Refrigeration

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.

Answers

 Your tech uses refrigeration gauges, but is the answer right for the question?

First there was the abacus. Then there were slide rules (I still have one that I use as a straight edge). After that came rudimentary mechanical calculators followed by electric and then electronic versions, and now calculators have wound up being one of the most rudimentary features of computers, smart phones, watches, etc.

All of the aforementioned devices require that the operator first input the correct information and then give the correct commands in order to be supplied with the desired result. Put in the wrong information and/or give an incorrect command, and the result will be erroneous. Garbage in - Garbage out.

Now imagine that someone picks up an abacus and sees that the beads are arranged to indicate the number 42. So if the answer is 42, what was the question? Was it: “What is 6 x 7”? or “What is 17.5 x (9.8 - 7.4)”? or … Hmm. Maybe 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

people jumping off boat 2

Some people would like to have their boat’s refrigeration run both air and water cooled, feeling that two methods of heat exchange is better than one. Well, yes and no.

If your refrigeration system needs both to get your box down to set point, then yes, you need to use both, or get a new system.

However, if your system works fine using either one method or the other, then no, you don’t need both to run at the same time, but you still may want both methods available on board your boat.

If you want the flexibility of choosing which heat exchange method to use, then yes, having both in a single unit is good. But why would you want that choice and when would you choose one over the other?

Family enjoying ice cream onboard boat

The debate rages on. Which is best: air cooling or water cooling for marine refrigeration systems?

A refrigeration system doesn’t “make cold”, it removes heat from one area and transfers it to another. There is actually no such thing as “cold”, just heat at different temperatures: cold heat, warm heat, hot heat, etc.

In our small marine refrigeration systems, this heat transfer is accomplished using a compressor and a refrigerant to collect heat from inside an insulated space and disperse it somewhere else via the magic of latent heat. The evaporator is the “heat collector” inside the insulated box while the condenser is the component that disperses that heat elsewhere. While the evaporator is specific for the size and configuration for the application, there are choices to be made regarding condensers and the medium they disperse the heat into.

But first, let's watch a demonstration of how a Frigoboat Keel Cooler System works in extreme tropical water conditions. Then we will discuss how this can be.

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