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Old 09-30-2020, 06:42 PM   #1
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12 volt refrigerator, yes or no

About to pull the trigger on a newer camper. I don't have any idea if a 12volt frig is a good idea or not. Want to do some boondocking but am leery. The rig I'm looking at only comes with a 12volt frig and is a 10 cubic inch model.

I would think a couple solar panels would be a big help, but have no experience in that area. I do have a generator for topping off but don't want to have to rely on it all the time.

What say those of you than have any experience?

Joe
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Old 09-30-2020, 07:16 PM   #2
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Joe - my next camper is going to have a 12v refrigerator. Everyone I talk to say they cool a lot faster and better. They are also safer.

Here is some information that will answer some of your questions I think.

https://youtu.be/HNCnwXOh1ng
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Old 09-30-2020, 07:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Joe-Camper View Post
About to pull the trigger on a newer camper. I don't have any idea if a 12volt frig is a good idea or not. Want to do some boondocking but am leery. The rig I'm looking at only comes with a 12volt frig and is a 10 cubic inch model.

I would think a couple solar panels would be a big help, but have no experience in that area. I do have a generator for topping off but don't want to have to rely on it all the time.

What say those of you than have any experience?

Joe
So it only holds 1 can of soda?
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Old 09-30-2020, 07:40 PM   #4
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So it only holds 1 can of soda?

Lol! Beat me to it.

Iím swapping mine out this winter. They are MUCH more efficient than an absorption fridge.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:51 PM   #5
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The good news is that, at that size, the battery should last for days and days...


Seriously though, if you plan to boon dock with a compressor refrigerator you will need a supplemental energy source. Exactly how long the battery(ies) will last depends on a number of factors, but best case I wouldn't expect batteries to keep the refrigerator going more than 1 day without replenishment. That could be solar, generator, or charging from an alternator (in the tow vehicle for a trailer). Exactly how much charging would be required is again dependent on many factors like how often the refrigerator is opened and how hot the ambient temperatures are.



Having said that, unless planning to boon dock extensively, I have no intentions of ever owning another gas absorption refrigerator. Even with extensive boon docking, I would probably opt for the compressor based refrigerator. As noted by others, they are far more efficient, cool better, and are safer in operation. As a bonus, you don't have to be meticulous about keeping the RV level at every single stop.
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Old 09-30-2020, 10:34 PM   #6
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Go for it

1. Make sure the fridge is from a brand name manufacturer like GE.
2. Don't expect miracles, it uses as much electricity as a 120 Volt residential refrigerator, except you don't have to run it through an inverter.
3. If you're planning to boondock a lot, consider investing in a solar system and big batteries that add 100s of pounds to the weight of the trailer or buy a generator.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:13 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Joe-Camper View Post
About to pull the trigger on a newer camper. I don't have any idea if a 12volt frig is a good idea or not. Want to do some boondocking but am leery. The rig I'm looking at only comes with a 12volt frig and is a 10 cubic inch model.

I would think a couple solar panels would be a big help, but have no experience in that area. I do have a generator for topping off but don't want to have to rely on it all the time.

What say those of you than have any experience?

Joe
There are many things to learn for RV'ing. One of them is power management.

Your new TT will have multiple sources of power. When plugged into shore power planning will be easy. There will be enough power to run 120 volt electrical appliances like microwaves and electric powered refrigerators. Many camp grounds have electric hookups.

Next is the 12 volt DC converter. It supplies 12 volts to charge batteries or run 12 volt appliances. The converter only works from shore power. A 12 volt refrigerator will again work fine.

However, in this case you need to manage power for when you are driving. Your tow vehicle can provide 12 volts. Depending on its capabilities, it may be able to both charge batteries and run a 12 volt refrigerator. A larger gauge 12 volt wire from the tow vehicle alternator to the 7 pin trailer connector would help. They are often 10 gauge. 8 gauge will pass more power. A heavy duty alternator is also in order if one is available for your vehicle.

Dry camping or boon docking is a more complicated issue. The refrig and other 12 volt appliances must run on battery power for long periods. Each appliance consumes power measured in watt hours. Adding all the consumption of all the appliances you will use tells you how big the battery bank must be and how much recharging power is required.

Portable generators are available that can do the job and have reserve capacity so you donít have to be accurate. They are also reliable. Many owners run a generator for 2 hours twice per day. A 12 volt refrig may require a little more time.

Solar power is more limited and more complicated. A couple of hundred watts of solar power is enough to supplement periodic generator power. 400 watts of solar means you may have enough in the summer when weather is good. You may still need a generator periodically.

Solar only provides its rated power for 5 to 6 hours per day. It only supplies rated power if not in shade and not on cloudy days. So it is much less reliable. Big battery banks are required. Many RVíers use lithium batteries because they take higher charging currents when solar power is available. Lead acid batteries have a charging profile that will not always accept the whole solar output.

The above analysis makes many assumptions that vary a lot depending on your individual power consumption and the actual equipment you use. There is much more detail to learn. This may be a start.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:37 AM   #8
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My guess is if 12 volt fridges gain in popularity, so will generators running all day in campgrounds.
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Old 10-01-2020, 10:56 AM   #9
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There are more advantages to 12v refrigerators than detractors imho. Most campgrounds have electricity hook-ups. I think if you are boondocking you will need 600 watts of solar plus a generator for cloudy days.

I wonder how much longer you will be able to buy an absorbation refrigerator. My guess is about 5 more years.
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Old 10-01-2020, 11:52 AM   #10
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Our 3 year old Norcold is the best absorption fridge weíve owned. It even keeps ice cream frozen.
Absolutely they need to improve quality control, but I donít see them going away anytime soon.
Have owned RVís for over 30 years, all with absorption fridges, with zero issues on any of them. The Dometic in our class A was 15 years old and still working great when we sold it.
Cheap parts, and careless use will kill an absorption fridge, not its design.
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Old 10-01-2020, 02:02 PM   #11
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Our 3 year old Norcold is the best absorption fridge weíve owned. It even keeps ice cream frozen.
Absolutely they need to improve quality control, but I donít see them going away anytime soon.
Have owned RVís for over 30 years, all with absorption fridges, with zero issues on any of them. The Dometic in our class A was 15 years old and still working great when we sold it.
Cheap parts, and careless use will kill an absorption fridge, not its design.
Agree, have a small absorption [5 cf] fridge in my sprinter, the electric element draws 250 watts, so running down the road alternator supplies enough to batteries to allow inverter to run it.
When dry camping, I use propane. BYW, freezer stays at -14 F on electric or gas.
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Old 10-01-2020, 03:48 PM   #12
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I removed my 2 year old Norcold absorbsion fridge and replaced it with a Unique 12 volt compressor fridge. Very happy with the new fridge. Keeps consistent temperature and I have plenty of solar and LiFePO4 batteries to run it. I feel safer not having a propane burner running on the backside of the fridge.
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Old 10-01-2020, 04:08 PM   #13
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Ford, Chevy; Blonde, Brunette, Redhead; Goodyear Firestone; Diesel Pusher, fiver; the comparisons go on and on. You need to choose what is right for you, not someone else. The only way you can do that is to do your research and listen. I know you're doing some of that here but in the end you need to make up your mind as to what is best for you and your circumstances and preferences. Personally I'd like a blonde with a Ford pulling a fiver with Firestone tires, but please don't tell my wife, she's a brunette and doesn't drive.
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Old 10-01-2020, 04:43 PM   #14
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We have a 12V refrigerator. It uses about 50 to 60 Ahs a day. It runs fine on our two aging 6V Interstate batteries. We use our generator in the morning when we use the microwave and sometimes in the evening. We like to boon dock and have no concern about running out of battery power.
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