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Old 12-20-2009, 08:24 PM   #41
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

You could do it that way too. I'm not sure the cost of those but I'm just suggesting another option and something cheaper or even free if you know of someone getting rid of a fridge.

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Old 12-20-2009, 11:06 PM   #42
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

The external units are about $50 to $70 depending on what you want. If I was to hardwire a unit in, wouldn't I have to add a dial for temp as well?
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:42 AM   #43
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

From my understanding the thermostat has a dial already built in. if your scavenging it from another fridge the thermostat would be located behind where the dial is. remove all parts necessary (dial knob, thermostat, and coil) this should all be connected together. also before disconnecting wires note what wires connected to what connector. if possible cut the wires so you have several inches or as much as possible of a lead attached to the thermostat. this will help in re connecting to the freezer and also help in identifying the wires. If you can try to mount the whole thermostat and coil inside the freezer (that's how is done in a regular refrigerator) this will give you the best results (you may need to run wire from the thermostat out from the lid to where it needs to be connected (original freezer thermostat location) depending on your chest freezer setup).

If you want to buy a thermostat new try a google search for refergerator thermostat under shopping. amazon might carry them as well.
They range in price I found this one on Ebay for $19 but it doesn't have the plastic knob what is a simple fix buy finding a knob that will fit.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=263602_263622

If I was to do this I would search out old refrigerators and take what I needed from them. This also allows you to take the thermostat plastic housing if its removable. also any other useful parts of the fridge like shelves, fan to circulate the cold air and help maintain a constant temp throughout (I read somewhere that someone installed a fan in their chest fridge because the items on top were not as cold as the items on the bottom because of no air circulation), condiment trays that can be adhered to the walls of the freezer for condiments. just take what ever you can if later down the road you don't need them then toss them out, but its better to have them available then not. You may never know when an idea will spark and wished you had taken that shelf. If it was me I would just haul the whole fridge home and keep it around as long as possible so if I found out I needed another part its right there and can easily pull it off.

Another thing to keep in mind is if your freezer is new and under warranty then hard wiring in a thermostat would most likely void the warranty. in that case go with an external thermostat. This way they cannot tell that you hacked apart the wiring. Also don't tell them you were running it as a fridge too. they might try to say that's why the unit failed, and not cover it.

If its not a new freezer and you want to try to save 50 - 70 dollars then go at it. I like to tinker around with things and if I can save 70 bucks by building it myself then I do it. Just make sure all the electrical is connected correctly. You may also want to find a refrigerator/freezer repairman and run all this by him or her prior to start just to make sure what your doing will work. They may not know if it would or not (I'm pretty certain it would if hooked up properly), but at least you can find out info that can help you out with the build like wiring and locating what you need access to.

All this talk about this makes me want to run out and try it out myself. But I'm pretty sure the misses doesn't want me to hack apart our freezer. Guess I need to locate a chest freezer to try this out on... time to check out Craigslist....

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Old 04-21-2010, 06:00 PM   #44
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

My dilemma about a powered fridge is that I don't want to be tied to always providing a power source. When driving down the road I don't want to overburden my house batteries, or run a generator just to keep my food cold. I wonder if I could install one of these chest freezer/fridge conversions, plug it in at the campground, but then just put ice in it if I'm not connected to a power source? Maybe install a drain in the bottom to get rid of the icewater when it melts? Anyone see a problem with this idea?
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:35 PM   #45
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel Dan
My dilemma about a powered fridge is that I don't want to be tied to always providing a power source. When driving down the road I don't want to overburden my house batteries, or run a generator just to keep my food cold. I wonder if I could install one of these chest freezer/fridge conversions, plug it in at the campground, but then just put ice in it if I'm not connected to a power source? Maybe install a drain in the bottom to get rid of the icewater when it melts? Anyone see a problem with this idea?
When the upright freezer we had ruined our food from a bad door seal, I researched a lot before buying an Energy Star chest freezer from Lowe's. According to my Kill-A-Watt, at maximum it would draw about 11 amps DC through an inverter, or about equal to a pair of low beams plus 2 taillight bulbs and all marker lights off. When you factor in the on/off cycles of the compressor in freezer mode and 70F ambient temperature, it actually takes only 1/4 that power over any period of time (totaling about 0.87 kWh or 73 DC Amp-hours per day). It's not nothing, but it's not much either. Many off-grid homes and boondockers use inverter-powered efficient fridges and freezers powered by the sun.

Rather than pour ice into the chest, freeze or chill the water in old milk, soda, or windshield washer jugs and put those in around the food. Leave some space in the jugs for the water to expand when it freezes. The "experts" advise filling any empty space with these anyway, to store the cold and prevent massive air exchanges that let the cold out when the door is open.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:06 PM   #46
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

So if I have 450AH worth of house batteries the fridge would probably run for probably 3-4 days at a stretch assuming my other power use is limited to water pump, lights, fans, and TV/DVD type stuff. Hmmm... That actually sounds pretty do-able!
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:35 PM   #47
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

I bought a 7 cu ft and a external thermostat and used it over the weekend. It worked great. Kept the beer and food cold but not frozen and TWO BAGS(8lbs ea.) of drink ice lasted the entire weekend...ie. it didn't melt. Two bags of ice for 4 days!!!!!

Drawbacks

We needed more room...was planning on the 5 cu ft but scored the 7 on CL w/thermostat for $140
Had to make sure it was working...the little green light was always off(a good thing I know)
No where for the leaking stuff to go....yet
Had to dig sometimes

Other than that...no real complaints.
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:10 AM   #48
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

Dan,
Smitty's right - plan on discharging your batteries by only 50% or less for maximum life. Also note - my measurement was in FREEZER mode, using the chest in refrigerator mode would mean less total usage. The freezer we have is currently in a screen porch with plastic over some of the windows to cut wind, so it is pretty much exposed to the outside temps.

John,
You made an excellent point that is easy to miss. When it is hot, and the unit runs more, there is extended sunshine available for solar charging. When the sun isn't out, the unit doesn't have to work as hard.

Julie,
As far as organization, the unit we bought has 2 levels of baskets above the floor. The chest is about 3 baskets wide, and each level has 2 baskets about 8 inches deep. You can slide the top baskets side to side to see what is in the middle level, or slide both levels together to see what is on the bottom. This does waste about 3 cubic feet (I think the total might be 14 cf?), but you could slide both layers in the same direction and put something tall on the bottom, or stack rectangular items like cases of refreshing beverages in the resulting space. Doing that to use the full capacity would then require lifting the baskets to get to the lower levels, but since the baskets would keep things organized, it would be easier than pawing through the goods.

It's a Whirlpool. I don't have the model number handy, but it had an "L" in it, which I think means this version was made for Lowe's. I'm extremely happy with it. If I were rich, I might opt for a DC-powered SunDanzer or SunFrost at 3x the price, but this one does the job.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:22 PM   #49
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

If the exterior of the unit is warm to the touch (especially more so in some places than others), then you had better not add the insulation. You will prevent it from operating right. On our little under counter units, they ran the evaporator coils all over the exterior close to the metal cabinet to dissipate the heat. There is even a line wrapping around where the door gasket touched the cabinet to keep ice build up down in that location.
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:11 PM   #50
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Re: Chest Freezer as 'Fridge in Bus

This is a great idea. Probably not if you have a nit picking wife. So how many have done the conversion so far? Smitty, did you use that thermostat from Grainer?
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