Starting a refit on Whisper, and I’m looking for feedback on the Frigoboat bronze keel cooler condenser. Anybody used it?
We installed a Frigoboat unit with keel cooler last year in a 2.5 cu ft icebox. It’s very quite when it runs. We have not tested it extensively. Based on amps consumed, our best estimate is 25 amp-hours per day.
I opted for an 8 1/2" X 28" evaporator, instead of the evaporator-freezer. The opening to the icebox is 7 1/2" X 13". I bent the flat plate evaporator into a U-shaped evaporator.
It is necessary to build a stand-off to prevent containers, etc. from contacting the evaporator. I built ours out of 3/32" aluminum sheet stock. This was formed into a U-shape that was wider than the the width of the U-evaporator. To fit this into the ice box and have about 1/2" stand-off from the evaporator, I cut the U-shaped guard in half and overlapped the two halves to fit inside the U-shaped evaporator. The two halves were bolted together with machine screws and aircraft self-locking nuts.
Courtney at Frigoboat, provided excellent support and was never tired of my phone calls or questions. Their support was A-oustanding. I cannot say enough good things about their support.
Hiya Rod, thanks for the feedback. We have the standard 6 cf box and Technautics setup. We used 40-60 Ah depending on ambient temps and hated the noise of the air cooled setup. We aren’t going to setup a freezer config. as we never missed it during the last cruise. Just a side note, in going through the literature again I noticed that I was supposed to mount the compressor below the level of the evaporator. I must have overlooked that info originally because the comp. was a good 2 ft. above the cond. and we never noticed any difference. We think we’ll use a flat plate as well and might add to the insulation inside the box(got any ideas?)
I don’t have any good ideas for adding insulation to the box other than vacupanels or lining the box with high R-value form sheets then laminating fiberglass panels to the foam sheets. You are building a box within a box.
The evaporator must be mounted as high in the box as possible. This should facilitate mounting the compressor below the evaporator. Any extra tubing between the evaporator and compressor must be coiled horizontally to prevent oil pooling inside the tubing. This also applies to any extra tubing between the keel cooler and compressor. Oh, the compressor is very, very small.
If you purchase a Frigoboat unit, purchase a smart speed controller. This improves the efficiency of the compressor. We purchased a mechanic thermostat instead of an electronic one to hold costs down. These may only last 2 years in continuous service. The mechanical thermostat should be mounted with its control knob pointed down. We mounted ours on the underside of the box near the opening. Purchase the unit at a boat show. If you cannot attend the boat show and know Frigoboats has booth, they will give you a 15% discount if you order from them over the phone.
We purchased our unit from J.Gordon in Annapolis.
Marshall at J. Gordon is the person to call. He also gave us very good technical support and advice.
We had a Frigoboat system installed in our 42-foot Passport. It was a refrig/freezer setup with the “smart” controller & digital readout. We loved it. It was very quiet. After the initial cool-down, the motor only ran every so often. You could hear the motor if you paid attention, but mostly it ran unnoticed. Very thrifty on amp hours.
BCC Jolie Brise
Thanks for the feedback Ellen. How long did you have the system in use? Were you living aboard at anchor at the time?
Before we purchased the Frigoboat unit with keel cooler, I interviewed sailboat owners as well a cruisers. I also talked to the technicians at the yard we berth Iduna. All the feedback was very positive. This positive feedback is the reason we purchased a Frigoboat system. As Ellen reported, it is Whisper quiet and very efficient.
Rodney Davis on the BCC August Dame, installed a Frigoboat system about 5 years ago. They cruise in the spring and summer than store the boat on the hard for the winter. He told me, the unit is problem free. He also purchased the smart speed controller and electronic thermostat.
We had the Frigoboat system installed on the Passport 42 right after we bought her, and used it for the next 5 years while we owned her. She was based in a marina, but we typically vacationed for average 2-week periods and anchored out extensively. In marinas we seldom hooked up to shore power because our energy management system on that boat was so good (we had solar panels and a wind generator, which kept all our batteries topped up perfectly).
Our best test came from a 30-day trip from Chesapeake Bay to New England, during which we did not stay at marinas at all, and used the radar extensively. The Frigoboat worked extremely well to keep our food cold during the whole month, and did not tax the batteries beyond acceptable limits.
BCC Jolie Brise
Thanks again, Ellen and Rod. We’re looking forward to getting started on that portion of the refit.