Fridge on Propane

Discussion in 'Refrigerators and Coolers' started by 123Ashley, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. 123Ashley

    123Ashley Member

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    I've been falling down lots of rabbit holes lately, trying to learn as much as I can.

    One thing that came up which surprised me was reading that running the fridge on propane vs shore power is more efficient and tends to cool quicker. It seems like many people prefer to run their fridge on propane on the regular, even when shore power is available.

    In your experience, does that seem to be the case? Does the fridge use a lot of propane to run?

    I'm trying to troubleshoot our Norcold 3-way (it's pooling water in the bottom) and was considering replacing it with just a battery/shore power version if I can't fix it, but if propane is a more efficient method, I don't want to lose that feature.
     
  2. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, I've found the 3-way fridges all tend to have their own personality. My old one ONLY cooled on LP, and cooled so well, it froze our milk all the time. I knew the 120VAC heating element simply was burnt out, but didn't feel like spending the $120 for a new one when LP worked so well, worked anywhere, and under any condition.

    The water pooling sounds like condensation on the internal fins. Don't know if yours has a condensate drip tray with a small hose to the outside, but if it looks like it should might see if you can replace it.
     
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  3. 123Ashley

    123Ashley Member

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    This is what I'm seeing. I don't see a place where there is a hose, but I could be very wrong. (You can also see how much work I need to do trying to clean up the box area.)

    I found that it did cool on shore power to about 40 degrees, but then it ended up shutting off and warming up to 45-50 inside after a day or so, and then the water puddle at the bottom appeared. IMG_2756.jpg IMG_2759.jpg
     
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  4. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Nope, it doesn't have a shelf for condensate collection. Just have to manage the condensation as it collects at the bottom.

    Also, these units sip propane, you'll never even notice the amount it uses.

    No telltale signs of ammonia leaks (yellow powder or residue) so while rusty, it looks okay back there.
     
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  5. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I would leave it, some cool better then others, check the seal also. That would make a diffrence if its not good. The placement of these dont make it fun to use. Mine was condoments and drinks. Food went on a cooler. Of you can get a small fridge and take that also.
     
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  6. Greg H

    Greg H Member

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    Agreed with Sjm9911 - moisture inside has to come from somewhere. Unless you're leaving the door open for extended periods, a door seal that isn't sealing properly would be a prime candidate as cause of this issue.

    Our propane cools really well, but as someone else said, there seems to be a lot of variability from one model (of either fridge or RV) to another. I do like the propane option quite a bit - it barely sips any fuel and will work in all conditions.

    EDIT - just to add, if you resolve the condensation issue and find you aren't getting sufficient cooling, consider added fans to blow over the external fans. Wiring some 12V computer fans into that area is MY next rabbit hole, lol. It's supposed to be really effective at improving cooling, particularly for when it's very hot out
     
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  7. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Water pooling in the interior is normal. Worse in high humidity areas. These things are not terribly efficient, and you will find water inside after every trip sometimes. If I can I try and empty the fridge before packing up at the end of a trip and shut it off for the drive home. Then I mop up the water with a towel and clean it as best as I can. With mine since the galley prevents me from opening the fridge when closed I have to leave it up sometimes to air out as well.

    I run mine on 120V because it is easier, and I think my flue is clogged up a little. Just haven't gotten around to addressing it.
     
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  8. 123Ashley

    123Ashley Member

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    These are all super helpful answers. Thank you!
     
  9. 123Ashley

    123Ashley Member

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    D345ADAA-1ABA-44B4-9C8F-5C06758616AD.jpeg I think I definitely have a seal issue, considering this fell off of the door when I touched it. [LOL]
     
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  10. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    back of the fridge indicates it needs some TLC. Cleaning the burner, jet and flue are regular maintenance items for propane. Level, ventilation and proper heat is all that is needed. Installs may need additional baffling and/or exhaust fan in high ambient.
     
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  11. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Now that you mention it, I am currently running a test on my 3-way fridge. Last year I added some cooling fans to the rear of the Fridge and I wanted to see if they made a difference. I am running it on Propane at the moment. It is very hot outside. In fact it is 107 degrees right now. The Fridge cooled down to 36 degrees overnight, but is currently up to 40 degrees in this 107 degree heat. I will not go camping in temperatures over 100 degrees. I have a good A/C unit, but it is no fun going camping just to sit in the camper all day. Tonight I am going to change the power source to 120 AC and see how that works at this ambient temperature. I am also planning to installing a small air circulation fan to the inside of the Fridge to see how that does.

    Looking at that photo, I think I would definitely do some cleaning to the rear of yours.
     
  12. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic test - keep us posted.
     
  13. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Well, the weather channel says that it is now 109 degrees (F) outside. I just checked the fridge and it is now 44 degrees inside. It should start cooling off around here now.
     
  14. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    Im with you don. A few years ago. I think it was 2012. We were headed back from a three a week trip. Our last two nights we were only 3.5 hours from home. It was forcasted to hit 106 the next day. We packed up early the next morning and head home a day early. We figured we could be more comfortable at home then sitting in AC in a camper all day.
     
  15. Steveo4090

    Steveo4090 Well-Known Member

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    The 12v fans in the exterior mounted to remove the hot air that builds up in there makes a HUGE difference in the fridge performance. Keep in mind that most camper fridges have no fans or air movement at all. They rely on the fins in the fridge to absorb heat and the fins in the exterior compartment to dissipate it. When you help remove that heat from those outside fins, it works so much better. Its such an easy mod that everyone should do it. You don't even need to put baffles in to have it help.
     
  16. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Now the house A/C unit just quit working. What else??? It looks like I'm sleeping in the camper tonight. Got good A/C in there. Still over 100 outside.
     
  17. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Tonight I switched the Fridge power source to 12 vdc. Let's see how that does. It's supposed to be another 109 degree day tomorrow.
     
  18. LjohnSaw

    LjohnSaw So many fish, so little time...

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    Do you have the camper plugged in while running from 12v? If not, your battery will be dead within a few hours.

    Grandpa Don, that is amazing that you could get down to 40 from 107 ambient! A 67* drop? Best I've done (with fans exterior and interior) is about 40-45* drop.
     
  19. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I'm on shore power at the moment. This morning the outside temp is 73 degrees, and the Fridge temp is 30 degrees. At some point I'd like to run the same test on 12 vdc without shore power just to see how low the battery would get. It is a Deep-cycle battery that I bought new about 6 months ago. On my last camping trip it snowed on me for two days. I ran the heater all night long set at 60 degrees. In the morning the battery level read 11.7, and the heater was still working. I do have Solar, so the battery was back up to normal by 10 a.m.

    I'm probably in the wrong thread with this test. But it does have to do with the Fridge. I hope nobody minds...
     
  20. 123Ashley

    123Ashley Member

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    I don’t mind at all! I’m happy to read your updates.

    I’m trying to make sense of what needs cleaned and replaced on the back of the fridge and noticed this lovely, orange nastiness. Could this be a leak of some kind or did someone use the spray insulation to fill a gap? Can’t tell, but it doesn’t look good.

    Our propane isn’t working at the moment (we have a leak somewhere and are in the process of finding and fixing that) so shore power is the only power source at the moment. Again, the fridge went to 40 yesterday and is almost 70 now. The fridge isn’t in the sun, and it’s only 70’s here (50’s overnight.) So there’s something definitely rotten in the state of Norcold.
    D42880F4-48AD-4E53-AD7B-24D8E735579D.jpeg
     

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