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Old 05-03-2020, 05:23 PM   #1
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Fridge

I realize this has been asked/discussed quite a bit, but I'm not getting the answers I need through the search function, so I apologize in advance for the redundancy. Myself, my husband, and our five children are in the process of converting our skoolie. We are really on the struggle bus with what to do about a fridge. We plan on using the bus for mostly just weekend camping, maybe boon-docking a bit, but "off grid" is not our goal here (yet). We are not installing solar (yet). We are at a loss as to what to do for our fridge. We were thinking an LP RV fridge, but keep reading about all the issues with that, but it seems too easy to just put in a normal 120V fridge.... Planning on propane for our stove/water heater. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:41 PM   #2
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Where do you imagine power will come from? Shorepower? Alternator? Generator? Charging at home and having enough battery capacity to last a long weekend?


If this is for weekends only a small mini-fridge is probably more than enough right?


A DC chest style fridge will be the most efficient option (both in terms of energy and space), but a 120v mini-fridge is quite a bit cheaper, and not horribly inefficient. Another popular DIY option is to convert a chest freezer with an external thermostat to use as a fridge.


But to play devils advocate here, if you are talking about using this for long weekends, and you won't have a reliable power source, you are a prime candidate for a good cooler.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:41 PM   #3
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I've used both Sundanzer and Sunfrost equipment at my off grid home for about 20+ years and can recommend both for low energy usage. Unfortunately they are both pricey.


I have a Sunfrost RF12 fridge/freezer that I am installing in my bus.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:44 PM   #4
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yes, sorry, shorepower. Thanks for your reply! thinking about these ideas.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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"just weekend camping"

Coolers and ice -- no wiring to break, no gas to leak...

From my river rafting daze we'd pre-make a lot of amazing food before the trip and freeze it for a 4 day river trip down the Colorado river...

We'd fill empty ½gal milk cartons with omelette mix -- so all the eggs and chopped veggies all cleaned prepped and frozen solid. Items like this served as the ice blocks for the fresh steaks and other day 1 items. Omelette mix could stay frozen for days. Same with pancake batter -- frozen milk helps keep other things cold longer instead of trying to keep fresh milk fresh...
You get the idea.

Keep your beer, soda, water cooler separate from the food cause it gets opened so much.

Pre-prepped food means less trash to pack back out. Less time spent prepping food while enjoying the camping location...

With 5 kids I imagine you're already adept at menu & quantity planning but google "river rafting food strategies" or menus and you should get some great ideas for meals that freeze well for the cooler.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jofred99 View Post
I've used both Sundanzer and Sunfrost equipment at my off grid home for about 20+ years and can recommend both for low energy usage. Unfortunately they are both pricey.


I have a Sunfrost RF12 fridge/freezer that I am installing in my bus.
Nice! That's a bit too pricey for us at this time, unfortunately.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by banman View Post
"just weekend camping"

Coolers and ice -- no wiring to break, no gas to leak...

From my river rafting daze we'd pre-make a lot of amazing food before the trip and freeze it for a 4 day river trip down the Colorado river...

We'd fill empty ½gal milk cartons with omelette mix -- so all the eggs and chopped veggies all cleaned prepped and frozen solid. Items like this served as the ice blocks for the fresh steaks and other day 1 items. Omelette mix could stay frozen for days. Same with pancake batter -- frozen milk helps keep other things cold longer instead of trying to keep fresh milk fresh...
You get the idea.

Keep your beer, soda, water cooler separate from the food cause it gets opened so much.

Pre-prepped food means less trash to pack back out. Less time spent prepping food while enjoying the camping location...

With 5 kids I imagine you're already adept at menu & quantity planning but google "river rafting food strategies" or menus and you should get some great ideas for meals that freeze well for the cooler.
Thank you! I'll look it up. After research, I was leaning towards coolers, etc... but for some reason, I'm having a hard time envisioning our bus without a fridge.
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:54 PM   #8
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If you will predictably be connected to shorepower, 120V is worth considering, what size fridge are you thinking about?
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Old 05-03-2020, 05:59 PM   #9
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A large DC chest style like this fridge or this fridge freezer is also worth considering, and would be a more efficient option when running off battery power.
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Old 05-03-2020, 06:31 PM   #10
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If you’re just going on weekends, get a <$200 chest freezer and a half dozen cases of 12 oz water bottles. Install the freezer in the bus and use it like a cooler. When you’re home, plug the freezer in and freeze the water bottles. The water bottles are reusable ice cubes.
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Old 05-03-2020, 06:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
A large DC chest style like this fridge or this fridge freezer is also worth considering, and would be a more efficient option when running off battery power.
I have a Unique UPG-120L. That’s 4.2 cu ft. It’s big for one person, but it would be small for that many people. I think that’s the largest “cooler style” refrigerator. There’s probably some chest style fridges from sundanzer or sunfrost that are bigger. In any case, they’re well north of 1K.
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Old 05-04-2020, 01:00 AM   #12
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Yeah, if you are sure you will always be on shore power, go for a 120V refrigerator. We are using our bus as a moving van right now and have installed an apartment refrigerator temporarily. Well, temporary is relative. It is a "permanent" install and is secure in the bus. So once we are done with the moving trips (TX to FL) we may or may not use the fridge in the buildout.
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Old 05-04-2020, 11:45 AM   #13
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I'm going for the RV plan vs the off grid plan like yourself. What I'm thinking of doing is running a 120V fridge off an inverter and the house batteries. When I'm plugged in to shore power, or my generator is running, the house batteries will be charging. I don't think the fridge will need to be running a majority of the time while driving, it shouldn't be getting opened in that situation.

The other idea I had was for the fridge outlet to be wired into a manual transfer switch. The switch would have power from an inverter, and regular shore/generator power. Keeping it plugged in while stopped should keep things cold enough that while driving it wouldn't need power, but if it did, I could switch it over to the inverter.

The entire reason for going this route is to avoid buying a fridge in the $1000 range, or having to buy a large bank of batteries and an inverter that cost as much as the fancy 3-way fridge.

I figure the best way to go is the least expensive until I'm actually out on the road and decide just how much I want to be parked or driving, boondocked or plugged in. I may even decide the bus life isn't for me and I want the white picket fence back. That's why we won't sell the house until we have been using the bus for a few years.
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:25 PM   #14
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You have a large family. Probably costs are something you are trying to watch. 3 ways from what l have seen are over priced garbage. Older ones will possibly burn your unit down. Put in a regular fridge and get the necessary needs to power it.

I have heard lots of people say l am wrong but in the end it's your choice.
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Old 05-09-2020, 04:58 PM   #15
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You have a large family. Probably costs are something you are trying to watch. 3 ways from what l have seen are over priced garbage. Older ones will possibly burn your unit down. Put in a regular fridge and get the necessary needs to power it.

I have heard lots of people say l am wrong but in the end it's your choice.
I don’t think you’re wrong. I met an RV dismantler and when asked about refrigerators he said the used ones are always junk. I’m sure there are exceptions, but any time I’ve ever seen a used one for sale it’s condenser looked like it was rotten clear through
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Old 05-09-2020, 05:43 PM   #16
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Do some reason, I just like propane for a refrigerator. It takes a lot of stress off of your electrical load. A good 8.0 cf three-way will run about $1000. I does require 12v for the light and led. The new ones really sip propane. Just have it chilled using shore power before you leave. On the road, turn it to DC. When parked, and no shore power available, switch to propane. A ten gallon tank will last at least a couple of weeks.

I have used three way refrigerators for years and have never had a problem. Never personally met someone that had a problem, only read about them on the forums. Instead of buying an extra solar panel or battery or two, put the money into a good refrigerator freezer. You won't have to worry about your ice melting if you camp for more than a day or two.
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