A regular refrigerator may be used on a boat, but there will be a couple of considerations that you will have to keep in mind, such as the power available aboard your boat. Regular refrigerators will require more power and different voltages, so they might turn out to be more of a hassle compared to a marine fridge.
Boating on a warm day is always an adventure, regardless of where you are going. However, you will no matter where you you’ll always require food and drink – and you can’t really find supermarkets in the middle of the ocean. While you may frequently dock, you still have to store food in a place where the heat will not make it go bad. You will need a refrigerator.
But should you get a marine refrigerator, or can you go with a regular refrigerator instead? Are there any differences between the two – any considerations that you need to keep in mind? Let’s find out!
Considerations of Using a Normal Fridge
There are certain factors that you should consider when using a normal fridge instead of a marine one. While it’s entirely possible to use a regular fridge, and indeed this does have its advantages, there are also a couple of drawbacks.
Advantages of a Regular Fridge
Regular refrigerators are widely available, and to this day, there are countless models that others use with success that you may choose for your own boat. If you decide to use a regular refrigerator on your boat, you will reap the following advantages:
- More Affordable than a Marine Fridge
Regular refrigerators are not as over engineered as marine fridges, so they will not be as expensive. This is especially the case if you go for a regular refrigerator that does not have any bells and whistles. It’s easy to come across a small-sized refrigerator and have it installed on your boat, next to the generator.
- They Typically Have a Larger Capacity
Regular refrigerators have a bigger capacity compared to marine fridges. Therefore, if you are the kind of person that likes to bring a lot of home-cooked meals with you, a regular fridge will be better suited to holding all the food you need.
Disadvantages of a Regular Fridge
A regular fridge also has a few disadvantages that you might want to keep in mind, including:
- Not Built for a Marine Environment
A regular fridge is built to last indoors, in a regular home – not in a damp and salty marine environment. In the salty air, the fridge may begin to corrode, not to mention that the potential water splashes might damage it. It might not last that long if you take it out at sea.
- The Compressor Will Consume More Power
Regular fridges are designed to draw regular mains power – power that is primarily needed to drive the compressor. However this requirement is a challenge to replicate with a 12 or 24 volt system and can cause the batteries to drain much faster than they might otherwise.
- No Automatic Voltage Control
Depending on the power source where you connect your refrigerator, you might need different voltages. When you are at sea, you may connect to a 12V supply, but when you are ashore, you can connect to a 240V outlet. Regular refrigerators don’t have that kind of automatic voltage switch built in, and will require a seperate invertor.
Considerations of Using a Marine Fridge
Marine fridges are specially made to be used in a marine environment. If you go for one of these instead of a domestic refrigerator, there are also a few considerations that you should bear in mind:
Advantages of Marine Refrigerators
When you’re getting a marine refrigerator, you’ll have the following advantages:
- They Consume Less Power
Marine refrigerators feature a compressor that works at a reduced load compared to a regular fridge – therefore, they consume less power from the battery. This makes them a better option for boat rides.
- They have Automatic Voltage Control
A marine fridge will have automatic voltage control, which means it is easier for you to connect at 12V or 240V. This will give you more charging power, and fewer chances of having your fridge damaged by a power surge.
- Better Insulated to Cope with High Temperatures
Marine refrigerators are built to be rust-proof and to stand protected against water and salty air, but they are also better insulated to withstand high temperatures. You can go for either air-cooled or water-cooled fridges, although water-cooled ones tend to be more effective. They are a better option for summer boat rides.
Disadvantages of Marine Refrigerators
Just like they prove advantageous to boat rides, marine refrigerators also come with some downsides.
- More Expensive than a Regular Refrigerator
Marine refrigerators were made to stand strong against the harsh environment presented by marine life. With the extra bells and whistles, they tend to be more expensive as well. You could very easily pay twice as much for a marine fridge with the same capacity as a domestic fridge.
- Typically Smaller in Size
A marine fridge is built to be portable and highly insulating, but in order to do that, it often sacrifices storage capacity. If you like to seriously stock up on boat trips, a marine fridge might limit you.
Best Practices to Install a Fridge on a Boat
Installing a fridge on a boat is similar to installing one in your home. However, there are a few extra factors to consider, including:
- Improve the insulation in the fridge area. By installing the fridge in an insulated box, for instance, you may be able to maintain the cool air better.
- Locate the compressor in an area with good airflow. This will prevent unnecessary power consumption caused by improper heat loss.
- Consider the loading style, whether it’s front-loading or top loading. Think about the way you access and power your refrigerator.
- Consider alternative power management options. For instance, if you cannot plug the fridge onto shore power every day, you might want to install a solar panel for an extra kick and to stop your batteries from draining too quickly.
If you’re not entirely sure how to install the refrigerator, you may want to have a professional do it for you.
The Bottom Line
You may indeed use a regular refrigerator on a boat if that is your only option. However, for convenience and efficiency, you should get a marine one instead, as it was made for this purpose and comes with extra features that will ensure both it’s utility and longevity.