wouldn't count on a week. A good quality brand that is well made will work best, and will save you money on ice over the long run.
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Old 22-10-2012, 11:58   #7
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

We had an icebox that the previous owner converted to a refridge unit (with a holding plate). We've subsequently turned that into a storage space and put an Engel into a berth (which was used just for storage).

In cool water ( <65f ) the holding plate unit with 3-4" of foam worked fine. In hot water ( >70f), it sucked soooooooo much juice to keep things non-warm (forget about cool-cold).
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Old 22-10-2012, 12:41   #8
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

Well, we have done a good bit of cruising in our previous boat. I would say, while it is nice to have things just like home, there's no way it's ever going to be just like home. It's a boat, after all.

My thinking on the refrigeration began to change when I sailed the new (to us) boat this weekend. Without the solar panels, wind generator, giant cockpit enclosure, heavy battery bank, etc., the thing actually SAILED, by golly!

I'm still not sold on going the ice-alone route. Has anybody been doing it for long-term cruising? I did it many decades ago cruising through the Bahamas. But back then, you couldn't buy ice reliably. So we essentially ate canned goods and drank hot rum and tonic water. Not so fun.

But in the past three years of cruising all summer, ice was always within a few days' sail, and we ended up buying it anyway to make COOL rum and tonic water.
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Old 22-10-2012, 12:52   #9
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

i'm all for simplicity. if you can enjoy living without refrigeration - even living without ice - go right ahead. one of my favorite boat cook books was written by a couple who cruised the bahamas without either.

i installed refrigeration and, although it's the largest consumer of amps on the boat, my wife wouldn't go cruising without it. i probably would....
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Old 22-10-2012, 12:59   #10
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

I think having a small energy efficient block ice maker on board would be a cool way to go. Make your own ice as needed to keep the cool box cool... It seems refrigeration is such a daily energy hog, I'd rather get away with running something a couple times a week. I don't think such a solution exists though...
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Old 22-10-2012, 13:01   #11
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

In the Bahamas it depends on where you sail or hang out as far as ice availability goes. If you prefer the quieter spots, there are no bars , restaurants or stores, not to mention ice. In the settlements if ice is available, it's expensive and slushy. Very seldom can you get block ice. I have a freezer with a spillover fridge (Adler Barbour). My daily power consumption is about 75 to 85 amps and we have lots of ice cubes for our sundowners.
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Old 22-10-2012, 13:08   #12
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

get the refrigeration system and some solar panels and be happy in the long run!
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Old 22-10-2012, 13:08   #13
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

Quote:
Originally Posted by terminalcitygrl View Post
I think having a small energy efficient block ice maker on board would be a cool way to go. Make your own ice as needed to keep the cool box cool... It seems refrigeration is such a daily energy hog, I'd rather get away with running something a couple times a week. I don't think such a solution exists though...
If you can check the Engel product line, and can find a place for it to go, the power consumption is really quite meager. Maybe 25 AH?
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Old 22-10-2012, 13:18   #14
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tia Bu View Post
Well, we have done a good bit of cruising in our previous boat. I would say, while it is nice to have things just like home, there's no way it's ever going to be just like home. It's a boat, after all.

My thinking on the refrigeration began to change when I sailed the new (to us) boat this weekend. Without the solar panels, wind generator, giant cockpit enclosure, heavy battery bank, etc., the thing actually SAILED, by golly!

I'm still not sold on going the ice-alone route. Has anybody been doing it for long-term cruising? I did it many decades ago cruising through the Bahamas. But back then, you couldn't buy ice reliably. So we essentially ate canned goods and drank hot rum and tonic water. Not so fun.

But in the past three years of cruising all summer, ice was always within a few days' sail, and we ended up buying it anyway to make COOL rum and tonic water.
Sounds like you answered your own question. Did you really need our help?
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Old 22-10-2012, 13:26   #15
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Re: Refrigeration versus ice box

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Sounds like you answered your own question. Did you really need our help?
Yes, or I wouldn't have asked. Has anybody tried the all-ice route with newer, more efficient coolers? Or maybe a well-insulated built-in icebox? Has anybody else been unhappy with built-in refrigeration, or are most people happy with it?

Sincerely interested in replies, and many thanks to those who have posted so far.
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