Log in
Article search:

Q & A

Best boat fridge for livaboard

Can anyone recommend the best fridge for livaboard without shorepower so something economical. I dont have a huge budget but if i can find the name of the best models i may try to find a second hand one. Thanks.

Asked by: Jo  | 7.36pm, Monday 22 October


WW says:

Most modern electric fridges are quite economical- however, the price of 12V ones can be quite scary. They also need to have long, thick cables to them, to prevent voltage drop and prematurely cutting out.
A budget option would be a 230V fridge, powered by a small (say 300W) quasi-sine wave inverter (the cheap ones!). As long as the quiescent current of the inverter is only, say, 0.2 to 0.5A, then you will find that you would be using around 30 to 50Ah of battery capacity a day (so around the capacity of a single fairly standard 110Ah battery). Generally, the smaller the capacity of the fridge, the cheaper it is to run.
You can find, for instance, a small 230V fridge at 55 litre capacity (1.8 cu ft) for aounrd £90, where as the identical 12V version would be around £450. The casing is the same, just a replaced compressor. A 300W inverter could cost as little as £40.
Otherwise, any modern Fridge is quite economical- just wired in decently thick cables! If you go down the 230V route, then just take the usual precautions involved with wiring in a 230V supply.

Mark Langley  | 10.53PM, Monday 22 October

If you do buy a 12V fridge, make sure it is a compressor driven model. The cheaper cool box style are cooled by Peltier effect devices which are very current hungry, the simple way to tell is that they can often keep food warm or cool by changing the polarity of the current.
Using a 230V domestic fridge powered by an invertor is not particularly efficient and will use more battery power than a low voltage boat fridge. This is because the domestic varieties are not quite as efficient, and the invertor needs power as well. The invertor needs to be able to supply at least 50% more power than the rating of the appliance as the starting current of the compressor motor is higher than the running current.

Rupert Smedley  | 11.04PM, Tuesday 23 October

I agree that a 12-volt fridge is more efficient than a 230-volt model run through an inverter. I also agree they are also much more expensive but, as you suggest, you may be able to find a second-hand one. However, you should look for a fairly modern fridge with a Danfoss BD35 compressor to get the maximum benefit. The older Shoreline, Engel and Batts fridges used compressors that drew about 4.5 amps while running compared with about 2 amps for the later models.

Graham Booth  | 5.01PM, Wednesday 24 October

You must log in to post an answer.