Dorm fridge??? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-16-2013, 11:11 AM   #1
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Dorm fridge???

How many of you have a dorm fridge in your camper?
How long have you had them and how well do you think they work?
Do you wait a hour or so after towing it to let the compressor oil settle so the compresses does not get ruined or do you plug it right in?
Do you put a container full of water in the small freezer to freeze so when you are driving your fridge acts like cooler?
Any advice you can give me to help me make the call to leave my icebox in my Uhaul or to change to a fridge would be great!
Thanks,
Jason
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Old 09-16-2013, 11:47 AM   #2
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There's been lots of talke here about using a dorm 120 Volt fridge. The biggest draw back I can see is you're tied to the grid. I think of my trailer as an escape pod along with recreation. As an escape pod I want to be able to live off the grid and not depend on electricity. The natural disasters in the past few years highlight the possible need to have a temporary place to live. My trailer provides that. I have lived in my trailer for 3 months off the grid, so I know it's possible and many places I like to go for recreation are off the grid.

If you don't think you need an escape pod, and plan on staying in RV resorts a dorm type would work as long as there's electricity. When the power goes down, that's a different matter. (Notice I said when not if)
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:12 PM   #3
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We haven't been able to implement our plan yet (still working on repairs) but this is our thinking. We have been tent camping off the grid. One reason for our little 13 footer is to make it easier to set up. My old back is complaining lots these days.

We have a small fridge plugged in, in the garage. A little microwave too. If we decide to camp with hook ups then it is fairly simple to pack them up and take them with. Otherwise we will use the fridge space for our cooler.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:30 PM   #4
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A 12vdc compressor fridge can usually also run off 120VAC. They are not cheep, but the power draw is so small that the can run indefinitely with about 100W of solar cells.

Because they are compressors, they cool better then a propane fridge and they can be left running while traveling.
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:59 PM   #5
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We were never impressed with the iceboxes in campers, and never used them with ice, just as dry storage. We removed the icebox from our Uhaul and installed a dorm fridge that we bought at Best Buy. Had to build a platform for it to set on and make some mount brackets to hold it down. Also had to slightly enlarge the opening to fit it in, put trimlok around the opening. I have also installed a new power converter so at that time put an outlet next to the fridge. When we go to campgrounds that do not have electric hookup we just take a cooler, and have our pick from 6 or so that we own. We went with the dorm fridge as we spent 3 1/2 months as snowbirds last winter, mostly in one place. When we did move locations we tried to plan so as to not have much food that needed refrigeration, pack what we did have in a small cooler, or just leave it in the fridge as it would stay cold for some time. Since we did stay in one location for 3 months we took a second dorm fridge and kept that in our screen room. We would plug in the camper fridge within a half hour of arriving at a site. Jason, you're in NY, you should come to the Copake rally next month. Bob
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:06 PM   #6
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Have a 2.7 cu. ft. Black & Decker built in where the defunct Dometic was. Have a 3000watt pure sine wave inverter and healthy 1/0 cables to the battery. Have a single group 27 and 80watt solar panel. Also got a 40 yr. old Coleman upright ice chest. We don't have a strategy for making our cutesy trailer a post-apocalyptic survival pod but we do have a modus operandi for preserving perishable food on and off grid. Incidentally, I guess everyone here has noticed that the production of ice is absolutely grid-dependent unless you have access to a frozen pond and an ice plow?

If every town of 20,000+ had an ice house, I'd go with the ice box. That isn't the case any more and the melt rate of crushed and cube don't make for a high ratio of benefit to cost. I freeze large chunks in the bottom half of gallon milk bottles in our home freezer. Our Coleman ice bucket takes about six of these. In temperatures below 80F, we've had ice left after three or four days. So our strategy for going to a reserved site with no hookups is to take the ice chest with ice from home. If we're going initially to a reserved site with hookups, we precool the dorm fridge at home, add food, make ice in trays, and switch to inverter on battery and vehicle alternator for the trip (for us most usually under 5 hrs.), and switch back to shore power at arrival. Estimate have used this scenario maybe six times in the last two yrs. and the compressor still runs and cools. I have found that the capability of our battery storage/solar generation combo is not adequate to keep up with the wattage demands of this fridge for more than a 24hr. period starting from cold fridge and batt at full charge.

We have some variations on this belt and suspenders approach. We're going to the Copake NY rally early next month (full hookup KOA) and will stop at North Lake in the Catskills (no hookups) for three nites previous to the rally dates. We won't use the dorm fridge until Copake obviously. I've never made a point of allowing compressor oil to drain down before starting fridge. The fridge has survived the on the road operation. I don't know how frequently the compressor cycles in this situation but suspect not often.

The very worst situation for us is the impromptu approach to site booking which produces single nite stays a mixture of hooked in and dry. We don't do much of that "on the road" every day sightseeing which makes our way of doing things acceptable to us at least. Not for everyone. I guess you could call our system a variant of all-electric with backup. Anyone who remembers pre-REA home generation of electricity backstopped by gas engine pumps and kerosene lamps is old enuf to understand if not relish this way of doing things.

My observation is that the real drawback of absorption fridges is the limit of their ability to cool below ambient temp. If you have A/C and the will to use it, you can create an operating environment which allows the absorption process to produce a practically useful temperature for food preservation. Otherwise, over 90F, there's no joy.

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Old 09-16-2013, 08:05 PM   #7
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Thanks guys you have given me a lot to ponder. I would love to have 12vdc compressor fridge but I don't know If I can part with that much $$$$$! And a 3 way.??? I just don't know.
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Old 09-16-2013, 08:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kirkman View Post
How many of you have a dorm fridge in your camper?
How long have you had them and how well do you think they work?
Do you wait a hour or so after towing it to let the compressor oil settle so the compresses does not get ruined or do you plug it right in?
Do you put a container full of water in the small freezer to freeze so when you are driving your fridge acts like cooler?
Any advice you can give me to help me make the call to leave my icebox in my Uhaul or to change to a fridge would be great!
Thanks,
Jason
When we only camped within 6 hours of home we used a dorm fridge for years when the kids were young. If you want a fridge it is a cheap way to get one. I never had reliability issues. I never waited an hour after parking. We generally packed them full so they stay cold during the trip. Make sure the door stays shut because if it opens on the trip it is bad news. We used bungee cords.

We now have a 12V/120VAC marine compressor fridge and love it. I put it in myself and would do it again. They are not cheap though. One significant factor is to consider how much boondocking you will do and for how long. Propane has its advantages also especially with longer boondocking and quieter operation.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:21 PM   #9
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I think both Bob and I interpreted "dorm fridge" as being a sub-$100 cheapy that runs on AC only. If nothing else, I hope we've reinforced the idea that the icebox and cooler haven't quite outlived their usefulness. I often see comments here which suggest that absorption fridge users are carrying coolers for beverages and rationing the number of times they crack the door on the 3-way. Jason, I also get sticker shock around AC/DC compressor fridges.

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Old 09-16-2013, 09:55 PM   #10
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I think both Bob and I interpreted "dorm fridge" as being a sub-$100 cheapy that runs on AC only.

jack
Yes, that was my interpretation, and is what we have. Ours is a compressor unit, cools very good, cold and quick, and was in the $100 price range. It's worked very well for us, only complaint is the door is not reversible for the direction that it swings open, and the rod that holds bottles on the door pivots to where the bottles can fall, but I've figured out how to fix that.
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Old 09-16-2013, 11:18 PM   #11
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The one in my former Burro would only keep things cold for about 3 hours. Since I often was on the road for most of the day to reach a destination, the dorm fridge was pretty useless for me. By the time I got a campsite, everything inside was warm.

It also was impractical for dry camping. I like national forest CGs, but they have no hookups. So an ice chest was much more useful (despite being in the way) than the dorm fridge.
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Old 09-16-2013, 11:56 PM   #12
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Besides my 3 way fridge which is way too small I have invested in a Coleman Thermoelectric cooler. It is 12V and does a good job keeping things cold.
Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler*-*Coleman*3000001497*-*Coolers*-*Campersland
I found mine at Walmart. It was about $80.
They had it with the AC adapter included.
You can stand it on it's side and use it as a regular fridge. It has a removable shelf.
I also invested in a portable Dometic fridge/freezer. I can set it to freeze or warmer as a fridge. I use is as a freezer. I live in a small town. It is very handy for going frozen food shopping out of town. It is AC/DC. User programmable to the temp you want.
Portable Freezer Fridge by Dometic for Sale - PPL Motor Homes
I found mine on Ebay and got it for $375. A little pricey but worth it. I get plenty of use out of it.
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:00 AM   #13
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By the way mine is the CF-40. As you can see then come bigger and smaller. The downside of it is you need the motor running for the freezer to operate. It take too much power otherwise. You'd need a generator to operate it off the grid.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:40 AM   #14
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We had a dorm style fridge in our first trailer. We traveled extensively, our first year traveling 10 out of 12 months with a dorm fridge. We typically only drove for no more than four hours a day, for this period the fridge was more than adequate to keep the food cool.

It does mean that one does need to have access to AC every day. In our case we had a 1000 watt Inverter and a small 1000 watt generator.

It certainly does nor meet Byron's escape pod concerns, a reasonable thought.

The dorm style fridge has advantages in that it is typically larger than many small trailer fridges though the freezers in them are useless.

The major advantage of these dorm fridges is of course cost.
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