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Old 01-15-2022, 09:16 AM   #1
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Why a compressor refrigerator for boondocking

So I want to throw this question out about 12v compressor refrigerators. I'm going to post this on other forums too, so your "forum tramps"(like me)may see this spread around some other pages. Not interested in thoughts regarding space savings, preferance due to fear of propane gas or performance of a 12v vs. propane fridge. Taking all those criteria out, we are left with why or why not. Having said all that this is the base of the question: I keep seeing people use the words "boon docking" and "12v compressor fridges" in the same sentance as though there is an advantage to having a 12v fridge while boon docking. I believe that an absorption fridge is the best boon docking choice because propane nearly lasts forever(at least a month) compared to 12v fridges that are dependent on recharging the battery bank daily. When responding...........not interested in anything other than energy sustainability while boon docking. I also am not interested in peoples opinions on performance between the two as I've never had any issue with any absorption fridge keeping things cool event in 110 degree temps. Just energy sustainability while boon docking.

Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:43 AM   #2
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I don't see the point of the post. Absorption fridges as far as energy usage goes are winners hands down.
The difference is how you're setting up your RV for boondocking use. I already had 400W of solar, 4 GC 6V batteries and so when my Norcold quit working after 1.5 years it was a no brainer to go the much cheaper 12V fridge route.
Had I not had solar and 4 6V batteries I would've called a mobile tech out and had my Norcold fixed or replaced it myself.

If someone is going the full tilt boogie route and planning on installing a fair amount of solar and batteries then a 12V fridge makes sense.
If you mostly boondock with out solar then absorption is better.
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:48 AM   #3
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Propane all the way for me.

We often dry camp, so it's the best option. No worries about running out of power, even though we have solar panels and a genset.

A couple of simple mods like the "Fridge Defend" and extra fan outside, and it works great.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:00 AM   #4
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X2 Cumminsfan,
I’ve had absorption all my life until now. A good match for an dated rv with FLA batteries, and they work great until they don’t. Repair or replace very costly. No doubt absorption better for boondocking, UNLESS, and a big unless, you’ve purchased a modern rv outfitted with LiFePo4 and solar. 12v compressor fridges are commonplace as standard equipment on new rvs these days, and if you’re likely to be boondocking, you’ll want the extended capability of a decent bank of LiFePo4 and solar. Which makes the question of absorption fridge moot. The compressor fridge will be cheaper to operate, and you won’t use your precious propane for the thing. I’ve had my compressor fridge for a year now, and I like it way more than an absorption fridge. Every once in a while, when there’s no sun, I can use some of that precious propane to fire my gennie for a couple of hours, instead of feeding it all to the fridge.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:34 AM   #5
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The title of your post should have been: Why an absorption fridge for boondocking?

Simple, here are some measured facts:

My Thor Axis with an absorption fridge uses 25 amp hours daily while dry camping, which is all we do.

A DC compressor fridge will triple that DC consumption to 75 amp hours daily, maybe more if you camp in warm weather and do a lot of door opening or add warm food.

The standard coach batteries that came with my MH would last only 24 hours before going below 50% which is the limit for best life.

An absorption fridge is the only way we can dry camp for 2,3,4 days without running the generator. Solar won't help because here in the NE we always camp in shady spots.

To do the same with a compressor fridge, I would need 300 amp hours of LFP batteries plus an upgraded converter and a DC to DC charger, all costing several thousands.

David
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:02 AM   #6
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David,
I don’t know where you are getting your info on compressor fridge dc consumption. Maybe you’ve measured your absorption fridge dc consumption, but we’ve been using our compressor fridge for over a year now, and both observed and measured consumption rarely exceeds 50 ah/day. With our LiFePo4 and just a little bit of sun, we can boondock for four days with no gennie. Took a 3 week trip to Acadia and that’s exactly what happened. Acadia campgrounds are shaded, so we did have to run the generator a couple of times. However, the amount of propane we used to charge our batteries was less than the amount we would have used running an absorption fridge. Our batteries charge from 20% to full in less than 2 hours. That’s less than a quart of propane for 4 days of boondocking. People seem to make claims about compressor fridges who have never owned or used one.
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidEM View Post
The title of your post should have been: Why an absorption fridge for boondocking?

Simple, here are some measured facts:

My Thor Axis with an absorption fridge uses 25 amp hours daily while dry camping, which is all we do.

A DC compressor fridge will triple that DC consumption to 75 amp hours daily, maybe more if you camp in warm weather and do a lot of door opening or add warm food.

The standard coach batteries that came with my MH would last only 24 hours before going below 50% which is the limit for best life.

An absorption fridge is the only way we can dry camp for 2,3,4 days without running the generator. Solar won't help because here in the NE we always camp in shady spots.

To do the same with a compressor fridge, I would need 300 amp hours of LFP batteries plus an upgraded converter and a DC to DC charger, all costing several thousands.

David
Agree, but 25 sounds high for the propane fridge, unless you are running some extra fans.
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Old 01-15-2022, 03:22 PM   #8
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X2 Cumminsfan,
Iíve had absorption all my life until now. A good match for an dated rv with FLA batteries, and they work great until they donít. Repair or replace very costly. No doubt absorption better for boondocking, UNLESS, and a big unless, youíve purchased a modern rv outfitted with LiFePo4 and solar. 12v compressor fridges are commonplace as standard equipment on new rvs these days, and if youíre likely to be boondocking, youíll want the extended capability of a decent bank of LiFePo4 and solar. Which makes the question of absorption fridge moot. The compressor fridge will be cheaper to operate, and you wonít use your precious propane for the thing. Iíve had my compressor fridge for a year now, and I like it way more than an absorption fridge. Every once in a while, when thereís no sun, I can use some of that precious propane to fire my gennie for a couple of hours, instead of feeding it all to the fridge.
I have a 12V compressor fridge. Got it after my Norcold tanked in 1.5 years. Out of warranty so I went the 12V route. Already have solar and if we didn't like to run a bunch of other stuff then my 400W and 4-6V GC batteries would be great.
We too love our 12V fridge. 2 more CU.FT and better interior features. Almost zero maintenance required.

IMO absorption fridges are great when they're working but when they start to fail it can be a bugger to figure out the problem and can also be $$$ to fix.
Not so with a compressor fridge as there's way fewer components to deal with.
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Old 01-19-2022, 08:38 PM   #9
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So after reading all the comments and doing a little more research, there doesn't seem to me to be any "Boon Docking Advantage" to having a 12v compressor fridge. I would tend to think that if you had two 6 volt batteries in series and compared two 6 cubic ft refer's, one absorption and one 12v compressor you'd go longer on those batteries with the absorption. Thanks for all the comments.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:43 AM   #10
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So after reading all the comments and doing a little more research, there doesn't seem to me to be any "Boon Docking Advantage" to having a 12v compressor fridge. I would tend to think that if you had two 6 volt batteries in series and compared two 6 cubic ft refer's, one absorption and one 12v compressor you'd go longer on those batteries with the absorption. Thanks for all the comments.
The compressor fridges absolutely take more power; there are pros and cons to each but power consumption is the most important thing for me (assuming the fridge works properly and mine does) so for my "mostly boondocking" use, the absorption fridge wins........the compressor fridges are great but to use them while boondocking takes a more serious battery/solar system than I currently plan on. I have four GC6's and one 170W zamp solar panel though I plan on adding another 170w panel before the camping season begins.



Dave
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Old 01-20-2022, 03:55 PM   #11
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The compressor fridges absolutely take more power; there are pros and cons to each but power consumption is the most important thing for me (assuming the fridge works properly and mine does) so for my "mostly boondocking" use, the absorption fridge wins........the compressor fridges are great but to use them while boondocking takes a more serious battery/solar system than I currently plan on. I have four GC6's and one 170W zamp solar panel though I plan on adding another 170w panel before the camping season begins.



Dave
If you have your charge controller in the cabinet over the bed...you can improve your charging by putting the charge controller down in the pass thru to get it closer to the battery bank. I run four GC batteries @ 465ah and charge with 450w of solar. I never want for power. We run our furnace at night when we winter boon dock to keep the coach @ 60-65 degrees. Might drop me to about 85-90% state of charge. Usually back up to 100% by 11:00AM. I think if I had a compressor fridge I couldn't be as reckless as I am with the furnace.
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Old 01-20-2022, 04:50 PM   #12
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If you have your charge controller in the cabinet over the bed...you can improve your charging by putting the charge controller down in the pass thru to get it closer to the battery bank. I run four GC batteries @ 465ah and charge with 450w of solar. I never want for power. We run our furnace at night when we winter boon dock to keep the coach @ 60-65 degrees. Might drop me to about 85-90% state of charge. Usually back up to 100% by 11:00AM. I think if I had a compressor fridge I couldn't be as reckless as I am with the furnace.
Thanks. On the power consumption, the 25AH/day vs. 75AH/day for absorbtion vs. compressor are numbers I've seen a few times now. I'm sure there are more and less efficient models/sizes for each but using those numbers, my 450AH 6volts would be down to 50% in 9 days with the absorption unit and 3 days with the compressor fridge.....but that's with no other loads. My biggest consumption is in the early spring and late fall when temps are cool and days are short so the furnace is an even bigger draw.....of course this all depends on ambient temps and T stat setpoint but I figure 50 - 100 amps per day in cold temps for the furnace. This could mean that without solar, I'd deplete my battery bank in less than two days and that's with my absorption fridge. ....the compressor fridge would knock that down to maybe 1 - 1.5 days. Now sure, the solar boosts it back up (depending how much solar you have) but worst case (rainy, overcast conditions) my solar doesn't add a bunch.

Hopefully my combo (4 GC-6s and 340Watts solar) with the absorption fridge will allow me to go for 3 days in cool and poor weather conditions without running the generator - that's the goal. I might consider a compressor fridge if I had 300 - 400 watts of Lithiums and 600-800 watts of solar.

2 cents,
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Old 01-20-2022, 07:49 PM   #13
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Thanks. On the power consumption, the 25AH/day vs. 75AH/day for absorbtion vs. compressor are numbers I've seen a few times now. I'm sure there are more and less efficient models/sizes for each but using those numbers, my 450AH 6volts would be down to 50% in 9 days with the absorption unit and 3 days with the compressor fridge.....but that's with no other loads. My biggest consumption is in the early spring and late fall when temps are cool and days are short so the furnace is an even bigger draw.....of course this all depends on ambient temps and T stat setpoint but I figure 50 - 100 amps per day in cold temps for the furnace. This could mean that without solar, I'd deplete my battery bank in less than two days and that's with my absorption fridge. ....the compressor fridge would knock that down to maybe 1 - 1.5 days. Now sure, the solar boosts it back up (depending how much solar you have) but worst case (rainy, overcast conditions) my solar doesn't add a bunch.

Hopefully my combo (4 GC-6s and 340Watts solar) with the absorption fridge will allow me to go for 3 days in cool and poor weather conditions without running the generator - that's the goal. I might consider a compressor fridge if I had 300 - 400 watts of Lithiums and 600-800 watts of solar.

2 cents,
Dave
With 340w of solar and 4 sixer's the ball is in your court as far as boon docking. You'll need to dump your tanks long before you'll run out of energy.
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Old 01-20-2022, 09:06 PM   #14
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Airstreamers were furious when they switched over to all 12V compressor fridges a year or so ago. More than likely absorption fridges will disappear completely in a few years.
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