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  Refrigerator Insulation

By Heidi Ann Kotas

Cetus Hull # 71

         Is your refrigerator insulated as much as youíd like?  If itís like most boat refrigeration systems, itís not.  No matter how well built and insulated a unit is, it can always be improved upon.  We were recently introduced to a unique insulation material by a fellow boater and we lined our refrigerator with it with great results.  Our friend had been using it for other insulation purposes for which it worked equally well. 

            The material is called Reflectixš Insulation and is basically bubble wrap coated with space blanket material.  The beauty of the material is that it is effective, and yet so easy to work with since it can be cut to fit with ordinary scissors.  Itís also very forgiving -- if you donít cut it perfectly you simply adjust it in to position and it looks great.  You buy special seam tape to go with it that gives it a very finished appearance and completes the insulation job.  Reflectixš Insulation can be found at most hardware/home repair warehouse stores.

            Our refrigerator is a front loading model.  We know this isnít the most efficient type and have considered converting it to a top loader, but since we live aboard weíve opted to sacrifice the efficiency for the convenience of a ďregularĒ door type refrigerator.  This is a compromise, as is everything about a boat.  Since we made this concession to comfort we felt we should do everything possible to maximize efficiency.

            First we checked the existing insulation and repaired and filled in where it was necessary.  We werenít able to add additional insulation around the box due to lack of space.  We also installed a digital thermometer that measures the temperature inside the refrigerator with the display on the outside.  For this we purchased a small inexpensive indoor/outdoor model at the local electronics store.

            Then we lined the entire refrigerator (except the floor for drainage purposes) with Reflectixš Insulation.  We simply cut the insulation material to size for each wall of the refrigerator, tacked it up with an adhesive caulking, then taped the seams.  It was actually a bit more difficult than it sounds, as the refrigerator isnít just a straight box and required lots of measuring.  We also had to lower the icebox to line the top of the space. In addition we cut a piece the size of the front opening, edged it with the seam tape and hung it over the opening so that when the door is opened precious cold air doesnít just flow out. Itís simple to lift this to get something out and I can just drop the flap without closing the door while I make sure I get everything  I need. Even with the difficult access we were able to complete the project in one evening. 

            This project was relatively simple and inexpensive, yet provided us with a noticeable energy savings and I would highly recommend it to anyone whether they have an ice box or refrigerator, top or front loader.

By Heidi Ann  Kotas

Cetus Hull # 71