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Old 02-29-2016, 11:38 AM   #1
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Boondocking Fridge

Hey there skoolers (is that a thing?)!

Just wondering what everybody thinks about the best type of fridge for boondocking. We will be full timing for a couple of years with some, possibly, lengthy stretches of off-grid days. We do plan on having solar power. Though it may be a smaller system, as we are currently shopping five and six window rigs. We also plan on have a propane tank for hot water and range/oven, perhaps.

In my research, it seems like propane is best for lower energy consumption. However, it has been increasingly brought to my attention that there is a significant(?) fire hazard with these. For that reason, I almost want to abandon propane systems in general. How realistic are these concerns and do any of you have more creative refrigeration solutions?

As always, thank you guys for your time and generosity!
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:52 AM   #2
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Propane has been used safely in RV's for many decades. That said...there have also been plenty of fires. Like many other systems, safety really comes down to how well designed, installed and maintained it is. I was told by my insurance agent years ago that electrical fires are actually a much more common cause for RV loses.

Personally, I would not include refrigeration in my propane plans though. Those units require near perfect level or they can have the coils go solid and never recover. I have been investigating the new generation of 12 volt fridge/freezers that employ a new type of high efficiency compressor and I'm pretty much sold based on what I have seen & heard in terms of performance. One such brand is Whynter. They are the only one I have found so far that make a combination fridge/freezer in a single unit. Not the cheapest option out there but based on my needs, I think it is my best option. (Note...they are all chest type...no uprights)
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:13 PM   #3
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I have been running a cheap AC dorm fridge off of 2oo watts solar during the day for the last 6 months(98% of the time I am boondocking) Of course, if you want more power, or you need to cool things down at night, you may need more than one battery and more watts, but shockingly this works for me as long as I turn the fridge off around 3 pm, or crank the generator.

Mine was $120 at Home Depot

Magic Chef 3.5 cu. ft. Mini Refrigerator in Black, ENERGYSTAR-HMBR350BE1 - The Home Depot

I know that many folks might be outraged by my response, but it works.

I just like folks to know there are options besides what is "standard"
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:30 PM   #4
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We converted a small chest freezer (33"L x 22"w x 24"H, $30 on craigslist) into a fridge with a cheap $20 thermostat controller from Amazon. It pulls 230 watts but the compressor might run only a couple hours total each day if we leave it turned on. Otherwise we'll set it to freeze and run it for half and hour then turn it off for the day. If the weather is under 50 degrees we do that, if it's hot we'll turn it on for a short time a few times a day. If you do have solar you'll have no problem at all.
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Propane has been used safely in RV's for many decades. That said...there have also been plenty of fires. Like many other systems, safety really comes down to how well designed, installed and maintained it is. I was told by my insurance agent years ago that electrical fires are actually a much more common cause for RV loses.

Personally, I would not include refrigeration in my propane plans though. Those units require near perfect level or they can have the coils go solid and never recover. I have been investigating the new generation of 12 volt fridge/freezers that employ a new type of high efficiency compressor and I'm pretty much sold based on what I have seen & heard in terms of performance. One such brand is Whynter. They are the only one I have found so far that make a combination fridge/freezer in a single unit. Not the cheapest option out there but based on my needs, I think it is my best option. (Note...they are all chest type...no uprights)
Thanks, we definitely are of the mindset for minimalizing our energy usage in general. In fact, I think we are going to restrict our propane needs to cooking only. It seems also that chest cooler/freezers are more efficient at staying cold. That is, they don't dump cold air out onto the floor every time you open them? So I think we're gonna go that route...
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dredman View Post
I have been running a cheap AC dorm fridge off of 2oo watts solar during the day for the last 6 months(98% of the time I am boondocking) Of course, if you want more power, or you need to cool things down at night, you may need more than one battery and more watts, but shockingly this works for me as long as I turn the fridge off around 3 pm, or crank the generator.

Mine was $120 at Home Depot

Magic Chef 3.5 cu. ft. Mini Refrigerator in Black, ENERGYSTAR-HMBR350BE1 - The Home Depot

I know that many folks might be outraged by my response, but it works.

I just like folks to know there are options besides what is "standard"
That's really good to know, dred. We have been talking about maybe trying to snag a smallish used fridge/chest freezer (with temp controller) and using an inverter to essentially make it two-way, 12/120. Does that sound realistic?
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onenationundergoat View Post
We converted a small chest freezer (33"L x 22"w x 24"H, $30 on craigslist) into a fridge with a cheap $20 thermostat controller from Amazon. It pulls 230 watts but the compressor might run only a couple hours total each day if we leave it turned on. Otherwise we'll set it to freeze and run it for half and hour then turn it off for the day. If the weather is under 50 degrees we do that, if it's hot we'll turn it on for a short time a few times a day. If you do have solar you'll have no problem at all.
Yes! I love the chest freezer idea. It seems to be a pretty efficient set up, spacially (put it on rails under a counter top?) and consumption-wise. We will certainly use that advice about limited usage hours too. Thanks!
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:13 PM   #8
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Also, as water heaters go, saw this one recently... Bosch Tronic 3000T ES4 Electric Mini-Tank Water Heater, 4 Gallon - boschtanklesswaterheaterproducts.com - BuyAndLarge Inc

...anyone know about their performance? We only need hot water for dishes and showers, for the most part. Also, sorry that I just bombarded the hell outta this thread! :/
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:51 PM   #9
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I also like the idea of a chest freezer because it doesn't block the windows and it provides another work surface. On a side note home beer brewers have been using freezers, with an additional thermostat, to cool their homebrew for years. You can find those thermostats easily on brewing websites.

5 gallon kegs make a petty nice water system. You pressurize the keg with co2, so your water may get slightly fizzy if you leave the system pressurized.

Are there any other rolling home breweries out there?

Thinking of your shower situation, I've seen people set up shower curtains in their front entry stairwell because it's designed to shed water.

Are you using a wood stove? Personally I put my brewing kettle (5 gal) on my wood stove. Even with propane using a ceramic heater I can boil 5 gal in under an hour. Most people seem very happy with the on demand water heaters if you want to get fancy. I like to keep things capable of functioning in a simple manner using natural resources if necessary.
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:38 PM   #10
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Since I've not been able to find a small, tankless water heater that runs on either propane OR electric...I am looking into using one of each with a simple diverter in the water line to pick the appropriate energy source. Propane when boondocking...electric when I have a hook up.

Has anyone else gone or considered this route?
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