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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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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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Old 07-20-2019, 05:08 PM   #11
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I met a guy who had a small ice maker, which he ran off his solar power along with his little fridge. When the sun went down, he had about 10 lbs of ice in his fridge to keep it cool overnight. He only had a single lead/acid storage battery.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:15 PM   #12
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The OP opened with an inquiry into propane fridges, then modified to electric powered. Generally, I have been respectful of your knowledgeability, however,
Perhaps I'm not alone in opting to use good gear, already bought and paid for, instead of making a hefty investment in RV-specific, multi-powered appliances.
Just because you took the latter route does not invalidate the suggestion of compiling a power audit which, excuse me if I was asleep that particular day in class, is necessary to to compute representative power draws from a DC system, regardless of the appliance's provenances.
And are you catching a slice of the pie? I've lost count of how many times I've read your second paragraph...
Verbatim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
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.
Perhaps, "best," however just as one build differs from the next, so is a differential in affordability. And subjective valuation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
"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
Purely DC is one way to go.
But it also isn't the only way...
I'm just sayin'.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:24 PM   #13
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@john61ct, The very small freezers I've been looking at don't use much power. I'm not good remembering numbers unless I write them down.

And right now I don't feel much like going through my bookmark folders which, yes, are quite disorganized. But anyone who wants that info should have no trouble finding out about the power consumption of small energy-saver-certified freezers.

I like to tinker and experiment. I see my whole bus as an experiment. I also intend to build a compost toilet that really composts, but yet uses only about twice as much space as a regular pre-compost toilet. Aside from using one a couple of times back in the 80s, I've never had much to do with the so-called compost toilets on the market, but I have a lot of experience composting. I am still in the accumulating materials phase of the toilet. I will start a thread when it's time.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:37 PM   #14
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over the years I've had a series of truck campers (3?), camper trailers (5?) and 3 motorhomes - all had 3 way fridges and all fridges worked on shore power only - mind you, all were grey beards when I got them
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:42 PM   #15
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My understanding is that fires in the propane vents are fairly common in older 3-way fridges unless cleaned regularly. That's why I have no interest in one.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:52 PM   #16
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https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Ch...00WE/302245066



This the fridge I bought at HD on sale for $228. I plugged it into the Killawatt and ran it for 23.35 hrs and used around .35KW, or .014KWH. It peaked at .50kw when the compressor kicks on. Everyone agreed it would not take a lot to run it off the inverter.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Ch...00WE/302245066



This the fridge I bought at HD on sale for $228. I plugged it into the Killawatt and ran it for 23.35 hrs and used around .35KW, or .014KWH. It peaked at .50kw when the compressor kicks on. Everyone agreed it would not take a lot to run it off the inverter.
Great, real world info. Thanks.

Not to hijack, but what is the bike in your profile pic?
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:57 PM   #18
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Great, real world info. Thanks.

Not to hijack, but what is the bike in your profile pic?
It's a home built 1962 HD XRTT, weighs 360lbs, is 1327cc, over 100hp.

Look at posts 351 and 354 on my build thread for pic proof.
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/th...-22665-25.html
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Old 07-20-2019, 06:28 PM   #19
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Again, USA market fridges designed for mains power are **very** inefficient compared to the DC compressor style.

Every. Single. One.

Thank the free market, aka regulatory capture of the EPA by industry.

Now, if you don't care that much about optimal energy efficiency, no problem, of course many don't mind running their gensets for hours, or only stop fir a few days between shore power on their road trips.

But, if you want to live off-grid, relying only (or even mostly) on a relatively small inexpensive solar setup for all your electricity for long periods of time, then compromising on the USian mod-con expectations, avoiding inverters as much as possible is IMO only sensible.

Small boats and vans **have to** design this way, a skoolie's huge roof area allows for kWs of panelage if you **want** to go that way,

also space and weight capacity can carry a big genset to power aircon if you like

but neither of those path's are cheap, and certainly not minimalist, which it seems to me the OP is.
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Old 07-20-2019, 07:37 PM   #20
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That may very well be so. I neither have cause to doubt your veracity, nor have I an axe to grind. Tho come to think of it, my machete's edge is due for brightening.
Certainly efficiency in an off-grid situation can become direly important under the right (or wrong) confluence of events.
Much like God, when I construct my Solar System, it will be built to the nines. (Twelves, if one is inclusive of Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313)
To be able to handle the loads my build demands, there will be a surfeit of available power.
Better to have and not need, than to need and not have...
Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Again, USA market fridges designed for mains power are **very** inefficient compared to the DC compressor style.

Every. Single. One.

Thank the free market, aka regulatory capture of the EPA by industry.

Now, if you don't care that much about optimal energy efficiency, no problem, of course many don't mind running their gensets for hours, or only stop fir a few days between shore power on their road trips.

But, if you want to live off-grid, relying only (or even mostly) on a relatively small inexpensive solar setup for all your electricity for long periods of time, then compromising on the USian mod-con expectations, avoiding inverters as much as possible is IMO only sensible.

Small boats and vans **have to** design this way, a skoolie's huge roof area allows for kWs of panelage if you **want** to go that way,

also space and weight capacity can carry a big genset to power aircon if you like

but neither of those path's are cheap, and certainly not minimalist, which it seems to me the OP is.
To counter your second, dramatic paragraph, my personal choice may be likewise briefly summarized:
Bought. And. Paid for...
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