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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Why consider 12v fridge for boondocking?

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There

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Posted: 01/05/23 11:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I installed my 12V fridge because my Norcold quit working 1.5 years into service.
I had already prepped my TT for boondocking. Four 6V GC batteries, 400W solar (Now 600w) and a 2000W inverter.
It made sense to go 12V under those circumstances. Had I not already made the upgrades I would've went with a JC conversion. Price for either was a wash. But the 12V offered 2 more cu.ft of space and was much simpler in regards to operation and as mentioned I was already setup for it.
Even if I had all that stuff added for boondocking there would be no reason to remove the NC and go 12V. A 12V just puts added strain on the batteries of which could be used for other purposes.

I would add that in the 1st year of adding all the solar and batteries we never needed the gen once. Now after adding the 12V fridge I need to rely on the gen more. YMMV

StirCrazy

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Posted: 01/05/23 06:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:

Grit dog wrote:

9 pages later, ^ here’s a good dose of common sense and truth.
Being more “efficient” in one way doesn’t necessarily mean less costly.
Sure both have different advantages and disadvantages but apples to apples, especially if considering replacing a perfectly good absorption fridge, it’s not even close.




If you are boondocking a lot with a single 12v starting battery and no solar, yeah, absorption is by far the better option but that's not a typical use pattern.

For those who do a lot of boondocking, most will be installing a larger battery bank and solar anyway. Up sizing it to accommodate the relatively modest requirements of the 12v fridge is easy and doesn't incur a major cost. The cost difference between installing a couple of 200w panels and a couple of 300w panels, is pretty minimal. A few seasons of reduced propane use will cover the cost. Manufacturers are still on the learning curve but they are starting to outfit RVs with solar options. Not just for the fridge but for other convienences.



your baking some pretty bold asumptions, I have four 6V batteries and 480 watts of solar on the 5th which cost me over 6K at the time (didnt realize how easy it was to install and save money, plus rices have realy dropped over the last 6 years but not to crazy) right now I could not support the extra 60+ AH/day a compressor fridge would add in my climate. ya I could go for a weekend maybe, but would drfinatly run out of power on the 3rd day. plus the extra deep cycling on the batteries would wear them out faster. I would have to replace my pannels with larger ones say 600 bucks there, a new solar controler 3-400, and a switch over to LFP batteries to get more usable panels. lets say I buy them and don't make them myself so it applies more to the average person and we will go middle price of 700 each X 4 is = 2800 bucks so thats an upgrade cost to me of 3800 bucks with me doing the instalations now days to do the system I have would be about 2000 doing the instalation yourself. so double the cost and power to support a compressor fridge. granted this is for the way I like it set up, which is I can stay out forever with out having to worry about power, but even so a few dark non solare days and you will be watching the remaining battery levels...

with a adsorbsion fridge I don't have to worry about my food spoiling if there is no sun, I just use the perculator instead of the keriug.

in adition to the bigger solar system, you might need a genny back up just for thoes dark days, personaly I hate gennys and am thankfull there are more restrictions being put on there use but a buit in one of thoes is what 6K? a deicent honda a couple k?

so assuming just cuz some one boon docks already they will be set up properly for a compressor fridge is a very bold asumption.


2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
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Huntindog

Phoenix AZ

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Posted: 01/06/23 05:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:

Grit dog wrote:

9 pages later, ^ here’s a good dose of common sense and truth.
Being more “efficient” in one way doesn’t necessarily mean less costly.
Sure both have different advantages and disadvantages but apples to apples, especially if considering replacing a perfectly good absorption fridge, it’s not even close.


Truth depends heavily on the assumptions.

Tearing out a relatively new perfectly functional appliance rarely makes sense, no matter how bad the existing technology is. Are you going to rip out the perfectly functional 5 speed transmission in your truck and retrofit one of the new 10 speed units because it's better...of course not. It's a silly comparison.

If you are boondocking a lot with a single 12v starting battery and no solar, yeah, absorption is by far the better option but that's not a typical use pattern.

Vast majority of RVs rarely operate away from shore power. For these rigs, 12v compressor fridges are better both in terms of efficiency but also in terms of better operation (faster cooldown, able to hold colder temps, larger interior volume, etc....). I'm betting this represents 80-90% of new RV buyers, so this is where the manufacturers are focused.

For those who do a lot of boondocking, most will be installing a larger battery bank and solar anyway. Up sizing it to accommodate the relatively modest requirements of the 12v fridge is easy and doesn't incur a major cost. The cost difference between installing a couple of 200w panels and a couple of 300w panels, is pretty minimal. A few seasons of reduced propane use will cover the cost.
I have what most would consider to be a healthy solar/battery system. But if I were to add a 12V fridge to the draw, I would come up short a lot.... And adding to what already have is not so easy. It would be quite expensive, and make my roof so full that I would not have room to do maintainence up there.
Saying the additonal cost would be minimal. just shows that you do not have a clue as to what is involved. Another controller, another wire run up to the roof more fuses, more panels, more batteries more cables etc. Using what I consider to be quality stuff (to match what I already have), would be at least 3k. Probably closer to 4K



Huntindog
100% boondocking
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Fisherguy

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Posted: 01/06/23 08:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have what most would consider to be a healthy solar/battery system. But if I were to add a 12V fridge to the draw, I would come up short a lot.... And adding to what already have is not so easy. It would be quite expensive, and make my roof so full that I would not have room to do maintainence up there.
Saying the additonal cost would be minimal. just shows that you do not have a clue as to what is involved. Another controller, another wire run up to the roof more fuses, more panels, more batteries more cables etc. Using what I consider to be quality stuff (to match what I already have), would be at least 3k. Probably closer to 4K


With 1800 watts of solar and 800AH of Lithiums I don't think you'd need to do any upgrades for a 12 volt fridge.


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Huntindog

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Posted: 01/06/23 11:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DP

Huntindog

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Posted: 01/06/23 12:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fisherguy wrote:

I have what most would consider to be a healthy solar/battery system. But if I were to add a 12V fridge to the draw, I would come up short a lot.... And adding to what already have is not so easy. It would be quite expensive, and make my roof so full that I would not have room to do maintainence up there.
Saying the additonal cost would be minimal. just shows that you do not have a clue as to what is involved. Another controller, another wire run up to the roof more fuses, more panels, more batteries more cables etc. Using what I consider to be quality stuff (to match what I already have), would be at least 3k. Probably closer to 4K


With 1800 watts of solar and 800AH of Lithiums I don't think you'd need to do any upgrades for a 12 volt fridge.Maybe you wouldn't. But I would.

OkieGene

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Posted: 01/07/23 03:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well it's a good thing the price of LiFePO batteries have dropped tremendously.

The gold standard has probably been Battle Born batteries at roughly $1,000 each for a 12 volt 100amp battery. They're good, no doubt.

However, now you can buy LiFePO 12 volt 100 amp batteries for $299 each. May not have all the bells and whistles of the $1,000 batteries, but there it is.

theoldwizard1

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Posted: 01/08/23 08:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

carringb wrote:

Compressor fridges have become almost standard on camper vans, because they rarely stay stationary for many days at a time. Even a short drive will restore muc hsh of the battery bank if you have something like a Transit with dual 250-amp alternators or a Sprinter with an aftermarket 2nd alternator.

The primary reason anyone would choose a a compressor refrigerator or and absorption refrigerator is that they do a much better job of keeping food cold/frozen.

The down side is batteries need to be recharged much more often than a propane tank need to be refilled.


While I agree with the first half of carrinb's post I DISAGREE with the second half ! You do not need second alternator to recharge even a moderately large battery bank. A good 40A DC-DC charger will fully recharge most battery banks after driving a couple of hours. Even if you have solar power, a small generator and charger is a good back up.

dsrace

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Posted: 01/14/23 06:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

the simply answer to the op's question is, personal application. the end users wants are what it all comes down to. some have no issues with the functionality of a conventional lp/electric rv fridge where others want the functionality of a conventional compressor fridge.

i opted for the dometic 12 v dmc4101 in our current camper. i have never had any great experiences with lp/elect rv fridges four our use in the last 5 rv's over the last 20 some years. never had one fail but on hot days they struggle to get the job done. when i say that i mean, one can leave a can of soda in the freezer overnight w/o fear of it bursting.

i ran across some test results conducted by mike at rv travel. they were the deciding factor to go with the dometic dcm 4101 and in particularly because it has 3 different power level settings where most of the other brands do not. not saying it is better or worse then other brands just saying it meets my wants better then the other brands. here is a link to that article and a pic of his test results on a single 100 ah battery. i only have 200 watts of solar and a 200 ah renogy agm battery.

https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-electricity-jam-dometic-power-usage-part-1/

[image]



if one was only opening the fridge 2 to 3 times a day then one could leave it in eco mode with only a 3.5 amp draw, when it cycled. it does not run for an hr every time it cycles either.

valhalla360

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Posted: 01/14/23 08:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Huntindog wrote:

I have what most would consider to be a healthy solar/battery system. But if I were to add a 12V fridge to the draw, I would come up short a lot.... And adding to what already have is not so easy. It would be quite expensive, and make my roof so full that I would not have room to do maintainence up there.
Saying the additonal cost would be minimal. just shows that you do not have a clue as to what is involved. Another controller, another wire run up to the roof more fuses, more panels, more batteries more cables etc. Using what I consider to be quality stuff (to match what I already have), would be at least 3k. Probably closer to 4K


If you really have a "healthy" solar/battery system, you shouldn't have any problem running a 12v fridge.

I'm borderline with a 50w panel and a couple of basic 12v batteries. I'm light on solar but not by a large amount. Adding a 100w panel and it would cover it easily. That's a pretty minimal solar/battery system.

So far I haven't bothered as we only boondock on occasion and running the generator for an hour or two for other purposes, typically gets the batteries back up where they belong.

If you are looking at $3-4k to add an extra 100w of panels and maybe 1 extra battery, you are getting taken by your installer.


Tammy & Mike
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