ice-box-over-frosting-480x491Remember back when you had to defrost your home refrigerator every couple of weeks? It was a fact of life. And then those frost-free refrigerators came about. No more defrosting!!

So why have we seemingly gone backwards in evolution and are having to defrost our boat's refrigerator/freezer boxes so often? Why can't our boat's fridge be frost-free too, you ask as you drape your frozen food in towels to keep it safe as you patiently wait for the ice to melt from your evaporator plates.

Natural defrosting is the only safe method, although a small amount of addition heat is OK, say from a portable inspection light in the box. Those who are impatient might consider using a hair dryer or heat gun, hot water, or, (shudder), an ice pick, but these are not recommended, as high heat and physical force are very likely to cause nasty and highly undesirable side-effects.

And who gets the finger pointed at them as the culprit for this lack of frost-free living? Why, the refrigeration manufacturer of course, although after reading the following, you may shift the blame elsewhere.

solara power m ez mount mark gilg sv tarok 4
Mounting solar panels on hand rails around a boat's perimeter allows for some flexibility of use, plus the opportunity to angle the panels if you happen to be a dedicated twiddler with too much time on your hands. But when using standard aluminum-framed glass panels, necessity dictates that the clamps that secure the panel to the rail must be on the center-line lengthwise.

Glass panels are pretty heavy, and too much twisting and torsion will either "soften up" the aluminum frame or cause the glass to crack and/or shatter. Most panels of this type are designed to be installed on solid, permanent structures like roofs (specialized marine panels like the Solara Ultra series being an exception), and it is assumed that these land-based platforms will not heave, pitch, twist, or generally rock-and-roll (barring earthquakes) like a small/medium sized boat often does.

With this in mind, having a balanced mounting point is essential when using glass panels in rail-mount applications if regularly having to replace panels is to be avoided. But having a balanced mount, i.e. with the rail clamps on the center-line lengthwise, means that half of the panel's width will be intruding into the walkway, cockpit, etc. when deployed, and the wider the panel the more it will become an obstacle to movement.

Choosing a narrow panel is one way around this dilemma. Here's one way to do it:

ray-gun-dreamstimemedium 10631676-480x480Oh boy, if only that were true! But unfortunately there is no such thing, and so comparing the performance of one marine air conditioning manufacturer's product to another comes down to comparing the manufacturer's published specifications.;


Keep the following in mind if you are in the market for air conditioning for your boat.

Q – How can I be sure that a 16,000 Btu air conditioner from Brand X actually produces 16,000 Btu of cooling and heating?

A – To be blunt, you can't! If it were a residential or commercial unit you'd be assured of the capacity rating as there are strict compulsory standards in these industries, but not in the marine business.

A marine air conditioning manufacturer can label his system as whatever takes his fancy, which is usually dictated by marketing strategies. If only we had that "Btu Meter" to assess performance .....

Q – But surely there must be a base-line for a prospective buyer to be able to assess one manufacturer's system against another's.

A – Yes there is, it is the compressor. Every compression system has a compressor, and every compressor manufacturer publishes performance data for their individual models. Most marine air conditioning manufacturers simply use the compressor's Btu rating in determining what to label their products.

That's a simple solution, but

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