Fridge not working; 12V replacement? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-13-2011, 07:14 PM   #15
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The small 3-way refrigerators do not use any voltage on propane, it is just a matter of turning the frig. manually over to propane and hitting the ignitor. Now the larger refrigerators with the automatic switch do require 12 volt for the circuitry that senses the loss of power and automatically switchs the frig from 120 to propane. The 12 volt heating element in the smaller 3-way refrigerators is pretty much a dead short on your 12 volt system. Not only will they drain a fully charged deep cycle battery on your camper, but if the plug in is connected to your tow vehicle, it can pull the battery dead on it also if sitting for an extended period of time. Basically the 12 volt option is pretty much useless except for emergency use while going to buy more propane. IMO
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:49 PM   #16
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I think the 12v option is for enoute, being towed and being charged by the tv, since it is frowned upon for propane use while being towed.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:17 PM   #17
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Yes I was But, I think the propane still draws a little current for the circuitry, albeit miniscule.
Jim, our 3-way was only hooked up as a two way, propane and 120v. There was no connection to the battery and it worked well in both modes. With no 120V service and no connection to the 12V system it really cooled well on propane. So, IMHO, no draw.

I hooked it up to the 12v system just 'cause and now I never use it in 12v mode except, occasionally, as stated above while towing.

I considered swapping it for a compressor fridge but decided not to - we do a lot of boondocking and really like the propane option, don't have to risk a dead battery due to any charging issues - generator malfunction or cloudy days for the solar. The three way is a little more expensive but is a real CYA system.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:30 AM   #18
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I just pulled our old 3-way out and installed an Engel 12v only fridge in our 13' Scamp. Nice thing was the depth of the new fridge was perfect, I had to make the front hole a bit smaller though. The upside is this fridge will draw only 3 amps max. I am told if it is hot out it will run half the time. So just over 30 amps per day. I have 2 40watt solar panels, 110 charger and will have tow vehicle charging. I am installing 2 6v golf cart batteries so if they are fully charged, even without any sun or other charging I should be able to go about 3 days. The new fridge is also much larger inside than the old 3-way. Nice thing with this system is that I can go away for a couple of days and leave the fridge on (or longer if sunny or plugged in), I probably would not feel very comfortable leaving a propane fridge going. Oh, and a new 3-way will not fit the older Scamps without increasing the depth of the cabinet.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:00 PM   #19
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Thanks Evergreen. I'd appreciate more information please; model, price, vendor... I Googled 'Engel 12v' and just got coolers. 30 Ah a day sounds great.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:17 PM   #20
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Hi Barrie, here it is on Amazon Amazon.com: Engel SB70F Built-in DC Fridge Freezer: Electronics. I got it from another vendor, can't remember which now but it was $650 including shipping. Not cheap but once you stray from 110v nothing is. I chose this fridge for a couple of reasons, I am a cruising sailor and live on 12v full time so I am used to it. I have also met a lot of cruisers that use the chest style Engels and all I have heard is how great they are and how little power they draw. It also makes things simple when we connect the tow vehicle, just plug in and the fridge is powered, don't have to remember to switch the propane off (learned this sailing, make things as simple day to day as possible).The chest and the SB70 use the same compressor which is very efficient so I am hoping that it will prove to be a good decision. This unit does not need the outside vent panel so I removed that from our camper and fiberglassed the hole (we are painting once the fiberglass work is done). I'll let the board know when we fully test it this summer in our 3 month road trip . If you have any specific questions about our setup just let me know. I would not though try to use a single deep cycle battery, which is why I am going to 2 6v golf cart batteries.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:22 PM   #21
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I have another question. I understand you can actually do a lot of harm to a propane fridge if it is not quite level when operating. Is the compressor style that operates on 12v/120v just as sensitive to level? If I can run the fridge/charge the batteries while driving it would be an attractive alternative to propane.
Thanks,
Barrie
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:35 PM   #22
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Hi again, I can not answer this 100% but since people use these compressors on a sailboat that can crash over large waves and be at a 30 degree angle (done that myself leaving Bermuda heading to the Virgin Islands) I think they are OK and I plan on leaving ours on 24/7 all summer. I do know that the absorption fridges are used in some catamarans and power boats since they do not heel over, though they are not that popular. Sorry about all the sailing stuff but I have been sailing a lot longer than RV'ing.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:50 PM   #23
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Hi again, I can not answer this 100% but since people use these compressors on a sailboat that can crash over large waves and be at a 30 degree angle (done that myself leaving Bermuda heading to the Virgin Islands) I think they are OK and I plan on leaving ours on 24/7 all summer. I do know that the absorption fridges are used in some catamarans and power boats since they do not heel over, though they are not that popular. Sorry about all the sailing stuff but I have been sailing a lot longer than RV'ing.
Ahhh... yes, the last time I sailed from Bermuda to the Virgin Islands I forgot to take the fridge... . I wish. Thanks for the info!
Barrie
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:11 PM   #24
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Hi Barrie,

I wanted to throw in a few comments on this. As you noted in one of your earlier posts, there are two different types of fridges for RVs. The 3 way type (110V/12V/propane) are absorption fridges that work by boiling and circulating an ammonia chemical mixture. They need to be kept relatively level when parked (not when travelling) so that the mixture can circulate well through the small tubes. They work the same on all three power sources, by boiling the chemical, which requires heat. When running on electricity, they still work by heat, which requires a fair bit of power. My little Boler fridge had a 75 watt electric heater, and that was small. My current 1980 Dometic RM211 fridge is rated at 95 watts on the heater, and many are over 100 watts. That means your 12V battery would be drawing down somewhere between 7 and 12 amps, depending on the particular fridge. This will draw your battery down fairly quickly. However, the absorption fridge is the only type that can use propane, so that is why they remain popular. Once they reach the desired temperature the thermostat kicks in and out, which mitigates the power usage somewhat.

The other type is the compressor type, similar in theory to your home fridge. They generally are much better for power, anywhere from 25 to 50 watts depending on the size and manufacturer. So, your battery would only draw 2 - 4 amps, more or less, a much better power figure. They cannot use propane, only electricity.

If you had a low power compressor-type fridge, and given that a standard 1156 or 1141 incandescent 12V light bulb draws 1.4 amps, if you replace all of your interior light bulbs with LEDs you could almost run the fridge “for free”, that is without using any more power than you currently use for the light bulbs. That is a bit of an exaggeration because the fridge runs more often than lights in the daytime, but not much of an exaggeration.

Some time ago I did a 3-way fridge troubleshooting post, found here http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f54/trailer-fridge-now-working-properly-42642.html#post214197 , and I am currently working on LED interior lights, found here: http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f51/group-buy-of-leds-to-replace-incandescent-bulbs-44944-3.html#post239747

Hope that helps,
Rick G
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:32 PM   #25
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Thanks Rick. I appreciate the info. You reminded me of the traveling issue. Last year I took a few long trips with the 'egg'; New Brunswick to northern Ontario and another to Florida. I traveled somewhere just about every week last summer for 3-4 days. While I hope to travel less and park more this summer I know I will take a few long trips, such as to 'egg' gatherings, that will involve many hours on the road. The propane will work well when stopped but not when driving. If any of the 3 way units draws a lot of 12v power I'm concerned about getting stranded with a dead battery. Last spring I took a 7,000 mile, 25 state loop trip (not towing...) At 1:00 am one night I stopped in Ohio for gas and the car wouldn't start; dead battery. I had a 12v cooler with me that was the culprit. (I'm sure the battery was weak when I left...) Once burned, twice shy. I don't need a freezer and I want to ensure everything stays cool while traveling. The time between stops can be many hours. Mind you, if the majority of fellow 'eggers' have the 3 way they must be practical... Ahhh. What to do.
I have already switched all my lights over to LED.
Thanks again.
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:58 PM   #26
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I am not sure why your propane would not work while driving. Although some people feel that it is unsafe to drive with propane going in case of an accident, I have always run the fridge on propane while driving, unless it is just a short trip and the fridge would stay cold anyway. I had some issues with the burner flame being blown out while driving, but solved that by placing a wind shield around the burner, which stopped the wind but still kept the access to fresh air.

On the other hand, your car alternator should be able to (barely) keep up with the fridge if you run on battery. A typical car alternator is in the range of 30 (very old) to 50 - 70 amps, about 80% of which is used to run the vehicle. That doesn’t leave much for charging a trailer battery or running a fridge. Especially since standard tail/turn/stop lights use a few (2 - 4) amps each and incandescent side markers are at least an amp each. So, again, if you have LED exterior lights on your trailer, you would likely be able to run a fridge without cutting into your car battery charge very much or at all. If you find that you are depleting your car battery, you could run the fridge in segments. It is a good idea to stop every so often while driving anyway for a break, and you could just turn the fridge off and on each time. That would allow your car battery to charge up again if it needed to. But many people do not find that depleting the car battery is an issue, it all depends on how much capacity your alternator has left over after running the vehicle, and how much of a load your trailer puts on it.

Some people get bigger alternators installed, but the odds are good that you wouldn’t need to do that.

Rick G
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:01 PM   #27
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Barrie,
What kind of problem do you have with propane while driving ?

The reason I ask is I have used propane while driving and it worked fine.

Bill K
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:10 PM   #28
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Barrie,
What kind of problem do you have with propane while driving ?

The reason I ask is I have used propane while driving and it worked fine.

Bill K
Hmmm. No problem with driving with propane except my perception. I incorrectly assumed it couldn't/shouldn't be done. If the propane will work while driving it should be the solution to my problem.
Thanks for the assurance.
Cheers,
Barrie
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