Our Boat Refrigeration Problem: Part 1

We have a dilemma.  Since we have been on the hook, we have found that we seem to have ample electrical power, except when it comes to refrigeration.  For the past few weeks, we have avoided putting our battery energy into refrigeration.  Banjo came to us with a SeaFrost DC5000 12V Refrigeration System.  The system consists of two cold pates; one for the freezer compartment and one for our double refrigerator compartment.  However, the compressor for the system draws 40 amps.  That’s right, true believers, we said FORTY amps.  Also, we feel, with near-absolute certainty, that our refrigerator compartment insulation needs replacement.  This conclusion comes from the fact that once we pour energy into making the compartment cold, it does not stay cold for more than an hour or so.

But the main issue we are facing is the fact that the DC5000 SeaFrost System draws 40 (FORTY) amps.  That is significant.  Although Banjo has a house bank capable of 675 amp/hours, a 40-amp draw bleeds us, almost immediately down to the bottom of our comfort-zone.  Imagine it takes 20-30 minutes to get to temperature, and you can visualize the issue.  From a full battery, which we almost never have, simply turning on the DC5000 drops our voltage to 12.5 volts. We consider ourselves depleted at 12 volts.  Yes, we have a Honda 2000 Generator, but that still requires a massive amount of energy to run.

To put the draw in perspective, the Engle Systems 80 quart refrigerator/freezers draw about 5 amps max.  Even the new SeaFrost compressors, such as the BD System Compressors, only draw 8 amps max.

We are stuck and looking for feedback.  Although the Engel coolers are attractive, we wonder if removing the existing box will impact the “feel” of the boat.  We kinda like the existing built-in box as it seems to match Banjo’s character.  The Engel refrigerator/freezers are pricey, at least by our standards, at $1640 each.  We assume we would need at least one for refrigeration and one for freezing.  Alternatively, the new SeaFrost Compressors run upwards of $2K, not counting the replacement of the cold plates.  Neither of these expenses are trivial to us.  Removal of the SeaFrost System also involves sealing existing raw-water thru-hulls.  Therein is the added expense of haul-out and yard costs.


We are so eager to get out and start our voyages, but it is difficult to imagine not having a decent refrigeration/freezing ability.  Although we are fairly easy-going people, neither of us really want to exist on canned food sources for the next 8-12 months.  We find ourselves weighing out the pros/cons almost daily and we are reaching a point where we NEED to make a decision.

What to do, what to do?

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