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Author Topic: Installation of Refrigeration  (Read 5758 times)

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Wobegon

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Installation of Refrigeration
« on: June 08, 2009, 02:42:48 PM »

I am a proud new (to me) owner of a 1992 Catalina 34 (hull 1211) with the walk-thru transom. Upon purchase this spring I thought I might like to install refrigeration into the ice-box.  After an extended weekend cruise this week, with blocks of ice, I have now determined I do indeed want to install refrigeration. (Not too found of the pump system for the icebox)  I am sure there are multiple posts regarding this issue, but since I am new to the forum, I am not sure how to find, so I thought I would just ask. 

I am sure there are many different answers to this question, but would appreciate all responses...PICTURES WOULD ALSO BE HELPFUL...hint, hint.  Here is what I am wondering...

 - Where should the compressor be installed? and how?
 - What is the size of the ice-box...what volume am I trying to cool
 - What are the recommended unit types and brings for both the evaporator and compressor

Any advice would be appreciated.   I sail on western basin of Lake Erie and the temps are fairly mild, with August being in the 90s...so It does not stay too warm too long. Thank you in advance.

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Craig Illman

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 03:05:49 PM »

Wobegon - As I always say, "the horse is the cheap part". Once you install refrigeration, you'll need to become intimately aware of your energy consumption and budget. Start perusing the forum and wiki for information on electrical system upgrades. This isn't meant to discourage you, rather to suggest that you may need to consider more than just the compressor and evaporator.

I did it to my 1991, happy I did it, spent a lot of money.

Craig
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jmnpe

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 09:46:36 PM »

Wobegon,

Most of the split transom boats had the compressor mounted in the aft starboard locker directly below the hatch. However, I had one on our 1991 ( hull 1120 ) located in that spot, and I thought it was a horrible location: it made it extremely hard to go below from that side, which by them is the only access since the propane tank in usually mounted in the port locker. It also it terrible to get to the compressor for service, or replacement of the fuse on the unit. In addition, if you try to stow anything in the starboard locker you run the risk of damaging something on the compressor unit.

For my money, the better location is at the forward inboard end of the space under the salon U shaped seating on the starboard side of the boat. You can easily place a ventilation grate in the inboard wall of the under-seat area for cooling air exhaust from the compressor, and the distance from there to the ice box is within the range of most  prefab coolant lines to the evaporator in the ice box.

For the money, it's hard to beat an Adler-Barbour ( now WAIKO ) Cold Machine. It has ample cooling capacity for the C34 ice box, whatever size it is, and the Cold Machine is very reliable and generally trouble free as long as you don't try to defrost the evaporator with a knife or ice pick  :? . But that's another story...........

Even in the summer here in Texas ( 100+ degrees and blistering sun ), the Cold Machine ( once the ice box and contents are cold ) on our current C34 seldom runs more than a 50% duty cycle unless you are really fanning the door going after beer for 6 people, one beer at a time :rolling. This translates to about 50 to 60 amp-hr per day battery consumption. Unless you are only planning to day sail, you will need more than the standard 2-battery configuration for a house and starting bank, so you will have to add this upgrade to your cost of the fridge if you don't already have provisions for a larger house bank. Of course, Stu and I will then tell you that according to the Gospel of Battery Management, your next upgrade after that should be a battery monitor system such as the Xantrex Link LITE to tell you how you are doing on battery capacity consumption in real time and when you need to recharge the batteries. Soon after that, you will begin to think about a high output alternator so that you can recharge your now larger house bank in a more reasonable time than the rather small stock alternator will allow....... 

Think of it as a woman buying a new purse ( no negative connotations associated with that action, or what follows !!! ) , and the on-going accessorization to get everything to coordinate properly so that the purse looks it's best. Adding electric refrigeration on the boat is like that...... The good news is that it is worth it. Not hustling for ice is a very nice thing when you are out for overnight or several days.

I've attached some photo of my installation. The last photo shows that the louvered vent for the compressor area is a pop-out unit, and it makes many elements of the installation and later potential access actions much easier. In my installation, the normal fan mounting position causes the air to be pulled though the cooling section and them back across the compressor. However, it is possible to simply remove the fan and rotate it 180 degrees so that the fan blows air outward through the cooling coils and through the large louvered vent rather than heating up the whole area under the settee. I also added a small plastic louvered vent in the compartment inboard wall in the middle of the most outboard section of the settee seating.

This is certainly not the only way to have an iceless icebox, but it works for me, particularly having a second round at getting a C34 just the way I want it.

John
1988 C34 hull 728
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John Nixon
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Lance Jones

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2009, 07:14:33 AM »

I just had to replace my Adler Barbour Cold Machine. I agree, great piece of kit for the boat. While they are available through West Marine, Defender and the like, call the Catalina Parts office and compare the price for a new Cold Machine and Evaporator Plate. That's where I got mine and I think you'll be surprised as to how much different the price is from the other places.

Craig/John are right. Start thinking power management now! I converted from 2, two-battery banks to 1 bank of three (House) and 1 bank of one (Starter). It made ALL the difference in the world for my boat. We can go out for several days, run the fridge, TV, Stereo and still have power. This is a great resource for ideas and the folks on the site are great!

Cheers!
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 07:16:44 AM by pogmusic »
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Rick Johnson

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2009, 08:05:52 AM »

I have a CoolBlue by Technautics. 

http://www.technauticsinc.com

Very happy with the system and it keeps my beer cool, even the hottest Texas summer day.  The energy requirements seem low but I don't have much to compare it with.  I do know that my Siemens 100w solar panel keeps up with the energy draw of the frig, unless the days turn cloudy.

The compressor is mounted in the same location as John's (under the forward settee).

Cheers,

Rick
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2009, 11:17:48 AM »

W:

The topic about refrigeration location on Mark IIs is here:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5019.0.html

The respondents are correct in that once refrigeration is installed you will have to examine your entire electrical system.  However, before you jump, you MUST consider this:  HOW do you use YOUR boat?

If you are a marina hopper, then all you need is 200 ah for a house bank with a separate reserve bank.  If you'd like to anchor out, then you need at least 400 ah in a house bank (or close to it, we have 360).

The reason for this is that with "normal" use of lighting and other electrical appliances on a boat WITH a fridge using 60 ah a day, your energy budget will show that you use between 80 and 100 ah per day.  See: http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,3976.0.html

Because the use of batteries to keep them healthy requires that you do not draw them down more than 50%, you get one day with a 200 ah house bank and two days with a 400 ah house bank.

The two most employed locations for fridges are where John Nixon suggested in the saloon, and the aft lazarette which is really a no-starter for your boat based on the link provided above.

There are many different vendors out there including the ubiquitous Adler Barbour (now WAECO), NorCold which switches between 12V and 120V depending on whether you're plugged into shorepower or a generator, and the one Rick mentioned.

As suggested, shop around, you will be surprised.

We have written extensively about electrical systems on our boats.  Check out the wiki using the link at the top of this message board page, and read some of them.  We don't know your electrical system expertise.  Regardless, the conclusion we (almost) all have reached is that the best investment you can make for the life of your batteries, after a good quality charger, is a battery monitor as suggested by John.  You may be interested in this discussion about how batteries get charged:  Acceptance:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4787.0.html This topic has a lot of links to other electrical system topics worth reading.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 11:23:32 AM by Stu Jackson »
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BillG

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2009, 03:03:47 PM »

Just got my June issue of Practical Sailor and they review several different types of fridges.
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Kevin Henderson

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 07:47:58 PM »

I know this is an old thread but I found it usefull.  I have found a 1988 Catalina 34 that has the Adler Barber reefer installation.  My concern is the placement of the compressor as well.  This one is located in the starboard side hanging locker and has a small shelf installed over the top.  Ventilation seems to be adequate but I'm wondering if this is a good location.  Has anyone else had their compressor installed at this location?  I know it takes up a small bit of space but we would be looking at coastal cruising and staying pretty close to home.  Is there anything I should be aware of? 8)
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Ken Juul

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2010, 04:43:44 AM »

Another thing to consider is what other options you might want in the future.  The space under the forward settee is also a great place for an air conditioning compresser.  I've got an older NorCold AC/DC powered unit.  It looks much smaller than the compressor in John's pictures.  It is located in the locker port side aft of the navsta.
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jmnpe

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2010, 07:48:16 AM »

Kevin,

The only concern I would have about your installation is the location of the shelf above the unit. As long as it allows good airflow all around the compressor unit such that you get good vertical airflow ( i.e. - cool air in the lower part of the door, and hot air out the top part of the door ) you should have no problem. If you get hot air trapped around the compressor it could be problematic.

On any boat, and especially boats like ours with limited storage outside the cabin confines, where you install ship's systems is all about whatever else you need or want to do with that space. Anyplace that meets the basic installation requirements for the unit can be a good place on your boat. In your case, just remember that all of the locker space above the shelf over the compressor unit is also part of the installation space of the compressor unit. If you fill it up full with all sorts of stuff so that you obstruct the airflow around and through the unit, the unit won't work properly, and a "good" installation location just became a "bad" installation location. The old saying applies: "The devil is in the details!".

John
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John Nixon
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Ron Hill

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2010, 05:56:57 PM »

Wo : The factory installation places the compressor unit as low (heat rises) in the hull as possible (the compressor location changes depending on type transom).
 
As John mentioned about the detail of mounting, others mentioned about the added cost of batteries and upgrading your charging system/s (AC & DC !) to support refrigeration.  All are VERY important.

It's a great convenience, but you need to map out your installation plan in detail.  A thought  :wink:
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Kevin Henderson

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2010, 07:06:29 PM »

Great info and thanks all.
The boat I am considering has also had a pretty extensive upgrade of all the electrical.  She has 3 new glass matt house batteries and a fourth as a starter battery.  She has also had a new alternator installed and the previous owner had the entire electrical panel upgraded/replaced to include a digital battery charge indicator system.  I am concerned about the battery drain but the size and number on board and the alternator should hopefully be adequate.  I am not a blue water cruiser and the most cruising I would hope to be doing is sailing to Catalina and dropping the hook for a week.  Other than that I'll be back in the marina hooked up to shore power.
Another thing since we're talking batteries and drain.  It just occurred to me this boat also has an electric head.  Even with the upgraded electrical, is a reeferAND and electric head going to be too much for even this system?
As always... the amount of sage advice is most appreciated and humbling.  :appl
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The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective.
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2010, 08:16:04 PM »

Energy Budget, do one.   http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,3976.0.html  Three house bank batteries should do ya just fine.  Find out what the ah capacity is.  Should be about 360 or so, mebbe 310, depends on the individual batteries.

Also, buy Nigel Calder's Boatowners Manual for Mechanical & Electrical Systems.

For starters...

and welcome again.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 08:18:37 PM by Stu Jackson »
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jmnpe

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Re: Installation of Refrigeration
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2010, 08:45:08 AM »

In general, the electric head is not a big amp-hr consumer. Even though the flush cycle will draw a moderate current, it only last for 5 or 10 seconds per flush. Unless you have a boat full of people with "the runs"  :? , your actual energy consumption will average out to a pretty small daily number.

John
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John Nixon
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