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Old 02-27-2018, 05:50 PM   #1
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Dry camping with Residential Fridge

New owner of a 2018 Winnebago Sunova 36Z. Has a residential fridge. We want to dry camp but was told it drains the battery quickly on inverter. We unplugged at the rv park to see and it did go down fast. Has anyone dry camped with a residential fridge? Did you use solar to help keep up the charge? What did you do overnight? Did you turn the breaker off? What do you recommend we do? Thanks.
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Old 02-27-2018, 05:58 PM   #2
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Residential fridges aren't all that bad, but it still more than an RV fridge running on propane. If you have only two modest size house batteries, you can probably get by overnight if you run the genset before going to bed and get the charge up fairly well. Plan on running it again in the morning, though.

You can economize by limiting the frequency that you open the fridge door, and yes you could turn the breaker off while you sleep. However, turning it off just postpones the time of reckoning - when you turn it back on it's going to run a long time to catch up. But you can use the genset then...

The better solution is to add another battery or two, and/or replace yours with a larger size. And yes, solar helps avoid the need for genset runtime.
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:29 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Gary. I looked at the battery bank, we have 4 batteries for the coach and according to the Winnebago website these are 4 deep cell/RV/Marine batteries. It states they are Group 31 NAPA brand. When we initially cut the power to the coach and turned on the inverter there was a huge -39 amp draw I think but after a short time the draw looked like only 0-2 amps. They look like they're 12v each but I'm not sure. Could be 4 six volt but connected as 2 12v. Confusing for sure. So solar will shorten the amount of time needed to run the genset and the batteries should make it through the night and run the genset first thing in the morning/
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:36 PM   #4
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Just to insure that you do not run your batteries down too far...If your coach is set up to have the gen set placed on "auto-start" or similar. That way if the batteries reach the cut off point on available charge.....the gennie will take over..
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:37 PM   #5
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GP31 are 12 volt batteries.

6 volt batteries would be marked GC2.

The 39 amp draw may have been the fridge starting. 39 amps at12 volts is 3.9 amps at 120 volts.

After the initial start load, the fridge should drop to 10 to 15 amps. The amps will only be that high while the fridge is running. Time how many minutes it runs per hour. If it runs 20 minutes per hour, divide the running amps by 3. That will be your fridge AH ( amp hour ) use.

Guessing 5 AH, times 12 hours of quiet time adds up to 60 AH, from your 400 AH battery bank.

If you run the ice maker, your use my double.
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Old 02-27-2018, 06:43 PM   #6
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there are a lot of folks dry camping with a residential fridge, not a problem. i am one of them. i have not plugged in a shore power for years, but i have a large solar with a sizable battery pack.

your 4 batteries should be fine. adding two more would be better.

before you set up solar, use genset to keep the battery charged. generally a residential fridge does not use too much energy. mine uses about 6a at 12v when compressor is running. but it runs only 1/3 of time. defrost uses more but short.

solar's long term benefit is obvious. you might want to read online to understand how it works. many people installed their own systems that saved a lot of money. come back here or "Going Green" forum for questions we will be glad to help you. Good luck!
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:02 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the replies. I'm beginning to understand some and will continue to study and ask questions. I looked again at the batteries and they are NAPA Dual Purpose 12 v batteries. I do have 4 of them. I think they're connected parallel to make 2 12v batteries. According to the NAPA website the only thing that comes close is Marine & RV Deep Cycle - Dual Purpose - Universal Group 27DCM. I really need to research more. I do have auto start but if I'm somewhere where there are generator hours I'm afraid that the generator would start up in the middle of the night. I think I will test it in the RV park before we head out for the summer In the NW. I did see that there is room for 2 additional batteries in the battery bay. Something to consider in the future. If you have any recommendations for upgraded batteries I would be open to hearing about them. Thank you
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:02 PM   #8
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First thing I'd do is get a reasonable estimate of the watts used by at least the frig. If you can't meter it directly, then get the info from the name plate or owner's manual. From watts you calculate the amps. Amps = watts/volts. So for example if the frig takes 1200 watts then 1200/12 = 100 amps. This should be very high for a frig, only a math simple example. Then you estimate the number of hours per day the frig is running, it's not 24 hrs, say 8 hours. Then AmpHrs = 8 x 100 or 800 Amp hours of power used from a 12 volt battery system.

Batteries are rated in AHrs, and rating varies all over the board. I have 4 6 volt batteries rated at 230 AHrs each. In a series - parallel wiring setup this provides a total of 460 Ahrs. You NEVER want to use your batteries down below 50% of total capacity. Doing so will damage the battery and greatly shorten its life. The 50% mark is about 12.0 volts. A fully charged battery is usually like 12.66 volts. So I can use about 230 Ahrs out os this total.

I would try to size the battery bank to handle at least 48 hrs of power needs without going below the 50% mark. I have 115 amp converter to recharge from shore power, a 3500 watt generator/inverter and 1050 watts of solar. Solar needs vary widely depending on your battery bank size, 24 hour power consumption weather and your location. Solar results will be very different in say Arizona vs. Seattle.

I probably confused you even more, but getting this right is not real simple and what one person or your friends has done may have nothing to do with your needs and life style. There are some RV solar shops that can do a very fine job and others that don't have a clue what they're doing besides selling you a solar package. A 500 - 600 watt solar system for 4 6volt batteries is fairly common, but may not fit your needs.

Good luck, check back in here for other ideas.
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:17 PM   #9
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Looks like I have some work to do. Thank you.
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:33 PM   #10
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An easy way to calculate energy use is look up your model fridge and get the Government Energy Guide.

The guide give you the yearly KWH use. Divide that by 365 days in a year and you get the daily watt use. A KWH is 1000 watts.

My example is my first apartment size fridge. Its guide said 365 KWH so it was easy math, 1 KWH per day or 1000 watts a day.

I took 1000 watts per day and divided it by 12 volts to come up with daily AH use. 7 years of data confirms that it works out very close.

Don't use the amp draw on the data plate. That is total amps the fridge CAN pull, in the worst case, with everything starting at once.
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:35 PM   #11
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Dry camping right now with residential refrigerator. Do so often for week+ at a time. Not a problem as they really don't takes lot if amp hours to operate.

The biggest user of battery is the fan in the propane furnace overnight... A good down comforter on the bed is a huge energy saver.
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Old 02-27-2018, 07:51 PM   #12
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I am currently boon docking and have a residential refrigerator. The coach has 6 - 6 volt batteries and a tiny solar panel mounted on the roof. I run the generator a couple of hours before calling it a night and a couple of hours in the morning. In addition to running the refrigerator all night and day, we run the furnace during the night. In the morning, the batteries read about 12.16 volts. These batteries are about 5 years old. You should not have a problem if you run your generator before going to bed and first thing in the morning.
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:03 PM   #13
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After listening to everyone on residential refrigerators it makes me wonder why there are so many being retro-fitted, must be the initial cost which is not always the best route, seems the electric/propane is a much better way to go if you do a lot of dry camping.
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
An easy way to calculate energy use is look up your model fridge and get the Government Energy Guide.

The guide give you the yearly KWH use. Divide that by 365 days in a year and you get the daily watt use. A KWH is 1000 watts.

My example is my first apartment size fridge. Its guide said 365 KWH so it was easy math, 1 KWH per day or 1000 watts a day.

I took 1000 watts per day and divided it by 12 volts to come up with daily AH use. 7 years of data confirms that it works out very close.

Don't use the amp draw on the data plate. That is total amps the fridge CAN pull, in the worst case, with everything starting at once.
I checked the Energy Guide and it said 387 Kwh/yr then I divided by 365 days which gave me 1.06 Kwh/day then I converted that to watts which was 1060 watts/day then I divided by 12 to get the daily AH which was 88AH/day

Does that sound like the right math?
Thanks for the help
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