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Old 11-18-2014, 03:56 PM   #1
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Boondocking with a freezer

We are imagining camping full time with our primary method being boondocking. We also live on the wild game we take. Is it possible to boondock and keep a freezer? Seems like this would be impossible without running a generator 24/7 which would cost a small fortune. Is solar an option for this?

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Old 11-18-2014, 04:04 PM   #2
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There are 12VDC/120VAC units available that will cool or freeze. Dometic sells one in several different sizes

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Old 11-18-2014, 04:16 PM   #3
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Also check places aimed at big truckers. There are compressor based 12 VDC freezers some use when over the road.

FWIW you already know you probably need to maximize your battery capacity and look at solar given what you say you want to do. ;-)
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Old 11-18-2014, 04:18 PM   #4
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Just like there are propane powered refrigerator/freezers there are freezer only units powered by propane.
Fridges, Ranges, Freezers - Unique Off-Grid Appliances

The question becomes how much "wild game" you plan to freeze and will it be practical to store in your boondocking RV.

Most of us only freeze enough to get to the next trip to the grocery store.

"Wild Game" tends to be seasonal and feast or famine for many hunters.
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Old 11-18-2014, 04:23 PM   #5
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Rocky, we are fortunate to take enough game that we have a freezer full all year around. We of course realize that this may have to change due to our boondocking goals. But if we can find a way we would like to keep our elk, venison and other game.
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Old 11-18-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
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Nothermark, do you know if your suggestion of the compressor based freezer would drain the batteries so often as to be impractical? We are btw researching a fairly hefty solar array for our camper. Just wonder if it will ever be large enough!
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:03 AM   #7
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Off hand I cannot say much about the compressor freezers. I saw some but have not used one.

I can say that I would be inclined to use a freezer alarm and turn the unit off if I was worrying about battery life. Turn it on when the generator was running. Freezers tend to coast well if the power is off for a day or so in a power outage. I think you could use that as part of your power management plan for boondocking. Probably could do the same with an AC powered unit.

Either way you will want to experiment a bit and might want to add some insulation in the form of foam board outside the box. Do not block air flow and do insulate the top. I think you will find it is quite manageable especially since it does not get opened more than once a day or less assuming there is some meal planning and a day or two's worth of meals pulled at a time.

FWIW - I think you can make yourself crazy trying to go for days on solar in a lot of the country. If you plan to move or run the generator every two or 3 days for a couple of hours it makes things a lot simpler. If you learn to stretch that by careful management it is a whole lot more rewarding than pouring more money down the technology rathole. Do it during dinner time and you also put peak usage on the generator instead of battery bank.
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by smarty View Post
Rocky, we are fortunate to take enough game that we have a freezer full all year around. We of course realize that this may have to change due to our boondocking goals. But if we can find a way we would like to keep our elk, venison and other game.
Canning (using jars) of meats/sauces and drying/smoking while at home or boondocking are great activities. Both would preserve your food stuffs and reduce the freezer load.
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Old 11-20-2014, 04:10 PM   #9
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Look at the 'truck fridge' website, just google it. I have a 41 quart portable unit and love it. They run off 120v or 12v and switch automatically if both plugs are used. I have mine running 24/7 whether in the house or camper. They have a "dan foss" style compressor and and eco mode if needed. There are other brands out there arb, edge star, engle, etc, but I think this one is the best bang for the buck.
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Old 11-20-2014, 07:15 PM   #10
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I have an Engel (Small 12/120 volt) Freezer at my elbow as I type, 9 years old it draws like 3 amps when run on 12 volts, yes, less than a pair of 1156 lights. Closer to a pair of 1141s
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:05 PM   #11
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IMHO, the Engel is the best. Had one on our trawler for 10yrs. Was exposed to salt water environment and in continuous use for the entire time. Never quit. Low power draw, built like a tank. Even had a visitor accidentally dump a bloody mary into the electric area louvers. Sprayed it out with electronics cleaner was still running 4yrs later when we sold the boat. We bought a new one for RV.
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Old 11-21-2014, 06:23 PM   #12
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Looks like an Engle 80 quart might do you, 2 amps per hour even double would not be a terrible drain. And it might just hold most of a cut ELK. 200#s of meat takes a bit of space. Then try to add a deer a couple pheasants and a grouse or two and your on overflow. Not even talking about the Fish of the day. Space for the freezer would be of concern and a good Joey bed would be in order to access the top. Your talking in the $2000 area. What type of RV are you talking to put this in?

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Old 11-22-2014, 08:59 AM   #13
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We have an Engel and keep it on a sliding tray in the basement of our 5th wheel. Runs on both ac/dc and automatically switches to whichever power source is available. We have it full of fish from Alaska. It was expensive but it is a durable, reliable addition to our RV. We are full timers and have never had a problem keeping it cold while camping without utilities. We do have 4 batteries though. This Engel can also be used as a refrigerator but we use ours strictly as a freezer.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:55 AM   #14
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It is doable with solar and like anything else it will cost $ proportional for the freezer space you want. It will require research and decision making once you clarify your power consumption needs specifically (that is the hardest part). A class A with a roof full of solar and a larger than normal battery bank set would be (overkill) more than up to the task of providing 24/7 freezing of 82 quarts of stuff.

Now comes the reality check; What else do you want to run off the batteries and or generator and or engine? What amount of sunlight will you be located in ? What will the average outside temperature be where you will dry camp ? What amount of time will you be traveling with the engine running ? You get the idea so it all really depends on YOUR lifestyle plans.

Then there is the water and liquid changing parameters that go along with dry camping.

Compressor style freezers sip energy and will do the job if propane is not your plan. We have a 63Qt EdgeStar Frig/Freez in the bay that has run 8mo/year for the last 4 years just fine off batteries and or inverter when moving. We don't dry camp 100% but like cold beer !

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