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Old 08-28-2007, 03:50 PM   #1
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120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

Has anyone tried using one of these small Apartment/dormitory style refrigerators with an inverter? I canít seem to find the specs. For this particular model (3.1 cu. Ft.) but I have found similar size unitís electrical data. They run on 120 volts at 1.53 amps. Doing the math that works out to 183.6 watts. Then I believe that there is another factor that needs to be multiplied X 10 for DC power thru the inverter (120)? If that is so now I am looking at 1836 watts. So this appliance would run ok on a 2000 watt inverter. Is that X 10 factor a constant load?


Danby dcr326bsl

Depth 19 inches

Width 18 inches

Height 33 inches


I found this information on an RV refer. that is made 120/12 volts:

"AC/DC Compressor Style. The AC/DC compressor refrigerator can be run up to 30ļ out of level and requires only minimal ventilation. Operating on 120 volt, it will pull between 0.4 and 0.975 amps, depending on the size of the refrigerator. The 12 volt amp range is between 3.5 and 6.0 amps. This style refrigerator, which uses a motor, can only be operated on electricity, not propane.

Then Why? Why do probably more than 95% of RVs come with the propane style refrigerator, when they are so inefficient on 12 volt and so temperamental? The answer is: propane. With standard propane tanks, an RV with a propane refrigerator can go for weeks without the benefit of any hook ups. The AC/DC compressor style, although much more efficient on 12 volt than the propane style, will barely last 24 hours with a standard battery, without recharging the battery. To be truly independent of outside power the RV would have to have a lot of batteries or some means to constantly charge (in a significant way) a few batteries.

There is a definite need, however, for the AC/DC compressor style. Any situation where the proper ventilation requirements for a propane refrigerator can't be implemented (such as many boats) is a perfect candidate. If 12 volt is going to be the only or main power source, then the AC/DC compressor style is the only way to go. If it is known that propane will never be considered as a power source, then there is no reason to put up with the requirements of a propane refrigerator."
I doubt if I would ever be in a position to not be able to plug-in or run my generator to keep my batteries properly charged. If I was it would be easy enough to unplug the Refrigerator and transfer the contents to an ice chest or dispose of the contents rather then ruin the deep cell batteries.

Why isn't everyone running one of these with an inverter instead of the expensive propane models?
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:53 PM   #2
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

Here's a cool thing about watts. Since they are volts*amps a watt is a watt is a watt. It doesn't matter which side of the inverter you are talking about because the unit itself takes into account both voltage and amperage. So...your 183.6 watts on the AC side of the inverter is 183.6 watts on the DC side. The conversion comes in figuring out amps. 183.6/12=15.3 amps@12 Vdc. So were does that multiplicative factor of 10 come in? When going from amps@120Vac to amps@12Vdc.

Ok...enough of that garbage. I have a small fridge similar to the one you're describing. Mine is actually a little smaller, but has a slightly higher electrical draw (it's R-12 old). It works great in the bus. The electrical draw really is minimal considering it doesn't cycle all that often. It is amazingly simple, can be used in the garage other times of the year, and is cheap. I think it's a good solution for anyone that isn't going to be doing a lot of boondocking without solar or other means of charging the batteries back up. I have mine mounted under a shelf for the TV so it is out of the sun which probably helps with efficiency, but more than anything I did it for space.

One word of caution. Size your inverter for atleast 3 times the rated load IMO. Mine surge to 1500 watts, but with other stuff running the voltage drop can be enough to make my PS2 cycle off. Some of that might be my wiring, but I wouldn't go smaller than the 750 watt inverter I have on the fridge along with just a few other things (I have two inverters and try to load the fridge on one independently as much as possible).
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:03 PM   #3
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

I have been considering running a refrigerator on this inverter.

* LED readout lets you monitor amps and voltage
* 2000 watts continuous power
* 4000 watts surge capability
* Input voltage: 11-15VDC
* Modified sine wave
* Low voltage alarm protects your battery
* Auto shutdown
* Overvoltage shutoff at 15VDC
* Triple fans for maximum cooling
* Two three-prong outlets
* Connector for PCB components
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:17 PM   #4
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

So were does that multiplicative factor of 10 come in? When going from amps@120Vac to amps@12Vdc.
Got it, thanks.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:11 AM   #5
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

I have about the same size fridge you are describing, was my old college dorm fridge. I bought the Vector 3000/6000 Watt inverter on E-Bay. I figured might as well get the biggest since I had no idea what my final power draw would be.

The Vector has a nice little gas level bar that tells you how much wattage is being used. With the fridge plugged in (and compressor running), all the lights on, the lap-top on, the stereo on and such it still only lights up about 30% of the level bar and the top most level is the 3000 watt mark, so figure about 900 Watts total there. With just the fridge on I think I was seeing 10% of the bar illuminated, so about 300 watt usage. The Vector cooling fan kicks on briefly when the fridge compressor kicks on, but turns off again after a few seconds, that initial current draw during compressor starts is a little higher, though I am not monitoring it with a scope or anything to find out what the peak draw is.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:30 PM   #6
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

Before you buy a refridge, do all the research you can on it first. I picked up a 14 cu ft Magic Chef (24" wide) compressor style unit with the same thing in mind. After I got it unpacked and loaded into the bus, I sat down to read the paper work that came with it. First thing I read was a statement that it cannot be run off an inverter. It didn't say why, and may be just one of those CYA clauses... but it was it was there in plain english... I'll probably play around with it a little, but since I plan to have a gen set so I can run the roof top a/c I figure it can run the little refridge too.

Also, if you plug it in and pre-cool it before leaving for a trip that only last a few hours or so, you probably can get by without powering it while in motion...

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Old 06-22-2008, 11:18 PM   #7
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

Havent read the fine print on our new 14 Cubic Foot. Maybe I should have, who knows.
Anyway it runs great off the inverter we have a 4000 Peak 3000 continuous watt inverter. Along with the fridge we have also ran 2 19" flatscreens, a DVD player and 40' of Rope lighting. The only problem is I don't think the alternater keeps up with the demand. Never had a problem yet though, we just plug into shore power when we are parked between trips and everything gets charged up again.
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Old 06-23-2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: 120-volt (only) onboard refrigerator.

Fine vision's not that good anymore. I can't even see fine print. We bought a 10 cu. ft. conventional frig @ Lowes that we run off a 2500 watt inverter with no probs. I believe it draws 3 amps. We'll be on shore power most of the time, but will do some boondocking I'm sure. In our area I couldn't find a used RV frig and couldn't bring myself to pay those high dollar prices for a new one. So far we are very pleased with the route we've chosen.
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:38 AM   #9
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Bringing this thread back from the dead...

We are debating what to get for a refrigerator and would be curious to here some more insight from experienced skoolie/RVers. We want the ability to be sustainable while boondocking, but loath to spend the $1,000+ on a propane RV fridge. I also dont want to have to be so concerned about being perfectly level as seems to be so important with RV fridges. I realize having a conventional fridge will require an adequate power system.

We are considering a compact conventional fridge such as this 3.1 cu ft Frigidaire. The specs claim it only draws 1 amp, but I am sure its more when the compressor kicks on.

We arent looking to go crazy with our solar/battery system. We are looking at some of the entry level Renogy Solar kits in the 200-400 watt range, with 200-400 amp hours of battery storage. But I want to get a better idea of whether or not this will be sustainable with a conventional fridge. We really dont use much other electricity. We dont have a TV or a microwave. Our power usage will mostly got to the charging cell phones, occasional small kitchen appliance, 12v lighting, and a 12v ceiling fan. And, possibly a fridge?

So in short my question is; Is it feasible to run a small conventional fridge from a modest solar/battery system? And what size system would one suggest for such a fridge, along with the other usage I just explained?

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Old 09-08-2016, 12:02 PM   #10
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remember most likely 200-400 ampo hours will be at 12 volts unless you are using high voltage battery packs.. 1 amp at 120 volts is 120 watts so on a small frig that is feasible.. that 1 amp at 120 volts is 10 amps at 12 volts... plus of course thats only when the frig is running.. presumably its going to shut off a good bit of the time unless you are constantly opening and closing it or the inside of the bus is very hot.

another thning to thinkl about is some of the 200-400 watt wind turbines are coming down in price.... could allow you to gain some charge on the batteries at night..

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Old 09-08-2016, 12:25 PM   #11
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I looked into wind power a great bit. It's not feasible for this application unless you plan in being at very windy locations. I hate wind, so there's no way I'm chasing it!

We just put together a small chunk of our solar system. We have 460 watts of solar panels, one 30A PWM controller, and 1 deep cycle battery. I believe that if you had 400w and two batteries in a sunny place you'd be able to swing it.

Right now it takes our panels about three or four hours to mostly charge our battery. That's all the sun we get here. If we had 2 or 3 batteries and more sun, they'd be able to charge no problem. Our 120v mini fridge can run for a couple hours on that, but usually we run the fridge for a while during the day and then leave it off. If you don't open the door much that food will stay cold. If you have enough battery power to let it run all the time, it will take much less energy because all the food will maintain that constant temp and the compressor won't run as much.
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