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Old 09-29-2020, 06:23 AM   #1
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Propane refrigerator when driving through mountains

About to pick up my first RV, and it has a propane/AC refrigerator. We're not full-timing, so as we go out to our site on trips I'd planned on running the fridge off propane while driving, so that we can get it cold by the time we get to where we're going. It seems a bit of overkill to get the generator going to do this, so I'd planned on using propane (I know that I'd have to turn off the propane going through certain tunnels).

However, what if we're going to a mountain camp site, or over a mountain pass, such as the grapevine in CA? The road grade could easily take it outside of level (I believe the specs are 3 degrees one way and 6 degrees the other, though I can't remember which is which right now). Should I turn off the fridge when driving up or down?
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Old 09-29-2020, 06:29 AM   #2
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You are over-thinking this. Just go and have fun.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:00 AM   #3
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I've been up and down many mountains and didn't even give it a thought and all was well when we arrived to our campground. So like exrench said, Go and have fun!
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:08 AM   #4
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The level requirements only apply when stationary. While moving the jostling movement keeps thing flowing properly in the fridge.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:09 AM   #5
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Running out of level when on propane never seems to hurt anything because your level condition is always changing. Just level, or shut down, when you are going to be parked for over an hour.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exrench View Post
You are over-thinking this. Just go and have fun.


50 years of propane type refrigerators and I never found road grades to be a problem. Even grades like this one.

Quote:
"We're not full-timing, so as we go out to our site on trips I'd planned on running the fridge off propane while driving, so that we can get it cold by the time we get to where we're going."
Are you planning on driving with an empty refrigerator for some reason?
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:12 AM   #7
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We have been running the refrigerator on propane while traveling for 12 years. Absolutely no problems while traveling the entire continental United States and Canada.
Enjoy your travels.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:14 AM   #8
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Depending on the drive time you may want to start that fridge a little earlier before you leave. It takes, in my opinion and experience with mine, at least 5 hours to get mine moderately cool before I even think of loading it before I leave on a trip.

But that's just me. I throw a bag of ice in the freezer and a frozen gallon water jug in the fridge portion to help speed up the process of cooling and then load with previously cooled items...
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Old 09-29-2020, 10:57 PM   #9
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At Southardrv:
If your coach is in motion, leaving the refrigerator on propane will not be any issue. If however, you get stuck is bumper to bumper traffic while on a steep grade,....we turn ours off.
Regarding when to turn the refrigerator on, before a trip, we usually turn ours on about 6 hours before departure. We also transfer cold food from our home refrigerator to the RV cold.
Now,....some coach owners never run their refrigerator, on propane, while in motion due to fire risks.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:20 AM   #10
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8 minutes is the time norcold allows for out of level. Grades count. Never walked back to see if the refer was on while driving.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D Gardiner View Post
At Southardrv:
If your coach is in motion...
Now,....some coach owners never run their refrigerator, on propane, while in motion due to fire risks.
This a concern for me, so I will be switching to running the refrigerator off the inverter when on the road, and switching to propane / gen or shore power when stopped.

That is a tangent, but the non-level operation, as I understand it is an internal corrosion issue, and exists whether running off AC or propane. Obviously, the refrigerator can handle a certain amount of being out of balance. That might be measured by time and degree out of balance.

I also understand that the level issue is a factor when the unit is off, but to a lesser degree. However, looking at the manufacturer's literature for my unit, a Norcold 1200, I only find warnings about operation off level.
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Old 09-30-2020, 10:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shootist View Post
8 minutes is the time norcold allows for out of level. Grades count. Never walked back to see if the refer was on while driving.
8 minutes....never have seen any 'time limit' published by either Fridge MFG. Got a reference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mongobird View Post
This a concern for me, so I will be switching to running the refrigerator off the inverter when on the road, and switching to propane / gen or shore power when stopped.

Propane is as safe while in motion as it is while stationary. Many safety features incorporated in RV Propane System. Higher chance of fire from other source while in motion...

That is a tangent, but the non-level operation, as I understand it is an internal corrosion issue, and exists whether running off AC or propane. Obviously, the refrigerator can handle a certain amount of being out of balance. That might be measured by time and degree out of balance.

Overheating of coolant is due to lack of flow from off level operation. Sodium chromate turns into crystals and plates out inside the tubing causing a restriction, more lack of flow, more crystals, more etc. Accumulative damage and is permanent

I also understand that the level issue is a factor when the unit is off, but to a lesser degree. However, looking at the manufacturer's literature for my unit, a Norcold 1200, I only find warnings about operation off level.
Per Norcold:
Off-level operation will effect the flow of the refrigerant through
the cooling system. The maximum off-level operation
limits are:
* 3 degrees from side-to-side.
* 6 degrees from front-to-back.
Exceeding the maximum off-level limits can permanently
damage the cooling unit.
The cooling unit or its performance are not affected
when the vehicle is in motion
.


Per Dometic:
If the refrigerator is operated when it is not level and the vehicle is not moving, liquid ammonia will accumulate in
sections of the evaporator tubing.
This will slow the circulation of hydrogen and ammonia gas, or in severe cases, completely block it, resulting in a loss of cooling.
Any time the vehicle is parked for several hours with the
refrigerator operating, the vehicle should be leveled to
prevent this loss of cooling.
The vehicle needs to be leveled only so it is comfortable
to live in (no noticeable sloping of floor or walls)
.
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Old 09-30-2020, 10:37 AM   #13
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Hey Old- Biscuit, you always post with sensible creditable factual answers to posts...... what's the fun in that?



I always appreciate your input.
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Old 09-30-2020, 10:47 AM   #14
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I installed in my Dometic a ARP Fridge Defend to monitor cooling unit temperatures for piece of mind.

https://www.arprv.com/products.php


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