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Refrigeration - My big off season project

Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
When we bought Bella, we knew that the refrigeration wasn't working. The seller said it was the compressor. I want to get a working system installed before we splash her next year. I plan to replace the entire system with something more efficient, especially since we only have a 20A service for the slip. I'd like the new system to come pre-charged. Virtually plug-and-play since there are no services around for many miles.
My old system is a Nova Kool. Probably came with the boat in '91.
I appreciate any recommendations.
 
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Likes: Jimm

Jimm

.
Jan 22, 2008
371
Catalina 34 WK/TR 557 Annapolis
My Adler Barbour system is dead ... in the same hunt.
 
Jun 2, 2004
147
Beneteau 393 Lake Texoma, Texas
I will venture a guess that this thread will resemble "what anchor is best."

My Beneteau 393 was equipped with an Adler Barbour freezer and spill over refrigerator. Following a failure of the compressor, I replaced the original with a new Dometic (which took over AB) compressor, but experienced a failure with the evaporator coil due to an problem by an incompetent AC technician. The original Adler Barbour served me well for 14 years, so I cannot complain with their product. That said, I learned that what I consider a design flaw in the Dometic system, as compared to other systems on the market, that the linking tube between the compressor and the evaporator coil contains a tiny capillary tube with an opening about the size of a common sewing needle. ANY debris that might flow from the compressor to the coil can result in a blockage of the coil that in most cases cannot be cleared. I spent a considerable number of hours shopping refrigeration systems while at the Annapolis Boat Show and ultimately replaced the entire original AB system with a unit from SeaFrost. The folks at SeaFrost were incredibly responsible and helpful with the measurements and requirements for the new system. The system has worked flawlessly since installation and I am thrilled with the results. My boat is located in Texas with long, hot summers and the unit works extremely efficiently. I did elect to upgrade to the higher level exterior thermostat controller which gives one the option to set and monitor both the coil temp and box temp. I am sure that other systems out there work well, but I cannot say enough positive about my move to the SeaFrost system. The price was very competitive and after the installation questions have been answered promptly by the factory folks.
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,998
Hunter 26 Charleston
I don't know the first thing about how to install refrigeration. So.... I'd be interested in following a "here is what I did/doing" thread if you are inclined to start one.
 
Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
I will venture a guess that this thread will resemble "what anchor is best."
Nope. Just looking for a new, pre-charged system. If someone found one that is easy to install, I'm listening. Jackdaw posted his experience installing one a while back. I bookmarked it but it's gone.
I can post the project in the mods section when I get going on it.
 
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Likes: rgranger
Jan 18, 2016
679
Catalina 387 Dana Point
So most of the icebox conversion kits (norcold, isotherm, dometic, etc) are pretty easy to install, if you can get the evaporator into your icebox and get the tubing properly run and connected. They're all pre-charged afaik.

I would not use a water cooled unit. Yes, maybe more efficient, but lots more to go wrong and corrode. The air cooled units are easier to install to boot. Mine uses 3.5A while running, at around 50% duty cycle with a horribly insulated icebox.

Other options are drop-in units (requires no refrigeration work, just carpentry). If I had the time for my C-30 I'd likely just build in an engel. But the conversion kit that's in there now works fine.

On the high end are spillovers, holdover plates, etc... Likely way overkill for a 30 ft boat.
 
Dec 25, 2000
5,045
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Nope. Just looking for a new, pre-charged system. If someone found one that is easy to install, I'm listening. Jackdaw posted his experience installing one a while back. I bookmarked it but it's gone.
I can post the project in the mods section when I get going on it.
Wrote a project report on the replacement of our original 1991 AB refrigerator awhile back. Did the replacement myself with a bit of help from a fellow skipper in 2015. That report is here:
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,357
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
I installed a convertion model of Isotherm in my icebox a year ago. I would recommend evaluating and increasing the insulation to the box prior to figuring our your new system. If you end up installing rigid foam to the inside of the box your square footage will be less allowing for a smaller unit. Pay attention to sealing surfaces and lids/doors. I don't recommend the energy conservation module Isotherm offers. Went through 2 of them on instalation and aband
ed the idea.
 
Jan 7, 2014
254
Beneteau 45F5 51551 Port Jefferson
I have had two boats with fridge problems. First was An AB system on an '87 ericson with a danfoss control module and the second used a frigoboat control module on a '93 beneteau. Both times it was the 4 pin control module. On the ericson I found a used one for $50. On the Beneteau I have a new one from Kollman marine for about $250. I don't think Kollmann is selling them anymore but there is tons of advice on his website.

 
Sep 15, 2013
690
Catalina 270 Baltimore
I replaced mine two years ago with an Isotherm pre-charged model from Defender. Took a leisurely half day to install it. So far so good. There is a thread on it somewhere back there but I am not technically adept enough to retrieve it.
 
Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Geesh there's a lot to choose from. This is just the Isotherm models:
I'm pretty sure I want an air cooled model. The current installation under the settee is ventilated.
 
Apr 14, 2009
740
Sabre 28 NH
I don't recommend the energy conservation module Isotherm offers. Went through 2 of them on instalation and aband
ed the idea.
I did an Isotherm install on my boat last year & had good luck with their E.C.M.
Don't think I used more than 20 amps a day. But I'm up north.
 
Sep 15, 2013
690
Catalina 270 Baltimore
There are 2 kinds of ECMs for the Isotherms. The one I have has just a dial. The other one has more gadgets but from what I saw on other posts it is very problematic and best avoided. I have no complaints with the one I have. One caveat is it is a smart device that must be programmed with 8 dip switches. The correct function (or lack thereof) is a result of how you program it. It does not come preprogrammed.
 

JerryA

.
Oct 17, 2004
547
Tanzer 29 Jeanneau Design Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie
My refrigeration stopped working about a year after purchasing my boat in 2015. I did the search for new. However, I found a couple internet articles talking about recharging. I bought a line tap, charging hose with gauge and some automotive Freon. About $45 worth of stuff. Fixed it. Been working since. As low as 25 degrees on a 90 degree day. Might be worth a try.

JerryA
 
Jul 6, 2013
172
Catalina 30TR, Atomic 4 2480 Milwaukee
When we bought Bella, we knew that the refrigeration wasn't working. The seller said it was the compressor. I want to get a working system installed before we splash her next year. I plan to replace the entire system with something more efficient, especially since we only have a 20A service for the slip. I'd like the new system to come pre-charged. Virtually plug-and-play since there are no services around for many miles.
My old system is a Nova Kool. Probably came with the boat in '91.
I appreciate any recommendations.
I installed an Isotherm precharged system 2 years ago. Very straight-forward installation. Essentially a drop-in replacement for the old. It holds the temperature very well. It runs on 12V. You’ll have to check the specs for current draw.
 
Apr 22, 2011
735
Hunter 27 Pecan Grove, Oriental, NC
Nope. Just looking for a new, pre-charged system. If someone found one that is easy to install, I'm listening. Jackdaw posted his experience installing one a while back. I bookmarked it but it's gone.
This is probably the thread that you bookmarked: 270 icebox conversion

My Isotherm conversion is still performing well.
 

HMT2

.
Mar 20, 2014
883
Hunter 31 828 Shoreacres, TX
I don’t own one of these, I currently have a dorm fridge and an actual ice box. When I do decide to add refrigeration this will be toward the top of my list. I like the user serviceable aspect of it.

 
Jul 7, 2004
8,004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
I don’t own one of these, I currently have a dorm fridge and an actual ice box. When I do decide to add refrigeration this will be toward the top of my list. I like the user serviceable aspect of it.

Nice! We sail a pond but it is remote from the service industry "who charge like a cardiac surgeon", so user serviceable is a plus. I just don't know if it will fit.