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Old 15-09-2016, 05:26   #1
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Fridge ice box conversions

Trying to get the beer cold on the boat and am overwhelmed with the choices.
Boat has a nice seemingly well insulated built in fridge but the previous owner removed the electronics so I will need a complete system. Holding plates, evaporator plates, dual voltage, lp, so many options. Boat is primarily a liveaboard at the dock but some day that may change. Current fridge is 7.5-8 cubic feet. Budget is also a strong concern right now I'm hemoragining money like crazy on the new boat.
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Old 15-09-2016, 08:05   #2
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

You may want to post this in the Plumbing Systems and Fixtures forum here, you may get more responses .

First thing you need to do is to determine the amount and condition of the insulation in the box . Either by doing an ice melt test or actually drilling into it and looking at the insulation.

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Old 15-09-2016, 08:41   #3
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

I'd go to a box store and buy a dorm fridge and use it until I made my decision, that takes the urgency off of having to do something immedately.
My vote is for the cool blue, largely cause it's KISS and support is always available, even on holiday weekends, saved my once a year vacation trip this year.
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Old 15-09-2016, 08:49   #4
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

The most important thing with conversions is LEARN THE SYSTEM INSIDE AND OUT! I mean don't just pick it and have someone else install it. YOU install it. understand all the components, how they're connected.etc. One day you'll need to repair something and it will help you tremendously! I inherited a Frigoboat system and initially didn't realize that it was missing some O-rings in the connectors. getting them later cost me nearly $6 a piece when I factored in the shipping! but without them my system kept loosing refrigerant and wouldn't cool. Add a can of R134a and the recharge hose, an adapter and now I can diagnose most issues by myself without paying an HVAC tech top $ to have a look! Later I'll buy a vacuum pump from harbor frieght and vacuum the system down and refill it properly just to see if it improves my efficiency at all.

Don't forget to look at the box itself. Most have lousy insulation. Mine has 4 inches of foam except for the top where its barely 1/2" thick! D'oh!!
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Old 15-09-2016, 08:54   #5
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

I would not go dual voltage and definitely not LP under any circumstances, I would stay with straight 12 VDC and your battery charger makes it dual voltage. I prefer holding plates as if nothing else they give me time to do something if for some reason it stops working or I need to disable it for some reason, but that is a personal preference.
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:21   #6
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

Converting ice box is a messy, expensive job requiring skilled labor. Dorm refrigerator is the obvious way to go. You can easily find one under $150. I would go with AC. Dual power unreliable in my experience and 12v models overpriced. For a few days out use ice.
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:23   #7
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I would not go dual voltage and definitely not LP under any circumstances, I would stay with straight 12 VDC and your battery charger makes it dual voltage. I prefer holding plates as if nothing else they give me time to do something if for some reason it stops working or I need to disable it for some reason, but that is a personal preference.
I agree. Almost every RV I see for sale has a dual voltage/propane fridge and universally what the seller says is "everything works fine but the fridge needs repaired"!
That's a pretty big box. I would just keep the system simple personally. I've had high end systems and simple Coldmachines. The latter seemed to work as good or better than the former.
Nothing wrong with the dorm fridge for now. Typically $129. You can use your current ice box for dry food storage!
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:24   #8
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

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Converting ice box is a messy, expensive job requiring skilled labor. Dorm refrigerator is the obvious way to go. You can easily find one under $150. I would go with AC. Dual power unreliable in my experience and 12v models overpriced. For a few days out use ice.
Not sure what conversions you've done, but an icebox conversion is pretty easy if you don't have to add insulation. you just have to decide where the equipment is going and install it. The simplest kits only have 2 refrigerant connections to make, power and the thermostat.

Not much mess to it, even if you are super detailed about it. Its one of the easiest improvements to make!
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:33   #9
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

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Not sure what conversions you've done, but an icebox conversion is pretty easy if you don't have to add insulation. you just have to decide where the equipment is going and install it. The simplest kits only have 2 refrigerant connections to make, power and the thermostat.

Not much mess to it, even if you are super detailed about it. Its one of the easiest improvements to make!
And how much cooler space is occupied by the conversion kit?
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:56   #10
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

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Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
Not sure what conversions you've done, but an icebox conversion is pretty easy if you don't have to add insulation. you just have to decide where the equipment is going and install it. The simplest kits only have 2 refrigerant connections to make, power and the thermostat.

Not much mess to it, even if you are super detailed about it. Its one of the easiest improvements to make!

That was my experience, by far the hardest part of it was making a shelf for the compressor to sit on, the rest was literally plug and play
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:57   #11
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

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And how much cooler space is occupied by the conversion kit?
Thin plate evaporator, very little, a holding plate, think losing three inches off of one wall
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:57   #12
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

I installed refrigerator and freezer systems from Sea Frost. As one of the other posters mentioned, there are relatively few connections to make: two refrigerant lines at the condenser unit, two refrigerant lines at the evaporator plate (or plates), power (two wires) and the thermostat. The lines have quick disconnect fittings on them and the whole system comes pre-charged, so no messing with freon and what not.

Most of the work was building a shelf for the condensers and routing the refrigerant lines and the power wires from the switch panel (you want large gauge wire, 8 AWG or higher). If you get the water cooled option (which supplements the standard air cooling), you'll have to install a pump and the associated thru hulls.

Sea Frost builds custom evaporator plates for your box (you give them the dimensions) at no extra cost, which is nice. Both systems have worked well for 7 years now. If found their support to be first rate when I ordered the system and they delivered it. I haven't needed to talk to them since...

Current thinking is to get systems with 12v Danfoss compressors and evaporator plates rather than big compressors and holding plates. The reason is that most cruisers have alt energy sources these days, wind or solar or both, and that is usually enough to keep up with a refrigerator if not a freezer, if the insulation in the box is relatively good.

I would certainly NOT bother with a 120v option for a permanently installed system. Your battery charger will take care of supplying 12v at the dock.
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Old 15-09-2016, 11:13   #13
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

Quote:
Originally Posted by b-rad View Post
Trying to get the beer cold on the boat and am overwhelmed with the choices.
Boat has a nice seemingly well insulated built in fridge but the previous owner removed the electronics so I will need a complete system. Holding plates, evaporator plates, dual voltage, lp, so many options. Boat is primarily a liveaboard at the dock but some day that may change. Current fridge is 7.5-8 cubic feet. Budget is also a strong concern right now I'm hemoragining money like crazy on the new boat.
Also consider the drop ins - self contained units.

https://www.amazon.com/Engel-MB40V-H.../dp/B0078T3DG4
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Old 15-09-2016, 11:31   #14
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

I agree with SAINTED , I am going through the same problem right now - I have a 220 volt system with holding plates , that runs via an inverter from the battery bank or shore power ,it works very well , EXCEPT that in 15 minutes it has whacked the batteries . This is a SAILING boat with no freezer/ fridge , except when motoring . I intend to fit a 12 volt WAECO compressor unit . One to run the fridge and a second unit for the freezer - if I can't find a single unit to run both - I hope to air cool the units , but will water cool if rqd . the power rqd is not that high - good luck Garth fair winds
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Old 15-09-2016, 11:55   #15
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Re: Fridge ice box conversions

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I would not go dual voltage and definitely not LP under any circumstances, I would stay with straight 12 VDC and your battery charger makes it dual voltage. I prefer holding plates as if nothing else they give me time to do something if for some reason it stops working or I need to disable it for some reason, but that is a personal preference.
I concur on the dual voltage with the exception that I recommend it if the battery charger is undersized. If one may have access to shorepower for short periods, it is desirable for all charger power to go into the batteries instead of into the refrigerator. Of course a better solution is to install a bigger charger, but sometimes it's a "this or that" budget decision for the owner. The dual voltage compressor controller is only about a $75 adder where a larger charger is much more.
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