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Refrigeration Planning

Frigoboat Price Lists:

Frigoboat Complete System Price Matrix with Separate Component Price List
Find your box size, choose correct evaporator, select heat-exchange method, see complete system price

Frigoboat Stainless Steel Cabinets and Drawer units Price List
Find pricing for the cabinets. Price for your choice of compressor/condenser additional

Frigoboat All Stainless Steel Cabinets:

Frigoboat Stainless Steel Cabinet and Drawer Units
Standard sizes of cabinets and double-drawer refrigerator or freezer units

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A Good Whacking

 man at sailboat helm

Why you shouldn’t run your Frigoboat Keel Cooled system out of the water

“You’ve been a very naughty boy, Tompkins, and you must take your punishment. Disobedience has consequences.” So says the headmaster in a typical schoolboy romp in the boys’ magazines of my youth. A few whacks from a cane and life goes on, although these days I suspect it might be a virtual whacking incorporating a VR headset.

Unfortunately, some misdeeds require considerably more than just a simple fix, especially some of the mistreatment we see Frigoboat systems subjected to. Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it’s over-enthusiasm, but sometimes people also simply ignore the manufacturers’ instructions.

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Air Cooled or Water Cooled?

Air Cooled or Water Cooled?

Which marine refrigeration system is better when cruising in warm waters: air cooled, pumped-water cooled, or Keel Cooled?

A well designed and fabricated air cooled refrigeration system, like the Frigoboat Capri 50, should be able to maintain refrigerator and freezer temperatures in the tropics if the application, installation, and operation are all within the manufacturers' guidelines.

But in tropical/Caribbean conditions, air cooling will be 25% to 35% less efficient than water cooling. As a result, the overall power consumption of an air cooled system will be considerably higher than for a pumped-water cooled system, and very much higher than for a Keel Cooled system.

Many serious cruisers these days install hybrid Air-plus-Keel Cooled systems, where the air cooling is only used when the boat is hauled for any reason. For a new installation, this could be a Frigoboat Capri 50 installed together with a Keel Cooler, with a switch installed in the fan circuit of the Capri 50. Existing Frigoboat Keel Cooled systems can be easily converted to an Air-plus-Keel Cooled system by installing an Air Add-On condenser. This is accomplished with the use of just basic tools, and without any adjustment to the refrigerant charge.

If your boat is aluminum, then due to corrosion considerations that prohibit the installation of a Keel Cooler, you would be best served by installing a pump-water cooled system like the Frigoboat W50. That, together with the Air Add-On air-only condenser for use when hauled out, will provide the same efficiency as a Keel Cooled system, although the added current draw from the water pump will negate some of the power savings normally experienced over an air cooled system.

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4 Steps in 12v Refrigeration Troubleshooting

women preparing meal on boatWe’re living in a DIY world with the internet and answers close at hand. When your boat’s refrigeration isn’t working correctly, how many of you go to the internet, forums, manufacturer’s web site to find solutions? We’ve all learned, too often the hard way, that not all web pages are trustworthy sources of information; some information should be taken with a grain of salt; others with a truck load.

Our business is to sell, among other things, Frigoboat and Vitrifrigo refrigeration to boat owners, boat builders, dealers, service companies, RV owners, etc. Since our beginnings in 1992, we’ve wanted to ensure you, the owner/purchaser, know how to get the most out of your new equipment, not only after the initial set up, but over years and years of use. Quality equipment with clear instructions and support, sold to happy customers makes for good trust building, both in product performance and product support.

To that end, we are always fine-tuning our web page with answers to questions asked by our customers. The leading one, and theme to this blog, is troubleshooting a 12v/24v refrigeration system. We recently updated our “Frigoboat Compressor Trouble Shooting Guide” with video links and downloadable print-outs. It starts with the basic questions:

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10 Steps to a Perfect Refrigerant Charge

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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Trouble in Paradise

woman in water luke dahlgren 348432 cropIt’s starting to get crazy again on our help line, like it seems to every year about this time. I guess that there’s a big increase in numbers of boats swanning around down south now that it’s holiday season and it’s getting nippy up north. Lucky them!

But there will inevitably be the unfortunate few cruisers that will soon be heading down a long and frustrating path trying to fix a malfunctioning refrigerator or freezer. So in an effort to minimize the pain, and to hopefully make my life easier, I’m re-issuing some advice I gave a few years back on the subject.

This, unfortunately, is even more relevant today since the advent of those flashy electronic refrigerant gauge sets with multiple digital screens that seem to confuse more than enlighten.

Our office here spends way too much time on the phone and in e-mails helping customers correct mistakes made by mostly well intentioned but misinformed and inexperienced technicians. Too often it seems that adding refrigerant has been a Hail Mary move, made after diagnosis was unsuccessful, and done in an effort to show the customer that at least something had been done. And that's where all the problems start ....

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R134a Recharge Guidelines

R124a cannisterThere is much talk and discussion in certain forums about how to determine the correct refrigerant charge level for a capillary tube refrigeration system, but there is only one, simple method that will result in the perfect charge in a Frigoboat system; the frost-line method. Pressures and current draw can be monitored to confirm that these are within expected limits, but there is no better way to guage the refrigerant level than with the frost-line method.

Frigoboat R134a charge guidelines

General
The following is intended to be a guide for a boat operator with average mechanical skills. It will describe what symptoms to look for in a correctly charged Frigoboat system so that an evaluation can be made as to whether service is required. No refrigerant gauges are necessary for this evaluation, and their use is required only for major repairs and for evacuating the system.

Warning!
Never use, or allow a technician to use, anything other than pure refrigerant R134a in a Frigoboat system. Cans of refrigerant R134a with additives must never be used, nor must stand-alone additives be introduced into the system. These additives include but are not limited to: leak detecting fluid, leak stopper, dye, extra oil, conditioner, etc. Serious damage can result from the use of such products, which are designed for use only in auto air conditioning systems.

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When The Web was just a very thin thread

sgt peppers lonely hearts 1
It was seventy years ago today, that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, And twenty-five years ago, that Coastal Climate Control made a show.

And then, three years later in 1995, in the midst of a major snow storm in Annapolis, with skiers and snowmobiles having fun on the streets, Coastal entered the digital age. A computer was purchased, Quickbooks installed, and the next few snowy days were spent entering customer details and setting up the system. The old ledger book was re-purposed to prop up the TV, and Coastal was ready to start the Spring armed with new technology and a floppy disk full of digital dreams.

Some of the boatyards and marinas were not too enthusiastic about getting into computers back then, and there was much concern about loss of jobs. For the next few years I often encountered fully analog offices where pen and paper still ruled supreme, but of course that all gradually changed. It’s hard now to imagine how it was in those offices back then, often seen through a haze of cigarette smoke, but inevitably progress prevailed. I don’t recall any tales of mass job losses, protests, etc., so I guess it all transitioned fairly smoothly. In the early days, the computer was mainly used as an office administration tool, but then along came the internet and all that goes with it. Now we are all immersed in technology up to our data limits. What an incredible leap in technology in what seems such a short span of time.

What hasn’t changed in 25 years is the need for a trained professional to come to the aid of a customer with a problem, whether in person or at the end of a phone or Ethernet cable. What has changed, however, is that nowadays many customers empower themselves with boat loads of information gained from internet searches which leads them to the conclusion that they don’t require a technician’s visit, as all they need is a bit of on-line help.

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Well Blow Me Down!

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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Variable Speed Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Compressors

Green plugI recently had an air conditioning system replaced at my house. Out went the old energy hog with a noisy, fixed speed compressor, and in came a high efficiency unit with a quiet compressor and fan, both of which run at variable speeds. So, today’s question is: Why does varying the compressor speed increase efficiency, and how is that achieved?

Golden Rule: The longer and slower a compressor can run, the more efficient it will be
Danfoss BD CompressorEfficiency in refrigeration and air conditioning systems is measured as a ratio of power out to power in, and can be in several forms. The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is the ratio of output cooling energy in Btu’s to input electrical energy in watts under certain fixed conditions. So a system with an EER rating of 10 will produce 10 Btu’s of cooling for every watt of power consumed under the specified conditions. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) that is used in commercial and residential equipment is similar to the EER, but is assessed over time and under varying conditions.

When a fixed speed compressor is operating under light-load conditions, i.e. nighttime, cool weather, etc., a fixed-speed compressor will be running for short spurts and do a lot of cooling in a hurry, which is inherently very inefficient. If we were to be able to slow the compressor down during periods of light load, the system would run longer and be more efficient overall, but would still have the required capacity available for high heat-load conditions.

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Vacuum Pump Alone Won't Cure Blockages in Refrigerator Systems

vacuum-pumpUnless other actions are also taken, using a vacuum pump to evacuate a R134a refrigeration system will almost certainly not result in a permanent resolution to particle or moisture blockages. This is true no matter how deep the vacuum or for how long the vacuum pump is run.

Moisture issues - Back in the day, when refrigeration systems used good old ozone-gulping refrigerant R12 and mineral oil in the compressor, moisture could be removed from the entire system, including the oil, simply by hooking up a vacuum pump and taking the system down into a pretty deep vacuum. Any moisture would evaporate out of the oil at this low pressure, and find its way out of the system as a vapor via the vacuum pump. Skip forward to the present day, and we now use more environmentally friendly refrigerants such as R134a which requires a synthetic oil for the compressor.

The Danfoss/Secop BD 35 and BD 50 compressors are supplied filled with a polyolester (POE) oil, which is extremely hygroscopic i.e. it will grab hold of any passing spec of moisture and won't let it go easily. In fact, the oil forms a molecular bond with the moisture, and no matter how deep a vacuum is applied, or for how long, those pesky moisture molecules will remain trapped in the oil unless another element is brought into play, and that element is heat.

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There ain't no app for that!

man-gauges-dreamstime m 33496565Recently, a customer contacted us for some troubleshooting advice. He said that his refrigeration system was not working and the compressor not running. Apparently he had a technician look at the system who reported that he checked the refrigerant level and said it was OK.

Now that may sound like encouraging words from someone the owner perceived would know a heck of a lot more about refrigeration than himself, but it demands some investigation.

Just like the laws of physics there are laws of thermodynamics, but these are almost incomprehensible to the layman, and appear to most of us as gibberish and gobbledygook. Nothing so simple as "what goes up must come down" and "for every action ..." yada yada.

You'd think that with only four laws of thermodynamics things would be easy, but even the numbering of them seems deliberately designed to confuse. The last of the four laws is the Third Law. There no half-laws, the First Law is the second, and the Second Law the third. The wayward law is designated the Zeroth Law and comes before the first law. (This feels a bit like trying to explain the rules of cricket).

Hidden in those laws somewhere is the revelation that (in very simple terms): if a substance exists in an enclosed environment in both liquid and gaseous forms, the temperature and pressure are directly related. Let's call this the Law of Fridgernomics for ease of association.

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Speed - fast is fine, is slow better?

running braden collum 87875 unsplash 640x427

Compressors, how fast should they run?

We had an inquiry recently from someone asking if it was necessary to have some form of speed control on Secop/Danfoss BD35 and BD50 refrigeration compressors. Well the simple answer is “no, it’s not absolutely necessary”, but without it your system may be working way below its capabilities, and with less efficiency.

You see, the Secop (formerly Danfoss) BD35 and BD50 compressors are capable of being controlled externally to run at various speeds between 2,000 and 3,500 RPM, and the cooling capacity is directly linked to compressor speed; i.e. the lower the compressor speed, the lower the cooling capacity.

So why not simply run every compressor at the highest speed and cover all the bases?

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So What Makes You Think Your Compressor is Bad?

danfoss-secop bd compressorMost marine refrigeration, and all Frigoboat systems, use the Danfoss BD 35 and BD 50 compressors which are incredibly reliable machines and very robust. It takes a lot of abuse to "kill" one (they don't simply die from natural causes), so if you suspect that your compressor is faulty, it's important to know how these compressors work, how they can be damaged, and what symptoms to look for.

The Danfoss BD 35 and BD 50 compressors are identical except that the BD 50 has a little more cubic capacity and therefore a slightly higher Btu rating. The compressor and motor are hermetically sealed inside a steel canister and supported on vibration-absorbing springs. There is no shaft seal that could leak refrigerant.

COMPRESSOR – The compressor is a single-cylinder device with a crankshaft that when rotated pushes a piston in and out of a cylinder, compressing the gas. A simple valve plate allows gas to be drawn in on the down-stroke, and the gas to be compressed and then released on the up-stroke. The compressor assembly is mounted above the motor, and the vertical crankshaft is a continuation of the motor shaft.

MOTOR - The compressor crankshaft is rotated by means of a poly-phase inductively coupled motor that has no brushes to fail or wear out. There are three sets of windings arranged around the stator, and the ends of these windings terminate on a three-pin connector that provides for the electrical connection through the compressor shell. The rotor is built around the shaft that connects directly to the compressor crankshaft.

ELECTRONIC COMPRESSOR CONTROLLER
– Also known as a "module", this is a vital part of the compressor, and the motor cannot run without it. The controller is mounted on the compressor on a special bracket, and secured with a screw. It is electrically connected to the motor via a three-wire plug that is pushed on to the three-pin connector on the compressor shell. The compressor controller basically takes the 12v or 24v DC input and energizes each of the three windings in turn, causing the motor shaft to rotate. Varying the speed at which the windings are energized varies the speed of rotation of the shaft.

So what could possibly go wrong?

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Should you keep your ice box full to save energy?

stuffed-dreamstime m 38862411Here's a fact: Heat travels in one direction only; from warm to cold. So if a temperature difference exists between two items, the warmer item will lose heat to the cooler item; so the warmer item gets colder, the colder item gets warmer.

Simply put, when we put warm beers into a cooler of ice, we don't actually cool down the beer as much as warm up the ice! When heat leaves the beer for the ice, the beer gets colder as a result, and soon the contents are all at a wonderfully refreshing 32F temperature. And thanks to the laws of science and beerology, everything will stay that way until all the ice has melted and the beer has been consumed.

And now here's a conundrum: Should you endeavor to keep your fridge and freezer as full as possible in an effort to save power usage?

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Rules of Engagement

gauges-handheld-dreamstime m 76282015-640x427     It's happened again, and I'm getting really tired of it. Yet another call from a boat owner who called in what he thought was a trained and experienced marine refrigeration technician to fix a poorly performing system, and now it's working worse than it was before! Why? Because the technician had added refrigerant, or "put in a shot of Freon" to what previously was a perfectly charged system.

     Our office here spends way too much time on the phone and in e-mails helping customers correct mistakes made by mostly well intentioned but misinformed and inexperienced technicians. Too often it seems that adding refrigerant has been a Hail Mary move, made after diagnosis was unsuccessful, and done in an effort to show the customer that at least something had been done. And that's where all the problems start ....

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RIP Holding Plates

Holding Plates Museum

And so it came to pass that the days of the holding plates in marine refrigeration systems has come to an end. Amen to that!

Holding plates piled500x479Our “collection” of these expensive, heavy, and cumbersome hunks of stainless steel is now destined for the scrap pile. This long overdue but necessary move will free up valuable warehouse space for more of the aluminum flat-plate evaporators that have all but replaced the holding plate.

But for those of you unfamiliar with these items we should look at what exactly a holding plate is/was.

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Refrigeration Troubleshooting

Watch our YouTube videos, see our techs demonstrate how to troubleshoot your marine refrigeration system.

Click on a link below to download further details to help you solve a problem.

If you can't find what you're looking for, please contact us.

System Questions:

Frigoboat Compressor Troubleshooting Guide with YouTube Videos

So what makes you think your compressor is bad? Often the problem lays elsewhere, so ask the right questions to get to the right answers.

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Refrigeration 101

basic-refrigeration-circuit-i11

I’ll try not to get too technical on this subject, but there are some basic principles that you need to know before we get going. Firstly, we won’t be talking about hot and cold too often. It will be all heat, just at different temperatures above absolute zero (-460 deg F).

Next, we will be working in a unit of heat measurement known as a British Thermal Unit or Btu, and this is defined as the amount of heat required to raise or lower 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Also it is important to remember that heat travels in one direction only; from a warm, high temperature area to a lower temperature area, and that we don’t “make cold”, we simply remove heat from one area and transfer it to somewhere else.

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Refrigeration

 

Coastal Climate Control, Inc. is the source for a wide range of 12/24v DC and 110/230v AC marine refrigeration system solutions.3

We have a comprehensive selection of component systems, front-opening cabinets, and drawer units for any application - marine, RV, off-grid, or remote location; plus we offer custom solutions. Our online catalog will list the specifics. If you don't see what you're looking for, contact us.

Our Frigoboat component solutions section with the price matrix  enables you to how the parts necessary and their prices to convert almost any size insulated box into a 12v/24v refrigerator, freezer, or combination; and with the choice of either
» Air-cooled
» Pumped water-cooled
» Keel Cooled
» Keel and Air cooled

Frigoboat's unique Keel Cooled system is the most efficient, most reliable, and quietest system available. No pump – No fan – No noise!

When you want a simple and elegant, all stainless steel cabinet or drawer solution, Frigoboat can help you there too.

We stock Vitrifrigo's cabinets and drawers, from 2.3 to 8.1 cubic feet of storage area, choice of standard exterior panels or deluxe stainless steel. Download our brochures below:

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Contact Info

Phone: (301) 352-5738
Email: info@CoastalClimateControl.com
Office | Warehouse:
4831 Tesla Dr., Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
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Click here for directions.

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Office | Warehouse:
Coastal Climate Control
4831 Tesla Drive
Suite H
Bowie, Maryland 20715
Phone: (301) 352-5738

Request Information
Click here for directions.