icebox out frig in? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-23-2015, 01:56 PM   #1
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Name: Sabrina
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icebox out frig in?

has anyone swapped out the icebox for a 3 way frig?
i have a 2003 13' scamp... wondering what the pit falls
are. and any good heads ups you might have. if i was
anywhere near SCAMP i would have them do it.. alas
i'm in northern california. thanks for any help.
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:16 PM   #2
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Welcome to the group Sabrina
And what do you mean by "alas I'm in northern California." Just by be being in CA you are in RV heaven.


About your question. Installing an LP refrigerator where a icebox once lived is a major project. Not only do you have to make it fit from inside, but you have to add outside vents and baffles as well as get LP gas to it. The good news is that it may be fairly easy to find someone in your area with a 13' Scamp that already has a refrigerator to scope out the work and parts needed.


Somewhere back a few months ago someone quoted that Camping World charged about $1600 to do the job and about 1/2 of that was labor. Where in Northern California are you located? There may be a service source near you that can help. I know that there is a good one in Fortuna if you are that far north.
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:20 PM   #3
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Sabrina, it can be done, but it does require quite a bit of work. You will have to make an opening in the side of the Scamp behind where the refrigerator coils will be, and then later seal the back of the refrigerator to the outside walls and apply venting for cooling the coils. You will need to run 110 volt outlet in that area for the fridge to plug into, along with copper tubing for your propane line, and 12 volt wiring for 12 volt operating.
I had changed out our 3 way refrigerator in our 13' Scamp, and now in our Lil Snoozy to a Danfoss compressor style 12 volt only refrigerator. It only requires a 12 volt line, and no outside venting. The heat given off is negligible, as the coils are only 6"x6" on our Truckfridge. If you are going to be camping off the grid for more than a weekend, then you will need a generator or around a 100 watt solar panel to keep your battery charged. Best wishes with whatever route you decide on.
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:45 PM   #4
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I'm in the opposite camp....

if my fridge (which is quite oversized for my trailer BTW) ever gave up the ghost....I'd be inclined to custom build an ice box for my trailer...

conditions vary of course....availability and cost of ice....and ambient heat most of the time (if you parked in the desert you could certainly buy and have enough solar to counteract the excess heat I guess)

given the expense and time of going with a three way fridge (LARGE!)....I'd seriously consider building a super-duper insulated ice box for your trailer....you'd be surprised at how long ice can last in a very well insulated and designed ice box (coolers bought on the shelf are junk)

I lived with ice boxes in boats for years....they work.....work well enough for you/your usage?.....that I dunno......good luck
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Old 04-23-2015, 06:33 PM   #5
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We had a 3 way fridge fail and replaced it with a compressor type. It worked great had a larger capacity and cost less. Three way fridges are really marginal devices, don't work well when most needed (super hot weather) and never work well on straight 12 volts.

If I had to replace ours it ouldl be a compressor based fridge.
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Old 04-23-2015, 11:04 PM   #6
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Name: Sabrina
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I do not know if this is how to respond to the posts, will try it.

This is all fantastic info! Thank you all for taking the time to respond...
I love this site.

These are my ? In response to some of y'all's posts.
Why did you remove the 3way frig for the 12v only.
What is a compressor type frig? What powers the compressor?


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Old 04-24-2015, 07:29 AM   #7
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When 3 way fridges fail it's often the cooling circuit that fails. As it's not really repairable so you often have to replace the entire unit.


Compressor refrigerators are like what you have at home. RV units are available that run on 12 volts from the converter/battery. Some owners have opted to install small "Dorm" type refrigerators that run on 120VAC via the shore power and/or by using an inverter and powering from the battery.


In both cases you have to be aware of battery charge and off-line use can sometimes be limited by power availability.
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Old 04-24-2015, 09:35 AM   #8
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Name: Sabrina
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Sooooo.....sounds like propane is the way to go as frig will run for a week maybe too on a tank.
Yes will have to seal off the frig from the rest of the trailer. Cur in vents/access tie into propane
Which is already there with the cook top and furnace. Possibly take the furnace line and use it.
None of this seems overwhelming. In theory !!!

That said... Has any one got one of the colman power chill units? Does it work for a few days on the 12v.? At the $179 it may be worth trying out before I rip into the fiberglass!

Thank you for your continued input.


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Old 04-24-2015, 10:03 AM   #9
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Do you dry camp [out in the boonies], or do you camp where you have power? Also, do you camp for a few days, or do you go for extended camping, say a week or more? If you camp where you have power then the simplest thing to do is get a small counter top electrical fridge to install. If you dry camp then you would need a propane powered fridge. Many of the newer RV fridges are propane operated, but require 12 volts DC for the control panel, and to ignite the propane. many older propane fridges operated with a propane pilot light that did not need 12 volts to control or to ignite the flame. This is something to watch out for. Installing a newer fridge will be quite a bit of work, and the 12 volt requirement will drain your batteries with time. The Coleman coolers would work, but there again, you have to maintain your batteries. Also, the Coleman coolers will not make ice, and probably won't keep things frozen for very long. If you tend to camp only for a few days you best bet may be to simply build a very well insulated ice box, as suggested by Franswa.

Gerry
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:05 AM   #10
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I was in the same boat. I had a scamp with a small ice box and replaced it with a 2 way (12V/120V) compressor fridge. The overriding reason for me was I didn't want to cut holes in the fiberglass exterior. I like the "clean" look. But we do only short off the grid camping so it works out pretty well.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:12 AM   #11
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3 way RV refrigerators use heat to move and pressurize the refrigerant. Compressor types use an electric compressor, essentially an electric motor.

The compressors can be 12 volt electric motors or 110 volt electric motors. The 12 volt motors tend to use much less power since they are designed to be run off of batteries. The are still a fairly heavy drain on the battery, thus the suggestion that one would need about a 100 watt solar set up to keep from running the battery down if parking without shore power to plug into.

Some of the 12 volt compressor refrigerators have a transformer built in so they switch to running off of that rather than the battery if you are plugged into power. They have a plug and 12 volt line.

3-way RV refrigerators have one huge advantage. They can run for a long time on the 20 lb. propane tank as in many days. The burner is about the size of my thumbnail and uses very little propane. BUT that burner is in the same space behind the refrigerator as the coils that are trying to get rid of heat, that is why there needs to be lots of ventilation in the shell behind the refrigerator.

All any refrigerator system does is move heat from inside the box to outside the box to where the heat can dissipate. If the outside air is hot then the coils do not dissipate as well so some ventilation is needed for efficiency. One way to look at this is there is a maximum temperature differential that can be maintained. If it is 95 degrees outside and the fridge can maintain a 65 degree difference you can have ice.

Compressor type refrigerators can by using more power maintain a differential in hotter conditions. A propane absorption refrigerator has a more limited speed of moving heat, it takes them several hours to get cold and longer to recover if you leave the door open. They run slow and steady. On battery alone they will run down the battery, the 12 volt is really more to allow running while hooked up to the tow vehicle charging as you travel. Allows you to turn off propane when driving.

On the ice box enhancement I know there was at least one member that was getting 4 days off of a block of ice after essentially pulling the ice box out and duct taping insulating foam panels on the top sides and back then sliding it back in.

Some folks have used the 12 volt thermoelectric coolers but I think they are limited to maintaining about a 40 degree temperature differential. On a 95 degree day that means the inside is 55 degrees. And they draw a fair amount of power. Why I have never tried one. Maybe someone that has will weigh in.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:18 AM   #12
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While on the subject of RV fridges I just thought that I would pass along a warning to those of you who have a newer fridge. Some of the newer fridges have a 12 volt supplied heater that heats the area around the freezer door seal. I suppose this is to prevent the door from sticking frozen shut if the humidity is high. The problem with this is that if it is switched on it operates continuously, and can deplete your 12 volt batteries in a couple of days. Check your owners manual to see if you have this feature. On my Dometic fridge the switch is located in the freezer compartment, just inside the door, in the top door frame. It is a little slide switch that is marked with an on and off position. Switching it off will increase your battery life.

Gerry
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:24 AM   #13
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I have uses a peltier cooler, like the Coleman cooler mentioned. It works well, in the tow vehicle, while traveling. It is nice to have cool beverages, and sandwiches while on the road. Ours sits between the front seats of our van. It is way too power hungry for use while camping. We even unplug it when we stop for gas and such.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:48 AM   #14
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Sabrina, we turn our 12 volt only refrigerator (Danfoss style compressor) on prior to leaving, and use it continuously for 5 months, while rarely ever being plugged into shore power. Our solar panel keeps our battery charged up each day, as our consumption of power is around 40 wattts/day (the refrigerator makes up 30 watts of that 40 watts). I chose the compressor refrigerator as we live in the Phoenix area, and never could get the 3 way to work to my satisfaction (tried everything that had ever been posted on this subject in FGRV). We do however do most of our camping in Colorado, Michigan, and the wet coast (although for the last 3 trips on the west coast for a month at a time, we never had rain). If you only camp for a couple days at a time, I would super insulate the icebox and use dry ice, block ice, or frozen 1 gallon water jugs for our cooling needs.
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