Saturday, April 16, 2011

Can I really have refrigeration?

It’s been a rainy day so no trike riding. It’s been a day of design work. “Design work” a kind way to describe trying to put 10 lbs of sand in a 8 lb bag.  The TIki 30 was really designed as a tropical backpacking type boat. This makes sense since it can be disassembled and transported across a continent behind a small pickup truck. My problem is trying to put some more modern amenities in the equation. Adding a two burner stove or even an oven is trivial compared to adding refrigeration which is anything but trivial.

In this case I would like to have a small, approximately 5 cu-ft, ice box with Adler/Barbour Cold Machine refrigeration. I know that many long term cruisers do without refrigeration, heck some even do without a motor. But we’ve had refrigeration on our last two catamarans that we lived aboard from 2005 until last November. So I’m spoiled.

It is not an easy or cheap to add refrigeration. Here a a few things that need to be considered.
  1. Spend over a grand to buy the Adler/Barbour compressor(CU-100) and evaporator(VD-150).
  2. Find a well vented place to mount the compressor, preferably out of ear short. The evaporator will be in the Ice Box.
  3. Design a 12 VDC battery system that has enough capacity to go a few days without recharge. We got away with 4 deep cycle batteries in the past. This will be adding to the boat probably 500 lbs in batteries, switches, circuit breakers, wire, etc. That’s 22% of the boats designed load carrying ability. Batteries and hardware will run several hundred bucks. And then find a place to put a few cu-ft of batteries.
  4. Now design a way to keep these batteries charged when not at the dock. I’ve found that with a sunny day and under 90 degF ambient, my last ice box could keep cold with two 80 watt solar panels. But it’s not always sunny so the batteries are needed to carry through the less than sunny times. A wind mill would also help, since it does seem that when those cold fronts come through wind also comes with the clouds. The weight of a couple panels and a wind mill, cables, switches etc. can run about 50-lbs total.  And cost is again well over a grand.  And find a few sq-ft of space to mount the solar panels, without shadows. I don’t even consider running the engine or a generator since they destroy peace and quiet and have even higher life-cycle costs.
  5. Next it would be nice when we’re at a dock if the batteries could be kept topped off using shore power, that will extend their lifespan and we could even run a toaster. So now I need to design an AC system with weather proof power cord, receptacle, circuit breaker, battery charger, wire, connectors, etc. Probably another 50-lbs of stuff and more than a couple Benjamin’s out of my wallet. 

So it probably costs 3 or 4 grand and adds about 600 lbs to a small boat. Damn, Donna and I could buy a couple of good beers every night for a couple years for that price and the only added boat weight would come from the extra pounds the beer will put on our bodies.

Wow, after typing all that up I’ve convinced myself that we need to learn to do without refrigeration, it’s just too expensive in cost, weight, and volume. A supper well insulated Ice Box will have to do. Plus this boat is not going to be a full time live aboard vessel, the plan is to cruise for 3-4 months a year.

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