Refrigeration - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-23-2019, 05:05 PM   #1
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Refrigeration

My name is Danny L. I have been a tent camper for many years. However, among other advantages, RVs would offer refrigeration and a place to cook indoors in bad weather. My question is about refrigeration.


I have only seen one brand that is currently being produced that uses compression refrigerators. The others offer absorption refrigerators. However, I have seen several posts that indicate that absorption refrigerators must be kept comparatively level.


Secondly, I would often be camping in state parks or Bureau of Land Management areas that do not have electrical hookups. Other places I would camp either do not allow or significantly restrict generator use. Thus propane would seem to be the preferred energy source. However, owners of various RVS have noted that the pilot light on a propane unit can blow out while traveling.


Thirdly, I have read that absorption units can only cool to approximately 40 degrees below ambient air temperature. This would seem to make camping in hot weather rather problematic. I have friends who tell me they use a Yeti instead.


Any thoughts on these issues would be appreciated.
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:30 PM   #2
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If you’re on the two lane and if your refrigerator is in the street side the flame (not a pilot) likes to blow out. Some people never travel with it lit. They are not good refrigerators as refrigerators go. I have placed dry ice in the tray to help, but that is hard to find in most areas, and my supplier has dropped it.
Note that ammonia absorption is not allowed in a DOT truck. Search Semi Truck Refrigerator in that world for small 12 VDC / 120AC powered compressor refrigerators. Note that they are energy hogs. They take several “pirate ninjas” to run.
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:40 PM   #3
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I'm not sure what information you are looking for but you did not mention Danfoss compressor type fridges. Depending on many variables such as batteries, solar, time off gird, etc.. , a small Danfoss style might work for you. This will get your started in your research:
http://www.truckcamperadventure.com/...nd-a-few-tips/

One popular brand is Truckfridge.. and there are many different labels for basically the same fridge. I have a one cubic foot model and also an absorption fridge in the camper. They both have their place - advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes I use both, or move food from one to the other as conditions require.

BTW what part of NC are you in?
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:50 PM   #4
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If you’re on the two lane and if your refrigerator is in the street side the flame (not a pilot) likes to blow out. Some people never travel with it lit. ...
I guess street side is the port side? I guess that might cause more fridge flame blowouts than the starboard side. All I can tell you is that my starboard side fridge has never had the flame blow out. There seems to be much variation between models. as well as which side they are on. Some people have a big problem with it, and some dont. And then there are the folks who think it is darn right reckless to run a propane fridge on a highway.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Danny L View Post
I have seen several posts that indicate that absorption refrigerators must be kept comparatively level.
Modern fridges aren't as touchy. If you are comfortable, so are they.


However, owners of various RVS have noted that the pilot light on a propane unit can blow out while traveling.
Mine never has and I've not heard from others that this is an issue ( been on this forum and the Escape forum since 2008 ).



Thirdly, I have read that absorption units can only cool to approximately 40 degrees below ambient air temperature.

That is true of some 12V coolers. Again, I've not had a problem.

You might want to do more research.
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny L View Post
I would often be camping in state parks or Bureau of Land Management areas that do not have electrical hookups. Other places I would camp either do not allow or significantly restrict generator use. Thus propane would seem to be the preferred energy source. However, owners of various RVS have noted that the pilot light on a propane unit can blow out while traveling.

I have read that absorption units can only cool to approximately 40 degrees below ambient air temperature. This would seem to make camping in hot weather rather problematic. I have friends who tell me they use a Yeti instead.

Um, If you are camping on BLM land etc without hookups your pilot light wont blow out...

I regularly camp with ambient temperature over 90 degrees, and the freezer is in the teens at worst - I think you have been misinformed.
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:46 AM   #7
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I regularly camp with ambient temperature over 90 degrees, and the freezer is in the teens at worst - I think you have been misinformed.
I dont think you have necessarily been misinformed. I have seen an absorption fridge struggle in very hot weather. I have read A LOT from people who have also, and done many things to improve performance such as add fans, shade cloth, etc. Google "absorption fridge performance in hot weather" and you can also read A LOT about it.

But perhaps your concern is exaggerated. My Dometic 2410 does quite well the majority of the time. Properly used it only has some trouble in the hottest of weather. The main issue is recovery time becoming very long, so once the internal temp goes up due to it being off for a short trip, or opened a lot (for examples) then it takes longer to get back to a good temp. And the flame never blows out on the road but I have heard that others have that issue. Its been suggested that a port side fridge is more susceptible to blow outs.

But when reading about the issue, remember that performance is affected by many things like model and size, outside temps, frequency of door opening, side door vs top door, distribution of contents (to allow internal air circulation), etc. IMHO one of the big factors is roof exhaust vent vs side vent. I do think that a roof vent provides much improved performance.

It depends on your camping. If you dont need to cool very much food or drink, and can manage to supply up to 35 amp-hours every day* (plus whatever else you use outside the fridge), then a Danfoss type fridge might work best. But if you are boondocking and dont have that much power available (think solar) then an absorption fridge is likely the only good option.

Most new absorption fridges now use an electric control board. They do not use much power at all for the control board (when on propane) but they do require it and cease to function if your power dies. My 2015 Dometic RM2410 does not however and will run on propane with no electric for as long as you have gas (a month or more on a 20lb tank).

The one cubic foot Danfoss compressor fridge I have is AC/DC which is nice, and it can function as a chest freezer, easily getting to and maintaining zero Fahrenheit (at the cost of greater power use).

So the right tool for the right job.
-----------------------

* In hot weather. Less in cool weather, if fridge is left closed, etc.
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:49 AM   #8
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I've had a couple of finicky absorption fridges. I've had the pilot blow-out problem, too. I was able to stop it from blowing out by adding furnace filter material (the cheap loose-weave kind) in the vent opening... but that made the cooling efficiency even worse. These fridges must get good air circulation through the back side vents. If you like to tinker and experiment, this type of fridge might be good for you because you can play with the baffling and add a fan and add insulation and play with the door gasket and so on if it doesn't cool well enough... and you probably can achieve that 40 or even 45 degree temp drop. If you're not so handy, you might get lucky... or you might get a unit with a 20-25 degree drop. That's my opinion.

A Truckfridge or similar with efficient Danfoss/Secop compressor would do quite well with 150-200W of solar and a decent pair of batteries. You might end up carrying a 'just in case' generator for those long stretches of cloudy days, though.

Currently I'm using my cargo trailer for the occasional 10-14 day summer vacation, and a cooler seems to work ok for me. I got a Canyon cooler last Christmas and it seems just as nice as a Yeti but at a lower price. No ice cream, of course, but everything is decently cold. With all my (rather frequent) opening and closing of the lid, I had to add cube ice about every 3 days (block ice lasted longer when I could find it).

If I can ever swing the payment on an Escape, though, from what I've read they do a pretty good install job on their absorption fridges and most owners think they cool reasonably well. (I don't think any mfr installs a Danfoss-type fridge from the factory, so it would have to be an aftermarket change... if it came to that.)
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:14 AM   #9
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Gordon, thanks for the information. I looked up your reference: it was one of the first I saw when doing research of absorption and compressor refrigerators for RV campers.


I am just toying around with the idea of purchasing an RV. However, the cost of purchasing a tow vehicle would be a major deterrent.


I think that the refrigerator in the Oliver may be a compressor type frig,although I have not received a confirmation from Oliver yet in this regard. Olivers would be well over my budget in any case.


The Escape seems to be an excellent RV: it is probably my top consideration if I could purchase. The 15A seemed to be especially in line with what I might want.


I live in the central part of N.C. Danny L.
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
I dont think you have necessarily been misinformed. I have seen an absorption fridge struggle in very hot weather. I have read A LOT from people who have also, and done many things to improve performance such as add fans, shade cloth, etc. Google "absorption fridge performance in hot weather" and you can also read A LOT about it.



But perhaps your concern is exaggerated. My Dometic 2410 does quite well the majority of the time. Properly used it only has some trouble in the hottest of weather. The main issue is recovery time becoming very long, so once the internal temp goes up due to it being off for a short trip, or opened a lot (for examples) then it takes longer to get back to a good temp. And the flame never blows out on the road but I have heard that others have that issue. Its been suggested that a port side fridge is more susceptible to blow outs.



But when reading about the issue, remember that performance is affected by many things like model and size, outside temps, frequency of door opening, side door vs top door, distribution of contents (to allow internal air circulation), etc. IMHO one of the big factors is roof exhaust vent vs side vent. I do think that a roof vent provides much improved performance.



It depends on your camping. If you dont need to cool very much food or drink, and can manage to supply up to 35 amp-hours every day* (plus whatever else you use outside the fridge), then a Danfoss type fridge might work best. But if you are boondocking and dont have that much power available (think solar) then an absorption fridge is likely the only good option.



Most new absorption fridges now use an electric control board. They do not use much power at all for the control board (when on propane) but they do require it and cease to function if your power dies. My 2015 Dometic RM2410 does not however and will run on propane with no electric for as long as you have gas (a month or more on a 20lb tank).



The one cubic foot Danfoss compressor fridge I have is AC/DC which is nice, and it can function as a chest freezer, easily getting to and maintaining zero Fahrenheit (at the cost of greater power use).



So the right tool for the right job.

-----------------------



* In hot weather. Less in cool weather, if fridge is left closed, etc.


Our Truckfridge uses 4.5 amps max. After it is full of food and cooled a few hours it uses much less. We have 2 six volt golf cart batteries. We can boondock for three to four days before reaching 50 percent. The TF is a Danfoss compressor fridge. I highly recommend it. IMHO it is safer on the road than propane.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:51 PM   #11
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The 15A (no bath) and 15B (wet bath) are pretty scarce, no longer built. If you ever see one for sale, you might want to jump on it fast.
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:32 AM   #12
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Thirdly, I have read that absorption units can only cool to approximately 40 degrees below ambient air temperature. This would seem to make camping in hot weather rather problematic. I have friends who tell me they use a Yeti instead.

Any thoughts on these issues would be appreciated.

The coolers that only cool to approximately 40 degrees below ambient are not the same type you will find in these trailers. That type is called thermoelectric refrigerator, they are not compressor driven and they are not fueled by propane.

If you think about it you will realize that most of the fridges in these trailers that run on propane have freezer compartments in them which means they will go lower than 40 degrees below ambient even in the summer time.

It is very easy to get information mixed up when a subject is new to you and there is a lot of ongoing discussion on various aspects of keeping food safe in an RV.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:01 AM   #13
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Danny,

Olivers use absorption fridges. I have one.

It works very well and has never blown out. 40 degrees below ambient, max, is not correct, we make ice in ours. I think you are referring to the the thermoelectric units that can only cool to about 40 degrees below ambient.

Propane absorption fridges are very well suited to being off-grid, but have slow cool-down when initially started. Several hours is required to get cold. So what? Once running they are fine. The level requirement is not an issue. While driving, that rule does not apply, and when camped, if the trailer is reasonably level the fridge works fine.

Absorption fridges are also quieter than compressor fridges.

Compressor fridges work very well, and cool down fast when first started, but you have to have a continuous power source for them.
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Old 08-25-2019, 06:44 AM   #14
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here's another vote for small compressor (danfoss) fridge. i installed a norcold in my casita 16'er (with the smaller fridge). utilizing 2 6v agm golf cart batteries and 2 100w solar panels i've yet to have my foodstuffs overheat.

p@
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Old 08-25-2019, 07:06 AM   #15
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"However, owners of various RVS have noted that the pilot light on a propane unit can blow out while traveling"

In over 100,000 miles of using a propane refrigerator on the road, I have never had this problem. Realize people with a problem WILL post. People without the problem tend to NOT post.

I have no problem making ice in the freezer section regardless of outdoor temperatures.

Having a major appliance run on propane is a HUGE plus to dry campers like me, and to boondockers as well. This would lead me to staying with an absorption refrigerator.
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Old 08-25-2019, 09:06 AM   #16
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Having a major appliance run on propane is a HUGE plus to dry campers like me, and to boondockers as well. This would lead me to staying with an absorption refrigerator.
Absolutely. Then use your solar system to run other things.
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:41 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
"However, owners of various RVS have noted that the pilot light on a propane unit can blow out while traveling"

In over 100,000 miles of using a propane refrigerator on the road, I have never had this problem. Realize people with a problem WILL post. People without the problem tend to NOT post.

I have no problem making ice in the freezer section regardless of outdoor temperatures.

Having a major appliance run on propane is a HUGE plus to dry campers like me, and to boondockers as well. This would lead me to staying with an absorption refrigerator.
You did not have the problem, but you did post. Just sayin'...
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:00 PM   #18
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Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who posted about my refrigeration question. The responses certainly helped clarify the type of refrigerator I would want if I purchased an RV. When I camp it is mostly dry camping or boondocking. A newer camper with an absorption refrigerator that uses propane with solar for other uses seems to make sense.


Again, thanks for all the help. Danny L.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:02 PM   #19
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When the absorption fridge in my older Casita gave up the ghost, I made do for about a year using an inexpensive (below $100) Coleman "chiller". It worked but was a power hog and temperatures was inconsistent. It would freeze things in the winter but summertime was just not too cool.

Eventually I got a Dometic CF-50W and could not be happier. It will work as a freezer down to 0 F or fridge. It runs on 12v or 110 v with very little power draw. The electronics have a programable shut off so that it will not drain your battery below the level you set. Can even control it via a phone app if you want.

They are designed for marine applications and are not cheap, but mine works like a charm. When I am boondocking, I run it off of a Goal Zero 400. Use solar to recharge the goal zero. If I am traveling I can recharge from my TV's 12v outlet. If I have shore power, I run it on 110v.

The only drawback I have found so far is finding space for it inside my Casita. I sometimes put in the rear of the SUV I use for a TV. It is expensive, but works for my purposes.
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Old 09-01-2019, 06:44 AM   #20
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I have an old Norcold 704 DE marine refrigerator with a Swing Compressor.
It can freeze the whole refrigerator sometimes.
The Swing compressor can be noisy, but has no starting surge making it easier to use in 12 volts.
The inverter is built in for 12 volts and the 120 volt is transformed to about 22 volts for the compressor.
These things are often discarded due to either the 12 volt or 120 volt not working due to electrical problems. Mine would run poorly on 12 volts due to the oscillator drifting over the years and I readjusted it to 60 Hz and it is still working after 4 years in service.
I think the Engle portable unit uses the swing compressor.
My unit draws ~ 4 amps on 12 volts and probably averages about 17 watts per hour or maybe 400 watts + per day.
I have 300 watts of solar flat on the roof with two deep cycle 100 AH batteries and so far it has worked in the driveway pretty good.
We are about to take a trip to the South West and plan to stay off the grid some and will test the old fridge out then. As a backup we have a Pulsar 2200 watt dual fuel inverter generator with two 20 lb LP tanks for the tankless water heater and the genny if necessary.
I have thought about replacing the reefer with a LP unit (It would have to be a pull out and the right size to fit where the Norcold does, but as yet I have not found one.
I think that to a large extent the installation of the absorption unit makes a huge difference in operation and many are not done well at all.
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