03 Aug The Refrigerator and Your SSB/Ham Radio
Do you have a SSB or Ham radio on your boat?
Do you have to turn the refrigerator off when listening to the radio or sending email so that the compressor and fan don’t cause interference?* (Experts say you shouldn’t have to . . . but many of us do, regardless of how we try to remedy the problem. See Dave Skolnick’s comments below.)
Have you even forgotten to turn the refrigerator back on when you’re finished with the radio?
Uh-huh. We did. More than once. Discovered it when we went to get cold drinks out and they weren’t as cold as usual.
We never lost food, although we came close once. But we know of two boats that lost almost everything in their refrigerator and freezer because of this.
That’s a lot of money wasted, plus they had to head off to reprovision instead of enjoying the beautiful anchorage. And you know that disasters like this happen when you’ve just stocked up, not when the refrigerator is bare.
A few days ago, I wrote about using an indoor/outdoor thermometer to monitor the refrigerator. After I wrote that, it dawned on me that seeing a rising refrigerator temp would also highlight the possibility that you’d forgotten to turn the refrigerator back on. See the temp up a bit and know to check the breaker and make sure it’s on — not really showing a problem with the refrigerator itself, but more an operator error . . . I hate those!
The down side is that yes, it requires that someone periodically check the thermometer. But if you put the display somewhere very obvious, you’ll check it many times a day without even realizing you’re doing it.Another option that I’ve heard of is to wire a relay into the radio circuit, which turns the refrigerator/freezer off when the radio circuit is on, and then turns the refrigerator back on when the radio circuit is switched off. It’s a bit of a PITA to do, particularly to get it working right, but it works . . . providing that you do turn the radio circuit off when you’re through with it. (Somewhere, I’ve seen a wiring diagram for this, but I cannot find it online . . . nor can Google.)
Got any other “solutions” to remembering to turn the refrig back on? Please leave a note!
*For those who are preparing to cruise and haven’t encountered this problem, you usually have to turn off anything with an electric motor to use the SSB or Ham radio (but not for the VHF). Fans, refrigerator/freezer, generator, any inverters and also flourescent lights — there may be other things as well.