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Old 02-08-2014, 04:53   #1
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Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

Hello all,

It's been 35 degrees here for the last few days and the poor fridge is struggling a little. Are there any tips out there for helping the poor thing? I've read that trying to keep the Fridge as full as possible is the best way?

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Simon
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:06   #2
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

I don't think adding more stuff will help. Lots of thermodynamic math could follow that statement but basically it's about sealing and insulation...

One she-sailor around here mentioned she kept her yoga mat stored on top of the top loader and she found it kept the fridge cooler.

If you have a handheld I/R gun you could shoot the door seal and see if there are any cold spots (leaks)

If you can get access around the reefer maybe stuffing in something to help insulate the outside of the box.

I presume the motor is cycling pretty hard? Any idea of the amp draw as compared to previous times?
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:19   #3
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

I'll take a look at the amps. I haven't seen anything weird going on though.
We have a top door and a front door. I think the front door is a little crazy, you have to get in and out in seconds or all the cool air rushes out.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:31   #4
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

It could be short of gas?
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:35   #5
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

Simon, most of the airleaks are at the doors. If it was strictly a top load then you could add a thermal blanket on the top that I found helped in the past. If you have plenty of room and its doable you could put 2-3" of Styrofoam in the bottom of the box and while it reduces the volume it also helps.
Unfortunately the builders build these units more for looks than functionality and in most cases simply use expanding foam spray which doesn't have excellent insulation and over time soaks up moisture from the air.
Good luck!
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:36   #6
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

There might be a coolant leak.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:46   #7
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

I hear you on the looks side of things.
My boat is new so I'm hoping it's not gas or coolant related but I'll check.

I might try and see if there's anyway to add more insulation around the unit as well.

Thanks,
Simon
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:51   #8
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

That front door is a killer. Avoid using it if at all possible.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:51   #9
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Re: Tips for keeping the darn Fridge cold

When was the last time you cleaned the air coils on the condenser?


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Old 02-08-2014, 06:06   #10
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

35 degrees outside air for an air cooled compressor is a lot as the actual temperature in the enclosed area it sits in will be a lot more. I doubt there are problems with the unit as its obviously working but just working hard and longer I suspect. Make sure that your compressor is getting lots of air to replace all the heat it is creating. Depending on the situation some folks add a little computer fan to help drive out the hot air. In the Med you are only dealing with thse temps for a couple of months so you can live with it but if you ever plan on going to the tropics then it wouldn't be a bad idea to improve the box.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:07   #11
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

A fan blowing on the compressor should help. Make sure you have good air circulation around the compressor and that the heat is exhausted from the area efficiently.

Also use only the top opening and use it as efficiently as possible.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:12   #12
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

If you have a Danfoss compressor, they make a shroud kit with an additional fan and air duct. You can use it to pull cooler air from low in the boat right into the condenser.

Alternately, if the air is cool in the compressor region but getting hot because it is not exhausting, the fans can be reversed to duct the hot air to a remote place.

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Old 02-08-2014, 17:36   #13
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

simonpickard,

The short term [partial] solution is to quit using the opening door, if possible, and use only the top opening. In addition, plan the openings, limit them as much as possible. Probably the only leaks you are dealing with are human induced.

At some point, you will want to improve the insulation. This will often mean making the fridge somewhat smaller, but you buy the best insulation product you can find, and line the fridge with it. The insulating properties of the material you use will be listed so you can work out how much you will need. Your current fridge probably has some low-to-medium grade insulation in it, maybe 2" thick, which you will find inadequate for warmer climes in summer, also for somewhere equatorial, which is never cool.

Another possible solution is to upgrade the fridge itself: what I would look for are refrigerators for use in outback areas where it is both hot and power is limited for storing medicines that require cooling, like the Australian "Trailblaza". This would mean removing the current fridge and finding a new one that will fit, maybe not easy. Sometimes you can insulate around the outside of your present box, an approach that has some appeal if you can create the access. Jim did this on our first Insatiable, using spray in closed cell foam. [And, as far as I know, it never absorbed moisture from the air.]

If you're on shore power now, I suggest you switch to your batteries, which you will rely on on the ARC*, and see what the load for your fridge in your current situation is. If your batteries can't keep up, you'll want to decide how you want to address the problem...larger battery bank, more engine running, or go with less refrigeration (set the thermostat somewhat warmer and see how you live with that--things will spoil faster, though), or no refrigeration. It is common for new cruisers to have problems with refrigeration, you are right to be concerned.

Decommissioning the front opener, or at least installing PVC strips between the goods and the opening (as is done in some supermarkets, to help keep the cold in) until such time as you can reconfigure it to a top loading box exclusively will serve you best.

Good luck with it,

Ann

*you will find it somewhat cooler on the water away from land than in a marina
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Old 02-08-2014, 18:26   #14
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

If the problem is a cold air leak then one of those laser temperature guns can find the offending area very quickly. If it is the front door then you should be seeing condensation around the edges.
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Old 02-08-2014, 18:40   #15
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Re: Tips for Keeping the Darn Fridge Cold

When out we supplimented our chest/fridge on the last boat with ice, but found keeping the fridge full helped keep it cool AND reduced the amount of ice we had to buy. You might consider adding a large piece of meat such as a frozen chicken in lieu of ice. Eat the hen when it thaws sufficiently. Obviously these ideas only are effective for coastal cruising.

Ann's suggestions sound like a better long term plan.
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