Refrigeration for a trawler

Want to know how to fix or improve something aboard your trawler? Ask Chuck Baier who, in two decades of living aboard and cruising, has repaired and renovated just about everything.

Refrigeration for a trawler

Postby sabreline » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:42 am

Hi Chuck,

My 36ft Sabreline trawler has a Norcold refrigerator that operates on AC/DC. The door seals are good and at the dock on shore power AC it stays cold just like any domestic upright refrigerator. My problem is that I spend extended periods on the hook, about 6 weeks each year and the generator will frost the refrigerator, but only maintains its cooling for about 1 hour in hot weather. My house battery system is two 4D wet cell batteries and these of course will not run this refrigerator, there are an additional two 4D starting batteries one for each engine and a small starting battery for the generator.

I have researched many available replacement ideas and am impressed with he specs of a cold plate system such as CoolBlue by Technautics, but these are only suitable for chest style freezers found on sailboats. My space is 52 7/8" high X 23 1/4'Wide X 23 3/4" deep. There is space in the engine room to add additional house batteries and/or a separate compressor motor to run off the generator.

Please give me your advise of how I should solve this problem-Thank you
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Re: Refrigeration for a trawler

Postby capn chuck » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:05 pm

Before you consider replacing the unit, adding batteries or doing anything drastic, take a look at some ways to make it more efficient. One addition we did with our Dometic unit was to add a 12 volt fan in the fridge compartment to pull the hot air out of the cabinet and the boat. The efficiency improved considerably under both 110 volt and 12 volt. Each boat will need to be done depending in the configuration. We had a vent on the back side of the cabinet which went directly through the bulkhead to the outside. We simply installed a large 12 volt computer fan at the vent to exhaust the warm air. Sizing the fan correctly is important. These fans can run continuously for a long time and are very quiet. You can even wire a thermostat to turn the fan on and off but we just let ours run continuously. Also look at any of the bulkheads that have the room to add some insulation to keep the heat out in the warmer months. These are simple, less expensive solutions that will work, the question will be to what extent. But if you need to do more you will have made improvements that will benefit even additional changes. Good luck, Chuck
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