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In need of a refrigerator/freezer - options?

 
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:49 PM
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In need of a refrigerator/freezer - options?

I know there are a lot of theories with refrigerators/freezers. What I need is a compact unit for mostly 1 person use, up to 2.

When I was researching RV's a while back the consensus was that the "RV grade" appliances were worthless and to go with home-grade appliances - name-brands usually have better parts availability and servicing is easier also.

I am not sure a home-grade unit, even a compact one, is what I am after. I have a buddy that has a 12v "cooler" that does a nice job. I don't think that is what I am after, either. Thus the thread... What are my options?

Dometic looks like they have some compact mobile units.

Ideally what I am thinking of is a small combo refrigerator and freezer - preferably a separate freezer box, not just the "ice shelf" style (as in where I can put food - like a couple chicken thighs, hamburger meat, ect). I would prefer something that can run on 12v, though AC off an inverter is possible (I have a 1000w inverter, may get a bigger one in a bit but yet to be seen).

Do any of you have experience with smaller units on the road? Is there anything to stay away from? Anything specifically to look in to?

If you have any thoughts on microwaves also that may be helpful, but I am not as concerned with that at this point.
 
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Old 10-20-2018, 10:23 PM
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RV grade stuff seems to work for years under less than ideal conditions. Mine is 11 years old. It doesn't like to be in the sunshine when it's 90 F+ out side but otherwise works well.

I'm not sure I have enough battery power to support a residential mode refrigerator. I added 1,000 watt inverter last year but I'm not sure my dual 6v batteries would be enough. I simply don't know how much juice the residential models pull. I know my propane refrigerator will go for at least a week in the summer on a small amount of propane.
 
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:43 PM
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Heads up most newer residential fridges are inverter driven and can easily be powered from your on board inverter. I put a Maytag 27 cu ft in my toyhauler and its draws less than 3 amps running and under 6 starting up.
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ford390gashog View Post
Heads up most newer residential fridges are inverter driven
Can you translate this for me? What do you mean that the appliances are "inverter driven"?


 
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:25 AM
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Every residential fridge is "inverter driven" if boondocking. Question is is your battery bank large enough for your desired period of time, is your inverter large enough for desired fridge size?

Residential fridges certainly seem to be the new want but seeing that the majority of "camping" is done at full hookup campgrounds battery bank isn't a big deal. Cool it down before travel, fill with food and as long you're not in/ out of it during travel it should be ok for many hours.

Having the option of propane/ electric on the rv fridges out way the residential fridges for boondocking. Personally changing the cooling unit over to an Amish cooling unit made a world of difference for staying cooler, adding an inside fan to circulate the air has helped also for keeping frost/ ice off the inside fins.
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:35 AM
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When looking at the fridge amp draw on 120v an easy way to see what it will draw on dc multiply x10 (inverter)... so if it says 3amp (120v) = 30a dc. Granted it will cycle periodically 1/3 the time? 10ah x 24 hrs= 240ah from the batteries in a 24 period of time. I'm just using the #s as an example look up the fridges power consumption your interested in.
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:47 AM
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Back to your original question, are you talking about the small portable units. I was entertaining the thought of one and looking at the Engle fridges as a place to store extras or for the pick up/ work. An Engel would be what I would get but come with a price tag.

Engel coolers
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 09:56 AM
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You need to understand the different technologies, first. RV refrigerator/freezers are absorption systems. They use a heat source (usually combination propane/120 VAC units) to circulate an ammonia-based refrigerant. You can run them on propane when boondocking or on the road and on AC when you have shore power. Residential refrigerators are compressor/refrigerant units and run on 120 VAC only. In order to use them without shore power, you need a significant battery bank and a way to recharge the batteries - either a generator or solar. This is where the inverter comes in. It inverts the 12 VDC from the battery bank to 120 VAC to run the frig.

There are several types of portable units, as well. There are piezoelectric units (such as the Coleman branded coolers) that will run on 12 VDC or 120 VAC with an adapter. They are only modestly effective. The portable Dometic units you are referring to are compressor/refrigerant units and are extremely good. They will get things down to 0 degrees F. They also cost north of $1,000.

As Jim said, RVers have been using the RV absorption fridges for years with good results. Ours is a 12 cu. ft., four-door Norcold unit and, though we've had to have repairs done, we are full-timers and the fridge serves us very well.

Rob
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 11:03 AM
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Check in your area for a place that buys wrecked and flood damaged RVs, then part them out. The one here has had brand new campers that were damaged during hauling or had hail damage. Others have had some use, but the appliances are all checked out prior to sale and they're a lot less money than new retail.
 
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Old 10-21-2018, 04:41 PM
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I'm not sure where you found a consensus that "RV grade appliances are worthless", but that is nonsense. We've had three different RV's over 25 years, and have been full-time for 9 years. All of the "RV Grade" refrigerators have worked fine. As noted by SecondChance it is useful to understand that absorptive units work differently than compressor units. If you put a warm 12-pack into an absorptive unit is going to take a very long time to cool down. If you don't have air circulation though the outside coils they won't cool well. Once you understand that the cooling rate is different they work very well and use relatively small amounts of energy compared to compressor units.
 
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Old 10-22-2018, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by scraprat View Post
Every residential fridge is "inverter driven" if boondocking. Question is is your battery bank large enough for your desired period of time, is your inverter large enough for desired fridge size?
Now that you re-phrased it that makes sense. Any 110/120vAC load would need an "inverter" if run on DC (of any voltage - 12v in most auto systems up to 48v, or even higher, in some alternative energy systems).

Originally Posted by scraprat View Post
When looking at the fridge amp draw on 120v an easy way to see what it will draw on dc multiply x10 (inverter)... so if it says 3amp (120v) = 30a dc. Granted it will cycle periodically 1/3 the time? 10ah x 24 hrs= 240ah from the batteries in a 24 period of time. I'm just using the #s as an example look up the fridges power consumption your interested in.
Partially true. Inverters are far less than 100% efficient, though. You may need to divide that by .6 or .7 (60-70% efficiency) to get a more accurate current draw at 12vDC. Then you have voltage loss in the wiring to deal with. I had that problem for a long time with mine. I ran a 10 gauge wire to the compartment under my rear seat for my radios. I used that for the inverter also at times. For tools and other higher amp loads I always had a sag in voltage and the low voltage protection tripped the inverter - while loads were well within the rated capacity. Direct to the batteries with more wire is the only way to do it. Now I have it set up with 6g wire.

Originally Posted by scraprat View Post
Back to your original question, are you talking about the small portable units. I was entertaining the thought of one and looking at the Engle fridges as a place to store extras or for the pick up/ work. An Engel would be what I would get but come with a price tag.

Engel coolers
Thanks for the tip on Engel. I am not sure what "form' of a fridge I am looking for yet. I just want both a refrigerator door and a freezer door with enough space to actually use the freezer portion, not just the tiny ice box shelf you see in some.

Originally Posted by SecondChance View Post
You need to understand the different technologies, first. RV refrigerator/freezers are absorption systems.
Thanks for the info. That will give me a direction to go off of on the technologies. I don't think one that will run on propane is in the cards. I will likely have propane along for a grill, but I don't think that is going to work out for running the fridge off of it.

Originally Posted by mptjelgin View Post
I'm not sure where you found a consensus that "RV grade appliances are worthless", but that is nonsense. We've had three different RV's over 25 years, and have been full-time for 9 years. All of the "RV Grade" refrigerators have worked fine.
Thanks for the information. That is helpful - and another reason I started the thread - to get all feedback. The theory I recall before was what I said in my first post - the parts availability and serviceability were the reasons. The point was made to me that its harder to work on the RV styles, in other words. So if you have had good luck with yours that is more information that goes to the point of the RV-grade units being pretty reliable. That's good to hear.
 
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Old 10-22-2018, 08:06 AM
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On the LP usage in your last post, an RV refrigerator consumes very little gas, just enough to keep a really small pilot light. The beauty of these systems is that all you need is a 12 volt source (even here, very little load on a battery) and a tank of LP.

I don't have any hourly usage numbers but I can run the refrigerator in my camper for days before I see any change in the gauge.
 
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
. I just want both a refrigerator door and a freezer door with enough space to actually use the freezer portion, not just the tiny ice box shelf you see in some.
That's the norm on any RV fridge over about 6 Cu/ft or so. Separate door for freezer and fridge. Kept level and unrestricted, I bet 10 years easily out of one.

Griz

 
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by kgburns View Post
I don't have any hourly usage numbers but I can run the refrigerator in my camper for days before I see any change in the gauge.
What size tank?

I am looking at 1lb cans or a 5lb tank. I found my grandpa's old 5lb tank few weeks ago in my tackle shed. The threads dont look like a regular tank so I am not sure if it is usable or not. May be too old/not meeting current regs. In any event, the 5lb tank is about as big as I would want to have.
 
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:34 PM
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I have dual 30 lb tanks.

Hunting camp this September was 9 days, no problem.
Hunting camp October 2017 was 10 days, no problem. The furnace was the big consumer of propane as it got down to 8 degrees F.

Consumption of propane by the refrigerator isn't something that is even on my radar. I bet a 5 lb tank would last a long time if it was dedicated to the refrigerator.

EDIT: I have an 8 cu ft unit with separate refrigerator/freezer sections. The freezer section does an awesome job. The refrigerator section is a bit sensitive to sunshine in high heat but still does a good job.
 

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