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Author Topic: Can anyone recommend an energy thrifty household fridge?  (Read 3173 times)
belfert
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« on: September 07, 2008, 06:00:34 PM »

My Haier fridge is driving me crazy with not getting cold enough in the fridge section while the freezer gets well below zero.  I tried pretty much everything in the previous thread I started about this.  I'm thinking the Haier might need to go for something a little bigger that works better.  I'm going to call Haier as a last ditch effort before I discard it.  I'm not sure it is worth a service call for a $250 fridge.

Can anyone recommend a current model fridge that is energy thrifty and the defrost can be disabled easily?  The fridge usually runs only 10 days at a time and I am on inverter or generator except when plugged in at home.

My fridge only has a 1.2 amp draw (manula defrost), but the ones I'm looking at are around 4 to 6 amps.  I assume the higher draw is due to the defrost heater.  I found a number of fridges around 15 cubic feet with Frigidiare even selling an Energy Star model for $500.  Most of the smaller fridges are not Energy Star except for high $ models.

One of my biggest issuse would be getting a larger fridge into the bus.  I would probably have to remove a window and use a fork lift to get it in.  The smaller fridge barely fit in.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2008, 06:12:34 PM »

Look at a refrig that has the freezer inside the refrig.  ie: only one door.  This will eliminate a circulation fan to move the cold air from a freezer to the frig.

Art
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« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2008, 06:21:01 PM »

Brian;I have been told Ammna makes a low amp draw I see them in the higher end conversions fwiw
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2008, 06:38:53 PM »

You should be able to get an apartment sized fridge in your door.  Ours is 12 cubic feet, about 5 feet tall.  We had to remove the door but it went in. Measure the door carefully before going shopping and take your tape measure with you.  Measure it with and without the door to be sure it will fit.  We have a one door fridge and I hate it. Every time you open the door for anything you are getting warm air to the freezer.  I have to defrost it way more often than I would like.  Do not buy one of those dorm type fridges. They use more power than a full sized one. Our freezer froze the top of the food and the bottom of the package would mold. 
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2008, 06:43:39 PM »

Two responses:

I barely got my 10 cubic foot fridge into the bus.  We scraped the dash up pretty good to get it in.  I still have the two passenger partitions in place.  (No good reason to remove them.)  No way am I am going to get anything larger in through the door.

The only single door fridges I saw are even smaller than my present fridge.  Not going to go with a single door fridge especially after the other comment.

With six to nine people on a trip the current fridge was too small anyhow.  I want to go a little bigger like 14 CF if possible.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2008, 07:11:14 PM »

Belfert, listen to the female Cat probably knows what is best
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2008, 07:17:13 PM »

Two responses:

I barely got my 10 cubic foot fridge into the bus.  We scraped the dash up pretty good to get it in.  I still have the two passenger partitions in place.  (No good reason to remove them.)  No way am I am going to get anything larger in through the door.


Did you take the door off of it when you got it in?

I would think it would be a job even with out the doors having to lift it over the seats, but I would love to have a seat or two in mine.
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2008, 09:25:42 PM »

Brian

I have a 14.27 cf Haier. Had to pull the windshield to get it in. I got new seals and stopped the windshield leaks.
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2008, 10:24:09 PM »

Brian, we've seen that symptom a number of times in apartment refrigerators. In those cases, there wasn't enough refrigerant in the system.

Since the cold control is typically in the chill side of the system, and the refrigerant typically is piped to the freezer side, the refrigerant can be completely evaporated in the freezer. This would mean that none would reach the chill side, causing the unit to run all the time.

If you have a single evaporator, this would not apply. This would leave you with a cold control, fan or defrost problem to deal with. I suppose that it's also possible that there is not enough refrigeration capacity to cool the chill side.

Does the unit get cold enough when you are not staying in your bus?

Good luck.

Tom Caffrey
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2008, 11:02:27 PM »

Brian,

Go down to your local refer repair shop and ask the teck what he thinks might be the problem.  find out where they get their warranty work done and contact them also....probably by phone.  Tom probably has the correct answer because he usually does.  Only a repair shop can charge those things....I think.

Nick said there is a new refridgerant out there thart is really efficient do maybe the field has changed.  With efficiencty being as important as it is to us you might want to spend a little more.  I ahve no personal experience with this...sorry.  Yes I do:  Buy one of those tiny refer fans that run off of two drycells.  THEY WORK GANGBUSTERS as long as you don't blok them in with food and bags.  Best bang for a buck I have had.

John
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2008, 11:38:08 PM »

Let's assume your fridge is working correctly.  In that case, try getting one of the little 2xD cell operated RV fridge fans and stick it down low in the fridge where it's unobstructed.  It'll slowly but constantly circulate the cold air and even everything out.  Works wonders in my fridge.

Other than that, here's a great list of all the best of the best fridges as far as energy efficiency goes...


http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.display_products_html

cheers
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belfert
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 05:18:02 AM »

I am going to try a fan in my current fridge before giving up on it.  I will fiill it with water and pop and watch it for a day to see what happens.

I am not sure why professional bus conversions come with Amana fridges.  Maybe they get them cheap.  They don't seem to be particularly power thrifty.  Aman doesn't make anything very small anyhow.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 06:17:23 AM »

    We used a Frigidaire 14.8 cu.ft. Energy Star that we purchased at Lowe's. I think it uses about 2 amp. Perhaps it was due to the humidty levels, but when our defroster timer failed, we had to defrost about every 8-10 days.
    We did have to remove the refrigerator door and go through a side window to get it into the coach.  Wasn't that hard, 2 of us set the refrigerator in the back of the pick-up, backed up to the side of the coach, and set it in the window opening. I then went inside and balanced it while my freind came inside. we picked it up and set it in place. Re-attached the door and we were done.  Jack
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« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2008, 06:57:04 AM »

Jack, do you have a model number for that Frigidaire?  Lowes has a Frigidiare that size that is Energy Star for $500.  Do you have any problems because the coils are not exposed?  Craig Shephard says his fridge runs too many hours a day and he blames the non-exposed coils for part of it.

I talked to a Haier dealer about my fridge and the repair guy said the lack of a fan might be the issue with my fridge.  I am going to see if I can find a muffin fan at work to circulate air.  My fridge is currently at 40F at max on the middle shelf which is way too high for my liking.  It will spike to 45F or higher when the door is opened a few times.  45F is on the high side for keeping food from spoiling.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2008, 07:07:01 AM »

You cold always buy a Sub Zero A friend of mine has one in his Newell
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2008, 07:09:24 AM »

I could be wrong about to pin point your problem but from your “keyboard information”, this is what I think.

You already said that freezer is very cold. So I think it working well. However, when you over fill the compartment…you are restricting the air flowing from and to the evaporator if all the shelves are reinstalled properly. Before a battery fan will work well…it needs at least 1 ½” clearance in the back and front with door close. If you don’t have that clearance, it won’t work well with any refrigerator. Cold air is heaver than warm air in order for thermo-siphon to work. Battery power fan will work better if you displace a food item for it.

Some small upper & lower twin door refrigerator come with evaporator installed inter upper back wall so that some cold air flow down and up in front of food behind the door. Single door model has “cage” type evaporator and cold air flow down from the outer side of the “cage”. Inside of the “cage” is your freezer section.

You said that it for 6 to 9 peoples to accommodate….Sorry to suggest this but you need larger ones or lower your filling into compartment to improve cooling.

FWIW

Sojourn for Christ, Gerald
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2008, 08:00:18 AM »

Jerry may be on to something, my new fridge clearly states in the directions, that none of the air circulating areas can be blocked!!
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2008, 08:08:44 AM »

You cold always buy a Sub Zero A friend of mine has one in his Newell

If I could afford a Newell, I could afford a Sub Zero!  No Sub Zeros for this busnut.  I think that Frigidaire is looking like a good unit if I get something new.
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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2008, 08:13:05 AM »

The frisge is only 10% full right now and it is running 39 to 40 degrees after sitting overnight.

What I am going to do is fill it up about 75% with pop leaving room for air circulation in the rear.  I am also going to find a muffin fan and battery I can place in the rear.  I will then let it sit for 36 to 48 hours and check the temps after that.

Jerry is probably right that I simply need more fridge space.  I may just get a bigger one if it will fit and quit playing around with this one even if I do get it working.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2008, 08:29:43 AM »

A couple years ago i read about a Summit refridgerator that had two evaporators - one for the freezer and one for the fridge. It was pretty efficient to run. I saw this unit on a website, either for Summit or a distributor. Nice to have seperate control over the two units,,, could really keep the ice cream nice and hard. My memory says it was around 300.00 or so back then. Does anyone know what model this unit was? I think someone on the board had one of them at the time.
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2008, 10:21:40 AM »

Brian,

You now seem to be saying that you need a refer that is so much bigger than your current one that you are resigned to taking out the front winshield and putting in a new one.  That sounds like a good decision if you are packing all the family you say.

I have read that "some" of the modern "frost free" refers cannot have that feature disabled.  I find it had to believe there is anything in this world that I cannot "break" if history teaches me anything.  Still, smart folks have said that but then, like Will Roger,  they never met me.  Or maybe you, also.  Aren't there defrost cycles that are programable and can be switched off?  It is the daily defrost that kills the efficiency and accounts for much of the energy consumed.  Now that size is out of the decision process I think efficiency is the prime concern but they aren't publishing any figures for a defrost refer that doesn't use that feature.

I don't think this solves your problem but maybe there s a shred of a "slant" that might help.

John
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« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2008, 10:28:25 AM »

JohnZ's isuggestion of a Summit really interests me personally.  Any bad info on that brand?

thanks

John
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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2008, 10:35:12 AM »

I've started looking at Summit, but nothing stands out about them right off hand.  They do have a Engery Star manual defrost model that isn't much bigger than my current Haier.  I don't know if it has a circulating fan or not.  It may not work much better than what I have.

Their dual compressor models are really pricey and I don't see an advantage.  A typical single compressor fridge works fine at home.

I would be removing a side window, not the windshield.  Most of the side windows need resealing anyhow as they leaked when driving in the rain.

It is not yet a foregone conclusion to get a new fridge.  I would like to see if I can get mine working better by installing a circulating fan and not blocking the evaporator.  There are nine of us going on the next trip in two weeks.  We are just a group of friends with a common hobby.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2008, 10:48:36 AM »

I've quit posting lately, due to an unfortunate incident with a member who is more interested in the spending of money than the quality of the expenditure.
But, I have a pair of pennies to put in here..
Our 30 year old 12 cu ft house fridge draws 3.9a ... when it's running.. it runs about 3 times per day, we have blue styrofoam on the sides of it and have had no problems running 2 different inverters to power it.
One was a Sima 2.5Kw and the other is a Coleman 1.7Kw.
My original inverter died from not having the fan and board cleaned often enough, the new inverter does a great job.
We run 2 desktop computers with flat screen monitors, the fridge and the HP 4 in 1 printer on the inverter at all times.
We also run an old Compaq Laptop for our GPS when we go down the road.

We have 2 group 31 Marine deepcycle batteries from Napa and they last using this inverter for about 30 hours when we aren't on shore power.
I have to also mention that we seldom if ever shut down the desktop computers.
Nothing has ever failed or slowed down because of the MSW inverter.

As much as I would like to replace my crappy Clampett system with a new high dollar inverter and a huge battery bank, I don't find that it's affordable right now.

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« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2008, 11:22:36 AM »

Jack, do you have a model number for that Frigidaire?  Lowe's has a Frigidaire that size that is Energy Star for $500.  Do you have any problems because the coils are not exposed?  Craig Shephard says his fridge runs too many hours a day and he blames the non-exposed coils for part of it.

Our Frigidaire is model RT15HB3DW6.  The coils are under the refrigerator compartment with a fan that pulls cool air from near the floor in front of the refrigerator and blows it out the back near the floor. We have a grill above the refrigerator area to allow the hot air to escape as it rises.  I have a small axial fan that I have thought about adding to help push the hot air up, but have not done that yet.  Jack
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2008, 12:52:01 PM »

We have 2 group 31 Marine deepcycle batteries from Napa and they last using this inverter for about 30 hours when we aren't on shore power.
I have to also mention that we seldom if ever shut down the desktop computers.
Nothing has ever failed or slowed down because of the MSW inverter.

I'm shocked you can get 30 hours from two group 31 batteries.  Good job!  I can't seem to get more than 18 to maybe 24 hours from my eight golf cart batteries and my fridge draws less than yours.  I do have a lot of 24 volt flourescent lights reused from the original bus that may be sucking down power.

I'm trying not to spend money here.  I would prefer to get my current fridge running better. 

I have found several times that trying to save money in the long run cost me more money.  I research to death just about everything I buy to sure I am getting the best value.
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2008, 01:19:55 PM »

I'm shocked you can get 30 hours from two group 31 batteries.  Good job!  I can't seem to get more than 18 to maybe 24 hours from my eight golf cart batteries and my fridge draws less than yours.  I do have a lot of 24 volt flourescent lights reused from the original bus that may be sucking down power.

This sounds more like our batteery usage.  With 8 golf cart batteries, we can go 24 hours, but the batteries will be down to about 11.8-12 volts.  We have found that if we run the generator 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, our batteries rarely go below 12.5 volts.  Jack
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2008, 01:36:06 PM »

Okay, I found something interesting.

My 9.7 cubic foot manual defrost Haier is listed at 330 KW/year. The Frigidaire Energy Star 14.8 CF fridge (Same basic unit as Jack's) is listed at 355 KW/year and it is frost free!  I guess I got sucked in by the 1.2 amp draw listed on the Haier.  It must run longer than the Frigidiare.
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