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Old 09-02-2020, 07:27 AM   #1
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12V Only Fridge in Rockwood MiniLite

My husband and I have been on the slow road to trading in our "19 BH" model for a 2509s. Our local dealer was going to give us a fabulous deal on our little bunkhouse model so we were closing in on an agreement for the MiniLite they had in stock.

I finally made it out to look at the unit they had on the lot and BAM I notice that it is outfitted with a 12V only fridge. To make up for this they have installed 190W of solar panels and a 1000W capacity inverter (no upgrade to deep cycle marine batteries, but that would be easy enough to rectify).

Apparently another thing about COVID is that there has been a shortage of 2-way fridges so manufacturers are installing 12V fridges. Some, like Rockwood, are giving you solar panels up front and others are leaving you to figure it out.

I know this has been discussed off and on in this forum, but just wanted to toss around this discussion a bit more based on our circumstances.

We have some acreage that is off the grid, but close to home. We are probably doing electric in the near future, but for now we just boondock and take home propane tanks and charge batteries as needed and go to the dump station. Pretty low maintenance. However, the current fridge we have is tiny so the propane draw seems to be minuscule. This is our first year with this land so I am not sure how the battery and propane use will increase as we get into cold months.

We live in way upstate NY, so there are a lot of trees and can be a lot of cloudy days in a row. We do have an area cleared that gets some shade in the summer months, but as the sun gets lower in the sky as we get into late summer/early fall we are actually getting a ton of sun. However, I would imagine that also means the panels would be at a not ideal angle.

I am thinking that we should pass on this camper and wait until the two-way fridges are back in stock (when I looked at what RV Wholesalers had on order it seemed 50/50 so there might be light at the end of the tunnel). On the other hand, 190W of solar and possibly supplementing with some portable panels is an interesting idea. But I am not sure if would be feasible even with some supplemental portable panels. Where our land is it really never gets super hot so even in the summer the fridge wouldn't be working as hard as a lot of places.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by campbikemom View Post
———
Apparently another thing about COVID is that there has been a shortage of 2-way fridges so manufacturers are installing 12V fridges. Some, like Rockwood, are giving you solar panels up front and others are leaving you to figure it out.
———
I am thinking that we should pass on this camper and wait until the two-way fridges are back in stock
———
Thoughts?
I quoted parts of your post to highlight the part I am commenting on.

I don’t believe COVID-19 has anything to do with refrigerator design in current RV models.

At least in the class C motorhome world, Forest River was heading down this 12 volt refrigerator path last summer, long before COVID-19. Models built in September, 2019 already had 12 volt refrigerators replacing 120 volt/propane units. I don’t think it’s a case of waiting until 2-way refrigerators “come back”, rather I think they were already leaving forever before COVID-19, and I can imagine that the reason is for cost savings. Maybe propane refrigerators will be offered in the future as options at additional cost, if the buying public demands it.

12 volt refrigerator installations require a 12 volt power source, and a cabinet to mount the refrigerator in. In addition to that, a propane/120 volt refrigerator installation also requires 120 power, a propane gas line. a penetration for a vent in the side wall, and a penetration for a vent in the roof. Which installation would RV builders rather do?
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:54 AM   #3
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I donít believe COVID-19 has anything to do with refrigerator design in current RV models.

At least in the class C motorhome world, Forest River was heading down this 12 volt refrigerator path last summer, long before COVID-19. Models built in September, 2019 already had 12 volt refrigerators replacing 120 volt/propane units. I donít think itís a case of waiting until 2-way refrigerators ďcome backĒ, rather I think they are already leaving forever, and I can imagine that the reason is for cost savings. Maybe propane refrigerators will be offered in the future as options at additional cost, if the buying public demands it.
Yes, I know in the RV world they have been. My parents have one in their Winnebago RV. At least with the MiniLite's specifically our dealer said that it was an unexpected and hopefully short-term pivot. With RV Wholesalers there seemed to be a chunk of the 2509's that were on order with the 12V, but then a bunch are now on order with the 2-way. Other random dealer checks of 2021's seem to be mostly the 2-way.

I can't imagine that with the solar and inverter setup plus the fridge that Rockwood is saving any money on this scenario. I know that the 12V fridges themselves are cheaper, but they are spending a lot to supplement those 12V fridges.

But, let's say that they aren't going to come back. Let's talk about what it would take for us to comfortably have the trailer out boondocking long-term.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:03 AM   #4
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If it is a good deal, donít let a 12V fridge stop you if that is your only issue. Keep an eye out for a replacement 2- or 3-way fridge. In the interim, buy a generator to use if the solar canít keep up from time to time.

Eventually, the market will clear, and you will be able to buy a replacement. Also, look for a used fridge, possibly from a junked RV or from someone upgrading. Will the fridge from your trade-in RV work?

Bottom line: Donít let the fridge be the sole reason not to make an otherwise great deal.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:05 AM   #5
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Learn the math. Specifications are difficult to read and understand. Written by and for engineers.

A 200 watt solar panel produces 50 amps of 12 volt on its best day. Likely less than half what a 12 volt fridge will need. Not much in the rain. Less installed flat on the roof. Trees are the enemy.

The standard rv battery has less then half the amps necessary to run one day.

Add 200 More watts of solar and two lithium batteries($2500)plus a new converter and you will be able to only run the generator every second or third day? Maybe. Depends on where you live.

For sure. An all electric fridge is cheaper than a gas electric. Mine was $2500. An electric was under $800.

Study up.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:08 AM   #6
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If it is a good deal, donít let a 12V fridge stop you if that is your only issue. Keep an eye out for a replacement 2- or 3-way fridge. In the interim, buy a generator to use if the solar canít keep up from time to time.

Eventually, the market will clear, and you will be able to buy a replacement. Also, look for a used fridge, possibly from a junked RV or from someone upgrading. Will the fridge from your trade-in RV work?
No, the little mini-fridge in our 19 BH will definitely not work. That micro-sized fridge is one of the biggest reasons we are upgrading! A 12V is appealing as we are mostly vegetarians so the size and more stable temps is a plus for veggies and fruit.

I am not sure going from 12V to 2 or 3 way is really feasible as the venting on the camper is totally different. It would be a crazy big project.

Definitely would like to hear from any boondockers who have a 12V TRAVEL TRAILER who make a 12V only fridge work well.

If I ask for a 3rd solar panel and get a couple hundred watt portable that we can set up at a nice angle outside the camper that is south facing I am wondering if that will do?
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:12 AM   #7
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Something else to note is that there are a lot of issues posted on the forum related to the Furrion 12 volt refrigerators Forest River is currently using. Common problems reported are large swings in temperature, or total failure. Read up on 12 volt refrigerator reliability in current model year RVs.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:18 AM   #8
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It is actually not a Furrion. It is a 11 cu ft brand with a little guy in a chef's hat. I know I know the brand, but am completely blanking on it currently
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:24 AM   #9
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It is actually not a Furrion. It is a 11 cu ft brand with a little guy in a chef's hat. I know I know the brand, but am completely blanking on it currently
You have a Chef Boyardee fridge???
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:25 AM   #10
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That is what it reminded me of! I think it is Magic Chef.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:22 AM   #11
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12Volt DC fridges are the RV industry's way of cutting cost

Quote:
Originally Posted by campbikemom View Post
My husband and I have been on the slow road to trading in our "19 BH" model for a 2509s. Our local dealer was going to give us a fabulous deal on our little bunkhouse model so we were closing in on an agreement for the MiniLite they had in stock.

I finally made it out to look at the unit they had on the lot and BAM I notice that it is outfitted with a 12V only fridge. To make up for this they have installed 190W of solar panels and a 1000W capacity inverter (no upgrade to deep cycle marine batteries, but that would be easy enough to rectify).

Apparently another thing about COVID is that there has been a shortage of 2-way fridges so manufacturers are installing 12V fridges. Some, like Rockwood, are giving you solar panels up front and others are leaving you to figure it out.

I know this has been discussed off and on in this forum, but just wanted to toss around this discussion a bit more based on our circumstances.

We have some acreage that is off the grid, but close to home. We are probably doing electric in the near future, but for now we just boondock and take home propane tanks and charge batteries as needed and go to the dump station. Pretty low maintenance. However, the current fridge we have is tiny so the propane draw seems to be minuscule. This is our first year with this land so I am not sure how the battery and propane use will increase as we get into cold months.

We live in way upstate NY, so there are a lot of trees and can be a lot of cloudy days in a row. We do have an area cleared that gets some shade in the summer months, but as the sun gets lower in the sky as we get into late summer/early fall we are actually getting a ton of sun. However, I would imagine that also means the panels would be at a not ideal angle.

I am thinking that we should pass on this camper and wait until the two-way fridges are back in stock (when I looked at what RV Wholesalers had on order it seemed 50/50 so there might be light at the end of the tunnel). On the other hand, 190W of solar and possibly supplementing with some portable panels is an interesting idea. But I am not sure if would be feasible even with some supplemental portable panels. Where our land is it really never gets super hot so even in the summer the fridge wouldn't be working as hard as a lot of places.

Thoughts?





1. Inverter is nice to have to run the microwave but not to operate a 12 Volt DC compressor fridge.
2. A 12 Volt DC fridge has the same power consumption as a 120 Volt AC fridge sans inverter.
3. 190 Watt solar plus portable panels is a PITA, you will probably need at least 600 Watt to make this work and still need a generator as backup $$$$.
4. AGM $$$ or golf cart batteries $$ (6Volt or 12Volt) are still the way to go for most people, hybrid batteries $ installed by the dealer are for the weekend worrier at best.
5. IMO, try to stay away from anything Furrion. For 12 Volt fridges, this GE seems to be one of the best at the moment. https://www.geappliances.com/applian...tor-GPV10FSNSB
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:11 PM   #12
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If you want a propane/electric refrigerator then I would wait until you can get a trailer with one already installed. The standard refrigerator in my little KZ is is electric only. When I inquired about getting one retrofitted with a propane/electric unit I was told it was not a very practical option. I did find one with a factory propane/electric unit, which worked out great for me. I only use the electric side at home when I precool prior to leaving my home.
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:28 PM   #13
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I have had both over the years (110v / auto switch to gas) and now have , 12v only hands down the 110v / auto switch to gas is MUCH better we have joined Harvest Host so we r now "boon docking" more. I replaced my 24 series battery with a 29 series battery would like to have put 2 on but not enough room in the battery bracket setup which has helped I also bought a solar panel which also helped we go with other campers and they have no problems really wish I had the 2 way refrigerator in this new Forest River camper. also sleeping at night u can hear the compressor come on n kinda noisy... I think my old camper (2016) with 2 way refrigerator cooled fast and quiet on gas... HANDS DOWN 2 way refrigerator is much better.....
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Old 09-02-2020, 02:17 PM   #14
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Are you sure?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
If it is a good deal, donít let a 12V fridge stop you if that is your only issue. Keep an eye out for a replacement 2- or 3-way fridge. In the interim, buy a generator to use if the solar canít keep up from time to time.

Eventually, the market will clear, and you will be able to buy a replacement. Also, look for a used fridge, possibly from a junked RV or from someone upgrading. Will the fridge from your trade-in RV work?

Bottom line: Donít let the fridge be the sole reason not to make an otherwise great deal.
Are you sure about that advice?

Retrofitting a propane refrigerator into a spot previously occupied by electric-only (12vdc OR 120vac) is a BIG DEAL. You are talking about cutting a hatch in the side (and rebuilding/bracing the stud you cut off), making a "chimney" to the roof, and cutting a hole in the roof between two trusses. If you get into it and find out that the wall hatch/chimney doesn't line up with a gap between two roof trusses, too bad for you.

Don't forget the time spent below, plumbing propane to the unit.

This is a serious piece of re-engineering. I wouldn't be so casual about it.
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Old 09-02-2020, 04:09 PM   #15
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12 volt frig

I would wait to have the 2 way. We had a 12 volt only in our 1 st. camper. Slower to cool and did not seem cholas well. It was a small unit and did not seem to use a large amount of power. On a larger rig the energy loss from using the investor of 12 volt would be more. Long term I share your concerns that 190 watts of solar would provide you enough power for a week of rain or cloudy weather.
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Old 09-02-2020, 04:15 PM   #16
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Are you sure about that advice?

Retrofitting a propane refrigerator into a spot previously occupied by electric-only (12vdc OR 120vac) is a BIG DEAL. You are talking about cutting a hatch in the side (and rebuilding/bracing the stud you cut off), making a "chimney" to the roof, and cutting a hole in the roof between two trusses. If you get into it and find out that the wall hatch/chimney doesn't line up with a gap between two roof trusses, too bad for you.

Don't forget the time spent below, plumbing propane to the unit.

This is a serious piece of re-engineering. I wouldn't be so casual about it.
Yes. I am sure about that advice. Because that is what it is: advice.

You have different advice. The OP can take mine, yours, or do something else.

How about just saying that you have a different take and here is why...?
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Old 09-02-2020, 04:51 PM   #17
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Thoughts on your situation.

Unlike typical boondockers, you're fixed on your property, so you have options that "campers" don't have.

I know "way" upstate NY. Grew up 10 to 15 miles South of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. I've seen daytime highs of minus 20 and overnight lows of minus 50. Climate change has softened that blow considerably, but when I left Albany 20 years ago, we were still seeing 5 to 10 below on a regular basis.

It's a tough area for solar. And the farther west in the state you go, the more powerful the "lee-of-the-lakes" effect is on clouds. Way upstate includes places like Oswego that get snow measured in tens of feet...6 feet at a clip.

I don't think 190 watts of solar panels are nearly enough. Double it or more in your situation. I'd spec about 1000 watts of solar total for your situation, but see below.

Add at least 2 x 6-volt golf cart batteries or better. 2 x 6 volts will give you about 115 USABLE AH between charges. Between trips, 1000 watts of solar ought to keep your batteries safe and healthy...as in a relentless trickle charge. Even at dusk or heavy rain my 400 watts will put out about 1 amp. Leave with the batteries full, and even a foot of snow will allow some light to get to the panels. Worst case scenario, disconnect fully charged batteries, and they will survive months at low temps. Double worst case scenario, take 'em out and bring 'em home. You aren't going there when it's below zero anyway.

Augment your solar with what's commonly referred to as suitcase panels, but you can do better in a semi permanent installation: https://www.solar-electric.com/uni-t...MaAmq-EALw_wcB (Illustration, not recommendation.) This also gives you the flexibility to locate the rig in the ideal spot and the solar array somewhere else that's ideal for solar.

A system like this would keep you mostly "off-grid" even after you bring in grid power. Hell, you might be able to back-feed the grid via reverse metering!

All you need to do is parallel the rig's built in charge controller with a dedicated charge controller for the freestanding panel array. No fancy connections...no different from jump starting your car and getting charge amps from your newly started car's alternator and what's still coming thru from the other car. No different from having solar on the roof and being connected to shore power. Everything will get along just fine. Add about 800 watts of solar freestanding to augment your 190 watts on the roof. If you pull the rig off the site, just pull the plug on the freestanding solar AND DISCONNECT THE PANELS FROM THE CHARGE CONTROLLER...the charge controller usually requires a battery load to dump the incoming power and get feedback. Do this with something equivalent to a 30 amp to 50 amp knife switch. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Square-D-30...B&gclsrc=aw.ds

Bear in mind that snow is the end of it if you aren't there to clear the panels, and I know northern NY snow...nor'easters, sleet, freezing rain, and other such wondrous precip...and endless cloudy days. Some of that precip does NOT get cleared...it freezes on.

So that means fully winterizing your rig, including your fridge. It may require NOTHING to winterize a 12 volt compressor fridge, but you need to know that for sure.

It also means that, in the summer - Memorial Day to mid-September - you can leave the fridge running and food stored, but after that, things are too iffy to rely on the fridge preserving your food...especially in the freezer. While cold, gray weather in an unheated cabin may keep the contents of the fridge around 40 degrees, the freezer will thaw. And note that cold ambient temps in the cabin mean the fridge may not run often enough to keep the freezer frozen anyway. 2 and 3 way fridges stop freezing at all around 26 degrees. So you'll need to tote much of the refrigerator's contents back and forth in early spring and late fall. Just ask anyone who's put the "old fridge" in the garage as a beer fridge after buying a new one. The freezer stops working in the winter, because ambient temps in the garage are too low for the fridge to run often, and too high (most of the time) to keep things frozen around 0 degrees F.

Should you buy a camper with a 12 volt compressor fridge? In your case, that's not really the question. The question is, is your planned remote location suitable for your plans to upgrade to a far more convenient rig that will be there, with a running, stocked fridge when you arrive? It will if you plan well and have reasonable expectations of what any fridge can and cannot do in a non-temperature-controlled environment in cold weather.

As for the rest - you need:
1) at least a 2 KW generator to save your butt when power is low, and MORE IMPORTANTLY to run 120 volt tools and appliances essential to keeping things functioning right. Among other things, you're gonna want to use that microwave, but the more important stuff is below.
2) if your tow vehicle can handle it, get a tank containing about 50 to 100 gallons of potable water. All links are illustations, not recommendations: https://www.tank-depot.com/productde...x?part=QI-1006
Water weights 8.3 pounds per gallon, so size according to what your TV can handle. This not only fills your rig's fresh tank, but it's a water source for cleaning. See below.
3) get a proper blackwater honeywagon. https://smile.amazon.com/Barker-3084...9081619&sr=8-3 And feed it with a macerator: https://smile.amazon.com/Flojet-1855...s%2C206&sr=8-4 They're light when they're empty, but 40 gallons of black water will weigh 332 pounds! Put the empty honeywagon in the bed of your TV and pump the waste up to it. Haul it to the dump station. Store it under the rig the rest of the time.
4) but your black tank might not dump thoroughly if you can't use pressurized water to clean it...say with the black tank flush, or down the toilet. Your giant water tank combined with this pump https://smile.amazon.com/BURCAM-5065...dDbGljaz10cnVl will generate about 50 PSI of water pressure to jet into the black tank flush or the down the toilet wand you buy from Camco. And the genny runs it all with ease. Real water at real pressure with real power. The same pump can transfer from the hauling tank in your TV to your gravity fill or fancy pressure fill to the fresh tank in the RV. Have one hose for potable and one hose for the dirty work. Keep the pump clean by using something like Clorox solution in a spray bottle before you make the connections."
A 50 gallon water tank and that pump together are light enough to mount on a sheet of 1/2" exterior or marine plywood so the system is quick and dirty to load and unload...of course filling the tank AFTER loading.

With this setup, you'll be totally independent, and that fridge will be the least of your worries.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:41 PM   #18
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https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...6FORM%3DRESTAB

don't know if link will post but check out this video about 12v rv refrigerators.
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Old 09-03-2020, 08:31 AM   #19
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It's a Magic Chef brand 12v refrigerator.
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Old 09-03-2020, 10:18 AM   #20
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https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...6FORM%3DRESTAB

don't know if link will post but check out this video about 12v rv refrigerators.
Thank you so so much for that video! I have watched many of Josh's videos - I am surprised when I was doing my googley that I did not find that one.
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