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Old 05-29-2019, 09:18 AM   #1
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Running the fridge while you tow

Hey everyone. I was thinking of running my 3 way fridge off the battery while I was towing. My logic is that the truck will charge the battery while we go so the battery won't be dead when I get to the RV park. Anybody tried this? Good idea or bad? Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:22 AM   #2
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Been addressed on several threads.... Truck doesnt produce much charge for Batteries. Me and many others leave the fridge on AUTO.... Leave a gas tank OPEN.... Let it do its thing. Fridge uses very little gas.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:27 AM   #3
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I don't have your type of frig, however many have said that the charge from the TV is minimal when it comes to running things and recharging the battery. I would give it a try and see where the battery is at when you arrive. Let the forum know your results.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:36 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by gbaldwin View Post
Been addressed on several threads.... Truck doesnt produce much charge for Batteries. Me and many others leave the fridge on AUTO.... Leave a gas tank OPEN.... Let it do its thing. Fridge uses very little gas.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:43 AM   #5
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I don't have your type of frig, however many have said that the charge from the TV is minimal when it comes to running things and recharging the battery. I would give it a try and see where the battery is at when you arrive. Let the forum know your results.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:47 AM   #6
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I did that with our old 1999 Coleman pop up. (Never had a battery on the pop up, we always had an electric site and the converter powered the 12V side.) Just check to make sure your tow vehicle will supply enough power.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:53 AM   #7
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I don't have a 3-way fridge but have always run on propane when traveling. That said, when I filled up my tanks this spring after last season, 30 days of camping/travel with many days spent on the road, I had only used 2 gallons of propane.

Now, running on the battery... I obviously can't but, I did once leave my truck and trailer plugged in to each other at a rest stop and opened the slide. Well, my truck picked up the extra voltage draw and threw a code at me. Needless to say, I now unplug the trailer anytime I plan to open the slide. Plenty of juice in the battery to do it, and a check engine light is not a good feeling while traveling- even if you "know" what caused it (because I always ask myself if it could be something else too).

For me, propane is the way to go.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:56 AM   #8
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I dont think you want to count on running fridg off battery for any amount of extend time. In my mind "3 way" is actually a "2-way". Either running off gas or some type shore power (pole or Genny).
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:02 AM   #9
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I would sometimes run the fridge off of the battery while under way. On long trips I would have a dead battery when I arrived. So I stopped doing that and ran the fridge on propane while towing from then on. And yes, the tow vehicle was supplying power to the battery, just not as fast as the fridge was using it.
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:05 AM   #10
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3 way refrigerators work fine in all 3 modes.

As mentioned, whether YOUR particular set-up will keep the battery charged remains to be seen. I have run a 3 way on 12v for many hours and the TV kept up with it just fine. Obviously others have had a different experience. Every TV is different. It is what YOURS will do that you need to understand.

As for using slides while the umbilical cord is plugged into the TV... that is actually the recommended procedure. If your vehicle threw a code because of the draw from the slide operation then something is amiss.

Around our part of the world, dealers do not keep batteries in the R/V's on the lot. To show a perspective customer a rig, they simply back the lot tow vehicle up to the R/V, plug in the umbilical and utilize the TV battery/charging circuit. I've watched them open 3 slides and awnings just via the umbilical cord.
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:41 AM   #11
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As for using slides while the umbilical cord is plugged into the TV... that is actually the recommended procedure. If your vehicle threw a code because of the draw from the slide operation then something is amiss.

Around our part of the world, dealers do not keep batteries in the R/V's on the lot. To show a perspective customer a rig, they simply back the lot tow vehicle up to the R/V, plug in the umbilical and utilize the TV battery/charging circuit. I've watched them open 3 slides and awnings just via the umbilical cord.
I can't say for sure that is what caused the code... But it was a voltage code. And since I stopped doing this it has never happened. So for me, I just go with it. And doesn't this essentially make your batteries run in parallel?

At all the dealers I have been to, which is on the order of 2 dozen when we shopped last year, not one ever backed a tow vehicle to a camper to provide power for the slides, or power for anything else for that matter. Every dealer we dealt with carried a portable battery pack, the ones used for jumping a vehicle, and clamped onto the trailer battery wires while we were in the camper. Then unclamped and repeated the process at the next camper.
Maybe they do in your neck of the woods... but that just doesn't seem practical to me when moving between campers. And don't most dealers use forklifts or tractors with a ball mount on the front ends to move trailers around their lots?
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:15 PM   #12
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Refreigerator and towing

What's wrong with propane? I've been towing since 1974. We always load up the fridge before we go, and up to tow time its on home power. When we leave its on propane. I have never had a problem towing with the fridge on propane. Why change?
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:16 PM   #13
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The 12v setting, on your 3-way fridge, is what it's designed to do, charge while driving.
Those of us, with 2-way fridges, have to run ours on propane while driving.
Your dealer should have told you this, during the PDI/walkthrough. Wonder what else they failed to go over with you, since this is basic RV system information.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gbaldwin View Post
Been addressed on several threads.... Truck doesnt produce much charge for Batteries. Me and many others leave the fridge on AUTO.... Leave a gas tank OPEN.... Let it do its thing. Fridge uses very little gas.
OP has a 3-way fridge, so they can run it on the 12v setting without depleting the battery.
I owned two Popups and ran my fridge on the 12v setting and my trailer battery would still be fully charged on arrival.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:28 PM   #15
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OP has a 3-way fridge, so they can run it on the 12v setting without depleting the battery.
I owned two Popups and ran my fridge on the 12v setting and my trailer battery would still be fully charged on arrival.
if it works and doesnt deplete battery.... Keep on doin it. My bad.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by PupCamper View Post
Hey everyone. I was thinking of running my 3 way fridge off the battery while I was towing. My logic is that the truck will charge the battery while we go so the battery won't be dead when I get to the RV park. Anybody tried this? Good idea or bad? Thanks!
I suspect you will have a dead or near dead battery on a long pull. Think of the tow vehicle alternator through the wiring more like a trickle charger than a 10A battery charger.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:55 PM   #17
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3-way fridges are great with the 12v setting but it comes with a big negative. They are small and only have a ice tray for freezing.
At least that was on my older popups.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:24 PM   #18
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Turn the propane tank on and run it on that, we had a 1500 miles trip and we thought that the battery was enough we were wrong we lose more of all ours food, lesson learned.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:30 PM   #19
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Turn the propane tank on and run it on that, we had a 1500 miles trip and we thought that the battery was enough we were wrong we lose more of all ours food, lesson learned.
Was this on a popup, with a 3-way fridge?
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by 5picker View Post
3 way refrigerators work fine in all 3 modes.

As mentioned, whether YOUR particular set-up will keep the battery charged remains to be seen. I have run a 3 way on 12v for many hours and the TV kept up with it just fine. Obviously others have had a different experience. Every TV is different. It is what YOURS will do that you need to understand.

As for using slides while the umbilical cord is plugged into the TV... that is actually the recommended procedure. If your vehicle threw a code because of the draw from the slide operation then something is amiss.

Around our part of the world, dealers do not keep batteries in the R/V's on the lot. To show a perspective customer a rig, they simply back the lot tow vehicle up to the R/V, plug in the umbilical and utilize the TV battery/charging circuit. I've watched them open 3 slides and awnings just via the umbilical cord.
If your tow vehicle set a code after using the slide the reason will most likely stem from a weak trailer battery and possibly weak vehicle battery and the code would have been a low voltage code.
That said depending on the refrigerator and the optimal battery setup which be 2 6 volt batteries each 225 ah or more will give you somewhere around 18-24 hours of continuous running on a modern 8-9 cf unit. Depending on the ambiant temperature and your thermostat setting its not likely it would run continuously.
Further most newer vehicles from 2005 on up (at least GM vehicles) are running alternators in the 135+ amp range and are controlled by the vehicles power train computer and should keep up with the frig use unless you have every accessory on the vehicle running.
You can also install an isolator which will keep from drawing from the vehicle battery. I will be taking out the 2 way from my Palomino Solaire and installing a residential 7. 9 cf unit with a 2000 watt inverter (not that the frig requires it as the one I'm getting on draws 350 watts running with 800 start up). This is a similar setup I have run my past 2 boats.
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