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Old 04-04-2016, 05:00 PM   #1
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I'm liking my A-frame fridge

My last 4 day camping trip, I discovered the plywood divider between the sink area and the fridge compartment was very hot. Fridge had been running for 4 days.

I was going to put in some Reflectix to help channel the fridge air flow to the upper vent. I discovered the angled vent on the chimney top had the upper end pointed inward instead of towards the vent. I took the chimney portion apart, and put it back together with the upper angle of the chimney cap facing the vent. I wondered in doing this if I had altered the heat transfer from the chimney innards (where the gas heat and exhaust goes) to the refrigerant.

So yesterday I bought a wireless thermometer and plopped the sensor on the rack in the fridge. Camper is in the garage, and ambient temp was 74 degrees. I started the fridge off on AC, and it cooled to 40 degrees in about 40 minutes on max setting. Backed off to "5" and it held 40 for about 30 minutes. Switched to gas, and it quickly cooled to 37, then I backed off the gas flow. Switched to DC, and after an hour, the fridge was down to 32!. I was really surprised on how well it did on DC.

This was with the vent panels removed, so the fridge had pretty free air flow.

My next step is to smooth out the airflow with the Reflectix, and the vent panels installed.

I really like having that $10 wireless thermometer, so I can make sure food is staying where it should be. I just pull the batteries out of sensor and thermometer when I'm not using the camper fridge.

Fred W
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:12 AM   #2
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Would you elaborate on where you are putting the Reflectex to improve frig airflow (hopefully with pics)?
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:43 AM   #3
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I've also been happy with my 2014 A122 fridge, though only after adding some cooling fans.

In the 70's or in the shade, it worked fine, but if in the sun and really warm, it wouldn't keep up without the fans. I did an emergency fan install in the middle of the Nebraska Sandhills last year, and it's worked great!
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Vic View Post
Would you elaborate on where you are putting the Reflectex to improve frig airflow (hopefully with pics)?
I went out to take pictures today. The A-frame is parked about 2ft from the garage wall - just enough space for me to get to that side of the camper. Pictures did not work out - would not focus that close. Will try again another day with different phone/cameras. At least I'll get good pictures when I pull the camper out of the garage in 3 weeks for our Utah 5 trip.

Basically, at the top I'm forming a duct (sides and top) to the top vent. I'm trying to limit how much heat can be trapped in the top and sides of the compartment. If I can get the heat exhausting out the top vent instead of being trapped in the compartment, it should draw cool air in the bottom vent.

At the bottom, I'm trying to make as smooth a path as possible for the incoming air to the cooling coils.

The pop-up campers' fridges all have a tough time with cooling air over the coils because of the limited vertical distance between the upper exhaust vent and the lower intake vent. Just not enough distance for a decent chimney effect.

The remote thermometer gives me a great tool - for less than $10 - to tell how my fridge is really doing.

Fred W
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:53 AM   #5
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Pictures or it didn't happen!
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Old 04-06-2016, 02:06 PM   #6
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My camper just went in for a fridge repair or I'd post a photo. The service guy was just as perplexed about the not working on gas problem as I am.

The fridge baffle mod works by taking a piece of Reflectix cut to a size that it fits into the space in the upper access panel. The idea is to force the flow of air rising from convection to flow through the top heat exchanger. Reflectix is easy to do this with because it can be cut over sized then easily trimmed down until it fits. The material is stiff enough that if tightly fit, it will stay in place on its own. and durable enough to last for years, since it is designed to work in attics.

It should fit snugly to the bar between the fridge access openings on the side of the camper and go to both sides of the compartment. The upper part needs to be cut so it is right up on the heat exchanger fins with an opening on the right side for the flue gas. It will cover the electrical controls, so a small access hole needs to be cut by making slits on three sides, leaving the flap attached at the top. When closed, the flap will stay in place on its own.

I found no need to tape the tight fitting baffle in place. So it is easily removable.
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Old 04-06-2016, 02:14 PM   #7
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How did you attach the fan. I'd like to do it so the fan is removable. So the construction adhesive to the top of the compartment I used for my old camper is not desirable.
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:49 PM   #8
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Mine aren't easily removable, but I don't plan to remove them anyway! I attached two computer case fans to the inside of the plastic cover along with a switch.

They are wired in with PowerPole connectors, so I can detach the wiring if I need to set the cover down. When I put on the propane, for example.

Having a wireless thermometer really helps too. Without that I probably wouldn't have noticed my fridge temps weren't safe in the high heat.

I can get a photo when I get the camper back out in the next few weeks.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:14 PM   #9
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Great idea to attach them to the cover.
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Old 06-09-2016, 04:29 PM   #10
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Am taking the camper Friday to work, and then Friday night to Relay for Life (American Cancer Society fund raiser). Plugged the camper in last night, connected the battery, fridge on (on AC max), wireless temperature gauge on.


7:30PM garage temp 77, fridge temp 77
4:30AM garage temp 70, fridge temp 30 turned power down to "5"


Pretty good for 9 hours running, nothing inside fridge but sensor. Sensor was on top rack at front of fridge.


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Old 06-09-2016, 07:15 PM   #11
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Yep ...all is good
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bensinc View Post
Mine aren't easily removable, but I don't plan to remove them anyway! I attached two computer case fans to the inside of the plastic cover along with a switch.
The fan I attached to the upper grille, per your mod, made a huge difference. The fridge is steadily cold in what was problematic weather. I used a 140 MM computer case fan wired into the fridge 12V power. Easy to do, since I'd already tapped the circuit to take power elsewhere.

The fan is two speed and came with a switch small enough to fit through the holes in the grille, so I can slow it down in cooler weather. Although an on off switch would be better and I may mod that in the circuit. I don't think it would significantly impede airflow when off. There is room for two fans on the grill, and given the summers here, that seems to be a good idea.


The photo also shows the Reflictix baffle.

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Old 06-11-2016, 09:49 AM   #13
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Hey guys (Fred, Tom and Bensinc),


I've also had some issues with low fridge temps and want to make sure I understand what has been posted here so I can do the mod correctly. Most of the info was straight forward and the pic that Tom posted is helpful.


Some of the info was a little confusing so have a couple of questions for you.


Fred - you say that at the bottom, you are trying to make a smooth path for the incoming air to the cooling coils. You are not doing anything to the lower compartment correct?? You are just adding the Reflictix baffle to the top compartment, correct?


Tom - You stated that the fan is connected to 12V power so it only operates from the battery? Are we saying that the fan cannot be wired for example into the unused 120V plug in the top compartment? Also the fan would not work if using propane, correct? This part is a little confusing for me.


Bensinc - You stated that your two fans were connected with powerpole connectors so you could unhook them when taking off the cover to use propane. This would indicate that your fans are in the lower compartment since that is where the fridge propane controls are....yes?? This also seems confusing to me as Tom's fan is in the upper compartment and I think he is using it to help the heat exhaust out from the upper compartment. Are you saying your fans are in the lower compartment to help airflow come into the lower compartment?


Sorry for the questions, but want to make sure I understand before tearing into this mod.


Thanks for your help and input.
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:47 PM   #14
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Tom - You stated that the fan is connected to 12V power so it only operates from the battery? Are we saying that the fan cannot be wired for example into the unused 120V plug in the top compartment? Also the fan would not work if using propane, correct? This part is a little confusing for me.
Yes, the fan is 12V. Among the reasons is the fan can run if you are dry camping or parked for some length of time. The fan runs when the house battery or the TV is connected, no matter what heat source the fridge is using. In my case, I had previously taped the 12V fridge circuit where the fridge wires connects to the house wires in the bottom of the compartment and had set up to make the expansion easy. Look for crimp on wire connectors that look a bit like regular wire nuts.

And no, I would not install a 120V fan. A 140MM computer case fan is very quiet by design and 1 or 2 of them will move an ample volume of air. They are safer if you happen to touch the moving blades. And 4 tie wraps will hold it to the fridge compartment grille.

You can also get them in all sorts of LED colors. If that's your thing.


Check to see if you really have an unused 120V outlet, Mine has a blank for what would be the lower position.
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Old 06-11-2016, 09:26 PM   #15
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Further adventures with the fridge.

Friday morning loaded warm water and soda into fridge. Fridge was at 52 due to warm stuff and door opening. Towed A-frame to work (Pueblo, CO). High was 98, temp was above 90 almost all day. Lost signal with the thermometer, and I could not get fridge running on propane. Sat in sun all day, fridge temp was in 90s when I re-established thermometer. Pulled down to 60s on DC with hour drive to site.

Finally got fridge running on propane at site. I have to start and run stove for a minute or two if fridge hasn't run on propane on a while. Even then I get the "poof" non-start flame blow out for the first few tries at ignition. I'm told it's an altitude thing, but it is annoying because the small flame is so hard to see unless it's pretty dark out.

On propane, fridge pulled down to 47 (from 62) overnight (on max, outside temp 60s to 80s). Having warm stuff in the fridge certainly lengthens the cool down time. Air under sink got pretty warm, too. Which suggests I need more Reflectix against that wall. I'm kind of reluctant to go to fans just yet. I want to save my battery reserves for my comfort, not the fridge's.

See below for photos of my current Reflectix install.

Fred W
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Old 06-14-2016, 11:30 AM   #16
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Tom,


Yesterday I added baffles to my fridge. I created a combo design based on your pic for the upper baffle and from Fred's pics with the baffle around the edges for both the lower and upper compartments (see attached pics).


I completed the following test and did not have good results results:
- I put my wireless thermometer in the fridge at 4:30 pm yesterday.
- Camper parked in my garage - 90 degrees in garage with an internal fridge temp of 89 degrees.
- Used AC power.
- Setting on fridge - started at 5 and I increased to level 7 late last night due to internal fridge temp stall at 58 degrees.
- As of 11:00 am this morning, internal fridge temp has only gone down to 49 degrees so I need to do a little something different.


I'm interested in adding the computer fan you described but I'm a little unclear as to the best way to tap into the DC power. I see where the DC power comes to the fridge at the lower left side of the fridge on the outside of the unit in the lower compartment.


I read in the owners manual and it states to not add additional electric components to the DC wiring going to the fridge so as not to take away from the power requirements needed for the fridge.


I'll also admit that I'm NOT an electrical wiz!! You might need to be pretty fundamental in your description and communication back to me!


Where did you tap into the DC power? I see the wiring from your fan but don't know how you tapped into the DC and also where you tapped in from.
I saw where you installed your fan in the upper compartment with air blowing out. I believe some others have installed a fan in lower compartment drawing air in. Do you think the upper compartment solution is better?

Sorry for all the questions but obviously need to do this right so I don't mess anything up.

Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2016, 02:03 PM   #17
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Big Red

Did you get a noticeable flow of heat out of the top vent? I put my hand near the vent, towards the rear. If I'm not feeling heat coming out, then there isn't enough air flow.

For hot air to come out of my top vent, it needs to curve down below the horizontal rain baffle on the vent cover. To put it bluntly, the design of the vent cover is terrible. It's the same as making water (and some other products) flow uphill. Unless there's a decent velocity to the airflow to suck the air out, it's not going to happen.

I thought about reversing the vent cover to allow the rain to come in, but the hot air to escape easier. But I'm not sure I want to encourage rain inside the fridge compartment.

The second problem is that the fridge compartment extends about 4 inches above the top of the top vent in my A-frame. This just traps hot air and stops the circulation I wanted.

So the main part of my Reflectix install was actually into the ceiling of the compartment. I stuck the Reflectix on the inside of the cooling coils, and then curved it over directly to the top of the vent. I was trying to prevent hot air from collecting at the top and sides of the fridge compartment, and trying to get it to flow out of the top vent.

This last trip, when on max propane, I still got heating in the under-the-sink area - but not on max AC. So I'm going to re-examine the Reflectix install to see if I can do better.

FWIW, after I got home, I started up the fridge on max AC. It had 5 16oz bottles of soda, and 6 16oz bottles of water, all at 82 degrees. Garage was 88. It took 36 hours to cool down to 37 degrees. It got to 46 degrees in 24 hours, and 12 more to drop another 10 degrees. A closed, hot garage is not an easy environment, but shows me that I can keep food safely with pre-cooling and the fridge close to max in 90 degree outside temps.

just my experiences
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Old 06-14-2016, 03:27 PM   #18
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Hey Fred,


Yes, seems to have good amount of heat coming out the top.....hot to the touch. I just don't know if the air flow/volume is fast enough to overcome higher outside temps. That's why I'm interested in hearing back from Tom regarding his fan hook-up to DC.


I'm also testing out different scenarios. In my last post, the fridge only got down to 49 degrees after about 20 hours. I switched to LP about 2 1/2 hours ago to see if that would be more efficient and lower the temps any further. To my surprise, the temp has raised to 51 degrees during the past two hours while on LP. Thought I'd read somewhere that LP was supposed to be the best fuel source???


Another issue is the need to actually use the fridge if I can get the temps down. I've found that while just using it sparingly, the temps are greatly increased and the fridge has a tough time cooling back down during hot weather. Might just have to start using a cooler for drinks and only use the fridge for food that needs to be cooled to avoid constant opening and closing of the fridge..................if, I can actually get the darn thing to get cool enough to store food!
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Old 06-14-2016, 03:49 PM   #19
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It's good to read your experiences, especially when you have real measurements. I appreciate your post.

I'm not arguing with you or against the fans. In my case, the airflow doesn't seem too different from what comes out the back of my computer. So I'm not sure what the fans would gain me for airflow. And I also wonder about blockage of air when fans are not on - would I always have to run the fans once installed?

On other pop-up forums, I have seen pictures where folk have relocated the electric controls out of the airflow.

An interior fan is another option to consider - it helps with the cooling of the fridge by circulating air past the condenser fins.

I took my flue apart because the angled jack at the top faced inward instead of outward. The baffle (a metal curly cue) inside the flue has to touch the sides (and be clean) of the flue for good transfer of the heat to the ammonia.

My goal is to get enough cooling to keep food safe (32-40 degrees) in any temps I am likely to be camping in - 90-100 is my max depending on shade and humidity. This assumes pre-cooling at home for 36 hours on AC, up to 8 hours travel on DC, and camping on propane (most of the time). I've got a 4 day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in July - we'll see how that goes.

still learning at a ripe old age
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:01 PM   #20
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Bensinc - You stated that your two fans were connected with powerpole connectors so you could unhook them when taking off the cover to use propane. This would indicate that your fans are in the lower compartment since that is where the fridge propane controls are....yes?? This also seems confusing to me as Tom's fan is in the upper compartment and I think he is using it to help the heat exhaust out from the upper compartment. Are you saying your fans are in the lower compartment to help airflow come into the lower compartment
My fans are in the top compartment, but the powerpole connectors are in the bottom compartment. On the rare occasion I need to completely remove the top cover, I also have to open the bottom cover and disconnect the fans.
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