If there is one thing that puts the word “luxury” in motor yachts it is having all of the amenities of any upscale cruise liner, or five star hotel. For many a yacht owner and their guests that means fine dining and entertainment. In fact many luxury yacht owners may even have a chef as part of their crew!

Which means, if you are going to have someone on board to prepare elegant meals, or even more ordinary vittles, you need to have proper refrigeration on board. In order to understand the inner workings of the refrigerator that is used to keep your food cold in your galley, and how to keep it working properly, you need to first realize exactly what “refrigeration” is, and how it works.

The technical definition of the term “refrigeration” is the cooling of a substance below the ambient, or “room” temperature. That can be as simple as putting it on ice, in a cooler. However the appliance we refer to as a “refrigerator,” or your yacht’s AC system for that matter, do not “create” cold. What they do is remove heat, and move it to another location. In order to do so, requires a refrigeration, or “cooling” system consisting of the same five basic components:  a compressor (essentially a pump), heat exchanger pipes outside the unit (the condenser), an expansion valve, heat exchanger pipes inside the box with your food (the evaporator), and a refrigerant. A thermostat controls the system.

Types of Marine Refrigerators

For the most part, on yachts of any appreciable size, the refrigerator, and most likely an ice maker as well, were included as part of the original galley equipment, and are front loading units, very similar to what you would find in a typical modern kitchen. Most of these will have right-left reversible door hinges and are designed to automatically switch between your boat’s batteries and shore power.

Smaller boats and day cruisers may have smaller appliances to keep food cold, from simple iceboxes to portable compressor refrigerator/freezers. The size of your boat, and your typical cruising habits will largely determine the type of refrigeration system you have on board.

Some Yacht Kitchens Could Pass for a Home Kitchen!

Some Yacht Kitchens Could Pass for a Home Kitchen!

What About Air Conditioning?

Your provisions are not the only thing you want to keep cool on your yacht! Fun in the sun is great, but nothing says comfort like AC when you want to get out of the heat!

The first thing you need to know about your yacht’s air conditioning is, like the system you have in your home, or office building, it provides more than just cool air, but when needed, heating as well. That is why it is more properly referred to as a Marine HVAC, or “heating ventilation and air-conditioning system.”

Basically the idea of an HVAC system is to provide total “climate control,” whether that is keeping you cool and comfy in August, or warm and toasty if you decide to take your boat out in the winter months.

Beyond providing for heat and air-conditioning, your HVAC system is designed to provide proper “ventilation” and prevent the buildup of mold and mildew, as well as remove other toxins from the air.

Typical Yacht AC System

Typical Yacht AC System

In this respect, the right HVAC equipment not only provides comfort for you and your guests, it protects your investment, and extends the life or your vessel.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your AC System

There are two kinds of ventilation you can have on your boat — active and passive ventilation. Passive ventilators are your typical grilles, or louvers, that simply provide a pathway for the air to exit from the ducts into the vessel. When the vessel is in motion, they work just fine. However, on still, hot sticky days, you may prefer active ventilation.

Active ventilators incorporate a fan that will keep the air flowing, even if the yacht is standing still. The systems on most luxury motor yachts will incorporate active ventilation.

Having air conditioning as part of your ventilation system, means you will draw a lot of power, so you must make sure you have an adequate generator. A motor yacht of any appreciable size, will have a central AC system, similar to the one you have in your home.

On yachts of 80’ in length or more, the central AC will likely be something known as a “split system.” A split system “splits” the two main components of the AC — the condenser and the evaporator, into two separate units. The condensing unit, which consists of the compressor, seawater condenser, and electrical components, is usually installed in the engine room, or other mechanical location. The evaporator unit, which is made-up of an evaporating coil and the blower, is installed in the living areas of the yacht. The two are connected by specialized copper tubing which carries the refrigerant between them.

Again, just as the central air conditioning in your home, central AC on your yacht will provide heat as needed, as well as AC. They actually work by pulling heat out of the water to warm the interior of your boat!

split AC system

AC systems are rated in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. The BTU output you will require depends on several factors, incorporating the size and shape of the interior spaces of all decks, and the typical high and low temperatures in which your yacht will be operating.

Your designer and engineer will work together to determine the best system for your vessel and your individual needs.

On Demand Can Keep You From Losing Your Cool!

Your yacht’s HVAC system, as well as your galley appliances, are very important to the comfort of you and your guests. As you can see, they can also be complex systems and pieces of machinery. As a subscriber to our On Demand Yachting solution, you can be sure that all of your yacht’s systems, appliances, and other equipment, vital to the safe enjoyment of your yacht, will always be maintained for peak performance!

On Demand Makes Every Yacht Experience COOL!

On Demand Makes Every Yacht Experience COOL!


Finding the right gear and equipment for your yacht can be challenging. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (855) 318-6328.