Born Free Leap'n Lions RV Club

Anyone using only a 110 Volt Refrigerator?
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Author:  shezonit [ Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Anyone using only a 110 Volt Refrigerator?

This may end up costing me a lot of $$, but...
Has anyone taken out their propane refrig to use a 110volt one? The PO of my 1992 rig said when he bought it at 115,000 miles and ten years old, it had a "new" LP/ electric refrig. He didn't use the rig much. ( 10k miles in 8 years)
He said the propane refrig was not able to keep things cold/ frozen when it was 100+ degrees in Arizona, so he took it out and put in a 2 door(top freezer) refrig. He said it would keep things frozen for 2 days.
My experience is that, yes, here in Montana, with a few of those blue ice things in there , it will actually keep ice cubes frozen for 48 hours. (Who knew?)
I am planning to boondock a fair mount this winter.... and I'm a bit concerned this refrig situation will cut into my ice cream supply chain....
Anyone have RV experience with a non LP refrig in daily real world use?

Author:  shezonit [ Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

OMG, I just read a couple threads about propane refrig problems and the resulting drama. Several long time owners described some $100- $600. fixes and....... Maybe I am better off using that $ for fuel to run the generator.... and treat my 110V refrig as a good ice chest?

Anyone else tried it?

Author:  BlueCoyote [ Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:31 pm ]
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We stuck an apt sized fridge in our 76. Works great when power available, run the gen a few hours a day to kep it cold. 90% of our use is either at the race track or roughing it. A propane would be nice, but for the amount of use its hard to justify the $700 to fix it.

Author:  shezonit [ Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:31 pm ]
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I'm going to work with it this winter season, often boondocking and try to keep track of what it costs me to keep it cold, buying ice, etc.

This whole winter will be a learning curve....

NO ONE else here using 11V refrig? I had an Rv salesman tell me that "many" of the high end rigs are only using residential refrigerators now. I guess if you are always in a park.....

Blue Coyote- you have a 70's Born Free? Any photos?

Author:  tomzleapin [ Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:57 am ]
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You could try running your fridge on an inverter. How well this works will depend on several things. The first thing is how much electricity does it consume? You don't say what size your fridge is but to start I will assume a compact dorm style unit which uses about 330 KWH per year. This would boil down to about 900 watts per day which is about 3 amps per hour. If your battery setup is typical with two 12 volt batteries you would have about 200 amp hour capacity. For best battery life you do not want to run your batteries down more than 50% before recharging. This would leave 100 amp hours. If your only electrical use was the fridge you could run it for 33 hours before recharging. If you are frugal with your electricity and your batteries are in good shape you could get by with having to charge once a day.

This brings us to the issue of charging. The converter in your coach may not be up to the task of keeping your batteries charged. Older converters quickly drop down to a float charge which means you could run your generator all day long and not get an adequate charge. If this is the case, you have a couple of options. Either upgrade your converter or get a separate high amperage charger.

Another issue is the inverter. Their are basically two types of inverters. The cheap kind that put out a modified sine wave (MSW) and the not so cheap pure sine wave (PSW). For most things the MSW works fine. Many refrigerators don't like MSW and the motor tends to overheat. For a small fridge you will probably need at least a 600 watt inverter.

Author:  shezonit [ Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:58 am ]
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Tom, thanks for all this info. The refrig is more like "apartment size", with a top freezer and separate doors. I will see how many watt hrs it needs. At present I have only one 12v house battery.
A friend will be installing a 40W solar panel on the roof before I go south. I will have him read your post and we'll see if it will charge the battery enough to run the refig.

Is that a solar panel on the side of your Born Free? Why the side?

Author:  tomzleapin [ Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:32 pm ]
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A 40 watt solar panel will not be near enough. Likewise a single battery. I now have two panels on the side of my coach. The larger of the two is 125 watts and the smaller 80 watts. I mounted them on the side so that I can easily remove them. I have a 50 ft. cable which allows me to park in the shade and set the panels in the sun. Most people mount panels on the roof. This means that the coach has to be parked in the sun.

For batteries many people opt for two Trojan T-105 6 volt golf cart batteries connected in series which gives you 12 volt and 225 amp hours. I opted for the T-125 which is the same size but gives you 240 amp hours. Trojan has a good reputation but any brand of group GC2 deep cycle battery should work.

I did a quick search on the internet for apartment sized fridges and was surprised to find that they tend to be more efficient than the compact dorm size. A couple of them were about 250 KWH per year.

Figuring what size and type inverter you need is going to involve a bit of guesswork. To get started, a compressor style fridge requires a fairly large start-up current. Once the fridge gets started it settles down to a much lower current. You can get by with a smaller inverter if it will handle the initial surge. Typical inverters can handle a peak current of about twice their rated continuous current. If you are lucky a 300 watt may work.

The next question is MSW or PSW inverter. I recently purchased a Go Power 300 watt pure sine wave inverter for $175. The same brand costs $25 if it is MSW. The big IF is will your fridge run okay on MSW. Induction type motors (which your fridge would have in the compressor) tend to run hot with MSW power.

The main reason I opted to go solar was peace-and-quiet. I spend winters in south Florida (the sunshine state). I boondock 100% and seldom have to run my generator.

If you plan on boondocking you have some decisions to make. To get an adequate charge you most likely will have to upgrade your converter or purchase a high current battery charger. You will need an inverter to power your fridge. You will need two healthy batteries (the largest that will fit) to keep things running.

If you plan on solar you will need at least 200 watts for the panel/panels plus a charge controller.

Here's some sites for solar info:

A couple of sources for solar gear: Good prices & free shipping. Renogy ebay store. I purchased my 80 watt panel from them.

Some pix of my present solar:

Author:  shezonit [ Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:42 am ]
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Solar is great. Peace and quiet is good. I don't relish the sound of a generator for hours a day. However, the manual says to run the generator. My previous rv had one that had about 25 hrs on it when I bought it at 12 years old. Can you say SURGE? The one I have now has the "correct" number of hrs on it for its age and runs very smooth.
This 40w panel is only meant to keep the house battery topped up. I'm not sure the stock inverter would power the frig even if I had 2 batteries.

As I said somewhere, this winter will be a learning curve.

Author:  al1florida [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:23 pm ]
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First, Tom gave some very good advice in his earlier post.

Second, on the Escapees RV Club discussion forum, I have followed several discussions about residential refrigerators in RV's. In general the fridges require about 200 amp hours (AH) of battery (100 useable AH) and at least 200 watts of solar (300 watts better) to keep the batteries charged. This battery power is not taking into consideration any other battery use you might need, such as lights running your furnace, etc.

To put the 100 AH's back into the batteries using your generator will require 3-4 hours of generator run time using your inverter/charger you have installed for the fridge. If you try to recharge with the generator and factory stock converter it may take 10 hours of generator time to recharge.

I suppose you could run your generator and supply a/c power to fridge for a couple of hours to cool the fridge/freezer down and then turn off the fridge for 8-12 hours and repeat the process when the fridge gets too warm.

Author:  shezonit [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:40 pm ]
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Yes, Tom does seem to have all his ducks in a row..... I wish he'd vacation in Arizona instead of Florida, so I could see all those Improvements in person. ! :-)

I have no illusions about trying to keep the refrig running 24/7. I will be turning it off and just doing the generator 2-3 hrs a day, to keep ice frozen (I hope). Like I said, this winter will be a learning curve. I may learn that I have to buy an LP refrig. !!
I'm not so concerned with being able to stock enough food, but - no ice cream?? :-0

Author:  oliverpsmile [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:51 pm ]
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Simple ice box (samples for design and built in every small town museums) would save a lot of creativity and money. Today such a system would be more efficient by virtue of availability of ready frozen food or ice cold produce.
Not to mention packs of cold beer in the box. The only think left is to compensate for the heat losses (it will take days to spoil the contents).

Imagine no generators, no solar panels, no wiring, no noise and ice cream. :)

Author:  shezonit [ Sun Sep 22, 2013 4:30 am ]
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My 1977 "hippie camper van " (shag carpet and all) had an ice box. Yes an elegant solution... But the ice compartment took up almost half the space.and definitely didn't keep ice cream frozen.
I'm hoping using those blue "ice" packs, a few ice cube trays, and keeping both freezer and frig full (plenty of beer) that I will get through the days with minimal generator use. It seems to work in Montana where we have cool nights. The ice cubes stay frozen 36 to 48 hrs.
Thanks all for advice and insights.

Author:  Laurie [ Sun Sep 22, 2013 6:04 pm ]
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Another option for refrigeration is a eutectic plate. A condenser unit is used to freeze a cold (eutectic) plate. Most systems run off a 12 volt generator or engine power. Eutectic plates are commonly used in boats since they are great for boondocking, no need for electricity. I am not sure why they are rarely seen in motorhomes, it may have something to do with temperature control or need to charge the plate on a daily basis. The mechanics are not very complicated making repairs straightforward and inexpensive. If thinking about an ice chest, this might be a nice alternative.

Author:  shezonit [ Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:11 pm ]
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WOW! I learned something tonight! I read about eutectic plates, I looked on several websites and I am still ...... unclear. I "think" it is something like a much more sophisticated freezer pack. Sounds good. Now if I could just find a website that quotes prices for the plate itself.

Thanks for this tip, Laurie. This is NEW info to me.

Author:  al1florida [ Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:52 pm ]
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Very interesting "eutectic plates". From the little I read online, it sounds like a metal container you fill with a fluid you refrigerate from an outside source. Then the metal container with the cold fluid inside keeps your stuff cold. Kind of like putting a cold pack in a fridge.

The bad part is how on earth, in an RV, would you get the fluid cold and into the metal container???

It doesn't sound like it would be any more efficient than a compressor or an absorption refrigerator. You still need the compressor or absorption process to get the fluid cold.

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