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Old 14-08-2011, 18:37   #1
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Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap ?

I was working in my shop yesterday... it was hot. I went to the small frig to grab a beer. I got looking at it thinking it needs defrosting, so I shut it down. Came back a few hours later and chipped off the remaining ice. I looked at the evaporator and it looked familiar... reminded me of an Adler Barbour Cold Machine 150....

So.... Why not go to the local appliance store and pick up a small dormitory style refrigerator, for $125 and mine it for parts?

Now before the flames start:
  • I know its not 12V
  • I know its not as efficient
  • I know it won't run on a heel
  • I know there will be blood, sweat, and tears before it works in the boat... but saving $1200 will go a long way to soothe that pain.

I get to use my boat one week a month, so 40 weeks of the year it sits dockside happily consuming shore power. I have a Honda EU2000, which I run a couple hours, twice a day when on the hook for lights, cooking, and fans, batteries etc.

I have no solar or wind power, only about 150AH of house bank, and a small inverter. Id never be running it under sail, and only run the aux motor if no wind (no heeling then and the alternator/inverter would drive the small compressor)

Opinions?
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Old 14-08-2011, 18:46   #2
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Re: Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap?

This is great idea depending on the style of your cruising and boat use! There was a span of time that we didn't "mine it for parts", but simply put an automotive seat belt across the the door of our apartment size refrigerator on board while sailing and either opened it on a port tack or at the dock. It might seem like an odd request from below to come about to grab a beer, but it's been done before!
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Old 14-08-2011, 18:47   #3
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Re: Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap?

i got a midsized non frost free ac home type GE fridge freezer on the 37 foot power boat. I think it uses about 3 amps to run.
mostly it is ok not sea water cooled. i thought about using a small pump runfrom compressor circuit with a relay, take 3/8 copper tube loop on top of condensor for extra cooling. it can add unwanted cabin heat in summer. when away from dock, I use a 3000 watt inverter to run it or use a gen set.
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Old 14-08-2011, 19:19   #4
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Re: Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap?

I did wonder about cabin heat... dockside the AC runs, so no big deal.. On the hook, plenty of air moves through.
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Old 14-08-2011, 20:49   #5
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Re: Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap?

Before leaving the St. Pete area, I bought a 1.2 cubic foot Frigidaire fridge from Sears for $78. Intending to stop buying ice even while at the dock. It's strapped in the nav station seat now. It draws 65 watts AC when running. Of course start up load is more.

My 700 watt modified sine wave inverter wouldn't start it, but I was going to use it at the dock only. I have since upgraded to a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter with 2000 watt surge that was on sale around $300. This was for my computers and tools but it runs the fridge fine.

I have 210 Ah of AGMs and a new 80 amp alternator (internal regulator). I killed a 22 year old 55 amp alternator last week when I absent mindedly turned off the switch before pulling the fuel off. Damn it, but I got a larger charger now.

No solar, wind, or generator, yet. But I have been using the fridge without a problem and not buying ice for several weeks now. When I motor, the thermostat is maxed out in the fridge. At anchor, I turn the stat down a notch. And then unplug the fridge at midnight when I turn in for the night.

Next morning I start the engine and turn the fridge back to max.

I'm still sorting this out but I think I could leave it on almost all the time. Several sailing only days in a row would be a challenge. But I think running the engine an hour in the morning and again in the evening would work. I just don't want to charge at no load on the engine much. Or discharge to 50% regularly. If I'm going to sail a long, long day, then I look for an excuse to motor sail for a couple of hours during the day.

So far I haven't gone below 12.2 volts or had any food spoil, and the engine has started each morning.

I run it while healed also. It only cost $78. I was spending that much on ice every couple of months.

Still would like to do an ice box conversion in the future. But I would consider a retrofit of the guts from this small fridge and some new insulation in the ice box. I think it would work.
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Old 04-12-2011, 18:25   #6
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I have a voice of experience to the original posters question. I bought 2 used small refrigerators with a goal of "mining it for parts" and putting the compressor and cooling coils in the vented engine compartment and the evaporator in the ice box. I bought all the fittings because i had to cut the freon line.
I drilled a hole in the ice box, put the e
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Old 04-12-2011, 18:30   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glhotka
I have a voice of experience to the original posters question. I bought 2 used small refrigerators with a goal of "mining it for parts" and putting the compressor and cooling coils in the vented engine compartment and the evaporator in the ice box. I bought all the fittings because i had to cut the freon line.
I drilled a hole in the ice box, put the e
Sorry hit enter too quick.
I drilled a hole in the ice box, put the evaporator in it and ran the freon line to the engine compartment. Put all the fittings to join the freon lines back together and used a freon pump to empty all the freon, then charge the system. We never could get the first one to get cold.
I scrapped all of that and used the second one (they both worked before disassembly). I repeated the process and had a refrigeration tech help to remove and charge the freon. Fully charged the evaporator only got cold for about an hour.
We suspected that maybe something got in the freon line during the cutting and patching and installing the freon insertion ports maybe blocked the freon line in the evaporator.

I gave up, without success.
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Old 04-12-2011, 18:57   #8
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Re: Convert From Ice to Electric on the Cheap ?

Just an idea from s/v Peace IV, they bought a cheap cube freezer, which I believe they run off a small generator once a day, if necessary. They freeze ice and food in it and use the ice in their icebox. They are a catamaran, so the heeling ins't a problem. They have 600 AH with solar collectors and a windmill. Apparently this works well in the Caribbean with the tradewinds at anchor.
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