Dorm fridge vs. modern cooler

Discussion in 'Refrigerators and Coolers' started by FARfetched, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. FARfetched

    FARfetched Active Member

    The Starflyer doesn't have a fridge vent, so I assume it didn't have a 3-way fridge to begin with. A PO put a dorm fridge in, but again there's no vent. Seems like all the people I've talked to around here are full-hookup types. I'm not against that, but I do want the option of dry-camping.

    Anyway, my thought was to install a platform on slide rails to make it easy to swap out the fridge for a Yeti (or our Ozark Knockoff), and to keep the cooler out of the way until it's needed. Has anyone done anything like this?

    Long-term, my options are:
    • Swap out fridge/cooler, depending on the destination
    • Forget the fridge, use the cooler all the time regardless of hookups
    • Get a 3-way fridge (but w/o a vent/access hatch, how do I switch it?)
    If you've been in a similar situation, what worked for you?
     
  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    With my old Jayco that only had a so called icebox which never worked by the way. We used a dorm fridge on the counter when we camped with hookups and when we didn't we just used the cooler . Never bothered trying the take the icebox out as the space was just too small to be much good. The dorm fridge was left over from my college days (yes that fridge was OLD). And it was too big for the spot so I chose a spot on the counter for it. It was nice not having to bend or crawl on the floor for food. When I dry camped I just kept the cooler in the car. So again it was at arm length and I didn't have to move a heavy cooler back and forth. When packing up, the fridge just got lowered to the floor for travel it fit perfectly in the isle and small enough the bunks could slide in. I chose the easy way, and one where I could choose the size cooler I needed for the trip in question. I didn't want to limit myself.
     
  3. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    We have a 3-way fridge and it works ok. When we camp with no hook ups we either run the fridge on propane or we use our Yeti (Tundra 45). During really hot weather the fridge temp varies so we will not store perishables in it only drinks. We will rely on the Yeti to store the perishables.
    If you decide to place a fridge in the space having a vent to the outside will allow the heat to escape. Even just placing a dorm fridge in there you need a vent to the outside. The cost of a 3-way fridge is kind of pricey as well so using a dorm fridge and then a Yeti (Ozark) for camping with no hook ups is probably the cheapest way to go in my opinion.
     
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  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    The 2-way or 3-way fridges are more expensive. In most RVs, the biggest issue with install is getting it inside the rig. Good ventilation is paramount - if venting out the side, you'll need to install a 12v fan; if out the top, it should be fine without.

    However, the pros to those fridges is that you only have to deal with one storage system, and you can use it anywhere, and it is in its place and doesn't have to be moved, and you can come home after camping and plug it in and empty it later on - no rush no matter where you were camping.

    If the cost is prohibitive, I would decide based on how often I have hookups. For me, I rarely have hookups - maybe one trip out of the year. For that one trip, I'd rather stay with the cooler and not have to store the fridge the rest of the time. If I stayed at places with hookups most of the time, I would do the fridge - a cooler could be used for barbeques, picnics, etc., when not camping or even as additional storage when camping, so it wouldn't be collecting dust.
     
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  5. davido

    davido Active Member

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    I'd go with a 3-way, and either get it professionally installed, or take it on as a project to cut the vent and install it yourself.

    If you do go that route, I recommend also getting a vent fan and installing it at the same time. I installed a vent fan along with a thermo-switch and found that even on hot days in the upper 90s the fridge now adequately keeps food cool. In fact, at first I had the thermo-switch installed too close to the exhaust pipe so that it never switched the fan off, and the fridge would freeze things overnight as a result.

    A 3-way will run on propane, 12v DC or 110v AC. Propane is used while at a no-hookups campsite. 12v DC is used while towing (if your tow vehicle is equipped with a charge line). 110v AC is used at hookups campsites, and at home on preparation day, when you start the fridge up to pre-cool it. Small popup trailer sized 3-way fridges will run on a twenty-pound propane tank for almost three weeks if there is nothing else consuming propane, so it's a minimal consumer. Over the course of a long weekend it doesn't consume enough to really impact whether the propane tank will last through your campout.

    I wouldn't consider a dorm fridge to be an alternative when dry camping because it will either require running a generator all the time, or having far more battery capacity than a typical popup can reasonably carry. So the only reasonable alternative to a three-way fridge is a nice cooler. For my family of four, we use both the three-way fridge *and* a cooler. There are two reasons for this approach. First, it allows us to bring more food so that we don't have to go grocery shopping partway through the long weekend getaway. Second, we sometimes don't bother setting up the popup in the driveway prior to our trip, and in those cases the cooler is the only thing we can pre-stock. Sometimes everything starts out in the cooler, and then upon arrival drinks go in the 3-way. Then over the course of the weekend other things migrate into the 3-way from the cooler, including leftovers that might get rewarmed for breakfast.
     
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  6. PaThacker

    PaThacker Well-Known Member

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    I’ve always camped with 3 way fridges. Yes they suck unless 12 volt vented. Cooler or coolers. I might get a yeti or cabelas bear proof cooler this year.
     
  7. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    I like the idea of replacing the dorm fridge with a cooler pullout. I never have hookups so a dorm fridge would be useless, and installing a 3-way isn't be much of an upgrade over a good cooler unless it has a freezer.

    I too trust my (not-Yeti-quality) cooler more than my RV fridge. I take both. I have a highwall so the fridge is a bit bigger and has a freezer. On longer trips, I usually freeze some bottles of water to rotate into the cooler and fridge body.

    If you're going to cut holes into the side of the popup, instead of vents, I'd prefer a two way slide so I could pull the cooler out both ways--inside and outside. Do people do that? That would be cool.
     
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  8. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    We don't keep food in the camper, so a cooler in the car is the easiest option. We have a fridge in the camper but the wife doesn't like food in it because of bears.
     
  9. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    How about Secret Option D?

    We purchased a compressor based portable cooler:
    Dometic CFX-65W
    http://a.co/is674Ci (We actually bought from https://www.my12voltstore.com/ since it was significantly cheaper, but they don't appear to have it right now)
    Note, this is NOT a thermoelectric cooler, but a compressor based one. I can easily keep 0 degrees in 100F weather.

    Here's the thread on my purchasing process:
    http://www.popupportal.com/threads/...-compressor-w-solar-help-with-choices.116118/

    Essentially, we bought a solar panel, and run the Cooler off our battery.

    Had it for a full season this year. Even with the cooler, the 100Watt solar suitcase I'm using has my battery fully charged the next day.

    I would 100% do it again. Although, as I stated in my thread, I would seriously look at the http://www.novakool.com/products/single_doors/r1900_2600.htm The cooler is freakin heavy when it's fully loaded. (I make the wife help me lift it) having it permanently mounted would probably be a good idea. However, we do use the cooler as a party cooler almost as much as we camp so it's a trade off.

    I have had thoughts of ripping my nonfunctional 3way fridge out, and putting slides in to make the cooler fit in the existing hole, but have not measured to see if it would work.
     
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  10. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Thats pretty cool. No pun intended. My 3 way works , but if it breakes a slide through cooler is a good idea. I do a lot of boondocking, but for the op, why not use the cooler when dry camping, and take the dorm fridge when you have hook ups? Dosent seem to be an advantage in taking out the fridge if you do both. Unless room is a factor and you cant take both? . Then just make the spot big enough to be able to swap one out for the other. Personally, i like my coolers outside the pop up. Yes i get the wildlife can attack it. I usally tie it up pretty good and a quick spray on the outside of pinesol helps. I usally dont go where its not populated. But when i do the cridders eat at my neighbor's sites and never mine.
     
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  11. FARfetched

    FARfetched Active Member

    That was my thought. I think I need to enlarge the opening so I can get the fridge in/out more readily, though. It's pretty likely we'll take the cooler along even for full-hookup sites anyway, given the limited space of a dorm fridge. :rolleyes:

    I like the idea of a 3-way, or even a 2-way (propane + A/C) fridge; but others have counseled trying out the camper as-is so I can see what's really needed, and I think that's wise advice. The Starflyer's 12V wiring diagram doesn't even connect the fridge to the converter, which is probably the way it should be anyway. Which reminds me, I need to find that red wire that's meant to go to a battery.
     
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  12. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I have a 3 way fridge that works well , i still used the cooler.
     
  13. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    3 way and cooler for me too. Mainly because my cooler can keep my meats frozen where as the fridge is a fridge.
     
  14. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    Nah, lose the dorm fridge so you have a place for the cooler. Okay, try it out first, but why trip over a cooler when there's a perfectly good spot for it?

    But a slideout cooler (compressor with adequate battery/solar would be even better) would conquer one of the flaws of the popup: The inaccessible fridge.

    *thinking about a slideout toilet now*
     
  15. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    If I cut the temperature controller all the way down in the Aliner refrigerator, I can freeze everything in it. We still work mostly out of the cooler in the truck.
     
  16. FARfetched

    FARfetched Active Member

    Our Camp Driveway over the weekend did point out how much of a hassle it is to get into the fridge (and then make sure the door shuts). Since it was just Mason and me, he decided to share the king-size bunk end with me. That left the other bunk free for the (now empty) cooler, clothes, and a couple other things. For dry-camping, we'll definitely want to lose the fridge for a cooler.

    As for the toilet… seeing as the lows were below 40F both nights over the weekend, the porta-pot got a workout. My first thought was to put it against the door, but for this weekend we left it at the back. That worked out well, at least for "the boys" (Mason and me). The PO left a nightlight plugged in that end, and it helped. I need to fashion a stand, though… it's easy for "the boys" to deal with that midnight necessity, but if DW needs it, she'll want something approximately the height of our cans at home.
     
  17. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    I installed a dorm reefer in a Jayco PUP long ago, I was told that it would never work, I installed it and put a vent with a computer fan behind it and a small vent to let the heated air to escape, worked fine. As for the port potty my DW has long legs and naturally it was way to short,I took a metal milk crate, put a plywood bottom on the top of it (a bit oversized and put carpet on the overhang, then a piece of plywood on the top with carpet to stop any sliding of the potty(really the bottom) that fit the pottys base. She loved it as that brought it up close to 12"
    The TT has a taller toilet so it is a moot point now. :)
     
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  18. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    You know, it's more ergonomic to use a lower toilet, especially for...oh wait, this is about fridges. :)
     
  19. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    The last half of the message was about porta potties too, thought I would cover both items
     
  20. Dingit

    Dingit Active Member

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    I just felt I shouldn't be linking to my favorite news articles about how comfort height toilets are making us all constipated. [:P]
     
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