Fundamentals Of Marine Refrigeration Every Boating Enthusiast Should Know

June 17, 2015 Tech & Gadgets

If you are a boating enthusiast, you understand the worth a good marine refrigeration system to make your boating experience a memorable one. We can all agree on one thing, a refrigeration technique, no matter what it is, is essential to make your boat journeys more enjoyable and convenient. If you are new to the world of boat refrigeration, then this is your ultimate guide to knowing all there is to know about them.

Let us Start with the Basics, What is your Boat Refrigerator Comprised of?

Every boat refrigerator is made up of the following five components:

  • A compressor
  • A condenser, i.e., pipes outside the unit that function as heat exchangers
  • An expansion valve
  • An evaporator, i.e., pipes inside the unit that function as heat exchangers
  • The refrigerant, which is a non-toxic fluorinated-ethane chemical (R-134a)
  • Besides these major components, a thermostat is implemented to control the overall system.

Fundamentals Of Marine Refrigeration Every Boating Enthusiast Should Know1

What is the Function Mechanism of your Boat Refrigerator?

Your boat refrigerators might be of a different brand, but these machines work on one basic mechanism. Within the closed unit, the refrigerant transforms into a liquid state from a gaseous one initially, and then back into gas. A lot of heat is released and absorbed during this stage. The process is initiated when the compressor puts pressure over the refrigerant.

The high-temperature high-pressure gas created passes through a network of coiled copper condenser tubes (sometimes, also serpentine) in which it converts into liquid and expels heat into the outside surroundings. A fan, seawater cooling mechanism (for tropical weather) or a combination of air and water cooling system helps in the cooling process.

The refrigerant passes into the low-pressure areas of the system through an expansion valve, takes on a gaseous state and also absorbs heat. It then moves into another network of aluminium/copper tubes, absorbing heat from the mass surface of the evaporator all throughout. The refrigerant becomes super cold as it transforms into a gaseous state, and that is the reason your beers stay as cool as ice and your fish fresh as ever.

Now the compressor comes into play. The vacuum inside it pulls back all the gas and this process continues in a circle as long as your compressor is working. The refrigerator box will heat up while the compressor keeps up with its cooling function. It runs for around 20 to 30 minutes of each hour; also called the duty cycle.

Now that I have given you a brief idea about the functioning of your system let us move on to some fundamental factors we all need to consider before selecting the appropriate boat refrigerator:

Will the Refrigerator Fit the Available Space?

It is crucial to take prior measurements of your available space before investing in your refrigeration system. It is best never to buy on estimations and intuitions. The exact size is a crucial parameter to consider.

Will the Refrigerator Suit My Boating Needs?

We all have dreamt about a round-the-world voyage, but on a practical note, is that a feasible reason to consider while buying a boat refrigerator. For some, yes; for many, no! Technically, a majority of us sail into the waters for recreational purposes. Also, most of us hardly end up cooking on our boats. If that be the case, a simple ice chest should do the job for you. They are best for a weekend time-off and will take care of your budget as well. In case, you intend to spend a longer duration on your sea journey, then a built-in front loading refrigerator is the best option for powerboats. And a top opening refrigerator for sailboats is the best pick. Your choice of cooling system depends on the size, style, climatic conditions and the time you will be spending on your boat.

Will My Boat Refrigerator Work Adequately with the Available Power Supply?

Irrespective of the manufacturer, popular refrigeration systems work on 12V, 24V DC, 110V AC or are engine – driven. Universal voltage power system is utilized by most electricity-driven front loading freezers/ refrigerators and portable compressor coolers/ freezers. These can also switch between AC and DC batteries on their own. Generally, refrigerators draw in a maximum of 5A when their compressors are in motion. Since power availability depends majorly on your boat, you should choose your options with much care.

A good boat refrigeration system is not only a convenience; it is also a necessity. Irrespective of what kind and type it is, all boating aficionados acknowledge the value of a powerful cooling system aboard.