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Old 05-28-2020, 10:52 AM   #1
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Residential Refrigerator

We have started looking for a new fiver and noticed that almost all of the higher end units (FR Cardinal & Cedar Creek, KS Montana, etc.) have very large residential style refrigerators. I understand (or so I think that I do) that there is an onboard inverter to allow these units to operate off of the batteries while traveling, however we often will "dry-camp" for 3-4 days at a time and wondered (in your experience) how long the batteries will support the refrigerator. We do usually carry a generator but typically only use it for when we need the coffee pot or microwave.
Please comment on your experiences with these refrigerators.
Also, in our situation, would it be worthwhile to remove it and replace it with an RV style gas/electric unit? (I was told by one dealer that they would probably have to remove the back window to get the refrigerator out. Yikes!! We are probably going to buy used so that would be me replacing the refrigerator.)
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:08 AM   #2
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Replacing a residential refrigerator with electric/lpg unit would probably be more costly than upgrading your battery bank to enough capacity to last 4-5 days.

Adding solar, even if just a portable suitcase setup would extend available power as it would charge all day long if sunny. Refrigerators only runn part time.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:40 PM   #3
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My Dad and BIL, who boondock with us frequently, both tried new RVs with residential fridges. After trying several things, extra batteries, solar, upgrading TV charge capabilities, they both traded in the new RV for something with a regular RV gas/electric fridge.
If all you did was RV with full hook ups, a residential would be fine, as long as your TV kept batteries charged on long travel days.
But if you boondock, especially more than few days, it's definitely not ideal to have a residential fridge.
And then there is maint/replacement of residential fridges in RVs. To replace my Dad's, they had to remove a slide. Major PITA.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:09 PM   #4
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Mathematically. You need under the worst conditions up to a 100 amp battery for every 4 hours. So the standard 4 6 volts will maybe last a day in south Texas. No cpap or furnace.

In Northern Canada likely 2 days.

Sort of depends.

We had our Hathaway fitted with the 12 cu. ft. gas electric fridge. They charged us about the difference in price between the two. A 12 cu ft gas electric is $2400, The residential is about $800. We paid about $1600. They make a 18 cu ft model for about $5000.

This is the other reason all the manufacturers switched to residential. Folks plug in all the time. They like big fridges better.

You know in a fifth wheel the TV does little to recharge the battery.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tomkatb View Post
You know in a fifth wheel the TV does little to recharge the battery.
Depends on the TV and if you modded it for extra charging. Type of trailer makes no difference.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:37 PM   #6
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I have a Whirlpool residential fridge and the best I can hope for is about 24 hrs without running the gen set. My fridge is counter depth and will fit out the door if you hold your tongue just right.

If the trailer you are looking to purchase came from from the factory with a residential fridge you will have issues swapping for an rv fridge. You will need to make an opening to vent to the outside and there may not be propane and power run to the area.

New Rv fridges are very expensive as well.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:40 PM   #7
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It also depends on how much room your rig has for batteries. TTs rarely have room for more than two, without extensive modifications. 5th wheels and motorhomes often have room for 4 or more.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:43 PM   #8
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I have a 16 cardinal with a Frigidaire refrigerator (piece of junk) but that's another story, we have two 12v batteries and they will power up the frig for 36 hours with no other power draws on the batteries.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:01 PM   #9
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I know when I purchased my Cedar Creek the RV style fridge was an option that you could order from the factory. At the time the RV fridge was $2000 extra over and above the cost of the standard residential model. This was in the summer of 2015, when we bought our 2016 model.

For the cost of a RV fridge I think I would lock into solar panels and a larger battery bank. This way you could power other items in the trailer instead of just the residential fridge.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:45 PM   #10
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Not knowing the predictive answer I put my kilowatt meter on the residential refrigerator in my garage and will check it in 24 hours for power consumption. This refrigerator has a rated maximum draw of 6.5 amps at 120vAC which if run off an inverter would need 65 amps (in a perfect world). No idea of the amps needed in the typical "residential recreational vehicle" refrigerator (sounds like an oxymoron). I'm merely curious but maybe I can get some useful information. The refrigerator in my Roo is run on LP during the summer and can go for weeks on one cylinder of propane.

I suspect residential refrigerators are marketed to "RVers" and not "campers." I estimate only a minuscule number of folks with 5th wheel trailers or motorhomes park at other than 50amp electrical or full service sites so the refrigerator power needs don't become apparent and the two AC units will handle the extra heat.

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Old 05-29-2020, 06:00 AM   #11
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Samsung residential fridge. Two standard batteries. 480 watt solar. Unplugged not even 36 hours in the summer. Just my experience.
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:48 AM   #12
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Samsung residential fridge. Two standard batteries. 480 watt solar. Unplugged not even 36 hours in the summer. Just my experience.
Rusty

Going back to the OP's question whether or not it they should change a refrigerator that came with the 5-er, for the cost they could install a lot more than two "standard" batteries. Remember, two "Lithium" batteries will have twice the available power than the standard batteries and weigh half as much.

Available space also becomes less of an issue as the Lithium's can be installed just about anywhere and don't require venting. I'm only guessing that one could purchase and install 4 Lithium batteries for just the cost of an Lpg/electric refrigerator, same size, installed.

I added a freezer to my TT (in place of the outside kitchen refrigerator) and with only two Battleborn batteries and a 160 watt solar suitcase I get by quite nicely for weeks at a time. I do run my generator from time to time when I want to use my microwave and naturally it does provide some charge to the batteries but it only runs about an hour per day max.
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:57 AM   #13
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No need to buy an RV and replace the refrigerator. The OP is still looking. Either keep looking nationwide for whatever model you want that has a propane fridge in it already, or order whatever RV you want with whatever options you need. We have done both.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:03 AM   #14
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Thanks to each of you for your quick replies.
I think that what I have learned from the sum total of all of your replies is:
1) If we buy a new unit, try to negotiate a swap to a RV refrigerator with the deal.
2) If we buy a used unit with the residential refrigerator, then we should not consider swapping it out but figure out how to make it work with more batteries, lithium batteries, solar panels, or a combination.
It seems that with most newer units there is a port on the side somewhere to attach a solar panel. I have not looked into this yet but I assume that I can buy a portable solar unit and plug it into this port and it will assist with re-charging the batteries while I am set up. This, along with upgrading to lithium batteries seems like a reasonable solution.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:06 AM   #15
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We prefer to buy used and let someone else absorb most of the depreciation, so (from what I've seen on the market) we'll need to make a residential refrigerator work for the few times a year that we are camping without a power connection.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:13 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by CUTiger80 View Post
We prefer to buy used and let someone else absorb most of the depreciation, so (from what I've seen on the market) we'll need to make a residential refrigerator work for the few times a year that we are camping without a power connection.
There are plenty of used units with RV fridges in them. I have several friends who have taken advantage of this Covid19 RV market and gotten higher end used (2-4 years old) RVs with propane fridges already in them. My BIL just bought a 2017 Grand Design with an RV fridge. Now that is a nice RV
We all boondock the majority of the time, so a residential fridge is a no-go. So if you rarely boondock, it really doesn't matter much what type of fridge you get.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:39 AM   #17
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Here's an article that explains power consumption by RV refrigerators, both RV using Lpg/Electricity and "residential" that use AC only.

https://precisionrv.com/2017/02/27/n...refrigerators/


Take special note of this:

Quote:
Now, consider the residential refrigerator. It only uses AC. Most of the newer ones with the bottom freezers use around 1 AC amp/hour. This is great. That is a lot less than 6 amps for the larger standard RV refrigerator. That’s about 10 DC amps when the compressor is running.
Like everything else, advancements are made so one can't compare a NEW model Residential refrigerator for an RV to an OLD one, or to what that refrigerator/freezer in your home requires.

Looking at the power consumption label only tells part of the story. It says what amount of power is consumed when the unit is running. Run time varies with surrounding temp and the number of times one opens the door(s).

In short, what may not be "doable" with an older unit can be much more "doable" with a late model unit designed for high energy efficiency.

One more factor to consider and that is efficiency. If one plans on spending a lot of time in H-O-T areas a residential refrigerator will not be as inefficient when the temps rise outside. An absorption type refrigerator can only handle so much heat outside before it's efficiency falls off drastically and the ice cream starts to get soft.

Also worth reading is this blog post by an individual that took actual measurements of power consumption rather than rely on anecdotal "evidence".

https://www.livesmallridefree.com/bl...vs#boondocking

Quote:
Performance - mild weather:

High temps in low 70's, lows in high 40's. Dry (desert) climate.

72 hours elapsed time

2690Wh consumed (measured at receptacle)

82W typical power consumption when running

Calculations:

The 2690Wh was measured at the AC receptacle, so to find out how much battery capacity was required to keep our fridge on for these 3 days, first I have to account for the inverter efficiency, which I pessimistically take as 85%.

2690Wh / 0.85 = 3165Wh

then, Watt-hours to amp-hours:

3165Wh / 12V = 264Ah

264Ah / 3 days = 88Ah battery capacity per day in mild weather.
.


88 ah per day to run the refrigerator could easily be offset with a modest solar setup, even a 200-300 watt suitcase unit.

(PS: Portable Suitcase Solar with a properly sized extension cord can often deliver more power to the batteries than rooftop if you are camping under trees. You can "chase the sun" if necessary and even reorient a few times per day to maximize solar collection.)
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Old 05-29-2020, 03:26 PM   #18
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I do not know of a refrigerator such as referenced above. P=IV plus 20% loss for the inverter unless you bought an expensive one.

The average usage of a fridge is 6.5 amps ac per hour running. Ntl average.

That is 720 watts which is about 46 amps per hour dc.

Assuming 200 watts for a smaller one then the dc amps are 18amps dc per hour of run time. They also consume energy when not running.

His math does not work. The fridge he talks about must be very small.

Folks here have confirmed this consumption pretty much. There are tricks that help.

No it is not practical to change a unit to a rv fridge. For less than $4000 you could buy 4 li batteries and a new converter. That would get you 20 hours or more of run time for the fridge. If careful that would last days in mild weather. Add solar and even longer.

This ignores other dc usage in the rv. God forbid you turn the furnace on. Battery killers.

Residential fridges are not real practical for any rv boondocking.

Most rv's are plugged in every night.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:49 PM   #19
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I do not know of a refrigerator such as referenced above. P=IV plus 20% loss for the inverter unless you bought an expensive one.

The average usage of a fridge is 6.5 amps ac per hour running. Ntl average.

That is 720 watts which is about 46 amps per hour dc.

Assuming 200 watts for a smaller one then the dc amps are 18amps dc per hour of run time. They also consume energy when not running.

His math does not work. The fridge he talks about must be very small.

Folks here have confirmed this consumption pretty much. There are tricks that help.

No it is not practical to change a unit to a rv fridge. For less than $4000 you could buy 4 li batteries and a new converter. That would get you 20 hours or more of run time for the fridge. If careful that would last days in mild weather. Add solar and even longer.

This ignores other dc usage in the rv. God forbid you turn the furnace on. Battery killers.

Residential fridges are not real practical for any rv boondocking.

Most rv's are plugged in every night.
I believe the author of the blog post took the inverter inefficiency into consideration and allowed for the 20% you mentioned.

FWIW, the large French Door, bottom freezer unit I have in my kitchen only draws 6.5 amp when running. Average hourly use is more like half that or less than 400 watts.
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Old 05-30-2020, 08:22 AM   #20
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Some raw data for the refrigerator in my garage (not RV) with a label reading 6.5 amps for the power use:

Kilowatt hours: 3.23
Hours: 41.16

Hopefully one of the math majors here to tell me how many amp hours at 12vDC this would use. My math isn't making sense as it says it will pull an average of something like 65 amps DC all the time which would exhaust a standard battery in minutes as the voltage drop would be so low even a Harbor Freight inverter would shut down.

Strictly curiosity. I do use a 2000w inverter wired directly to my truck's battery for power tools where no shore power is available. Handier than a generator and only needs a 10mm wrench to bolt it to the battery. Here it is running my compressor to blow the water of the system to winterize the trailer. Nothing to do with running a refrigerator, or course, just a little inverter porn.

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