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Old 26-05-2024, 10:43   #1
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Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

My vessel is on the border between a boat and a ship, at 97' LOA and nearly 100 tons of steel hulled ketch. A lot of the systems on the ship are household appliances as there is a lot of space to put things, for example a tall refrigerator/freezer.

Presently I just have a 10-year old Dometic CF-110 which is dying, a rebuild of some of the electronics lasted only 1 year and I think it's on its last legs and not worth investing more time and money. And frankly, it was never enough for the boat and incredibly inconvenient, I hated having to clean it out every week and the inch of condensation splashing around the bottom with no drain hole.

So I plan to install a standard household refigerator/freezer, most likely a top freezer unit though I know there are more efficient types. I am not going to buy a chest unit again. I have a couple of solar panels for my 24v bank but if I have to run the generator more frequently so be it, I would really like to have ice cubes occasionally. BTW I did try a table-top ice maker but my last new one died after only a year so at that rate ice cubes are too bloody expensive!

Household refrigerators are reasonably cheap and very reliable. After owning 6 boats I have found that all marine systems are unreliable and too expensive so I'm heartily sick of that direction. If a Home Depot fridge dies after a decade it's drastically cheaper just to buy a new one than farting around with installed compressors/iceboxes etc.

Any of you out there going this direction, of have experience of it? Any power draw wisdom, for example amp.hours/day from an inverter? Do they work on modified sine-wave inverters, or do they need full sine wave?
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Old 26-05-2024, 13:39   #2
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

For what it's worth, we have a small and 15year old household fridge on-board our 35ft catamaran. Works fine, still top opening would be more efficient as the cold does not drain out so quickly.
The convenience of just opening the fridge normally is nice though.


Power wise it's no problem either.

We have 1200w Solar and an 840Ah LiFePo4 battery.
We live full-time on-board and even run the desalinator and water heater (we have also thermo solar) from it and cook partly electric.
The fridge runs via the permanently switched on Chinese inverter. 2000w permanent, 3000w peak.
This is an inverter not dedicated to the fridge, it also supplies other users in parallel.



I do not see a problem in your case. If you get more solar, get rigid industrial panels. They are way cheaper and can stand abuse just as well. Cheaper to replace too.



LiFePo4 built up from individual cells is much cheaper than drop in lead replacements.
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Old 26-05-2024, 13:55   #3
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

Nice, 840 amp.hours of battery is a dream for us, but LiFePo has now definitely surpassed the usable amp.hours.charge cycle per dollar curve with lead acid batteries so apart from the charger replacement cost, that is definitely the way to go! If your solar controller can be programmed for LiFePo even better. In our situation unfortunately we need to replace the charger operating from our generator and probably alternator charging too.

Glad to hear you are having no problems with your household refrigerator. My experience is showing that regular household refrigeration is actually better than expensive marine systems though probably not as efficient - I think it's partly because marine stuff is not manufactured in the millions and that has an impact on lreliability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
For what it's worth, we have a small and 15year old household fridge on-board our 35ft catamaran. Works fine, still top opening would be more efficient as the cold does not drain out so quickly.
The convenience of just opening the fridge normally is nice though.


Power wise it's no problem either.

We have 1200w Solar and an 840Ah LiFePo4 battery.
We live full-time on-board and even run the desalinator and water heater (we have also thermo solar) from it and cook partly electric.
The fridge runs via the permanently switched on Chinese inverter. 2000w permanent, 3000w peak.
This is an inverter not dedicated to the fridge, it also supplies other users in parallel.



I do not see a problem in your case. If you get more solar, get rigid industrial panels. They are way cheaper and can stand abuse just as well. Cheaper to replace too.



LiFePo4 built up from individual cells is much cheaper than drop in lead replacements.
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Old 26-05-2024, 14:07   #4
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

Captain Ray I see lots of house hold bar fridges being used on boats. Particularly cats and power boats where it's more level sailing.
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Old 27-05-2024, 09:29   #5
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

My 56 foot Alaskan trawler has all household appliances. It was built that way 15 years ago.
Full size refrigerator/freezer and 2 chest freezers. Gas top oven with electric stove.
I installed 2400 watts of solar over the winter. I have been topping off my batteries every few days with the generator.
I replaced 2 of the AC units with 24 volt units also. Still figuring everything out.
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Old 27-05-2024, 11:28   #6
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

Our boat was built/delivered with household under-counter drawer fridge and door freezer. The auto defrost feature is nice.

Don't know energy consumption (I haven't had to care, yet), but they're Energy Star rated. They do run on the pure sine wave inverter we installed; don't know about modified.

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Old 27-05-2024, 12:43   #7
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

I added an inexpensive 3CF household freezer to our 50ft cat as a third freezer. Paid $199. My 12V similiar size Isotherm cost $1300. I did it before leaving for the Bahamas figuring loading it with a Costco trip - paid for itself in one year of saved food costs over the Bahamas.

Over 24 hours it uses 50% more power than the Isotherm freezer (averages 35 watts instead of 24 watts). The door gaskets are better, it's quiet, and it keeps the ice cream harder. It's not self defrosting. A self defrosting fridge/freezer would be somewhat less efficient. But with 2000 watts of solar panel and 1500AH lithium battery bank I don't notice the difference.

Over 2 years it's run like a champ not bothered at all by rough passages.

Presumably a full size fridge/freezer would do a little better. One choice is whether through the door ice and water is a good idea. It's a big hole in the insulation but means much less door opening.
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Old 27-05-2024, 13:16   #8
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

I have the space for (3) domestics . 2door Galley , deep freeze and a bar frig.
12 y.o. used 75% of year . My motive - cheap compared to marine , reliable, easy and cheap to replace. I do ensure good ventilation . Recommend.
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Old 27-05-2024, 14:41   #9
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

Beware many newer "eco" fridges use R600a refrigerant instead of the older R134a. R600a does use less energy but has a major flaw when it comes to use in vehicles and boats, it is flammable.
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Old 28-05-2024, 07:34   #10
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

There was a large thread about this a while ago. Many people have said that if you have the space, a household is the way to go. The big issue is that the doors don't latch, so if your boat heels, it becomes a problem. On Cats and trawlers/powerboats, not an issue. Supposedly they are insulated just as well as boat refrigs, new refrigs are super energy efficient.

The biggest issue new refrigs have is the icemaker/watersystem. #1 thing that breaks. I would purchase one that either doesn't have this and just use ice trays, or get one that doesn't not have a through the door dispenser, just makes it internally if you don't want to use trays.

On a 97' yacht, full size refrig would be my choice rather than a series of marine ice drawers. BTW, top freezer is most efficient.
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Old 28-05-2024, 08:04   #11
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Re: Common household refrigerators on a boat - any experiences?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post
The big issue is that the doors don't latch, so if your boat heels, it becomes a problem. On Cats and trawlers/powerboats, not an issue.

Yep, our boat builder added a second latching system over ours... separate dogs that rotate down to hold the door and drawers closed.

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