Classic Winnebagos & Vintage RVs!

Tech Talk => Coach => Appliances, Electronics & LP Gas => Topic started by: BamBam on July 25, 2019, 11:27 AM

Title: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: BamBam on July 25, 2019, 11:27 AM

First, Who many are runnin with one and how big is it? Do you have solar to go with it or just use the gennie or always plugged in?
Second, Who has solar and how big is the system?
I don't know where I'm going with this topic yet? Just curious. Questions may arise depending on comments. Discuss.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on July 26, 2019, 07:03 AM
If you travel a lot, you don't want to use a residential fridge...they draw way too many amps.  If you sit and stay plugged in all the time, it doesn't matter.


Our solar panel system is 400 watts, with a Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60 amp charge controller, and 2 Trojan T105 batteries.


Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 26, 2019, 09:17 AM
I always thought that but I have heard that some of the newer fridges they are using in the RV's use very little power. And they are compressor type refrigerators. They are NOT cheap though.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: BamBam on July 26, 2019, 11:15 AM
Sorry Kevin, your mis-informed, Rick is right! More & more people are getting away from absorption fridges for the obvious reasons that people rag about. When my time comes, that will be the first priority, fridge swap, then install 660W on the roof to get by. I plan on saving as much as possible by not paying for a parking spot to plug in if at all possible! Albeit, I will be checking in campgrounds on occasion for laundry, hot shower, etc. This will only be temporary while I travel and look for my homestead, however long that may take?
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 26, 2019, 02:14 PM
I am only right by way of what I have heard, I have no personal experience other than a friend of mine who has a rig that I really want to buy but cannot afford has one and he loves it. They boondock all the time with no issues BUT, They also have two 8D deep cell house batteries!!!
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on July 26, 2019, 04:41 PM
I am 100% correct, BamBam.  Absorption fridges are the way to go if you want to boondock, period.  They draw less amps on AC or DC than any new compressor fridge, regardless of price.  Simple physics.  AND you can run them on propane...and they use very little propane.  Trust me...I boondock a LOT, and while our current system is 400 watts, our last one was 705 watts.   No matter how much solar you have on your roof, and no matter how many batteries you have in your bank (our last system had 6 batteries), you are SCREWED if you have a few dark rainy days in a row...you will HAVE to run your generator, especially if you have high amp draw appliances.  Math and science doesn't lie.  If you want to be off grid and boondock a lot, a standard RV fridge (absorption) is the way to go.  Cutting amp draw is the primary objective of the boondocker.  Unless you don't mind running a generator all the time when the skies are dark and rainy.


Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: BamBam on July 26, 2019, 05:22 PM
I read a lot of the contrary about that in a lot of other forums on this subject. They don't nearly have the problems you say, I guess they know nothing? You win!
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 26, 2019, 05:27 PM
.4 amps on 110 volt! 3.2 amps on 12 volt but you have to consider these are very high efficiency units so they do not run much at all.


But damn! are they expensive!!!!!


https://norcold.com/product/norcold-de-0061-ev-0061-ac-dc-ev-refrigerator/ (https://norcold.com/product/norcold-de-0061-ev-0061-ac-dc-ev-refrigerator/)
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: TerryH on July 26, 2019, 05:36 PM
A couple of additional articles you may want to read for your due diligence:

http://www.truckcamperadventure.com/the-danfoss-compessor-refrigerator-pros-cons-and-a-few-tips/

and
https://www.lichtsinn.com/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-compressor-refrigerators-and-absorption-refrigerators/
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on July 26, 2019, 08:38 PM
I read a lot of the contrary about that in a lot of other forums on this subject. They don't nearly have the problems you say, I guess they know nothing? You win!

Read all you want, young Padiwan.  I have LIVED this fulltime RV life for around 15 years and made a lot of mistakes...but I LEARNED from those mistakes, and listened to those more experienced than me...and respect the knowledge of those like Rick and Dave that know a lot more than I do.  But I know what I know and when I am right, I insist that I am right.  Thus the reason I have been kicked off of most social media platforms...lol!  So yeah...if "they" on other forums are telling you AC compression fridges are better, they ARE lying to you, and/or they DO "know nothing."

Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: BamBam on July 27, 2019, 11:07 AM

  But I know what I know and when I am right, I insist that I am right.
Thus the reason I have been kicked off of most social media platforms...lol!  So yeah...if "they" on other forums are telling you AC compression fridges are better, they ARE lying to you, and/or they DO "know nothing."
Kev




Being a keyboard commando tough guy like that will get you that every time!
Yeah, Your right, I'm wrong.
Your word is Gospel and mine is dirty toilet water!
Your crap don't stink but everybody else's does! Yeah, I've seen your type many a time on many a forum, maybe that's why I'm really sick and tired of social media and you keyboard commandos! So tell me, why are Mfg.'s. getting away from absorption and going all electric & solar, even with the fridge?? I guess they know nothing either? I'll keep doing my homework and ignoring all the negative Nancy's everywhere!
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on July 27, 2019, 07:05 PM


Being a keyboard commando tough guy like that will get you that every time!
Yeah, Your right, I'm wrong.
Your word is Gospel and mine is dirty toilet water!
Your crap don't stink but everybody else's does! Yeah, I've seen your type many a time on many a forum, maybe that's why I'm really sick and tired of social media and you keyboard commandos! So tell me, why are Mfg.'s. getting away from absorption and going all electric & solar, even with the fridge?? I guess they know nothing either? I'll keep doing my homework and ignoring all the negative Nancy's everywhere!

Save your insults, young Padiwan.

Manufacturers aren't switching over to compressor fridges on most of their units...just their very high end ones, where the owners are more than likely just going to take their 150K-2 million dollar rigs from RV park to RV park.  Because they can afford to do so.  There aren't any large capacity absorption fridges on the market, the biggest one being the two door models from Dometic and Norcold.  The people that buy these monsterously huge mansions on wheels want HUGE fridges, all the comforts of home and then some.  They don't want to settle for the "tiny" two door absorption fridges, so the manufacturers give them what they want...very large smart fridges with ice and water in the door and computer screens, etc.  In all of the more affordable units, the manufacturers still install absorption fridges as standard equipment.

Again, you can read anything you want...but actual experience is the best teacher.  We boondock a lot and do a lot of dry camping.  We are very experienced with solar and power usage, and the reality of the limitations of solar and batteries when you have multiple dark cloudy days in a row.

Don't be offended by someone offering you words of wisdom from years of personal experience.

Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 28, 2019, 10:28 AM
I am not going to jump in here and profess to know it all since I don't. What I can tell you is they have made monster advances in energy control in motors. Look at handheld power tools for a perfect example. I remember the first 12 volt drills, they would die after 15 minutes of use. A 12 volt drill nowadays lasts many. many hours and it is not just the newer battery technology. A major advance is brushless motors. I saw that in the RC car hobby. That is where they went with the refrigerators also, brushless motors in the compressors. Between that and hi-tech insulation so that the units only have to run 30% of what they used to.  You also have these portable fridges that go in Jeeps and camping stuff that use a different technology.  https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1PRFE_enUS666US695&q=thermoelectric+cooler+and+warmer+how+it+works&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_uPGO8tfjAhWp1lkKHdDsAk4Q1QIoAHoECAsQAQ&biw=1920&bih=969 (https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1PRFE_enUS666US695&q=thermoelectric+cooler+and+warmer+how+it+works&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_uPGO8tfjAhWp1lkKHdDsAk4Q1QIoAHoECAsQAQ&biw=1920&bih=969).


So basically what I am saying is this, Yes, an absorption fridge is probably the best for extended boondocking IF, you do not have solar and a generator. But for the most part solar will easily take care of the 400-600 watts that the newer refrigerators require and on those really cloudy or rainy days you are going to need to run the generator anyway since you will be low on power for your other stuff.


It is as much personal preference as it is anything else. Older absorption fridges with Hydrogen in them will always have that possibility of fire, regardless of what Ford Refrigeration says. There are just far too many cases of fridge fires to say it doesn't happen. The newer absorption fridges use helium so that is no longer an issue.  If I had to buy a NEW fridge today I would probably go with an absorption fridge mainly based on price. The compressor fridge has a definite edge on performance and will get cold faster and recover faster when the door is open and closed. It can be run all the time where you need to shut down an absorption fridge in tunnels and at gas stations. How many of us have forgotten to turn it back on after filling up? Or worse, have forgotten to turn it off!!!!!  If your fridge is right near you gas tank fill that could be a real issue. Diesel owners need not worry except for the fact there is a lot of gasoline vapor in a gas station.


If I were to buy a bigger rig or a bus conversion where I could go with a larger battery bank and plenty of solar then the compressor would be a no brainer.


This is all ironic because my fridge in my Winnebago is on it's way out and does not cool well at all even with the addition of fans. I am going to take the one out of the Pace Arrow which ironically, even though it was a higher end rig did not have a three way fridge like mine was. I simply do not have the money to buy ANYTHING new so I am stuck with swap or repair.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Froggy1936 on July 28, 2019, 01:52 PM
Hi Rick ,Replacing the cooling unit is no big deal, as i have done it twice (long Story).  The hardest part is getting the fridge out of the R/V and back in !  My second purchase from an outfit in Canada, Carry,s a lifetime warranty.  They are not rebuilt units , They are made from scratch with all new materials , Works really well and improves ea season ! I think there is a description in the Projects folder Page 7  also has the answer to the long story and prices at that time with ordering info  !  Frank
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 28, 2019, 02:37 PM
Thanks Frank, I will look into it. Getting it out is the issue I am running into with the one in the Winnebago. Something is holding it that I have not found yet and I believe it is up top somewhere. The one in the Pace is half out of the wall but I have nowhere to put it if I pull it all the way out.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: TerryH on July 28, 2019, 03:29 PM
When I pulled mine out I had the same problem. It had one hold down screw bottom as per the manual and seemed to have nothing else. It also had a small steel plate on the bottom rear of each side. Each plate had one screw that was very difficult to see that fastened to the side wall. The only way I could remove the screws was with a small offset screwdriver.
Even then it was so tight in the opening that I had to start the fridge out by pushing from the outside bottom, then pull from the inside, a couple inches top, a couple inches bottom, back and forth until it was about halfway out.
Mine sits a couple of feet above the floor and as I was removing it alone I knew I would not have room enough to lift it to the floor. My flooring is vinyl plank so I got one of those large Rubbermaid type containers with a towel under and plywood on top. I was able to safely drop it onto that and then slide everything forward to where I had enough room to set it on the floor. With the fridge doors off I tipped it onto the front and slid it out the door and rolled it up. It was garbage so damage wasn't an issue.
I did have help to get the replacement inside and in place. I would never try to do that alone. Sliding it into the hole was as difficult as sliding the old out. VERY tight fit. The replacement did not have the small steel plates, and I would have discarded them if it did. With the help we were able to keep the replacement upright so I was able to use it as soon as it was installed. The plates were not shown in my manual or on any manual I found online.
Not necessarily the same situation for you, but perhaps?
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Froggy1936 on July 28, 2019, 05:47 PM
Ah yes they are very sneaky in adding mounting screws, I think each technician does it there own way.  A magnet on a stick may help locate hidden screws . And adding extra insulation can be done after unit is reinstalled !  Frank
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on July 28, 2019, 08:15 PM
I plan on using sheet metal in the entire fridge compartment just in case of fire as a firestop. Plus a self releasing fire extinguisher up near the top which is where the heat would go and also where the hydrogen would light off. Insulation will go behind the sheet metal.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on July 28, 2019, 08:23 PM
It can be run all the time where you need to shut down an absorption fridge in tunnels and at gas stations. How many of us have forgotten to turn it back on after filling up? Or worse, have forgotten to turn it off!!!!! 

LOL Rick!  I have NEVER shut down my fridge for bridges and tunnels, ever.  I used to shut it down when fueling up my previous gasoline RVs...but don't bother anymore when filling the diesel.  I do shut it down when filling the propane though.

Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: tmsnyder on August 02, 2019, 11:51 AM
My rv had a dorm fridge in it, little freezer compartment inside the fridge .  The original fridge had been removed and replaced with a cheap dorm fridge, about the same size.  It drew about 1 amp and ran about 50% of the time.   Based on that I put a single panel on the roof.   In theory, that should have covered the electrical needs of running the fridge, but just barely.   As it turned out, it would charge up in the day and run down at night and after about the 3rd night it would fully deplete the battery.   Kids charging their cell phones didn't help.  One panel was not enough. I mounted a second panel and I never had a chance to test it out b/c we sold the coach, but I believe that it would have run the fridge with leftover power for other things like fans and charging cell phones.


Anyway, that was my experience, cheap small fridge, solar panels, 2 good deep cycle batteries = yes you could boondock with this full time and never run out of power in the fridge.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 02, 2019, 08:17 PM
And that is with the older inefficient style of fridge. The new ones only run 20-30% of the time due to modern insulation and electronics.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on August 02, 2019, 11:07 PM
At the end of the day...and after reading ALL the research and actually LIVING the fulltime RV lifestyle...I once again say WHY?  The cheap fridges will draw too many amps.  The VERY expensive ones might not draw too may amps...but DANG are they expensive!  Stick with the absorption fridges...which you can run on propane (very efficiently)  when boondocking.


Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: yellowrecve on August 02, 2019, 11:18 PM
I agree with Kev. I boon dock.  Leave the solar panels to keep the batteries charged to run the invertor for all the TV
and CDs the wife wants to watch. The sun is low in the winter, and high and HOT in the summer. Nice to get some shade during the peak temps. Different strokes for all.
Les
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Froggy1936 on August 03, 2019, 01:02 PM
There is no better option than a three way Absorption Refrigerator for R/V Use,  Ricks suggestion to line the compartment with sheet metal , Is an excellent idea to contain any flames, The heat activated fire extinguisher is also a must , But there also has to be an automatic , propane shut off in case of fire , Or everything else is a waste of time ! Frank P.S. Solar anything is very expensive !
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 03, 2019, 04:02 PM
The amount of hydrogen in these things is quite small so any fire involving a leak will be very fast flash and out. What usually catches is all the old flaking wood around the unit and cobwebs and such. The propane lines are all hard lines so there is no chance of any issue there unless the fire is roaring and the regulator burns. If that is the case then it doesn't matter at that point if the propane is on or off, it is history!
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Froggy1936 on August 03, 2019, 04:38 PM
If the unit is running on propane the operating fire will not go out except when the control panel says no more refrigeration is needed ! So it will ignite the hydrogen ! if there is a leak . Frank
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 04, 2019, 10:10 AM
This is kind of true. Hydrogen is much lighter than air so it will rise quite quickly out the top and the flame is on the bottom so unless the leak is at the bottom you will not have a fire but again, even if you do the hydrogen will burn off in seconds and as long as there is nothing loose in there for it to set on fire then that will be the end of it. The propane pilot will just keep burning and maybe the main burner but that is all inside the burner tube. Most RV's from about 1990 on up have auto shut downs on the propane for excess flow both on the tank and also electrically. They can be a real nightmare to reset.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: tmsnyder on August 05, 2019, 06:00 AM
Ammonia is in the absorption fridges, not hydrogen I believe.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 05, 2019, 09:20 AM
The ammonia is the refrigerant and the hydrogen is the gas that isolates the system. I do not remember why it is that they used Hydrogen, they have moved to helium on newer units. I learned about absorption units waaaaay back when I was taking my refrigeration certs but we did not dwell on them since they were mostly used in the RV field and the far northern regions where there is no power grid. Neither of which pertained to us.


If you do a Google search for "Ford's refrigeration" you will find a lot of info on our refrigerators that debunks a lot of the myths that are spread out there.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: ClydesdaleKevin on August 05, 2019, 06:24 PM
Ammonia is in the absorption fridges, not hydrogen I believe.

The ammonia is in liquid form, and then it is heated (either electrically or with flame) and it turns to gas and rises up in the coils.  When it mixes with the hydrogen gas, it causes a super cooling effect.  When it cools, it turns back to a liquid and drips back down in the reservoir at the bottom of the fridge.  I imagine it works the same way with helium, but have never heard of that before until Rick mentioned it.

Kev
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Froggy1936 on August 06, 2019, 04:17 PM
The first replacement cooling unit i bought , I paid an extra $100.00 for a non flammable gas , I don't know why they dont use such in all units . The units are so expensive now another $100.00 is not a big deal !  Compared to the fire danger !  Hm?
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: khantroll on August 26, 2019, 07:23 AM
One option is retrofitting an existing absorption fridge with a helium based cooling unit. There is at least one place here in Arkansas that does it, and that "amish" place carries retrofit units for many popular models. They cool better then the ammonia based ones.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 26, 2019, 08:55 AM
They all use ammonia as the refrigerant, the gas is the only difference.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: khantroll on August 30, 2019, 12:22 PM
I stand corrected
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: BamBam on August 31, 2019, 01:34 PM
One option is retrofitting an existing absorption fridge with a helium based cooling unit. There is at least one place here in Arkansas that does it, and that "amish" place carries retrofit units for many popular models. They cool better then the ammonia based ones.



Which this has nothing to do with what this topic was originally intended to be about!
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: Rickf1985 on August 31, 2019, 02:44 PM
So? I think everything that was going to be said has already been hashed out on that part of it. Does that mean we just completely stop posting on it/ Or do we continue to contribute bits and pieces. A lot of the information posted was inaccurate anyway. everyone reads it all and takes away from it what they want.
Title: Re: Residential Fridges & solar
Post by: khantroll on September 26, 2019, 05:56 PM

Which this has nothing to do with what this topic was originally intended to be about!


While I do have a reply I'd like to use here, I'll just answer you with the information you requested:


I currently use a 110v, .75a 3.3 cubic food refrigerator in my RV. I do not currently have solar (though I did have a small amount of solar at one point). As my rig is being repaired right now, it is always plugged in. Before I parked the rig again, we kept the door shut while traveling.


If one wanted to run it off of solar, it's power consumption would be in the neighborhood of 680-700w of power per day after account for losses and start up spikes (and a little rounding). Assuming you were camping in my area, and you had perfect sun, you'd need roughly 250w of solar just to feed the refrigerator each day. This is based on the fact that we get about 3 hours of prime solar time per day. However, solar panel efficiency is affected by multiple variables, so you would mostly likely need more then that. [size=78%] [/size]