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Old 07-20-2019, 01:12 PM   #1
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Fridges for buses

Thinking about getting a fridge set up.
Anybody know of good sources for propane fridge.
What is the norm for fridges on other buses.
I donít have any electric aside from my batteries that come stock on the bus.
Any ideas appreciated.
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:24 PM   #2
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Most importantly, those "stock" batteries are what your engine solely depends on to start, so do NOT use them as your "House" bank!
Unless you either typically park nose down on a hill, or ate a warehouse's worth of Wheaties, and can push start it...
Propane fridges are glitchy, from what I've read thus far. I have a full sized residential 110V unit that I'd either have given away, or installed in my bus.
At present, I'm on 30A shore power.
I may revisit that decision if/when I build in my PV system...
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:26 PM   #3
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I heard more cons about propane to make me want one. I have a 10cf 120v fridge running off the inverter. It uses very little ah. And was a whole lot cheaper than the propane ones I checked out.
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Old 07-20-2019, 02:40 PM   #4
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Yes, DC compressor fridges are the way to go, putting in a decent solar-electric system is useful in so many other ways.

Propane needs to be nearly perfectly level, illegal to use while driving, always run out of gas in the most inconvenient times. . .

The old-school "3-way" fridges are OK off shore power, but their 12V side should **only** be used while the engine is running, crazy inefficient.
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:20 PM   #5
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Ok.
So whatís a good solar setup?
How many panels, batteries?
Whatís a good place to start looking at inverters?
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iím old greg View Post
Ok.
So whatís a good solar setup?
How many panels, batteries?
Whatís a good place to start looking at inverters?
Work out an energy budget.
Place to start is a, "Kill-A-Watt" meter:
Will provide instantaneous and daily power need averages, on all of your appliances. Individually.
Without those data, you can't reliably desisign a system ro meet your needs.
Can be had for less than $20...
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:30 PM   #7
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No inverter is required, DC powered means direct off your battery bank.

The best battery value by far is Duracell (actually Deka/East Penn) FLA deep cycle golf cart batteries, 2x6V, around $200 per 200+AH @12V pair from BatteriesPlus or Sam's Club. Deka labeled same batts also sold at Lowes.

I like Victron SmartSolar for the controller piece.

Best to start a new thread for panel reco's, measure how much free space you have on your roof.

Also wrt the overall design schematic, how you isolate / combine the Starter batt and alt output with your House bank, not rocket science but you'll need to clarify your needs, many different ways to go.
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:36 PM   #8
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"Kill-A-Watt" meter is just for measuring shore-powered appliances, which will greatly increase the size system required.

Best to stick to native DC and extreme energy efficiency, unless you plan to also use a genset while living off grid.

For efficient DC compressor fridges, figure 20-50Ah per day depending on ambient temps vs how cold you need your beer.

Even in cloudy winter weather 200W panelage will be plenty with that 200Ah bank I recommended.

Even running one in freezer mode may be OK long as it's sunny half the time.

But if you have DC load devices you want to monitor, "Watt's Up" meter is analogous to a Kill-a-Watt
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:52 PM   #9
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I will admit that I'm pretty close to terrified of propane fridges. And I'm not impressed by energy efficiency of any 12 volt fridge I can afford.

So I intend to make my own fridge, from a small chest freezer, a new one of the energy saver or whatever they call them. Actually I intend to use 2 freezers, one slightly larger than the other.

There are at least 2 different manufacturers out there making external thermostats that are specifically designed to convert chest freezers into highly efficient fridges. I don't remember the names offhand, but their websites are in my rather large collection of firefox bookmarks. And these devices are not particularly expensive, both I saw are in the $40 to $60 range.

Anyway, by having 2 freezers, maybe 3.5 and 5 cubic feet, or maybe 5 and 7, I could choose which one to use for a fridge according to whichever I needed the most space in at the time. That way I could be ready whenever a fresh road kill opportunity comes along.

I've also bookmarked some heavy duty drawer hardware, that I intend to put under a countertop, so as not to lose usable space because the lid must open upward. And to be able to access things easily inside either unit, I intend to build dividers that lift up from thin plywood.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:02 PM   #10
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You can get great very efficient DC compressor fridges for under $400 just looking out for sales.

And great bargains on CL of course.

If you're talking about running AC - powered household fridges off some huge inverter, I bet any potential savings will be wiped out by its cost, as well as the extra solar + battery capacity.

There are super-efficient **240V** units manufactured for the better-regulated Euro / down under markets, would be great if someone imported those,

but haven't seen any in the industry-captured US market.

In any case if you find those links, or build threads with objective documentation on Ah per day draws for DIY conversions, I'd be very interested.
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