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Old 05-14-2019, 05:39 PM   #1
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DC Fridge Shipped To Home Depot

Anyone try one of these Unique "Solar Appliance" refrigerators?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Unique-6...0L-W/306705246

I have a 6 cu/ft Norcold that I wouldn't mind replacing for safety reasons. I already have 400 amp-hours of LiFePO4 batteries and a 985 watts of solar.

You can get the Unique 6.0 cu/tf fridge shipped for pickup at Home Depot. The price is $979. If you have room for the 9 cu/ft version Costco is selling them on line for $999. I can't use the 9 cubic foot because I don't have the extra 13 inches of height to work with. The 6 cu/ft version weighs 76 pounds so my son and I can muscle it in through the trailer door.

These are DC powered fridge/freezers that can run on 12 or 24 volts DC. They use
Danfoss/Secop compressors. These are much cheeper that the marine DC powered units I have seen online. I only have 53 inches of height to work with and I have found very few fridge/freezer units than are that height and less than 23.5 inches wide to go through my trailers door.

They pull 4.3 amps at 12 volts but claim a 24 run time average of about 23 watts an hour with an average ambient temp of 77 degrees.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrocamper View Post
I have a 6 cu/ft Norcold that I wouldn't mind replacing for safety reasons.
What safety reasons are those? Is your fridge leaking coolant?
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:40 PM   #3
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I prefer not have a fridge that burns propane. I prefer a fridge with a compressor so it is more effective cooling. My Norcold is cooling is variable depending on the ambient temperature or sun shinning on side of trailer. If I turn it all the way up it gets to cold overnight. I have to put frozen water bottle in the fridge section on the hottest days. My 12 volt Engel freezer works well all the time.

I have seen enough threads about burn marks in the area behind the fridge to be concerned.

I am just trying to get feedback on anyones experience with the Unique Off Grid appliances. They sell stoves, fridges and freezers that are DC or propane powered.
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:36 PM   #4
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If it's broke, I'd fix it.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:42 PM   #5
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If it's broke, I'd fix it.
Swing compressor fridges are infinitely more suitable for moving vehicles than the junk absorpion fridges that come in rvs.

They work at any reasonable angle, use next to no power, and can't blow out in the wind.

It's not about it being broken, it's about moving from a wagon to a modern car.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:14 PM   #6
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When my wagon breaks, I'll look at the modern car. Until then, the wagon is working out pretty good for my needs.

However, if you'd like to pay for my upgrade, I'm am willing to participate more aggressively.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:41 PM   #7
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I bought a 9.1 Cu ft Nova Kool marine DC compressor unit last summer. It fit in the cabinet that my 6 Cu ft Dometic came out of with 1/2 inch in height to spare. It uses 5.2 amps when it's running but I used lots of styrofoam insulation around it so it doesn’t run for long.

The only thing I wish was different is the freezer temperature. It's only about 20* cooler than the refrigerator. I'd prefer it below zero. It sure is much better than the old absorption models.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:58 PM   #8
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I'm afraid I don't see the advantage over same size fridge powered from 120VAC. Granted you lose the inverter but the DC fridge is three times (or twice with an inverter) the cost and not much if any power consumption advantage even with the inverter losses figured in. With the savings I could add a few 100 watts of solar to the roof and gain back the inverter losses plus a lot more.

If this was my only option over absorption then I would take it but with the savings on 120VAC model I could not justify the cost.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:08 PM   #9
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That fridge is based on the same compressor setup that's in our Vitrifrigo. They are infinitely safer than an LP fridge, use far less power than a residential, and are well suited for use when dry camping.

The Danfoss compressors in these are not swing motors. Norcold had a swing motor 12vdc fridge out decades ago - I've had two of those in bus conversions. They work well, but the Danfoss units are much better.

Our freezer will keep ice cream rock hard, and the fridge keeps a consistent 36 degrees without problems. I do not use the 120v side of the unit at all. There was a problem with earlier versions of the Secop controllers with the switching (going back and forth from 12vdc to 120vac), and I learned that by sticking to dc only there are no problems. Since our converter/charger is plenty able to run the fridge and charge the batteries, I just leave it on 12v all the time.

To answer the questions that will follow...Yes, I know that residential fridges use only 1-3amps, depending on the model. But, that's at 120vac. To make those 1-3 amps the inverter is going to have to pull 10-30 amps dc from the batteries, while the dc compressor fridge uses less than 6 amps total to run when it runs. Why is it safer than an LP fridge? Because in an LP fridge you have an open flame and the constant risk of things going wrong, especially if you're not within a few degrees of level. Just look at the number of safety recalls and fires in past years to see what I'm talking about.

If you have room for the fridge you linked to, give it a try. It's cheaper than a Vitrifrigo, doesn't have to be shipped from Italy, and can be returned locally if something goes wrong.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Why is it safer than an LP fridge? Because in an LP fridge you have an open flame and the constant risk of things going wrong, ...
IMHO, safety is a small "bonus" over a compressor (DC or AC with inverter). The real win is CONSISTENT interior temperature regardless of the ambient temperature.

The Danfoss/Secor compressor have been around for awhile and seem proven. Still a long walk from from DC air conditioning !


FYI - for all you "techno geeks" like myself, the Danfoss compressors actually run on 3 phase alternating current, which is very efficient, more so than single phase (120VAC). There is a DC to 3 phase AC inverter built into the "control" box.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetbriar View Post
I'm afraid I don't see the advantage over same size fridge powered from 120VAC. Granted you lose the inverter but the DC fridge is three times (or twice with an inverter) the cost and not much if any power consumption advantage even with the inverter losses figured in. With the savings I could add a few 100 watts of solar to the roof and gain back the inverter losses plus a lot more.

If this was my only option over absorption then I would take it but with the savings on 120VAC model I could not justify the cost.
How do you figure that there is no power advantage of a DC fridge over a 120vac fridge? Our unit runs with less than 6 amps being pulled from the batteries. The most efficient 120vac fridges will pull 1-3 amps AC, and the inverter will have to pull 10-30 amps from the batteries to make that AC power.

There is indeed a difference. Otherwise, there would be no business model in which manufacturing the DC compressor fridge worked.
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Old 06-15-2019, 10:52 AM   #12
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Richard,

I think those who have residential fridges don’t boondock much. If you only drive from RV park to RV park your alternator will keep the batteries charged enough to run that much power thru an inverter.

I live on solar power so I have a DC fridge.

And Sweetbriar,

Adding extra watts of solar panels isn’t enough to make up the difference. In most cases you also have to increase your battery bank. That's not cheap or easy in many cases. I now have a dual 6V battery box sitting where my passenger seat used to be. Cables run between it and the battery box under the steps. That was a $400 and 4 hour investment because I chose a DC powered fridge over the propane model. I haven’t figured what it would take to run a residential unit, but I’d bet it's substantially more.
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Old 06-15-2019, 06:41 PM   #13
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Some of these posts come close to violating our community rules. Here's a link if you need to review them before posting again.

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Old 06-15-2019, 07:09 PM   #14
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I was in my trailer doing some work getting my Dish satellite system going. It will be nice having some TV when I am completely off the grid and away from Cellular and broadcast TV.

I removed the furnace return panel under the fridge. I also measured the rear height of the opening for the fridge. I don't have the room for a taller fridge. The 6 cubic foot version will have to do. It is small enough to fit in the existing opening.

I have a trip coming up in a few weeks. I recently added a fan inside the fridge and a better pair of fans at the intake vent. I hope the Norcold does better in the heat. If it can't keep up on the hottest days I may swap it out. I added a display unit that shows the temp inside the fridge and freezer. I ran the fridge for about 6 hours to test it out. The freezer cooled down fairly quickly but the fridge was not ready for food after 6 hours.

In the past I put a lot of bottled water in the fridge and freezer and give it 48 hours or more to get down to stable temps. On the hottest days I will move frozen water bottles from the freezer to the fridge to give it some help.

I will have about 2 months to order and install the DC fridge between the trip coming up and a longer one in September if I decide to do so then.
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