Changing from a Ice-Box to 3 or 2-way Refrigerator - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-22-2014, 11:22 AM   #1
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Changing from a Ice-Box to 3 or 2-way Refrigerator

The compact 11 that I am thinking of buying has had a dorm 110-volt refrigerator installed in place of the original ice-box. For my use a 110-volt refrigerator is useless! The old ice-box would be better!

To install a 2 or 3-way refrigerator I know that there will have to be a LP gas line ran to the ice-box compartment. Plus, there will have to be two new outside vents installed. One large opening vent, and one smaller vent for the top.

Has anyone here installed or had installed, a 110-volt/LP gas refrigerator in a ice-box compartment? If so, would you mid telling me about what it cost, and what problems you incountered?

i'm trying to determine how much I'm going to have to spend to make this trailer suitable for my needs.

Thanks for your help...

Bill Nolen
Oklahoma City
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:55 AM   #2
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Bill, I will not comment on adding a propance refrigerator as I do not know and in fact have taken mine out (along with the rest of the propane appliances). My suggestion is for you to take a serious look at the 12V compressor refrigerators. They have come a long way and it is my understanding that you have to have 12v hooked up to a propane refrigerator anyway. I am moving toward a 12V only refrigerator soon, along with a larger battery bank and solar system. Yes, it is not cheap and can get pretty involved but may be something that fits your needs. I believe it will work for me.
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Old 07-22-2014, 01:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Timber Wolf View Post
Bill, I will not comment on adding a propance refrigerator as I do not know and in fact have taken mine out (along with the rest of the propane appliances). My suggestion is for you to take a serious look at the 12V compressor refrigerators. They have come a long way and it is my understanding that you have to have 12v hooked up to a propane refrigerator anyway. I am moving toward a 12V only refrigerator soon, along with a larger battery bank and solar system. Yes, it is not cheap and can get pretty involved but may be something that fits your needs. I believe it will work for me.
Thanks Timber Wolf for your comments. (i've always wanted to have a conversation with a Timber Wolf!)

I'm afraid that the cost of a 12-volt refrigerator and support system is much too costly for the type of use I have planned for the trailer.

I've got to keep everything as simple...and inexpensive as possible.

Bill Nolen
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:33 PM   #4
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A new 12V refrigerator is not going to be much if any more expensive than a new 3 way. You will need to upgrade the batteries in order to have any boondocking ability with the12v though. For now I am running a 120V dorm fridge and just camping where there is power or only going for a couple of nights and using a cooler filled with ice. Next year, when I get the Scamp paid for, I am going to buy and install a 12v refrigerator and dual 6V batteries. In the meantime I did buy a starter solar system and will be playing with it so it will be ready when the time comes.
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:35 PM   #5
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A new 12V refrigerator is not going to be much if any more expensive than a new 3 way. You will need to upgrade the batteries in order to have any boondocking ability with the12v though. For now I am running a 120V dorm fridge and just camping where there is power or only going for a couple of nights and using a cooler filled with ice. Next year, when I get the Scamp paid for, I am going to buy and install a 12v refrigerator and dual 6V batteries. In the meantime I did buy a starter solar system and will be playing with it so it will be ready when the time comes.
If you actually will be spending weeks, and perhaps months living in your RV off the beaten path, then I'd agree that 12-volt might be a good way to go.

However, if you, like most adults who have to work at a 40-hour job, can only use your RV for a weekend getaway, and for a two or three week vacation a year, then I do question the need to go to a total 12-volt system.

My wife and I spent two years living in our RV. Months at a time were spent on BLM desert land with no water nor electric power. I had installed two 75 watt solar panels, for 150 watts of solar power, and a controller, and four 6-volt Golf Cart batteries. Even with this solar system,there were times I could have used more watt power.

Many of the RV's parked in the California BLM desert have many more panels...anywhere from 6 to 12 large 75 or 150 watt solar panels. Why so many? Who knows...maybe they had a 12-volt refridgerator?

My solar system cost about $500 plus another $300 for the batteries. Just keep in mind that these 6-volt batteries require maintance, and will go bad and need replacing. In fact, the less you use them, I've found the sooner they need replacement.

And remember, there will be rainy and cloudy days when the solar panels will be producing on a fraction of their rated output! Of course, you could always hook up you auto and charge the batteries that way!

Best of luck with your solar system...

Bill Nolen
OKC
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:52 PM   #6
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I think you're on the right track to put in a propane/electric fridge. I have a 3 way that is never used on 12 volt. We spend 3 to 4 months off the grid at a time every year, with propane running the fridge. I also have a solar panel that I have to drag out about every 3 to 4 days, depending on how cold it and how much I run the furnace.
That said a 3 way fridge is pretty expensive to buy new, however you might be able to get one from our propane phobic friends that's been removed, but still in good shape.
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Old 07-23-2014, 02:21 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=Bill Nolen;471901]If you, like most adults who have to work at a 40-hour job, can only use your RV for a weekend getaway, and for a two or three week vacation a year, then I do question the need to go to a total 12-volt system.

Agreed, going 12V was a personal decision on my part to remove 26 year old propane appliances (some non-functioning and all questionable) and to replace them with something different/better, newer/etc. with a view toward eventuall full/long-timing.

Just keep in mind that these 6-volt batteries require maintance, and will go bad and need replacing. In fact, the less you use them, I've found the sooner they need replacement.

Agreed, and this is my quandary, how to integrate Solar into my day to day life. It is pretty big depreciating investment to be sitting around for the “occasional” camping foray. Occasional as in until I retire that is!

And remember, there will be rainy and cloudy days when the solar panels will be producing on a fraction of their rated output! Of course, you could always hook up your auto and charge the batteries that way!

Agreed, and that is why I am hedging my bet with a small generator (already owned for other purposes), at least until my system is "proven".

Bill Nolen
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:01 PM   #8
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I believe if you get one with "manual" controls there is no need for 12 volts.

I just did a quick and found these three.
LP Gas Refrigerator - Norcold 323 on sale - PPL Motor Homes

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Old 07-23-2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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I am with Byron, when off the beaten track I never use the 12v option on my fridge, as I like to save the power for other options such as heat. Have solar but it can't be counted on to keep up in all the locations and times of year I camp as the propane option can be.

Have a couple of friends with new trailers that came with 12v only option for their fridges and its been discussed many times that they wish the trailer had come with a propane option on the fridge as their old trailers did. We usually have this discussion early in the morning when they have gotten up and discovered they are out of power due to lack of sunlight for the solar the day before & the need for heat during the night and the lack of a generator due to their desire not to have to lug one around, along with the gas that goes with it.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:00 PM   #10
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Thanks Byron, Tim and Joe, for your replies.

I actually like solor useage. I have a 5 watt solor panel that charges the battery that powers my gate opener.

One of my neighbors just had at least 20 large solar panels installed on his roof of his home. I believe he is hoping to convert that to 110 volts, and even sell the extra power to our local electrical company.

Problem is that the local electrical company is trying to get the state to allow them to charge people extra who has a wind or solor system installed at their homes or businesses!

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Old 07-23-2014, 05:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timber Wolf View Post
Bill, I will not comment on adding a propance refrigerator as I do not know and in fact have taken mine out (along with the rest of the propane appliances). My suggestion is for you to take a serious look at the 12V compressor refrigerators. They have come a long way and it is my understanding that you have to have 12v hooked up to a propane refrigerator anyway. I am moving toward a 12V only refrigerator soon, along with a larger battery bank and solar system. Yes, it is not cheap and can get pretty involved but may be something that fits your needs. I believe it will work for me.
Yes! First of all I rarely go with a campground hookup and boondock most of the time so I have 2 95 watt solar panels, 4 6 volt batteries and my 3 way refrigerator does not preform in hot weather. I may pull it out someday and put in a 12 volt compressor model. I believe this is the best performing refrigerator option for RVs now.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by hotfishtacos View Post
Yes! First of all I rarely go with a campground hookup and boondock most of the time so I have 2 95 watt solar panels, 4 6 volt batteries and my 3 way refrigerator does not preform in hot weather. I may pull it out someday and put in a 12 volt compressor model. I believe this is the best performing refrigerator option for RVs now.

This could be over kill and a weight penalty for smaller trailers. I stay away from campgrounds with powerboxes. My current system is 3 way fridge running on propane, furnace that requires some battery when running. LED lights, on group 24 (74 to 80 amp hour) battery, one 65 Watt solar panel. Depending on the time of the year I can go from about 4 days to almost a month with just the charge supplied from the tow getting to my camping spot, then the same amount of time after a day of solar charging with full sun. In the summer time I have to refill the propane about once every 30+ days of camping, when the furnace is running it can be between 4 days in 5° weather to 2+ weeks in lows of close to freezing.

One has to remember we're camping in a 13' Scamp, reasonable insulation, and not a lot of volume to heat. No extras like water pump, water heater, television, DVD player, etc. We do carry a couple net book computers that are easily recharged from the tow battery, or the ham radio battery (another small battery, 50 amp hour gel cell).

There are less costly ways than a lot of solar and a lot of battery.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:39 PM   #13
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I don't have the money...or more correctly...I don't wish to spend very much money on any type of refrigerator!

So back to my orginial question....has anyone installed a LP/110 volt refrigerator in an Ice-box compartment? And if so, how much did it cost you?

Is $700 for a new unit in the ball park? would $300 for a used unit be in the ball park.

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far.

Bill Nolen
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:50 PM   #14
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Why not consider reverting to the ice box? We have an ice box which keeps a block of ice for about 3 days in hot weather, more in cool weather. Most places we camp we find ice. We are in the market for a high-end cooler that is super insulated to use in addition to our icebox. True, the block of ice takes up a "hunk" of room in the icebox/cooler which is also a consideration. Basically, we are happy with the icebox as it is simple and requires NO maintenance. Good luck with your choice.

BTW (by the way) do RV refrigerators make ANY noise? I am a light sleeper.
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