Having marine refrigerator can be a pleasant luxury or a critical necessity depending on the kind of sailing you do. However adding one to your galley causes a substantial increase in electrical demands. Unlike other appliances such as a microwave, the draw is fairly constant so you need to ensure that you have the power capacity to keep everything running well.
As a result, it is important to make sure your boat refrigerator is running as efficiently as possible. Occasional maintenance will keep the unit running with as little power draw as possible.
Purchase and installation
The first thing is to make sure you buy a unit appropriate to Marine Refrigeration and Freezers your needs and not larger. Not only do larger refrigerators draw greater power but they are harder to keep full, another step to keep efficient operation.
The boat refrigerator must be installed so that it gets good airflow across the condenser and that air should be in the range of 70-90 F. Warmer or cooler air will make the condenser work harder. One particular problem is that air, heated after passing over the condenser, cycles around and passes over it again. Proper installation allows only fresh air flows across the condenser then out of the area.
There are several technical problems that can cause power issues from day one. An improperly installed thermostat, too little or even too much refrigerant, incorrect refrigerant/air mix, and so on. These problems are more common in used units but even new marine refrigerators can be subject to them. Buy quality merchandise from trusted vendors to minimize these concerns.
As mentioned above, a boat refrigerator runs most efficiently when kept full. However don’t pack the unit tightly as cool air must circulate inside to provide the best cooling.
Adjust the thermostat as needed. Optimal temperature is 37 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators and 0 degrees for freezers. If yours doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, get one so you can set it properly. A thermal barrier placed inside the refrigerator can separate the compartment into two areas. This allows one unit to act as both freezer and refrigerator.
Wash the door gasket with soap and water every so often. This gasket wears much faster than on your refrigerator at home, so replace it once the seal has been compromised. Dust off the condenser as the dust acts as an insulating layer, preventing the condenser from operating properly.
Other tips for proper use
You should never run a marine refrigerator off the ship’s main battery. If your appliances drain the battery so much that you can’t start the engine, then you are in trouble! For best performance, attach it to an auxiliary, deep cycle battery that will recharge as the engine is running.
A UPS backup will keep the refrigerator running if the power fails and it will protect it from power surges. A solar charging system allows you to maintain the battery charge even if you don’t run the engine for a while.