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Author Topic: Fridge - propane or electric?  (Read 3178 times)
Geodesiq
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« on: August 23, 2009, 04:19:44 PM »

One conversion I'm looking at needs a new fridge. Propane fridges are pretty expensive. Any reason I couldn't use a standard domestic electric unit? Eventually I want to put PV panels on the roof and go all electric.
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 04:28:22 PM »

Depends on how you plan to use your bus.  We have a house type refrigerator in our coach. It runs off our inverter when traveling down the road or dry camping. When dry camping, we have to run our generator a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the evening to keep the batteries up.  If plugged in via "shore cord", no problem.  Jack
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 04:36:04 PM »

I have the electric. It has been in service about 5 years and works OK. The down side is it starts and stops all the damn time and that takes alot of electricity. I have a fair size battery bank, so I get by and it does what it is supposed to do. If I had propane though I could save alot of electricity for other things and could boondock longer without running the generator. It would be nice to have a little different timer set up on the electric so it would stay running for a while and maybe stay off for a little longer.
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2009, 04:56:29 PM »

Hello:    We have the 6 cu ft norcold propane electric  works well for us. Just spent 9 weeks on the road 5700 miles 16 states and never had a problem with how it worked and we do eat in most of the time.  1.5 cu ft freezer works well for our needs.WE can boondock for one week and water is the critical path.  100 gals lasts about a week with GI showers .  The washer shortens the time.  We can run the genny every other day unless the wife uses the toaster oven more than usual.
  FWIW
   Regards and happy bussin
    Mike
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Mike Lutestanski   Dunnellon Florida
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 05:15:13 PM »

Our Courier 96 came with an electric only fridge. It works well. However when boondocking, it uses a lot of battery reserve. We have 4, 6 volt golf cart batteries for the house with 2, 50 watt solar panels on the roof, which is not enough unless we sit in full sun in June/July. So we run the generator a couple of hours every day. If and when the fridge dies, I would replace it with a 3 way one: 12 V, 120V, propane.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2009, 06:49:38 PM »

We have a Kitchen Aid 18.8CF 120V refer.  It runs off an inverter when dry camping, and of course when plugged in it's on the shore power.

Going down the road it's running on the inverter and the generator on the engine charges the batteries faster than the refer uses them.

My wife love the space, in both the freezer and "cooler" areas.  LOTS more room than a typical propane RV refer.

I have the ice maker and auto defrost disconnected.

An the price was about 1/2 of what an RV propane refer was.

Would do it the same again.

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Chris & Cheryl Christensen
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2009, 06:55:00 PM »

Eventually I want to put PV panels on the roof and go all electric.

If your eventual goal is to go all electric, then it doesn't seem like investing in propane appliances now makes sense.  Beyond the cost of the appliance itself, you'd have the propane tank, and the piping, only to rip it out at some point later?

Personally, I like having propane as an alternative fuel source. I have this hang up on redundant systems. My fridge runs off of 110VAC or propane. My water heater uses propane or 110VAC.  I have a propane stove and oven, but also have an AC microwave and several other electric cooking appliances.  My furnace is propane, but I also have the bus engine heat and electric space heaters.  

Like anything else in busdom, it is your project and you should feel free to do it however you wish.
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2009, 07:34:14 PM »

FWIW when I built our bus the biggest mistake I made and there were also a few small one was going total electric.
We use our rig maybe 12 to 20,000 miles a year and slowly I am changing over to other sources of power a 240v cooktop sucks in a bus you plug in or run the generator for her to cook a 900amp battery bank is gone if the hot water heater kicks or you use the mircrowave while she is cooking.
Check Dynamx they have nice stuff a little pricey but nice
http://www.warehouseappliance.com


good luck
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2009, 08:25:37 PM »

Our bus had the 12V/120V Norcold (should be called nevercold) when we purchased it. I replaced it a few months ago with a Whirlpool 10 CU FT unit from Lowes; $349 plus tax. I installed the same fridge last year in our boat and both units have been excellent.

The insulation seems to be quite good and they will hold cold temps for a long time when shut off. They have a relatively low amperage draw both at start up and when running so they don't tax the battery bank too badly. They are frost free which is nice.

Just something to think about.

Paul
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2009, 08:35:16 PM »

I have the 6.3cu/ft Norcold ac/dc compressor type that has been in the bus for 14 years with no problems-course it is also a R12 freon refer.  The only complaint I have is the size and that in humid weather sometimes have to defrost it once or twice a week.
In my truck, I'm leaning towards a Summit 12.6cu/ft 120vac frostfree.  A new Norcold ac/dc 6.3 is around $1,400.00.  The new 12.6 Summit is around $680.00. I'm waiting for an email answer from Nick about the reliability of the Summit refrigerators since they are American made.  This refer is 70" tall x 26 x 26 and about 110lbs.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2009, 08:35:52 PM »

I messed with a propane fridge for three years and hated it. 
Finally bought a Summit super efficient 120 volt fridge, bought a cheezy Chinese $230 1000 watt/2000 surge pure sine inverter from ebay, rewired it's on off switch and the fridges' thermostat together so the thermostat in the fridge now controls it, bolted it to the back of the fridge- it's dedicated to the fridge only- and with the wiring changes it stays off until the fridge wants it- and it's wonderful!!!  Financially, the $680 Summit and the $230 inverter functionally equals a DC Norcold for A LOT less money and if the compressor ever goes it will be a LOT less to replace.  It's really cool, pun intended!!!!

Then I stuck 480 watts worth of solar panels up on the roof hooked to my house bank with an MPPT solar charge controller and hooked the inverter up...

WONDERFUL

No more leveling the bus
No more remembering to light the fridge or turn it off
No more food killed when the desert is just too hot for that stupid ammonia cycle fridge to get cold enough
Bigger fridge
No outside electricity or generator needed although when it's overcast for more than a few days and I'm on shore power my converter takes total care of it anyway
it's perfect!


That said, I still have propane for the stove, heating, water heater, and to run my gene.  I'd never change that.
But the fridge on solar? Yes, purrrrrr-fect!!!!!
Boogie
« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 08:37:48 PM by boogiethecat » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2009, 08:41:32 PM »

We have a electric fridge. We love it. That said, we also have a large battery bank, so that helps a lot.

Otherwise we have the standard stuff that runs off of the battery bank. The only difference is, anything heat related, is off of our diesel fired instant hot water system. We don't have any propane, which also is nice. In VA beach, and the bridge tunnels, we don't have to stop. Smooth sailing.

FWIW.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2009, 11:16:44 PM »

Another option that's makes sense to me is to use a small chest freezer, either with an external home-brewing type thermostat or with its own thermostat modified, to function as a super-efficient fridge.   Plenty of other folk have tried it with good results:  http://www.mtbest.net/chest_fridge.html   For $300 or less one can get a freezer that will run for only 90 seconds to 2 minutes per hour when operating as a fridge, and you don't lose all the cold air every time you open the door.   The downside is that accessibility of contents is worse than an upright fridge, but for those energy savings I can live with that.   It will have a slightly larger footprint on the floor, but one can mount cabinets above it, so overall it may not affect usable kitchen space.

I plan on eventually having as many PV panels as I can afford, probably two completely separate sets of two or more 130W panels and charge controllers, each set feeding four golfcart batteries.   This way if one controller goes bad, or I need to work on one set of panels or batteries, I will still have 50% of my system working.   Even one set of panels/controller/batteries should easily handle the power demand of a freezer-fridge, even in winter.

Just (well-chilled) food for thought.   Has anyone one here tried this approach?
John
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2009, 05:56:59 AM »

I have an electric fridge and like boogie have 480 watts of solar with blue sky controller. Even going down the road I let the solar panels do the charging on the house batteries unless it night time then I kick in the bus charging. Jerry
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2009, 06:12:38 AM »

Our bus had the 12V/120V Norcold (should be called nevercold) when we purchased it. I replaced it a few months ago with a Whirlpool 10 CU FT unit from Lowes; $349 plus tax. I installed the same fridge last year in our boat and both units have been excellent.

The insulation seems to be quite good and they will hold cold temps for a long time when shut off. They have a relatively low amperage draw both at start up and when running so they don't tax the battery bank too badly. They are frost free which is nice.

Just something to think about.

Paul


Geo,

I have the same fridge and it works great.  Not one single problem using it in a mobile vehicle.

I had a propane/12V/120 in my Class "C" and I hated it.  Never gets cold enough.

But we are weekenders and a few weeks here and there. We generally don't boondock for any long periods(over a week).  I power it on a small inverter when not running the generator or on shore power.


Paul,

How did you secure your doors when underway?   Pictures?


Cliff
« Last Edit: August 24, 2009, 06:14:30 AM by FloridaCliff » Logged

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