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Old 10-11-2020, 06:03 PM   #29
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Long time lurker first post.

Some on here have made it sound simple to just get a 12 v or the dual propane/ 120v.

I will draw on my experience on owning 12 volt refrigeration on our 35 ft sailboat we’ve owned for 27 years.

The actual language you want to learn is amps when describing. Batteries reserves are measured in amp hours. A usual Dometic compressor on a WELL insulated refrigeration box will use 50 to 70 amp hours in a 24 hour period. Remember when you check your battery rating if it says 100 ah you can only draw down 50% of that in all batteries except in the Uber expensive LiP batteries which cost about $1000 a piece. You must buy true deep cycle batteries like golf card 6 volt ones. A good golf cart 6 volt AGM battery rated at 220 ah ( 110 usable) will run you $210 apiece. It requires two of them to get 12 volts. So with 1pair you may get 2-3 days on the charge.

Charging batteries takes more than 2 hours. Even if you have a great shore power three stage charger at 70 amps ( $600) you can only get to 80% charge potential before the battery starts pushing backs and slow the charge acceptance. An alternator works similarly and also needs a three stage external regulator so you don’t fry the batteries. Two large 135 solar panels with 5 hours of sun may be able to put 40-50 amps back in the battery. You also need a mmpt controller to not fry the batteries. If you don’t drive for a few days it’s doubtful you’ll be able to keep up with just solar. And you’ll want a good inverter.

Our sailboat has 6-6volt AGM ( $1800) with total amp hours of 660. ( 330 usable) Our “electrical diet “ , ( refrigeration, lights, pumps, charging phones, computers, ) is 78 ah per day. We have a high tech alternator ( 100 amp) with external regulator. $1000) .
2-135 Renolgy) solar panels ( $700) and mmmtp controller ( $300) AR optimum sun of 10 amps per hour ) . Even on open water with no shade we can get tops 50 amps per day. The 3 stage charger either run through a generator or 120 shore power of 70 amps was ($600) . Inverter $450).


We are looking to set our trailer to dry camp for 4-5 days. The expense will be almost $4k in batteries , chargers, monitors, comparable to anchoring our boat out for 5 days. Not to mention a generator cost.

As has been said you have to figure how you intend on using your RV. If you truly want energy independence, it costs. You also must care for this electrical grid with some maintainence. Wet cell batteries last 3 years if you truly deep cycle them. AGM can last 10 years but are 3 times the cost of wet cells. LiP the cutting edge batteries would cost $1000 a piece and you’d need at least 3 but you can draw them down to 20%.

I suggest you read up to get an education so you don’t waste lots of money. I find that the propane refrigeration is a much cheaper overall effective way to run things, but you need some long range electrical plan for dry camping in conjunction with it. Refrigeration by far and away is the largest part of your electrical diet.
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Old 10-11-2020, 07:44 PM   #30
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What problems have people been having with propane refrigerators that they would want to put additional load on their 12 volt batteries?
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Old 10-12-2020, 07:22 AM   #31
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We boondock anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Been doing it for over ten years and two travel trailers with zero problems. I use two 6v 225 amp hour Interstate batteries with a Victron Smart shunt battery monitor.

Our standard rv fridge only draws 1 amp or so while on battery. We also use a CPAP machine at night and have never had an issue with power.

We don't do solar as we do use our a/c and microwave while boondocking. As such, I have a Champion 2800 watt inverter generator we run during the day for charging and above mentioned power needs. With my Smart shunt, I simply open the app to monitor my state-of-charge shutting of the generator when batteries reach 100%
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Old 10-12-2020, 08:44 AM   #32
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What problems have people been having with propane refrigerators that they would want to put additional load on their 12 volt batteries?
My cooling unit went out at 1.5 years. A new one is about $950. I have the skills to replace it so labor is a non issue. Not sure about shipping. Control boards ($217) are another issue that pops up from time to time.
I bought a new 9.9 cu.ft 12V compressor fridge for $904 that included a 2 year warranty vs 1 year for the Norcold. My 8 cu.ft Norcold was really 7.5 cu ft, so I gained 2.4 cu.ft in the same space.
Absolutely ridiculous that a new (1.5 years) would fail. I had a previous 5th wheel and the Norcold 6 cu.ft fridge worked perfect the whole time. (6 years)

I already had installed 400W's of solar and four 6V GC batteries so adding additional drain is a non issue for me. I never planned on using the solar for the fridge so since I already had it it was a no brain'er.
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:14 AM   #33
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Most 12v RV refrigerators use R601a refrigerant (isobutane). It is classified as very flammable so NOT SAFER!
The only reference to refrigerant I could find for my Norcold DE0061 (AC/DC, but same as the DC-only EV0061) was on page 3 of the service manual, which states that it uses R134a, which is non-flammable.

That's a long way from 'most', of course, but it's a data point at least. And since these compressor-based systems are sealed, I'm not worried about it.

https://rvrefrigeratorrepair.com/wp-...0061-early.pdf
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:39 AM   #34
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My cooling unit went out at 1.5 years. A new one is about $950. I have the skills to replace it so labor is a non issue. Not sure about shipping. Control boards ($217) are another issue that pops up from time to time. r.
Thanks, but I was looking more for design issues. Anything can fail. Just switching technology isn't necessarily going to avoid that.

My home refrigerator (a JennAir) is only about 7 years old but has needed two air diverters, one ice maker and two door gaskets (same door!) in that time. Fortunately those things are cheap and easy to replace, but the reliability is ridiculous!

My neighbor had an Electrolux (???) refrigerator that they replaced within two years because they were having so many issues.
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:40 AM   #35
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Propane absorption fridges are in almost every TT currently out there today.
I don’t hear of very many of them going bad, and fire risk is pretty much zero.
Had absorption fridges in every one of my RV’s over the past 32 years with no issues. Our current 3 year old Norcold is the best performing so far. Put it on setting 3 and always leave it there. If we pull over for a rest, and trailer is not close to level, I shut it off until we get ready to leave again. Preparing for a trip I always fire the fridge up in the evening after the hottest part of the day is over, so it has the cool of the night to do its thing. By morning it’s ready to be loaded up.
We boondock from 3 to 5 days at a time. No solar, or generator needed.
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Old 10-12-2020, 10:11 AM   #36
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What problems have people been having with propane refrigerators that they would want to put additional load on their 12 volt batteries?
Ours failed and the replacement for a high end Dometic was about $4,000 plus installation. A new cooling unit would have been maybe $1500 and I'd have to have it installed. That would have been a significant expense.

As you mentioned in another post, things fail. Ours was 12 years old when we bought the RV so I can't speak to earlier issues but it never cooled that well. So whether or not it was already failing or that's just they way they operate I can't say. But temps in the fridge were hovering around 40º and ice cream in the freezer would never freeze. Temps at times were in the 40+ º area so food spoilage was a concern. That was another big concern as we eat in for the most part.

Aside from cooling issues, my major concern with the propane refrigerator was the fire issue. While I don't think it happens on a regular basis, it's life threatening when it happens. Whether or not that's an inherent design issue of propane fridges I can't say. Overall we're very happy with our 12 V fridge.
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Old 10-12-2020, 10:16 AM   #37
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But temps in the fridge were hovering around 40º and ice cream in the freezer would never freeze. Temps at times were in the 40+ º area so food spoilage was a concern. That was another big concern as we eat in for the most part.
Temps can be an issue, which reminds me I want to bring a thermometer so I can monitor mine. I haven't had any problem with things freezing, but I would like to know the typical temp in the refrigerator portion.

I usually go set up everything 24 hours before leaving so the refrigerator has time to cool down. I assume a 12 volt fridge (or even one running on 110 volts) would probably need most of that same time.
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Old 10-12-2020, 12:18 PM   #38
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I just talked to a friend that bought a 2020 Arctic Wolf 5th wheel and he had to get the Furrion 12 v refrigerator replaced . It never worked right from the get go. The replacement was a different model.
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Old 10-12-2020, 07:35 PM   #39
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Was your boat in salt water? If so, could be why it rusted.

I just used my 2013 Travel trailer for 3 weeks in cool temperatures. The Dometic electric/ propane refrigerator did work flawlessly as the conditions were perfect with low humidity and coolish outside temperatures.
Yes, the boat was in a salt environment. But the galley--and the fridge--were in an air conditioned and salt air free zone. Since we lived aboard, the AC was on 24/7. No other appliances rusted...just the Not-So-Cold. The materials of the fridge were of poor quality.
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Old 10-13-2020, 09:18 PM   #40
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... Most campgrounds have electricity hook-ups...
Careful, there. I know of zero national forest campgrounds with electricity.
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Old 10-13-2020, 10:34 PM   #41
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Careful, there. I know of zero national forest campgrounds with electricity.
And in Washington probably well less than half the state park spots do. The one I was at this last week had three different areas with different levels of hookups, the lowest level being none and some of the of the spots in the upper areas have no utilities. I'll be staying at a park later that only has two spots with utilities. The spots with utilities are usually reserved first.
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Old 10-14-2020, 02:20 AM   #42
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I still say most campgrounds have electric hook up. If you talk all the campgrounds in the US I bet 60% have electric hookup. 95% here in the east and we had a ton of small state parks.

All the commercial campgrounds have electric hookup.

Now if you want to count BLM land and the such I would count each section of BLM land as 1 campground. BLM in this case is Bureua of Land Management.

You might have me if you count individual camp spots. How many campers do they let on BLM land?
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