3-Way Fridge vs AC DC Fridge? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-13-2016, 12:16 PM   #15
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Thanks Mary. The AC DC fridges, I understand, are designed a little differently in that they are meant to run off the battery without fast depletion. They draw less power...(?)
:lout I would not count on that! Yes the newer ones do draw less power but have a couple of friends with newish so called high efficent DC fridges who would suggest they are not as efficient with DC power as they would like ... even if one has 2 6v batteries and solar ...... in a tree covered camping spot they would trade it out for a 2 way AC/Propane fridge in a New York minute. ;-)

Suspect how happy one will be with a 2 way AC DC fridge comes down to the where you plan to camp. If you only ever camp in places with little tree coverage and lots of sunshine year round, you may well be a happy camper. But if you plan to do a bit more exploring of the rest of NA you may find that at times you are not a very happy camper and if history repeats itself it will normally happen at about 2 AM when the battery low alarms start going off & your camping in a place that does not let you run a generator (if you own one) at all (becoming common) or they restrict the times you can run one.

Forgot to mention: Being in BC means you can not expect to find many provincial parks with power and you can not expect to have a clear sky coverage for solar.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:21 PM   #16
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We have just the propane/AC version of the fridge in our Scamp. For boondocking it works great with the propane and since we have two tanks we can always go fill up the empty one while leaving the full one running.
I'd be interested in one of those Novakool fridges with the Danfoss compressor if ours ever fails, but the company says it uses 4.4 amps to maintain temperature for an equivalent style to what we have now, so I would definitely want to upgrade my batteries and at least double my 90 watt solar panel to keep it running.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:24 PM   #17
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Thanks Mary. The AC DC fridges, I understand, are designed a little differently in that they are meant to run off the battery without fast depletion. They draw less power...(?)

Have you ever felt nervous running yours off propane, especially while sleeping? Glad to hear you haven't had problems with yours.

Not only is the fridge an expensive item, but also to get it installed, sealed up and certified is going to run us another $400 on top of a $900 item. We almost think it may be better to get a slightly less expensive AC DC fridge, forgo the need for certification, and instead buy a skookum Lithium battery.... decisions, decisions....
Hi, Krista. We always sleep with a window open, even in cool weather. As others have said, the fridge is vented to the outside, so should be okay. Also as others have said, you get a propane detector for inside your trailer and be sure its battery is fresh (unless it's wired into your trailer's power grid, as is the case on our current Escape).

For what it's worth, the father of a friend was asphyxiated in a trailer when we were in high school. My friend woke up in time, but could not save his dad. My understanding was it was a faulty heater, but I have no knowledge of its style, much less brand, etc.

Different subject, but, even though it is also vented to the outside, we never sleep with our furnace on. If we're boondocking, its fan uses too much power, and if we're camping with hookups, we use an electric space heater (ceramic element).
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:47 PM   #18
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My Norco swing compressor fridge draws about 4 amps when the compressor is running but it averages less than 20 watt hours (closer to 17) so it runs less than 30% of the time.

12 volt Xbox 4 Amps = 48 watts.

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Old 04-13-2016, 12:59 PM   #19
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John, the 4.4 amp/hr is what it takes while running, but remember it cycles on and off, so it actually uses less/hr. I have a meter installed and found we use around 50amps/24 hrs (All 12volt electrical use in the trailer...LEDs, TV, recharging phones/laptop, water pump, etc.). In our 13' Scamp with the NovaKool refrigerator, a single 100 watt solar panel on the front was more than enough to keep our group 27 battery topped off, even when we traveled up the pacific northwet from California to Washington, to northern Idaho, southern Colorado, and on to Michigan. The solar panel was a rigid style and moveable, while our present two 100 watt panels are flexible and perm. mounted to the trailer shell with VHB tape (without an air gap), so they do not preform as well.
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:21 PM   #20
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Propane stores more energy for less weight and space than the battery can. For extended or extensive boondock camping you can't beat a 3 way absorption fridge running off of propane. There is a reason they are pretty standard in RV's.

The 12 volt compressor refrigerators have some advantages provided you have the battery storage and ability to recharge those batteries, through solar or generator if the solar comes up short.

One thing I have not seen mentioned is that the 12v - 110v fridge is always a 12 volt compressor, they just have a transformer built in that automatically cuts in when AC power is present.

For 12 volt compressor fridge it really is a math problem on how much power you use, which determines how much you need to put back. Battery capacity sufficient to provide x number of days worth of your use as buffer if for some reason you can't recharge.

Also sort of makes a difference how much cold stuff that requires the refrigerator you normally take. Small fridge with a bit of meat in the freezer and some condiments can switch to a cooler pretty easily if you had too many days of rain/clouds in a row and had to conserve batteries.

Just make sure you have an on/off switch on the 12 volt line. With door closed it can stay cold for a good while even without power.
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:31 PM   #21
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My $.02 worth. I tow with a GMC K3500 diesel. It has no trouble keeping the refrigerator running and all connected batteries charged while towing. I don't even bother disconnecting or switching to propane while parked for under an hour. I am happy with my 3 way fridge.
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:59 PM   #22
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All these amps and watts and such, but nobody seems to mention the size of the fridge they are talking about.
Mine is a 5 cu. ft. two-way ( 120V / propane ) and it does a fine job under all conditions.
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:47 PM   #23
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I don't know any of those beer brands, but I like your fridge priorities!

I should get one of those half shelves so I can fit taller bottles in my fridge, too...
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:51 PM   #24
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Tim...did you go with a portable solar panel or fixed? We too are thinking of going this route so our propane is limited to just the stove. Do you find it works well in keeping your battery topped up? We live in the (oftentimes rainy and cloudy) pacific northwest...but considering we'll mostly be camping in summer seasons, we hope the solar will be worthwhile investment.
I have not used solar in an actual camping situation yet. I have only played with it in the backyard. I plan on mounting two 100W panels on the roof and keep a third 100W panel for portable use if required or desired. I have done weekend camping trips, 2+ days/nights, and without any recharge at all my 220AH battery bank (two 6V Golf Cart batteries) easily stayed above 50% running the fridge, my CPAP machine at night, and a few LED lights.

The Truckfridge was a personal choice due to the seamless nature of operation once installed. I turn it on at home (trailer plugged in) a day before leaving on a trip to cool down. Under way the truck mostly keeps up with the fridge's power use so we arrive at camp still pretty close to full charge. I think solar will keep up with all my electrical needs but if it does not then I have backup, a swell little Honda genny.. As to the concern about running out of power in the wee, dark hours and loosing an electric fridge; well all I can say is if a camper can not plan any better than that they would probably run out of propane too!


And since Glenn asked, the TF-130 is 4.2 CF. It is actually a little big for our purposes.
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:53 PM   #25
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All these amps and watts and such, but nobody seems to mention the size of the fridge they are talking about.
Mine is a 5 cu. ft. two-way ( 120V / propane ) and it does a fine job under all conditions.
Beer and Smoked Salmon? what more does a guy need in his fridge? :lout

Zach is correct though - the cut out is for tall bottles of WINE!!!
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Old 04-13-2016, 05:26 PM   #26
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My $.02 worth. I tow with a GMC K3500 diesel. It has no trouble keeping the refrigerator running and all connected batteries charged while towing. I don't even bother disconnecting or switching to propane while parked for under an hour. I am happy with my 3 way fridge.
Need to have an alternator capable of dealing with the load the fridge puts on the system. Some vehicles such as yours do and some don't and some vehicles you can upgrade alternator if desired or required. Our Ford Escape alternators range from ~130 amp to ~240 amp. That large one would have no problem the smallest one? Maybe not going to work.

Absorption fridge running on 12 volt uses an electric heating element. Heating element does draw enough power that if the alternator is not up to it the house battery will end up discharged even while driving down the road. Possibly even the vehicle battery will end up getting drawn down, depending on how TV charging is tied into trailer house power. A 12 volt compressor type fridge draws less so less of an issue.

Not to start up an old argument but a lot of folks just run the froidge on propane while driving or some shut it off and figure it will stay cool during a days driving. Debate over running with propane on is really pointless because folks do what they feel is comfortable. Not going to change any minds one way or the other.

Seems like getting this electric load and charging right involve way too much math or one just over engineers to build in a good cushion. Three 100 watt solar panels and a couple of golf cart batteries provide a nice cushion in case of any "rounding errors"
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Old 04-13-2016, 05:45 PM   #27
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Much of this discussion revolves around camping without hook ups. If one camps where AC is available most of the time, then a "dorm" fridge provides an inexpensive solution with a ice chest back up for the occasional off grid adventure.

Comparing the cost of a 3 way propane fridge vs a RV compressor fridge with the additional batteries, solar, and/ or generator I suspect the propane fridge is cheaper. Then again, a Coleman cooler might look pretty good even including the cost of ice. Raz
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Old 04-13-2016, 06:22 PM   #28
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Raz raises a good point, in most cases it just needs to keep some stuff cool and it only has to work in your type of camping. Scamp still sells ice boxes that fit in the small fridge space. Members have reported that by adding insulation around the back and sides when the installed it they can get 4 days from a block of ice.


We have a working fridge but mostly just use cooler for beverages and another for food. Find being able to set cooler outside where we are preparing food works well for us. We cook outside. In bad weather we just snack and eat light meals... or head to a restaurant, that works too. Been awhile since we spent a week out in the woods too far to go pick up ice.
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