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


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Old 04-13-2016, 12:00 AM   #1
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Name: KRISTA
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3-Way Fridge vs AC DC Fridge?

We are on the fence about what kind of replacement fridge to put in our 1973 Trillium 1300. From our research, the 3-way fridges are prone to problems, and given the cost we're not sure if it is worth it ($900 new). Or we could get an AC DC Fridge and forgo the propane (which makes us nervous anyway) and just use the electric and battery (or a block of ice) instead. Any opinions or suggestions is appreciated. Thanks,
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:36 AM   #2
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We use ours on either 110 (when we have hookups) or propane (when we don't), but never on 12 v (because of battery depletion). Some people swear they actually work best on propane, which was our experience with the Dometic Americana in our 1999 Casita.
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:04 AM   #3
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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....
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krista View Post
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....
AC DC refers aren't any different than a 3 way unit, they just get their heat from a different source, the cooling is the same. A standard RV refer, Domectic for an example is not the same as say a Truckfridge (? sp) for 12volt usage. The standard ones will draw a lot of power, just how it is. Most tow vehicles can not keep up with the power draw for them. The refer is probably the most expensive item in most RVs. I've had many RVs, all standard refers and a number of them had 3 way power sources. I've never used the 12v on any. If I had to replace one I always bought a 2 way, LP/110. The use of LP is kind of a touchy subject here by some folks for whatever reason and I'm not going to comment on that. To answer your question of being nervous of using an LP refer, not at all. It's vented to the outside. I would be more concerned about the wall heater but that's where your LP monitor comes in. I, like all RVers I know, also travel with the refer running on LP (there's one of the touchy comments) with no problems. I will say that the few times I've ever heard of an LP mishap on the road was when the water heater was left on. The flame on the heater is huge during heating. While traveling down the road the flame was sucked to the outside and caught the wall on fire....not a good ending.
Bottom line, you have to be comfortable with whatever you decide is best for you to enjoy your TT.
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:25 AM   #5
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I had replaced our Dometic 3 way absorption refrigerator in our 13' Scamp with a NovaKool (made in Canada) 12 volt only danfoss compressor refrigerator. I liked it so much that when we changed trailers, I had another danfoss style refrigerator by Truckfridge installed in our Lil Snoozy. These don't require venting to the outside, cool very fast, do not have to be level, wind has nothing to blow out nor do spiders build nests in them, and they cost less than the 3 ways. If you usually camp off the grid, you will need to used a generator or solar to keep your battery toped off, as they will draw around 35-40 amp/24hrs. Best of luck with which ever type of refrigerator you go with.
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Old 04-13-2016, 06:27 AM   #6
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I agree with Dave and Paula. You cant go wrong with a Truckfridge.
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Old 04-13-2016, 07:33 AM   #7
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The backside systems ("workings") can be replaced on most propane fridges without replacing the whole fridge. Usually $300-$400 depending on your brand/model.

RVCOOL.COM - Supplier of replacement Cooling Units for Norcold and Dometic RV Refrigerators since 1994. We build brand new aftermarket cooling units as well as our industry leading remanufactured cooling units for Norcold and Dometic rv refrigerators
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:43 AM   #8
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Keep one important thing in mind if you do decide to run your fridge on DC. You must have two batteries. One for the trailer, and one for the tow vehicle. And, you must have an isolator, so that if your fridge draws down the trailer battery it will not also drain down your tow vehicle battery.

Personally, I have a two way fridge, 110 and propane, and have had very few issues with it. As long as the fridge is properly vented there is very little safety issue.

Also, as pointed out, you can replace the fridge workings.
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:50 AM   #9
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I installed a DC only Truckfridge in my old Scamp as part of making it suit my tastes and style of camping. I knew this would mean an upgrade of batteries and adding solar, both of which I wanted to do anyway (I need reliable electricity for other things as well). In the end you pays your money and makes your choices. Personally I chose to reduce or eliminate propane use in the trailer.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:34 AM   #10
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I have a danfrost swing compressor 12 volt fridge in my egg camper, I love it! We have a 95 watt solar cell on the egg that keeps the battery topped off, and the fridge stays really cold even when it is in the 90's
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:35 AM   #11
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Having the propane running in a fridge is basically like having a match lit. It's a very small flame. I completely understand the fear, but it's mostly irrational. In your home, you have at least one open flame, burning away. Pilot light for hot water heater (if gas), pilot lot for stove, pilot light for heater, etc.

It's only when we get in our campers that we suddenly start thinking about all this stuff. Campers are a little different in that they drive down the road and propane lines can, in theory, get vibrated loose where that wouldn't happen in a house. But really, so long as everything is in good working order, it's pretty darn safe. The fridge is the least of my worries. Just a tiny little flame.

But as other people have mentioned, you'll need to do the research and decide what sounds best for you. For me, propane is best. Without spending more on solar, it's the only way I can be out in the middle of nowhere for as long as I want and still have a working fridge.

But I didn't realize there were actual fully functional 12V fridges on the market that wouldn't drain the battery, so long as you have basic solar. If my fridge ever dies, I'll look into those. But for now, I have a working 3-way fridge. As you've found, they're pricey! You can get a small Dometic 3-way for under $600, though.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:36 AM   #12
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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.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:45 AM   #13
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Thanks Zach. Good points. The exchange rate is killing us right now
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:52 AM   #14
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Ah, yeah. I was lucky enough to be on this side of the exchange rate when I bought my Bigfoot from Alberta a few months ago
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