Fridge question

Discussion in 'Refrigerators and Coolers' started by Camp JT, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. Camp JT

    Camp JT New Member

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    This past weekend I finally broke down and bought my 1st camper of any kind. I have read a few of you saying you have done a mod on your fridge. I just wanted to know if the standard configuration of a 3 way fridge is good enough to keep bacon and eggs from spoiling for a few days or if I should continue using my 5 day cooler? My PUP is an '06 StarCraft Centennial and the guy I bought it from told me the fridge has a secondary fan which will come on automatically when it's a hot day.

    Thanks in advance for the info

    JT
     
  2. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

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    A well maintained 3-way will cool 30-40 degrees below ambient. The problem is they are slow. It takes 24 hours or more to cool off a 3-way, and the most powerful mode is often running on gas, not electricity. If you pre-cool it for 24 hours, and put things in there that are also all pre cooled, sure it will keep things from spoiling. Of course, you will need to run it on 12V while traveling, and that brings up a host of issues about battery drain, the type of plug you have for the trailer to the vehicle and so on.

    I like my fridge. I keep stuff I want to keep dry in there like lunch meat and the like. I've had mine freeze eggs and milk when I forgot to turn it down at the campsite. Then again, my common night temps are in the 40s during the summer.

    If you know its limitations, the fridge can be a big help.
     
  3. Camp JT

    Camp JT New Member

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    Thanks for the insight, I didn't realize it would take 2 days for the fridge to cool down. I'll have to look into the wiring but you would think the plug would be wired to run the fridge from the factory if for nothing else than for safety. The previous owner installed both a 100ah agm battery and a solar charger. I guess I won't know if that would run the fridge for 4 hours until I try. You brought up another point I'll have to look into. I'm big into maintenance but since this is my 1st 3 way fridge I'll have to Google how to properly maintain it aside from making sure the PUP is level.
     
  4. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

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    Eh, they are pretty simple and robust. From a mx perspective, make sure your chimney is clean and clear of bugs, webs and debris.

    The basic principle of a 3-way fridge is it works by heating the refridgerant, and then taking advantage of the phase change from gas back to liquid. So, what you need to make a 3-way fridge work is a source of HEAT. The easiest source is a small (and I do mean small) flame. Works good, lasts a long time. Other than a flame, you can make an electric heating pad to provide heat. The 120V electric heating pad works well, it gets fairly hot. But the 12V heating pad, well, it struggles. It's more of a "keep cool" than a "make the fridge work" mode.

    In my rig, the 120V heating pad doesn't work... it trips the GFCI so it has a short in it somewhere. At $110 plus shipping, and only being able to use it where I can plug it in, I decided it wasn't worth it. So, my 3-way runs on LP or 12V only. You likely do have a 120V outlet behind the fridge. Lift up the bottom grate on the outside and take a look. But, understand, your battery does NOT power any of the 120V outlets. You have to manually put the fridge in 12V (thin green switch) and then it will pull power from your trailer battery, or it will pull juice through your 7-pin trailer plug. Running a 3-way on a battery only is simply not an option. If you can't plug the PUP in, use LP. It works best in my opinion anyway.
     
  5. Camp JT

    Camp JT New Member

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    I'll have to spend some more time with it this weekend, work has been insanely busy. I think I might have a newer model, the selector buttons are on the front of the fridge just under the counter, it also has an "auto"option. Either way I'll have to make sure both the PUP and Expo are wired so the fridge will pull through the 7-pin as you stated. The good news is I have dual 30lb lp tanks, just don't know if the pilot will get blown out while towing.
     
  6. chambo

    chambo Active Member

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    I've tried towing with the fridge running on LP. No luck. I know that others have been able to. I've also tested running on 12v while towing, but my AMP meter was showing more of a draw than I was putting in. I don't think this should be the case so I need to troubleshoot this a bit more. But for now, I pre-chill the fridge and its contents and turn it off while traveling. If its a long drive I put a few ice packs in there. I fire it back up when I get to camp and I haven't died of any food born illnesses yet.

    If you are able to tow with the fridge running on LP, don't forget to turn the flame off when heading into a gas station.
     
  7. Nandy

    Nandy Active Member

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    Good advice from chambo, that pilot can ignite the fumes when you are gassing up....

    I have a 2005 unit and it does not takes 24 hours to get to temp, it is more in the 3 hour range depending on how hot is outside. We have done some 3 to 4 hours trips during spring time in SC and fridge was off and never got down to 50. What I am trying to say is not all units seems to work the same so check how yours work so you have an idea on how to use it. What we do is get the camper from storage the day before, hook it at home and at night we load it. Unhook it before we leave in the morning (very important to unhook! [LOL]) then head to our destination. We dont touch that fridge until we get to the campground...

    One thing, we still take coolers as we like to leave the drinks and snacks on the car for our daily drives to whatever we want to go. We still have the late snacks and drinks for the night in the fridge but we mostly use the fridge for the breakfast and big dinners ingredients.

    Camp garage, give it a try!!!!
     
  8. webhannet

    webhannet Member

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    "What they said"!

    The auto button will allow the fridge to choose 110V over the other functions when 110 is available. Google your Brand and model number to find the correct manual for YOUR model.

    Remember - the fridge ALSO REQUIRES 12 Volts to operate the brain. For myself, I would leave it operating all the time - even sitting at home for no reason. They use almost no gas or current.

    The fans he referred to can be one of two very different kinds. One is a fan inside the box to circulate the air. A fully packed box doesn't allow the coldness to spread thoughout the interior well - and a circulating fan won't improve that. Don't overpack! You might have a little battery/cube fan or a computer muffin fan wired through a small hole in the back.

    The other fan is to increase the airflow up the backside, past your coils. When you remove your outside panel covers, there is an actual chimney through which the hot air rises. This is done by regular "chimney effect" from bottom to top. On very hot days - or when you're parked with the outside wall in the hot sun - that chimney effect may not be enough to allow the process to work. There are wired OR independent solar fans you can mount inside your flue area to increase airflow over the coils. Easiest thing to do when very hot weather comes - park the fridge side in shade and wind.

    The best venting is straight up through a RV roof, but pop ups can't do that. Motorhomes and trailer with the high exhaust vent located on the side of the RV operate at a disadvantage. Because pop ups have so little "chimney effect" due to the shortness of the area, adding a fan and shading the area would be good waystto increase your cooling ability.

    These fans I speak of are very little airflow. Don't try to use a table fan.

    Another tip - freeze things that can be frozen - before you put them in the box. DO NOT USE DRY ICE to help.

    These fridges have a relatively slow recovery time, and it's best to avoid opening to door often. It's a good idea to bring a cooler for ice and drinks - this will leave the fridge alone to work as it does.
     
  9. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Both of my RV fridges take/took about 12 hours to cool down. Either will chill down below 40 on a 90 degree day. My Airstreams freezer will be 0 on that 90 degree day.
     

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