A suggestion for water cooled refrigerators

Bill Kinney

Just a thought for A54 owners who are struggling with their water cooled fridges.

Every boat that has a water-cooled cold box struggles with maintenance of that system.  The gains in efficiency brought by water cooling are frequently offset to a large extent by the increased complexity and decreased reliability.  Changing over to an air-cooled only system is frequently not a viable option because that can not be easily done without the tools and skills of a refrigeration technician.

But there is a viable alternative:  ADD air cooling and keep the existing water cooling loop.  

https://www.go2marine.com/Frigoboat-Add-on-Air-Cooled-Condenser-for-K35F-K50F-and-W50F (Nothing special about this vendor, just the first link to the product I could find.)

Now with TWO redundant cooling systems, you have an on-line back up if cooling water is lost.  You gain safety, because while you are away from the boat, you can shut the water circulation down and avoid the potential for a serious leak. You keep the higher efficiency of the water cooled loop when it is available, and you can use the fridge while the boat is out of the water.  Once the installation is complete, the air cooler is a passive device, until it is needed. If the water cooling clogs or fails, the air cooling just takes over without any operator intervention.

This is a relatively inexpensive modification, and is easily within the skill set of the average boat owner. The actual connections into the fridge gas piping are very simple.  The air cooled condenser comes pre-charged with the correct amount of freon, so no adjustment of the gas charge volume is needed.  The connections are all quick connect and are designed to be opened for maintenance without the loss of freon.

This is not always a walk in the park, however.  You need to have the physical room needed to install the new condenser, and you need to be sure that it can receive the air flow it needs. The fan does have a flange so you can add a flexible duct to draw air from a remote location. In some cases access to the fridge gas lines is difficult. 

But, if the air flow and mechanical access challenges can be sorted out, adding an air cooled condensor can make the system much more reliable and flexible.

Bill Kinney
SM160,  Harmonie
Le Marin, Martinique

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