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Fridge Behaviour


noether

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34 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.

 

I'm assuming the batteries are sealed, otherwise they would be obvious, right? I don't know (obviously), but it makes sense to me that batteries would look like batteries if they were unsealed (with connectors, wires going to positive and negative, etc), as I say, I can see a couple of light grey metal boxes by the blue vitron charger thing that seem like healthy contenders for being batteries. 

 

17 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:


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.

 

You hum it and I'll sing it. This was really the origin of this thread (hence the title) - I don't know what's 'normal' behaviour for my fridge. My feeling is that it always used to 'hum' continuously, but I couldn't swear to it. What I do know for sure, is that yesterday it was off for a long time, no ifs, buts, or maybes - the frozen food had all defrosted and was soggy. Since then the fridge has maintained a cold temp, but also, it is just cold on the boat at the moment, so I don't know whether any of these things tell me anything useful. Also, unfortunately I don't really have the time to run such an experiment at the moment, my colleagues might think I've gone a bit mental if I tell them I can't attend meetings or do any work because I need to listen to the fridge.  

Edited by noether
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18 minutes ago, noether said:

 

 

I'm assuming the batteries are sealed, otherwise they would be obvious, right? I don't know (obviously), but it makes sense to me that batteries would look like batteries if they were unsealed (with connectors, wires going to positive and negative, etc), as I say, I can see a couple of light grey metal boxes by the blue vitron charger thing that seem like healthy contenders for being batteries. 

 

 

 

You need to understand what is meant by sealed batteries.  Ordinary wet lead acid batteries have screw caps on each cell to replenish the water they lose when charging. Sealed batteries are like your car battery with a solid top, no caps. Both types are connected by heavy cables to the systems in your boat, They may be in boxes near your electrical items like the charger etc.

 

For someone living on a boat you appear to be very ignorant of what you are living on, I would suggest a few hours browsing the internet and forums like this one to learn what you have to look after if your life is not going to be a constant battle with things going wrong on the boat and costing you much grief and expense.

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2 hours 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?

 

We went through two sets of leisure batteries in our time as boat owners. Our charging regime wasnt brilliant and we never got around to fitting solar. The final blow was moving to a mooring sans shorepower.

 

On both occasions the first indication of them being on the way out was that the 12v fridge and freezer would not run overnight often cutting out around 3 or 4 am.

 

Firing up the engine the following morning would make them kick in again.

 

I was going to mention this earlier but the voltage reading seemed to contradict this.

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29 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

We went through two sets of leisure batteries in our time as boat owners. Our charging regime wasnt brilliant and we never got around to fitting solar. The final blow was moving to a mooring sans shorepower.

 

On both occasions the first indication of them being on the way out was that the 12v fridge and freezer would not run overnight often cutting out around 3 or 4 am.

 

Firing up the engine the following morning would make them kick in again.

 

I was going to mention this earlier but the voltage reading seemed to contradict this.

 

 

Is it expensive to get the batteries replaced? 

 

Really, I just want to sell the boat and move on, but circumstances mean that's probably not sensible for at least a couple of months. 

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1 hour 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.

I tend to agree that it's likely the batteries are stuffed, but that means the battery charger is not charging them for some reason.

 

It also seems likely that the solar has indeed been keeping the fridge going up until now.

 

The OP says that he's been using lots of things all summer, including computer, vaccum cleaner etc, but these would probably be running directly off the 240v hookup, so the neither the batteries nor the battery charger would be involved.  The single biggest 12v appliance is the fridge so it's not at all surprising that this is giving the issue.  Buying a 240v fridge would indeed solve the fridge issue, but he still needs to see why his battery charger isn't actually charging the batteries.  Maybe it's not even wired up to them?

 

Again, all this is just educated guessing until he get's a voltmeter on the batteries (at night, when the solar is doing nothing).  If I were him I would be walking or cycling to the nearest place I could buy one right now.  The longest similar walk I've done was a 13 mile round trip to buy an end stopper for my cold water pipe.  I now make sure I always have a bike with me.

 

If the OP is not prepared to do this, then he ought be calling mobile boat mechanics to try and get someone out to him. 

 

One final thing, if he's on hook-up then he's on a permanent mooring (marina, boatyard or similar), so isn't there someone else they to borrow a voltmeter from?

 

 

1 hour ago, noether said:

 

 

 

 

 

You hum it and I'll sing it. This was really the origin of this thread (hence the title) - I don't know what's 'normal' behaviour for my fridge. My feeling is that it always used to 'hum' continuously, but I couldn't swear to it. What I do know for sure, is that yesterday it was off for a long time, no ifs, buts, or maybes - the frozen food had all defrosted and was soggy. Since then the fridge has maintained a cold temp, but also, it is just cold on the boat at the moment, so I don't know whether any of these things tell me anything useful. Also, unfortunately I don't really have the time to run such an experiment at the moment, my colleagues might think I've gone a bit mental if I tell them I can't attend meetings or do any work because I need to listen to the fridge.  

It's also been sunnier round here for the last couple of days, compared very dull grey days before.  Solar panels don't do much on grey days.

 

Am I to understand that you're not sure you know what you batteries are?

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39 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

You need to understand what is meant by sealed batteries.  Ordinary wet lead acid batteries have screw caps on each cell to replenish the water they lose when charging. Sealed batteries are like your car battery with a solid top, no caps. Both types are connected by heavy cables to the systems in your boat, They may be in boxes near your electrical items like the charger etc.

 

For someone living on a boat you appear to be very ignorant of what you are living on, I would suggest a few hours browsing the internet and forums like this one to learn what you have to look after if your life is not going to be a constant battle with things going wrong on the boat and costing you much grief and expense.

 

Try www.tb-training.co.uk for starters, no charge and you can print the whole thing out one section at a time.

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2 minutes ago, noether said:

 

 

Is it expensive to get the batteries replaced? 

 

Really, I just want to sell the boat and move on, but circumstances mean that's probably not sensible for at least a couple of months. 

 

Depends what you want to replace them with.

 

Last time we did we were selling too so went with cheap 110ah wet acid leisure batteries. They usually cost around the £100 mark depending were you get them from. We had 5.

1 minute ago, doratheexplorer said:

The voltage reading is off the charger though.  So the charger may be happily sending out 14.4v but those volts are ending up nowhere.

 

Yes reading back I see that now.

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7 minutes ago, noether said:

 

 

Is it expensive to get the batteries replaced? 

 

Really, I just want to sell the boat and move on, but circumstances mean that's probably not sensible for at least a couple of months. 

You're looking at around £80+ for a leisure battery.  But right now, we're not 100% sure your batteries are buggered.  And it seems you're not sure how many batteries you have.

 

Could you take photos of the charger, the 'batteries', the fridge, the wiring etc.  It would REALLY help to see what you have.

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I am not familiar with the Victron smart charger but when the OP writes "the 'blue box' is a 'Vitron Blue Smart Charger' and the lights are on for 'Normal (14.4v)' and 'Float'"  makes me suspect that the 14.4 volts may be printed on the case and just indicates what the absorption voltage is set to, not what is being produced So, to the OP, don't mess about with new batteries and such like until you know what is going on. Get a multimeter and measure the voltage at the batteries.

 

FWIW the charging voltage a charger (or alternator) produces depends upon how much current is flowing. The higher the charge the lower the voltage that can be produced, so I would advise you to buy a more expensive meter with a DC Clamp on it for measuring DC current (be wary the Screwfix ones often only measure AC current). Then if the voltage is low and the current is low after a couple of hours on charge the charger would be suspect, but if the current is high and stay high over a couple of hours or so then the batters probably have a shorting cell.

 

Let's have the photos Dora asked for.

Edited by Tony Brooks
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26 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

I am not familiar with the Victron smart charger but when the OP writes "the 'blue box' is a 'Vitron Blue Smart Charger' and the lights are on for 'Normal (14.4v)' and 'Float'"  makes me suspect that the 14.4 volts may be printed on the case and just indicates what the absorption voltage is set to, not what is being produced So, to the OP, don't mess about with new batteries and such like until you know what is going on. Get a multimeter and measure the voltage at the batteries.

 

FWIW the charging voltage a charger (or alternator) produces depends upon how much current is flowing. The higher the charge the lower the voltage that can be produced, so I would advise you to buy a more expensive meter with a DC Clamp on it for measuring DC current (be wary the Screwfix ones often only measure AC current). Then if the voltage is low and the current is low after a couple of hours on charge the charger would be suspect, but if the current is high and stay high over a couple of hours or so then the batters probably have a shorting cell.

 

Let's have the photos Dora asked for.

 

 

I've had another squizz and have identified where the battery is (I'm positive, haha) - it's in a position that I find difficult to believe that anybody other than a contortionist homunculus could get at it - I'm tall, another problem I have with living on a boat, but even if I wasn't, I don't see how I could pull it out without just stretching my arms and blindly groping around pulling at things. It's underneath the victron charger, I can only see one battery and it says 'M135' on it, and 'recharge once a month' (or words to that effect), but I struggle to see how it's possible to access it without removing all of the wires and cabling from the electrical control panel, and even then it looks like a challenge. The only other access I can figure would be removing the washing machine, but that's not a guarantee either, just a guess. 

 

I don't have a way of taking of photo unfortunately, unless I twist my laptop in there. 

 

I think the obvious solution is that I just ask the marina if one of their guys can come and have a look for me when they get a minute. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, noether said:

 

 

I've had another squizz and have identified where the battery is (I'm positive, haha) - it's in a position that I find difficult to believe that anybody other than a contortionist homunculus could get at it - I'm tall, another problem I have with living on a boat, but even if I wasn't, I don't see how I could pull it out without just stretching my arms and blindly groping around pulling at things. It's underneath the victron charger, I can only see one battery and it says 'M135' on it, and 'recharge once a month' (or words to that effect), but I struggle to see how it's possible to access it without removing all of the wires and cabling from the electrical control panel, and even then it looks like a challenge. The only other access I can figure would be removing the washing machine, but that's not a guarantee either, just a guess. 

 

I don't have a way of taking of photo unfortunately, unless I twist my laptop in there. 

 

I think the obvious solution is that I just ask the marina if one of their guys can come and have a look for me when they get a minute. 

 

 

It would be most odd for you to have only one battery.  Is the one you have found the engine starter battery?  I would expect there to be two others connected in parallel at least as the cabin supplies battery.

 

How many battery isolator switches do you have?

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2 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

It would be most odd for you to have only one battery.  Is the one you have found the engine starter battery?  I would expect there to be two others connected in parallel at least as the cabin supplies battery.

 

How many battery isolator switches do you have?

 

There is likely more than one battery. I can only see part of it, and the only reason I know it's a battery, is because the part of it that I can see says 'battery'. 

 

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Please, can you confirm what type of boat this is? If its a narrowboat what type of stern (trad, cruiser,  semi-trad)?  Because I know there are some right prunes doing boat fitting, but if you are correct it seems the king of all prune type jobs.

 

Narrowboat batteries are often not easy to access, but access them we must. They are often placed on the uxter (swim) plate to one side of  the engine. This is to keep the heavy cables short. It sounds as if you may not have a narrowboat.

 

M135 suggests it's a Tanya leisure type battery.  Sometimes batteries slide out after taking a lower section of a step or under cupboard panel off. If that is the only battery and it's been on for an unknown time with unknown modes of boat use, no wonder you are having problems.

Edited by Tony Brooks
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16 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Please, can you confirm what type of boat this is? If its a narrowboat what type of stern (trad, cruiser,  semi-trad)?  Because I know there are some right prunes doing boat fitting, but if you are correct it seems the king of all prune type jobs.

 

Narrowboat batteries are often not easy to access, but access them we must. They are often placed on the uxter (swim) plate to one side of  the engine. This is to keep the heavy cables short. It sounds as if you may not have a narrowboat.

 

M135 suggests it's a Tanya leisure type battery.  Sometimes batteries slide out after taking a lower section of a step or under cupboard panel off. If that is the only battery and it's been on for an unknown time with unknown modes of boat use, no wonder you are having problems.

 

It's a trad stern. I looked, and yes, it seems as you described, they appear to be on a plate to the side of the engine, I tried and there is a long thin wooden panel that can be pulled away, but again, I really can't see how this helps much (if at all) in accessing them. According to the survey, "There are three 135A/hr vented, lead/acid domestic batteries and a single sealed 110A/hr engine start battery".

 

I'm going to ask someone from the marina to come and have a look for me, I'll just watch what they do.........so I'll stop trying to semaphore in this way, unless anyone is particularly curious, in which case I'm happy to keep posting about it. 

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59 minutes ago, noether said:

I don't have a way of taking of photo unfortunately, unless I twist my laptop in there. 

 

How can you possibly survive without a smartphone!

 

ISTR them saying on the wireless yesterday that 99% of the uk population now owns a smartphone. 

 

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Just now, MtB said:

 

How can you possibly survive without a smartphone!

 

ISTR them saying on the wireless yesterday that 99% of the uk population now owns a smartphone. 

 

 

Like I say, I'm a software engineer. I already spend too much time looking at screens, and I have become very cynical about the effect of constant connectivity on people, sometimes I'm sure that my wife reaches for her phone as an involuntary reflex, she doesn't even consciously intend to do it. 

 

(hashtag delete your social media). 

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24 minutes ago, noether said:

 

It's a trad stern. I looked, and yes, it seems as you described, they appear to be on a plate to the side of the engine, I tried and there is a long thin wooden panel that can be pulled away, but again, I really can't see how this helps much (if at all) in accessing them. According to the survey, "There are three 135A/hr vented, lead/acid domestic batteries and a single sealed 110A/hr engine start battery".

 

I'm going to ask someone from the marina to come and have a look for me, I'll just watch what they do.........so I'll stop trying to semaphore in this way, unless anyone is particularly curious, in which case I'm happy to keep posting about it. 

Please keep us updated, this has been an enjoyable thread and I am curious to find out what the issue is,

 

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5 minutes ago, noether said:

 

Like I say, I'm a software engineer. I already spend too much time looking at screens, and I have become very cynical about the effect of constant connectivity on people, sometimes I'm sure that my wife reaches for her phone as an involuntary reflex, she doesn't even consciously intend to do it. 

 

(hashtag delete your social media). 

 

Aha, so you DO have access to a smartphone....

 

Totally agree with you about the evils of social media though. This board however, is social media. 

 

If you mean delete one's Facebook, Instagram etc accounts I rarely use them, but that doesn't help. They still track you around using your credit and debit card receipts. And of course your wife's smartphone listens in to everything that YOU say within earshot. (Just to cheer you up.)

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1 hour ago, noether said:

 

 

I've had another squizz and have identified where the battery is (I'm positive, haha) - it's in a position that I find difficult to believe that anybody other than a contortionist homunculus could get at it - I'm tall, another problem I have with living on a boat, but even if I wasn't, I don't see how I could pull it out without just stretching my arms and blindly groping around pulling at things. It's underneath the victron charger, I can only see one battery and it says 'M135' on it, and 'recharge once a month' (or words to that effect), but I struggle to see how it's possible to access it without removing all of the wires and cabling from the electrical control panel, and even then it looks like a challenge. The only other access I can figure would be removing the washing machine, but that's not a guarantee either, just a guess. 

 

I don't have a way of taking of photo unfortunately, unless I twist my laptop in there. 

 

I think the obvious solution is that I just ask the marina if one of their guys can come and have a look for me when they get a minute. 

 

 

I fully sympathise.

On my last narrowboat I had to get into more positions than are listed in Karma Sutra simply to change the oil filter! 😰

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6 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

I fully sympathise.

On my last narrowboat I had to get into more positions than are listed in Karma Sutra simply to change the oil filter! 😰

 

You do realise that changing the oil filter is supposed to be a one person job .. 😅🤣🤣

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1 hour ago, noether said:

"There are three 135A/hr vented, lead/acid domestic batteries and a single sealed 110A/hr engine start battery".

 

 

So, the 3 cabin batteries are not sealed batteries they are wet open cell 135Ah lead acid and you have never checked the electrolyte  level all the time you have had the boat. They are knackered through neglect.  You could try taking the 6 caps off each battery, topping them up with distilled water to JUST over the separator plates that you can see inside. Let them charge (providing that the Victron charger is working ) and keep your fingers crossed.

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1 hour ago, MtB said:

 

Aha, so you DO have access to a smartphone....

 

Totally agree with you about the evils of social media though. This board however, is social media. 

 

If you mean delete one's Facebook, Instagram etc accounts I rarely use them, but that doesn't help. They still track you around using your credit and debit card receipts. And of course your wife's smartphone listens in to everything that YOU say within earshot. (Just to cheer you up.)

 

I'd have access to a smartphone if my wife was here, but she's not, she's away for a while - this is another reason why I've got myself in trouble with boat-stuff, she's been dealing with it when she was here, going off and talking to people, finding stuff out etc - I'm sure she told me where the batteries were at one point, but I clearly wasn't really listening. 

 

I never said this board wasn't evil..........😉

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