12v cooler / deep cycle battery / 45 w solar = a paupers fridge? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-11-2011, 03:28 PM   #1
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Talking 12v cooler / deep cycle battery / 45 w solar = a paupers fridge?

could i power a 12 cooler with 45 watt solar and use it as an electric fridge. my 3 way fridge is broken and if im starting from nothing with little money would this be an option. the only appliance we need is a fridge. we have a 12v cooler. when driving it can be plugged into the lighter. when parked could i use it from one 27 deep cycle battery charged by 45 w of solar. can i run this 12 cooler (45 w) while charging the battery with solar

dumb it down.
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:50 PM   #2
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The answer is right in your question; At best you get 45 W from the panel and the cooler alone uses 45 W. That means that at high noon and perfectly aligned panel, there will be no power left to charge the battery and at all other times, the battery will be drained.
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:52 PM   #3
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In a former trailer the 3 way fridge failed and we replaced it with a 4.4 cubic foot, $120 electric. We powered it from a $59, 1200 watt inverter and a solar panel/battery when not plugged into AC.

We typically did not run the Inverter while driving unless it was a very hot day. If plugged into AC, we turn the fridge down to make it colder than normal for the drive.

Additionally we had the ability to charge our battery from the tow vehicle as we drove, useful on non-sunny days. It was a perfectly good solution.

We also mounted an "Oring lock" on the door to keep it solidly closed while driving.

The Inverter is larger than you might imagine. We started with an 800 watt but it would kick out on start up.

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Old 06-11-2011, 05:29 PM   #4
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What is wrong with your three way fridge ?

Bill K
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
can i run this 12 cooler (45 w) while charging the battery with solar

dumb it down.
Been there, done that, or rather tried to...
Failed miserably.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
Been there, done that, or rather tried to...
Failed miserably.


ty very much for the thoughts. the prev. owner had the boler for 15 years and didnt fire up the propane cause they were scared of propane. i know i need to have someone look at it and test it. what will he say? also the prev owner said they could get the fridge to work a bit plugged to shore power but that it didnt work to great. i know i have to have someone see what the propane system looks like and then decide how to proceed.

i think im into the idea of solar cause it seems cool, but also im anticipating big bills for a new 3 way and new propane lines or something but thats just fear of what is at this point, the unknown. ill keep you posted.

the use will be summer weekends and 4 weeks to go south every winter we hope.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:10 AM   #7
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I may have misunderstood what you have said, if so sorry.

I would level the fridge both ways and turn on the 120v AC power to the fridge. A couple of hours later very carefully touch the chimney and see if it is getting hot.

If it is getting hot, leave it on and check back in ten hours or even 24 hours and see if the temp inside the fridge is getting cooler.

You may or may not be able to find a manual online for your fridge.

Good Luck

Bill K


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Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
ty very much for the thoughts. the prev. owner had the boler for 15 years and didnt fire up the propane cause they were scared of propane. i know i need to have someone look at it and test it. what will he say? also the prev owner said they could get the fridge to work a bit plugged to shore power but that it didnt work to great. i know i have to have someone see what the propane system looks like and then decide how to proceed.

i think im into the idea of solar cause it seems cool, but also im anticipating big bills for a new 3 way and new propane lines or something but thats just fear of what is at this point, the unknown. ill keep you posted.

the use will be summer weekends and 4 weeks to go south every winter we hope.
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
ty very much for the thoughts. the prev. owner had the boler for 15 years and didnt fire up the propane cause they were scared of propane. i know i need to have someone look at it and test it. what will he say? also the prev owner said they could get the fridge to work a bit plugged to shore power but that it didnt work to great. i know i have to have someone see what the propane system looks like and then decide how to proceed.

i think im into the idea of solar cause it seems cool, but also im anticipating big bills for a new 3 way and new propane lines or something but thats just fear of what is at this point, the unknown. ill keep you posted.

the use will be summer weekends and 4 weeks to go south every winter we hope.

If the propane hasn't been used for years the chances are that the burner is clogged with spider webs/nests. Take it to a service shop and have them clean the burner. It will probably work ok after that.
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:38 AM   #9
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If the propane hasn't been used for years the chances are that the burner is clogged with spider webs/nests. Take it to a service shop and have them clean the burner. It will probably work ok after that.
If you have any LP distributors around you, they're likely far cheaper than an RV shop. When I called my RV place to find out how much it'd cost to bench test a used 3-way fridge I bought, they quoted me $125-150. A local LP place charged me $25 - and they let it run for 2 days to make sure it reached temp and that all was well.
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:46 AM   #10
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Lighting the fridge on mine always seems to take a bit of time if it hasnt been used in awhile. Byron is correct that if it hasnt been used for a long time it may be clogged and best to have someone clean it out at first. I know when I got mine the previous owner indicated he had never been able to keep the fridge light on propane and indicated he wasnt sure it would actually work. Turned out there was nothing wrong with mine and whether it stays light or not has to do with how you light it. First off its often hard to see the flame and you need something behind you to block the sun to see it. On mine you have to keep the pilot button on longer than the manual suggests before it will stay light - suspect it has something to do with a cold start as once the pilot has been on for a few minutes and its warm up it seems to work just fine and can be turned off and relights much faster - same story with the hot water tank.

In regards to running on electrical - my fridge takes a *long* time to cool down. If going on a trip I usually plug it in the day before at home as it can takes at least 4 hours before I can actually tell it is cooling down. I put a frozen water jug in it to help it out and put a thermometer in it just to be sure it really is working.
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Old 06-13-2011, 03:46 PM   #11
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I have discovered that if I leave the fridge running all the time it seems to work better. At home in it's little cove I plug into the house and turn the fridge on 120 and leave it on until pull out.
The only times I've had problems was when I thought I left it on and it wasn't. A spider built a nest in the burner both times. I now spray the inside of the fridge control area (which is outside on the 13') with spider spray about once a month along with keeping it on all the time, no more problems.
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Old 06-13-2011, 04:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
could i power a 12 cooler with 45 watt solar and use it as an electric fridge. my 3 way fridge is broken and if im starting from nothing with little money would this be an option. the only appliance we need is a fridge. we have a 12v cooler. when driving it can be plugged into the lighter. when parked could i use it from one 27 deep cycle battery charged by 45 w of solar. can i run this 12 cooler (45 w) while charging the battery with solar

dumb it down.
Is your cooler thermoelectric or compressor based? If it is compressor based you probably could run it from 45W solar panel with a battery. If it is thermoelectric (Peltier effect) it would most likely not, thermoelectric coolers are very inefficient.
George.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
ty very much for the thoughts. the prev. owner had the boler for 15 years and didnt fire up the propane cause they were scared of propane. i know i need to have someone look at it and test it. what will he say? also the prev owner said they could get the fridge to work a bit plugged to shore power but that it didnt work to great. i know i have to have someone see what the propane system looks like and then decide how to proceed.

i think im into the idea of solar cause it seems cool, but also im anticipating big bills for a new 3 way and new propane lines or something but thats just fear of what is at this point, the unknown. ill keep you posted.

the use will be summer weekends and 4 weeks to go south every winter we hope.
If your fridge works on any of the power sources, then the cooling unit is probably OK, which is the most difficult and expensive item. The rest you can probably fix yourself if you are handy. I did it last year on another fridge, the post describing it and resources to help is here: http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f54/trailer-fridge-now-working-properly-42642.html

As stated in another post in this topic, your fridge, since it works on propane as well as electricity, will not be one of the new compressor fridges and will probably use too much electricity to be practical for more than spot duty on a solar system.

Good luck,
Rick G.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:23 PM   #14
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Difficulty with Pilot light

All propane devices that have a pilot light are equipped with a thermocoupler. This device must be heated to the right temperature, to allow the gas to continue to feed the pilot light, and when called for, the main burner. Holding the pilot knob down (or in ) overrides the safety feature to allow the heating of the coupler. If the thermocoupler cools off, the entire gas supply shuts down. This safety feature is used in refrigerators, heaters and other intermittent use appliances.

When a propane system is idle for a lengthy period of time the line must be purged of air to get gas to the pilot system to heat up the thermocoupler. This is particularly true if the line to the bottle has been disconnected for any reason. Because the propane orifices are quite small, this can take some time.

Once the lines have been purged and the thermocoupler heated, there should not be any delay in lighting the main burner. This explains why lighting the pilot light is easier the second time !

In a 3 way refrigerator, switching from gas to electric shuts off the gas to the pilot and this cools off the thermocoupler. The switch back to gas demands that the entire pilot light process be repeated. With the lines purged, this should not be a time consuming process.

All of this works provided that there are no other obstructions like spiders in the system.

Bill ReillyPicton, Ontario
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