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Old 02-27-2019, 12:38 PM   #1
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Power for the mini fridge while traveling

I have a 2014 Cedar Creek Silverback that my wife and I live in full-time. We do a large amount of driving, so the fifth-wheel is not stationary much. We are new to RVing.

In the "outdoor kitchen," there is a mini fridge. How do I make sure that the fridge still has power when we are driving for sometimes 9-12 hours in a day? I know the main fridge runs off of propane, but what about the mini fridge?

Matt
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:10 PM   #2
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To run it while traveling, putting an inverter in and running 120v power to it is your only solution.
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:37 PM   #3
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Make sure it is cold before you leave.
Keep non-perishables only...beer, sodas, etc.
Leave it closed until you get to your destination...it should stay cool.
And, if you like, you can always throw a blanket over it while you travel.
Enjoy!
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Old 02-27-2019, 03:16 PM   #4
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Like ependydad stated, you'll need to install an inverter to supply 120v to the frig while you're traveling.
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Old 02-27-2019, 04:56 PM   #5
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If your "mini fridge" is anything like mine it doesn't draw much power at all. 96 watts total.

An inexpensive Inverter like this will work fine. Also has "Soft Start Tech" so starting the "mini compressor" won't be an issue.

https://smile.amazon.com/300W-Pure-S...e&sr=1-1-fkmr0

It will draw just under 8 amp while the refrigerator is running but it only runs intermittently so power from your tow vehicle should be able to keep the batteries charged while driving.

Make sure the fridge is cool before you start out and keeping it full will increase it's "thermal inertia", meaning it won't cool off as quick.

In my trailer the mini fridge is mounted in the outside kitchen and the Converter/Power Panel is almost directly behind it. Easy to add a 12 volt outlet next to the fridge. I had to move the AC power outlet as the fridge was installed directly in front and the power cord needs to be moved from inverter to 120v receptacle and back as appropriate.

As a side note this inverter has two USB ports so you can also charge phones etc. In my case it's nice to have an outside USB charging port or two.
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Old 02-27-2019, 05:44 PM   #6
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How big is your you fridge TitanMike? I know some have the smaller fridge and some have a larger one. I have the larger one and would love to know if this would work. Ours is good for short trips but out trips from NC to Fl the fridge thaws out and condensation from the items inside makes a mess.
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgalvan View Post
I have a 2014 Cedar Creek Silverback that my wife and I live in full-time. We do a large amount of driving, so the fifth-wheel is not stationary much. We are new to RVing.

In the "outdoor kitchen," there is a mini fridge. How do I make sure that the fridge still has power when we are driving for sometimes 9-12 hours in a day? I know the main fridge runs off of propane, but what about the mini fridge?

Matt
We have used frozen water bottles with good success. Pre-freeze in inside unit then transfer them to te small unit just before you un hook. We have traveled over 400 miles using this approach and interior of small fridge was still cool, as were the drinks inside.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:21 PM   #8
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Before you buy an inverter and think you are hunky dory, see if your tow vehicle can keep up with the power being drawn or else you will have dead trailer batteries. If your fridge is like TitanMike's and it draws 96W, that will be 9.5A assuming 85% efficiency for an inverter. If its on 30% of the time, that's 68AH per day.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:26 PM   #9
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Good point. I have two batteries and at least 140amp alternator but the wiring that feeds the charge circuit would probably be the limiting factor. I'll have to dig a little.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:31 PM   #10
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I would 2nd the frozen water bottles.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:15 PM   #11
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How big is your you fridge TitanMike? I know some have the smaller fridge and some have a larger one. I have the larger one and would love to know if this would work. Ours is good for short trips but out trips from NC to Fl the fridge thaws out and condensation from the items inside makes a mess.

It''s a counter high dorm room type. I think the size is 4 cu ft. Refrigerator only, no freezer box in it so it doesn't have to run as long and as hard.

I use mine for drinking water and I probably could freeze the bottles before I load them in the outside refrigerator. Would work fine before leaving home but when I leave home now I don't end up back home for 3-4 weeks.

As for how often an unopened refrigerator will need to run, that will depend on how hot it is. Most run very infrequntly when not opened. Thing about charge current from tow vehicle is that even though it may be low, it is constant as long as the tow vehicle is running. Babcock's calculations are probably correct for a full day but if you are driving a dozen hours, with the refer running only 30% of the time that's only 34.2 Amp hours "consumed" and if your TV charge line is only providing 5 amp of current, over the 12 hours that's 60 amp hours that can easily replace any excess the small inverter will have drawn when the refer is running. Using that relatively low extimate from the charge wire you would run a 25.8 amp hour surplus which would be absorbed by the batteries, replacing the normal parasitic draw from the other refrigerator running on LPG, Propane/CO detector, stereo, etc.

If the refrigerator ran all the time you'd need to run a new charge wire directly from your tow vehicle's battery and connect it independently of the 7-pin connector.

On that last note, wiring kits are sold for people who tow automobile transport trailers that have winches mounted on them. It consists of two parts, one a 20+ foot pair of #2 wires terminated with an anderson connector, and another with 4-5 foot wires with a matching connector.

With that installed the trailer batteries could be charged up to the limit of your alternator's capacity (the part left over after running your truck).

Check amazon. I've seen these kits as low as $120.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:36 PM   #12
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I was frustrated with either the condensate or stuff falling out while traveling I just use a soft cooler with ice bottles. Usually a sixer and a bottle of champagne or wine for DW. Fire up the fridge when arrive-my dorm fridge cools quick.
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Old 02-28-2019, 11:29 AM   #13
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Throw a 100W solar panel on the roof. Add an inverter for the fridge and you'll never have to worry about the fridge again.
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Old 02-28-2019, 11:46 AM   #14
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Throw a 100W solar panel on the roof. Add an inverter for the fridge and you'll never have to worry about the fridge again.
A 100w solar panel wouldn't even be close to being able to power that fridge. Even 200w wouldn't.
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Old 02-28-2019, 12:13 PM   #15
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A 100w solar panel wouldn't even be close to being able to power that fridge. Even 200w wouldn't.
5.5 amps per hour from 100w would be enough to supplement battery drawn down if the TV isn't keeping up.
Guessing the OP only does elec hookup camping so charging is only need while traveling.
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Old 02-28-2019, 12:37 PM   #16
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5.5 amps per hour from 100w would be enough to supplement battery drawn down if the TV isn't keeping up.
Guessing the OP only does elec hookup camping so charging is only need while traveling.
5 equivalent solar hours would be a little over 27 AH. Of course, solar panels are only around 70% efficient when flat mounted so less than 20.

If the OP really just camps in full hookup sites, he should just improve his vehicle wiring.
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:56 PM   #17
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In the "outdoor kitchen," there is a mini fridge. How do I make sure that the fridge still has power when we are driving for sometimes 9-12 hours in a day? I know the main fridge runs off of propane, but what about the mini fridge?

Matt
Am I understanding that you are running on LPG when driving? Isn't that dangerous? I've been told by many a RV'er NOT TO RUN LPG while driving and in some states it's illegal.
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Old 02-28-2019, 03:08 PM   #18
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We use the "frozen water bottles" approach. Our longest travel is about 6-7 hrs to FL in July and had no problems...but we don't put any perishables in it either.
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Old 02-28-2019, 03:21 PM   #19
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I think that the idea from the factories for these small 120v outside fridges is that they are mostly used after you arrive at a campground and have shore power, generally just to keep a few drinks cold, and outside, while you are parked.

now, it doesn't mean that they couldn't have included a small inverter to power it, but since most folks don't probably feel the need for it to be cooling while traveling, they save they money on the wiring, the additional battery, the inverter cost, etc.

Like others, I would suggest that pre-loading it with a frozen bag of ice or similar cold item would provide plenty of cooling while traveling - the fridge is simply a cooler, after all.
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Old 02-28-2019, 03:23 PM   #20
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Am I understanding that you are running on LPG when driving? Isn't that dangerous? I've been told by many a RV'er NOT TO RUN LPG while driving and in some states it's illegal.
Whoever told you that is wrong.
MOST RVers travel with their RV fridge on propane.
Only certain tunnels on the Eastern coast require propane off.
You can do a search on any RV forum, if you don't believe me.
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