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Old 08-01-2018, 19:28   #1
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Custom built drawer refrigerator

Nearly every counter top in my galley has some kind of opening top, which makes meal prep difficult. Need a stick of butter? Clear the fridge top. Also, our 10 cu ft fridge is pretty deep (read: body halfway in to get something out of the bottom), and don't get me started on how well organized it is (not). I realize this is how most boats are set up, but I'm trying to find ways to make life easy for the admiral. I know we'll lose some cu. ft., but I think it will be more organized.

I've attached an image of the galley, and a schematic of the current configuration.

I got to thinking about putting in a drawer fridge, but most of them that fit width and height wise are too deep at the bottom due to the curve of the hull. So now I'm thinking about custom building my own. I already have a compressor and cold plates, I can just relocate them. It doesn't seem like it'd be that difficult, probably the hardest part would be figuring out the sealing and latching mechanism.

I'm guessing for the main body of the fridge, that I could just build a fiberglass box, with an opening on the front and reinforcements on the sides where the slides will be mounted. I might even be able to just cut the front out of the box I have and re-use it somehow? Have a machine shop bend up some drawers for me? Does this sound crazy? Should I stop before I lose it???
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Old 09-01-2018, 13:48   #2
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Boat fridges are built top loading because that really is the most efficient , and we all want our systems to run on solar . I know it is not the most convenient but unless you have a very large power source like shore power you have to take this into account. Every time you open one of those drawers you are going to dump all the cold air inside on your feet , all that cold air has to be replaced. That takes energy , not a biggy when you are at home and the fridge has that big power outlet behind it .

If you still want to go that way ,the hardest part about fridges with drawers is insulating them and having them seal properly when they close . They are notoriously troublesome. I would consider raising the bottom of the fridge you have by adding insulation and then build sliding shelves in side . It is the way of boats to do the fridge dive

Regards John.
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Old 09-01-2018, 13:55   #3
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

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Originally Posted by ColdEh Marine View Post
Boat fridges are built top loading because that really is the most efficient , and we all want our systems to run on solar . I know it is not the most convenient but unless you have a very large power source like shore power you have to take this into account. Every time you open one of those drawers you are going to dump all the cold air inside on your feet , all that cold air has to be replaced. That takes energy , not a biggy when you are at home and the fridge has that big power outlet behind it .

Regards John.
I seem to recall reading somewhere, and I think it was by Richard Kollman, that the amount of thermal energy lost opening the door / drawer was not that great. Most of the thermal energy (or lack of energy?) is in the contents. In that case, opening the lid might be slightly more efficient, but then I have to empty half the contents of the fridge to find what I need, how efficient could that be?
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Old 09-01-2018, 15:21   #4
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

The absolute best way to keep the fridge cold is NEVER OPEN IT, EVER !!

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Old 09-01-2018, 17:33   #5
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Everything else holding equal,

regular front door opening

vs chest style from the top

makes a marginal difference in overall energy efficiency
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Old 09-01-2018, 17:49   #6
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Efficiency is relative and I can only speak from my experience and testing. I have built many fridge boxes in the 7 cubic foot range that run well under 15 amp hours daily in 80F ambient temperatures . Put a door on the front with a good seal and add about 20% more energy used . And that's without ever opening it . But again thats a box built for ultimate efficiency . A box that is less effencient will show less of an impact from the addition of a front door .

Regards John
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Old 09-01-2018, 18:19   #7
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

I agree with the OP's sentiment entirely.

The new Amel 50 has drawer opening refrigerator and freezer in the galley, AND a chest-style cold box under a salon settee. Be interested to know the vendor.

I'll go one better - put the drawer at an ergonomic height. It never made any sense to me why i have to get on my knees to paw through the back of the bottom shelf of the fridge at home. I much prefer a fridge-over-freezer drawer for home.

I also believe a drawer is better than a side opening door, efficiency wise.

I say go for it and take pics along the way!
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Old 09-01-2018, 19:00   #8
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

True as it may be that I'll lose some efficiency, there is something to be said for ergonomics. The top of the fridge is our largest counter top space in the galley, and having to clear it every time to get something out gets old. That, and the lack or organizability is what's pushed me to think about it this.

This also gives me a chance to try to increase the efficiency some. The PO drilled holes and filled with expanding foam on two of the sides, and the bottom. But that still leaves two sides (one of them being the hull which is probably the biggest energy suck). By pulling it all out I'll be able to upgrade to modern standards.
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Old 09-01-2018, 21:26   #9
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

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Originally Posted by sailingunity View Post
I seem to recall reading somewhere, and I think it was by Richard Kollman, that the amount of thermal energy lost opening the door / drawer was not that great. Most of the thermal energy (or lack of energy?) is in the contents. In that case, opening the lid might be slightly more efficient, but then I have to empty half the contents of the fridge to find what I need, how efficient could that be?
Yep.

The heat in a small body of air is essentially zero. The specific heat is low and the mass is trivial. (A cubic foot of air weighs 0.0807 pounds.)
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Old 09-01-2018, 22:04   #10
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

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Yep.

The heat in a small body of air is essentially zero. The specific heat is low and the mass is trivial. (A cubic foot of air weighs 0.0807 pounds.)
I would think the unlikelihood of getting a long-term quality draw seal along with the likelihood that the draw will be opened a lot more times than a standard top load would lead to a decent heat cost in practical use.
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Old 10-01-2018, 06:45   #11
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

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True as it may be that I'll lose some efficiency, there is something to be said for ergonomics. The top of the fridge is our largest counter top space in the galley, and having to clear it every time to get something out gets old. That, and the lack or organizability is what's pushed me to think about it this.

This also gives me a chance to try to increase the efficiency some. The PO drilled holes and filled with expanding foam on two of the sides, and the bottom. But that still leaves two sides (one of them being the hull which is probably the biggest energy suck). By pulling it all out I'll be able to upgrade to modern standards.

Drilling holes and injecting foam will not yield great results , The spray foam needs air to expand , in a closed space, like behind a liner it will fail to expand fully and ends up leaving a gooey mess with no additional R value .

Pulling it all out is an option , It all depends on your cruising goals and areas . Also on your ability to generate power . If you have a large solar array maybe you can bare the inefficiency's of your refrigeration system.

Regards John
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Old 10-01-2018, 07:17   #12
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Sounds like a complicated solution to a kitchen prep space problem. Our boat came with inserts that fit over the sinks to make them into additional counter space. We are modifying one to make it a cutting board with a strainer built in.... cut what you need to cut and push it into the basket strainer. Wash if needed and so forth. We also are going to route out the top of one of our fridge covers and put a cutting board on that, or maybe a marble insert that we can use for hot stuff or put in the freezer to use as a cheese board later in the day.
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Old 10-01-2018, 07:28   #13
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Seafreezeusa out of Bellimgham, WA makes custom configurations for the commercial boys and us recreational
Boaters, too. Also has some sizes that are drop-ins for the more standard units. Remote compressor too. One of my best boat upgrades. About 1/3 more than an off the shelf garden variety from a marine supply. Positively worth every penny.
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:38   #14
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Think about moving the fridge/freezer to a different location, looking at your pic, possibly inboard area next to the sink would work, then use the old location for storage. Last year, i installed a drawer/freezer for a customer where the chart table was.
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:41   #15
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Re: Custom built drawer refrigerator

Doug, can't tell from the pic, but the counter you sited is not very wide. If anything, I thought about putting it in the wet locker location.
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