Refrigerator question

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by Mtlangst, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. Blackripley

    Blackripley Active Member

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    This is what we do as well, but no fan yet. We place two frozen 2-liter bottles in before we head out. It also serves as drinking water as it thaws. We also keep a set in the freezer at home in case of power outages.
     
  2. tfurgeson

    tfurgeson New Member

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  3. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

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    Our fridge is 20 years old and while it was getting a bit anemic, it always worked well for us. They require mass, they will never get cold without something in them. We just turn ours on for an hour or so to get it going and then load it up with cold food. Last year with a summer beach trip planned I decided I wanted to make sure it had full output. So I spent an hour or two putting in a simple baffle and adding the 12v exhaust fan. It now comfortably cools 50 to 60 degrees below ambient. Total investment was about $15 bucks. Ours stays on propane for the entire trip as well. The only time it's off is if we are going to pull into a gas station. I'd be fine with pulling our entire water system as we'll never use it, but I'd actually like to add a second fridge so I don't have to deal with coolers at all.
     
  4. Jan Cristo

    Jan Cristo New Member

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    I'm so happy to say that there is nothing wrong with or refrigerator - we simply didn't know how to connect it properly. How's that for newbies? LOL, we plugged it in with the help of our neighbor yesterday and it got cold as can be! Thanks to all of you who responded with your fixes. And in our travels, we'll simply spend at least two days at each site instead of traveling every day. That should be more fun anyway.
     
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  5. equest

    equest Member

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    Is there not a switch for the fridge that is accessible from outside your PUP?
    On my last pop up, you opened a panel on the outside to activate the fridge, so I could get it started cooling 24 hours before leaving for a trip. You will want to store water bottles inside because they apparently require stuff to be inside the fridge in order to cool down.
     
  6. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    He has a highwall so all the controls are on the inside--great when popped up, a real PITA when it's not.

    (This is an issue with which I am familiar. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we get Bluetooth controls for our fridges...)
     
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  7. brwarrior

    brwarrior Active Member

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    Highwall owner here as well with an inaccessible fridge when down. I wish they had redundant controls outside. It's all electronics anyways. Though I usually need to run the stove to purge the propane line anyway but I could always grab the grill and do it.

    I have migrated to blue ice packs (each equal to 2# of ice per the pack). I have 8 of them and no longer have to deal with soaked food. I'll put 4 in the fridge when I get to my destination (2 in the freezer, 2 in the fridge and turn on the fridge fan (I have one that's a blue cube looking thing)) and it's usually at 40 in 4 hours or so. I'll swap packs around between the fridge, freezer and ice chest (drinks) on longer trips.

    I'd like a 12VDC compressor fridge.
     
  8. tfurgeson

    tfurgeson New Member

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    Wow, no... mine isn't that fancy, no outside controls here. I did get a little fan off amazon and it worked much better.
     
  9. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    My experience with the fridge seems to be different from everyone else’s, so I will share it for contrast....

    I fully expected my fridge to need a day or two to cool down, and to be only marginally acceptable after it had cooled down....instead I have a fridge that get so damn cold that I have to put it on the lowest setting (and at times just turn it off for a while) to avoid freezing my eggs and milk. It’s not a Dometic brand like most seem to be (I think it is a Norcold brand or something that sounds similar). Im not sure how it would do for 4-6 hours, but if I had it fully cold (highest setting) before taking off, It would probably be fine. I mostly run mine on propane, and that definitely seems to get it cold faster than 12V...120V seems to be in the middle, but I have only used it with 120v once.

    If I were in your shoes I would consider getting a 3 way fridge and using propane if you need to get it cold fast, and the running it on 12v (I’m assuming your trailer gets power from the car while driving) while on the road. Do note that you are supposed to turn off all propane fired appliances before approaching a gas pump....so running on propane while driving is a bit more involved (I do it when I want to get to fridge cold faster)

    As far as high end coolers....I just bought a Canyon outfitter 75 (after extensive research) and it is a hell of a good cooler. It is pretty large (75 quart, compared to a typical 40-50 quart size for a standard large cooler). I use it mostly for drinks, and the fridge for meat, eggs, milk and such. I recently went on a 5 day trip, started with 2/3 ice and 1/3 drinks and food items. It still had ice at the end of 5 days. Just barely, but that was with a lot of opening and closing, and also stealing ice (1-2 quarts per day) for our portable drink cooler. It is impressive.

    I chose the canyon over the competitors for these reasons:
    1. Performed near the top of the pack in terms of ice retention.
    2. Recessed latches and handles. It is flat on all sides so it slides in and out of my camper without snagging.
    3. Price. Much cheaper than Yeti, and cheaper than most of the other competitors.
    4. Certified bear resistant (when used with bolts or locks)
    5. Made in USA

    If you don’t care about 2,4 or 5, the RTIC brand will give similar performance for a somewhat lower price.

    Steve
     
  10. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

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    My fridge will easily freeze things solid over night. I generally have it on high during the day and low at night. Mine only has two settings, wish it had three. I think the 3 way option with 12v is pretty much dead. It's either propane or 120v. Running the 12v from the tow vehicle is problematic as it draws more current than the RV plug is designed to handle. For 12v to be effective you'd need to do a separate Anderson connector to give the trailer adequate power while traveling.
     
  11. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    Good to know. I have been running on 12V while driving at times, I guess I have been getting away with it. A similar concern would be with charging a battery from the TV...I'm not sure what the charging current would be, but it seems pretty likely that it could exceed 20 amps. Maybe there needs to be an in-line current limiting resistor for the TV power feed...?
     
  12. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    I've run mine on 12V and not noticed anything. Which side of the connection is not adequate? TV or popup?
     
  13. Steve in Denver

    Steve in Denver Member

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    After looking at mine, I think the actual 7 pin plug wiring is too small. Looked like 16 or 18 gauge just by looking at it. My wiring from the battery to the plug is sufficient, and the trailer wiring (I think) is sufficient. Also the actual connectors themselves may not be rated high enough. Hopefully others will weigh in.

    -Steve
     
  14. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

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    The 7 pin RV plug is not rated for the continuous high draw of the fridge. For sure you can get away with it, I have many times. I am forgetting the actual rating at the moment but despite the high fuse rating of the 12v line, the connector itself is rated pretty low.
    However, I've also found the terminal was hot and mine is now a bit corroded from running the fridge in 12v, so I stopped doing it and just travel on propane.

    If you have ever seen the 7 pin round instead of the typical camper 7 pin spade, that connector is rated higher for continuous draw.

    Charging the battery is different. The battery charge rate is directly related to the voltage differential. With the typical voltage drop involved and other typical real world situations you will rarely over draw that connector from charging. If you do go beyond the rated capacity, it's for a relatively short time until the battery comes up enough for the charge rate to drop etc.

    Where as a long, hot trip with a fridge running on 12v, is just going to run that connector beyond it's limit for a long period of time, but you will never blow the fuse. Remember the fridge is basically a resistance heat strip, about as ugly a load as you can get.

    Anderson connector is the typical answer for high draw trailers. Even those I think are only rated for 30A continuous, but they take 8 gauge directly into them. I have been meaning to add that setup for years now. I'm going to get more serious about it shortly as I'm adding a second battery to the tow vehicle and plan to have a long Anderson jumper from the TV to the camper to essentially have 3 batteries in parallel while camping.
     
  15. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what refrigerator you have, but mine only draws 9 amps on 12 volts. I have a 10 amp fuse inline protecting the circuit and it has never blown. The label says 9.6 amp, but my amp meter shows 9.2 amp.
     
  16. Spridle

    Spridle Well-Known Member

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    I seem to remember mine drawing more like 15A but stopped using it in 12V years ago so you may well be right that it's about 10A. I believe the terminal is rated at 15A and I believe it's fused at 30A on my GMC's factory tow wiring.

    As for why it would work with no problems for one user and not for another, I have some guesses, but I didn't take any measurements so guesses is all they are.

    I can say when I did it, it was clearly over heating. As in signs of plastic getting hot and discoloration on the connector. I thought the harness was old and bad so I put a new harness on and new jack on the TV. Next couple trips I ran 12v and saw signs that it was still getting hot. That's when I asked about it and was told that it was not uncommon and just to travel on propane. It was said that using the TV was just more hassle as you could overheat/damage the connector/kill the TV battery at rest stops etc and that was in part why 3 way was giving way more and more to 2 way fridges. Just sharing anecdotal stuff from memory.

    That's when I looked into what the ratings where, Anderson connectors and such. As I've had zero issues traveling on propane I just never went any further with it. I'm still on that same harness and once I stopped using the fridge it never got any worse.
     
  17. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    I have mine wired differently than the manufacture wired it. The 12 volt was connected to the pin that my TV uses for backup lights. I rewired it to the PUP battery with a 10 amp inline fuse. The PUP battery is charged by the TV while driving. When you turn off the TV the charge line to the PUP is turned off.
     
  18. annawats

    annawats New Member

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    I think it cools down to the minimum temperature in a couple of hours, depending on the power and how much freon is used to freeze the inside. It is also unknown whether it will last frozen, because each refrigerator has its own cooling time. I think a relatively good refrigerator will defrost in at least twelve hours. In addition, it is worth considering the weather that will be outside. For example, in the Sahara Desert, it does not even make sense to take it with you, since it is so hot there that sweat can start boiling on your skin. And if you are in the jungle where there is increased moisture, then this can help to maintain a low temperature in your refrigerator.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  19. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Well-Known Member

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    This is an oldie but goodie thread. I just thought I'd add another comment. I ran a test on my Dometic 3-way Fridge. After cleaning the Flue and burner, I put a digital thermometer inside and lit the Propane burner. The inside temperature started out at 80 degrees mid afternoon. Within about 20 minutes the inside temperature started to drop. I watched it and it dropped about 1 degree every 15 minutes. It was completely empty inside. By the next morning the inside temperature was down to 40 degrees. So a clean good working 3-way Fridge will cool down overnight. But you should notice somewhat of a cooling difference within about an our or so.

    If I were going to look at a Camper with the 3-way, I'd ask the owner to light the burner the day before I went to see it. You can light the Propane Fridge without opening up the camper.
     
  20. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    I start my 3-way on 115VAC 24 hours before the trip. I don't think it's fully cooled down by then, but it's pretty good. The speed at which it cools down does depend on factors such as the ambient temperature and whether or not you have a vent fan. If you have a vent fan and your evenings cool off nicely, 24 hours is plenty of time. If it's 100 degrees out, you have no vent fan, the fridge is full of room-temperature beverages, and the evenings don't cool off much, I bet it could take a couple days.

    Pre-cool everything that goes into the fridge. Start it up 24h ahead of time. Turn on a vent fan (install one if you don't have one). That should get you optimal performance from your 3-way.

    Also, tow in 12v mode so that you don't lose cooling. If you can't tow in 12v mode, then use propane while towing, but you may need to install some wind baffles so that the burner doesn't blow out.
     

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