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Old 05-06-2022, 07:25 PM   #1
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Cardinal residential frig; how do we keep it running when not plugged in?

We have a 2016 Cardinal 3825fl. It has a Frigidaire Gallery refrigerator. It is a residential frig that does not run on propane when the camper in unplugged at the campground. We thought it would still stay cold when we were on the road and plugged into our F-350, but the lights on the frig are not on when we are towing it. I have two batteries that I thought would run the frig for 5-10 hours when we are parked somewhere and not plugged in.

We are at Lake Mead and will be here for 17 more days before we head north. We are scheduled to drop off the camper at Camping World of Las Vegas on Monday for service. I'd like to sort out this issue and feel confident we won't lose our groceries while driving all day.

What are others doing to keep their frig running while driving or parked overnight in a rest area?

Thanks for any solutions.
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Old 05-06-2022, 07:33 PM   #2
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Did the RV come from the factory with the residential refrigerator? If so, it should have an inverter that will convert 12v to 120v that the refrigerator runs on. Is the inverter on? The inverter supplies the 120v when not plugged in. Is this RV new to you?
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Old 05-06-2022, 10:03 PM   #3
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Did the RV come from the factory with the residential refrigerator? If so, it should have an inverter that will convert 12v to 120v that the refrigerator runs on. Is the inverter on? The inverter supplies the 120v when not plugged in. Is this RV new to you?


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Old 05-06-2022, 11:08 PM   #4
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As often happens with me, I ask questions before I do proper research. As soon as I asked for help here, I began reading my operating manuals and doing further searches for answers online. I once owned a small Keystone Cougar 5th wheel years ago that I added four solar panels to and a 2000 watt invertor and a controller to. So I should have been able to figure this problem out.

So yes, the Forest River Cardinal 3825fl does have an invertor. It is a very nice one. A Xantrex PROwatt sw2000. It is mounted next to the batteries as it should be and comes with an auto transfer switch and a remote panel in the bedroom where most of the important switches are that control the slides and awnings and water heater and exterior lights.

Tomorrow we plan to unplug the camper from shore power and turn on the invertor to confirm it is working and running the refrigerator. The fridge draws 8.5 amps and I have two batteries that might keep the fridge running for half a day. I can't say how well our Ford truck alternator will replenish the batteries as we pull the Cardinal down the road, but I do have an application that allows me to monitor the state of charge on the batteries.

If the invertor is working, and I expect it is, I might get by with everything as is. I could also add a couple more batteries to keep the fridge working for days, even if we are stuck someplace where there is no electrical hookup.

What threw me to begin with was that I had convinced myself that the invertor was going to work automatically, without me having to turn it on when we unplug the camper from the campground electrical service.

So thanks for your help. I always like to ask fellow campers questions to solve issues I am having.
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Old 05-07-2022, 06:20 AM   #5
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I donít know what my fridge draws and I admit that I have my first residential fridge. Bought it in July took delivery in September and have only been on a few trips with it most were short. That said did 10 hour trip ( it only got into the 80 s) but my beverages were cold when I got there. I am not electrically inclined, I can do basic wiring in vehicle or house, and smart enough not to overload my breakers or fuses. That said I donít THINK the fridge is drawing a constant 8.5 amps. I would think that number is only when the compressor and fan are working at the max. Now onto the controversial part. It has been my experience that the truck does provide more power to the battery than I have read. Again just my experience maybe I have just been fortunate. Many times especially when I owned my first travel trailer with no battery cut off. My battery would be dead from sitting. However after long trips it would be mostly or all the way recharged. I know I boondocked a few times before I bought a generator and with just a single battery. I have stayed up to 4 days using the truck for about 30 minutes a day( I know itís not most efficient) and my battery was good for whole trip.
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Old 05-07-2022, 06:47 AM   #6
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As often happens with me, I ask questions before I do proper research. As soon as I asked for help here, I began reading my operating manuals and doing further searches for answers online. I once owned a small Keystone Cougar 5th wheel years ago that I added four solar panels to and a 2000 watt invertor and a controller to. So I should have been able to figure this problem out.

So yes, the Forest River Cardinal 3825fl does have an invertor. It is a very nice one. A Xantrex PROwatt sw2000. It is mounted next to the batteries as it should be and comes with an auto transfer switch and a remote panel in the bedroom where most of the important switches are that control the slides and awnings and water heater and exterior lights.

Tomorrow we plan to unplug the camper from shore power and turn on the invertor to confirm it is working and running the refrigerator. The fridge draws 8.5 amps and I have two batteries that might keep the fridge running for half a day. I can't say how well our Ford truck alternator will replenish the batteries as we pull the Cardinal down the road, but I do have an application that allows me to monitor the state of charge on the batteries.

If the invertor is working, and I expect it is, I might get by with everything as is. I could also add a couple more batteries to keep the fridge working for days, even if we are stuck someplace where there is no electrical hookup.

What threw me to begin with was that I had convinced myself that the invertor was going to work automatically, without me having to turn it on when we unplug the camper from the campground electrical service.

So thanks for your help. I always like to ask fellow campers questions to solve issues I am having.
if you figure out how to add more batteries to your 3825 please share how you did it? there's just no room that i can find unless you want to make major modifications. you could replace the two FLA batteries with lithium. that would give more usable capacity. i think it would possible to even get three lithium batteries into the space that the two FLA currently use if you stacked a couple of the lithium batteries on their ends. that's a future project.

also, i installed a victron smart shunt on the batteries and it has bluetooth capabilities. i can monitor the batteries (2 group 27 FLA) when we are hooked up and towing. what i have seen is that even with a full day of towing the batteries only get down to perhaps 90% of full capacity. you can see when the refrigerator compressor come on as it puts a load on the batteries. but when it is off there is a charge getting to the batteries from the 7-pin cable. one other thing we do when towing is to make sure the ice maker is turned off. no need to use battery power to try to make ice since we don't have water in the fresh tank when we travel.
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Old 05-07-2022, 07:17 AM   #7
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....... I can't say how well our Ford truck alternator will replenish the batteries as we pull the Cardinal down the road, but I do have an application that allows me to monitor the state of charge on the batteries.......
While my 2019 F150 Alternator is powerful, the charging line from the truck to camper in the 7 Pin cable does little more that provide a trickle charge.

My Vibe 21BH has a residential style refrig (has a compressor that runs on 12Vdc - batteries when not plugged in to shorepower) so I added a second battery and a Renogy 20amp DC to DC Charger to keep the batteries charge and 12vdc Refrig running when towing. I use the charging wire from the truck to camper to turn on the Renogy when hooked up to tow. I have no solar.
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Old 05-07-2022, 11:02 AM   #8
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Leave your inverter on all the time, unless you are in storage. No need to turn it on/off all the time. As you noticed it has the auto transfer switch. That way if the cg you are at loses power, fridge will stay cold. Your truck will have no issue keeping batteries topped up while driving.
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Old 05-07-2022, 11:31 AM   #9
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The inverter on off switch is for those with gas electric fridges.

You will likely never turn the inverter off.

The inverters typically consume 1-2 dc ah per hour on standby. So, when folks go to bed they turn the inverter off to save energy.

With an electric fridge you likely will not..
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Old 05-07-2022, 03:40 PM   #10
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if you figure out how to add more batteries to your 3825 please share how you did it? there's just no room that i can find unless you want to make major modifications. you could replace the two FLA batteries with lithium. that would give more usable capacity. i think it would possible to even get three lithium batteries into the space that the two FLA currently use if you stacked a couple of the lithium batteries on their ends. that's a future project.

also, i installed a victron smart shunt on the batteries and it has bluetooth capabilities. i can monitor the batteries (2 group 27 FLA) when we are hooked up and towing. what i have seen is that even with a full day of towing the batteries only get down to perhaps 90% of full capacity. you can see when the refrigerator compressor come on as it puts a load on the batteries. but when it is off there is a charge getting to the batteries from the 7-pin cable. one other thing we do when towing is to make sure the ice maker is turned off. no need to use battery power to try to make ice since we don't have water in the fresh tank when we travel.
Despite our front end storage compartment being prepped for a generator, we didn't get one when we purchased the 2016 Cardinal. We did recently add a medium duty generator from Costco that can run on gas or propane. It does not take up that much space in that front compartment, so we could, in theory, add batteries on the side of that compartment that is closest to the current two batteries. In our first 5th wheel camper, we paid to have the front compartment reinforced for very large and heavy 6-volt batteries (4 of them). They each weighed 125 pounds and had 395 amp hours of power. We ran four solar panels and had a 2000 watt Blue Sky invertor.

We did purchase the Victron Smart Shunt after several others here suggested it. I plan to use it to monitor the batteries as we travel with the invertor on, to see how well the batteries stayed charged and get some help from the 7 pin plug and the truck alternator.
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Old 05-07-2022, 03:48 PM   #11
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I donít know what my fridge draws and I admit that I have my first residential fridge. Bought it in July took delivery in September and have only been on a few trips with it most were short. That said did 10 hour trip ( it only got into the 80 s) but my beverages were cold when I got there. I am not electrically inclined, I can do basic wiring in vehicle or house, and smart enough not to overload my breakers or fuses. That said I donít THINK the fridge is drawing a constant 8.5 amps. I would think that number is only when the compressor and fan are working at the max. Now onto the controversial part. It has been my experience that the truck does provide more power to the battery than I have read. Again just my experience maybe I have just been fortunate. Many times especially when I owned my first travel trailer with no battery cut off. My battery would be dead from sitting. However after long trips it would be mostly or all the way recharged. I know I boondocked a few times before I bought a generator and with just a single battery. I have stayed up to 4 days using the truck for about 30 minutes a day( I know itís not most efficient) and my battery was good for whole trip.
I've always been told to monitor the camper batteries and try not to draw them down below 50% capacity in order to insure longer life. I agree that the fridge probably won't pull 8.5 amps unless the compressor is running along with the fan. We are new to fulltime living in a camper so we will be doing some experiments while driving and while camping to test the limits of the two batteries in the camper and confirm the invertor will handle the loads.

Thank you for your helpful suggestions.
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Old 05-07-2022, 04:04 PM   #12
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Leave your inverter on all the time, unless you are in storage. No need to turn it on/off all the time. As you noticed it has the auto transfer switch. That way if the cg you are at loses power, fridge will stay cold. Your truck will have no issue keeping batteries topped up while driving.
You just answered the most important question I had. I will go back and turn on the invertor. I was wondering if I needed to remember to turn it on after we unplug from campground power and then turn it off when we get to the next campground. I was hoping the trucks alternator would supply enough power to prevent the two camper batteries from drawing down while driving.

Since we followed someone's suggestion and purchased the Victron Smart Shunt to monitor the camper batteries through a blue tooth device, we will use my cell phone to keep an eye on the state of charge while driving.

There are so many potential mistakes that can be made, we are trying to be prepared and ask for help from more experienced campers. We will be dropping off the camper at Camping World in Las Vegas on Monday to add a tire pressure monitoring system that is suppose to feed into the Ford dashboard readout and help us stop the camper before a flat tire leads to a lot of damage. We are on a waiting list to take the camper to Mor-Ride to have them pull the axles and install four wheel independent suspension and disc brakes. We are on another waiting list to take our F-350 to Transfer Flow to pull our 34 gallon gas tank and replace it with a 58 gallon tank. We never considered the issue of range when we decided to buy Fords new and powerful gas engine instead of buying the 6.7 liter diesel engine. We get 6.7mpg pulling this 15,000 pound Cardinal, for a range of just over 200 miles and we can't get into many gas pumps, so we view google earth satellite photos to determine the stations we think we can get in and out of. Looking for gas stations every 150 miles causes a lot of anxiety.

But for each problem we face, we find people who also faced them and have found solutions. We found an outstanding mobile cellular internet solution (Insty Connect) that only costs us $15 per month and we have decided to give up on our Dish Tailgator satellite tv provider and go with a Dish Traveller roof antenna mated with a Hopper 3 vs. those very troublesome Dish Wally receivers.

I'm really thankful to you for your willingness to help me solve this issue with our residential fridge. I expect clear sailing from this point onward. Thanks.
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Old 05-07-2022, 05:02 PM   #13
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We have a 2016 Cardinal 3825fl. It has a Frigidaire Gallery refrigerator. It is a residential frig that does not run on propane when the camper in unplugged at the campground. We thought it would still stay cold when we were on the road and plugged into our F-350, but the lights on the frig are not on when we are towing it. I have two batteries that I thought would run the frig for 5-10 hours when we are parked somewhere and not plugged in.

We are at Lake Mead and will be here for 17 more days before we head north. We are scheduled to drop off the camper at Camping World of Las Vegas on Monday for service. I'd like to sort out this issue and feel confident we won't lose our groceries while driving all day.

What are others doing to keep their frig running while driving or parked overnight in a rest area?

Thanks for any solutions.
What year is your F350? I see on here all the time that TV wIll only trickle charge. I guess it depends on the truck make and year? I have a 2018 F350 Diesel Super Duty. This truck will actually charge my batteries as I travel. I have empirical data from my Victron battery monitor.

My fridge also draws ~8amps when running but does not run but about 1/2 time or less. My battery will actually charge as I travel but obviously not equivalent to being hooked to converter charge.

You can’t expect the truck to recharge the batteries completely if you run them down overnight to keep things cold but it might give it some charge depending on your Ford, and keep.your fridge running.

I’ll see if I can find my post where I boondocked at a Harvest Host and took pics of my battery SOC…

Do you have a Victron battery monitor? Check it out..
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Old 05-07-2022, 05:16 PM   #14
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See post #24Ö.

https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...-192920-2.html
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Old 05-07-2022, 06:51 PM   #15
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What year is your F350? I see on here all the time that TV wIll only trickle charge. I guess it depends on the truck make and year? I have a 2018 F350 Diesel Super Duty. This truck will actually charge my batteries as I travel. I have empirical data from my Victron battery monitor.

My fridge also draws ~8amps when running but does not run but about 1/2 time or less. My battery will actually charge as I travel but obviously not equivalent to being hooked to converter charge.

You canít expect the truck to recharge the batteries completely if you run them down overnight to keep things cold but it might give it some charge depending on your Ford, and keep.your fridge running.

Iíll see if I can find my post where I boondocked at a Harvest Host and took pics of my battery SOCÖ

Do you have a Victron battery monitor? Check it out..

We have a 2022 F-350. We chose not to get a diesel because we felt the new 7.3 gas engine by Ford would be able to pull this heavy trailer.

We did purchase the Victron Smart Shunt and will be using it as we travel.
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Old 05-07-2022, 07:41 PM   #16
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Curious.

Our Cedar Creek Hathaway has enough room in the battery compartment for 4 GC2 batteries for 430 amps. The batteries barely fit.

I think, the new Chins and other 400 ah batteries, might fit in the battery compartment. Close. A second one would fit in my front compartment as well.

Hard to believe yours is smaller.
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Old 05-07-2022, 08:58 PM   #17
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I must always remember that the make even the same model differently depending on options. Our 5th wheel has the generator prep (onan 5500) in the front storage compartment. This takes probably 2/3 of the width of that front compartment. The result is that the batteries, hydraulic system, and all the electronics are squeezed into the remaining 1/3 of the front compartment. The installed two battery boxes and that is all that can be shoehorned into the limited area.

If the generator wasnít there you could easily add more batteries. I guess I learned something today.
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Old 05-07-2022, 09:43 PM   #18
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We have a 2022 F-350. We chose not to get a diesel because we felt the new 7.3 gas engine by Ford would be able to pull this heavy trailer.

We did purchase the Victron Smart Shunt and will be using it as we travel.
Since you have the Victron Smart Shunt you should be able to see the drain or charge to your battery real time. Do an experiment, turn off your AC main 50 amp breakers and turn on your inverter. The Victron should show the draw as -amps from the battery. Hook up your truck and start it. Now see if you have +amps. If your battery is pretty much charged it wonít show many +amps as the battery wonít need it but if the fridge is on it will show -8amps probably -10amps as the inverter uses power to invert. Now hook up the truck and see if the - 10 amps turn into some small amount of +amps.__Iíve seen my truck supply 20 amps.

I donít think it matters if you have the diesel or gad, itís,the alternator that does the job.
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Old 05-09-2022, 08:06 AM   #19
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We have a '17 3250RL Cardinal with the residential frig. When we travel the inverter is on to keep the frig running: necessary to keep it cooling the food. The only issue we've had with the inverter (same one you have) is the remote on/off switch that didn't work. Found a replacement on Amazon for $27: https://www.amazon.com/Xantrex-Techn...s%2C124&sr=8-7 Easy to replace.

At home we turn it off after unloading the frig and other equipment. The first thing we do is empty the ice maker: learned that the hard way after finding water inside the frig, so make sure you unload the ice maker!
Please let us know the experience you have with the new axles/suspension. Very interested in that. We have disc brakes already: great investment!
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Old 05-09-2022, 08:12 AM   #20
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By the way, we dry camped in a Harvest Host site overnight. We didn't have a generator to power our rig with so we didn't have any way to charge the batteries (without using the 7-pin from the truck). After 12 hours, our frig was still working as usual, just on battery power alone.
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