Pros and cons of a very small 3-way refer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-02-2012, 01:33 PM   #1
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Pros and cons of a very small 3-way refer

Seeking opinion on the realtime utility of a very small 3-way and the advisability of replacing with 120VAC dorm fridge.

I have a Burro 17" with a late 90s era Dometic 2202. I have "gone back and forth" on the advisability of giving the darn thing away several times. It works and it doesn't. Will cool down and then warm up on 120VAC even when the ambient temp. is in the winter range. I suspect that coils are not plugged and that this may simply be a thermostat malfunction. Were this little gem working perfectly (which would definitely require cleaning the propane orifice and chimney), I believe the installation is barebones inadequate and that baffling and forced air (muffin fans) in the "chimney" outbd of the cooling unit would be necessary to maintain efficient cooling. And it is sooooo small inside!

I have an electric dorm fridge which will fit in the space under the gas range currently occupied by the Dometic. There is adequate top and side clearance and I think with this unit a muffin fan outbd the compressor for positive air replacement in a closed space would also be a good idea. On the grid it would, I think, be of much more real value for ice-making and food preservation than the Dometic. I also have a Coleman upright ice chest which served for a lot of yrs. of tent and pickup cap camping. That would possibly be better than the Dometic at its functional best but does require the bother of buying ice, draining. I would not even comtemplate an under-counter install of this as it rides quite nicely in the head on the road. I could easily take both to cover possibility of on/off grid stops but I can't deal with taking both (dorm fridge under the front dinette table) and the Dometic.

I know there's an impact on resale (if you have a 3-way, your buyer du jour will want an electric fridge and if you have an electric, he'll want a 3-way LOL) but I'm beginning to think box stock just doesn't matter that much to me. I bought the trailer ten yrs. down the long and winding road, don't have that much in it, am thankful EVERYTHING ELSE works, and with gas prices what they are, the premium is really on the 13 footers.

All I have to do is cut the "kick" area of the glass cntrtop facade in the area of the fridge opening, secure the fridge, fabricate a reasonably sightly reveal to make up any discrepancy in the old and new opening.

My questions: 1) What am I waiting for? (as I'm out of patience with the idea of "fixing" the inadequate Dometic). 2) If you have done this, how well do you deal with on/off grid situation and how? 3) If you've done this, are you satisified or having second thoughts? 4) If you've done this, any advice on the install? For instance, would I need any sort of shock suppression mat under the compressor fridge? Would insulation between the bottom of the gas range and the top of fridge) be advisable?

There could be some pro or con I've overlooked? Please someone push me one way or the other out of my vacillation over this inadequate fridge!!

jack
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:59 PM   #2
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Dorm type Frige

I have been asking myself similar questions regarding dorm type refrigerators.

I figured a cooler will suffice when off grid and limit foods to mostly those not requiring refrigeration. I can usually get by with cold beer and half & half for my coffee.
My question has been : If you have a dorm type frige and you cool it prior to leaving home, put items in it that have been prechilled, and put some containers (ie. plastic gallon jugs) filled with frozen water on top, will this frige keep things cold just as a camp cooler would?
In addition to hearing the answer to the question as posted in the thread, perhaps someone will have experience with this method of keeping food safe and be able to expand to include this information in their answer.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:07 PM   #3
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Do you boon dock? Then the old fridge or an ice box is best. Camp where there is always power. Then the dorm fridge will fit your needs. As far as resale is concerned it is what it is either way, a rare 17' Burro and they ain't making them anymore.

We seldom use hook ups. So when we stay put for a while I like the small 3 way fridge. But, if my fridge dies I will have to think long and hard before I replace it considering what they cost and I bring the ice chest anyway. Raz
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:12 PM   #4
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If you are keeping the camper don't worry about it. Do what's best for you. I have a 12V cooler that I keep in my TB that i also have a AC plug for that I use for extra cool space too. You can even get freezers like that. I've seen them on Ebay. New they're kind of pricey.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:44 PM   #5
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How about if you install the 110v dorm fridge but add extra insulation so you can use it as an icebox when no AC power is available?

Not sure what your packaging is like, but in my UHaul there is lots of space around the icebox for added insulation.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:06 PM   #6
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I had a dorm fridge in my Burro, and I used a Coleman ice chest. The fridge wouldn't keep stuff cool for more than 3 hours during travel.

My current LP/120v 2way keeps blowing out while driving. Grrrr.

I think my next fridge will be a high efficiency 12v unit, and about 150 watts of solar cells to go with it.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:17 PM   #7
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AC Fridge

Our first trailer's 3 way failed and we replaced it with a 4 cubic foot dorm style fridge. It always kept things cold.

We typically would let it get a little colder than normal before hitting the road so we could drive with it un powered and still have things cold, typically around 3-4 hours.

We also had a 1200 watt inverter, $59 at Black and Decker outlet, and would turn that on on hot days. We could run about eight hours on a typical hot day before discharging our type 24 battery.

As well at various times we had the ability to charge the battery as we drove or had solar panels.

It worked great and had a bigger interior volume.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:56 PM   #8
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The voice of been there, done that saves a lot of pain! Thanks for all the suggestions. I certainly have room for insulation--batt, blue bd., Reflectix. I was mainly thinking of insulating the heat transfer from operation of the gas range. Assuming that the insulation in the Black & Decker dorm fridge is minimal, I'm convinced swaddling it in more can't hurt. Thinking maybe a slab or two of that jigsaw ice rink flooring under the feet couldn't hurt to damp road shock to the compressor? I have a 120 volt muffin fan so I think that's another simple plug-n-play for air exchange in the rear and I certainly won't need it state park camping. I also have an inverter so perhaps I could run the electric fridge on the move; in the deficit column I have a starting batt rather than deep cycle so I guess I can plan on an expenditure there. I do have 80 watts of solar and that can't hurt with the battery/inverter equation altho mine's a tether-to-graze rather than a fixed rooftop so no running on the road. Thank you all so much for the kick in the rear! Funny all the things I've rushed into inadvisedly and others where I vacillate forever. Devil loves a coward.

I had time this afternoon to do some checking on dimensions. Functionally and cosmetically, the rough opening for the Dometic is spot on for the dorm fridge. I may be able to elevate the replacement a bit with a platform to avoid cutting away the kick completely. This might preserve some of the structural integrity of the molded counter/facade and will assure that the B&D door opens over all the floor mats we use in the trailer. Guess the first step is to get the Divine Miss D out of there. I don't foresee any complication there except capping the gas line. Shouldn't be more than three trips to the TruValue.

jack
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
.......... I may be able to elevate the replacement a bit with a platform to avoid cutting away the kick completely. This might preserve some of the structural integrity of the molded counter/facade and will assure that the B&D door opens over all the floor mats we use in the trailer. ..............
jack
I will be replacing my icebox with a 3 way fridge and I plan to build up a platform for it to sit on from rigid foam. This eliminates carving up the front panel and also adds insulation on the bottom. I plan to use the same foam on the top and sides, as I have the space and the foam weighs nothing.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:32 PM   #10
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Here is a link to Don Dayton's project to run his Casita frig on AC from his tow vehicle while on the road. He found this worked better than 12V DC or propane. I don't know what the current draw of a dorm frig is, but this might also work for your application.
Fridge, ac power from tow vehicle - a set on Flickr
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:13 PM   #11
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My old 3-way, which is original in a nearly 24 year old trailer keeps humming along. What works for me, is to use the refer to store food.. I only open it 2-3 times a day. Beverages go into a cooler... which has the lid lifted MANY times a day. Refer stays at temperature and the cooler works as it should. YMMV
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:16 PM   #12
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Jack, I also put some foam insulation in the spaces around the fridge, no sense keeping air in there. I used riht angle brackets at the rear to keep it from moving about and braced it on it's sides.

I also mounted a muffin fan in the rear and added a couple of heat sinks to the top of the compressor. Not sure it did anything.

The ability to charge the trailer battery from the tow vehicle is worthwhile. We have that ability though not used with solar panels now. The 1989 Scamp being sold on this site has a huge cable (big wire) to do that for his electric fridge. Actually he has a rather large one in his Scamp. It seems that most of the compressors are the same unit in all these fridges.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:18 PM   #13
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What temperature would that be Donna. 3 below ambient?

jack
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:24 PM   #14
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Actually Jack, closer to 40 degrees below ambient. I also have a refer fan inside and closely monitor the frig temp with an indoor/outdoor thermometer (outdoor sensor inside the frig). The secret is to only open the refer door when necessary (like three times a day) when fixing food for eating... not to drink bottled water or other "bottled" or canned beverage
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