Portable chest fridge instead of upright? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-14-2024, 03:07 PM   #1
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 25
Portable chest fridge instead of upright?

Iíve been working on a bit of maintenance and minor upgrades on our 13í bigfoot for the upcoming summer. The old 3 way dometic fridge has always struggled so I took it out and flipped it upside down for a couple of days to see if that helped. In the mean time I got a fridge vent fan kit and got it installed. The fan works great! Unfortunately, when I got the fridge reinstalled and checked the propane connections for leaks I found that the propane thermostat was leaking. That part doesnít seem to be easily available anymore, for a reasonable price anyway. Rather than dump $250-500+ into a 35 year old fridge, Iíve been thinking about replacing it.
Iím wondering about getting a small portable 12v dc chest fridge that could live in the tow vehicle or maybe slide under the bed. Run it off the vehicle when driving and solar/battery at camp. Then convert the old fridge space into a cupboard. Not worrying about opening the fridge and dumping out all the cold air as well as extra storage could be nice.
Has anyone done away with their upright fridge and gone with a portable option instead?
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Old 04-14-2024, 05:18 PM   #2
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Name: Mike
Trailer: 93 Burro 17 ft
Oklahoma
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I see no reason why you couldn't do that. As long as you are happy with the interior size of the one you buy, and you plan for the amp-hours you'll need for it while in camp. Dual batteries and a couple hundred watts of solar might be nice to have, but of course how well it works out depends on a lot of factors such as how long you intend to camp at one location, how much sun you get, etc. You might be able to get by on a single battery and 100W solar, and then again you might not.

You will want to buy a unit with an efficient compressor, like the Secop (formerly Danfoss).
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Old 04-14-2024, 05:29 PM   #3
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Trailer: Bigfoot 19 ft
Posts: 718
Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick G View Post
Iíve been working on a bit of maintenance and minor upgrades on our 13í bigfoot for the upcoming summer. The old 3 way dometic fridge has always struggled so I took it out and flipped it upside down for a couple of days to see if that helped. In the mean time I got a fridge vent fan kit and got it installed. The fan works great! Unfortunately, when I got the fridge reinstalled and checked the propane connections for leaks I found that the propane thermostat was leaking. That part doesnít seem to be easily available anymore, for a reasonable price anyway. Rather than dump $250-500+ into a 35 year old fridge, Iíve been thinking about replacing it.
Iím wondering about getting a small portable 12v dc chest fridge that could live in the tow vehicle or maybe slide under the bed. Run it off the vehicle when driving and solar/battery at camp. Then convert the old fridge space into a cupboard. Not worrying about opening the fridge and dumping out all the cold air as well as extra storage could be nice.
Has anyone done away with their upright fridge and gone with a portable option instead?
You need to install 12V outlets inside your cabin - something I recommend regardless of whether you end up using a ice chest.

We had problems with our Refrigerator cooling system during one of our camping trips. Luckily, a friend loaned us their 12V ice chest and it did allow us to continue camping for another 3-4 weeks.

But this was a major hassle. I much prefer camping with a decent refrigerator/freezer. So, if you will be camping for more than a couple of weeks, replace your refrigerator with a well designed refrigerator/freezer.

Just sayíin
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Old 04-14-2024, 07:09 PM   #4
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Name: Dave
Trailer: 2013Escape 21
Iowa
Posts: 1,219
Our fridge and freezer work On our 21 Escape but the refrigerator struggles to pull the temperature more than 45 degrees below ambient. So several years ago we bought an Engle AC AND DC unit. We use it every trip out to guantee safe refrigeration on meat and other things we can’t have spoiling. The refrigerator will easily stay at 34 degrees. We have also turned it up and used it as a keeper for frozen food. No problem in any environment.
They are not cheap but they work very well, there are lots of sizes and configurations, the amp draw is easily powered by our 190 watt solar power panel and dual six volt batteries. We have run it on both ac and dc inside the camper, ac outside of the camper, dc in the higlander and ac in our home and garage when we need either more freezer or more refrigerator space around the holidays. If the Dometic conks out I will not Spend any money to fix it. I will go straight to a second Engel, one for cold and one for frozen. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-14-2024, 10:54 PM   #5
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 25
I have been planning to put together a solar setup this summer so itís good timing to start planning for a dc fridge. Iím planning on a pretty basic setup with 2 100watt panels and a cheap controller to start. Then upgrade the controller and battery setup down the road if needed.

That is good input Dave. I was wondering about getting something that I could also use around the house too. Beer fridge in the garage or extra capacity as needed. Maybe even use it with the trailer solar at home to put that to good use when the trailer is parked at home.
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:58 AM   #6
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Name: Troy
Trailer: Casita
Texas
Posts: 52
When we tent camped I bought a ICECO JP50 portable cooler. It can run on AC or DC, 30w or 60w. It can be used as a fridge or a freezer. Works great. We still take it along now with the Casita to keep it outside with beverages.

My buddy who likes to go camping with us also bought a similar one, only works on AC, but works well.

Will be going to Big Bend for a week and plan to take both with me, run one as a fridge, one as a freezer.
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