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Discussion Starter #362
Ok folks, question about a fridge.
I've already got a trip planned for June and decided to just get started on the build, since other things are on hold (and we are somehow getting a tax return).
Still, a good 12v fridge is very expensive.
Since we will be driving quite a bit more than being still, I figured the DC-DC will keep the batteries up.
But the fridge will be running all the time.
So, my question is:
How much of a difference will it really make between running a 12v fridge for a 2week trip, or an efficient 120v ac dorm fridge on the inverter for 2 weeks?
 

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Ok folks, question about a fridge.
I've already got a trip planned for June and decided to just get started on the build, since other things are on hold (and we are somehow getting a tax return).
Still, a good 12v fridge is very expensive.
Since we will be driving quite a bit more than being still, I figured the DC-DC will keep the batteries up.
But the fridge will be running all the time.
So, my question is:
How much of a difference will it really make between running a 12v fridge for a 2week trip, or an efficient 120v ac dorm fridge on the inverter for 2 weeks?
Hi,
The link below says that an EnergyStar dorm fridge uses about 200 KWH a year, or 0.54 KWH per day, which is 45 amp-hrs per day on a 12 volt RV system. The inverter is probably about 90% efficient, so the 45 amp-hrs goes up to 50 amp-hrs with inverter losses. But, inverters use some juice even when the fridge is cycled off. Mine use 1.6 amps just sitting there watching for a load to serve -- this might add another 20 amp-hrs assuming the fridge is on about half the time. Maybe other inverters might be less wasteful than mine -- don't know.

So, total dorm fridge maybe 70 amp-hrs a day.

I measured the energy use on my 12 volt Danfoss compressor fridge, and it was 42 amp-hr on a fairly warm day.
Others have reported even less use than this.

So, bottom line, it might take about twice as much energy to run the dorm fridge, or about 30 amp-hrs more a day.

I'd guess you will eventually end up with a 12 volt fridge -- maybe best just to bite the bullet and get it now?


Energy Star dorm fridge energy use link: How Much Electricity Does a Mini Fridge Take?

Gary
 

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Just my HO, but...

A dorm fridge + inverter is an inefficient combination, albeit more affordable. Just not designed for the way you use a fridge in a van...

Look into the Engel chest fridges. Expensive but discounted on some websites if you google around. I've had the Engel MR040 for 4 years now, so spreading the cost out, it's a decent deal. Ask MsNomer about hers...

My 2 100Ah AGM's will run it for over a week, and it only cycles (using power) about 5-8 minutes an hour (on a hot summer day).

120VAC plus 12VDC - when you connect to shore power, it auto-switches to AC.
 

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Discussion Starter #365
Thanks, I was afraid it would use a lot more juice with the inverter needing to stay on, plus the inefficiency loss.
I think you're right that biting the bullet up front will be the wiser long term choice.
Also, I had decided on a front door fridge with it mounted at waist height for less bending over, but recently I thought about a chest fridge that may liberate some design space for a possible seating area.
Pound for pound, cu inch for cu inch, are chest fridges cheaper than front door fridges?
 

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I think these are the type of questions you need to ask yourself (and there may be others .. these are just an example):

a) What kind of foods (and how much) do you want to keep in the fridge? Do you want/need space for both frozen and fresh foods? Choose only one unless you want to go for a much larger, more expensive dual unit.

b) Size - How often do you plan to replenish your refrigerated/frozen food stocks? (Can you stop at a grocery every day or two or are you planning to boondock for a week?) Size matters for many reasons - you lifting it in and out for seasonal use or if you have to replace it .. will you be able to get another the same size, etc., do you need to support it, leave extra room for ventilation, get on your knees to clean it, put it on expensive sliders, will it fit in the aisle, location in the van for where it will truly be most used - and will you be using it mostly for storing drinks and/or for ingredients to cook full meals from scratch 3 times a day.

c) What kind of cooking methods do you plan to use? (RnR you said originally you wanted to have a microwave, now you want to use a butane stove. The first might have dictated you needed freezer space, the latter probably means you want more fridge space.) Location is also affected - will you cook more indoors or out? Climbing in and out of the van over and over for another item from the fridge .. can be annoying over time I think and that leads to:

d) Ergonomics - This is the big one .. maybe the biggest unless you are 20 years old and do yoga religiously! Pretend you are having to get 3 or 4 different items separately out of a fridge that is at floor level and whose door must open into the aisle. Then imagine getting foods out of a similar fridge mounted higher up in the same space, a chest fridge placed on the floor level but which opens up (BUT also has a heavy wood bench over it, etc.). If you and your wife, like me, are not getting any younger (and/or have back issues!) the placement can be just as important as the style I think.

e) Cost - which I know you are considering but amortize that over the life of the van. I personally think this is the last thing to think about, and the least important, other than there 'usually' is a rule that the more you pay the longer things may last, etc. but also consider if the company has a reputation for being responsive, etc. when/if there is a problem. Think about the fact that you may not use the van for long periods - and if so, you may want to consider the cheaper option just in case non-use causes a problem, or a fridge that can be removed and kept (even used for emergencies or extra storage) in the house.

f) Aesthetics - are you more concerned about how things look (for yourselves or for resale down the line), or about utility/functionality, etc.?

g) Placement for ease of removal if need be! Similar to ergonomics while it is in place but don't forget to think about this because you may eventually have to pull out a fridge you built in before you built other things around and across from it.

I bought a 12v chest fridge for $279 and after almost a year it is working just fine. This old lady can still carry it in and out of the house, even up stairs with a bit of mechanical ingenuity. I will use it in the van when I get it, for as long as it lasts - and will consider it a great investment. I dream of a (very expensive, 12v) stainless marine fridge with pull out drawers (separate fridge and freezer compartments) but, reality check, I can also live just fine with this cheaper knock off chest fridge IF I place it correctly for these old muscles/bones. I will of course also note the size required for the 'ideal fridge of my dreams' while designing/building my van .. just in case.

I would not even consider a 110v fridge for a lot of reasons .. cost never being one of them. Power draw is a reason to consider 12v if you are the type to plant yourselves in one spot (where there is no external plug in source) rather than driving a lot. Weather for solar is completely unpredictable and inefficient so make sure you have lots of ways to replenish batteries.
 

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Discussion Starter #367
Deryn, you pointed out the million and a half things I've been intently pondering.
And that's just the fridge.
I probably don't "need" a freezer. Realistically, it will be for drinks and for perishables that will get replenished every few days. On this first trip, I'm going to bring some Frozen foods to friends out west that cant get them out there.
But for those items, I was thinking just using a cooler full of ice, or even a makeshift cooler made from 2" xps and some frozen water jugs,...as a one-time ordeal. But I don't see needing a freezer for regular use.
As far as ergonomics, I would prefer to have the fridge at waist level. However, a chest fridge that can be rolled out from under the bed when needed and easily removed from the van when not in use, may be more practical overall.
Honestly, I can keep my design relatively unchanged and mount the chest fridge in the same spot as I was going to put the other fridge. That would have it off the ground and I would be able to keep the compressor cooler than under the bed.
Doesn't mater either way. So, it really comes down to which style will give me more bang for buck as far as cost.
A new TF front door style is looking like the $600 range. If a chest fridge is half that, but just as efficient and capable, it's a no brainer.
 

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If you can source dry ice along your route, I would recommend you try to use that instead of ice - it will last longer and keep stuff drier. Must be packed properly though. You might also think about shipping those items in dry ice packed containers rather than attempting to carry them yourself such a long distance. Frozen foods are shipped that way all the time. Or buy a chest fridge/freezer and use it ONLY on the freeze setting till you deliver the goods.

How to ship foods with dry ice

p.s. I watched a video yesterday and the person who made it had a TF in her PM (till she sold the van a few months ago). She mentioned that TF has just increased the TF prices (I am gathering by about $150 as I think she paid about $450 a year ago) for no reason other than the vanbuild market is getting bigger all the time so they could!
 

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RnR theTruck Fridge is the very best route out there no mater what the cost. It beats the pants off ant chest fridge hands down and nothing is as inconvenient as a roll out chest fridge! A TF 130 at waist height is the only way to go. Anything else is second rate. Don’t cheat yourself for a few $. Of course, some of my friends here no names Of course (Ed & MsN) are addicted to them but they just don’t what they are missing!🙀
 

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Discussion Starter #371
After a little research, I did determine that a front door TF at waist height was the best option.
I wasn't paying much attention to chest fridges because it didn't work with my design/use.
Earlier tonight I looked them up and realized that they are actually the same or more $ than a TF.
So, might as well just stick to the original plan.
 

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My 63 quart ARB fridge burns about 23-25 AH per day, if I recall correctly. I do have the transit bag, which adds a little insulation. I have it mounted just inside the slider, with the back tucked under the bed a bit. That way I can easily access it from outside the van, through the slider, or inside. Plus it makes a handy step to get up onto my bed, which is over the bike garage.

I would never run a 110v fridge for any reason.
 

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We got this one:
We liked it because it is DC (with the typical Danfoss compressor) and had a separate fridge and freezer, and it should fit under the counter:

Not that far into the build yet -- not hooked up so do not know the current draw.

The specs list it as "Power consumption (W/24h) = 520"

It is spendy: "Your Price" of at $1,153.60 Isotherm Refrigerators
 

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Discussion Starter #376
I would have a hard time spending that much on a tiny fridge.
I'm going to keep hunting and hopefully find one under $500.
Not sure if TF makes a fridge without a freezer for less money, but I would go that route.
 

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They come close:
Has a small freezer, $585
 

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Discussion Starter #380
I'm having a hard time finding a 12v front door compressor fridge that doesn't have a freezer.
Is that because they call them "coolers"?
I thought a cooler was a different animal that doesn't get as cold as a fridge(?)
Google isn't always helpful. I type "compressor" and most of what comes up is absorption.
 
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