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IP SP Cruiser Climma air conditioning

Reading and understanding refrigerant gauges made easy

MarinAire 16btu air conditionerIt dawned on me the other day that, although those clever chaps at MarinAire took the enlightened step of installing refrigerant pressure gauges on their larger air conditioning units, the lay person would have no idea what he or she were looking at. I’m sure that these gauges will prove to be a wonderful resource during remote troubleshooting sessions with trained air conditioning technicians, but I’m thinking that a few words on their function, plus a hint as to what could be considered “normal” readings, wouldn’t go amiss.

Dave tilting hat with grin

OK, that’s not something you’ll hear every day, but it is very much a possibility, where thermal runaway can destroy Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VLRA) batteries like AGM’s (Absorbed Glass Mat). A Google search of “Thermal Runaway in AGM Batteries” will reveal enough technical papers on the subject to keep even the most techno-savvy occupied for a long while and will save me trying to explain the why’s and wherefore’s here.

The simple fact is that, given the right conditions, an AGM battery can, and will, start a self-perpetuating internal heating process (thermal runaway) which can end in catastrophic failure along with the possibility of fire and explosion, or at the very least leave you with a very sad-looking molten battery case.

Music to mend fridges by

MARINE20080417027 a 920x400
I was introduced to Chris by a girlfriend back in the late 80’s. She and I were working on boats, and she would pop in a cassette of one of his albums whenever she got the chance. Yes, Chris Rea is first and foremost an accomplished musician, seemingly better known in Europe or his native England than in the USA, and for us two boat bums he quickly became our “Buffett buffer”.

Ben Waller Frigoboat MS160 marine refrigeration cabinet

NOTE: This refers to small, capillary tube (cap tube) systems only.

1. Do not have someone attempt to assess refrigerant charge level by pressures

Although the suction and discharge pressures will give a savvy technician a rough idea of what’s going on, more importantly it will give them an indication if anything is amiss. Refrigeration parameters are very dynamic, and the pressures, temperatures, and current draw are changing constantly, second by second. Oh, if only it were a simple matter of pumping these things up to certain pressure and Bob’s your uncle, but it just ain’t so.

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