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Old 09-03-2020, 05:31 PM   #1
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Boondocking with a 12 DC Refrigerator

Time to replace Norcold 682 (8 cu ft) refrigerator. The 12v DC compressor type sounds like a big improvement over the old Norcold.
The big question is ; How does it perform when boondocking in summer weather? Is energy consumption a deal breaker? I try to park in the shade in hot weather when it is available.r, which is counter productive to max solar output.
How much solar should I plan on installing, currently have 380 watts.
Thanks for your feedback, there's no substitute for experience.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by art5617 View Post
Time to replace Norcold 682 (8 cu ft) refrigerator. The 12v DC compressor type sounds like a big improvement over the old Norcold.
The big question is ; How does it perform when boondocking in summer weather? Is energy consumption a deal breaker? I try to park in the shade in hot weather when it is available.r, which is counter productive to max solar output.
How much solar should I plan on installing, currently have 380 watts.
Thanks for your feedback, there's no substitute for experience.
gotta list make and model, motor and hp if possible. How many A/c's are you running? do you strictly use solar or do you also have a genny? 30 amps or 50? If you're running 1 A/c of 13500 BTU that's 14.5 Amps right there, if you get another 8 cu ft frige that's about 8 amps. So if you have a 30 amp rig you're fine. But if you're running 2 A/C's of 13.5K each and a 8 cu ft fridg, it's best to have a 50 amp rig.
So if you are gonna run a 8 cu ft frige and an A/c, no, 380 watts is not enough. The above mentioned A/c alone would need a little more than 1600 watts. You're looking at at least 2000 watts of solar. But if you're just interested at powering your frige you should be fine with 380 watts.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:22 PM   #3
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There are currently a couple of threads covering this exact same question, complete with lots of information about power consumption and efficiency. Do a search to find the threads and read through them - might save a lot of time waiting for responses here.

My Vitrifrigo 12vdc compressor fridge uses 5.7 amps while it runs, which is about 1/2 the time. If you plan to use a 212vdc compressor fridge while dry camping and anticipate the rig getting warm, just like any other type of fridge ventilation will be key to success.

The manual for my fridge says that when installing a compressor fridge in an RV to replace a propane fridge, all the venting should be left in place to ventilate the back of the compressor fridge. Obviously in winter or cool weather you can make modifications to the ventilation as appropriate.

380 watts of solar might be enough to run your fridge along with a few other low-current things like LED lights and such. Possibly a fan.

Parking in the shade makes for a more comfortable rig, but of course makes solar useless. That's why our solar is ground-deployed with a 50-ft cable to connect to the coach. We park in the shade and the solar stays in the sun.

If you're dry camping, makes no difference if your rig is 30-amp or 50-amp, as you won't be running the shore power. That's what dry camping is, after all.

A 12vdc fridge will use far less power than a residential fridge running through an inverter, regardless of what you've read elsewhere. Even if you found a super-efficient residential fridge that only consumed 1 amp @ 120vac, your inverter would be pulling 10 amps @ 12vdc to make that 1 amp.

While getting as large a fridge as possible is all the rage right now, it is clearly not the most efficient way to boon dock or dry camp. Our fridge is small by most standards (5.3 cu ft) , but we can keep about 5 days of food in it if we pack carefully. That means doing things like using zip lock bags instead of hard containers, and other space saving techniques. Our fridge has a relatively large freezer with a separate door, and since it keeps things rock hard we tend to put food for later in the week up there.
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Old 09-03-2020, 06:30 PM   #4
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Well, if you're going to park in the shade no amount of additional solar is going to get you there.

You have to define what the finish line is. Is your goal to operate from solar indefinitely? Only run the generator on cloudy days? Run the generator once a day? Do you have enough battery to carry you a day, two days, more?

Quantifying your power budget, which can include a DC refrigerator, will go a long way to determining what batteries, solar and genset time you will want to have. What someone else is using can be a starting point but I would want to know the solution will work for me, not someone else.

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Old 09-05-2020, 03:09 PM   #5
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Richards frig is 5.7A running 50% of the time. That's about 820W per day. Your solar is 380W, for about 6 hours, about 2280W per day. So far so good.

Do you have enough battery? For 18 hours? 5.7A * 0.5 * 18H = 51AH. Can several days of cloudy weather spoil your fun?
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Old 09-07-2020, 10:30 AM   #6
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OP, was your Norcold a gas electric? If so, keep the gas option. Propane is relatively cheep. Solar requirement much more manageable. Do not go with electric only.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:19 AM   #7
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Good advice, thanks.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:27 AM   #8
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I am leaning toward an Amish cooling unit. It appears it will cool better than oem and prevent the need to run generator. The sound of silence is part of the beauty of boon docking.
Any suggestions for a good source?
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