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Fridge Behaviour


noether

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7 hours ago, noether said:

We have a 12v fridge,

 

Given how little you say you know about electrics, how do you know it is a 12v fridge? Or are you assuming? 

 

Assumption is the mother of all cock-ups, is my personal maxim in the field of fault tracing.

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1 hour ago, MtB said:

 

Given how little you say you know about electrics, how do you know it is a 12v fridge? Or are you assuming? 

 

Assumption is the mother of all cock-ups, is my personal maxim in the field of fault tracing.

 

If you assume, you make an ass of u and me, is my personal maxim. 

 

I was told it's a 12v fridge by the seller, and separately by an engineer at the marina. 

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As others have said, buy a test meter / digital multi meter and learn how to use it.  In the log run it will save you a lot if time and a lot of cash.

 

I have a 'Unit' one (decent and very reasonably priced) and a 'Fluke' one (expensive and complete over kill most of the time).

Edited by Quattrodave
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3 hours ago, noether said:

 

If you assume, you make an ass of u and me, is my personal maxim. 

 

I was told it's a 12v fridge by the seller, and separately by an engineer at the marina. 

 

So the truth is, we don't actually know. They might both have been assuming. I'm wondering if it might be a 230Vac fridge being run by a little inverter tucked behind it. 

 

There are three easy ways to tell. One is by using a multimeter to measure the voltage on the input terminals, the next way is to find the data label (all electrical appliances have one) and read what it says. The third is to find the manual that probably came with the fridge and see what that tells you about the required power supply. 

 

As I said earlier, fault tracing is all about ruling out assumptions by checking, and therefore knowing. 

 

 

 

Edited by MtB
Add the missing words!
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3 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

So the truth is, we don't actually know. They might both have been assuming. I'm wondering if it might be a 230Vac fridge being run by a little inverter tucked behind it. 

 

There are three easy ways to tell. One is by using a multimeter to measure the voltage on the input terminals, the next way is to find the data label (all electrical appliances have one) and read what it says. The third is to find the manual that probably came with the fridge and see what that tells you about the required power supply. 

 

As I said earlier, fault tracing is all about ruling out assumptions by checking, and therefore knowing. 

 

 

 

 

Well if the OP knows the make and model that would be easier.

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10 hours ago, MtB said:

 

So the truth is, we don't actually know. They might both have been assuming. I'm wondering if it might be a 230Vac fridge being run by a little inverter tucked behind it. 

 

There are three easy ways to tell. One is by using a multimeter to measure the voltage on the input terminals, the next way is to find the data label (all electrical appliances have one) and read what it says. The third is to find the manual that probably came with the fridge and see what that tells you about the required power supply. 

 

As I said earlier, fault tracing is all about ruling out assumptions by checking, and therefore knowing. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for all responses, I can't find a user manual for the fridge (but as is always the way, I can find a user manual for every other thing on the boat). I pulled the fridge out and I can see something that says '12/24 vdc' on it, and the fridge is a 'LEC inlander', the model number looks like 'R5010W' but it's difficult to read at the angle it's at. Looks like this is it. 

 

Yesterday I tried putting the engine on for an hour, and strangely, this did seem to solve the problem, temporarily - the fridge started humming as normal, and continued to do so for a while (freezer compartment refroze). But then the same pattern repeated - it was off when I got up this morning, then I did briefly hear it come on again, and now it's off again. 

 

I tried turning on the inverter, because why not, but that didn't seem to do anything. 

 

I don't want to buy any expensive equipment to check on these problems because we're going to be selling the boat in a few months, I can ask the marina for assistance but I really don't want to waste their time on something before I've exhausted options myself, and/or it's something they can't help with anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by noether
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51 minutes ago, noether said:

 

Thanks for all responses, I can't find a user manual for the fridge (but as is always the way, I can find a user manual for every other thing on the boat). I pulled the fridge out and I can see something that says '12/24 vdc' on it, and the fridge is a 'LEC inlander', the model number looks like 'R5010W' but it's difficult to read at the angle it's at. Looks like this is it. 

 

Yesterday I tried putting the engine on for an hour, and strangely, this did seem to solve the problem, temporarily - the fridge started humming as normal, and continued to do so for a while (freezer compartment refroze). But then the same pattern repeated - it was off when I got up this morning, then I did briefly hear it come on again, and now it's off again. 

 

I tried turning on the inverter, because why not, but that didn't seem to do anything. 

 

I don't want to buy any expensive equipment to check on these problems because we're going to be selling the boat in a few months, I can ask the marina for assistance but I really don't want to waste their time on something before I've exhausted options myself, and/or it's something they can't help with anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent work. So now we know for certain it really is a 12Vdc (or 24Vdc) fridge, which means we are actually diagnosing what we thought we were. We are not running up a blind alley.

 

Secondly, the result of your experiment running the engine and finding the fridge works normally, suggests the cause of the problem IS low system voltage. When the engine is running, the alternator is raising the battery voltage to a high enough voltage to be charging the batteries, which in turn and very conveniently raises the voltage being sent to the fridge too. And that higher voltage makes the fridge behave itself.

 

Conclusions:

 

1) The cause of the problem is low voltage at the fridge input terminals.

2) Your batteries have too low a state of charge left in them come the morning to work the fridge properly.

3) Your shoreline is not charging the batteries sufficiently to last through the night. Are you turning it OFF at night perhaps?

 

Possibilities:

 

1) Your batts are totally goosed and cannot hold sufficient charge to keep the fridge running all night.

2) Your batteries are actually ok but are simply not being charged enough, leading to the same effect as in 1).

3) Your shoreline powered charger has recently stopped working, even though the shoreline is still connected.

 

So now, we need to turn our attention to how your batts are being charged.

 

Next steps to take are:

 

1) Find and identify your charger. What make and model is it? Are there any lights showing on it?

2) Buy or borrow a digital multimeter.

 

 

Edited by MtB
Speeling, and add that last bit
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46 minutes ago, noether said:

 

Thanks for all responses, I can't find a user manual for the fridge (but as is always the way, I can find a user manual for every other thing on the boat). I pulled the fridge out and I can see something that says '12/24 vdc' on it, and the fridge is a 'LEC inlander', the model number looks like 'R5010W' but it's difficult to read at the angle it's at. Looks like this is it. 

 

Yesterday I tried putting the engine on for an hour, and strangely, this did seem to solve the problem, temporarily - the fridge started humming as normal, and continued to do so for a while (freezer compartment refroze). But then the same pattern repeated - it was off when I got up this morning, then I did briefly hear it come on again, and now it's off again. 

 

I tried turning on the inverter, because why not, but that didn't seem to do anything. 

 

I don't want to buy any expensive equipment to check on these problems because we're going to be selling the boat in a few months, I can ask the marina for assistance but I really don't want to waste their time on something before I've exhausted options myself, and/or it's something they can't help with anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 

A multimeter is not expensive.  A few pounds.  Until you're able to check the voltage at the points mentioned above, there's little else this forum can do.

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2 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

 

Excellent work. So now we know for certain it really is a 12Vdc (or 24Vdc) fridge, which means we are actually diagnosing what we thought we were. We are not running up a blind alley.

 

Secondly, the result of your experiment running the engine and finding the fridge works normally, suggests the cause of the problem IS low system voltage. When the engine is running, the alternator is raising the battery voltage to a high enough voltage to be charging the batteries, which in turn and very conveniently raises the voltage being sent to the fridge too. And that higher voltage makes the fridge behave itself.

 

Conclusions:

 

1) The cause of the problem is low voltage at the fridge input terminals.

2) Your batteries have too low a state of charge left in them come the morning to work the fridge properly.

3) Your shoreline is not charging the batteries sufficiently to last through the night. Are you turning it OFF at night perhaps?

 

Possibilities:

 

1) Your batts are totally goosed and cannot hold sufficient charge to keep the fridge running all night.

2) Your batteries are actually ok but are simply not being charged enough, leading to the same effect as in 1).

3) Your shoreline powered charged has recently stopped working, even though the shoreline is still connected.

 

So now, we need to turn our attention to how your batts are being charged.

Don't assume too much.  It could have just been a coincidence.  If I were the OP I would try running the engine at intervals through the day to see if it consistently coincided with the fridge running properly.

 

That 14.4v reading on a "Blue Box" (Victron charger maybe?) is still a puzzle.  Noether - could you send a photo of the blue box showing a reading?

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1 minute ago, doratheexplorer said:

Don't assume too much.  It could have just been a coincidence.  If I were the OP I would try running the engine at intervals through the day to see if it consistently coincided with the fridge running properly.

 

That 14.4v reading on a "Blue Box" (Victron charger maybe?) is still a puzzle.  Noether - could you send a photo of the blue box showing a reading?

 

I haven't assumed anything, hence my use of the word "suggests". Further tests are necessary.

 

Assuming (!) the Victron blue box is a charger, the 14.4v displayed on it could easily be the open circuit voltage charging voltage while the batts are flat as pancakes, caused simply by a bad connection or a wire falling off.  The OP needs a DVM! 

 

 

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I had similar symtoms with someones Shoreline fridge a couple of years ago. It was completely boxed in tight in a cupboard, with a door. Must have been running continually overheating and started a hum when switched on then kept stopping. Dragged it out and the compressor had even scorched the ply bulkhead behind it. She binned it and got a mains one. I put vents in the side and back of it's cupboard and took the door off. The boat had been fitted out including the fridge professionally.

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1 minute ago, bizzard said:

I had similar symtoms with someones Shoreline fridge a couple of years ago. It was completely boxed in tight in a cupboard, with a door. Must have been running continually overheating and started a hum when switched on then kept stopping. Dragged it out and the compressor had even scorched the ply bulkhead behind it. She binned it and got a mains one. I put vents in the side and back of it's cupboard and took the door off. The boat had been fitted out including the fridge professionally.

 

Or more accurately, unprofessionally for them to have ignored the fridge ventilation requirements!

 

In the OP's case though, their fridge appears to have worked perfectly for a long time before developing the fault being discussed, so it is unlikely to be a ventilation problem.

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Just now, MtB said:

 

Or more accurately, unprofessionally for them to have ignored the fridge ventilation requirements!

 

In the OP's case though, their fridge appears to have worked perfectly for a long time before developing the fault being discussed, so it is unlikely to be a ventilation problem.

Although the fit out quality was top notch they didn't know much about boat requirements or fridges. No hatch in the floor to check the bilge, all the electrics horribly boxed in, could never really get to anything when it went wrong without major demolition.  I could name the boat fitting out company as they have now ceased trading but I'd better not.

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16 minutes ago, bizzard said:

Although the fit out quality was top notch they didn't know much about boat requirements or fridges. No hatch in the floor to check the bilge, all the electrics horribly boxed in, could never really get to anything when it went wrong without major demolition.  I could name the boat fitting out company as they have now ceased trading but I'd better not.

Just whisper it quietly

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1 hour ago, MtB said:

 

 

Excellent work. So now we know for certain it really is a 12Vdc (or 24Vdc) fridge, which means we are actually diagnosing what we thought we were. We are not running up a blind alley.

 

Secondly, the result of your experiment running the engine and finding the fridge works normally, suggests the cause of the problem IS low system voltage. When the engine is running, the alternator is raising the battery voltage to a high enough voltage to be charging the batteries, which in turn and very conveniently raises the voltage being sent to the fridge too. And that higher voltage makes the fridge behave itself.

 

Conclusions:

 

1) The cause of the problem is low voltage at the fridge input terminals.

2) Your batteries have too low a state of charge left in them come the morning to work the fridge properly.

3) Your shoreline is not charging the batteries sufficiently to last through the night. Are you turning it OFF at night perhaps?

 

Possibilities:

 

1) Your batts are totally goosed and cannot hold sufficient charge to keep the fridge running all night.

2) Your batteries are actually ok but are simply not being charged enough, leading to the same effect as in 1).

3) Your shoreline powered charger has recently stopped working, even though the shoreline is still connected.

 

So now, we need to turn our attention to how your batts are being charged.

 

Next steps to take are:

 

1) Find and identify your charger. What make and model is it? Are there any lights showing on it?

2) Buy or borrow a digital multimeter.

 

 

 

Thanks very much for the comprehensive reply, so I've dug in amongst the wires and the 'blue box' is a 'Vitron Blue Smart Charger' and the lights are on for 'Normal (14.4v)' and 'Float'. 

 

I know that you are helpfully trying to steer me away from superstitious suppositions, but I did notice that the red light (low charge) is on for the solar panel, and it does seem to be more of a 'nighttime' issue (ish, maybe). I doubt that the solar panel solely charges the battery that powers the fridge, but I couldn't swear that the fridge working doesn't coincide with there being more sunshine. 

 

The light is on for the shoreline, and I've checked the physical connector and it looks secure - is there some way I can have 'turned off' the shoreline mains power without knowing it? 

 

Incidentally, the fridge is working at the moment, humming away contentedly and infuriatingly to itself, as if it knows the answer but isn't going to tell me. 

 

I don't think it's a ventilation problem, there is a ventilation panel on the side. 

 

It's not just the expense of buying a voldemort-ometer, I don't have a car, I'm not near any shops, and if I order one I'll have to find somewhere to have it delivered and go and collect it. 

 

 

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OK, at a guess I would plump for the batteries being knackered.  How old are they?    Are they sealed or have you been topping them up with water?  How have you kept them FULLY  charged in their life? Or have you just relied on the solar to charge them?

How often and for how long do you run the engine above tick over, do you actually go out cruising regularly?

 

When did you last look at them and clean the terminals?

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5 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

OK, at a guess I would plump for the batteries being knackered. 

 

I'm inclined to agree, but if the charger was working, surely that would deliver enough current to work the fridge. Therefore, I think we can conclude, the charger has ceased to be connected to the batts.

 

It could have been the solar alone charging the batts all summer, and now the days are shortening and the solar charge diminishing, the batts are no longer being fully charged every day and have simply run down to much.

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57 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

OK, at a guess I would plump for the batteries being knackered.  How old are they?    Are they sealed or have you been topping them up with water?  How have you kept them FULLY  charged in their life? Or have you just relied on the solar to charge them?

How often and for how long do you run the engine above tick over, do you actually go out cruising regularly?

 

When did you last look at them and clean the terminals?

 

How old are the batteries? No idea I'm afraid.

Are they sealed? Don't know - I thought I knew where the batteries were, but it turns out I don't - my wife was shown where they were and she told me, but I've just been and looked and they aren't where I assumed, and she's away at the moment. There are a few 'battery looking things' I can see that are likely contenders. 

How have the batteries been kept fully charged in their life? No idea. Owned the boat since April. Been plugged in the whole time. 

Have I relied on solar? Don't know! I didn't think we had - maybe - but it feels very unlikely to me. Everything else works as expected, been running computer chargers, routers, pumps, vacuum cleaner, lights, all other electrics on the boat have been running without a problem all the time, and our solar panel is small and pretty pathetic looking. 

How often do we run the engine? Not often. Probably averaged out to about once a month. 

Go cruising regularly? Never have, and now never will. 

Look at and clean the terminals? Never! 

 

It seems a bit bizarre to me, because the fridge is doing it's thing, on again, off again, apparently without rhyme or reason (sun was shining, and it went off, now it has just come back on again). 

 

This has all been very uphill for me, I have a fulltime job and I work for myself as well (I'm a software engineer), just getting by doing the day to day things living on this boat is very challenging, I realised pretty early on that buying the boat was a mistake, but it really is wonderful how nice and willing to give up their time everybody is in 'canal world', including you guys helping me on this thread, so a sincere thank you 👍

 

 

 

Edited by noether
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10 minutes ago, noether said:

 

How old are the batteries? No idea I'm afraid.

Are they sealed? Don't know - I thought I knew where the batteries were, but it turns out I don't - my wife was shown where they were and she told me, but I've just been and looked and they aren't where I assumed, and she's away at the moment. There are a few 'battery looking things' I can see that are likely contenders. 

How have the batteries been kept fully charged in their life? No idea. Owned the boat since April. Been plugged in the whole time. 

Have I relied on solar? Don't know! I didn't think we had - maybe - but it feels very unlikely to me. Everything else works as expected, been running computer chargers, routers, pumps, vacuum cleaner, lights, all other electrics on the boat have been running without a problem all the time, and our solar panel is small and pretty pathetic looking. 

How often do we run the engine? Not often. Probably averaged out to about once a month. 

Go cruising regularly? Never have, and now never will. 

Look at and clean the terminals? Never! 

 

It seems a bit bizarre to me, because the fridge is doing it's thing, on again, off again, apparently without rhyme or reason (sun was shining, and it went off, now it has just come back on again). 

 

This has all been very uphill for me, I have a fulltime job and I work for myself as well (I'm a software engineer), just getting by doing the day to day things living on this boat is very challenging, I realised pretty early on that buying the boat was a mistake, but it really is wonderful how nice and willing to give up their time everybody is in 'canal world', including you guys helping me on this thread, so a sincere thank you 👍

 

 

 

thank you for the honest answers.  I am now certain that the problem is worn out batteries.  But before you replace them, you will have to learn how to take care of the new ones otherwise they will be useless in a matter of weeks.  You cannot ignore batteries on a boat, if they are not sealed they need topping up. They need a proper charging routine.

If you intend sitting on a shore line for ever and never moving you may be better off buying a mains fridge, connecting it to the 240v on the boat instead of batteries and ignore your knackered batteries till they go pop.  Which they will eventually and maybe set on fire unless you do something about them.

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3 hours ago, noether said:

Yesterday I tried putting the engine on for an hour, and strangely, this did seem to solve the problem, temporarily - the fridge started humming as normal, and continued to do so for a while (freezer compartment refroze). But then the same pattern repeated - it was off when I got up this morning, then I did briefly hear it come on again, and now it's off again. 


Don’t forget that fridges do “turn on” and “turn off” on a regular basis, as the thermostat does its job, so you will hear it humming for a while, then not humming for a while.

 

Some people here have measured the on and off times of their fridges, but I can’t remember the timings.

 

If you ran your engine for an hour, sat by the fridge, and noted the times it was humming,, and the time it is not humming, that would tell us something. If it hums and doesn’t hum, say two or three times, and it seemed to be at the right cool temperature, it could be safe to say that the fridge is fine, and the problem is with the power supply from the batteries.

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26 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

thank you for the honest answers.  I am now certain that the problem is worn out batteries.  But before you replace them, you will have to learn how to take care of the new ones otherwise they will be useless in a matter of weeks.  You cannot ignore batteries on a boat, if they are not sealed they need topping up. They need a proper charging routine.

If you intend sitting on a shore line for ever and never moving you may be better off buying a mains fridge, connecting it to the 240v on the boat instead of batteries and ignore your knackered batteries till they go pop.  Which they will eventually and maybe set on fire unless you do something about them.

If they intend sitting on a shore line, (I think they have been on one since purchase in April?), they could make sure the 240v charger is working and connected. It will probably need new batteries when they come to sell.

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