Compressor Fridge - Fiberglass RV
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Old 09-01-2020, 07:49 AM   #1
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Name: Mary Ann
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Compressor Fridge

We are looking at buying a new Escape 19. The 2021 model has as an option a compressor fridge. Other than not being able to run on propane, why not choose this option? If I understand the specs correctly, it cools faster and colder than the absorption models. And uses less electricity.
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Old 09-01-2020, 08:29 AM   #2
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It uses less than an absorption fridge, but still uses a lot of power. They seem to solve a LOT of the problems we have with our propane fridges, and replace those dozen problems with just one problem: electricity.

It means either not going more than a day or two without plugging in (your tow vehicle counts if wired well), or have a good size battery bank and either solar or a generator.

For many it’s well worth it. I’m on the fence. I don’t want to stress about battery level and I currently have very low usage. I don’t really want to add that stress but when I consider how much trouble my absorption fridge gives me...it may be worth switching.

You need to decide how you’ll camp most often, learn the power demands of the fridge and what it will take to supply them, then decide.

It’s definitely a great option, but won’t work for everyone.
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Old 09-01-2020, 08:37 AM   #3
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The compressor refrigerator uses less electricity than an absorption on 12V, but if you dry camp, it uses more 12V energy than the absorption uses running on propane (you generally don't run an absorption refrigerator on 12V when dry camping).

The advantage is it cools faster, and better in hot weather. The disadvantage is the 40 - 50 amp hours per 24 hours that you are going to need to put back in the batteries when camping off the power pedestal.
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Old 09-01-2020, 08:49 AM   #4
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The compressor fridges use about 4 amps or less when running and run for maybe 50% of the time so the usage might be 50 AH worse case.
My Norcold 704 averaged about 17 watts per hour x 24 = 408 watts.
408 / 12 = 34 watts. I have two 94 AH batteries for power for perhaps 1000 watts available. (94 X 12 )
I have 300 watts of solar on the roof of the Scamp and usually keep up with no problem and when I get to a campground the fridge is just like when I started.
We generally stay in RV parks with power so it is not an issue. It seems that when we end up in a national park the only spaces available are in the deep woods and shaded.
As with most things the answer is "It depends"
By the way we replaced the Norcold 704 DE with a Norcold DE 490 mostly due to the older one being noisier. The newer DE 490 is more efficient than the older unit.
The swing compressors are perhaps more efficient and have no starting surge, but can be noisier with the hum from the solenoid running back and forth.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:59 AM   #5
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If you go with a compressor fridge I would recommend LFP batteries because of the greater energy availability and faster charge rate. My battery charges from the TV thru a DC-DC 9 amp Victron isolator power supply while driving and I carry 200 watts of portable solar we use when camped. I also carry 1000 watt inverter which I can connect to the TV battery and plug in the trailer if I need to quick charge the battery for a 1/2 hour or so (40 amp charge rate). We went 80 days on our trip to Alaska last summer and never plugged into to shore power and didn't use the 1000 watt inverter. If you have permanently mounted solar on the roof and TV charging you should be fine. You might want to carry a generator just in case (maybe for your AC also) and/or an inverter you can plug into that runs off the TV.
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