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Old 02-12-2021, 07:07 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Elizabeth WV
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Year: 1998
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RV fridge or apartment fridge?

I bought a 5th wheel camper with roof damage for all the RV stuff I need for my build. I'm at the point of looking hard at the fridge, it works fine but I'm worried about how long it will last. With 400 amp hours of AGM battery and 400 watts of solar would I just be better off to run an apartment fridge off of the inverter? I would love to hear about your experiences with your refrigerators.. Thanks

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Old 02-12-2021, 07:32 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 242
Year: 1980
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: Supercoach
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We elected to go with an apartment fridge in our build. We have 3 kids, so 5 people total and really needed the space for food. We haven't done much long distance traveling with it yet, so I can't speak to its energy consumption under real world conditions but we did have a 12v RV fridge in our camper a few years back and we hated it. It took FOREVER to get cold, needed to be damn near perfectly level, and never really stayed at a good "refrigerated" temperature with real world use.

I expect that the 120v fridge will be our biggest consumer of electricity so I have a few ideas to help minimize its impact.

First, the plug for the fridge is a switched outlet, so I can turn it on and off without having to unplug it or go to the breaker panel in the trunk. This way I can shut it off if its not going to be used, or perhaps overnight when it wont be opened and there is no sun on the panels.

I bought but haven't installed small springs to pull the doors shut so they won'y be left open longer than needed by the kids, and will help hold the doors tighter against the weatherstripping.

We also plan to use block ice in the crisper drawers to help keep it cold and minimize electrical loads as needed. We have a few collapsable 1 gallon plastic jugs that will be pre-frozen and stored in the drawers to help keep her cold, and we can refreeze them by sticking them in the ice bins at campgrounds, (something we did in the past with the RV fridge) or simply buy the large blocks of ice and replace them with those as we travel.

Lastly, making sure that you get pre-cooled foods as much as possible helps limit the cooling load as well. Not a perfect plan by any means, but I am confident it will work for us.
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:48 AM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: NM USA KD6WJG
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Year: 1991
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My experience with rv refrigerators has not been good over the years. I bought a 5 ch ft chest freezer and used a different thermostat 400 ah of battery and 1.5 kw of solar works good. I also have a 2.5 cu ft chest freezer beside it.
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:14 AM   #4
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I have a 4 cu ft Unique 12 volt refrigerator freezer. It’s done pretty well so far. The only time I had a problem was when I packed it to the gills with warm cans of water in the desert at 100 degrees.

I think chest style allows for more efficient storage since there is less wasted space. If you do get a chest style get one with removable baskets to make getting to what you need easier.

My fridge is also programmable so I can make the freezer more fridge space or turn off One of the compartmentA to save power if I need to.

It’s only 48W/480Wh/day

IDK what kinda of fridges the other posters are referring to, but the newer ones with Danfoss compressors don’t have problems with being level and operate like a conventional refrigerator.

As for the Unique brand, while I’m happy with it, I’m not at all happy with their customer service. I found a security hole that would allow someone to control it because there’s no security for the Bluetooth app and while it’s unlikely to be a problem (IDK, could a savvy kid get in my phone through the fridge?) they proceeded to help until they couldn’t and then they just dropped my support case.

I’d still rather stay 12v than run an inverter to run a fridge.
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:21 AM   #5
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I just used a chest freezer from low quality home parts (Lowes) and run it off an inverter. I changed to a different thermostat and turn it off at night and back on in the morning. I keep a case or two of bottled water in the bottom for added heat sink. In the future I intend to remove the compressor and replace it with a 12v compressor. And I don't worry about being perfectly level when I park.
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s2mikon View Post
I just used a chest freezer from low quality home parts (Lowes) and run it off an inverter. I changed to a different thermostat and turn it off at night and back on in the morning. I keep a case or two of bottled water in the bottom for added heat sink. In the future I intend to remove the compressor and replace it with a 12v compressor. And I don't worry about being perfectly level when I park.
Yeah, I like the chest freezer route. if I were going to run something 120V Id get a chest freezer and a Johnson Controls External thermostat.
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Old 02-12-2021, 09:31 AM   #7
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Yep. I will use the external thermostat with the 12 volt compressor when I convert it. I don't remember the brand I bought next chance I get I will look at it. It has worked well for 3 years now. I think the 12 volt conversion will be more efficient on power.
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