Norcold conversion Refrigeration unit


Member II
Hi all,
We have a 1976 E-32. We are looking to install a refrigeration system
to the icebox. I have looked on-line at various types of units and I am not sure which way to go, evaporator type or cold plate.
I am interested in hearing pros and cons of each. I understand the running time of the compressor is much more on an evaporator type, but the cost,
the Norcold conversion unit is only about $650 for the entire unit. I only have two 12v deep cycle batteries and I am concerned with the amount of juice that would be pulled. We also have Radar and GPS, both of which are not used all the time, depending upon the conditions.
We do anchor out quite a bit when out on weekends or our annual two week trip, otherwise we are at a dock with shore power.

The Norcold conversion unit says it runs on either 12v or 120v, when tied up at the dock.
We are considering purchasing a Honeywell 2000 generator, a cheaper equivelent to the Honda, to power and recharge when at anchor.

Any suggestions and comments would be most appreciated.


Len Buchanan

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
We had the Norcold conversion unit on our E30+ and after about 10 years the compressor died. After much research on options, I bought and installed a Norcold replacement unit (fairly easy to install). It works really well, with accurate temperature control--items next to the cold/evaporator plate will actually freeze, and those positioned a bit further away in the ice box will stay cold.

We usually still pack a block of ice if we are going away for a week, to help the fridge keep cold without using too much electricity. Nevertheless, we have noticed that during the night the fridge still runs about 50% of the time. With better insulation one could decrease that.

The 12/120 volt stuff works well and is unnoticeable--if it has access to shorepower it will use 120; otherwise, the battery. Just make sure you understand your boat wiring to ensure that you have the right switches on for each.

I would recommend this unit, but it does use alot of battery power (I think about 3.5 amps per hour). We run the fridge when we have the engine running, but turn it off when under sail to save battery. If sailing all day, we turn the fridge on periodicaly for a half hour or so to maintain the cold.

If you have further questions, let me know.



Contributing Partner
Quick hijack:

Frank, what does your battery bank consist of? My 30+ has two batteries under the quarter berth and I have always thought this seemed borderline inadequate for being away from shore power for several days. I don't see where an additional battery or batteries could easily be installed. I also thought about multiple 6V batteries, but again, the battery compartment is small and other possible locations seem lacking.

I knew a guy with an Amel who had covered blocks of insulation with fiberglass and used these to take up space in the icebox so there wasn't as much area to cool when it wasn't full of provisions.

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Hi Mark,

Yes, battery and all other storage space is limited on the E30+. Our batteries consist of a house bank, which is two Group 27 deep cycle gel cell totalling about 180 amp hours, stored in the locker under the quarter berth, and a Group 24 deep cycle (I think) wet cell starting battery stored on the shelf just inside the port cockpit locker. The Group 27s have lasted since 2001, but I may replace them this year. I had them tested last year and they were still good, but with several longer trips planned this year I may decide to do it.

We are fairly careful with battery use when anchored out--ie. will use some cabin lights and stereo, water pressure pump, but only periodic use of refrigerator to maintain it's temperature and sparing water heater use as well. We usually motor for one to two hours per day getting into and out of anchorages or when wind dies and that helps to replenish batteries. We use fridge while motoring to get it cold again before anchoring. We have often done two nights in a row at anchor, but usually try to get to marina/shore power for the third night to replenish everything and shower, etc.

I would like to replace our batteries with two Group 30s when these need replacement, but size/space will be an issue. Golf cart batteries are too tall for that locker space, or I would prefer them.



Member II
Norcold Refrigeration conversion system

Hi Frank,
thanks, that was some good information. I think that I am leaning on the Norcold system due to the price. If it lasts 10 years, another 600 -700 to purchase another system or compressor unit isn't that much. Another question. Where do you have your compressor installed? On our 32, there isn't much locker space. We have a small locker under the counter on the Std side, which we hold a small waste container and a few bottles, mainly cleaning stuff, lysol, etc. I could possibly install it there, and put slits in the door to allow for air flow. I was also possibly thinking about the Std lazarette, but that is really the only good access I have to the engine and water impellor.


Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Hi Len,

On our E30+ the compressor is located in a small compartment accessible from inside the port cockpit locker. The compartment is at the front end of this locker, essentially beside the engine, though there is a bulkhead separating it from the engine. That compartment is an ideal size for the compressor, and the coolant lines from the fridge run easily to it as well. The fidge/icebox is to the left and slightly higher than this compartment. There is a plastic vent, about 12" X 8" (guessing from memory) into the cockpit locker to vent the compressor--not ideal, but not too bad.

The compressor makes a humming sound, so you may want to locate it a bit away from the sleeping berths, preferably shielded by a bulkhead or something to muffle the sound a bit.

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