What we learned
Our Frigoboat system is based on a Danfoss BD50 compressor with a single Evaporator plate in the freezer, and a “spill-over” design for the refrigerator. It works well for us.
We generally keep the fridge at 40F, any colder and we find the produce freezes. The freezer is set ~28F, it keeps frozen meats rock hard, and ice cubes, but ice cream seems a little soft for long term storage. I’d like to see it colder, but our cycle times are very low and the DC amperage draw is equally low. I have yet to run it entirely off our solar array but expect it to work just fine.
The very first thing we learned is to NOT use a heat gun to defrost the freezer. Ever. You’ll end up forcing the R-134 and its lubricant oil into the capillary tube and get a tube blockage. Coastal Climate Control has excellent documentation on how to diagnose and repair this blunder. The real person that answers the phone there was also courteous and quick to respond.
The seals on the tubes tend to have a lifespan of ~ 5 years, and this was the case with ours. I went ahead and replaced the seals the second time the fridge went out – this after we had defrosted the right way. The problem shows itself in increased drawdown times and the compressor running a whole ton – it’ll run constantly and not get down to your set point.
The other learning I would share is that it is nearly impossible to kill the Danfoss compressor. IMHO, they are very robust. There’s a reason there is a lot of diagnostic Q&A that looks to rule out the compressor. As you read, go look in the mirror once in a while. Like me, you may find the root cause reveals itself after a little introspection.
We also considered installing a filter/drier as well, and I consider this a worthwhile preventative measure. Our install is in a tight space, and I had run out of patience once we got things fixed.
Overall, I think these are solid units. If you run into problems with yours, go to Coastal Climate first, then the forums second. You’ll find the guys who really know what they’re talking about and you’ll form your own opinions on what to do for your boat.
Best of Luck (cold beer in hand).
S/V Dharma Girl