Engel Ice Box Conversion Kit

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  • May 21, 2012 12:13 AM
    Message # 926112
    My ice box is in great shape, with extra insulation in the walls. I haven't been using it much lately as I had bought an engel freezer/refrigerator  (MR040 I think). The cooler works great, but it takes up space and needs to be stowed when I'm sailing. It's not light.

    Of course just after I bought the cooler I find out they make drop in models - I was about to look into modifying my ice box so I could do that, but now I see they also sell conversion kits. There's a guy here who might buy my portable, which will help me think seriously about buying the conversion kit.

    I am waiting for install instructions from engel so I can do a bit more research, but I thought I'd check if anyone on here has installed one.

    My questions are: 

    1) where would you suggest mounting the compressor? My dining table runs fore and aft, so I have lots of room under that settee. It would make a short run for the copper pipes. I'd have to put louvres in for ventilation. I can't go the other way, as that would put it in the engine room. I'd probably mount it on a chunk of rubber like they use in horse stall so as  to dampen vibration and noise. I know a local farrier that can set me up.

    2) where in the ice box would you mount the cold plate? Sides or back, low or high? I have the staggered interior ice box, so my thought was to put the cold plate low and far back so it's not close to oven, and fabricate well-insulated shelves so I could make different layers of cold. I was thinking of some sort of SS grate over the cold plate to protect it. If the cold plate was on the roof of the ice box, and far back, however, it is unlikely anything would hit it, and everything below it would be cool...the L -shape option might fit nicely up there. 

    3) wiring - again, haven't seen details on install yet, but since the Engels run on AC or DC, whichever is available, I guess I'd have to run both to compressor - which I assume is two different wires, right to power supply. I guess I can just follow existing lines to get close, then drill a new access point.

    4) after the install I was thinking of filling in the void under and behind ice box with expanding spray foam. Is that overkill, or is there no such thing when it comes to insulation? And brand recommendations? Will it go up behind ice box?

    Since I live-aboard, and I am trying to eat healthful foods ( lots of fresh produce, for one thing) the refrigeration is more than a convenience, it's a necessity. I did ice blocks for a while, then bought the blue ice packs which I had to freeze and rotate. A bit of a PITA, but better than ice. Neither is hassle free though.

    I've got zero experience with electricity, or installations. Is this something I should farm out? Or do myself?  It sounds simple enough, but then again so did climbing the mast to install a spinnaker bail (but I did do it, after a few tries).

    Thanks for any install suggestions,

  • May 21, 2012 7:43 AM
    Reply # 926304 on 926112

    We're planning on installing the remote compressor retro fit kit.  We have quite a few other projects to get to before that though, so...     I'd love it if you keep us updated during your fit out of it so I can learn from your mistak... *cough* triumphs.  

    Our box had an alder barbor cold plate in it when we first boat the boat.  It was strange, basket shaped.  Not like the L or the flat panel of the Engels.  It was mounted pretty high up in the box.  I imagine since cold drifts down you'd put it high and fairly centered for optimal circulation, but I'm not a fridge expert. 

    As far as the wiring goes, it isn't too bad but it really depends on how your boat's electrical is setup and also if you plan on running the fridge continuously or just sometimes.  What type of panels do you have? 
  • May 23, 2012 11:39 AM
    Reply # 928653 on 926112

    I have planned out my route and it doesn't seem like the install should have any major problems.

    There is an album under my profile with notes - if anyone cares to comment, I'd appreciate it.



  • May 24, 2012 6:37 AM
    Reply # 929233 on 926112
    Not sure what the difference may be but I mounted my Adler-Barbour compressor in the (otherwise virtually unusable) space outboard of the sink.

    I also installed a second computer fan to blow air directly onto the compressor from the cabin.
  • May 24, 2012 3:18 PM
    Reply # 929700 on 926112

    One point that I keep seeing repeated all over the net is to make the icebox smaller. Mine is about the size of a coffin - a very large space to keep cool.

    Before I do the install of the conversion kit, I think I'll line the icebox with a layer of rigid insulation, then cover that with...fiberglass? Epoxy? I don't want to make it a hack-job, I'd still like an easy to clean, smooth interior, like it is now.

    Any suggestions?

  • May 25, 2012 4:01 AM
    Reply # 930172 on 926112
    Deleted user


    I made a bulkhead to cut my box down to about 4 cu.ft. which is the max capacity for the Isotherm Compact unit I installed. It was made from a teak frame, the pink insulation sheets and a PVC face. Works well and looks good.

    More pictures on my Picasa site under Refrigeration.



  • May 27, 2012 8:23 AM
    Reply # 931778 on 926112
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Werner:  Look very nice.
    Last modified: May 27, 2012 8:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • October 06, 2012 8:09 AM
    Reply # 1096242 on 926112
    Deleted user
    Hi All,

    Just wanted to share my recent experience on my fridge project. Namaste, like all W28s has had an icebox under the seat. But I wanted a fridge. After researching the market I've finally found an Engel, drop in model with remote compressor (MB40V) that seemed like it would fit in the icebox. I did some measuring, including drilling inspection holes and poking the knife into the installation until I hit the bottom. I looked like it would fit... just. I went to order the unit and.... yes you've guessed it, the Australian distributor is not stocking it. So I've jumped on the net and contacted few US stores. They all would gladly sell but left the shipping for me to worry about. What to do? Ask Bud! You can't go wrong! Bud's a champion. He's bought the unit for me and organized the shipping. Thank you Bud! The project itself was relatively easy. It did require two people though because the unit and compressor are joined by a copper pipe that is flexible but I didn't want to test how flexible it is so handling the whole rig was a bit tricky with me and a friend doing "coordinated dancing" with it so as to not to bend the pipe too much. I had to butcher the bottom of the icebox but most of the original insulation was left intact making it the best insulated boat fridge in the southern hemisphere. The fridge just fitted with the lowest part being only 1 1/2in above the bottom. I'm very happy and Bud has shown his generosity again!

    s/v Namaste
  • July 06, 2015 7:45 PM
    Reply # 3424031 on 926112


    How did the Engel conversion kit work out? The stock ice box liner has a large volume. Will the kit freeze the entire box, cool the entire box or did you make the box smaller? Your photos are very helpful. Do you have any suggestions after doing the project? 

    Chuck Worden

  • July 07, 2015 9:21 AM
    Reply # 3424695 on 926112

    Hi Chuck,

    The conversion from icebox to refrigeration went very smoothly and the compressor works great. I think I could've gotten better anti-vibration feet, as I can feel the vibration sometimes. The unit does not come with them.

    A few suggestions - I ordered my kit through West Marine. They matched the US$ price at CAD$ and didn't charge me shipping or customs brokerage. I think they made a mistake, but it beat the local competitors by a couple of hundred dollars, all in.

    If you are making your ice box smaller, get the conversion kit first and rough it in. I was using a piece of cardboard the same dimensions as the plate, but the coolant pipes off the top extend those measurements - I made mine too small for the kit with the L-shaped cooling plate, so I had to go with the straight one, but it works fine. I used pink board and epoxy to make my icebox smaller - not the easiest thing to do. There are other options that may make more sense.

    I also filled in my drain which forces me to sponge out the condensation every week or so. Not a big deal, and keeps it clean. In hindsight, I am still iffy as to that being the right choice.

    I ran the coolant pipes up under the settee along the wall of the icebox, as per the pics, and into the far back corner from the cupboard behind the settee. A friend loaned me a small pipe bender to make the 90's in the coolant line from the top of the compressor and I almost wrecked them. Make a few practice bends in empty tubing for you try it, or maybe watch an instructional video or something. I should have, I almost kinked them beyond repair.

    If I crank the thing up all the way it freezes everything in the fridge. I do that if I am going under power for a while then sailing lots. I don't have solar yet, so I haven't run the compressor off the batteries for long, at least not on purpose. The controller has a little LED to let you know it is on - I put it where I could see it from the cockpit. I usually leave it on the lowest setting.

    Good luck,


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