Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-16-2020, 05:13 PM   #1
Green RVer
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
First Boondock experience with a 12V fridge....future buyers beware

SO my family and I are brand new to RVing, bought a new 29' bunkhouse Rockwood. I asked a few questions on here about my 12V fridge with the 190 W Solar package and battery life and got some great feedback before the trip and here was my actual experience.

To keep my batteries above 50% at 7am when we woke up, I would have to run my generator around 6 hours a day, one session being from 9-10pm. I had clear skies with unobstructed sunlight, and when the sun was cranking my battery would show 100% on the panel, but once the sun went down it would show the true level which was only 100% if the generator was running. IF i turned off the geny and no more solar charge the batteries would drop about 10% an hour. Luckily the geny would charge up about 30% of battery in an hour.

After 5 days my batteries would hit 40% by 7 am having turned off the geny at 10pm. So they seemed to hold less and less overnight as the trip progressed with basically the same runtime off geny before bed. We would shut everything off at 10 to preserve all the battery we could except a light or two (LED)

SO...the moral of the story is the stock setup from FR will not maintain the draw of the fridge 24/7 for more than maybe 2 days with full sun, and prob smoke the batteries beyond repair with 2 deep cycle 12Volts, I was fairly paranoid to ensure they didnt go below 50%.

Our boondocking will mainly be in dirtbike type areas where a generator is not a big issue to run, and we got a quiet predator 3500 so if not running A/C its not too obnoxious for the neighbors.

Not a great move FR, wish I would have spec'd out a propane/12V fridge but I don't think it was even an option.

On the upside it cools off in about 1.5 hours on solar alone, or using truck charging power, is pretty big compared to the propane fridges, and doesnt have the outside vent for cosmetics. But I'd rather have the propane option and not have to run a generator. On this trip we ran A C alot between 9 and 5 if we were around so it got charged more than a winter scenario. In the winter I'll have to run 6 hours of generator just to keep up the batteries if its cloudy.

I plan to switch to two 6V batteries which should allow more aH and draw down time below 50%, and we will mainly full hookup camp other than 1-2 desert dirtbike trips.

Otherwise couldn't be happier with our trailer.

Thanks for all the previous help
ChiliDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 05:28 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Bow WA
Posts: 484
Welcome. We have the two 6 volt battery set up and it has been perfect.
I did add a meter to that could see how much voltage was in the batteries.
And thank you for the heads up.

......
Ram 2500 / FR Surveyor 251rks
debit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 05:31 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 24
Your problem is not enough amperage out of the panels. I have three 100ah deep cycle batteries and need about 90 amps to fully charge the batteries during the day. To get those 90 amps I need about 1000 watts of solar energy. So, five 200 watt panels are the minimum. Big Bucks! I can run everything in our trailer for about two days before I have to use the gen to get the batteries to full charge.
kjlars is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 06:30 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 1,731
The indicator light is useless for battery level. Get a monitor that uses a shunt to measure current flowing in and out of the battery. You'll always know the state of charge that way.

Many people prefer the Victron BMV monitors. They're great but cost around $200. Others (me included) are satisfied with Chinese monitors that lack some features but are far less expensive.

You can find plenty of information and opinions about them on this forum with a simple search.
__________________
- 2016 Ford F-150 SCrew Lariat 4x2 3.5L Ecoboost, 1700# payload
- 2020 Rockwood 2507S
chriscowles is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 07:00 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Dayton Ohio
Posts: 1,764
Unfortunately the modern rv is getting more complicated every week.

The math is pretty simple. Unfortunately most do not get it.

Batteries are the weak link. There has been little improvement since the late 1800s. Lithium is better but expensive. Not likely to get much cheaper anytime soon.

Engineers are taught to read specifications. Most others cannot.

The specs state the fridge could use close to 250 amps a day. A 100 watt solar panel on its best day produces 25 amps. The average user is somewhere in between.

Your rv would be fine in the desert with 600 watts of panels and $2-3000 worth of lithium batteries. Not in Texas during the summer.

$2500 for a lithium upgrade would help a lot, 180 amps and faster charging. Two .gc2 batteries, 115 amps, Better. Rain and trees are the enemy. Most new rvs have a lot of parasitic loads also.

I am not a fan of the electric fridges. We have a 12 cu.ft. Gas electric fridge. 4 gc2 batteries230 amps. Come hell or high water we are good for 24 hours.
tomkatb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2020, 07:01 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Mountain Foothills of Southern Alberta
Posts: 1,333
Quote:
Originally Posted by kjlars View Post
Your problem is not enough amperage out of the panels. I have three 100ah deep cycle batteries and need about 90 amps to fully charge the batteries during the day. To get those 90 amps I need about 1000 watts of solar energy. So, five 200 watt panels are the minimum. Big Bucks! I can run everything in our trailer for about two days before I have to use the gen to get the batteries to full charge.
With 6 hours per day of full sun and 1000 watts of solar you would get around 400 amp hours. Way more than the 90 you are looking for.
__________________

2007 Surveyor SV230
- 200 Watts Solar/MPPT Controller - 230 AH Battery Bank - 600 watt PSW Inverter - (2) 2000 watt Inverter Generators - LED Lighting
2009 F150 - 5.4 Litre - Tow Package
Boon Docking 99% of the time.
boondocking is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 12:14 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Palinduff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Posts: 205
I’ve heard that Grand Design is putting 12v fridges in their units now too. Cost saving maybe? Fridge shortage? Sounds like a bad idea to me.
__________________
2017 F150 Eco Boost, SC, 8' Box, 4X4
Max Tow (10 speed, 3:73, 11,700lbs), HD Payload (2440lbs)
2015 Puma 253 FBS
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
2000 Honda EX 400
Palinduff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 12:29 PM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Ohio
Posts: 47
We have been utterly and absolutely dissatisfied with the 12V fridge in our 17jg. Then when you factor in the fact that the awning and slide out are both 12V the need for a generator or going to a campground for electric (don’t like campgrounds) is absolute! The engineer that decided that one battery and 50 watts of solar would work should be fired!
Dsimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 02:56 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Gainesville, FL
Posts: 1,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsimes View Post
... The engineer that decided that one battery and 50 watts of solar would work should be fired!
I suspect the engineers involved did not make that recommendation. Others are involved in those decisions, e.g., the marketing dept.
__________________
- 2016 Ford F-150 SCrew Lariat 4x2 3.5L Ecoboost, 1700# payload
- 2020 Rockwood 2507S
chriscowles is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 03:29 PM   #10
Dahagen
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cascade Idaho
Posts: 451
RV's with 12/110 volt refers are not really intended for extended dry camping. Add an electric stovetop, microwave, and TV and forget boondocking.
dahagen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 03:31 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: British Columbia Canada
Posts: 465
That's not a good scenario ChillDog. Did not even know there was just a 12 volt fridge option.

For what its worth here is our experience. We can boondock for about 4 days with just a portable 100 watt solar panel which may or may not get a few good hours of sunlight, we have a propane fridge and we are careful about using power but not overly careful. After about 4 days it will be necessary to run gen for a couple hours.

Thanks for the heads up anyway, good to know. By the way we have two twelve volts.
__________________
2017 FR3 28 DS
cariboo camper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 03:58 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Ohio
Posts: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by chriscowles View Post
I suspect the engineers involved did not make that recommendation. Others are involved in those decisions, e.g., the marketing dept.
There was obviously little to no research done to see if this set up would even work in the real world. Our sales person even said there would be no problem dry camping/ boondocking with our wolf pup. We found out on the first trip that it is not possible without having a generator.
Dsimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 04:00 PM   #13
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Ohio
Posts: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by dahagen View Post
RV's with 12/110 volt refers are not really intended for extended dry camping. Add an electric stovetop, microwave, and TV and forget boondocking.
Having 2 dogs that camp with us we do not go to campgrounds where you are literally on top of each other. We use HipCamp and find places with only 1 or 2 sites that have lots of space between them. Most of these sites do not have electric. Some do which is nice.
Dsimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2020, 05:25 PM   #14
Green RVer
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
Thanks for all the info and feedback. It's sad that the industry seems to be letting a large segment of its market down with this setup.

Typical green energy push that in the long run is more costly, less effective, and uses more fossil fuels than the old school more effective ways in the long run.

Hopefully the toy hauler segment still uses combo fridges. For us it's not a deal breaker, just an annoyance we didn't anticipate. live and learn!
ChiliDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2020, 08:12 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 594
We boondock. I bought a generator, but after a few trips I found out it is unnecessary. I have one 100 watt roof mounted, one portable 100 watt, and 2 GC batteries. Your situation is different, but it is just a matter of more panels. X2 on a shunt battery monitor. Then you really know what is going on. If you're going to stay with the generator charging, you might want to consider a 1000 watt generator just for charging the batteries. A lot cheaper than running a 3500 watt. If you aren't using the AC, it isn't needed.
__________________
2009 Roo 21ss + 2007 Superduty 6.0
mnoland30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2020, 09:38 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 175
How many ways is a 12v fridge a bad idea? Forget boon docking unless you recharge the batteries with a generator or in a desert w/o shade. Who want to listen to a generator running hour after hour to recharge the batteries? Who wants their batteries killed in 24 hours or less when added this drain to all the other 12v demands? Who wants to spend lots to get special costly batteries to extend refrigerator use? Who wants to spend lots to get a bunch of solar panels to power the refrigerator? Nice to have a propane refrigerator that can go days or a week or more when your home refrigerator craps out waiting to be fixed or for a part. Having no choice but for a 12v refrigerator would be a deal breaker for me.
__________________
2019 Forester 2861DS
Bob2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2020, 12:50 AM   #17
Site Team
 
bikendan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Camano Island, Washington
Posts: 22,986
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob2019 View Post
How many ways is a 12v fridge a bad idea? Forget boon docking unless you recharge the batteries with a generator or in a desert w/o shade. Who want to listen to a generator running hour after hour to recharge the batteries? Who wants their batteries killed in 24 hours or less when added this drain to all the other 12v demands? Who wants to spend lots to get special costly batteries to extend refrigerator use? Who wants to spend lots to get a bunch of solar panels to power the refrigerator? Nice to have a propane refrigerator that can go days or a week or more when your home refrigerator craps out waiting to be fixed or for a part. Having no choice but for a 12v refrigerator would be a deal breaker for me.
Agree. We've been using 2-way RV fridges for over 15 years. Since we dry camp a lot, they have worked wonderfully for us. They have been perfect for the two of us.
We have no desire for a 12v ONLY compressor fridge, even if it was bigger.
__________________
Dan-Retired California Firefighter/EMT
Shawn-Musician/Entrepreneur/Wine Expert
and Zoe the Wonder Dog(R.I.P.)
2016 PrimeTime TracerAIR 255, pushing a 2014 Ford F150 SCREW XTR 4x4 3.5 Ecoboost w/Max Tow Package
Equalizer WDH
bikendan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 06:23 PM   #18
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 5
Keep the fridge closed at night and turn it off overnight as well. It will stay cold for a long time if you don't open it

Also, get a circulation fan for the bottom of the fridge to move the cold air around, make sure that has it's own internal batteries though.
jbflag21ds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 06:45 PM   #19
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 2
Can you upgrade you 50 watt panel.

I have a new Arctic Wolf 29LBH that came with the stock 50 W solar panel to charge the batteries for the 12 V DC refrigerator. Does anyone know if I can add an additional 100 watt panel, or replace the existing 50 watt without having to upgrade the charger control?
indianathomas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 07:17 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 110
I have a residential fridge that I boondock with, I use a combination of solar and generator to keep things going. The key to make this work is the batteries, my plan may be a little excessive for you needs but I figured I was going to do tis I was going to make the right investment to keep the worries to a minimum.

I went to 4, 6 volt AGM style batteries, I set up 2 banks with 2 batteries in series, I also bought a battery selector switch to give me the option of using 1 bank or both at the same time, ( series parallel circuit). The power benefit to this is each battery has 250 AH capacity. The AGM have a better replenish rate and ant effected as bad if they are run down beyond 50 %

The steps in battery quality goes from lead acid, AGM, and then lithium, priced according to sequence listed.

Another trick when running the generator is to have a second battery charger that you plug into the generator and then attach to the batteries, you get a better and quicker charge.

There are solutions, just curious, are you sure your fridge can't run on propane, I personally never saw a 12v.only fridge and I have been camping for 40 years of my life.
skipatroller is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
fridge


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Forest River, Inc. or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:27 PM.