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Old 05-07-2010, 09:31 AM   #1
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Refrigerator Question

Next question for you experts! Now that I have power going from my truck to the camper I was wondering if the refrigerator will run on DC power alone or do I have to use LP with DC power. I know it runs on AC alone and LP with AC power. I was looking at putting items in the frig to stay frozen while towing.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:51 AM   #2
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Most of the refrigerators are two way power only, AC and Propane. One usually only finds DC powered refrigerators in a pop up.

When we get ready to leave, I plug the camper in at home, and turn the fridge on usually two days in advance to get it cold. Once cold, put cold and frozen food in it, then turn off just before we travel. For a couple of hours, doesn't hurt anything. If we're traveling longer distance, we'll run it on propane. Just remember to shut off the fridge and the propane before fueling anything, and some tunnels you can't enter with propane on.

One last thing, the fridge runs on LP with DC, not AC like stated in your post. It uses dc to light the propane. Might want to get the model number of your fridge and find a manual on the internet if you don't have one. Happy Camping.
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Old 05-07-2010, 10:56 AM   #3
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It was our experience with an AC/DC/LP model of Norcold that came in my fathers '85 Winnebago that operation on DC was not all that good. As Windrider stated there were very few rigs that actually had the tri-power refrigerators. I know of very few that have been made but Norcold did make them in the 80s.

As stated, most refrigerators use 12VDC to run the cirucuit board that controls the ignition of the LP and operation of the fridge and will switch to AC automatically if you are plugged into shore power.
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:06 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 05-07-2010, 05:28 PM   #5
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I have had many RV technicians tell me to disconnect the 12v DC heater on older "tri-fuel" refrigerators...just plays havoc on your batteries....too much load.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:24 PM   #6
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Casitas still have the three-way refrigerators from Dometic. While towing, we used DC because the battery was constantly being charged while under way. Never had a problem but we were always careful to turn off the fridge when we stopped at rest areas or restaurants. Otherwise, we were told, the fridge would draw off the tow vehicle battery and run it down in short order.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:31 PM   #7
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We had a 2004 trailer with 3 way power fridge.
The owners manual said that DC was ONLY for when the
engine was running.
It was a battery HOG and would actually partially drain my
trailer battery while on the road! (yikes!)
Once we realized that we never used DC mode again.
LP on the road and AC when available.
Also on DC mode it couldn't keep it below 40 if the weather
was hot.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjones12 View Post
Casitas still have the three-way refrigerators from Dometic. While towing, we used DC because the battery was constantly being charged while under way. Never had a problem but we were always careful to turn off the fridge when we stopped at rest areas or restaurants. Otherwise, we were told, the fridge would draw off the tow vehicle battery and run it down in short order.
Our Trailmanor had a 3 way fridge, and Trailmanor still uses them in the fold down models. The configuration of the trailer in the travel mode prevents LP being practical. We ran the fridge on 12 volt while going down the road without a problem.....like mjones the truck kept the batteries charged. If we stopped for a long period of time, I would take the battery fuse out so that it wouldn't run the trailer battery down. The truck was on an isolator circuit, so that should have been OK.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:39 PM   #9
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Most folks run the refer on gas while towing. Caveat: There is an open flame so for gas stations and for some tunnels and bridges you have to stop for inspection and turn it off before proceeding.

Judging from the picture of your trailer, there is no way you have a 12 volt capable refrigerator. The way I understand it, a gas absorption refrigerator (used in RVs), requires a heat source to operate. In an RV it will be 12volt, 120 volt, or a propane flame. 12 volt is used in small special application refrigerators and the heating element will drain a battery quickly. 120 volt uses a 120 heating element when you are plugged in, so there is no worry about power. Propane generally uses a 12 volt ignition module that serves to only to ignite the propane and uses very little power.
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Old 05-18-2010, 06:19 PM   #10
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There's a pretty big difference between the square footage in a pop-up/folding trailer versus a travel trailer fridge, the battery drain is not near so significant on the smaller unit, I towed a pop-up for three years and used the 12 volt on the fridge for transport without any issues, even stayed overnight in Vegas at a hotel, just unplugged the trailer from the truck overnight, plugged it back in in the morning. I did forget one time in the mountains to switch to LP and the battery was dead after about 24 hours.
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