Off-grid help needed! - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-22-2017, 07:35 AM   #1
Member
 
Name: Barbara
Trailer: 1977 Trillium 4500
Quebec
Posts: 54
Off-grid help needed!

I apologize in advance if the info I'm looking for has already been addressed elsewhere on the FGRV site - and will appreciate your re-direction if so. My husband and I seem to often be operating our 1977 Trillium 4500 off-grid. Most provincial and/or national parks in Canada have few, if any, electrical sites. I bought a Mobicool W45 cooler last year - which runs off our car cigarette lighter en route to our camp site - but then needs power to run. Our original Dometic fridge takes awhile to cool using it with propane so is great for beer, etc. but can't be our sole cooler for anything more than a weekend. We bought a Motomaster Eliminator 700 W "Power Inverter" last year - which takes two days to charge to full but only powered our Mobicool cooler for 12 hours before it died. The cooler manual says: "48 W in 12 V; 53-60 W in 110 V with adaptor". I'm an electrical dummy - and need help! How can I power this cooler so we can camp off grid and still have a reliable cooler? Do I have the wrong cooler and/or battery? Not really interested in a noisy generator. Don't understand solar but maybe that's my solution? All I want/need to power is the cooler and my ceiling Magic Fan. Don't care about lights, etc. Idea? Suggestions?
__________________

BarbieB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 08:11 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,075
Registry
Battery size? Age? RV batteries often don't last too long. And you can only draw half of the rated capacity from an RV battery. So a 200 amp hour rated battery, you can only draw 100 amp hours. Your 48watt cooler is drawing ~4 amps. So in 10 hours it could draw 40 amp hours (but it won't run continuously). If you run the cooler and a couple other items, in a day you have consumed your battery. This is one reason campers use propane refrigerators, which the good news you already have. Running a 12v cooler for any extended period = generator or solar.

700 watts in 12 hours is close.

Depending where you are camping, a heavy duty cooler can last several days on a bag or two of ice. I have an Ozark Trail knock off of a Yeti cooler.
__________________

thrifty bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 08:22 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 4,255
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbieB View Post
... Our original Dometic fridge takes awhile to cool using it with propane so is great for beer, etc. but can't be our sole cooler for anything more than a weekend. ..
I fail to understand this statement. I have used my fridge on propane for about two weeks non-stop and it worked fine. Some people go a month on a standard (20 lb US) tank and that works for them.

Why do you think your propane fridge is only good for a weekend?

Yes, they take longer to cool initially and longer to recover if you allow too much of a temperature rise (open the door too often, etc.) but with proper use, a properly working propane fridge is great for boondocking.
gordon2 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 08:22 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Name: Steve
Trailer: Currently Shopping
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 4,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbieB View Post
I apologize in advance if the info I'm looking for has already been addressed elsewhere on the FGRV site - and will appreciate your re-direction if so. My husband and I seem to often be operating our 1977 Trillium 4500 off-grid. Most provincial and/or national parks in Canada have few, if any, electrical sites. I bought a Mobicool W45 cooler last year - which runs off our car cigarette lighter en route to our camp site - but then needs power to run. Our original Dometic fridge takes awhile to cool using it with propane so is great for beer, etc. but can't be our sole cooler for anything more than a weekend. We bought a Motomaster Eliminator 700 W "Power Inverter" last year - which takes two days to charge to full but only powered our Mobicool cooler for 12 hours before it died. The cooler manual says: "48 W in 12 V; 53-60 W in 110 V with adaptor". I'm an electrical dummy - and need help! How can I power this cooler so we can camp off grid and still have a reliable cooler? Do I have the wrong cooler and/or battery? Not really interested in a noisy generator. Don't understand solar but maybe that's my solution? All I want/need to power is the cooler and my ceiling Magic Fan. Don't care about lights, etc. Idea? Suggestions?
We turn our refrigerator on 24 hours before leaving home using 120 VAC , load the refrigerator right before leaving home , put the refrigerator on propane and head out for our first destination.
Never had a problem keeping things cold in the refrigerator or a need for a 12 VDC cooler. We do have a Yeti style cooler which we use for cold beverages . It keeps pop and beer cold for 3 or 4 days using block ice
As Gordon stated , we have gone two weeks running the refrigerator on propane without one problem and never used up a whole tank of propane
steve dunham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 08:27 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 2,176
I'm wondering why you can't use your propane Dometic fridge. I love mine and just start it early. Mine is usually running on 120 volts at home and then gets switched to propane when we leave. It's the only way to seriously reduce power usage and have very cold food. Can you light it before you leave and get it all cooled down early? If you must use the Mobicool, you'll need probably two large deep cycle batteries, per day, to keep it going. They will have to be re-charged with sufficient solar or other means, every day.
The Mobicool draws about 4 amps. A large deep cycle battery (Group 27) might be about 100 amp/hours total capacity, but you can only use about 50 amp/hours before re-charging, so each battery will run the fridge for about 12 hours max.
Two of those might just make it for 24 hours, if nothing else is being used.

Then you'll need a charging system large enough to make up that usage and any other use you add. If it's solar it might be a 300 watt system for starters. Solar is a variable because of weather and orientation. But that would be a good starting point.

The Mobicool doesn't seem practical, especially since it can only lower the inside box temperature about 18 Degrees C, which is not enough to keep food well, especially in warmer weather.

Back to the Dometic propane fridge. If you can use that, you can go back to one battery and maybe a 50 or 100 watt solar panel and you can cool your food to a safe temperature.

These are all pretty rough approximations, but reasonable ballpark starting points.
__________________
I only exaggerate enough to compensate for being taken with a grain of salt.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 09:03 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
likeair2me's Avatar
 
Name: KAY
Trailer: SCAMP
Missouri
Posts: 376
Registry
I am just guessing that with a 1977 original Dometic 3-way fridge in the puzzle, IT may be your problem child. You might need to see if it is running as efficiently as possible. It could just be worn out and not able to perform as needed. Or maybe it needs a Freon bump. Or gaskets that no longer seat. In any case, get it checked out.

A modern ice chest might be a better bet for the mean time.
likeair2me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 10:15 AM   #7
Member
 
Name: Barbara
Trailer: 1977 Trillium 4500
Quebec
Posts: 54
Thanks for your reply, Gordon! I use my propane fridge all the time - not just for a weekend - it just isn't big enough for all I need to store. Just looking for an additional off-grid solution.
BarbieB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 10:20 AM   #8
Member
 
Name: Barbara
Trailer: 1977 Trillium 4500
Quebec
Posts: 54
Off-grid help

Thanks all for your comments/suggestions. I'm thinking the Mobicool probably isn't my best choice also. My husband also suggested this morning that perhaps our old Dometic fridge isn't cooling as efficiently as it did 40 years ago either! Guess I'll get that checked out and forget all about the heavy, unhelpful Eliminator battery! Haven't given up on the solar idea yet as I'd love to be able to power my Magic Fan if I could!
BarbieB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 10:31 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 4,255
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbieB View Post
Thanks for your reply, Gordon! I use my propane fridge all the time - not just for a weekend - it just isn't big enough for all I need to store. Just looking for an additional off-grid solution.
OIC NOW! Just need more room. OK then on to possible solutions. I'll let others take over form here as they have more experience with truck fridges, Danfoss Fridges, etc than I do (which is none).

Quote:
Originally Posted by likeair2me View Post
..Or maybe it needs a Freon bump. ..
Very very doubtful...
gordon2 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 10:49 AM   #10
Member
 
Name: Barbara
Trailer: 1977 Trillium 4500
Quebec
Posts: 54
Yeti?

So many of you have mentioned Yeti coolers in your comments to me about off-grid camping. What's so great about a Yeti and how are they different from any other cooler?
BarbieB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 10:58 AM   #11
Member
 
Trailer: 82 Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 40
The propane fridges use ammonia, not freon. Having it looked at usually won't help, as the entire cooling unit gets replaced- at the cost of a brand-new fridge I would say. My luck with the newer ones has been that the ammonia corrodes out and fails after 10+ years, even if treated very well.

One other problem with the thermoelectric coolers is that the wattage draw is continuous, they don't cycle like compressor fridges. That eats power.

If you want a great and expensive solution, I'd recommend an Engel fridge such as their "MT45F Portable AC/DC Fridge-Freezer". They have powerful, efficient compressors and can work effortlessly as either a fridge or freezer. I have the size up from that and wouldn't trade it for anything else or any other brand. I keep it in the car and not the camper, and run it off the car battery. Sometimes with a solar panel on the roof, sometimes not.
John A is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 11:03 AM   #12
Senior Member
 
likeair2me's Avatar
 
Name: KAY
Trailer: SCAMP
Missouri
Posts: 376
Registry
The Rotomolded coolers are highly insulated and have great seals. I first heard of Yeti in New Orleans, as many professional fishing vessels use them to keep the catch fresh. Not a lot of shade trees on the open water, so these things often set in the sun.

There are many brands available and comparison tests are being done all the time. See YouTube for some of the things they get put through. Here is one comparison article.

https://bestcooler.reviews/best-insu...nd-rotomolded/
They don't mention Frosty, which is a company near me that I am going to check into, but most are made in China with a few exceptions. The USA made ones will clearly say so.
likeair2me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 11:09 AM   #13
Senior Member
 
likeair2me's Avatar
 
Name: KAY
Trailer: SCAMP
Missouri
Posts: 376
Registry
Thank you John, for good info. My only experience with 3-way fridges was with an early '70s unit in a truck camper lovingly called "The Titanic". It lived up to it's name. The fridge was a big part of the problem. I will be looking at the Engle as well. My unit has a dorm fridge and no off grid capabilities.
Thanks again for the lead.
likeair2me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 11:47 AM   #14
Senior Member
 
Name: Terry
Trailer: 1971 Hunter compact Jr, 1979 Terry 19', 2003 Scamp 16'
California
Posts: 124
Just a thought. The man who trained me when I first started hvac had been working in the trade since the early 50's when some rural homes used propane powered refrigerators. When he had a unit that refused to work if all else failed he would remove it, put it on its back in his truck and drive it around for the day. When he reinstalled it , it often worked. This re-mixes the coolants. It takes a couple of days for the system to settle down to cool properly. It's very important that the units level when operating. It did work for him and he was good at what he did.
Terry in Fowler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 02:15 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
Raspy's Avatar
 
Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
Posts: 2,176
Quote:
Originally Posted by likeair2me View Post
Or maybe it needs a Freon bump.
Is that when you take a freon bottle and whack the ammonia fridge to knock the obstruction out of the vent, knock the spider web out of the orifice and level it up to clear a bubble? Yeah, that might work.

Or you could turn the fridge upside down for a while and lean it against the freon bottle so it doesn't fall over.
Raspy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 02:17 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
M Scott's Avatar
 
Name: Marilyn
Trailer: 13 ft 2005 Scamp Deluxe; 2002 Subaru V6 Outback
Oregon
Posts: 266
Inexpensive solutions

Freeze meat, cheese, veggies before putting into trailer frig.
Buy local as you travel.
Bring canned food, tuna/salmon in pouches
Add freeze dried backpacking meals to your menus (buy end of summer sales - they will last 2-25 years, depending on item)
Dry fruits, meats, some veggies in a food dryer
M Scott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 03:30 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
Posts: 1,810
We use our propane fridge on propane all the time while camping. We use it for stuff that cant swim and stuff we don't need very often. I fire up the fridge 2 days in advance to be sure there are no spider issues and to get it cold and ready for cold stuff. We also use an Igloo Sportsman cooler and pack it half full of drinks and stuff that can survive swimming or can be packed to survive swimming. Then we fill it with bagged ice. This is our in and out go to cooler put stuff in take stuff out, put more in. If you start off with warm stuff and warm cooler Ice will melt down allot in the first day and then you add New Ice again and you will be good for 4 days or more after that. For me it holds enough drinks and stuff for 3 days or so. If I am out longer than that if you take a drink out put a warm one in at the same time. Let the water get wet and slushy its doing its job. Add more ice if needed but only drain off water when you have to. We bag off our fresh meats and freeze them and put them in the fridge before we leave on a trip. The first day we have to that them and after that they start thawing in the fridge so they are ready to use. This works well for just the two of us.
stevebaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 06:39 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Byron Kinnaman's Avatar
 
Name: Byron
Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
Oregon
Posts: 7,043
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbieB View Post
I apologize in advance if the info I'm looking for has already been addressed elsewhere on the FGRV site - and will appreciate your re-direction if so. My husband and I seem to often be operating our 1977 Trillium 4500 off-grid. Most provincial and/or national parks in Canada have few, if any, electrical sites. I bought a Mobicool W45 cooler last year - which runs off our car cigarette lighter en route to our camp site - but then needs power to run. Our original Dometic fridge takes awhile to cool using it with propane so is great for beer, etc. but can't be our sole cooler for anything more than a weekend. We bought a Motomaster Eliminator 700 W "Power Inverter" last year - which takes two days to charge to full but only powered our Mobicool cooler for 12 hours before it died. The cooler manual says: "48 W in 12 V; 53-60 W in 110 V with adaptor". I'm an electrical dummy - and need help! How can I power this cooler so we can camp off grid and still have a reliable cooler? Do I have the wrong cooler and/or battery? Not really interested in a noisy generator. Don't understand solar but maybe that's my solution? All I want/need to power is the cooler and my ceiling Magic Fan. Don't care about lights, etc. Idea? Suggestions?
There's two ways to do things one is to add power so that you pretend you're at home. The other is change the foods you take that don't need a lot of cooling and pretend you're camping.
We spend almost 100 days off the grid every winter. We learned while backpacking years ago how to eat good tasting and nutritious meals without any refrigeration and not breaking the bank by using freezedried meals. It can be just takes a little thought.
To help the fridge connect it to shore power a few days before leaving home. Let fridge cool with it filled. (A full fridge will stay cold longer than an empty one).
It's really not that hard or difficult.

Suggesting method of evening meals.
A tin of meat (your choice)
A bag of side things like rice, pasta, etc.
Make the side thing and add meat. This makes a good one pot meal that the ingredients don't require refrigeration. After a while you'll figure out how to make just enough the people you're feeding.
__________________
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
Byron Kinnaman is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 07:29 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
Name: Steve
Trailer: Currently Shopping
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 4,186
Spent a week in the BWCA moose hunting and eating freeze dried or dehydrated meals and fruit.. After the week was over I couldn't wait to get back to civilization and have a meal of REAL food with a tall cold glass of Real milk. Just my preference.

We freeze meat , prepared meals and vegetables and put them in vacuum seal bags and then put them in a cooler with ice . As the ice melts the sealed bags just float around but the contents stay dry and cold.
steve dunham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 09:44 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Name: Jann
Trailer: Casita
Colorado
Posts: 935
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbieB View Post
I apologize in advance if the info I'm looking for has already been addressed elsewhere on the FGRV site - and will appreciate your re-direction if so. My husband and I seem to often be operating our 1977 Trillium 4500 off-grid. Most provincial and/or national parks in Canada have few, if any, electrical sites. I bought a Mobicool W45 cooler last year - which runs off our car cigarette lighter en route to our camp site - but then needs power to run. Our original Dometic fridge takes awhile to cool using it with propane so is great for beer, etc. but can't be our sole cooler for anything more than a weekend. We bought a Motomaster Eliminator 700 W "Power Inverter" last year - which takes two days to charge to full but only powered our Mobicool cooler for 12 hours before it died. The cooler manual says: "48 W in 12 V; 53-60 W in 110 V with adaptor". I'm an electrical dummy - and need help! How can I power this cooler so we can camp off grid and still have a reliable cooler? Do I have the wrong cooler and/or battery? Not really interested in a noisy generator. Don't understand solar but maybe that's my solution? All I want/need to power is the cooler and my ceiling Magic Fan. Don't care about lights, etc. Idea? Suggestions?
Sounds like your fridge is not working properly. We use ours for days at a time and it stays very cold. Maybe it needs cleaned and serviced. That should be done every year or two. We start our fridge the day before we leave, put cold food in it to start with then add drinks as needed. We have never had a real problem unless the temperature gets in the 90's or more. Any cooler or fridge on 12V will kill the battery in a few hours. You can try solar but I don't know much about it as far as needs.
__________________

Jann Todd is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Two weeks off the grid with Renogy Steve_N_Janna Electrical | Charging, Systems, Solar and Generators 16 08-11-2016 09:39 AM
Play Pac Conversion to Off grid The Dirtbags Guide General Chat 6 11-24-2015 03:32 PM
Living Off Grid carlkeigley General Chat 10 02-27-2014 07:15 AM
Les Stroud, OFF the Grid Gina D. General Chat 8 01-23-2009 02:28 PM
More Off the Grid items Gina D. Modifications, Alterations and Updates 7 04-03-2006 03:08 AM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:08 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
×