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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > 12 volt only refrigerator

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nmhuntr

Las Cruces, NM

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Posted: 04/14/21 05:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

scottykrug wrote:

Love our 12v fridge. Blows the doors off the propane/120vac version it replaced.


Do you dry camp for 3-5 days at a time? If so, how do you handle that?


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Lynnmor

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Posted: 04/14/21 07:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

12 Volt using solar in boats might be fine, there aren't many trees to block the sun. Here in Penn's Woods, many campsites are surrounded by trees. There is a lot of energy in a propane bottle, no need generate it.





jshupe

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Posted: 04/14/21 08:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lynnmor wrote:

12 Volt using solar in boats might be fine, there aren't many trees to block the sun. Here in Penn's Woods, many campsites are surrounded by trees. There is a lot of energy in a propane bottle, no need generate it.


  • Absorption fridges don't like working at elevation - we sometimes stay at 10-11K
  • Absorption fridges don't like working off-level - we often park our rig and leave it, fridge on, without leveling, sometimes on very unlevel surfaces
  • Absorption fridges are much more prone to catching fire than compressors
  • Absorption fridges are much less reliable and more subject to ambient conditions
  • We camp in wooded areas often, but have never been unable to find a suitable location for solar

I see many benefits to running a compressor fridge over an absorption one, for my use-case. I suppose it depends on how you camp.

We used absorption fridges for 3-4 years, in three different trailers, and for about a month recently in our TC while we waited to find a place to ship a compressor unit to. Compressor units are better in every way, as long as you have a suitably sized solar array and battery bank to run them if boondocking.

* This post was edited 04/14/21 08:50am by jshupe *


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chuckbear

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Posted: 04/14/21 09:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We used a 12-volt only fridge in our boat for many years. It consistently outperformed any 120-volt or 3-way fridge we ever had. It was made by Vitrifrigo. Chuck

Gjac

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Posted: 04/14/21 03:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Every thing is a trade off based on how you camp and how much stuff you want to add to your TT. I only dry camp usually in the forest away from sun. My Norcold 682 is 25 years old and still works fine with a new burner tube. Two 6v GC batteries last me 7 days without generator use before they reach 50% SOC, so by then I am out of water and my wife wants to do laundry. Water has always been my limiting factor while dry camping not battery power so no need for solar. I know many people full time or have greater electrical requirements but for the average partimer who likes to dry camp in a NF,NP, or SP CG I would stay with a propane refer. If you always use FHU CG's a cheap residential will work fine.

Almot

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Posted: 04/14/21 06:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gjac wrote:

Every thing is a trade off based on how you camp and how much stuff you want to add to your TT. I only dry camp usually in the forest away from sun. My Norcold 682 is 25 years old and still works fine with a new burner tube. Two 6v GC batteries last me 7 days without generator use before they reach 50% SOC, so by then I am out of water and my wife wants to do laundry.

x2.
The biggest con of 12V fridge is that it needs power - a lot of it, in terms of an off-grid camping. I have a solar sufficient for my needs, battery bank big enough to ride out any imaginable overcast from April to September, but solar wouldn't always harvest enough for a 6-7 cu.ft 12V box and I am not looking forward to running a generator (or carrying one). I don't camp at high elevations, and when incline is so steep that propane fridge wouldn't work I wouldn't want to camp there either because would roll off my bed [emoticon]

Boaters are in a different league, they have diesels running for hours, no problem charging. Truck campers are a different scenario again, they are moving from place to place often, alternator is charging nicely, and their 12V boxes are typically tiny, drawing not much more than a thermostat of propane fridge.

JimK-NY

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Posted: 04/15/21 05:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Almot wrote:

.....Truck campers are a different scenario again, they are moving from place to place often, alternator is charging nicely, and their 12V boxes are typically tiny, drawing not much more than a thermostat of propane fridge.


No, the draw is going to be a lot more than a propane fridge "thermostat". My truck camper has a relatively small Nova Kool compressor fridge. It is about 4 cuft and pulls about 2.5-3.0 amps when running. It does great in 70 degree weather or less but when the temps are higher in the Summer it runs almost constantly. It can easily pull 50 AH per day. It can pull my 300 AH battery bank to 50% in about 3 days and with other power uses, I only have about 2 days of capacity.

jshupe

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Posted: 04/15/21 08:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JimK-NY wrote:

Almot wrote:

.....Truck campers are a different scenario again, they are moving from place to place often, alternator is charging nicely, and their 12V boxes are typically tiny, drawing not much more than a thermostat of propane fridge.


No, the draw is going to be a lot more than a propane fridge "thermostat". My truck camper has a relatively small Nova Kool compressor fridge. It is about 4 cuft and pulls about 2.5-3.0 amps when running. It does great in 70 degree weather or less but when the temps are higher in the Summer it runs almost constantly. It can easily pull 50 AH per day. It can pull my 300 AH battery bank to 50% in about 3 days and with other power uses, I only have about 2 days of capacity.


My TC doesn't charge from the alternator, usually stays in place a week or two at a time, has an 8 cu. ft. Norcold, etc, etc. Lots of generalizations there that don't apply to my (and many other) truck campers.

We have 1800W of solar, 11.4kWh (900AH@12V) of Lithium batteries (48V bank), and a separate 130AH Lead Acid 12V bank for 12V loads. We run a JC Refrigeration HVAC conversion on our fridge, which draws 1.0-1.3kWh per day, depending on ambient conditions. And have no issues doing so, even on consecutive days without sun. We're probably the exception as far as truck campers go, but there are lots of fifth wheels out there with large systems that can run residential fridges for days.

We have 3000W of solar and twice the Lithium 48V in our fifth wheel, but only a 100AH (or something trivial) 12V lead acid bank. Our 18 cu. ft. GE residential fridge pulls 1.7-2.1kWh/day, usually hovering around 1.8kWh. Again, we have plenty of energy to go consecutive days without sun. We know many, many people with 600AH BattleBorn banks, which seem to be extremely common, as well as other LiFePO4 banks of various sizes and plenty of solar to keep them charged.

The tiny systems assumed in this thread are not really the norm in my circle, and I'm sure there are plenty of large systems out there that the assumptions in this thread don't apply to. A lot of full-timers have taken to boondocking, and many of them are investing in larger systems in order boondock for extended periods (months on end, traveling every couple weeks) without having to deal with careful conservation measures in day-to-day life. We, in particular, built out systems with the goal of being able to run air conditioning when, for some reason, we're not able to travel with the weather because life doesn't always take you where you want to go. We use an electric convection oven, air fryer, Vitamix, microwave, Instapot, and other appliances without any concern regarding energy consumption, no matter where we are. And appreciate our compressor refrigerators, which have proven to be much more reliable, keep food much better, and be less finicky with 24/7 operation and travel than absorption units.

mbopp

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Posted: 04/15/21 08:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Some new Grand Designs (Transcend?) come with 12V compressor fridges but also have a 165W solar panel on the roof.


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philh

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Posted: 04/15/21 06:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I wanted one in our ordered 5th wheel, but mfg isn't doing them yet [emoticon]

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