12V Engel Fridge Install - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-06-2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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12V Engel Fridge Install

I just installed a 12V refrigerator in my Scamp, and I thought I'd do a quick how-to in case anyone else was thinking about it.

First off, these new 12V refrigerators are freaking amazing. They only draw 30 watts of power, yet they're cold enough to make ice on a 90 degree day. That means you can run your fridge for days on just the battery, and indefinitely if you have a medium-sized solar panel. I'm using the Engel SB70, but some comparable models are the Norcold NR751, and the Nova Kool R2600. They all use the same compressor.

Anyway, here's what I started out with.



This is the standard Scamp ice box and it's held in place by 4 rivets. Just drill them out.



Once you've drilled out of the rivets, it should just fall right out. Don't forget to pull out the drain hose.



Aaaand now I have a big hole in my galley. The ice box and the stock Dometic fridge both use the same size cutout. It's 20 3/4" tall, and 17 3/4" wide.

The Engel fridge is the same height as the ice box, but its a bit wider. We'll need to widen the opening to 18 1/2". I'm trimming the left side, since there is a wooden support glassed into the right side. I'm using painters tape to mark my line, and to protect the finish in case the saw decides to take a walk.





The best tool for this is an oscillating saw. If you've never used one, these things are pretty sweet. They cut through fiberglass like butter and they don't splinter the surface. This one was $19 at Harbor Freight.



Next come the floor supports. The old ice box was suspended in the air by 4 rivets, and its weight was supported entirely by the front of the galley. That is not going to cut it for this fridge. The fiberglass is not terribly thick here and this unit weighs 44 pounds. We need to support the weight from the bottom.

The floor of the trailer is exactly 3 inches below the cutout, so our supports need to be 3 inches high. If you take a pair of 2x4s and stack them on top of each other, they will be exactly 3 inches high. The floor supports look like this.



The fridge sits on a pair of plastic skids, so you'll want to attach your floor supports so that they line up with these skids. Once they're in, you should be able to slide the new fridge into place.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:28 PM   #2
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Part 2

Next up is the wiring. For this, I went to the auto parts store and got 2 spools of 12 gauge automotive wire - red for power, and black for ground. (The Scamp uses black for power and white for ground, but whatever.)

This refrigerator is 12V only, and we're going to wire it directly into the fuse box. Remove the 4 screws that are holding it in, and pop it out. You won't be able to pull it all the way out because there isn't much slack in the wiring, but you should be able to pull it back enough to get to the back of the fuse box.



On the back of the fuse panel, you'll see a series of screw-in connectors. Pick an empty fuse slot and connect the red wire. Don't forget to put a fuse in it later.



The ground wire screws into the back of the fuse panel as well, on this long aluminum bar. Again, just pick an empty slot and screw it in.



Next, we splice the wires into the 12V power connector on the top of the fridge.






And finally, attach the fridge to the galley. The correct fastener for this is a pop rivet, but I'm using sheet metal screws. If you're going to do it this way, YOU MUST PRE-DRILL YOUR HOLES. Fiberglass doesn't have the same amount of give as wood or metal, so if your hole is too small, you'll crack the fiberglass. Proceed with caution.




And we're done! I hope this is helpful, and if you can think of anything I missed, let me know. Thanks!

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Old 04-06-2014, 11:37 PM   #3
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Great tutorial!
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Old 04-07-2014, 12:31 AM   #4
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Nice write-up. I really like these Danfoss compressor refrigerator/freezers. When I installed our NovaKool, I went directly to the battery with an in-line fuse. The tech. I spoke with stated that the electronics of the refrigerator do not like a converter for power (what ever that means).
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:34 AM   #5
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Great job, looks good and I know you will enjoy it. Thanks for sharing the installation.
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:33 AM   #6
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Very nice installation.

I have been looking at the Engel SB 70.

What are the dimensions of the fridge? There seems to be a lot of different information on the internet as to what the Length, Width and Height are. I am mostly concerned what the depth of the fridge is from the front flange to the back of the unit.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Spanke
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:42 AM   #7
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I'm pretty sure Engle uses the swing motor compressor and not the Danfoss
Both are efficient but Engle touts the low amp startup
I have had good luck with the Danfoss in my ARB
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:16 AM   #8
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Nice, I am thinking a 12V refrigerator for my Scamp 16's future. I just last weekend ditched the old non-functioning tri-power unit for a similiarily sized 120V dorm fridge I had sitting around. We are just getting our feet wet and only camping were we have 120V so far so it is not a priority but a new converter, batteries, solar, and 12V fridge are on the horizon.

Thanks for the tip on the painter's tape and saw, I have both and am going to cut in a couple of new 120V receptacles (one inside, one outside) this week. The HF saw is a ridiculous value for the price. I bought one several years ago and liked it so much that when I came across the original high dollar Fein version for cheap at a pawn shop I jumped on it. It is an amazing tool.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Spanke View Post
Very nice installation.

I have been looking at the Engel SB 70.

What are the dimensions of the fridge? There seems to be a lot of different information on the internet as to what the Length, Width and Height are. I am mostly concerned what the depth of the fridge is from the front flange to the back of the unit.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Spanke

The cutout is 20 1/2" high and 18 1/2" wide, but you'll want the opening to be slightly larger (20 3/4" x 18 3/4") so that it's easy to slide in.

The depth from the front flange to the back of the unit is 20 3/4", which is cutting it pretty close. It slid into place just fine, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's touching the propane line from the stove. If you're worried about the depth, the NovaKool is the shallowest one I found. It's 19 3/4".
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcwhort View Post
The cutout is 20 1/2" high and 18 1/2" wide, but you'll want the opening to be slightly larger (20 3/4" x 18 3/4") so that it's easy to slide in.

The depth from the front flange to the back of the unit is 20 3/4", which is cutting it pretty close. It slid into place just fine, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's touching the propane line from the stove. If you're worried about the depth, the NovaKool is the shallowest one I found. It's 19 3/4".

Thanks You for the reply. Very helpful information.



Spanke
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:35 AM   #11
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Norcold also recommends a fused run to the house battery, for the reason David states.

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Old 04-08-2014, 09:16 AM   #12
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Nice work it looks great.

I have also used our oscillating saw for cutouts as well and it does do a good job but when I used it I didn't feel I had the same level of control I had doing the cut out as I did with the small jig saw I have. It may be due to having small hands.... not sure.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:24 AM   #13
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Wonderful idea. Well executed. Bravo!

Thanks for sharing.

What model Engel is this?
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mmeyer View Post
I'm pretty sure Engle uses the swing motor compressor and not the Danfoss
Both are efficient but Engle touts the low amp startup
I have had good luck with the Danfoss in my ARB
You're right. That is a swing motor. I bought this thing, thinking it was a Danfoss. That doesn't make me love it any less though.
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