Well I knew that it was coming, for the past few years since I bought the TC the fridge has been struggling to stay cold. Keeping the TC completely level helped a lot but at the max setting it was cool, not cold. On the last trip it worked great (stayed cool) but never got cold even on cold nights at MAX. Went out the other day to clean up the TC and opened the fridge to a great ammonia smell. Honestly thought that I missed cleaning something out, but it was not so.
I fired up the propane to see if it would cool and after a hour and a half the fridge actually felt warmer. Good news is that the next trip I leave on is only a couple of days so I can work around not having a fridge by using a cooler. Bad news is that I needed to make a decision on if I should A) just replace the ammonia cooler B) Replace the entire fridge or C) switch to a 12v compressor.
I was leaning to the 12v compressor fridge but would have needed to add solar to keep the batteries up. I was so close to the 12v just not to have to worry about having the TC level all the time but the cost was going to be a lot higher by the time I added the solar and the fridge.
Called a repair guy for my current fridge and he could drop in a new (rebuilt) cooling unit or an entire new fridge for the same price (labor on the replacement cooling unit was a lot higher). Then when I thought of loosing the chance to run on propane I decided that I should go with a 2 way absorption fridge over the 12v compressor to keep the propane option - just will have to make sure that I am still level.
Will know tomorrow the total cost and if they can have the unit installed before the next trip later this week. Just wish it would have picked a better time to finally pack it in.
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It was close. The freedom of the propane was a huge plus for me (no worry of cloudy days or camping in the shade). I am thinking that I will still go with the compressor for additional storage in the trailer or the cab of the truck, also can move to other vehicles for family trips.
If you can get your hands on the most recent edition of 'Good Sam' mag.; i.e. July or Aug. 2012 - there's an excellent write up on rv fridges. In short, it says unless they are on 12 v/ propane they must be perfectly level when parked. Over heating will "kill" the unit. From what you stated - it sounds like replacing it will be best
Having experience of both I think my major deciding factor between compressor and absorption would be how long I boondock for, especially if I stay in one place for more than a day and if that place wasn't sunny.
I like my compressor fridge (works at any angle, gets cold in minutes), BUT I do have 160w of solar, usually drive the truck for several hours each day and at mostly camp where I have shore power.
I know up here at 50 something degrees north there is enough power in the sun at 08:00 on a June morning to run my 140 litre compressor fridge with a dead battery. But at other times of the year and with the lack of sunshine we get up here anyway, I wouldn't trust staying parked up away from shore power for more than a day, and if I planned to do that I would have been forced to go for another absorption fridge.
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I guess it is a no brainer to choose to replace the unit rather than just changing out the parts, but I feel the pain of the forced decision. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if I'd ever make a decision if it weren't a 'forced' situation from time to time. I was still very unsure what kind of batteries to get when at almost the exact same time my truck batteries died and then my camper batteries died. They had spent too much life tethered together....kind of like an old couple who die within months of each other I guess But I had to make a relatively quick decision after pondering the question for several years.
I'm like you Mike, I am right square on the fence regarding the two fridge types. If my fridge were to die right now, I'd certainly go for another standard type. But if I ever get my battery bank/dual alternator setup done, I would seriously think about going the 12v route if the fridge died. I guess the biggest downside to me is I'm not sure they even make one that is the same size as my existing one (8 c.f I think) and if they do somewhere the price would be huge. I am currently leaning towards putting in a "drink fridge" in the truck in place of the center console/lockbox that would be 12v and be used to keep from overloading the main fridge with beer and other drinks. That would add flexibility, as well as emergency cooling capacity if my absorption fridge died on a trip. And keep me square on the fence where I seem to like to be an awful lot. ("I'll just have one of each!")
We'll see I guess, but it sounds like the decision is relatively clear for you right now. If you already had your solar done that might be different....but you don't. Slacker! (Just kidding.)
I know up here at 50 something degrees north there is enough power in the sun at 08:00 on a June morning to run my 140 litre compressor fridge with a dead battery. But at other times of the year and with the lack of sunshine we get up here anyway, I wouldn't trust staying parked up away from shore power for more than a day, and if I planned to do that I would have been forced to go for another absorption fridge.Steve.
That is one of the things that worried me. If I am in the mountains in the spring / fall there is limited direct sunshine- let alone in the winter. I do have a generator but don't want to be stuck to hauling that to keep the fridge going.
On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if I'd ever make a decision if it weren't a 'forced' situation from time to time.
I am currently leaning towards putting in a "drink fridge" in the truck in place of the center console/lockbox that would be 12v and be used to keep from overloading the main fridge with beer and other drinks. That would add flexibility, as well as emergency cooling capacity if my absorption fridge died on a trip. And keep me square on the fence where I seem to like to be an awful lot. ("I'll just have one of each!")
If you already had your solar done that might be different....but you don't. Slacker! (Just kidding.)
WOW I thought it was just be being "careful" with my decisions being put off to the last possible second, maybe I am a procrastinator - I will look into that at a later date
You are heading the same way with the 12V that I am. I figured that if I used it in the trailer or the truck for drinks, sandwiches, etc that if I go to someplace that I did not have the luxury of extra 12V power then I could take out the stuff that would go bad and shut it off and power it back when on the road for the drinks. I agree about the fence, I have marks on my backside as I am squarely on it.
I am working on my solar, looked into it many, many, many times. Will do it as soon as the generator dies or gas gets too expensive, or ....., or ......
One thing NOT mentioned in the article is that absorption fridges can be destroyed by freeze up at -6 C (20 F). That would be the deciding factor for me.
Hmmm... haven't ran into this one yet... Is this 20F outside temps or 20 degrees inside the fridge temps? I do know I have to turn my fridge down a little during the winter to keep the fridge compartment at a frosty 30-32 degrees.
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