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Old 08-20-2015, 05:31 AM   #1
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Change to "house" refrigerator

Just got the news from my trailer tech guy - cooling unit shot needs to be replaced. At a cost of approx. CA$2500.00 that is not going to happen. I am planning to buy a regular household fridge [110 volt] . I have two concerns; one is easy, my doorway is 24", the other and main question is:
VIBRATION and is there a way to reduce it at the installation point. Also can anyone recommend a good type of fridge. Will appreciate any comments as I'm going to pull out the old Dometic today.
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Old 08-20-2015, 10:14 AM   #2
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Don't have any brand of residential fridge to recommend , but will say to look for a fridge with the cooling coils on the bottom rather than up the back. Reason being with the coils on the bottom , you can close off the outside vents and that is easier than trying to dust / draught proof one with the coils up the rear.
Vibrations, first would be to balance the trailer tires, but unless you plan on hooking up an inverter to run the fridge while you're driving, that should not really be an issue. I've carried the same beer fridge for 7 years, in my last 5er, and in the basement of this coach and haven't had a problem with it. With the door closed it stays cold for the 7>8 hour daily drive.
There are plugs available to cap the propane line so you don't have to remove it.
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:03 AM   #3
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Fridge compressors are typically vibration isolated already, though for the opposite reason: If they weren't "sprung" in some fashion, they'd cause the fridge itself to vibrate, which would annoy the owner (rattling noise).

Measure the draw for a few days with the door closed. You may be impressed with how little power the residential fridge will draw when it's unused. When you do let it warm up (opening the door, etc) the current required to get the compressor going and having it run, however, are very high. So you can get away with less battery than you might think, but you will need more inverter than you thought you could do with.

The number one thing is that the doors on residential fridges tend to pop open while driving. Figure out a way to keep them shut for the drive. I use duct tape, but there's better, more reusable ways. A fridge left with a door open in an already hotter than normal environment that does have much area to let heat escape from will quickly damage the compressor!
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Old 08-21-2015, 04:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice......now looking for a fridge I can hook up to 12v while driving and 110 v when parked. Will try to get an inverter to plug into 12v outlet. Meanwhile I'm thinking about one of the 12v coolers like Koolatron or Coleman to get started....any opinions ?
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Old 08-21-2015, 01:15 PM   #5
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If you are trying to run a full size residential fridge on an inverter while traveling you will need a real inverter not one that plugs into a 12v outlet. It will need to be at least 1000w and be connected directly to the battery with large ga cables. Then run the 110v lines to the fridge outlet. A transfer switch will make using the system easier.
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Old 08-22-2015, 04:37 AM   #6
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Thanks for advice. It looks like I should plan to use 110v and forget about 12v-sounds
too complicated otherwise. It will be inconvenient but I will have to use a separate 12v cooler when rolling or pre cool the electric fridge.
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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Your "guy" is flatly ripping you off! First you should get more than one estimate, then if that doesn't work out here is a place to get a replacement cooling unit. RV Cooling Unit Warehouse There is also a company in Canada that makes a replacement unit but I can't remember their name. A brand new refrigerator is less than half the amount your guy wants to fix that one.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:31 PM   #8
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The Dynamax Trilogy and the DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel lines come with residential fridges in them. My trilogy has an 1800 watt inverter that acts like a pass thru when shore power is present, then inverts off of the 2 coach batteries when shore power is not on. So far it works well. The Fridge is a counter depth Frigidaire french door with bottom freezer. Works much better than any amonia unit that I have ever had in the 15 years that I have been camping. I would not go back to an Amonia refer after using this 18 cu ft residential... PM me and I will get you the name of the power inverter that they installed for this setup!
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:49 AM   #9
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If you'd like to use the fridge while driving, and you don't want hassle, just pick up a 2000 watt inverter. It will power any size of fridge that plugs into a standard 110 volt outlet. Get someone to wire it in with heavy gauge wiring (3 AWG minimum, 0 AWG suggested) to your house battery. I can't imagine paying more than $500 for this, though I suppose it depends on the quality of inverter and labour (You could spend $1000+ if you want top of the line equipment). I would personally upgrade the batteries if I planned to use it for more than a couple of hours when not towing or plugged into shore power, but that depends on what you have right now.

With that upgrade, you'll now be able to power other 110v stuff from the batteries too when you're not plugged in. For me that was worth it right there (I love using my laptop, and it's only good for an hour on battery).

Just make sure your TT charges from the truck while driving. It won't really charge much at all, but it means you won't drain the battery (much) powering the fridge while driving.

This is the inverter I'm using. It's a little bit undersized so I would suggest something larger:

MotoMaster 1000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter w/ Remote Control | Canadian Tire (sells for $179 on deep discount)

If I were buying in the US, I'd go for this:

2000 Watt Continuous/4000 Watt Peak Power Inverter

I figure another $75 for supplies (a short length of thick cable... put the inverter close to the battery! plus a few feet of romex, an outlet, etc) and 3 - 5 hours of labour (A pro will do it easy in 3 hours, maybe 2!) at $80 - $100 an hour. That's $500. Or DIY and pay just $200---it's only basic wiring, nothing funky. If you're not experienced, I would only add a new circuit, not try to re-purpose what's already there. Add an extra outlet where you can get at it for convenience.
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:53 AM   #10
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Many thanks for all the suggestions. Have decided that due to a lack of knowledge and finances I'll take the simplest route for now. Buy a cheap fridge [coil on bottom], get a good 12v cooler for travelling and just switch food back and forth as required.
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Old 08-25-2015, 05:07 AM   #11
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Another question: Can anything useful be done with the heater under the fridge or is it
part of the fridge ?
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Old 08-27-2015, 01:41 PM   #12
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The heater is not part of the fridge.

Keep in mind that if you pre-cool the residential fridge with food in it and keep it closed during travel while unplugged, it will stay cool for many hours until you can plug it in again.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:01 AM   #13
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Thanks for all suggestions. For this year I'll have to go the easiest and cheapest route.
Can anyone suggest a good 12v cooler ie: Koolatron,Coleman etc. There are so many to choose from in the $150.00 range. Would like one that works off 12v and 110 and has a large capacity.......any suggestions ?
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:52 AM   #14
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Just FYI, those coolers don't do anything more than you'd get from a cooler full of ice cubes, sometimes less (they typically only cool down by 40 degrees Fahrenheit vs outside temperature--if it's a roasting hot day, it will be room temperature in the cooler).

They're also horribly inefficient compared to compressor based fridges, and slow to cool.

If you want to go that route, I'd almost suggest using a yeti cooler (or one of the 5 day+ knockoffs) + ice. Or, if you can keep it outside (roof rack?) dry ice is awesome (it'll even keep things frozen) but expensive and requires proper handling for safety and so you don't freeze everything and possibly crack the cooler. Heck, use right, dry ice is great for keeping fridges cold. Just remember to have a little ventilation. It will fill an airtight space with carbon dioxide! Unlike carbon monoxide, your body will typically know when there's too much CO2 in a room, so it's not an extreme hazard.
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