Fridge Options, Please...

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Fridge Options, Please...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:07 pm

I will soon be purchasing a 4X8 towable trailer made by Runaway, which I will be full-timing in. Thus far, I've figured out very simple solutions for showering, as well as doing my bathroom business. However...

I still have not found a way to easily store a few staples such as milk, dairy, etc. outside of a cooler with ice. The few options I've seen so far, have been the following...

1. Mini fridges - Good idea, but they are big & bulky, and will pull too much power. Expensive, too. My trailer will already have an A/C or ceramic heater plugged in (depending upon the season), and the fridge will simply require too much power consumption.

2. Mini coolers (The type that can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, etc.) - Another good idea, but they drain batteries fast, are extremely small, and from all I've read, only cool items down 10 or 20 degrees less than the current air temperature.

3. 2 or 3 way propane fridges - Excellent idea, but I'd rather not have to worry about refilling the propane, which goes rather quickly, from what I understand. Also, too big and bulky for my small towable.

By far, the best idea (and simplest) would be a quality built cooler with ice. Depending upon the cooler, the outside temperature, how well it's packed, and how often it's opened, I've heard they can easily keep things cold for 3 to 7 days. Obviously, I'd rather not have to buy new ice every week, as it will be expensive and time consuming. But that seems to be the best idea I've encountered, so far.

If any of you have any good tips, I'd love to hear them. In a worst case, keeping items cold is a luxury...one I may have to do without. But even in a basic sense, I'd really love being able to store a half gallon of milk and a few cans of pop for those hot summer days.

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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby John61CT » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:55 pm

#4 fridges designed for use off 12V DC using a very efficient Danfoss-style compressor.

Much better than the others you mention, but pricey.

Forget about the 12V coolers using Peltier tech, energy hogs and ineffective.

The three-ways are good for mains power or propane in the boonies, but very inefficient 12V, only for use while friving.

Mains fridges are much less efficient than 12V compressor fridges, plus inverter losses, save $ on the fridge but need lots more panels and a bigger bank.

Engel is the best, Dometic/Waeco make most of the rest, all are pretty good, check out CL or save your pennies waiting for sales that come up sometimes.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby GuitarPhotog » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:02 pm

TruckFridge makes some efficient 12VDC fridges. Not cheap, but small and energy efficient.

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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby steve cowan » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:15 pm

You can get a like new mini fridge on CL for under $40. It seems you plan to camp alot off grid so not a good choice.In that situation I would bite the bullet and buy a good
12 volt fridge/freezer.Can be run off battery/solar charger and ran while traveling.No ice to buy or soggy food items.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:44 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! I will look into each of them, this evening :beer:

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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby daveesl77 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:37 pm

Well, for years I've been using a 120v Haier 3 cu ft dorm fridge. I originally gave it to my daughter when she went to college in 2004, she graduated, I got it back, been using it ever since. If I have shore power, then it runs on that. If not, then I run it from a cheap Centech modified sine-wave inverter. When traveling, my tow vehicle charges the battery, which runs the 1200 watt inverter, which runs the fridge. When no shore power, previously I could run it from my 150 watts of solar into my Rural King (Exide) farm type deep cycle battery or my 2,000 watt Predator generator. I have run it on solar-battery alone, in Florida summer sun, for in excess of 36 hours straight. 90+ degree outside temp, fridge temp around 32-36 F.

The farm style battery gave up the ghost, so I now put in two Rural King golf cart batteries. Haven't done a load test yet, but since the batteries combined have about 3 times the rated capacity of the old one, I think I can probably run it indefinitely.

When using, I fire it up initially on house current to bring it down to desired temp. That is usually around 24 F, I've had it as low as 16. When ready to leave on the trip, I turn the thermostat down from like 8 to 3 or 4 and shift to inverter. That is kind of where it stays. I know a mod-sine is not the preferred inverter, but heck, it works and has for years now. You can get those fridges for less than $90 on sale. Between the fridge and my little Igloo countertop ice maker, we made it through Hurricane Irma with very little inconvenience, but I was running a generator.

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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby Shadow Catcher » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:44 pm

We have a Waeco, (international version of the Dometic CF 45. It rides in the back of the TV when moving and when we have shore power it gets 120 AC and when no power is available powered by our solar. Two possibilities Dan Fos compressor or the Engel swing compressor. I warped ours in Reflectex
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby troubleScottie » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:10 pm

All have trade off -- size, cost, power options. If you are always with shore power given your other posts of long term camping, using AC to run is your best option.

The ice chest and ice is generally a trade off of cost of the fridge and number of days per trip and number of trips per year. Bags of ice for continuous camping is going to cost you ($1-5 every 3-4 days will add up). In addition you will be emptying the cooler and cleaning it out eg 3-5 days. If you camp only a few - 5 days per trip, a cooler and ice is a reasonable solution.

From another post on another site:

There's approximately 91,500 btu's in a gallon of propane. I have a 12 cu/ft Norcold refrigerator that burns 2400 btu/hr. So one gallon of propane will last about 38 hrs. However that's if the refrigerator runs constantly. Again, assuming it runs for 8 hours out of a 24 hr. period a gallon of propane should last about 5 days. Naturally it all depends on how hot the outside temperature is, how full the refrigerator is, the temperature setting and how often you open the door. If you have a 30 gallon propane tank it should last about 150 days.

So 20# tank is 100 days or about 3 months.

Of course this is a huge unit. And it will run on AC if it is available.

A much smaller portable frig : manufacturer specs on a Dometic CFX 75DZW Portable Refrigerator (3 cuft) using 70W while it is running (0.74W for AC, 7.9W for DC ); Energy consumption (DC@5/32degC) 1.309 kWh/24h.



Personally, if one is living full-time, a powered frig/freezer is a necessary evil.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby Rainier70 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:26 pm

If you need a good cooler that isn't too expensive, I have had good luck with the Coleman Xtreme coolers. They come in different ratings-- 3day, 5day, and 7day. I got a 5 day xtreme from Walmart for about $30. I then lined it with some added insulation on the inside (actually I used an older soft sided cooler that fitted inside it). It kept ice for 5-7 days depending on how often I opened it, and if I was using block ice, and how much block ice.

I have since purchased an Engel 12v fridge/freezer that I use as a freezer. It is very energy efficient, but pricey. Especially now that they aren't on sale.

I don't use a cooler at all anymore. I have found that most fresh veg., fruit, eggs, etc, if treated right, will last fine without refrigeration. Mayo I purchase in the small packets, milk is either shelf stable boxed or powdered Nido.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby Socal Tom » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:36 pm

NJCamperDude wrote:I will soon be purchasing a 4X8 towable trailer made by Runaway, which I will be full-timing in. Thus far, I've figured out very simple solutions for showering, as well as doing my bathroom business. However...

I still have not found a way to easily store a few staples such as milk, dairy, etc. outside of a cooler with ice. The few options I've seen so far, have been the following...

1. Mini fridges - Good idea, but they are big & bulky, and will pull too much power. Expensive, too. My trailer will already have an A/C or ceramic heater plugged in (depending upon the season), and the fridge will simply require too much power consumption.

2. Mini coolers (The type that can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, etc.) - Another good idea, but they drain batteries fast, are extremely small, and from all I've read, only cool items down 10 or 20 degrees less than the current air temperature.

3. 2 or 3 way propane fridges - Excellent idea, but I'd rather not have to worry about refilling the propane, which goes rather quickly, from what I understand. Also, too big and bulky for my small towable.

By far, the best idea (and simplest) would be a quality built cooler with ice. Depending upon the cooler, the outside temperature, how well it's packed, and how often it's opened, I've heard they can easily keep things cold for 3 to 7 days. Obviously, I'd rather not have to buy new ice every week, as it will be expensive and time consuming. But that seems to be the best idea I've encountered, so far.

If any of you have any good tips, I'd love to hear them. In a worst case, keeping items cold is a luxury...one I may have to do without. But even in a basic sense, I'd really love being able to store a half gallon of milk and a few cans of pop for those hot summer days.

Dudeman

A decent fridge uses less than 10 Ah per hour. A low power 250watt) ceramic heater will use about twice that amount every hour it runs. A small air conditioner will use at least twice that. Unless you are plugged in or running a generator, you need to rethink your power use ideas.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby NJCamperDude » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:14 pm

Socal Tom wrote:
NJCamperDude wrote:I will soon be purchasing a 4X8 towable trailer made by Runaway, which I will be full-timing in. Thus far, I've figured out very simple solutions for showering, as well as doing my bathroom business. However...

I still have not found a way to easily store a few staples such as milk, dairy, etc. outside of a cooler with ice. The few options I've seen so far, have been the following...

1. Mini fridges - Good idea, but they are big & bulky, and will pull too much power. Expensive, too. My trailer will already have an A/C or ceramic heater plugged in (depending upon the season), and the fridge will simply require too much power consumption.

2. Mini coolers (The type that can plug into the cigarette lighter in your car, etc.) - Another good idea, but they drain batteries fast, are extremely small, and from all I've read, only cool items down 10 or 20 degrees less than the current air temperature.

3. 2 or 3 way propane fridges - Excellent idea, but I'd rather not have to worry about refilling the propane, which goes rather quickly, from what I understand. Also, too big and bulky for my small towable.

By far, the best idea (and simplest) would be a quality built cooler with ice. Depending upon the cooler, the outside temperature, how well it's packed, and how often it's opened, I've heard they can easily keep things cold for 3 to 7 days. Obviously, I'd rather not have to buy new ice every week, as it will be expensive and time consuming. But that seems to be the best idea I've encountered, so far.

If any of you have any good tips, I'd love to hear them. In a worst case, keeping items cold is a luxury...one I may have to do without. But even in a basic sense, I'd really love being able to store a half gallon of milk and a few cans of pop for those hot summer days.

Dudeman

A decent fridge uses less than 10 Ah per hour. A low power 250watt) ceramic heater will use about twice that amount every hour it runs. A small air conditioner will use at least twice that. Unless you are plugged in or running a generator, you need to rethink your power use ideas.


Thanks again, to everyone that has replied, your time and input are greatly appreciated. Socal, you're probably correct, but I am brand new to this whole lifestyle, so please bear with me, as I am still trying to wrap my head around the whole power thing, especially solar. I have certainly seen smaller fridges that would do the trick, like the one in the link below, but keeping it inside my small 4X8 towable trailer would simply take up too much space. And I certainly wouldn't leave it on the front trailer rack as theft is a concern. So, it would basically be stored in my car's trunk on an exclusive basis. Further, whenever I need/want a cold drink, milk, etc., I'd pretty much be forced to wait while it cools the beverages down, which is inconvenient. So, as you can see, this is a perplexing issue. One which doesn't seem to have an easy answer. There's size limitations, powerage issues, etc.

https://www.amazon.com/ARB-10800472-Fridge-Freezer-Quart/dp/B004P9C032?th=1

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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby John61CT » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:23 pm

ARB makes a great product.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby Socal Tom » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:36 pm

A fridge would take about the same amount of space as a cooler would so I'm missing something. There are much cheaper options than the one you listed.
https://www.amazon.com/EdgeStar-FP430-P ... frigerator.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go with a small generator ( Harbor Freight Predator $450), and a dorm fridge. The generator will also run the AC and heater you wanted. You will still have to pay for gas, which could be 4 to 8$ per day, but you have a lot more flexibility.

If you add a good size battery bank ( 2x 6V golf cart batteries ~80$ each) and a power inverter ( ~$150), you can use that to power the fridge at night, then recharge with the generator during the day.
The batteries won't be enough to run the AC more than an hour or two so I wouldn't plan on that. Ice usually isn't free. Around here, ice costs about $7 for 20lbs. a 50 quart cooler needs about 30lbs of ice to keep it 7 to 10 days. So if you refill every 10 days, that's 36 fill ups per year and it takes $10 per fill up. Now you are at $360 for ice per year. I don't know how long you plan on full timing it, but you can get a new dorm fridge at home depot for under $100 for one with 42 quarts (1.4cuft).
If you want a solar system, then it really depends on what you want to run. I covered what is required to power A/C on battery /solar here.
viewtopic.php?f=30&t=69512

Here is a new "performance" cooler that just came out
http://www.lifetime.com/lifetime-90820- ... nce-cooler
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby dmb90260 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:49 am

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My tear camp with the "fridge" on the left of the galley. I cannot recall the brand. It was not a real refrigerator but an electric cooler that kept the interior 20 deg below the ambient temperature. Not must use when the temps are very high or very low. It became mostly a storage area. I had one or two Colemans in my truck bed which were better. I would have been better off with more real storage than this fridge.
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Re: Fridge Options, Please...

Postby clamlamp » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:30 pm

I bit the bullet and got a dometic cfx-50. So far I've been running it on my bedroom and it's super quite and works great. Planning to run off solar and battery. Waiting to build out my galley with it.

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