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Help with Refrigerator Decision

Rbertalotto
Explorer
Explorer
I've totally HAD IT with my propane refrigerator. Camping at the beach last week where the temperatures at night got down to mid 50s and during the day into the high 80s, the propane refrigerator temperature in both the freezer and main unit was all over the place. Melted Ice Cream in the afternoon and frozen vegetables in the morning! I bought an internal fan system and a rheostat temperature control from JC Refrigeration and it didn't help at all.....Soooo...

 I've decided to go with a compressor refrigerator.....8 cu ft

The choice is a $1500 12V DC unit or a 120v residential unit for $400 and an inverter.

My trailer has a 1000w Xantrex inverter, 520watts of solar and 200aH of Lithium

If the inverter and residential frig needs more battery bank, I can buy a bunch of battery Ah for the $1100 difference!

What say the board? Any experience with the residential/inverter situation?

The residential refrigerator I'm looking at has a rating of 6a @ 120v.
The DC refrigerator is 3a at night -9a during the day at 12V



Thanks in advance!
RoyB
Dartmouth, MA
2021 RAM 2500 4X4 6.4L
2011 Forest River Grey Wolf Cherokee 19RR
520 w solar-200ah Renogy Li-Epever MPPT
30 REPLIES 30

Cptnvideo
Traveler
Traveler
Yes, TechWriter, my power setup makes it easy to boondock with a residential fridge. And we can even run A/C for a couple hours. 🙂
Bill & Linda, 2019 Ram Laramie 3500 dually 4x4 diesel, Hensley BD5 hitch, 2022 Grand Design Solitude 378MBS, 1600 watts solar, Victron 150/100 MPPT controller, GoPower 3kw inverter/charger, 5 SOK 206AH LFP batteries for 1030 ah

TechWriter
Explorer
Explorer
Cptnvideo wrote:
We had the same issues as the OP . . . we went with a 20cf Whirlpool from Home Depot to replace the 18cf Norcold.
We couldn't be happier with our decision AND we boondock regularly.


Cptnvideo's power setup:

- 1600 watts solar
- 5 SOK 206AH LiFePo4 batteries for 1030 ah
2004 - 2010 Part Timer (35’ 2004 National RV Sea Breeze 8341 - Workhorse)
2010 - 2021 Full Timer (41’ 2001 Newmar Mountain Aire 4095 DP - Cummins)
2021 - ??? Part Timer (31’ 2001 National RV Sea View 8311 - Ford)
www.rvSeniorMoments.com
DISH TV for RVs

wa8yxm
Explorer II
Explorer II
If you boondock alot the 12 volt is the hands down winner

As I said when I was "in the dark" overnight the Residental fridge got the big inverter with the big batteries... The little 12 volt only chest freezer that hits -4ºF making it a "Deep freeze" got a 12 amp hour LiFePO4 and a 300 watt msw to feed it's brick as I could not find the 12 v cord (I think I know what happened to it)

3 amps at 12 volt beats 10 or 20 or 30 (For 120 volt appliances take wattage and divide by 10 to estimate 12 volt amp draw... that covers conversion/inverter loss.. Works well up to around 100 amps/1000 watts.. Tested myself).

I say again go with the 12
Home was where I park it. but alas the.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times

Cptnvideo
Traveler
Traveler
We had the same issues as the OP since DAY 1 OF A NEW 2022 fiver. After 2 months and 4 mobile techs not finding a problem, we decided to go residential. After many careful measurements, we went with a 20cf Whirlpool from Home Depot to replace the 18cf Norcold.
The fridges had to go down to the end of the island on their way in and out the door.
We couldn't be happier with our decision AND we boondock regularly.
Bill & Linda, 2019 Ram Laramie 3500 dually 4x4 diesel, Hensley BD5 hitch, 2022 Grand Design Solitude 378MBS, 1600 watts solar, Victron 150/100 MPPT controller, GoPower 3kw inverter/charger, 5 SOK 206AH LFP batteries for 1030 ah

Rbertalotto
Explorer
Explorer
OK, More research (and confusion).....It appears a major energy user with these 12V RV refrigerators is the "Defrost Cycle"....Heating up the freezer and then quickly cooling it back down uses a bunch of energy. And as far as I can tell, there is no way to shut it off. So today I went to Home Depot / Lowes / Best Buy and looked at small college dorm type refrigerators that do not offer any type of defrost cycle. But they are quite small. Since I always camp alone, and I never have a full 6 cu ft refrigerator, one of these 4 cu ft units might be the ticket for me. On the rear info card it says they draw 1.5 amps! And at around $250, heck, if it doesn't work out I can use it out in the shop....I have a call into Dometic to see if the defrost function of the 8 cu ft unit they offer can be deactivated.....stay tuned for more RefrigAdventures!
RoyB
Dartmouth, MA
2021 RAM 2500 4X4 6.4L
2011 Forest River Grey Wolf Cherokee 19RR
520 w solar-200ah Renogy Li-Epever MPPT

Grit_dog
Traveler II
Traveler II
LouLawrence wrote:
Grit dog wrote:
LouLawrence wrote:
Go residential and you will never go back!


You forgot the rest of your statement which reads, “only if you’re hooked to shore power full time or have a battery and inverter system that could light up a small town.”
If neither one of these is true then a resi fridge is somewhere between a hinderance and a nonstarter.

Thanks, I didn't need your incorrect correction. My statement was clear and correct. I have had a residential fridge in my RV's since 1999. Yes, I have an inverter and some large batteries but no solar. The engine alternator keeps the batteries charged while driving so no issues there. When I dry camp I have to run my generator a few hours per day but I am going to do that anyway for cooking and assorted morning and evening activities. If I chose to dry camp a lot, solar would solve that but very few are off the grid for extended periods of time.

Thanks for the clarification. Which I gave consideration to, as it was. With enough battery capacity and the right inverter, you are making it work to your satisfaction.
But not an unqualified one size fits all solution as you first alluded to.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

Grit_dog
Traveler II
Traveler II
Rbertalotto wrote:
Thanks for all the great replies. I'm still totally undecided on Residential with inverter or a true RV 12V refrigerator. Because I near 100% boondock, and do a lot of traveling, I'm leaning toward the RV 12v solution. I got the price for a Dometic 8 cu ft down to exactly $1000 which seems reasonable considering I'm hoping to get at least 10-12 years out of it. And my absorption refrigerator is like new and works as a 2 way refrigerator is supposed to so I might be able to sell it for a few hundred dollars and offset the cost.
We shall see.....Tax Free Weekend so I can save $60.50 if I buy it on Saturday...


In your first post you complain of your fridge NOT working as it’s supposed to, and now you claim it does….
Idk why you’d do a thing if it works, “for free”. If it’s like the first post though, it may just need some more attention. I’m not that well read on absorption fridges so unfortunately can’t help there. But the fact it works is a good thing. And your first experience posted I’ve not experienced with the old 3 way fridges I’ve had.
This is sounding now like a mission to fix something that ain’t broke.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

Grit_dog
Traveler II
Traveler II
Campinghoss@51 wrote:
I have had several different rv's and all but the one I have now was elec/propane. My current one has a 23 cubic foot Frigidaire in it and I will never go back to propane. My stays plugged in year round and since my batteries charge while hooked to the truck long distance travel has never been an issue. We don't boondock so that is not an issue either. However if we did need to boondock I could hook the pigtail up to the truck and keep the batteries charged. I never expect to do that though.


The last part of your reply is incorrect. Don’t test that theory as stated. It won’t “keep your batteries charged” even if you leave it plugged in and the truck idling 24-7.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

LouLawrence
Explorer
Explorer
Grit dog wrote:
LouLawrence wrote:
Go residential and you will never go back!


You forgot the rest of your statement which reads, “only if you’re hooked to shore power full time or have a battery and inverter system that could light up a small town.”
If neither one of these is true then a resi fridge is somewhere between a hinderance and a nonstarter.

Thanks, I didn't need your incorrect correction. My statement was clear and correct. I have had a residential fridge in my RV's since 1999. Yes, I have an inverter and some large batteries but no solar. The engine alternator keeps the batteries charged while driving so no issues there. When I dry camp I have to run my generator a few hours per day but I am going to do that anyway for cooking and assorted morning and evening activities. If I chose to dry camp a lot, solar would solve that but very few are off the grid for extended periods of time.

cummins2014
Explorer
Explorer
LouLawrence wrote:
Go residential and you will never go back!



I would agree ,although never had to replace an RV fridge .

rhagfo
Explorer
Explorer
Well I might be a bit late to the party, but have you considered a a 12 volt cooling unit replacement from JC Refrigeration. We lost our cooling unit last year and did the 12 Volt compressor unit. Best move we made for refrigeration, refer cools quickly, refer temps are always between 32 and 35 degrees, freezer just above zero.
Russ & Paula the Beagle Belle.
2016 Ram Laramie 3500 Aisin DRW 4X4 Long bed.
2005 Copper Canyon 293 FWSLS, 32' GVWR 12,360#

"Visit and Enjoy Oregon State Parks"

valhalla360
Traveler
Traveler
Rbertalotto wrote:
Thanks for all the great replies. I'm still totally undecided on Residential with inverter or a true RV 12V refrigerator. Because I near 100% boondock, and do a lot of traveling, I'm leaning toward the RV 12v solution. I got the price for a Dometic 8 cu ft down to exactly $1000 which seems reasonable considering I'm hoping to get at least 10-12 years out of it. And my absorption refrigerator is like new and works as a 2 way refrigerator is supposed to so I might be able to sell it for a few hundred dollars and offset the cost.
We shall see.....Tax Free Weekend so I can save $60.50 if I buy it on Saturday...


If you are into boondocking, my comment about max draw vs kwh is important. I would do more research into actual running amps and what percentage of time you can expect it to run.

My bet is you listed max not typical running amps...720watts is crazy for a modern fridge. My 12v fridge is rated for up to 11amps to set the wiring and fuse size but typically draws 4amps when running.

The 12v will probably win on total kwh consumed...the critical issue for boondocking....but probably not by a lot. Don't forget to account for the inverter losses.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

Rbertalotto
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks for all the great replies. I'm still totally undecided on Residential with inverter or a true RV 12V refrigerator. Because I near 100% boondock, and do a lot of traveling, I'm leaning toward the RV 12v solution. I got the price for a Dometic 8 cu ft down to exactly $1000 which seems reasonable considering I'm hoping to get at least 10-12 years out of it. And my absorption refrigerator is like new and works as a 2 way refrigerator is supposed to so I might be able to sell it for a few hundred dollars and offset the cost.
We shall see.....Tax Free Weekend so I can save $60.50 if I buy it on Saturday...
RoyB
Dartmouth, MA
2021 RAM 2500 4X4 6.4L
2011 Forest River Grey Wolf Cherokee 19RR
520 w solar-200ah Renogy Li-Epever MPPT

wa8yxm
Explorer II
Explorer II
If you find yourself "Off the grid" as I did last Thu/Fri for 13 hours that 12 volt draws 30 t0 90 watts the 120 volt a whomping 720.. WOW.

I've used those high effiency 12 volt compressor jobs. In fact though the one I have now runs on a converter..... part way through that 13 hour blackout while I was "Concerned" it was going to take too long (8-12 is the limit) I hooked up a 12 amp hour LiFePO4 battery to a 300 watt MSW inverter and powered it up. Still below freezing (Just) per the display and quickly cooled off.

The main Fridge (A smaller residential one) Got plugged into the 2KW inverter with 1,500 watt hours of battery behind it.. All food saved.

But had it been longer.. I'd have needed recharges.

So the 12 volt unit.... Your batteries will last longer if you need to live off 'em over night.
Home was where I park it. but alas the.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times

Campinghoss
Explorer
Explorer
I have had several different rv's and all but the one I have now was elec/propane. My current one has a 23 cubic foot Frigidaire in it and I will never go back to propane. My stays plugged in year round and since my batteries charge while hooked to the truck long distance travel has never been an issue. We don't boondock so that is not an issue either. However if we did need to boondock I could hook the pigtail up to the truck and keep the batteries charged. I never expect to do that though.
Camping Hoss
2017 Open Range 3X 388RKS
MorRyde IS with disc brakes
2017 F-350 6.7 with hips 8'bed
Lucie our fur baby
Lucky 9/15/2007 - 1/30/2023