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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Why consider 12v fridge for boondocking?

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StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 01/16/22 06:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:



Well until you factor in dragging a bunch of propane cylinders around with you.. They do get heavy to carry, even "20 lb" weight just under 40 lbs when full..



I may be mistaken, but don't they put places to store your propane cylenders on the rv's in the US? I know every unit I have looked at in Canada has propane tanks and mounting locations for them [emoticon] seriously though with the two 20 lbs in my camper if I am not running the furnace I can go almost two months on the fridge and cooking. the 5th wheel probably the same but its 30lb bottles.


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Vintage465

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Posted: 01/16/22 07:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:

Lantley wrote:

I can easily go a week with my propane fridge. With a baic factory RV set up with 2-12 volt batteries. No solar , no inverter, no sun requied just stock lp fridge.
From a simplicity standpoint "carringb" is spot on.
a 12 volt compressor fridge has advantages if there is a engine and travel involved. However if just sitting stationary a LP fridge is a simple versatile solution.
I understand solar is the wave of the future. A modern solar set up can do the impossible now days.
However if you just want to run the fridge off the grid without a lot of aftermarket investment/stuff, LP is still the simple solution.


Well until you factor in dragging a bunch of propane cylinders around with you.. They do get heavy to carry, even "20 lb" weight just under 40 lbs when full..

Most off grid homes and cabins now days employ a few solar panels a couple of batteries and a electric fridge and they run those for yrs without gens or refilling tanks. Dragging a bunch of heavy propane cylinders out into the bush is so 1800's in thinking..

I would rather have a electric fridge with solar and battery than drive an battery powered vehicle.. I have plenty of time to camp and wait for batteries to recharge via solar than wait for half hr or more in a parking lot to get a 20% charge for a vehicle just to get to the next power station.


You're way off base with the phrase of dragging bunch of propane cylinders. I go a month using the water heater and the fridge, cooking etc...............using two 7-1/2 gallon tanks. But my question is. Why do people think it's the hot ticket for boon docking? I can see if you're regularly driving and covering ground.


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JRscooby

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Posted: 01/16/22 08:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Vintage465 wrote:


But my question is. Why do people think it's the hot ticket for boon docking? I can see if you're regularly driving and covering ground.


For the 15+ years I have been reading the net about RVs there is rarely a week that somebody doesn't post something about their absorption fridge not working as well as expected. For many, the "hot ticket" seems to be go with a 120V compressor fridge. If a RV stores electricity it is a safe bet it is not storing 120 volt AC, but 12 V DC is likely. When you consider that every time you convert some of the electrons escape, IMHO it makes more sense to use in the same form it is stored.
YMMV

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 01/16/22 09:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like OP has too much info to be asking opinions...

My biggest gripe with propane fridge is keeping it level. Not an issue when I am officially parked at my camp spot, but when traveling and parking for a little bit to go see stuff, go shopping or anything that requires parking the fridge was just too big a part of life and far too needy. Keep it level or ruin it or turn it off before parking out of level. I think if you park un-level then turn it off there is those minutes where the burner is hot, still cooking and small amounts of damage could occur. I do not know for sure when the damage begins after parking off-level though.

With a compressor DC fridge you can park up to 30% off level and the fridge still is fine. That is big for me.

As far as powering a fridge, yes propane can run a fridge a month, that was not a big issue, although use other things and propane goes faster.

For me the solar is enough to keep up, which means I never worry about powering the fridge, there is just always enough power to run it, even parked in the shade. Not a few days, not a week, but indefinitely. Results may vary for users.

Also, finding power for the fridge is 100% in my power. I do not depend on oil being processed to make propane. I can just go find free and available sun. Outside of an EMP, nothing will really stop that as darkness or heavy clouds are not forever.

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Posted: 01/16/22 10:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One misconception is that you need gobs of solar and LiFePO4 batteries to run a 12V 10 cu.ft compressor fridge.
I have 400W of solar (Grape Solar $), 4-6V Interstate GC batteries running through a Victron MPPT controller.
I park my TT at my house. In the spring, summer and fall with just the fridge running and whatever parasitic devices the batteries never drop below around 12.41. They bulk every morning and by noon-ish they're in absorption mode until they hit float. I never ever need to plug in to 120V at my house as the fridge will batteries will cycle like that day in day out. Even on cloudy no sun days the batteries never dip below 12V with just the fridge and other parasitic stuff running.

Out camping we run the 2000W inverter 24/7 so we can keep our Dish sat locked in along with other items. We watch some TV in the mornings and evenings. Maybe 6 hours total throughout the whole day/night. After 3 days we need to run the gen for 3-4 hours. This is all with limited sun as we're in the mountains and even though the day is sunny to partly cloudy we don't get full sun concentration on the panels due to the tree height and the suns arc.
If we we're in full sun on the panels from dawn to dusk I could go much longer without the gen. And if we didn't do the Dish/TV stuff I could easily go longer than my water would last which is 5 nights.

!2V fridges aren't perfect but if I were buying a new RV and knowing what I know now I'd still get a 12V fridge. You get a much better interior design, more cu.ft than an absorption and I don't have to deal with propane. I can use my propane for the furnace and cooking.

When driving out on the open road the solar's charging the batteries on route to another CG spot. When I plug into shore power I get the same benefits of an absorption fridge plus the added features of a 12V fridge.

IMO if you hardly dry camp and don't want to do the solar stuff then go 12V compressor style. You'll be on 120V most of the time and get the added amenities of a larger fridge. If you do dry camp for a night or two then 200W would do the trick if you conserve some other 12V usage.

FWIW I had absorption fridges in my previous 3 RV's. Prior to the current TT the Norcold in our 5er was flawless for 6 years. Bought a new TT in April of 2019. By August of 2020 the new TT's Norcold tanked. Out of warranty and already having solar and 4 batteries it was a no brainer to go 12V compressor. $950 plus a 3 year warranty vs $1500 +/- for a new Norcold that could have the same issues again. IMO the newer RV products just aren't as good as in years past.

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Posted: 01/16/22 10:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

With EV's they call it range anxiety. With my RV I have 2 things I worry about most, my battery levels, and my tires. I didn't have these anxieties before I had problems with both. This is about batteries, so I will stick to that part of the story. I purchased my 5th wheel with 2 decent 12v deep cycle batteries. A couple years after having the rig, I noticed I was having battery issues and could not go as long on the batteries, I bought a generator, mostly to run AC but found I had to use that anytime we boondocked. My decision to buy new batteries happened on a long trip to MT, one night of boondocking and I had only dim lights in the AM. So, off the buy new batteries before a 3 day boondock location where we would run the generator for AC but didn't want to worry about batteries every day. My 5th wheel does not have solar and I don't plan to add it. I carry 2 -30lb tanks of propane. Use it for cooking, hot water, and fridge. Never have to worry about those 3 things and 2 tanks lasts me all summer plus (actually using one of the tanks on my BBQ at home this winter just to run the tank out so I can refill it). So, why have range anxiety with a 12v fridge? Makes no sense to me, batteries life is already an issue if you plan to boondock for any length of time, propane is plentiful and easy to get all over the country and you have to have it anyway to run your other appliances. When we boondock we pretty much only run the generator to run AC or charge things or watch a movie, so no reason to have to run the generator to run the fridge. Seems like a poor decision to put such a demanding appliance in an RV that can run with minimal electrical power.

aftermath

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Posted: 01/16/22 11:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

12V compressor fridges are fantastic, but so are absorption units. It all depends on use. So, lets be fair here and agree that they both work well for your intended purpose. When making the point of compressor superiority it usually gets quickly followed with discussions of enhanced battery banks, large solar units and the use of portable generators. Well, many of us don't have much in the way of the first two but likely we do have a generator. I have an older Airstream. A few years back Airstream went with 12V fridges. Solar options became more popular and there were lots of discussions about fancy batteries. I also "feel" that most RVers are the type that use full hookups the vast majority of time. For these reasons, a compressor fridge is indeed a better option. For me, not so much. We do a lot of camping without hookups and we manage just fine. Fridge always works and if we don't need the furnace we can go days without using the generator. Again, both units are really good. So, let us argue the benefits and please try to avoid inflammatory statements like lugging around propane tanks to run your fridge. My word. Are you lugging around propane tanks to cook your food?


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Skibane

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Posted: 01/16/22 12:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JRscooby wrote:

For the 15+ years I have been reading the net about RVs there is rarely a week that somebody doesn't post something about their absorption fridge not working as well as expected.


That's understandable, considering that probably 99+ percent of all RVs are still equipped with them.

When you have a lot of something, you also tend to have a lot of reports about problems with it.

JRscooby

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Posted: 01/16/22 03:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Skibane wrote:

JRscooby wrote:

For the 15+ years I have been reading the net about RVs there is rarely a week that somebody doesn't post something about their absorption fridge not working as well as expected.


That's understandable, considering that probably 99+ percent of all RVs are still equipped with them.

When you have a lot of something, you also tend to have a lot of reports about problems with it.


That is true. And it is also true that they can work trouble free. (Just before I was born, ('49) Dad bought a used absorption fridge. In '58 it was put in basement of new house, because we got new fridge. That new fridge has been replaced several times. Sometime when I was in service, that absorption fridge was moved to a lake cabin that was past the end of power lines. By 2010, power was at the cabin, but that old fridge was on the porch, full of cold drinks. When they leave the cabin, any food not to be carried home is put in the old fridge incase power goes out.)
But that does not mean the modern technology is not better. But camping I prefer to use old tech for many things. (Even at home, if I decide to bake something in the summer I will light some charcoal, grab a DO) But many people take modern tech RVing with them. Nobody is wrong, IMHO.
Now with all the talk of how great solar is while camping, often by the same class of people that rant about asking people to use it at home kinda baffles me. And for home use, I have often wondered about concentrating the heat, use that to replace flame in a absorption operated AC unit for homes and businesses.

Vintage465

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Posted: 01/19/22 08:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So after reading all the comments and doing a little more research, there doesn't seem to me to be any "Boon Docking Advantage" to having a 12v compressor fridge. I would tend to think that if you had two 6 volt batteries in series and compared two 6 cubic ft refer's, one absorption and one 12v compressor you'd go longer on those batteries with the absorption. Thanks for all the comments.

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