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Gospel120

Refrigator/freezer replacement?

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Hi everyone, I am new to the community. I’m going to be moving into my small RV in the next few months. The refrigerator is not working and it will cost to much to be replaced. I am trying to keep the spending down as much as possible. What are your thoughts on putting in a small garage/patio type unit like cubic 3 ft.  A/C freezer refrigerator in its place? They vary in electric usage from $26 to $13 a year and from 197 kWh so 138 k a year. And I will be Boondocking probably 90% of the time for 6 months of the year and on my property with electricity the other six months. I have only one large marine battery, but I do have a generator. Another concern is will it hold up to the shaking and jarring that the RV will have driving on unpaved  roads Boondocking?  

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Many people switch to residential style AC powered refrigerators for their RV's.  I currently have a residential refrigerator in my 5er.  I personally prefer them to RV style refrigerators.  However, they do require more than just a simple swap out to make them work, especially if you plan to boondock half the time. 

To go along with the AC/residential style refrigerator, you will need an inverter sized appropriately for the refrigerator.  An RV can only power AC appliances one of two ways, with shore power or from a generator unless you add an inverter.  While boondocking, you will not have shore power, so without an inverter you will have to run your generator 24/7 to keep the AC/residential refrigerator running.  This is not practical.  Your only other option is an inverter. 

An inverter will take 12 volt power from your batteries and invert it to 120 volt power to run AC appliances such as a refrigerator.  One RV/Marine type battery is not sufficient to power an inverter continuously to keep an AC/residential style refrigerator running long term (even a small dorm type refrigerator like you are talking about).  You will also need to upgrade your battery to at least two six volt golf cart style true deep cycle batteries.  This would be the minimum I would run and I would recommend possibly going to four six volt batteries to give you the possibility of extended run times without having to recharge so frequently.  You should also add some type of battery monitoring system like a Victron or Trimetric battery monitor.  This device will tell you exactly what state your batteries are in from 100% state of charge down to 0% state of charge (along with lots of other information useful to a boondocker).  Ideally with lead acid or AGM batteries, you do not want to go below 50% state of charge. 

In addition to this, you will need a way to keep these batteries charged while boondocking.  This can be a generator, but if you are off grid for extended periods you will have to run your generator quite a bit to keep those batteries charged up.  The final piece to any serious boondocking set up would be solar panels and a solar charge controller.  This would give you a way to charge the batteries without running the generator. 

This all may seem like a lot, but it can be done fairly simply and in stages so you don't have to lay out a lot of cash all at once.

This is a fairly broad overview of running a residential refrigerator while boondocking.  I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

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Welcome to the forums. Your battery will not supply any 120v-ac power unless you have an inverter and even if you have one a single battery will not last for long. You could add batteries and a solar system but that won't be cheap. It is difficult to say what is best with the limited information but my initial reaction is that it would not serve you well. Running a generator all of the time can get expensive for fuel. 

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Chad's post reviewed the things you need to run your fridge from batteries. 

One thing needs to be added.  You must be able to get your batteries to 100% charged about every week or the batteries will sulfate the plates and the capacity of your batteries will slowly decline over your 6 months of boondocking to the point of not being able to support your fridge for very long. 

Running your generator for 6-12 hours to get your battery to the true 100% charged is not practical.  Three or four 100 watt or larger solar panels, combined with a generator run of a couple of hours in the morning followed by the solar panels for the rest of the day should get your batteries to 100%.

Here are two links to RV battery and solar which will supply the basic info needed to understand RV batteries and solar:

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1) Batteries

The 12volt Side of Life Part Solar & Inverters

 

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Thank you all for your very informative responses. I will read those links and try to make a decision as I learn more about it. I had no idea that I would have to run a generator that much! Over the course of the summer that would amount to a lot of gasoline. I will check out the solar but I know that I have so much to learn there! Trailer is a Jayco Feather only 16 feet long and the tongue area where the batteries are at is very crowded. 

 
Also thank you for the warm welcome! I really like everything I’ve read all the forms and it seems like a great community. I will try to read more topics that will help me to understand using an RV for more than a couple weeks a year. 

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If you add more batteries, it is important that you remember the weight that is adding to the entire RV and particularly to the tongue and hitch. If you don't know about and understand weight ratings for travel trailers and their tow vehicles, you need to learn about that as well. Travel with an overloaded RV or tow vehicle can be both dangerous and also cause mechanical problems. 

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8 hours ago, Gospel120 said:

Thank you all for your very informative responses. I will read those links and try to make a decision as I learn more about it. I had no idea that I would have to run a generator that much! Over the course of the summer that would amount to a lot of gasoline. I will check out the solar but I know that I have so much to learn there! Trailer is a Jayco Feather only 16 feet long and the tongue area where the batteries are at is very crowded. 

 
Also thank you for the warm welcome! I really like everything I’ve read all the forms and it seems like a great community. I will try to read more topics that will help me to understand using an RV for more than a couple weeks a year. 

As long as your boondocking will be in a single location a pair of solar panels like these  https://www.solar-electric.com/solartech-spm140p-s-n-140-watt-multicrystalline-solar-module.html  would work very well for you.  Mount them on the ground at an angle pointing to the south.  Add a controller like this: https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Wanderer-Advanced-Negative-Ground-Controller/dp/B00BCTLIHC  and you will be good to go. 

Or a kit like this has most everything you need: https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Monocrystalline-Controller-Adaptor-Connectors/dp/B00B8L8MD2/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1533383219&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=renogy+200+watt+solar+panel+kit&psc=1

 

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Make sure you have $$$ to compare in replacing the refrigerator vs all the other options mentioned. You might be able to find a refrigerator that fits the spot in a salvage yard and install it yourself if you are comfortable doing that.

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On ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 3:39 PM, Gospel120 said:

I will be Boondocking probably 90% of the time for 6 months of the year and on my property with electricity the other six months. I have only one large marine battery, but I do have a generator.

A couple of things I don't think have been mentioned. What other demands will you have on your batteries? For example, my 18" LED TV and Satellite receiver draw 100 watts (8.3 amps @ 12v). There are also a number of other small loads like the propane detector and all the appliance control boards. Total electrical usage is what will dictate how long your batteries will power your system and how often you need to run a generator or how much solar you need.

The 12v refrigerators that I have seen that are direct replacements for the propane RV refrigerators are about the same price as propane ones.

You did not say what was wrong with your current propane refrigerator. Have you explored the possibility of replacing the cooling unit rather than buying a new one? 

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5 hours ago, trailertraveler said:

You did not say what was wrong with your current propane refrigerator. Have you explored the possibility of replacing the cooling unit rather than buying a new one? 

Very good point. What is the problem with the refrigerator, what make and model is it, and how old is it? Are you sure that it can't be repaired? 

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Check out rvrefrigeration.com   They offer repair services as well as training programs.  Veterans training is their big push. 

They have several DIY Youtube videos online.  Saved me a bundle.  I did not know it, but cooling units can be repaired and replenished.  Their videos will show you how to determine if indeed it is a bad cooling unit.  Most time it is not.

Worth a look.

Brad

 

 

 

 

 

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I have considered how much weight I would be adding to the RV. It’s a small ultra lite unit (2300 lbs dry weight) and it doesn’t allow a really large payload. 

Im considering the solar options everyone has suggested, but did not realize a Refrigator could be purchased used. I will look into that as well. 

I will basically have the lights a laptop and phone chargers and whatever Refrigator I install for  normal electric useage.

The old refrigerator stopped working on gas 3 years ago but worked great on electric so I just use a generator or shore power for it. Now the electric part has quit working. I’ve had to the RV repair shop and they say it would be cheaper to replace it. Both the control panel and compressor are bad and that still would not fix the gas issue. 

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Chad

Thanks a bunch for a simple easy to read answer from a pretty simple guy.

Thanks also to all of the other replies as it exemplifies the vast knowledge of this community

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4 hours ago, Gospel120 said:

Both the control panel and compressor are bad and that still would not fix the gas issue. 

This has me confused. I am not aware of an RV refrigerator that has both a compressor and gas absorption cooling unit. The ones I am familiar with that use propane and electric heat the gas absorption unit by either the propane flame or an electric heating element. What make and model is the refrigerator?

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7 hours ago, trailertraveler said:

This has me confused. I am not aware of an RV refrigerator that has both a compressor and gas absorption cooling unit. The ones I am familiar with that use propane and electric heat the gas absorption unit by either the propane flame or an electric heating element. What make and model is the refrigerator?

Travel trailer I must have what they told me wrong then. They said ot was not worth fixing. So I’m not sure of the details. 

It is a Norcold 510. It looks as if it’s factory installed. 

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7 hours ago, Gospel120 said:

They said ot was not worth fixing. So I’m not sure of the details. 

It is a Norcold 510. It looks as if it’s factory installed. 

1

My first question is, how old is the unit and who are "they" who told you it was not worth fixing? Many an RV tech doesn't know how to do in-depth troubleshooting of a refrigerator or air conditioner. In addition, plenty of RV shops pay a commission to their techs if they sell a new appliance to encourage them to do so. Based on what you have said thus far, it is quite possible that your refrigerator is not worth the cost to repair as labor charges will eat up any savings very quickly. If you are interested in doing some troubleshooting yourself, there is a copy of the service manual for your refrigerator at Bryant RV Service website that you can download. 

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On 8/5/2018 at 5:31 PM, Flying Finn said:

Veterans training is their big push. 

I will have to check this out for when I get out.  I'd considered getting some certificates from a school for welding as a way to make some money on the road if I need it.  The RV fridge repair just sounds like another tool for the belt to help sustain my trip when I buy a RV and transition to full time living.

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