Electric dorm frig or 3 way? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-09-2010, 10:06 AM   #1
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Electric dorm frig or 3 way?

Here is my latest debate in trying to put my 1972 Boler back together. I have decided not to put the small ice box back in because it really is about the same as a cooler. So, I talked to a guy last weekend that bought solar panels from Harbor Freight & was using them to keep his battery charged while on a non electric site. I was thinking of getting a small electric dorm frig & running it off a big marine battery & use the solar panels to keep the battery charged. The frig would be the only thing running off the battery. But by the time I buy everything I would only be saving a couple hundred dollars from buying a small 3 way frig. Has anyone tried running a small frig off a battery? Any help or input is GREATLY appreciated!!
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
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Has anyone tried running a small frig off a battery? Any help or input is GREATLY appreciated!!
I had an Igloo Thermoelectric cooler In My Compact Jr. which I thought would draw less than power a typical "Dorm Fridge".
Thermoelectric FAQs
I ran it off a group 24 battery without a charging source overnight for 8 hours as a test. When I checked it the next morning, the battery was drained so completely that it would not take a recharge and I had to dispose of it.
This was before I learned about solar.
I once looked at a House that was off the grid. They had a roof solar array (multiple hundreds of watts) and a room to hold the multiple batteries, yet they still used a propane Refrigerator so not to tax the system.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:21 PM   #3
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Peter will probably chime in soon.

My trailer already had a dorm fridge in it when I bought it. After looking at the idea of running it off the battery with an inverter and using solar cells or charging off the car or both, I decided to buy a large cooler instead. The fridge is now storage for bread, chips and similar stuff. It can be done, but from what I've read it is a challenge to implement the right plan with the right equipment so it will actually work. One needs a good bunch of rather expensive parts, and skimping will result in disappointing performance.
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:39 PM   #4
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Although there are Efficient Refrigerators available, most "Dorm" types are anything but. Usually poorly insulated & inefficient compressors. Most thermocouple refrigerators do not get cold enough & still use quite a bit of power.

Danfoss compressors are often used in boat freezers & refrigerators. They are very efficient, but also very expensive! If you want to avoid venting a propane based unit, look for a 12v that uses a Danfoss or other high efficiency compressor.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:08 PM   #5
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Thanks to all of you that have responded! You have saved me quite a bit of money in the long run. I am so thankfull that I have this forum to turn to with questions!! I am now on the hunt for either a 2 way frig or something with the Danfoss compressor. I have read the reviews on the thermocouple refrigerators & they all seem to say that they do not work very well. I will probably just keep using coolers for this year until I can save up for something that will be worth it. My many thanks again!

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Old 08-10-2010, 05:48 AM   #6
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I went through the same process for my burro. I ended up finding a rv salvage yard near me with a 3 way from a pop top for about $300. I have run it on a bench and it cools really well. This weekend, I will install the outside venting and wiring/piping and in she goes. Good luck, maybe you can come across something similar.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:09 PM   #7
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Ok, my next question is, for those of you that have a propane frig in your little camper, how much heat do you get from it. I have had a larger camper with a propane frig & didn't really notice any extra heat from it. I'm concerned about the Boler being so small that the pilot light will heat up the interior even more.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:37 PM   #8
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Ok, how much heat do you get from it.
I'm concerned about the Boler being so small that the pilot light will heat up the interior even more.
The cabinet that the fridge is in should be completely sealed on the inside, so that the workings of the fridge is isolated from the cabin interior. The lower vent (outside) is for fresh air intake, the upper one is for hot air exhaust. The cabin air shouldn't warm up appreciably from the fridge's heater, although I've heard the counter-top behind the stove can get warm to the touch.
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