Electrical and Refrigerators - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-17-2013, 09:06 AM   #1
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Electrical and Refrigerators

The PO of the Scamp I just bought made some "adjustments" (hard to call them modifications) to the electrical system. In short (no pun intended) it looks like he simply removed the 12-volt system and wired the whole thing for 110/115v shore power. He installed a small 110v refrigerator, which means of course nothing will work unless I'm plugged in, so food isn't going to stay cold while I'm driving.

My dilemma is where to start? I'm on a low-to-no budget plan here, and investing in a 3-way fridge and paying someone to rewire and set up the propane lines would kill me. What I have to do anyway is get the wiring sorted out properly with a battery and charge controller. If I get lucky and find some equipment used, I may try to add a 100 watt solar panel and inverter. So my question is, does anyone out there use a fridge that runs on 12v dc only? There are some nice compact models out there, and that would take care of the driving issue.

Or should I just get an icebox? Seriously. Any thoughts and advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:30 AM   #2
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On no budget, your best bet is to use ice to augment the refrigerator while driving. Some here have ingenious solutions like pre-freezing square containers to fit in the fridge.

For a small amount of money, you can buy an inverter and attach it to the trailer battery, then run a heavy electrical cable from the tow vehicle battery to maintain the charge level. Plug the refrigerator into the inverter. Rabbit (Jack) has done some extensive testing on running a refrigerator on an inverter and may shed some light on a recommended size and brand.

While boon docking, the inverter is not going to work without a significant solar panel set up.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:11 AM   #3
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We freeze water bottles, pack in refrigerator/freezer, meat still frozen, refrigerator section still cold after 13/14 hour trip to Wyoming @ 70-75 (that's degrees not MPH, wouldn't want to start something)
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:33 AM   #4
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Would've been nice to tell you that before you bought!

IIWM I would look for a used three way. You may end up with propane down the road.
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Old 08-17-2013, 11:45 AM   #5
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Most refrigerators are insulated well enough to stay cold, at cold enough, for several hours, even a day or two, depending on how hot it is outside. I never never travel with fridge running. Running on the battery is too hard on the charging system or will run the battery down. Running propane, to me, isn't safe and I don't have a long enough extension cord.

So unless you're traveling across the country in August and only stopping long enough to sleep and not plugged in, it's probably not worth worrying about.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:10 PM   #6
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He did tell me, and I accepted it knowing I'd have to sort something out! It's nice to hear the "don't worry about it" stuff - and good to know I'm not the only one using electric. Freezing water in containers is an excellent idea - thanks.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:37 PM   #7
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There are some nice 12v fridge/freezers out there when you get ready. Engel is probably the least power hungry - but the most expensive. Right now, I have a Whynter. I uses 5A @ 12V when running and is half the cost of an Engel.
I don't know where you're located but I have a fridge from my '77 Trillium you can have free if you're in the neighborhood. The propane doesn't work but the AC/DC does.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:44 PM   #8
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To add to the possibilities, I picked up a used 3 way fridge for $50 from an old popup. They are frequently parted out when the top rots out.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for the offer - I'm in Maine, though.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:47 PM   #10
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Ah - yes, the possibilities list grows. Good idea!
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:50 PM   #11
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The timing and price are right on this one.
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...tor-60389.html
You could possibly even tie it in with a meet or someone attending the meet might be able to bring it back part way.
For example the Niagara, MI Algonac and Ohio meets are all coming up shortly. Shipping may not be as expensive as you think.
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Old 08-17-2013, 02:59 PM   #12
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Further to Byron's post above, a full fridge (or freezer) heats up more slowly than an almost empty one, so if you keep your fridge fairly loaded, it will better maintain its temperature while you are travelling with the fridge off.
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Old 08-17-2013, 03:32 PM   #13
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We had a 12volt only fridge. The cooling coils where around the metal freezer (yes it was old) We would pack freezer mostly with blue ice packs, they would hold temp well. On 28 hour trip to Colo. we started with the meat frozen, everything cold and arrived with ice crystals still in the meat.

Would re-freeze when we spent a night with shore power or if I was willing to use the battery.

Scamp store sells an ice box, have been posts by people who installed with extra insulation and found they could get 4 days on a block of ice. Have to call to find out dimensions.
http://www.scamptrailers.com/parts-store/appliances/ice-box-detail.html

Not sure if new ice box at $115 would be a better deal than putting the money toward a used fridge. That would be your call.
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Old 08-17-2013, 04:26 PM   #14
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While an ice box in the trailer is convenient, a Coleman Extreme cooler might be a better choice. Raz
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Old 08-17-2013, 04:36 PM   #15
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Would not the current 110 volt refrigerator function as an icebox? The goal was low investment, I believe.
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:23 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
We freeze water bottles, pack in refrigerator/freezer, meat still frozen, refrigerator section still cold after 13/14 hour trip to Wyoming @ 70-75 (that's degrees not MPH, wouldn't want to start something)
...That is exactly what I did for my Trillium. Eventhough my fridge is 3way, I rarely use anything(propane, 12v battery or 12VDC from towing vehicle's alternator while driving) but 110VAC houshold/shore power..24hr before any trip, I plug in the fridge of Trillium from my garage outlet while stuffing water bottles in the freezer of house's basement. When leaving, I stuff several frozen bottles in the fridge and when coming to campsite, the first thing I do is...plug in...the fridge. I do not want to shorten the life span of my car alternator( expensive) to charge/supply anything for the trailer..That is my way..and share with you...Yeah, I always have cold beers right at the first time at camp-site.
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Old 08-18-2013, 10:26 PM   #17
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When I got my Scamp(govt surplus), there was a hardboard 'plate' covering the hole where the icebox was to be. I took off the cover and put a shelf it. It now holds my cooler(with a bungee to hold it in) when traveling. Someday I will replace it with a 12v cooler, but it works fine as is now.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:26 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Thinh View Post
...That is exactly what I did for my Trillium. Eventhough my fridge is 3way, I rarely use anything(propane, 12v battery or 12VDC from towing vehicle's alternator while driving) but 110VAC houshold/shore power..24hr before any trip, I plug in the fridge of Trillium from my garage outlet while stuffing water bottles in the freezer of house's basement. When leaving, I stuff several frozen bottles in the fridge and when coming to campsite, the first thing I do is...plug in...the fridge. I do not want to shorten the life span of my car alternator( expensive) to charge/supply anything for the trailer..That is my way..and share with you...Yeah, I always have cold beers right at the first time at camp-site.
Cant you ride with the fridge working on propane power?
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:31 AM   #19
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Can't you ride with the fridge working on propane power?
The short answer is that it works. The long answer is that some don't consider it safe and will doubtless show up soon to tell you why.

The OP has a 110 volt only refrigerator.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:44 AM   #20
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Would not the current 110 volt refrigerator function as an icebox? The goal was low investment, I believe.
Fridge will work as an icebox if the ice is in containers, but lacks a drain. Would not be able to just pick up another block of ice at the strore without dealing with the water from melting. Could be work ok, especially if shore power was available every night or couple of days. but at that point I would think about removal of fridge and use the space for storage of a cooler or two. How well ice chest works might depend on if one cooks alot inside or out.

We use our cooler more than the fridge but then we cook outside so it's nice to be able to bring the fridge to the picnic table. Having cooler out to cook would be sort of crowding inside the camper.
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