Ice Box vs. Refrigerator - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-29-2020, 09:04 AM   #1
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Ice Box vs. Refrigerator

Hello all. I have a 13' 1973 Trillium trailer and it only has an ice-box.

a) Is it an easy swap to a refrigerated system or is it best to re-wrap the ice-box and carry on?

b) If an easy swap...are the fridges expensive?

c) If affordable, is it just as small bar fridge or do I have to find a specialty fridge?

d) Do I have to upgrade any electrical (HVAC electrician?)?

Thank you!!!
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:19 AM   #2
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What kind of camping do you do?

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Originally Posted by NitKnit View Post
Hello all. I have a 13' 1973 Trillium trailer and it only has an ice-box.

a) Is it an easy swap to a refrigerated system or is it best to re-wrap the ice-box and carry on?

b) If an easy swap...are the fridges expensive?

c) If affordable, is it just as small bar fridge or do I have to find a specialty fridge?

d) Do I have to upgrade any electrical (HVAC electrician?)?

Thank you!!!
What kind of camping do you do?
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:19 AM   #3
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Ice Box vs. Refrigerator

Itís not an easy swap unless you install a 110V dorm fridge, which means you can only camp with electric hookups.

There are two options for mechanical refrigeration without electrical hookups. Door #1 is a 3-way absorption fridge. The fridge itself is $500+ depending on size, youíll have to install propane lines and 110V and 12V wiring, and you have to cut two large holes in the shell.

Door #2 is a 12V compressor fridge. Again the fridge is expensive, and youíll need a larger battery array and a solar system to recharge the batteries, maybe a small generator as a back-up.

Our Scamp came with an icebox, and I took door #3. We use the icebox without ice for protected storage of dry foods (the stuff the critters like to get into). And we bought an inexpensive Coleman Xtreme ice chest for perishables. $2 of ice from Costco lasts 3-5 days depending on temperature. Itís much larger than the icebox, suitable for a family. I can buy a whole lot of ice for the cost of a fridge. And any fridge that fits in our Scamp is too small anyway.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:28 AM   #4
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a) Not an easy swap, e.g., will require exterior ventilation, electric power connection and/or propane connection. Propane requires airtight compartment.

b) Fridges are around $1000.

c) Bar fridges not suitable, much wider ambient temperature range is needed.

d) Electric service may not need to be upgraded, BUT electric fridges are generally only designed to operate with shore power. If you want an electric fridge that can operate without shore power, get a low power draw compressor fridge AND sufficiently large battery bank and solar charging capability or generator.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:37 AM   #5
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Thank you! Just best to re-wrap current ice-box then, eh?
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:37 AM   #6
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Wow. Thank you for all that information - good to keep in mind.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:39 AM   #7
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Sorry...thought I was replying to each of you individually.

The first response answer...so far I have been doing electrical hook-up camping due to CPAP, but am getting that a rechargable battery pack so I can go off-grid, essentially.

With the second reply, it may be too small of a trailer to do all the mods to - and expensive and that is without the fridge involved.

Thank you all for your knowledge! Ice-box re-wrap it is.
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:48 AM   #8
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Back in our pop-up days, I replaced an icebox with a dorm fridge. It would run from an inverter in the car while on the road and freeze its own ice packs to keep it cool for a day or so without power. I saved the old ice tray and put it in the fridge with a drain through the trailer floor. A bag of ice could be added as needed for longer stays without power.
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:17 AM   #9
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Thanks, Lynn.

I went for a week recently with TONS of ice blocks in the ice-box and a cooler, along with frozen meat, etc., and they all thawed fairly quickly. I think re-wrapping the ice-box as it likely hasn't been done since it was built, as well as a new cooler may be my answer. And not go on longer than a few days out in the boondocks where there is no replacement ice.

Thanks again for all the replies. Much appreciated.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:12 PM   #10
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If youíre going to use ice, a chest cooler is a lot more efficient than a front opening icebox for 2 reasons. First, cold air sinks, so when you open an icebox the cool air slides out, replaced by warmer air. With a chest, the cool air stays inside. Second, you can keep the melted water at the bottom of the chest where it continues to refrigerate your food, but with an icebox all that near-freezing water runs out the drain tube onto the ground.

If you donít want a separate ice chest sitting outside or taking up space inside, you could remove the icebox and put a chest cooler in that spot. A slide-out tray would make it easier to access.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:30 PM   #11
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Thank you!
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:06 PM   #12
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And in the world of coolers, the knock-off of Yeti sold by Walmart are pretty good, at a much lower price (not as good as Yeti). I have both the Lifetime 55 qt ($97) and the Ozark Trail 26 QT ($86). Note, Lifetime improved their lid gasket since this review.

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Old 07-29-2020, 09:07 PM   #13
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Great! Thank you. I shall go a'shopping.
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:54 PM   #14
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Or, you can go with a unit like this. There are a lot of brands.

They draw about 4 amps when running and run about 1/3 of the time. They are not built in, so no cabinet work or inside wiring is required. No propane plumbing. They can be set in the truck bed or back seat, or outside when camping, etc. Some trailers have large enough lockers that these can fit into them and be accessible from outside.

You'll need a large battery and solar, or a small generator to keep up with the power demand, but you'll get a much colder box than ice can provide, you can stay out camping as long as you want without going for ice, and you don't have ice taking up so much room in the box. If you put it in the pickup bed, it will have no impact on the trailer interior room at all.

https://www.amazon.com/COSTWAY-Porta...083891&sr=8-25
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:01 PM   #15
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If nothing else, I enjoyed reading the blurb promoting the unit. Worth a laugh or two.
To quote:

"With the shockproof design, this refrigerator could withstand hard environment. The compressor would be in good condition even the bumpy road condition".
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:02 PM   #16
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Thank you! Would be great for meat and milk, eh?
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:15 PM   #17
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Yes. Ice sucks.
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:20 PM   #18
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LoL Appreciated.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:33 AM   #19
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I recently purchased a solar powered cooler. The gosun is compressor unit (a danfoss compressor that uses much less power). Itís pretty big and runs on 12v or 120vac. Comes with a lithium battery pack that will power it for 14 hours (their claim...Iíve seen 12 with power left over). The cooler rides in the bed of my truck with a 100w solar panel on the topper. With the pandemic Iíve not been camping but this cooler has served me well keeping the beer cold in the house (120v power). As far as i know theyíre not sold in stores as theyíre sold direct.

P@
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:01 AM   #20
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Thermoelectric cooler?

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Originally Posted by NitKnit View Post
Hello all. I have a 13' 1973 Trillium trailer and it only has an ice-box.

a) Is it an easy swap to a refrigerated system or is it best to re-wrap the ice-box and carry on?

b) If an easy swap...are the fridges expensive?

c) If affordable, is it just as small bar fridge or do I have to find a specialty fridge?

d) Do I have to upgrade any electrical (HVAC electrician?)?

Thank you!!!
When the 3-way fridge in my Casita went out, I picked up a Coleman thermoelectric cooler at Walmart for @ $80. It will run on 12v or 120v. You can also use it with ice or dry ice. It is basically a Coleman cooler with a thermoelectric unit. It is a heck of a lot less expensive than either a compressor or replacement 3-way fridge and more useful than a simple ice chest cooler.

The drawback is that it will only cool about 40 degrees below ambient temperature. So if you are camping in 100 degree weather, it will cool to about 60 degrees.
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